CURE Community Vlogs: Turning Lemons into Lemonade After a Cancer Diagnosis
“Everything is perspective. It's how you look at it.”
PUBLISHED June 20, 2020
Well, prior to getting sick, I lived a very healthy life. I worked out six days a week, running, hiking, going to the gym, and I always ate really well, vegetables, high protein. You know, I was just like chasing JLo because in 2018, I was finishing working two jobs. I was about to graduate in May with my associate’s degree in journalism. And I had plans of going to Miami, and in 2018, I was turning 50. So I wanted to be in a bikini and be in the best shape of my life. And I was chasing Jennifer Lopez. I always admired her ability to be this powerhouse businesswoman but also look and feel good. So, I always worked out. Never smoke, don't drink alcohol. Don't drink coffee. I mean, I was doing everything.
So, when I went to Miami, everything was great. When I came back a few months later, I just started feeling super tired. And I never really get sick. So I did something with that. I was like, okay, something's wrong with my body, it is a little sluggish. I'm feeling tired. Then my back started hurting. And it felt like I needed to go to the chiropractor. And little by little, I started losing weight. But in my mind, this was a good thing. I had never really been skinny. I have always been just sort of very shapely and toned with solid muscle. So I was like, this is kind of cool. But I knew I wasn’t feeling good so I had to figure out what it was.
Then I went to the dentist to get my checkup and my dentist said, Hey, have you been sick? And I said, no, I haven't been sick but there's a back issue, killing me. He said why don't you tell me about it. He listed questions off: Is your body is off? He said you're sick inside, but I can't exactly tell you what it is. You need to go to the doctor. I said, Okay, so I made an appointment to go to my doctor to get a physical. I had a colonoscopy, I had my mammogram, everything came back fine.
Then I went a few weeks later, and my doctor said, well, you know, you've been complaining about your back and for some reason you're losing so much weight, what is going on? Why don't we do an MRI of your spine? She did the MRI. I had three lesions on my spine. She sent me to her friend, Dr. Cooper Nora, who is my oncologist, and said, I want you to look at what I see, because I believe, you know, this could be cancer, but I don't want to say that until you actually review it. So he ran some tests. And sure enough, he came back with the results. And this was the day before Thanksgiving on November 21, 2018. And he called me and said you need to come to my office. So I went.
And he said, You have stage 4 lung cancer. It started in your lungs, but it spread to your spine, your pelvis and the top of your right shoulder. He said your bones are producing something that the cancer likes. That's why it's sort of spread so, you know haywire. At that time I was 94 pounds.
But you know, like anything in my life, I sort of tried to look at the bright side. And at first, it was like overwhelming because it was like, it doesn't make any sense because I'm like, how could this possibly be when I was doing everything right? Eating right, working out taking care of myself, not a sick person. Don't smoke.
So a friend of mine was there with me at the time that my doctor told me and she was like a bulldog. She went crazy. She was screaming and yelling and fussing at him and he was like, get it all out, you know? And me on the other hand was sitting there just trying to comprehend it. Take it all in and just sort of digest it. And so we went out to eat and she was like you need to eat food is food is going make us feel better. So we went out to eat, and you're just trying to absorb it all. It was almost like it was like these phases of words that were drifting, and I can see them but I couldn't actually touch or really feel them because they almost didn't seem like they belong to me. Like the diagnosis and the words you’re hearing, it belonged to somebody else. And maybe he got me mixed up with someone else. But he was delivering this news.
So I took a day to just let it sink in, absorb it, and then the next day I called my mom, my dad, my brother, I told my sister, and then as I was saying it, it began to become more real like oh my gosh, okay, I went from being super healthy. Now. I'm going to be inundated with the worst medicine and I'm going to be overloaded and my body isn't even used to it because I'm so used to eating and doing everything healthy.
So once it was out there and the news started to spread amongst my family, for me it was like okay, so what am I going to do? So I called my doctor and I said, Well, here's the deal. I don't have any plans on going anywhere. So you got to find the cure. So you need to tell me what I need to do. And I'll do what I need to do. And I said, I know right now, first and foremost, I'm in for the hardest battle of my life, because one, I'm not a sick person. So I'm going to be inundated with this nasty medicine. Not sure what it's going to do to me. But everything is perspective. It's how you look at it. And I told him, I said, it's mind over matter. I am very positive. And I've worked for years on telling myself, everything starts in your brain, and if you can think it, believe it, you'll eventually achieve it. Everything starts in your brain from the way you feel to the way you react to the way you handle situations. This is just one of those life lemons situations that I'm going to completely turn around. I didn't know at the time how it was going to really alter my life as far as friendships, work, financial or any of that, but I knew that it was going to be a big shift.