I was initially diagnosed with Stage II lobular cancer in 2012 and after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation thought living a “cancer free” life was my next goal. Twenty months after my last radiation treatment I had the rug pulled out from under my feet when I received the news that the breast cancer cells had spread to my bones. I am now Stage IV.
One of the first questions posed to my oncologist was if he thought I could do a two and a half mile swim in the upcoming month–something I had been training to do. “Of course,” was his reply. Two weeks after radiation, when fatigue was at its worse, I ventured out to Seattle to swim Lake Washington. As I looked out at the white-capped lake with waves swirling in all directions, I thought this is what my life feels like right now – complete turmoil with no hope. I dove in anyway, and after climbing out on the opposite shore, I felt empowered with the thoughts of, “I beat this lake and, although I know this disease has no cure, but it will not beat me. I am now in control.” My entire mood and focus changed at that point.
I began to advocate for more funding and awareness for this unrepresented disease. I founded One Woman Many Lakes and have swum in bodies of water all over the world raising money and educating the public. What keeps me jumping into the water and advocating for MBC is knowing research is our best hope and will save our lives. My fund, More for Stage IV, provides monies for these talented scientists at the UW Carbone Cancer Center in Madison, Wisconsin. As of 2017, we have raised over $400,000.
I realize what I am doing may not be enough time for me but it is my goal that my three children and precious granddaughter should never receive the death sentence of a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Research, research, research. We can not stop until a cure is found or it can be labeled a chronic disease.