(This was the Interview I did with Galveston Daily News. I think it was not published because of the domestic abuse aspect. Written 2019)
I am a domestic abuse survivor now a breast cancer survivor.
Last Summer I had a sunburn on my chest and was touching it.
I found a lump on my breastbone.
I called the doctor and she immediately scheduled me for a mammogram.
That lump did not show on the mammogram so they did an ultrasound.
I had already been reading up on it so when the radiologist kept going over the spot and noted the star pattern, I knew.
They scheduled me for a biopsy and on July 5, 2019, I got the call I had been dreading.
I was stage 1 Grade 3 breast cancer, meaning it had spread.
It was 80% aggressive and they needed to do surgery ASAP.
So 2 weeks later I am undergoing surgery.
In the 2 weeks from biopsy to surgery, one of the tumors had grown from 12 millimeters to 18. everything happened so fast.
I trusted my doctors and did everything they said to do.
They put it in my chemo port, I remember crying because I didn't know it was going directly into my heart.
My poor heart had been broken enough that year.
Dr. Silva is my surgeon and she is amazing.
She said I was the poster child for a perfect surgery.
My friend Ann Lee was on nurse duty for me when I came home from the hospital.
It's a true friend that will take care of you after surgery.
On August 16, 2017, I started chemo. It would have been my 12th wedding anniversary.
So here I am going thru a heart-wrenching divorce, coping with the aftermath of years of domestic abuse and now I would be faced with side effects and losing my hair.
While I was in the chemo chair for my very first chemo, I received a call from the Director of a company I had wanted to work for, for several years.
He asked if I was available and I said yes, when do I start?
He said tomorrow.
I said I will be there.
Not knowing how bad I would feel after chemo ( which was pretty bad), I put on my lipstick and I started my new job.
Within 21 days I began to lose my hair.
Every stroke of the brush was full of my hair, my pillow would have multiple strands on it each morning.
Oddly I never cried.
I noticed that I would hold my breath til I covered my balding head.
I never shaved my head, I left the 20 or so strands that remained.
I wore cute cheap wigs I bought online, and cutsie head covers in many colors.
I went thru 6 months of very strong chemo.
Each time I went to chemo I would wear something cheerful.
In October I wore my wonder woman costume and passed out pink cancer awareness bracelets to the nurses and patients dragging my chemo IV pole down the halls behind me.
In December I wore my Mrs. Santa outfit and passed out candy canes, In February I wore Mardi Gras leggings and passed out Mardi Gras beads.
It made me feel good to cheer up other people.
The Wonder Woman costume kinda became my trademark, I wore it to Walk a mile in her shoes a domestic violence awareness walk.
I was on a walker at that time and my best friend went with me, I was a fall risk at that time.
I wore it for several Charity events.
As sick as I was I always had the need to help others. Dr. Maria Swartz who was in charge of the Pink Warrior program was a God Send to me.
She gave me strength when I wanted to give up.
I owe the confidence I have gained to her and her assistant Heather Herndon
Dr. Venketesan is my young oncologist.
He is this mild-mannered mop top, van shoes-wearing genius.
He is wonderful, he listens and watches over me.
He really is a shining star.
I had a bell ringing when I finished chemo in December, 22 of my friends showed up at the hospital to witness it and be there for me.
They did it again when I rang the bell in February after I finished radiation.
My friends from as far back as high school Ethel York Procell and Lynn Conner Mancuso checked in on me and kept my spirits up.
My co-workers Colleen Miller and Clara Cooley are more like family than co-workers, they have been there to help and support me in every way.
The staff at UTMB and MD Anderson have been so wonderful to me and made things go the best they could possibly go.
- What inspired you to start motivating others?
I know how it feels to be stifled and belittled and made to feel that you are worthless.
I know what the ravages of cancer and the treatment have on a body.
On my journey, I am learning that I have value and that I have a lot to contribute to our community. My favorite quote is " The world is a much brighter place when you live in it" by Joseph Campbell.
I wanted to encourage other domestic abuse and cancer survivors that there is an entire world out there for them.
Together we give each other confidence to try things we may have not had the courage to do before.
I started Galveston Glamper Girls to do that.
I am also Chaplain at Elks Lodge #126 in Galveston, People can call me with problems and know that I understand.
Tell me a little about your Glamping Girls, and the events that you put on.
There are currently 56 members in Galveston Glamping Girls.
I started the group in June 2019 so only a few short months ago.
We have had a CPR class, a class on firestarters and how to start campfires, we have played Bingo together as a group, We have had 2 camping trips, with 2 more scheduled, and learning to fish class coming up.
I love this group because every person in it can teach us something.
We all have worth, We all have value.
1309 1st St, La Marque, TX 77568