When My mom got cancer, I fought hard for her to live, took on the majority of her care needs, but it wasn't enough. She lost her battle quickly. At the young age of 15, myself and my three siblings started a new path without our Mother. The perspective gained was that every second is a gift and it proved that I am a fighter.
As the years went by we lost more and more family members to cancer.
One day, I got a call, and knew before even picking up the phone. We were not unlucky with cancer, we have a gene that causes cancer.
“Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS)”
I was 37 when I discovered the lump in my arm, and knew right away that it was cancer. Went in for a test of the lump in my arm and got tested for the gene at the same time. Found out that I had the gene, and cancer.
The first doctor I saw about my arm said, “If we had caught it sooner we may have been able to save the arm,” it simply didn't look good. At this moment there was no other option, but continue life. There was really no time for me to have a pity party about it. I had 2 kids and a husband in the Navy.
I told the doctor that I couldn't make peace with losing my arm, and was determined to find another option.
As luck had it, an amazing Doctor, Dr. Hammel, had just returned to Balboa Naval hospital, and felt confident that he could save my arm - and my life. Going into surgery, I felt confident in the team that had me. Being healthy helped a lot too. They removed the tumor, the brachial artery, and did a graft with a vein from my leg to my arm. Thankfully we kicked butt through this surgery and throughout the years there has been many more, we’re still kicking butt.
This new path in life has led me to being a grassroots activist in the cancer community.
It’s not only given me strength and confidence that a difference can be made, but provided an amazing new family.
Just recently discovered the rare disease community and was given the ultimate gift of going to Capitol Hill with them to have our voices heard. It was truly an experience I’ll never forget.
To be surrounded by people equally as unique as our LFS group, made us all a very strong family.
I had hope in the past, I have hope today, and I will spread HOPE for the future.