Something's in my head that doesn’t belong there - let’s take it out!
In 2010, I was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a lethal form of brain cancer.
The typical life expectancy for someone with this disease was about 18-months, at the time. Thanks to my primary physicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Yale-New Haven Hospital, and my consulting doctors at the NCI, Columbia Doctors, and elsewhere, I lived a much better, longer, life than many expected. Together, we challenged the status quo, balancing innovative therapies, with compassion and reason.
In addition, I had amazing support from my family, and often said: “cancer is not the boss of me”; they laughed with me and encouraged this thinking. I adopted simple approach to treatment, often saying to my husband, Michael: “let’s get on with it, we have important things to do.” We always did our homework, so this is not to say that you shouldn’t take time to learn about your cancer, and speak with the top doctors and best cancer centers, to develop an excellent care plan, but when you’re done asking questions, decide, follow your doctor’s orders, follow-up to make sure everyone’s doing what they should be doing to help, and get back to living!
Early in 2013, my cancer recurred for the first time. The surgeons we consulted had different opinions, about whether operating made sense. There was lots of healthy debate, and there were no right answers. Michael felt that my logic made the most sense. I told him: “there’s something in my head that doesn’t belong there, so let’s take it out”. The picture used in this campaign is me, at home, 3 days after my second surgery. It was 2-1/2 years before my next recurrence. I don’t know if my decision was right, but we did our homework, the results were great, and I would do it again if presented with the same facts.
Anyway, life is not promised to any of us. I died in 2015, but not before Michael and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and not before I danced at my brother-in-law’s wedding and welcomed three new nephews and two nieces. I did not live forever, but before I passed my family from Italy visited me in New York, and I walked in four 5Ks to support cancer research. I saw Jeter’s last hit, in his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium. I celebrated Christmas with family in my dream home in CT, and greeted family and friends at Mommy’s 80th birthday party. I died, but first I lived.
And, founded the Fund Love Foundation and the I AM MORE THAN CANCER Campaign. Please join me in helping others fight cancer by sharing your stories and lessons learned. My mission in life was simple, to help others realize their dreams, no matter the odds. My hope is to continue this by working with you to make I AM MORE THAN CANCER a huge success. Thank you for reading my story.
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