My Personal Cancer Story
I was diagnosed in 2016 with Metastatic Breast Cancer (DeNovo), soon after my 30th birthday. At the time I was diagnosed, I worked as an Assistant Sous Chef at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and as Food and Beverage Manager at Mad River Mountain Ski Resort. I am currently being treated at Stefanie Spielman Breast Center in Columbus, Ohio
Too young for mammograms, I actually found my breast tumor on accident, thinking at the time the pressure if felt was from rolling over onto my cell phone. At the time I was diagnosed, I had no idea that young people got or had a risk of dying of breast cancer. Upon my initial diagnosis, I heard from those around me that I was young and would surely “beat” my cancer.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t have been more wrong. Breast Cancer that leaves the breast is terminal, and at the time of my diagnosis – it had already spread to my bones, lungs and liver. Over 4 years later, after multiple lines of treatment, it was also found that my breast cancer had spread to my brain.
Though the median prognosis for metastatic breast cancer in 2020 is only 36 months – I credit my survival thus far to the continued research for metastatic breast cancer and the emphasis on quality of life through palliative care paired with my treatments. My crucible – not unlike many patients – has been riddled with financial toxicity, insurance, access to care barriers, and side effects that have affected me as whole person, beyond a mere cancer diagnosis.
The only way I will continue to live with this disease is through new and innovative research for this deadly stage of breast cancer. If will power or choosing to “keep fighting” was enough to keep me alive, I would be here forever. The truth is that research and palliative care are the only sure way I will be able to live a long life with a good quality of life far beyond my 35th birthday. In 2020, approximately only 22% of patients will be alive 5 years after their diagnosis. Through partnership in research in clinical trials we can work to ensure that one day no one will die from breast or any other metastatic forms of cancer. Until then – we have to continue to join together and work towards more and better life sustaining treatments and insure that financial and other barriers never prevent someone from being able to access life sustaining care.
My Advocacy Story
Being the granddaughter of a suffragette and having a background in public policy during my time in college, advocacy became a way I could show gratitude for the progress that has been made to keep me alive while striving to continue to move the needle for myself and those who are living with or will be diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Since diagnosis, I have spent time as a patient advocate for Metastatic Breast Cancer research, funding, and awareness both independently and with organizations such as Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Komen Columbus, Susan G. Komen, Eli Lilly, Dr. Joe Explains, Cancer Support Community of Columbus, and Metavivor. I am an active public speaker, writer, and food blogger and have been featured/ seen on Al Jazeera News, AllRecipes.com, Everyday Health, People.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, Health.com, Our American Stories, Good Morning America, GMA Day, TheUnderbelly.org, and various other national, state and local news programs.
I am active in political outreach for metastatic breast cancer and have presented before the Ohio House and Senate Cancer Caucus in partnership with other advocates during Ohio MBC Action Day. I also served as the Chair of the 2018 Ohio Metsquerade. I am proud to have received proclamations from Ohio Governor John Kasich and Franklin County Commissioners for organizing the first ever Ohio Metastatic Breast Cancer Action Weeks in September of 2018; and the first ever Tori Geib Courage in Action Award named for my advocacy by Komen Columbus in 2019. I was also the recipient of the Eliza Adams "Thriver of the Year Award" in 2020 by Komen Greater NYC for my advocacy work on behalf of the breast cancer community.
I have been honored to be chosen previously to serve as the Honorary Chair of Komen Columbus’ Race for the Cure and a mentor for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Hear My Voice Program, from which I am also and alumni.
I am a graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene University (BA Criminal Justice & Sociology) and Columbus State Community College (Culinary Arts/ Baking and Pastry & Travel and Tourism). I currently live in Central Ohio with my family and dog Georgie. I enjoy traveling every chance I can.
For more about my story and my advocacy, visit the Advocacy and Media Tab