"In August 2015 I was diagnosed stage iv lung cancer. My cancer has a specific genetic mutation. My chemo is a pill. My last scan showed no evidence of disease. I love my job, so I'm still working and things are going well."
I'm very public with my story on Facebook, Twitter and this blog. My co-workers know about my lung cancer. Delivering mail is one of the few things I have that isn't connected to lung cancer and being sick. I've been very selective in telling only a handful of customers about my diagnosis. But the very few that do know are now my biggest cheerleaders. I know it's no coincidence that the people I chose were either a cancer survivor themselves, had a personal connection to lung cancer or had a close family member diagnosed with cancer after I shared my story.
I've had the privilege to publicly share my lung cancer story two times this month. The first was at the Denver Lung Force Walk. It was such an honor to share my story along with three other Lung Force Heroes. Every story you hear starts with the initial lung cancer diagnosis shock and continues with courage, bravery, inspiration and hope.
I was a member of the Lung Force Walk Committee. This was my first time volunteering on the committee. It was exciting to help plan and be behind the scenes of such a successful event. Thank you to everyone that participated and donated. We exceeded our fundraising goal by raising over $40,000!!!
On June 17, 2016 I shared my lung cancer story at the Patient Advocate Breakfast at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
|Patient Advocate Speakers with IASLC staff|
At the breakfast I heard the perspective of lung cancer from a 10 year old boy, Coy, who's mother, Kathy Weber, is a lung cancer survivor. If that doesn't hit you in the heart, I don't know what will. Kathy and Coy also spoke of their Pro Bowl experience. Kathy was the second highest fundraiser for last year's Team Draft Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge. Kathy and her family won a trip to the Pro Bowl. I've been interested in this contest since the first time I heard of it.
Football and the Cleveland Browns have been a big part of my life. Even more so this last year. I received my lung cancer diagnosis during the NFL 2015/16 preseason. Jeremy and I attended the first preseason game together. At that point we knew I had non small cell, adenocarcinoma.
The next afternoon was the appointment when we found out it was stage iv. The Cleveland Browns and the Pikes Peak Browns Backers were there for me each week during the first couple months of testing to getting my full diagnosis and adjusting to my radiation and targeted therapy treatments. At the time I was scared to make plans and go places. I called going to games my "Football Therapy". Watching the Browns is not so therapeutic for my blood pressure. But it felt good to get up and out of the house each Sunday. Treatment could take my energy. But it was NOT going to take away my Browns.
Another speaker at the breakfast was Chris Draft, founder of the Chris Draft Family Foundation and Co-founder of Team Draft. Chris' wife, Keasha Rutledge Draft, lost her life to lung cancer in 2011. He is my lung cancer advocacy and fundraising hero. I didn't hesitate to tell him either. He's an inspiration to me to continue to raise funds and to share my story as often and as loudly as possible while spreading lung cancer awareness.