I’ve always loved walking. A couple of years ago, I was out taking a walk and noticed a pain on my left side. Over time, the pain continued, and then one day I began to have shortness of breath, too. I went to a walk-in clinic, but they didn’t find anything wrong with me. It wasn’t until I had to make a trip to the ER that a scan was done. That’s when they found the cancer.
I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2017, just a year after retiring from my job as a nurse. My husband and I had a big trip planned – I love to travel – but we knew it would have to wait. So, we cancelled the trip and I had surgery to remove my left kidney. They said they got it all, but a later scan found it had metastasized to my liver. So, I began treatment…first targeted therapy and then immunotherapy.
I learned about Gilda’s Club from a friend and coworker, who’d had breast cancer and is a Gilda’s Club member. Everything about it sounded great, but I didn’t want to drive into Nashville from Brentwood. That’s when we found out a Williamson County location was opening in May . I was one of the first members there.
I’m fortunate to have family, friends, and a church group who are very supportive – who have been with me from the day I was diagnosed. But my support group at Gilda’s Club is different. We each have different types of cancer, but we share many of the same experiences. It’s really helpful hearing about other people’s treatments. It gives me hope. And my group lifts me up every time we’re together…we lift each other up. We celebrated our one year anniversary together in September.
Gilda’s Club has also become important to my family, so much so that my daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren recently held a fundraiser for it. Each year, they pick a non-profit to give to and, this year, they wanted to do something in my honor. Their hard work on Gilda’s Club’s behalf – and the ways they help and support me every day – bring me such joy.