My Story

First of all, THANK YOU for visiting our site. I greatly appreciate it. My goal is to pay forward all the support that I have received as I continue my CANCER journey.  I was diagnosis at the end of January 2019 and have been fighting CANCER ever since.  My chemotherapy cycles started on February 14, 2019, occurring roughly every other week, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD There have been some occasional adjustments in schedule, based on my blood work or any procedures, which as one patient said to me “those are just sideshows”.  For the most part, this has become my “new” routine and my family has been able to adjust to the new normal.  

With a large supportive family on both sides (luckily some with medical training), close friends, caring neighbors, and our community, we have been able to navigate pretty well.  Progressing past my initial year, I have learned that there is no single road map for anyone – each patient is unique, have different needs and may react  to medicines/treatments/news differently. We really can’t know how CANCER touches peoples’ lives until we are in it.

Since CANCER is unique by person, it is important to emphasize that statistics and percentages don’t matter – each patient is a person, not a statistic. Staying positive and maintaining a proactive approach makes the difference. Take action when you feel you have no control. Do what you can to help your prognosis whether it’s not eating meat, running every day, starting a new nutrition program, etc.  There are a lot of different ways to face it and to take control and feel empowered. That choice depends on YOU! 

For these reasons, we have formed this non-profit organization MarCIA Courage in Action in order to build awareness and provide support to those affected by CANCER. As a family, we have been so fortunate for the support we have received and want to pass it forward for as long and as far as it can go. 

My Diagnosis and Treatment Timeline

On New Year’s Eve of 2018, I had some heartburn, an upset stomach, and wasn’t feeling great. I also had some dark stools, and although not too concerned, decided to go to the doctor’s that day because my insurance was 100% covered at that point.  My doctor looked me over and did a blood test but didn’t find anything to set off any alarms. When my blood work came back with a 25% decrease in red blood counts from a previous lab done a few months earlier, he referred me to my GI doctor. On January 22, 2019, and a few tests/procedures later, I was diagnosed with CANCER.  All while absorbing the shock of my diagnosis, I was referred to a local oncologist so that I could schedule treatments closer to home and family. The news of my diagnosis, shared with family, launched a research effort on clinical trials. We made calls, reached out to connections, and gathered as much information as we could collect.  It was a fire hose of information. We found no road map, no navigator, and no specific answers, as every patient is unique. After long hours of deciphering clinical documentation, speaking with research nurses, and interviewing for trials, I was accepted into a clinical trial at John Hopkins and began my treatments on February 14, 2019 – approximately 3 weeks after my diagnosis. I also pursued a 2nd opinion at Memorial Sloan Kettering at the end of February. The confirmed diagnosis and various treatment plan options were a whirlwind that rocked my world. I was told, and reaffirm every day, that I am not a STATISTIC. This has stayed with me ever since and has really been an important mantra that is so critical to share- each case and person is different and is not a statistic.  

My treatment plan involves infused chemotherapy every other week, followed by a week of chemo pills. The week off gives my body a chance to recuperate.  In general, I feel good – there are a lot of medicines today that combat the nausea and diarrhea which are given proactively.  The biggest side effect for me is the fatigue.  I have lost most of my hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes, but that hasn’t bothered me. I have also had some bouts of anemia – one causing me to be hospitalized. The first 6-months are a blur but I am now in my “new normal” and it’s going ok.  I don’t know how long I’ll be doing treatments but I compare this to racing an Ironman. An Ironman is a 140.6-mile triathlon.  I use this analogy since my husband is a 4x Ironman, and like CANCER, it’s not just the race itself that needs to be completed, it’s all the preparation and training that go along with it.  It takes you to the edge of what you THINK you can do.

For now, my tumor has been shrinking and my blood markers are within normal range so the CANCER is responding to the chemotherapy. While this is great news, one thing that I live with every day is that it could change any minute.  I keep a positive attitude and focus on the things that I can control and don’t focus on the things that I can’t.