On Friday, May 4, 2018, at the age of 43, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. And, I'm very lucky.
I'm lucky to have caught it so early. Lucky it did not spread to my lymph nodes. Lucky that my cancer will respond very well to hormone therapy. And, lucky I was diagnosed in this particular moment in time.
A mere five years ago, my diagnosis would have demanded a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Thanks to the recent cancer research findings, for women in my situation (a tumor smaller than 4 cms, HER2 negative, hormone receptive and other distinctions), the mastectomy and chemo combo is now considered an "over treatment". Instead, my oncology team at Dana Farber recommended the less invasive lumpectomy followed by 6 weeks of radiation. My last day of radiation was Friday, August 10th.
Others, of course, are not so lucky with their prognosis and treatment plans. Breast cancer takes too many lives and impacts too many families. Simply put, more education is needed.
- Did you know that the median age of breast cancer patients is 62?
- Did you know that 5% of patients are under 40?
- Did you know you should be doing self exams every month starting at the age of 20 and annual mammograms starting at 40, earlier if you have a family history?
- Did you know there’s definitive research linking breast and colon cancers to the food and drink we enjoy so much?
I'm walking for all those who've come before me: our family + friends, survivors and those who lost their lives to cancer. I'm raising funds to ensure that cancer research for all - men, women and children - continues to be very well-funded, and that women, especially those under 45 (deemed "young" by the cancer community), are well aware of their breast cancer family history, environmental triggers and the importance of self-exams and annual mammograms. Early detection is key.
I want to thank my amazing OBGYN (Dr. Ingrid Kotch) and her kick-ass proactive team of nurses who not only reminded me to get my mammogram in March, but followed up with me to book it. (My routine mammo found the lump; it was undetectable to human touch.) My incredible Dana Farber oncology team: Dr. Kathy Calvillo (surgical oncologist), Dr. Ron Shiloh (radiology oncologist) and Dr. Dorcas Chi (medical oncologist) and their nursing teams who've made me feel such comfort and love every step of the way.
And, of course, to my glorious and supportive irreplaceable network of family and friends who make sure I feel loved and cared for every day. Thank you Julie Hagan + Ellen McHale for organizing the team and walking in my name; I'm honored, touched and so excited to be doing this with you! And, to my colleagues at Genuine and Jack Morton, who have shown so much love and compassion during this crazy bananas time, thank you!
Soooo, please consider walking with me on September 23rd (my birthday!!) OR donating to our team, Stepping Out For Cancer. The funds you donate will directly support Dana Farber Cancer Institute’s unique 50-50 balance between cutting-edge science and highly compassionate cancer care.
Thank you so much for your support.