When I was 25, I was pretty much a typical New York City Girl: work hard, play hard. While I was very focused on my career in public relations, I made time for plenty of socializing in the city. I definitely burned the candle at both ends.
So when I got sick in the winter of 1995, it didn't surprise me one bit. I went to my doctor, who gave me some antibiotics and cough syrup. He also asked me to take an X-ray. I assumed he wanted to rule out pneumonia, but I didn't ask many questions. After taking the X-ray the following day, the technician asked me to bring the picture back to my doctor's office, where he would be waiting to see me.
My doctor came out of his examining room and shuffled me into his office. I sat down with him as he told me that they found a mass in my chest and that it was cancer. Within days I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. A week later, I was admitted to the hospital and had my first chemotherapy treatment.
The first treatment went well, but I was really queasy and tired. Though I was surrounded by friends, family and colleagues, I felt alone. I didn't know anyone who had cancer— certainly not anyone my age. But I took things day by day. I went to work. I socialized. I tried to do everything that I did before I got sick. And I fought hard to get better. There was no way I was dying at age 25. Before I knew it, my year of chemotherapy and radiation treatments was over, and I was in remission.
Returning to "normal" lifeI went back to my routine and my career, but wasn't completely satisfied. After deciding that my illness had happened for a reason, I was determined to use that experience to help others. I sent out several applications to cancer-related organizations for volunteer work. A few weeks later, I received a call from Alyssa Levene (Komen Greater NYC's volunteer manager). Alyssa asked me if I would consider helping out at the Manhattan BMW Ultimate Drive® event. I agreed. My best friend lost her mom to breast cancer, and another friend had just lost his 35-year-old sister to the disease. I knew the importance of Komen's work.
At the BMW event, I met Cindy Geoghegan, Komen Greater NYC's co-president, who suggested that I meet Nicole Rubin, the Affiliate's executive director. Nicole and I immediately hit it off and she asked me to join the Affiliate's Communications Committee. I was interested in the work that Komen was doing, and became convinced that I would add a lot of value to the Affiliate if I joined as a staff member. I am now serving as communications director for Komen Greater NYC. I feel so fortunate to be in this role and am so excited about the work we are doing. But it is also my hope that we will do our jobs so well that someday there will no longer be a need for our work.
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"I'll do whatever it takes to keep fighting." - Kathleen