I am no stranger to cancer. I had nearly 20 years of experience as an oncology nurse when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which is the type of blood cancer I have, in February 2003. However my previous knowledge did not lessen the shock of my diagnosis. I was completely overwhelmed. When my doctor said ‘you have cancer,’ I really didn’t hear anything else. I always encouraged my patients and their families to take one day at a time. I quickly realized I was a much better nurse than a patient. After many tears and sleepless nights, I stopped asking ‘why me’ and starting asking ‘why not me??’ Because in reality, no one is immune. It can strike anyone.
I realized that my faith in God and my nursing knowledge would sustain me. So I decided to use my knowledge to help others. I read everything I could about multiple myeloma. I lobbied Congress twice in Washington for better drug coverage and increased funds for cancer research. I also gained much information from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and have helped lobby for blood cancer in Washington and Columbus, Ohio. I initiated a local support group for myeloma patients and their caregivers and it has been running strong since 2003. I am now a retired nurse, but I have redefined my nursing role and will continue my passion for helping other cancer patients. I co-founded a nonprofit organization with another survivor called the Yellow Brick Place and we are currently attempting to open a cancer wellness center in our area. It will provide complementary, support services for cancer patients, free of charge to them and their caregivers.
I am incredibly blessed to have wonderful support. My mom Carmie, my husband Jerry, my four children and seven grandchildren, with one more on the way, and all my wonderful family and friends are always there to support me. In spite of this, I felt very alone at diagnosis, and I felt if I could help one more person not feel so alone, that this is how I could really help others. I also like to stress to others that you don’t have to have a medical background to be educated about your disease and treatment options. KNOWLEGDE IS POWER!!!
This is the way I choose to live my life:” Live with love. Work with joy. Share what you have. Be thankful always. Play as hard as you work. Make up your mind to be happy. Treasure your family.