During the holiday season we all come together to express our gratitude. What women like us — battling metastatic breast cancer — are thankful for is life. But today’s blog post is much different than my other ones, because today I’m going to write about Elisa, who started her battle with breast cancer at just 24 years old. She started with Stage 2 breast cancer and went through what most survivors experience: Chem, radiation, surgery… which is no walk in the park!
Elisa, a mother of two young children, went through extensive treatment and had a double mastectomy. She became a proud survivor, who hoped that breast cancer would be in her past, an ordeal she would always remember but would get past. But about 30 percent of survivors unfortunately face the risk of their cancer returning and metastasizing to other parts of the body. Elisa was one of the 30 percent, and at the age of 26 she learned her cancer had spread to her brain.
The holiday season is especially difficult for Elisa because it was on Christmas Eve two years ago that doctors operated to remove a 5-centimeter mass from her brain. When Elisa woke from that surgery, she had lost the ability to walk and talk.
Think about being 26 and having to re-learn daily functions we take for granted. Having to re-learn how to walk and talk, clinging to your memories so you don’t forget your kids. Breast cancer has deprived her of so much, including being able to be with her children. They are being cared for by relatives in Florida. When we met, though, she welcomed me with a big smile. A true thriver — able to cherish the good when surrounded by such hardship.
While we chatted and got to know each other during my chemo session she told me how much she misses her kids. Because her medical care is in Connecticut, it wasn’t feasible for her to move to Florida. So she re-enrolled in college to make her kids proud. I have not had brain surgery and I would be intimidated to return to school with just my chemo brain! When I heard how she asks for so little my survivors-gift guilt hit me hard. I’ve been so fortunate to have people grant me opportunities to live and experience things while I still can. When Elisa met me at chemo I didn’t plan to write a blog about her or create a video, but after hearing her story I knew hers needed to be shared just as much as mine.
So, if you’re reading this and you can think of a way to get Elisa to Florida, reach out! Let’s create a magical Florida experience for this mother and her children!
Vlog Coming Soon...