Breast cancer awareness month is coming to a close and it’s so much more than pink and just a month in October. 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 24 hours to save my dad’s life 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. You 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!️