This Warrior Wednesday, we wanted to share the story of one of our biggest supporters, volunteers, and advocates: Amy P. (left)
If the Orlando Sports Foundation is having a fundraising event, you can bet that Amy will be the first one signed up to volunteer. It’s impassioned advocates like Amy that makes our mission of bringing teams together to find a cure for cancer possible.
For Amy, her choice to join the OSF’s mission was a personal one. Read Amy’s Warrior Wednesday story below:
OSF: Tell us your personal story.
A: Coming from a family with a long history of breast cancer, it was not unexpected (although certainly not welcome) that I was diagnosed with BC in 2006. I had “a lump” that mammograms didn’t seem to see. The ultrasound didn’t either, but I had a good doctor who wasn’t satisfied and sent me for an MRI. There it was. As most people will say, BC is never “convenient”, but my doctor did let me wait a couple of weeks for surgery so I could enjoy my son’s wedding. I told my immediate family prior to the wedding, but didn’t tell anyone else until after.
Then the whirlwind began – lumpectomy (and a 2nd when the margins were not clear), radiation and chemo. I was back at work for most of that. I loved my job and figured that acting “normally” would be helpful. For me, it was, and I had a great boss who allowed me to take time off when I needed to do so, never mind the best family and friends to support me with whatever I needed (even if I didn’t realize what those needs were). There were some problems after the initial treatment, but I was a survivor. Yep! Even ended up with the curliest and darkest hair I ever had in my life. Rather a change from the natural red.
Then came 2009 and my life really changed. The day that I found out the job I loved was eliminated, I was told I had BC again. My doctor and I agreed that we didn’t want to keep having this conversation so after talking with my family I had a bilateral mastectomy followed by chemo and reconstruction. I also retired, having chosen to take an early retirement rather than face treatment plus a new job (even relocation) at the same time, all of which was very much agreed upon by my husband. This time was definitely hard, but I had the support of family and friends to help me through. As a TWO TIME survivor, I ended up with the prettiest and softest little curls, all white, for a long time until the “new natural” multi-tone hair came in. “THIS time”, I thought, “One of my sisters won’t have to deal with getting BC.” Once again, I was wrong….but that’s another story.
OSF: How old were you when you were diagnosed?
A: I had just turned 51.
OSF: What stage were you diagnosed with?
A: I have no idea what stage cancers I had. However, I evidently had multiple “types” and these were spider-webbed (for lack of better terminology) and hard to find. Luckily, technology (mammograms, etc.) have become so much better at finding cancers.
OSF: What did your support system look like?
A: My support system – my husband, my children, my Mother, my siblings, my nieces/nephews, my friends, my boss, my “work team”. They made sure I was not doing too much (or they tried anyway). They took care of some of the things I normally would. They surprised me by having my house professionally cleaned, they listened and never pushed too hard. My support system was also my team of doctors – who are the best. Most of them “fired me” when I didn’t need them anymore, except my oncologist. I won’t let him fire me….I need him to tell me once a year that I’m still okay.
OSF: What’s your best advice for anyone currently fighting cancer?
A: Amy’s Rules for Cancer: 1 – It’s okay to cry (I liked the shower) 2 – It’s okay to have a pity party, but you cannot leave up the decorations. 3 – Let people help you. They want to, but you have to tell them how. 4 – There are angels everywhere – people who will surprise you with goodness. Watch for them. 5 – When you feel better, find your passion. Do something that makes a difference – volunteer or otherwise help someone somewhere.
OSF: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
A: The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was thinking that I am and must always be Superwoman, Caregiver of the Entire World!!! Not so. It is hard to let that go and speak up when you need someone or something, but I swallowed SOME of my stubbornness in that area (or so I hope).
OSF: What does the Cure Bowl mean to you?
A: The Cure Bowl is my answer to Amy’s Rules for Cancer. So many in my family have had to deal with BC and related cancers – both female and male. I need to do my absolute best to make sure we figure this out so MY kids and MY grands and ALL of yours don’t have to deal with this. I am so blessed to be able to try and so thankful that the people involved in the Cure Bowl are the wonderful people they are.
OSF: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: I have had multiple genetics tests done and, thus far, we are no closer to finding out what is going on in my family. I will continue to do whatever I can to make sure we do our best to BEAT THIS THING!! There are so many of us out there….if you need help, just ask, find a mentor, get a whole team behind you.
Thank you to Amy for sharing her story with us. The entire OSF team sends our love.
Thank you to Dr. Phillips Charities for sponsoring our Warrior Wednesday program.
If you or a loved one have been affected by cancer and would like to share your story, please fill out this form to be considered for our next Warrior Wednesday spotlight.