Martin has known me since we attended Keigwin Middle School in Middletown. Obviously, at that time we had no clue where the future would take us. When I got sick he did not run or hide from my situation. He has stood by my side and is my rock. People mainly see us as a power couple, which I’m sure we are! But people don’t see what he does for me when the world is not looking. Martin has the most important and the most overlooked job — taking care of me. I am unable to do a lot of things I was able to do before I got sick. He makes me homemade juice each morning to keep nutrients flowing through me, he researches diets and superfoods and makes most of my meals. When my body is at its sickest he basically has to help me with all aspects of daily life. Without him I couldn’t imagine where I would be today.
11th Day of Thankfulness: Everyone who has supported us throughout our journey!
When your first diagnosed with breast cancer setting up a go-fund me is not your first thing you do. We set up our go-fund me when we discovered how expensive all my out of pocket expenses and deductibles would actually be. My first year of cancer would come to cost us $15,000 in 2016. In 2017 cancer would come to cost us $10,500 out of pocket and 2018 will unfortunately be the most now that insurance will not cover me going to Dana Farber which is crucial to my treatment. (All this does not include: transportation, hotel accommodations, healthy food, vitamins, holistic therapies and ext…)
Thanks to everyone who supported us we didn’t lose everything near and dear to us just yet! Thank you everyone for the gift of support and love! Cancer is expensive and can tons of financial desire but thankfully I have been guarded from facing it alone. And for this we are forever thankful!
10th Day of Thankfulness: Illinois Pizzeria in Middletown CT
Cancer is expensive, but a never-ending battle with Metastatic Breast Cancer is especially financially draining. Our local pizzeria Illianos put together a fundraiser to help us through our hard time in the beginning of our journey. They didn’t stop there — they have kept a box for donations out for 19 months and our community continues to support and empower us to continue forward.
Jay doesn't stop their, when I have gotten sick from chemo he has offered me soup and comfort foods. Illiano's is a place I can go when I don't want the world to see me because I know they won't judge me. I'm so thankful for their continued support and love!
After the Starling Darlings helped my wish to meet Mariah Carey go viral in just four days, my video reached her! At that moment the gift of a miracle happened. Yes, we still don’t have a cure for breast cancer, but I believe anything is possible. I met the Queen herself, which before cancer I didn’t think possible. What everyone has done for me to this point provided me the gift of possibility.
During August 2017, when I prepared myself for the worse due to my cancer progressing, I opened my social media app and ding ding ding ding ding — Mariah Carey heard that I had taken a turn for the worse and gave me a public shoutout during the last show on her All the Hits Tour. Instead of tears of sadness, I cried tears of joy and made a deal with myself: I must make it to her next show! And I did — I have not just been to her last show at Foxwoods Casino but I had the opportunity to see her again this month for her All I Want For Christmas Is You concert!
8th Day of Thankfulness: Breast Cancer Research Foundation
The gift of purpose.
When you face Metastatic Breast Cancer there are moments you can’t work, have fun, do anything…
BCRF gave me the gift of purpose during a time most would say “rest” but they knew that isn’t how I thrive. An opportunity to use my situation for good, they gave me a platform to share my story, opportunities to help campaigns for much needed research and support. During August 2017 my cancer progressed to the point I thought it was my time, even feeling terrible they knew I needed empowerment and hope.
They started to invite me to speak and be apart of spreading awareness. They kept me going, full of hope, got me in touch with doctors and researchers and then before I knew it my scans came back and I’m finally improving. Thank you BCRF for the employment and providing the perfect bubble of distraction.
7th Day of Thankfulness: Brandi
January 6th, 2017 an remarkable young woman name Brandi passed away from metastatic breast cancer at the age of 32. Brandi and I never had the opportunity to meet but the more I learn about her, the more her story inspires me. Brandi & I have similar outlooks on life. Our journey with MBC is similar too. We both had to deal with liver and bone metastases at a young age. So similar that we both had metastases in our right hip and experienced the unfortunate pains of MBC. We both don’t have kids. But we both have a loving and strong support system. Brandi didn’t think of herself when the end came near. She wanted to pay it forward to someone facing what she went through. Brandi and Mike searched for someone similar to her and found me and my supportive oncology nurses singing to Mariah Carey. And decided together that when she passed that in lieu of flowers donations to go to me. When Brandi passed my go-fund me (which has been relatively quiet) started to ding and ding. I didn’t understand what was going on. Comments saying in memory of Mother Wolf. I was thinking did they donate to the wrong person?!?! Soon I started to do some research and I realized what was going on. I realized that even when someone should be thinking of themselves they are thinking of others, and how a bad situation can be for good. Brandi gave me hope that one day I can do the same for someone else as she did for me.
So tonight I'm going to remember Brandi, like one day I hope someone takes time to remember me! Thank you for showing me kindness even though I never had the opportunity to meet you. You inspire me still today!
6th Day of Thankfulness: Pink Aid
My 6th day of what I’m thankful for is the Pink Aid in Connecticut. This post comes just in time as I am reminded of just how financially tasking Metastatic Breast Cancer is as my new health insurance jumped up $1,000 dollars today! This is not uncommon for us!
Cancer is financially draining as you could imagine and with all the programs out there that helps, many have barriers that either disqualify you or is very hard to obtain. Pink Aid of Connecticut helped us in 2016 catch up on our bills through their program. But they don’t stop their, they follow my story, and was apart of my Lady Gaga night also.
Cancer is stressful enough, so thank you Pink Aid for continuing to give thrivers like myself hope that we are not alone and an outlet for help!
