Why I Unmasque

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Cancer affects us all. Please join us at the 2nd Annual Unmasque Cancer event, to be held in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 29, 2017, as we celebrate the power of community and remind those dealing with cancer that they are never alone. Even if you’re not in the LA area, you can still be part of this special event. Light a tribute candle in honor or in memory of a loved one to #UnmasqueAndUnite wherever you are!

A few days ago, we shared Andy’s story of how cancer has touched his life. Today, we are thrilled to welcome his wife, Mary, to The Samfund blog. Read why she unmasques, below.

There are certain things in life you never forget… your first car, your first kiss, your first love, the first day of school. The first time you hear someone you love tell you that they have cancer. For me I remember both times I heard those words, once from my younger sister and once from my husband.

Both times it felt like the world stopped. Both times I felt my heart drop into the pit of my stomach. Both times I said that everything would be okay and that we would beat this. Both times I sat in the shower and screamed and cried until my voice was gone.

In 2012, my younger sister at the age of 24 was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. All I could think was “why?? Why my younger sister? Why not me?” Older siblings aren’t supposed to watch their younger siblings go through things like this. We are supposed to protect them from all the scary things in the world. At that moment I felt like I had failed her. To make matters worse, I was three thousand miles away. I was in California and she was in Virginia. I spent a lot of time angry and scared, crying myself to sleep most nights.

After having a total thyroidectomy in November 2012 and going through two rounds of Radioactive Iodine Therapy, I am happy to say that on August 18th, 2016 she called and told me that she was cancer-free. It wasn’t an easy 4 years though. Two weeks after her thyroidectomy, she found out she was pregnant. It felt like everything once again stopped. Immediately her pregnancy was considered high risk and she was not able to begin her iodine treatments. Fortunately, nine months later my second beautiful nephew was born and my sister was finally ready to start her official road to recovery. While those four years of doctor’s appointments, scans, and unknowns were not easy, she made it through. Now, my sister is the mother to three amazing little boys and is loving every minute of being a “Boymom” as she likes to call herself.

In 2014, I heard those three words again, this time from my 32 year old husband. He had a doctor’s appointment one day that went a little longer than usual. He called me and said that he had to tell me about the appointment but couldn’t over the phone. He had to get back to work and didn’t have time. I immediately knew something was wrong. He said it without saying it. He had testicular cancer. His surgery was scheduled for the following Monday. It happened so fast. Every emotion and feeling I felt when my sister told me she had cancer, came rushing back. I wasn’t ready to lose him. I couldn’t lose him.

It’s been 3 years since my husband’s surgery and I am happy to say that he is doing great. His surgery was a success and each scan and round of bloodwork he has had since have all been negative. I am fortunate that he was lucky and that we were able to catch his cancer early on. He is my lifeline and my soul mate and I am not quite sure what I would have done if anything would have happened to him.

So why do I Unmasque? Because I have seen too many young people affected by cancer and have watched young families struggle financially. Just because you have been granted those magic words… “You’re cancer-free”… doesn’t mean you are done with the battle! I am proud to be a supporter of The Samfund. They are an amazing organization who has given many young adults and their families the support they need. If you are in the LA area on April 29th, please come to the Unmasque Cancer event. It will be a night you won’t forget.

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