A double nomination by Corinne.
In 2004 I had no health insurance. The penalty for the pre-existing condition known as “female and over 30” meant paying $500 per month with no coverage for breast or gynecological health, which was not in the budget. I was 33, a freelancer, a martial artist, and a kickboxing instructor – in the best shape of my life – with a lump in my breast, at a public hospital for surgery, reconstruction, chemo, and Tamoxifen. In 2015 I was a 10-year cancer survivor and a media tech executive when I repeatedly demanded a CT from the only oncologist my insurance would cover, and found Mets to my spine, bones, lymph, and lungs, with ongoing malignant pleural effusion that had to be drained 9 times.
The cancer learning curve is steep, and the best, most useable information and tools have come from resilient thrivers. Robin reached out to me when I was consumed by pain and fear, had little hope and even less perspective, and showed me by her own example that it’s possible to live with this diagnosis long term. The idea of “support groups” was the furthest thing from helpful to me, but I met for lunch with Robin and Nina Mueller – without whom I cannot imagine where I would be today. Robin and Nina were extraordinary angels, offering encouragement at every turn, sharing stories and tips, helping me make my self and my health a priority: a.k.a. Embracing Your Inner Bad-Ass, a.k.a Namaste. I had been dabbling in yoga time permitting, and they both inspired me to dedicate more time to my own healing. Slowly but surely, I embraced their guidance, and I believe that is a large part of why I am still here today. Like so many other Mets Sisters, Nina the cancer diva died. I try to fully honor her by using my “early retirement” to help other thrivers the way she did, and pass along as many morsels of knowledge as possible.
I am nominating Robin and myself for the Cowgirls vs. Cancer retreat. Robin single handedly has helped dozens of thrivers, and in 2018 launched the first annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference in Chicago. The April 2020 MBCC will contain some of those most thoughtful, inclusive, practical programming I have seen, making the formidable mysteries of living with this diagnosis that much more doable for attendees and participants. She asked me to lead a practitioners panel around the topic of Expanding Your Care Beyond Oncology and I will present my Palliative, Social Work, Counseling, Anesthesiology, Survivorship, and Physical Therapy dream team. We will start and finish each day of the conference with a group wellness activity, based on the Yoga tenants of combining intention, breathing, movement, and mindfulness, as we have both learned first hand how beneficial this practice can be. The Cowgirls vs. Cancer event in May would be the ideal decompress and recharge retreat for Robin and myself following the April conference. We are all too familiar what inspiration and inner healing can be gained from being in the presence of fellow thrivers, and cheering them on to Kick Cancer’s Ass.