Rachel Ekizian wrote -
I am dancing for The Pink Fund with my son, Tyler, because I believe wholeheartedly in the good that The Pink Fund does right here, right now. Where other charities take care of looking for cures for cancer, The Pink Fund is real help for men and women in need in our local area. Your donation will help me reach my $3,000 fundraising goal. Why $3,000? That amount will help The Pink Fund provide #RealHelpNow to one qualified applicant in active treatment to cover her non-medical, basic cost of living expenses for three months. I can tell you from experience that undergoing cancer treatments is hard. It takes all that you have to get through them. You certainly don’t need the added stress of wondering where the money will come from to pay the mortgage payment, the car payment or money to buy food for your children because you can’t work while on treatment. If I can help support someone in their time of need, it is my duty to my fellow man (or woman as it may be), to pay it forward as so many have helped raise me up when I was down. If I can do this by sharing my story and having a chance to dance with my son while doing it, why wouldn’t I?
I was originally diagnosed in December of 2000 with breast cancer after I had found a lump in my breast around Thanksgiving. At each stage of diagnostics (doctor visit, mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy) I was told not to worry. It was probably nothing. It was a low percentage chance that I had it because I didn’t fall into any of the high percentage risk factors. I was part Asian, I was only 30, I did not have a family history of breast cancer, I didn’t smoke or drink excessively, I was in healthy shape. Turns out that all of that meant nothing... I did in fact have Breast Cancer. The initial shock hits you like a truck. This couldn’t be real. This can’t be happening to me. I’m too young. I have 2 small children (ages 2 and 4 at the time). After having a mastectomy, they discovered it had traveled to 2-3 of my lymph nodes making me a Stage 2 DCIS. I was lucky, they said… it was an “old woman’s” cancer, meaning that it was ER+, PR+, HER2-. It was not the aggressive HER2+ cancer that was becoming associated with younger women. Funny… I didn’t feel lucky. After aggressive high dose treatments (because I was young and healthy, I was told my body could handle the aggressiveness), and follow up hormone therapy, I was 11 years cancer free.
As of December 2011, I am now a “Forever Fighter”. I had been enjoying life as a mom, wife, avid tennis player, when I thought I had pulled an intercostal muscle playing tennis that summer. After several misdiagnosis and physical therapy for a back pull, I couldn’t take the pain anymore and went in for a “sick visit”. The presiding doctor told me, “I don’t know you, but no one should be in that much pain”. God bless her for sending me in for STAT CT and X-rays. She probably saved my life. The X-rays came back normal, but later that night I got the phone call that would change my life…again. “I hate to have to tell you, but the CT scans reveal that your breast cancer has spread to your bones”. Several scans later it was discovered that my breast cancer had returned with a vengeance eating holes in my bones from head to toe. I will be a “Forever Fighter” because there is currently no cure for this stage cancer. I will be undergoing treatments and pain management for the rest of my life. But I am just that, a Fighter. I will stay strong and fight this cancer because I have things to fight for… my friends, my job, but most importantly, my family.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from having breast cancer is to seize the moment. Don’t wait. I once knew of a man who worked hard his entire life. He never had time to take a vacation. He worked and worked and saved and saved, and he waited to take that trip with his wife until after he retired. Well, just 2 weeks after he retired, he had a heart attack and died. Don’t wait! Love your family and friends every day. Tell them you love them every day. Don’t wait to take that family trip. Go now! You never know what will happen tomorrow.
Breast cancer has awakened me to the knowledge that so many people out there care about me. When I first received my diagnosis, my family and I were overwhelmed and deeply touched by the immediate outpouring of love and support given to not just me, but to my family as well (flowers, dinners, prayers…always prayers). I am a huge believer in the power of prayer. It has done wonders in keeping me positive. I will be the first person to tell you that the success to my survival is only 50% cancer treatments and medicine. The other 50% is mental. You have to stay positive. It is knowing that I am loved and have so many people praying for me on a daily basis. This is where I get my strength to get out of bed every day, to blindly stick out my arm every doctor visit so they can stick needles into it, to willingly take medication that I know will make me nauseous, to fight through the bone pain because there is hope that today is going to be a good day. And you know what…it usually is.
God has graced me with the ability to help. As long as I am healthy enough to dance, then I am going to dance. Cancer hasn’t beaten me! Please join me in helping to make someone else’s journey lighter. Please donate today.