We all have moments in life that help us define “before & after” – for some of us, such occasions might include the day we got married… had kids… worked here or there… and then for others of us, it’s when we were diagnosed with cancer.
That moment came for me in July of 2005. It was a moment that really never should have happened at all, because I was so young and in excellent health, and had just ten months earlier given birth to one of the biggest, healthiest babies ever! So there I found myself in the hospital, in front of a trusted surgeon whom I had known for years, and her eyes were welling with tears as she was telling me how very sorry she was, but… “It’s cancer.”
And all I could think was: “She’s got the wrong chart; that can’t be mine – I didn’t come in for cancer. I just had a baby, and he needs me.” As if any of that might matter to cancer. The year that followed was a whirlwind of emotions; there was major surgery, then minor surgery, multiple rounds of chemo followed by scans and doctor visits – and all of this was punctuated by first-words and first-steps and the tremendous light and laughter that only a toddler can generate.
Our wonderful son, Joey, was such a happy baby, and is now a happy “big kid” at seven years of age. He was then, and always will be, the greatest blessing of our lives. I am so proud of how my family and friends rallied around me when I was fighting cancer. My husband, Paul, is amazing; his strength and spirituality carried us through the darkest hours. My parents accompanied me to every single one of my chemo treatments, and my brother was always available to help us in any way we needed. All of our friends were so kind to us throughout that entire time. We are so blessed to have such wonderful and positive people in our lives; we had so many visitors come to call on us, bringing food & flowers, all helping to keep our spirits up. People literally came out of the woodwork to pray for and with us then, and I love being able to tell them that their prayers were answered.
I am cancer-free and back in excellent health again, and so grateful to have this time to spend with my wonderful family. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not always able to fully understand what that reason might be. While recovering from surgery in the Don Monti Cancer Center at Huntington Hospital, I found myself wondering who Don Monti was; and now all these years later, I feel so blessed to work with this wonderful Foundation which bears his name and is his legacy. I feel so strongly that I am exactly where I am meant to be right now, and knowing that brings me an extraordinary sense of peace.