There is no way to accurately describe the emotions that swept through me in October 2014 when Tom (my awesome husband) and I heard the devastating news from my doctors that I had stage 4 breast cancer – which I now only refer to as “treatable, non-curable cancer”. People don’t cry when I say that; where as when they hear“stage 4” they usually cry. My mentality is to fight it – not to cry about it!
I felt perfectly healthy when I received the diagnosis. I had recently had my first appointment with a new OB/GYN. He finished with a hand exam and was not completely comfortable with things. He asked me to go in for an early mammogram just to be sure there wasn’t anything going on. The mammogram didn’t show anything and they followed up with an ultrasound, which also didn’t show anything conclusive. My doctors and I agreedI should start getting yearly MRI’s due to family history and because I am hard to read in mammograms. Four weeks later, I had an MRI and it led the doctor to explore further with a biopsy. That is when the cancer was detected. After a week of tests I was diagnosed with stage 4 – meaning it had spread to my bones.
I was in shock – but quickly asked: “So, what are we going to do about it?” My family and Iset out to find the best medical team there was. There was no time to feel sorry for myself. And that brought us to Dana Farber.
Within days, the unbelievable Doctors, medical team, and entire community at Dana Farber made me feel like I had a new extended family. They have been there for me every step of the way. I quickly learned that they have access to research and the latest drugs. More importantly, I learned they have an in describable dedication to their patients. They were able to give me a prognosis that I have “many, many years to live.” My job is to trust and live my life fully every day and trust them to have access to solutions for me to fight my cancer for “many, many years”.
Before I go further, I should point out that I’ve always been a very active person who seeks out new adventures and fitness has been at the core of every step I’ve taken.I love to work out and be around active people. From playing competitive sports in college and running marathons, to working for great brands like Reebok for 20+ years and later joining a team of friends from my Reebok days that were ready to start the OOFOS brand -fitness has always played a significant role in my life.
OOFOS has been my most recent career adventure. This team of friends had developed a technology that was filling an unmet need in the marketplace and is truly making a positive difference in people’s lives. I decided to take a risk and leave a robust financial career path to join a start up business that could truly make a difference in peoples lives. It has been an amazing 3+ years working with the team to build a brand that truly stands behind our mission statement to help make people feel better: make yOO feel better.
I never imagined that I would add cancer and “surfing” to my list of challenges in life, but that being said my career path has given me a good foundation. My doctor told me to be prepared that cancer has its ups and downs, just like surfing the waves. My job is to enjoy the high waves and ride them like a champion, and stay on the board when the waves are low. WOW, how similar is that to business and life in general?!
How many days in life have we all thought: ugh, I just don’t want to deal with this. Well in my cancer journey there have been a day or two where I just thought – “I think I’m just going to swim to shore”, or “Oh man, this better not be my new normal” when I was in a lot of pain. So far I have been lucky that I have been surfing mainly awesome high waves filled with positive learning experiences thanks to my medical team at Dana Farber, as well as my family and friends. But when a low wave does come along, my team at Dana Farber is there any time of day to teach me how to balance and stay on the board.
Thankfully, many people are on this journey with me and have helped make this experience a gift. My kids and my husband have been amazing. We don’t dwell on it; we live each day to the fullest and are grateful for each other. My family and friends have been absolutely amazing. They know I do not do well with sympathy attention and instead support me by laughing and living, and even coming over after dark to light a candle, say a prayer and enjoy a drink by the “Milton Grotto” that my husband built in our backyard.
OOFOS has also been a key partner in this journey. I know they are there for me each and everyday. We have taken our top 2 selling shoes (the OOriginal thong in fuschia and black) and have put a breast cancer ribbon on them –the Ribbon OOriginal. For EVERY pair sold on our website, we are donating $10 to Dana Farber Breast Cancer research. How awesome is that!