In July of 2004, my doctor discovered a large mass in my head and I was diagnosed with brain cancer. The tumor was removed at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas at the beginning of August, 2004. The cancer was a grade II oligo-astrocytoma. After healing from the surgery and doing a bit of family planning, I began my chemotherapy in early 2005 and was finished with all 4 rounds by November of 2005. Unfortunately, in March of 2005 I suffered a seizure while driving, and have since been on anti-seizure medication to prevent future incidents.
After all of my treatments, our plans to have a family were not going well, so we were very glad we had numerous embryos in cryo-preserve! With the help of amazing doctors and scientists (and a lot of help from God), I was able to get pregnant and carry our first baby without issues. Craig and I were blessed to welcome our son Devon into our family on October 25, 2007. We had a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant again, and unfortunately used all of our embryos. However, God again blessed our family and I became pregnant naturally and our 2nd son Riley was born on March 10, 2011.
In early November 2015 I had a routine MRI brain scan and the doctors determined my brain cancer had returned. This day was not unexpected, as the doctors told us the cancer would return due to the type and location of my original tumor. We returned to Houston TX and MD Anderson. My original doctor performed a second surgery and then we completed 6 weeks of radiation and a year of chemotherapy. We remained at MD Anderson for the radiation since it is a wonderful location to receive this treatment. We returned home and I took chemo for a year. Long process, but as we return to MD Anderson for our check ups now, we are encouraged because everything is looking fantastic. Hopefully, with all of the new brain tumor research that has been done over the last 10 years, this will be a bump in the road for us. We will continue to raise our family and raise money through our charity to help fellow cancer patients and survivors.
This development only furthers my drive and desire to find a cure for this hideous disease.
One of the most important parts of fighting cancer is having a way to “fight back.” My way to fight back became the Relay For Life. I was invited to attend the Relay For Life of Naples in 2005 and was blown away by how fantastic and HUGE it was. The next year I decided I needed to be a bigger part of the Relay and it needed to be a more central focus for my time and energy. Since that time the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life have become an enormous part of my daily life. Look for the Relay For Life of Greater Collier County in April. It is an amazing experience!
Amber’s Antibodies is the name of my Relay For Life of Greater Collier County fundraising team and has since become its own Florida Non-profit organization. The team was formed in 2006 with some of my family and friends. We started out with a modest goal of $3,000, and exceeded that by raising over $5,000! We have donated over $100,000 to ACS and have been able to support not only the ACS and Relay For Life but other cancer causes as well! For the last few years we have been a top 5 fundraising team at the number one relay in the state of Florida! As we have grown in our fundraisers and supporters, our mission has also broadened. We now look to help local families fighting cancer battles, assisting with cutting edge research, and continuing to fund research and patient care through the Relay For Life of Greater Collier County.
Our fundraising is multifaceted. Each year we host a dinner party where we do the majority of our fundraising. It has grown and changed over the years. This year we will hold another Sporting For A Cure party in January at The Club at Olde Cypress. We have a fantastic dinner, drinks, and games. We also have a chance drawing for amazing packages and a live auction. Our hope is that our party will be bigger and better every year! We host a Bourbon & Beer in May, an “All IN” Poker Tournament in the fall and a Bad Santa Bar Hop in late November/early December. These are fun, exciting and unforgettable events!
We appreciate all your support, thoughts and prayers and look forward to seeing you at one of our events this coming year!!