On March 7, 2011, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). A quarter of a million people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in this country. 10-15% of these diagnoses are TNBC.
I’ve been a runner for thirty years, have always taken care of myself, and haven’t missed an annual mammogram in 13 years. In November 2010, I discovered a lump in my breast and was told by my OBGYN that “it was of no concern.” In December 2010, a mammogram detected nothing. During the next two months, the lump increased in size and on March 3, 2011, my woman’s intuition compelled me to demand an MRI from my obstetrician. Twenty-four hours later, my life would never be the same. Malignant tumor on my breast, malignant lymph nodes and if that wasn’t terror-stricken enough; I learned I was now included in the distinctive classification of TNBC, in which there is no cure following the year-long standard treatment ahead of me.
Ironically; in some ways, breast cancer was the greatest blessing of my life. It taught me how to “live” and brought me to an awareness regarding myself that I most likely would never had discovered had God not placed this challenge before me. There was something about this “skid-mark” in life that opened my eyes to serve others going through this burden of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pain, as it was [now] something I could understand firsthand. It taught me that life is not about materialistic stuff and things that are meaningless when there is a possibility that you might not be here to enjoy them anyway. But most of all, it demonstrated the beauty of humanity and the selflessness of family, friends, community, and the unconditional love that surrounded me, especially from my loving husband, son and my mom (whom I lost to cancer just 9 months out of my own treatment).
I was so fortunate to have the support of beloved people by my side; however, that wasn’t always the case with so many women in treatment. I witnessed many of them waiting for cabs outside the Cleveland Clinic following five (5) hours of sitting in a chemo chair, only to go home to get children off the school bus and then report to a full-time job the next day simply to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads. Research and studies show that stress often results in recurrence. If I can help eliminate that from my “sisters-in-cancer”, then I must pay it forward.
Yes, this was the purpose for which God created me; and so, the Toni Turchi Foundation was established, and it took cancer to ascertain it.
The moral of my story……No One is exempt from cancer. Today, I take nothing and no-one for granted. I refuse to refer myself as “survivor” and/or “remission” as you never know if this beastly disease will recur. For today [only], I am N.E.D…No Evidence of Disease and I’m extraordinarily grateful!
Blessings to all,
Toni Turchi; Founder
Toni Turchi Foundation – 501(c)(3)