It’s November and I’m still thinking about October, Breast Cancer Awareness month. I will forever be thinking about Breast Cancer and how it affects so many people each and every day and throughout the year. I shared my story with the TAP last year and I would like to continue to share my story with all of you. I was diagnosed with triple negative Breast Cancer on June 17th, 2015 a day I will never forget, hearing that word Breast Cancer.
I went through the chemotherapy; I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction, then radiation and some more chemo. I finished my radiation in February of 2016. What I did find out was devastating to me, my pathology report from my surgery showed that the chemo only killed 30% of my cancer and I was at a high risk for reoccurrence. I was completely devastated to hear that the chemo that sucked the life out of me, made me so sick, only killed 30% of my cancer! My oncologist decided to put me on more chemo, a pill form and that I would have to complete eight cycles and this would continue my treatment until the middle of September 2016, this was such a long road!
We learn a great deal about ourselves when we face death and are suffering with disease. Life shows us to not allow toxic relationships and to rid ourselves of relationships that are unhealthy. What is important in life is family and friends and the love that we show each other on a daily basis. I had been so consumed for years with being successful, making money and suddenly I felt so empty because money, material things even my success didn’t mean anything to me anymore. I was really at a crossroad in my life not knowing if I had a future to look forward to, not knowing if I would survive this disease. Not knowing if I would watch my children grow up to become adults one day. The real truth is we are never guaranteed tomorrow.
I just went to the Corner Stone Retreat at St. Bart’s this past weekend something I’ve been meaning to do for the last couple of years and probably would have passed it over if it wasn’t for Mike Walsh handing me the flyer. Yes, this was going to be the year that I went to this retreat! Our lives get so busy and full and we have so many agendas, noise all around us. I just wanted to feel connected again, something I hadn’t felt since childhood. I don’t believe in coincidence; I believe I was meant to experience this retreat something called Divine intervention. If it wasn’t for Mike handing me this piece of paper I probably would have let another year go by. I think it is so hard sometimes to slow down and tune in to what your heart is saying, and my heart was saying I needed to find God again.
Through Women’s Cornerstone VII, I learned how much I’ve suppressed in the last few years, this experience for me was such a release as well as opening my eyes to living a more faith based life style. I will forever be grateful for this experience and to my Cornerstone Sisters thank you for sharing and I just want to say You All ROCK!!
I want to share with all of you a letter my husband wrote to me for this Cornerstone Retreat. This is the only letter my husband has ever written me.
My Dearest Rose,
This is the first letter I have ever written you. So, I guess I will start from the beginning. We have had to overcome a hand full of hardships and decisions from the very first day of our marriage. Beginning with all the testing during your pregnancy, to the very dry doctor who sat us down to tell us there is something wrong with our son. We were left with a decision to be made about further testing and to be prepared even to make a harder decision in the future. Two days after we said “I do” you went through horrible procedures. As you know we were blessed with a very special boy. For the next year or two we struggled as a couple. I was carrying my own demons that put us through some very tough times. You stood by my side when I needed you the most. Thank You!
Our lives had begun to improve dramatically as the years passed on. We have had tremendous success in our careers. Life is great! You were talked into running for Town Council in Scotch Plains. We were told it would consume your time, but not more than two days a month. We found out that wasn’t true. Between the nights walking house to house, campaigning and attending all the functions. You won. You have been in my opinion the best thing that has happened to this town. You bring knowledge of finance, compassion for the seniors, stability and bi partisanship to the council. Because of you, citizens have started volunteering again and getting involved in the town something that was lost for some time.
In June 2015, you were hit with that dreadful word cancer. Though I’m not in your shoes and could not imagine the weight of that, I felt like my perfect world was collapsing on me and I couldn’t breathe. I tried to stay strong and act like everything was ok. I hoped it helped. What I witnessed over the next 14 months was both terrifying and amazing. I saw a woman lose her hair, have surgery, be bedridden for weeks at a time and go through horrible chemo side effects. During those same horrible months, you only missed one council meeting. You met every obligation there was to do and more. You did more in 12 months on council then most do in their term! You refused to be beaten. I would not want to be your enemy. You are a fighter!
Writing this letter really stirred up a lot of emotions. It made me reflect on who you are, and why I fell in love with you. I am your biggest fan.
I want to say Thank You to my husband for taking such great care of me not just physically but emotionally when I needed you the most, you never doubted that I would get healthy and most of all for being my best friend. Thank you to the Scotch Plains community and my seniors for always sending me your prayers and kind words I will forever be grateful.
Thank you to our town manager Al Mirabella and your lovely wife for all your support. Thank You to Colleen Gialanella, my warrior sister, for all your recommendations and unwavering support. To my Irene & Margaret, I love you guys! To the Mayor Kevin Glover and his wife Joanne Thank You for being there for me when I needed you the most! To my mother, sister& brother you’re the best!! To my father in law Ralph Checchio you will always have a special place in my heart. My mother in law Elaine thank you for your never-ending support. My Abby and Avi, Joni, mike and Melissa you gave me strength. Barbara, you were with me the very first day of my diagnosis and thank you for all your love and support. My Ally and Aunt June Thank you for everything you did for me. My two children Alex and Taylor you gave me the strength to keep fighting this horrible disease and you give me so much joy in my life!
To all the men and women that are fighting this dreadful disease Cancer, keep fighting you are all Warriors!!