I’ve been keeping a secret. For three years now, I’ve talked very publicly about my breast cancer fight, the diagnosis, the eight months of treatment and how it changed my life in many ways. I thought my cancer journey was over. But last month, a simple pap smear turned up the unexpected. I had a pre-cancerous lesion on my cervix.
I wasn’t prepared for that. All the old emotions that I experienced in my breast cancer journey came flooding back. The anxiety. Worry. And I wondered, as all of us diagnosed with cancer do, is this the time that this horrible disease that took the lives of about 610,000 people in the U.S. last year finally takes me?
I am lucky. A cone biopsy removed those pre-cancer cells and turned up no more cancer. I could breathe again. But as I assemble Fox's team for Sunday's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in New York City, I am – more than ever – committed to helping women combat this deadly disease.
What we fight is not just the lack of public funding for mammograms and treatment, but also a natural inclination among some women (myself included), to put ourselves at the bottom of the list, ignore the early warning signs and skip early diagnosis and treatment.
Maybe women might be more inclined to do all those things if they knew the simple facts. Among the many types of cancer, breast cancer is the most likely to be overcome. You are less likely to die from breast cancer than any other type. In the vast majority of cases – not always, but very often — you can beat this.
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 lobular breast cancer, and the entire experience was revelatory. You can’t go through treatment for a life-threatening disease without learning humility, patience and discovering a sense of hope that maybe you never knew you had.
I was able, thank God, to burnish relationships with my family, especially my mother and brother, Steve. I learned what a stalwart my husband could be.
The natural world lifted me up. I would take long walks in the country and find peace. Sure, I couldn’t hold down a meal while in chemotherapy but I could look up at the sky and understand what a miracle our world is.
Maybe you’re thinking, that Gerri sure is a Pollyanna. Well, perhaps so. But I find the biggest gifts come in the most unexpected packages. Cancer turned my life around.
As I meet more and more survivors, they, too, often tell a similar story. They sometimes say their diagnosis was preceded by a period of difficulty, divorce, drinking, disconnection from family. I’m not saying these things are a cause, but it is true that fighting such a difficult foe refocuses your attention on things that truly matter.
And, what matters to me this weekend is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Central Park. Seventy (at last count) Fox News and Fox Business employees, as well as friends and family, will gather in the park to raise money for breast cancer.
KomenNYC pays for mammograms, clinical exams, transportation for doctor appointments, and legal advice for women trying to navigate insurance. These are things that can truly help. Helping fund those things – that’s my mission. It’s a fight worth making. I hope you’ll join me.