A Cause Close To My Heart

It’s been a long week but one I’m glad to say I’m pretty sure I’ve not missed a single beat.

After that last treatment of Carboplatin (on the 13th), last week’s Taxol-only treatment was a welcome change. Carboplatin kicked my tail, reminiscent of AC days. But I’ve done great since last Thursday’s treatment, thankfully. In fact, I’ve traveled to NYC, then NC and am currently in Dahlonega for work meetings. I haven’t stopped for one second. I’m ready to kick it down a notch on the travel part, but am thankful I’ve been feeling well enough to be on the go.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve been so fortunate to have so many different means of support. Beyond fortunate. Most prominently my amazing family and awesome friends. No one is luckier than me in that area, I’m sure of it. But also, I have support from so many people I don’t even know. It’s overwhelming to a degree I cannot explain.

In addition to the people connected to me through my family and friends, there are many resources online to connect to other cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors and even triple negative breast cancer survivors. It is comforting–yet also terrifying–to connect with so many others going through the same thing as me. You don’t wish this disease on anyone, but being able to talk to someone who heard those same words as you at diagnosis, faced their first scary chemo treatment like you, and like assured their fearful family and friends that they were going to fight the hard fight no matter what…it brings some comfort to a fearful situation.

In these online support groups, you read so many different stories of brave women battling this disease. You encounter every type of person and every emotion imaginable when facing cancer. Positive and negative. Fear and bravery. Rejoice and disappointment. Anxiety and calmness. Confusion and acceptance.

There are certain women I encounter in these groups whose stories really stick with me. I encountered one of those women on December 27 in a Facebook group for triple negative breast cancer. To say that her post that day was heart wrenching doesn’t even begin to do it justice. From the second I read it, I immediately felt her fear, pain, panic and sadness and I knew I would never forget this person.

She was a young wife (age 40) and mother of two babies ages 1 and 3 who was in the process of learning but not yet accepting that she had become terminal with mere weeks left to live. Even then, she wasn’t willing to give up the fight and planned to try a new intense chemo treatment beginning that Monday. She, like all of us, didn’t understand why a strong fight and a relentless will to live on for her babies wasn’t enough to reverse this awful sentence she was given. In shock, intense emotional pain and grief, she pleaded for her own life. Not her own life for selfish reasons (for which she would have been rightly entitled anyway), but instead for the sake of her children. She did not want them to be without their mother. She did not want her loving husband to raise them alone, without her.

From the moment I read her post, not one single day has gone by when I didn’t think of her and the panic she was feeling while writing that post. It really got to me. As I received good news that my tumor was shrinking, I couldn’t stop imagining her clinging to her babies with every ounce of strength she could conjure, holding onto that last shred of hope. As I walked into the chemo lab for my own treatment and saw the many faces of fellow patients waiting for theirs, I thought of her and wondered whether she was also sitting in a recliner eagerly accepting the medication, albeit poison, designed to heal her body and praying that it would.

I never spoke to this woman. I did comment on her post to extend support and let her know I was praying for her. In fact, I commented multiple times trying to get an update on her status…hoping, PRAYING that she would get the miracle she was begging God for and have more time with her family. She had a lot of women in the group praying for her. But no one was sharing an update if they had one. After weeks with no update, I began to fear the worst but continued praying for her on a daily basis.

Sadly, I just learned that, on February 19, she lost her battle with triple negative breast cancer. When I read the post about her death this past Friday night, it took my breath away. This person I don’t know, have never met or spoken to, impacted me in ways I can’t explain. I can’t stop thinking about her two babies who lost their mom at such a young age, and her widowed husband who will raise them without her. Mostly I think about those pleading words she wrote so clearly depicting her raw, terrified emotion on December 27 that will haunt me forever. More so than my own experience with triple negative breast cancer, her story ignites an angry fire inside me against this ugly disease. It’s for people like her that I want and need the world to know why we must have more research on this specific, aggressive subtype of breast cancer. First and foremost we need a cure, but we also need targeted therapies to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. We need specialized drugs to kill off the tumors and keep them away for good.

It’s for people like her and the families left behind that drive me to bring light to triple negative breast cancer – a subtype of breast cancer that tends to strike young women like her and me.

And that’s why we are holding an event this Saturday, March 1, to benefit the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. Let’s join together to spread awareness and raise money for this organization to help find a cure for the disease that rips apart the lives of so many families. Every small action makes a difference, and even if you can only give $5, together we can prevent other families from losing their mom, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, friend.

I hope you will join me, my family and Rhythm Dance Center this Saturday, March 1, in pulling off an amazing event and to reach, even exceed, our goal of raising $10,000 to put an end to Triple Negative Breast Cancer. If you can’t come by in person, I hope you will consider a donation online, which is 100% tax deductible.

Thank you!



3 responses

  1. That is so sad to think of that young mother…..God Bless her family and you Shelley! We will see you Saturday to help in this fight!

  2. My sister Nancy Ringness is a triple negative survivor! She just retired from teaching preschoolers this year, but is doing long term substitute teaching for moms having babies! She had a time of it going through the treatments for the cancer, she had wonderful doctors (in Chicago area) and is looking good and feeling great! I pray that you too Shelley, will fight the good fight and WIN! just as my sister Nancy! God bless!

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