It was July 3, 2010. I was 36 years old, unemployed and uninsured when I heard the words, “You have breast cancer.” It was an advanced Stage 3, aggressive, and in 12 lymph nodes. My cancer was on the move.
After going on lockdown for a couple of days, my husband and I reemerged as a team, laser focused and ready to not just beat the disease but to learn about “my” disease. We got busy. My research kept producing Block Medical Center in IL and I thought, wow, how crazy and I live close enough to drive there.
A few years back in 2004, I’d heard Dr. Keith Block and Dr. Penny Block speak in West Palm Beach about the benefits of integrative practices with oncology. I thought to myself, ‘If I’m ever facing a diagnosis, that’s where I’m going.’ which is exactly what I did. Bi-weekly we drove south from Milwaukee to the Block Center because I wanted and needed integrative care. At that time in Wisconsin I couldn’t find this approach to treating cancer. The Block Center not only educated me on my disease, they emotionally supported me, taught me how to succeed post treatment, and so much more. When I tell people about the “Spa Day” experience I received while getting chemo people rarely believe me.
Today, I’m cancer free and have been given the tools I need to remain cancer free. Necessary lifestyle modifications were essential and needed for my body to combat my disease and then heal. In addition to my treatment The Block Center supported me with nutritional education, cooking instruction, personalized yoga, reflexology, psychosocial and biobehavioral strategies, research, and the tools needed to live after a cancer diagnosis.
Thanks to the Block Center team and their inspiration, I went on to be trained in plant based nutrition. Today, I am so proud to be a Certified Food for Life Instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I teach cooking classes on the power of food as medicine and how to eat for optimal health. I specialize in working with cancer patients as they journey back to health. I am able to use my story and learned experiences to help others live longer and healthier.
Every day I wake up I get to choose what I eat, whether or not I exercise, and how I react to other people and stress. When you’re first diagnosed, you feel like cancer has taken away your power. But now I know better. I still have choices, and every day I do my best to make choices that will support my health and improve my chances of remaining disease-free.
After 9 surgeries, chemo, radiation, hormone therapy, physical therapy, infertility, and much more, I can say it is worth it! Your life is worth it, so show up, be present and fight for it!
In 2018 my ‘rockstar” husband and I are adopting a baby, a true gift from god. I know one day I will look back at this crazy time, at cancer and be able to say – “I had cancer and it changed my life in such a beautiful never-knowing way!”
My path of blessings were revealed to me at the Block Center and I will forever be thankful.