I am sharing the story of one my employees, friends and just an amazing young woman, Valery Falcone. She is just 30 Years old and battling a rare and agreessive form of breast cancer, BRCA gene mutation. She is not married, has no kids, and very little family left to support her. So we at HFD are her family. I can’t tell you how much she means to our HFD team and we are going to do everything we can to make this fight easier for her.
I am asking you to read her story and help financially if you can, but much more needed and just as important are your prayers and words of encouragement you can share with her. I appreciate your thoughts, considerations as she embarks on this long process and battle. Below is her story. God Bless and Thank You in advance. You Friend...
Randy Choplin, President
Hospitality Furnishings and Design, Inc.
Born in Greensburg, and raised in the small town of Newton, Iowa, I was blessed with a full family home – Mom, Dad and two sisters. Our Mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it took my Mother’s life on January 12, 2013, our family began to split. This was very difficult for anyone to fathom. All three kids decided to go their own ways. I moved back to Pennsylvania to start again- a new life without my best friend- my mom. Thereafter, we all knew that cancer was hereditary in my family. And although I knew this, at that time and age, I never believed it would ever happen to me or my sisters.
I made a commitment to myself to be consistent with self-examinations. And after many years of selfcare, that day came – it was happening to me. On May 2, 2017, I felt the lump in my left breast. My heart stopped. My body shook. The only thought I could process was, I’m going to be just like my Mom.
With the hereditary genetics in my family, I quickly educated myself with what my next necessary actions were to be. Your genes are passed down to you from your parents. Women who inherit a mutation in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a greatly increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. One in 500 women inherits a BRCA gene mutation. My next call was to my OB/GYN.
Since I didn’t know any surgeons, I was referred to one. I saw the surgeon within the same week and received a needle guided biopsy. I was very glad that I was able to get everything done so quickly. Then I had to wait a couple days for results. I continued to work, and my job was very understanding.
THE STATE OF SHOCK:
A couple days later, while I was at work, the doctor’s office called. The surgeon told me that “it was malignant.” He didn’t use the word cancer, so I asked him if it was cancer, and he said it was. Within days of diagnosis the survival plan began, the grasping at a future I wasn’t ready to relinquish and the instinctive need to keep it quiet for as long as possible. To hold it close.
I felt my world spinning, I could not make it stop. I wasn’t shocked that it was cancer, with having a family history of cancer. But the diagnosis itself, hit me hard. It was my reality. It was happening to me. WHAT DO I DO?
I went in the very next week to meet with the surgeon, that did an MRI on both of my breasts. At the appointment, he talked to me a little about next steps and a course of action. Then a few days later, the results came back that showed another lump in the left breast and multiple in the Lymph nodes. Days turned into weeks, as I had more MRIs and biopsies – prick after prick. That time for me was a total blur, as I went from one appointment to another and waited for results. It began to consume my life. It began to get overwhelming, very quickly. I was alone and time drew darker faster. I didn’t know who to turn to or where to turn. I was facing cancer alone.
The hardest part of going through cancer treatment is living in fear – fear of the result. Fear of the unknown. In my mind, I realized that I would first have to beat that fear in order to endure my tedious daily schedule – one foot in front of the next. Finding comfort over fear is what I needed to focus on.
So here is what my reality is and what my care team has planned to save my life.
· Three months, 2 months down of Agreesive bi- weekly Chemo. Then 1 month of healing.
· Surgery for bi-lateral mastectomy
· 6 month recovery
· Daily radiation for 6 weeks.
· 6 month recovery
· 11 months overall for HERCEPTIN- HER2 Receptor- Targeted Chemo
One way or another this story will have a juicy ending and I hope telling it will make a difference to others. Meantime my task is to inhabit the rarefied space between my fierce will to live and necessary willingness to die, the place where I am determined but not expectant, at cause but not in control. And in the midst of all this uncertainty I have been certain about one thing from the beginning – that I have cancer, but cancer does not have me. I WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT!
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