When my cancer had me physically limited to long stretches in bed I took to the internet and fate again stepped in and I stumbled upon The Pink Agenda and sent a application in for their Fab-U-Wish program. I really need to feel beautiful again after losing my hair, my beautiful youthful skin and a body I know longer knew. The Pink Agenda saw my potential and listened to my story and did much more than make me feel beautiful, they gave me purpose of having this disease and launched my advocacy passion to spread awareness of metastatic breast cancer and the need for research.
Minutes after learning I would battle Metastatic Breast Cancer, instead of melting into my hospital bed my family asked “What do you want?” I said I want to get married to my fiancé of 5 months. Our friends, family and our community rallied together to make our dream wedding happen within 6 days! Most importantly to me, I was able to have wedding pictures of “me” before cancer hijacked my identity. One day where I could shine like a princess surrounded by my closest family and friends who all stopped what they had planned for mothers day weekend to join me for our special day!
Two years ago before breast cancer hit our lives Martin, proposed to me right before I would see Mariah Carey for the first time!!! Two years ago today, I cried tears of joy for being fortunate to have a bright exciting future with my new fiancée. I also cried because two years ago today was the first chance in my life to hear Mariah Carey's voice live. I didn't meet Mariah Carey at this point but it was absolutely marvelous! I can't even believe two years have come and gone but mostly I can't believe everything we have done together in ONLY two years!!! I love you Martin Podermanski thank you for being my rock & knight in shining armor!
3rd Day of Thankfulness:
Earlier this year I met Father John who, even though he is facing his own battles, never stopped putting others before himself. During one of our visits, the story of how I met Mariah Carey came up, and he said, “I wish I could meet Lady Gaga.” Everyone in the room said, “Let’s make this happen”! Now, if you follow my story, cancer battles are similar to roller coasters and make our lives very hard to predict. Most major health issues are rollercoasters!
As Lady Gaga’s show approached, Father John’s roller coaster decided to go downhill and so he couldn’t see her show. I felt so guilty going without him, because I met my hero and he wouldn’t be able to meet his. The entire night I felt something was missing, and it empowered me to see what I could do to help make Father John’s dream come at least partly true. Mariah Carey sent me a shout-out when I was at my worst back in August 2017, so my goal was clear: Get Lady Gaga to make a shout-out video for Father John.
I have learned throughout my journey that anything is possible. This is so important to keep re-proving to myself, so I’m reminded over and over again that the impossible can and does happen — so a cure for metastatic breast cancer is possible.
2nd Day of Thankfulness:
Finding my biological family
After 30 years of not knowing anything about my biological family, after my breast cancer diagnosis my adoptive parents helped me find my biological family in hopes to learn more about my medical history. My first miracle I needed during the first step of my journey.
Video was created for my instagram page on our 1 year of our discovery!
First Day of Genersoity is about my Starling Darlings!
Being an oncology nurse cannot be an easy task. I would have imagined a chemotherapy infusion center to be a dark place filled with gloom and doom. But the nurses at Starling Physicians have huge hearts with the power to drive the darkness away and provide light in a place no one would think light would be. When I needed light they planned a distraction to help lift me up and to help me meet my idol, Mariah Carey. They put together a video with me as the star and changed my journey altogether.
This year was no different! As the holiday’s grew near they asked, “What are we doing this year?” And a big grin hit my face, because not only is it a much needed distraction during chemo but brings unlimited holiday joy to my life! If you have followed my blog, you know I love showing myself anything is possible, because then a cure is possible too. So help me kick off my 12 days of generosity where I share all the wonderful kind things people have done for me this year!
Help us share our video and get on the Jimmy Fallon Show to spread awareness of Metastatic Breast Cancer and the need for a cure! And if you are feeling extra festive and want to bring hope to myself and others battling MBC, give us the gift of research this holiday season by donating to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation or The Pink Agenda!
Since the beginning of my Breast Cancer journey I have been extremely fortunate to have people show incredible kindness to me. Take a look for yourself at my 12 Days of Thankfulness blog that is still underway! But as I sit here finishing up my 8th Day of Thankfulness, Mariah Carey’s video prayer began playing and the overwhelming feelings of gratitude took over. Then Brandi’s post (read more here) popped upand reminded me how she thought of others in her last moments. Now it’s MY time to pay it forward!
I didn’t plan to write a separate blog this holiday season but things come up when you live in the cancer world. I follow several women battling cancer; from survivors to thrivers. This past week I’ve been under the weather, chemo does a lot of good but there is a price to pay. Luckily, checking Facebook requires little effort. That’s when I saw a post from a survivor going through her own challenges. She just discovered her mother has entered hospice and only has a few days to live. In the cancer world, many of us are broke and scared out of our minds as we are seeing our insurance jump through the roof for 2018.
I don’t like posting about how broke cancer makes us but it is a reality. Even though funds are extremely tight for me, it’s the holidays! I also can relate, as we all can. If someone I loved was dying, I would hope my community would rally along side of me to help me say goodbye. Or, if it was me in that death bed would there be a generous soul to help fly my loved one to be by my side. No one should die alone. And we should all be able to say goodbye.
So even though I fear facing financial hardship next year, I couldn’t sit back and see her miss her chance to say goodbye to her mother. Martin & I are able to scrounge up enough money to pay for her trip to get out to Phoenix. However, travel prices are extremely high (Tis the Season!) and we are unable to help her get back.
This is her Go Fund Me account. We got her to Phoenix. She can tell her mom how much she loves her, how much she will miss her, and how she will always remember her. She will be able to say her final goodbye. Yet, she has only $10 in her pocket, sadness in her heart, and fear on her mind – will she get home…? Your generosity and support can help her come home and enjoy the little time she has left with her mom. Please donate today.