It was fall 2011, and I didn’t know how I would mentally get though another October. Some find comfort in the “pinkness” of the month. But after I received a triple negative inflammatory breast cancer (TN IBC) diagnosis in 2007, I didn’t. My experience has not been a bump in the road. Sometimes, it’s hard to relate to all the survivor stories.
Although I had an outstanding response to treatment and was living NED (no evidence of disease), I couldn’t celebrate. I was seeing so many women, my TN IBC sisters, some the age of my daughters, struggling to live. I cared about them, and I couldn’t forget them.
An urge to ‘do something’
One day, I reached my breaking point. I had to do something. I was walking down a hall at MD Anderson, my mind a whirl, remembering the shared frustration of doctors and patients lamenting the lack of research. I thought, “That’s it. I’ll help fund research.”
I headed to the radiology department, walked up to the window and asked the clerk if I could see Wendy Woodward, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in Radiation Oncology. There must have been something in my face or tone, because the nurse looked at me with such compassion. Within seconds I was ushered to Dr. Woodward’s office. My plan? I didn’t know. I was on auto-pilot.
I was asked to sit. Dr. Woodward had her back to me, typing on her computer. All around her were stacks of medical journals and paperwork, and it hit me that I’d just crashed into the office of a respected IBC researcher. Gulp. No going back now.
“I want to fund research!” I blurted out. The words hung in the air as I wondered what I’d done. I didn’t have money or connections. I didn’t know how, but I was going to do it.
I asked Dr. Woodward to tell me about some small need, something she thought was important but a goal that I could hit. She told me about a project that needed about $30,000, but no one was interested in funding it.
Did she say $30,000?
I left MD Anderson wondering what I’d gotten myself into. Then it hit me. I have five children. In all my years of parenting, I’ve surely spent $30,000 on fast food. Sure, the burgers, fries and shakes didn’t cost much each time I placed an order. But over time, it added up. Raising research dollars would be the same way. All of a sudden, the number didn’t seem so huge. My mind was set.
Now, The IBC Network Foundation’s goals are a long way from that $30,000 first project. To date, we’ve funded $160,000 in IBC research. We’ll continue to fund as fast as our supporters will allow. Together, we’re strong.