Life can be cruel. Dangling your dreams right in front of you only to attempt to snatch them away at the last moment when you are so close you can almost taste it. I have dreamed my whole life about competing at Grand Prix in dressage. It is no easy feat. You have to have the right horse, the right trainer, and good health for you and your horse. I have three of the four requirements. I have the ride on a wonderful horse who is sound and healthy. I have a trainer who knows us inside out that I have been with for seven years. She always knows just what we need to get to the next better place. I am fit myself but unfortunately the healthy part has been a challenge this last year.
Last August I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was determined to be the "best" possible kind of cancer. It is not aggressive, it has a very low rate of recurrence and it is very unlikely to spread. Basically cancer barely let it in the cancer club. But cancer is cancer and has to be taken seriously. So we did a total thyroidectomy on September 6th. The surgeons were very confident everything had been removed with clean margins and a lymph node was taken as well as a precaution. Just to make extra sure I did a low-iodine diet so they could inject a radioactive isotope and search for any thyroid cells left in my body. The scan came back clean. We were confident the cancer was gone and I was able to focus on regaining my strength and most importantly getting back to training horses.I was supposed to ride in regional championships at PSG and I-1 a few weeks after my recovery. That goal helped me rally quicker than the doctor felt possible and I was back on a horse in a week. Frustratingly my championship entries were somehow lost in the mail. The secretary never received them and they never returned to me. To this day it remains a mystery. I was pretty upset about it at the time especially because it was my reason to be better. My wonderful trainer quickly brushed it off and focused me on continuing my training with a focus of Grand Prix for 2013. I am extremely proud to say that we did it and we are just about to embark on the most exciting journey of our lives beginning in May. I am receiving the opportunity to live out my lifelong dream. But of course it couldn't be so easy.
It is just seven months after the surgery and only six months after the clean scan and I found a lump on my neck. After an ultrasound it looks like the cancer has returned and he brought a few friends. My second surgery is scheduled for Friday April 12th just 9 days from now. My first horse show is scheduled for May 4-5. Mentally, physically and emotionally, I can do this, again.... Financially I cannot.
I have always prided myself on being totally self sufficient. The training required to make it to Grand Prix is very expensive. Not to mention the maintenance for the health and well being of our generous equine partners. I have always worked hard and been creative and found a way to make it work without going in to debt. After my first surgery I am in debt for the first time in my life. Last year's medical bills left me with $6,700 to pay out of pocket not including co pays and medications. I have cut every cost I possibly can including leasing out my horse that I bred and raised to afford to compete this season and make my medical payments. My cap this year will be an additional $5,000. There is no way around it, without financial assistance I will not be able to afford to compete this year with the second surgery and further treatment for the cancer.
My horse Ora is brilliant and deserves to show herself off but we need a little help. I have $3,200 left from my last round of treatment and the next round will rocket me back to $8,200. I am not accustomed to asking for help but to prevent my dream from slipping away for another year and possibly longer with the fragile nature of horses, I am forced to ask.
Thank you for reading my story.