I am first and foremost the mother of two joyful little boys, Aden and Connor. I am the wife of a man who has exceeded any dreams I ever had for a life partner. I am the daughter of my mother, a PhD in child psychology, who passed away of breast cancer in her early 50s, her journey was difficult. She died with a heart full of gratitude, her only regret was not being able to meet her grandchildren.
I am also an M.D. at the University of Virginia where I treat cancer patients for musculoskeletal and neurological problems, mostly resulting from cancer therapies. Most of my patients ironically have breast cancer. I know this world well, from both a patient and physician perspective. Prior to medicine, I was a professional triathlete with several national titles. I was a collegiate runner on a team that has seen two other teammates pass away early from cancer. I still run everyday with a community of women I cherish in Crozet Virginia, where my family and I have a beautiful life at the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.
On March 18, at the age of 36, my worst nightmare was realized with a breast cancer diagnosis as a mom with young children to care for as they grow. In the 5 weeks prior to my double mastectomy, I wrote my children a diary of lessons on how to live a happy life. That diary is this blog. Also in this blog is advice for moms on dealing with breast cancer, or any illness, while nurturing small children. This is a unique challenge of younger women. Like most moms of small kids, my primary concern besides treatment is my children and I hope sharing our journey, successes and failures with our little ones through this process can help other moms facing illness.
In the meantime, I have had my surgery and my pathology has been incredibly favorable, early stage with an excellent prognosis. My cancer was aggressive but caught early by the high risk clinic for women at UVA. This is atypical for women under 40, who tend to present at later stages of disease. This has given me the strength to share my story. My bones now ache with scripture: By the grace of God I am what I am.
I consider myself the product of great fortune and touched by God’s grace, over and over again, throughout my entire life. All I see when I consider my life is how others have helped me along this journey. My heart brims with eternal gratitude.