Tabithia Cook

I am submitting my letter in hopes you will help me spend a very memorable positive experience with my husband and two young daughters. I am 39 years old, a wife of 12 years (dated 6.5 years prior, totaling approximately 19 years with my spouse) and a proud mother of 2 girls (Layla – 12 yrs old & Ava – 8 yrs old). I have recently been diagnosed in late Jan/Feb of this year with Stage IV Breast Cancer with Metastasis to both lungs. I was diagnosed with bi-lateral breast cancer with my right side being Triple Negative with a 6.5cm tumor. Regrettably, I was misdiagnosed last April 2012. After visiting my primary physician for a small lump in my right breast, I was referred to have a mammogram done. My doctor kept telling me I was too young to have breast cancer even though I told her my mother was diagnosed four (4) years prior with Stage IIb HER 2+. I was 38 years old. I did not know what the standard protocol was and that following a mammogram, an ultrasound was the next step. When my mother went in for her mammogram, her doctor’s kept her the same day for hours and was scheduled for a lumpectomy 2 weeks later. My mother’s doctor’s acted hasty, which helped her. I, on the other hand, received a phone call from one of my primary doctor’s nurse, stating my mammogram was negative for cancer. That was it. No follow up call, nothing. I was naive and trusted what I was told. I continued my life as a wife, a mother, a school field trip chaperone/volunteer and a entrepreneur as a Home Daycare Provider. In Dec. 2012, my small lump in my right breast, tripled in size, which seemed overnight. In early January, I became my own advocate and after scheduling delays, numerous tests and more scheduling delays, I was finally and properly diagnosed with Advanced Stage Breast Cancer. My family has endured a major life-style change since I was the “proactive mom”, dependable school field trip chaperone/volunteer and “proactive daycare provider” who people turned to for help and depended on. I was the go-to person. My husband and children came to me for answers and help for mostly everything. I ran a tight ship. Unfortunately, I am no longer a lot of these things. I closed my home daycare business late February due to my many doctor appointments, my health issues and future medical commitments. I can no longer volunteer at school events because of chemotherapy side effects. I am no longer the “go-to” person since I am now having to “go-to-others” for help. My husband has had to learn how to balance keeping his job while arranging his schedule to drop off/pick up our daughters from school (which I used to do), prepare most meals and manage his time to be my main caregiver. My daughters have had to grow up way too fast in the last several months. They must help care for me when dad must work and take over the domestic responsibilities that I can no longer do and my husband is sometimes too tired to do. Additionally, we may lose our home during all of this because with being self-employed, my income fluctuated based on the demand for childcare. We applied for a home loan modification that was being reviewed prior to my diagnosis. My husband and I are fearful that our loan modification will be definitely denied since we are no longer a dual income family, but a single modified income family. I say modified because my husband does not have anymore paid time off left since he exhausted such time when he accompanied me to my many appointments/testings earlier this year. He still continues to accompany me to my chemotherapy and doctor appointments. I am not sure what the future holds for me, but for now my chemotherapy treatments are working in my favor. I have been given the green light to take chemo breaks and enjoy life. I would SO DEEPLY APPRECIATE the chance of spending some quality time with my husband and daughters without “cancer” haunting us. A time where I can see my husband not have to worry about possibly being a single parent. A time where my children can smile like they used too before my diagnosis. A time where their laughter came easily with no strings attached. A time where they could be just kids enjoying their school days, friends and just plain being silly. A time just being a family.