1 in 2 men, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes. I know the devastation and toll that cancer takes. Cancer is personal. There was not a week that went by over the past 10 years that people haven’t reached out to me to help them regarding being diagnosed with cancer. Some of my closest friends have cancer. My cancer journey started with 7 members of my family being diagnosed, including while I was in the womb.
My maternal Grandma was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer which metastasized to her liver (after first being diagnosed at 40). She was metastatic when my mom found out she was pregnant. She was determined to see her first grandchild and held on until I was born. Doctors contributed it to pure will and meaning to live at that point because of the condition she was in. My mom’s father passed away from cancer years before that. My mom’s life-long best friend died of breast cancer in her early 30s, leaving a toddler. I took that toddler (now a young woman who is BRCA+) to a world renowned surgeon. But there’s a happy ending to that story because through science and education, she gets to rewrite her story. Unlike her mom, her toddler gets to keep her mother.
Cancer became even more personal when 10 years ago, I had hours to save my dad’s life and find the only surgeon in the world experienced enough to help when he was diagnosed with a rare cancer and was hemorrhaging to death. That harrowing experience made me a fierce advocate because I knew how to help and never wanted anyone else to be in that position. I never knew my maternal grandparents but I fight for them, my five other family members including my mom (recently diagnosed with two different cancers), my dad and patients who have become friends when I advocate, coach, educate and guide the hundreds of cancer patients I have had the privilege of helping over the past decade. The brave patients and the incredible advocates, physician-scientists and health professionals I’ve come to know and befriend are all my heroes. If you need me, I am here to help you organize and facilitate all aspects of your care, psychosocial support and explore how to truly "live" with passionate purpose, meaning and JOY despite being diagnosed with cancer.
Being diagnosed with cancer is akin to being dropped into the ocean during a hurricane. You can see the boat and you can see the shore, but you do not know how to get to either. For a decade, I have tried to be that boat guiding people to the shore filled with world renowned cancer experts and support in all areas of their lives.
I am so honored to have participated in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Cycle for Survival both as a fundraiser, team captain and member of Team HOPP for the past 8 years, as well as serving on the Young Leadership Council for the Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania and their Science Committee. In addition to acting as the Scientific Advisor And Scientific Meeting representative for a cause near and dear to my heart, the Childhood Cancer Project.