Necessity is the mother of all inventions. The need was clear. Research was needed. It was early fall, 2011 and I didn’t know how I was mentally going to get though another “Pinktober”. Some find comfort in the “pinkness” of October. I don’t. I am happy for the sisters who do well, but my experience with breast cancer was not a bump in the road. I had been diagnosed with triple negative inflammatory breast cancer, (TN IBC) in 2007 and a funny thing happened. I had an outstanding response to treatment and was living NED (no evidence of disease). Some might think “celebrate”, but I couldn’t. I was seeing so many women, my TN IBC sisters, some the age of my daughters, struggling to live. I went to my follow up appointments and began to meet these women. I cared about them, and I couldn’t forget them. One day I was at a 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 of the lack of research and I thought “That’s it. I will help fund research”. Without hesitation I headed to the radiology section. I walked up to the window, asked the clerk if I could please see Dr. Wendy Woodward. There must have been something in my face or tone, because the nurse looked at me with such compassion, rang up Dr. Woodward’s office, and within seconds I was ushered down a long hall, deep into parts of the hospital I had never seen. My plan? I didn’t know. By that point I was on auto-pilot.
I was asked to sit down. Dr. Woodward had her back to me, typing up something on her computer. All around her were stacks of medical journals, paperwork, looking so impressive and important and it hit me what I had done! I had just crashed into the office of a very important IBC researcher. Gulp. I was here. No going back now. She said, “Give me a minute, almost done.” And I blurted out, “I want to fund research!” Wow, I said it. Really no going back now. The words hung in the air, and I was thinking oh, what I have done! She slowly swirled her chair around, smiling. She said, “I was wondering…” and I didn’t really hear the rest. I was just grateful she didn’t laugh at me. I didn’t have money, connections, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was going to do it.
I asked her to tell me about some small need. Something that she thought was important but a goal that I could hit. She told me about something that was meaningful to her, was only about $30,000 but no one was really interested in funding it. Something she thought would really matter. Then I thought to myself, “Oh girl, what are you doing?” I understood research was costly, but $30,000…..Then it hit me. I have five children. In all my many years of parenting, I bet I have spent $30,000 at Sonic Drive Inn in Friendswood, Texas! Well, not literally, but you get it. All of a sudden, the number didn’t seem so huge. My mind was set.