I'm a wife, a mother of 2 and I diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37...a couple of weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit.

“I had no family history of breast cancer. I was 37 and a teacher and kept collapsing at school etc. I kept going to hospital and at first they said it was nothing but then, they finally found pulmonary embolism. So I have my lumpectomy and they find no clean margins. I was supposed to start treatment on the exact day Katrina hit but instead we had to evacuate. My family and I packed up and headed to Montgomery. Not knowing a sole or planning to go there; that’s just kind of where we ended up. We checked into a not so great hotel and I began to feel really bad the next couple of days; it was only a few weeks after my lumpectomy so we went to a hospital in Montgomery to the emergency room. The doctor’s said I needed to start treatment for breast cancer immediately or I would die.

The doctor’s at the emergency room thought it had become inflammatory breast cancer so I picked up the phone book and picked a doctor, as luck would have it, it turned out to be one of the best doctors in Montgomery. I had no medical records, nothing, we had to leave it al behind. But the doctor accepted me anyway.

My treatment was aggressive it had to be it had spread to my liver. The port broke 10 times, literally. Meanwhile, I was receiving treatment at the hospital staying over night there alone. One of the nurses had a family home about 2 hours away from the hospital so my family with all my pets (7 dogs) stayed at her family home for 3 months until we were able to go back home. We returned home to find that our house was the only house on our street that wasn’t completely ruined by Katrina. So with a lot of my family members staying with us because they lost their homes, from 2005 to 2006 I had 1 surgeries, 2 years of chemo, and 39 radiation treatments. This marked the end of this cycle of me and caner.
So of course, after hearing from doctor’s that I shouldn’t be here and they didn’t’ know how I survived this ordeal, I decided to create a bucket list. My retired from teaching and last year my husband and went to Iceland. I got home and saw my oncologist for my normal bi-annual check up and see called me up a couple of days later to tell me that my numbers were off the charts and the cancer had not only returned but moved to my left arm and shoulder. At this point I become scared, all I ever wanted was to see my children get old enough to be okay. Finish high school. So last February, I started chemo but the chemo started eating me alive. My body started becoming septic and after 2 trips to the hospital my children and husband told me that was enough. They knew I was receiving treatment for them and they didn’t want me to exist like this anymore.

U stopped chemo and realized that this may be it for me and I told God I didn’t want to die, I was terrified until a peaceful moment a “whoosh” moment came over me literally in an instance I wasn’t scared anymore. I know people won’t believe this but it’s true. It calmed me to know that I shouldn’t be scared to die and that I will be okay. So now I am living, preparing. I paid off the house and planning trips with friends and family. I am going to San Fran (I always wanted to say it like that) this April. My only real goal is to see my son graduate from high school in this May. My daughter is sitting out of college to help take care of me. She actually saved my life last year. On my 50 birthday, she knew to call the ambulance and I went to the hospital.

I would love to see my 25th anniversary next February (2018). I told my husband that I will haunt him if he gets married again. He can date but he can’t get married. Most days I am really good except after radiation. I still do radiation to elevate some of the pain. I know I will be okay. I have enjoyed life and I appreciate meeting new friends, like you Christie and the staff from The C Foundation, who made a difference in these precious moments I have left.”