I have been a doctor for thirty years. This has been a dream come true because it was my life’s goal since I was 10 years old. I have been a primary caregiver with a philosophy always to treat patients the way I would treat myself or my family. I have always been a teacher and leader at hospitals and in medical business relations.
At 55 in 2014, I found a breast mass that turned out to be Stage 2 breast cancer. This put a large rock suddenly stopping the fast rolling wheels of the peak of my career. After the mastectomy, chemo and radiation, I picked back up the fast pace as a Hospitalist, traveling all throughout Arizona and Oregon. Being a wife and a mother of 2 beautiful teen girls. Thank God my cancer genetics were showed no suggestion of a familial risk. Life continued and I felt confident that the breast cancer would never be the cause of a shortened life for me. I FELT AWESOME.
At my one year cancer-free anniversary, I was planning to relocate Tucson where I and both of my daughters were born. They planned to attend the University of Arizona. It was very exciting. I found a very old, needy house to buy and was celebrating with my girls, yard-saling, when I suddenly awoke intubated in the ICU of a Tucson hospital. After the breathing machine was removed, I was informed that I had a grand mal seizure and they had found a tumor in my right front brain. The neurosurgeon was new to me, but I had worked for many years with the rest of my doctor care team, many of whom were long term friends.
I agreed to have the tumor removed. Initially we all believed it would be metastatic breast cancer, but the surgeon discovered that it was a GBM. He removed as much as possible and placed the Gliadel wafers.
OMG. When I was told the mass was a GBM, I got on my iPad and read for hours. Needless to say, IT SUCKED. I started planning end of life necessities. The usual regimen of radiation and oral chemo was completed. I added OPTUNE DEVICE September 2015. To this day, I continue to have a normal physical exam, again thank God. The months of June and July this year, I completed the measles virus injection at Mayo in Rochester, with a total of 3 more brain surgeries. Major stress and fear, but with my family present, I and we are doing well. I am home in Tucson.
Now I resume dealing with the fact I have no income since I have no job since June 2015. Thank God I have a wonderful, supportive and involved family. I am starting to look at creating a brand new a job as a physician who will be a partner and advocate for cancer patients. I hope to start a new business as a patient advocate who will provide the needed networking and personal touch that we all need as we see our doctors and have tough decisions to make. I am anxious to start.
I am reaching out now for where and how to start this business. I do not want to stop being a doctor, a mom or an independent person taking care of all my needs. But, now I need to redefine my role and accommodate my special needs.
As I finish with this brief story, I must acknowledge that the most wonderful discovery brain cancer has brought to me has been a renewed connection and partnership with God. My faith, hope and plans for a long future keep me from feeling alone or hopeless or suicidal. I now plan to create a purpose for myself. I want compassion, education and empowerment to become contagious in brain cancer patients.
I am with all who are going through this terrible, devastating adventure with brain cancer.