Missy is an executive coacher, cancer ass-kicker, relentless learner, adventure seeker, storyteller, connector and grower. Also a Pulitzer Prize winning novel reader. (Seriously, every single one.) Currently living in Italy.
How was your cancer diagnosis discovered?
My husband and I had just moved up to CT from DC when I felt a lump in the shower. I knew the odds of it being cancer were extremely low, but I also knew I needed to get it checked out and not mess around. My husband is a submariner and he was out underway when my biopsy results came back. Up until I heard those stomach-dropping words, “it’s cancer”, I truly thought it was nothing. And trust me when I tell you that there is almost no way to contact the boat when it’s down deep. I was all by myself, in a strange place, with no family around and had just learned I had cancer. Thank god for cell phones and sisters. I was terrified. Miraculously, that night he called unexpectedly. Some navigation equipment something-or-other broke on the boat and they had to pull in for repairs. My Grandma died a few years before and I’m convinced that her spirit boarded that boat, ripped out some wires, and got him to surface so we could talk.
What is the biggest piece of advice that you have for new diagnosed patients?
Oh my gosh, I have so many helpful tips and tricks but the biggest piece of advice I would give is to find a calming practice to stay centered and grounded (whatever that is for you – mine is meditation) and to keep your sense of humor. With a sense of humor, you are bulletproof.
What is the most important thing you learned from your cancer experience?
I learned to trust in others and to not be afraid to ask for help. I’d always prided myself on being extremely independent and able to take care of myself, but with cancer, there are times when you can’t. You need a community around you of doctors, nurses, administrators, family, friends, care givers. It truly does take a village.
What was the most difficult aspect of organizing your care/community?
Because I wanted to be able to see my husband whenever he was on land, I decided to have my treatment up in CT and not down in DC where my friends and family are located. Being new to the area, I didn’t know many people to help recommend providers, or drive me to chemo appointments, or pick me up from surgeries, etc. It was extremely challenging to coordinate care from a distance, but I am truly blessed to have family and friends who came to CT to help me with all stages of treatment.
What are the three words you would use to describe your cancer experience?
Cancer fucking sucks. Lol! Okay, you probably don’t want those 3 words. How’s about unique, terrifying, and transformative.
Missy describes her cancer experience as:
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