Hello! My name is Dawn. I am a daughter and wife. I am also a four-time cancer warrior. The first time this horrible disease invaded my body, I was 16-years-old. The next time, I was 25-years-old. The third time, I was given the worst birthday present on my 40th birthday–another diagnosis of cancer. This time, my fourth, I was diagnosed at the young age of 44, just after two short days of my engagement. I am now a forever fighter. I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer in its most advanced stage–stage IV–meaning the cancer has spread beyond the breast to other organs and regions in the body. I have mets in my lungs, stomach, brain and bones. I live in constant, unrelenting pain every day. I know soon that I will be leaving my family and friends.
Today, as I sat down to write this short speech, I saw how much this monster has taken away from my family. They had watch me lose my hair, my body changing in size due to the treatments and disease, not knowing if I was going to be able to get out of bed, or even if I would wake up in the morning. They had to hear how doctors were unsure if I would survive the night and that they needed to be prepared to say goodbye.
My life has changed so much, having to live with this cancer, but so has my family’s lives. Now the first thing I do in the morning is thank God that I was able to open my eyes for yet another day. I do have my ups and downs. Finding my “normal” is hard now. I’m trying to be positive, but sometimes I feel like someone punched me in the stomach. Yes, I do get tired and am in so much pain to the point that I just want to give in, but I can’t. All I can say is that I fight like a girl. I won’t get knocked down. I give myself milestones. Once I hit that milestone, I say to myself, now I have to get to the next one.
My next milestone is delivering a healthy beautiful little girl named Kassidy Marie, who will be here on December 15th. You see, I am currently expecting and am 26 weeks pregnant. She is our little fighter too. My husband and I agree that we don’t want to hear how long I have. We want to live each day, knowing tomorrow is not a guarantee. We have had the opportunity to travel around and check items off my bucket list. I am not afraid to die! I am afraid for my husband and daughters. I don’t want them to hurt. Last year, cancer took the lives of my unborn twins, and I feel blessed that I will be going home and holding them in my arms.
I have met too many families dealing with cancer, and my heart breaks for them. I know firsthand what cancer does. I have lost many of my friends and family because they are afraid to be around me. I feel like they think I am contagious or something. We need a lot more awareness about how cancer is treated and how to detect if something is wrong with our bodies as well as to listen to our bodies. I believe more funding for research is needed so a cure can be found for all cancers. There are so many different types of cancers out there and very little funding for any of them.
I have a great support team, and I am so blessed. Not many cancer patients have the same support, and so they pass alone. My team “Chillin with Baby Pen” is amazing. We do a lot of different walks to raise money for awareness and research. We just recently went to Washington with the American Cancer Society to convey our message to Congress about how cancer affect families. I spoke with a few House Representatives that day. We were later told that our story was read to Congress that night, which helped pass a bill for an extra funding of 2.3 million for cancer research. They further told us that there wasn’t a dry eye in the Senate that night. Senator Collins was so moved by my story, she took it into her own hands and got me approved to start an experimental drug on Monday. I also got to speak on the phone with President Trump and Vice President Pence. Both of them and their families want our shirts to become official “Team Dawn” members. Our team was getting recognition and congratulations all over D.C. from Senators that were moved and recognized our team from the speech. As of now, we’re going back to Washington DC at the end of the month as special guest of President Trump and his family.
I would like to thank you for your time and for listening to my story. I just want to be heard and to find a cure for all cancers, eventually putting all cancer researchers out of business.