Five Years Cancer Free

By Molly MacDonald


In the cancer world, five years cancer free is a milestone.  Today, April 1st 2010 marks mine.

Five years ago I was walking down Park Avenue in New York City having just made a presentation to Major League Baseball to handle the graphics program for the 2005 All Star Game to be played that June in Detroit. The company I was joining was on the short list to receive the bid.

In the cab on my way back to LaGuardia, my cell phone rang.  The voice on the other end was my OB/GYN, who delivered all five of my precious children was  now charged with delivering the devastating news no woman wants to hear, which begins with “I’m sorry,” and ends with “You have breast cancer.”

I boarded the plane, trying to control the tears welling in my eyes, spilling onto my cheeks.  I was successful in stifling the stunned sob sitting in the base of my throat, but not the thoughts spinning in  my mind.

I was not even sure I heard her properly.  I mean I heard the breast cancer part but what exactly was my diagnosis?  This was  Friday and I would have to wait until Monday to find out more.

I knew nothing of staging or grades or terms like lobular, invasive, inflammatory, bi-lateral, Ductal carcinoma insitu.   Questions regarding choices like prosthesis (I wear one) reconstruction, transflaps, implants “The Deep,” all became part of a part of my daily vocabulary.

While clearly I am not a Doctor, I now know just enough about breast cancer to toss around terms like metastatic disease, Her 2 positive,  ER negative, reoccurrence . . . .

I know enough to know that some of  the women I meet and come to love, I may lose to this disease as I experienced two weeks ago in the loss of Pink Fund volunteer Bernie Kitchen.  And the loss of my neighbor of 11 years Susan, a year ago Christmas.

Within weeks of my diagnosis,  the loss of my income began to impact our family in ways I could not have imagined.  Within months our home went into foreclosure and by the end of my treatment, six months later, I found myself standing in line at the local food bank, where the boxes of provisions to feed us for a month, in reality would last only a few days.

I realized then as I do now, that any family is just one divorce, death, job loss or health issue, in my case breast cancer, away from potential homelessness and hunger.

I founded The Pink Fund to address those issues.

Five years ago, when my life looked not worth living, because I was sick and tired and unemployed and feeling hopeless, staring down homelessness and hunger, I could not have imagined the life so worth living today.

How about you?  How has breast cancer impacted your life?  Did you change careers, take up a new hobby, start a cause, retire early to pursue your passion?

My passion?  Need you ask?  The Pink Fund!

The Pink Fund was founded to provide short-term financial aid in the form of direct bill payments for breast cancer patients in active treatment who have lost their stream of income. In August of 2010 The Pink Fund will launch a national fund-raising campaign to bring awareness that while early detection and research are important book ends of this disease, those in treatment are hoping for help.  And that is where The Pink Fund steps in.

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