"Buzzzzzzz Bizzzzzzzzz Buzzzzzzippp.
The sound of the clippers made a ringing in my ears, with a wicked finality. Locks of my beautiful red hair fell in clumps to the floor as my mother shaved the remaining bits of my head. She tried to keep it together as tears streamed down my face. My crowning glory, the trait that people recognized me by most, was now in a heap on the floor.
Just a few short weeks prior, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. A shock to my friends and family, and most especially me.
I am 29 years old.
But to start, you must know that I LOVE my life and I LOVE to laugh. I'm a fiery Texan, and I find humor in dry wit, fun in dressing in my vintage clothing and pin curls, and great joy in a slice of very cheesy pizza. And believe me, I enjoy all those things regularly in my now home base of New York.
On top of all of those things, I love my job, a company where I am able to be my best lady-hustler self. Late last fall, the company hosted several cancer awareness events, including a bake-off where the proceeds went to Susan G. Komen. My little pink ribbon sprinkle cookies won the taste test and my company donated to Susan G. Komen in my honor! Following the bake-off, we had a young breast cancer survivor come and tell her story, a harrowing tale by a woman who's about the same age as me and my many under-30 coworkers. I consider myself fully supportive of women's issues (after all, I’m a woman myself!), but neither the bake-off nor the talk seemed to have much true weight at the time. How could they? I was happy and healthy, after all.
Something from those events must have subconsciously taken hold though because a few weeks later, I did a self-examination, finding a golf ball size lump. The radiologist couldn’t look me in the face while going over the mammogram. She kept asking, “how old are you?”, in disbelief of what she was seeing on her screen. Though she hadn’t yet said the words, I knew from the look on her face that the diagnosis wasn’t in my favor. Considering the circumstances, it seemed ironic. My company had just donated money to a cause which one day I could potentially be a beneficiary. I just hadn’t known it at the time. How could I, a young woman so happy, have gotten hit by life so hard? It was surreal.
Since the diagnosis, the doctors have come up with the plan for chemo first (a whopping 15 treatments!) and surgery later, hoping the chemo will shrink the tumors considerably before I go under the knife. I put on a happy face, but the truth is, the side effects of the treatment are much rougher than I lead on. There is the chronic exhaustion (which has affected my ability to walk around the city I love); I have gotten poked and prodded by more needles than I can count; I had a port implanted into my chest (which upset me to no end to have a scar in a very visible place); I have undergone a series of uncomfortable fertility treatments (who knew chemo could leave you infertile?!); I’ve had a lot of long, tough conversations about things I never thought I would discuss, and of course I’ve lost my beautiful red hair.
But no matter how ill or tired I feel, I'm at the office most days, with a big smile on my face, attacking my daily goals like a ninja. Very few acquaitances or people at the office know I have cancer, and I'm proud of that, knowing I can maintain some sense of normalcy and still be perceived as the lady-hustler I always want to be! Plus, a very good auburn wig helps! And my personal life is also full of smiles, with friends and family checking in all the time, bringing over meals, and sending as many Beyonce gifs as possible (because what day isn't made better with a Beyonce gif?!).
Despite my many blessings, the fact is I still have cancer, and I very simply need help. Because I have an income, I am not qualified for most financial aid. And while I do have insurance through my job, it only covers a portion of the medical bills, and those medical bills far exceed my income. I’m living a catch-22 where if I were qualified for the aid, I wouldn’t have a job. But because I do have a job, I am able to receive the insurance, which still doesn’t cover many of the bills. I am currently living in between a rock and a hard place.
At the moment, I’ve depleted my savings after only the first 3 months of my treatment. With a very long road ahead, the stress of where the funds are coming from to pay the upcoming medical bills is almost as bad as the cancer itself.
Thank you to all my friends and family for your love and support, and providing me the courage to speak very publicly about something so private. And thank you to those who take the time to read my story and want to help.
With love and hope for a healthy future,
DonationsSee top donations
- Paul Davis
- Matt Beaudet
- Paul Davis
- Carole Kelby
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