Today is my 3rd Cancerversary. It was hard deciding which date to celebrate such an important milestone. Many choose the date of diagnosis, but my cancer had been growing long before that date.
To me, the most important date was the day I had my first chemo treatment and began taking back my body and its cells from cancer. In the process, I lost my hair, my breasts, and my energy. I learned a whole new vocabulary and underwent many new procedures and tests. I met many caring doctors, nurses, techs, and office staff who did their best to make me feel comfortable. I racked up enormous medical bills.
Three years later, my hair is back but my energy is still not back to pre-cancer levels because of the medications I take. Despite this, I am still dancing and there is no evidence of active cancer!
I am very grateful to my outstanding medical team headed by Dr. David Riseberg at Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD and also to everyone who sent encouraging messages, prayers, and donations for my medical expenses. I couldn’t have done it without you.
The costs of fighting cancer are enormous – even with health insurance. It has been called the hidden side effect of cancer. In addition to things insurance doesn’t cover, deductibles and co-pays reset every January. This will give you an idea of how expensive cancer treatment is:
Total Cost of Treatment since diagnosis: $689,064
Cancer Drugs Cost: $523,689 (76% of total cost)
Insurance paid: $654,496
My family & donations paid: $34,568
Before the ACA, many health insurance plans had a lifetime cap of one million dollars. While this is an enormous amount, just 3 years of treatment have used up almost 70% of that million. It is vitally important that our lawmakers do not put lifetime caps on benefits or determine that certain treatments can be excluded because they cost too much. Life is more valuable than money.
Sadly, the health care debate has pitted healthy people against sick and disabled people. Good health is not guaranteed to anyone. Cancer does not discriminate: No one is too young; no one is too fit; no one is immune. Everyone is at risk.
Below is a list of the procedures, treatments, and diagnostic tests I received in my 3rd treatment year. Because cancer treatment is so hard on the body, numerous diagnostic tests and scans are ordered regularly to make sure the patient can continue treatments.
16 maintenance infusions & blood tests
8 Xgeva injections
12 ovarian suppression injections
1 transvaginal sonogram
1 brain MRI
1 PET/CT Scan
1 CT scan
I humbly ask for your support to help pay for my treatment. I have an ACA (Obamacare) plan and am very scared about what will happen in 2018. Please consider donating any amount you can; every dollar will go toward my medical expenses.
Here is the link: www.youcaring.com/baldballerina.
Photo by Beau Pearson Photography
Leotard and Pointe Shoes by Capezio
Today Bald Ballerina celebrates her 3rd birthday!
Her life began filled with hope despite a very poor medical prognosis: stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had spread to the sternum, spine, and pelvis; median life expectancy 2-3 years; no cure on the horizon.
This was very hard to accept. I was only 23. I wondered how many years would I live? Would I be able to dance? If so, for how long? I wanted to live and to dance for a long time. I decided medical statistics would not determine how long I would live.
I learned that I would need both medical and moral support to keep the cancer at bay. So I became the Bald Ballerina. She was born to share the beauty of life with others, and to tell the world that breast cancer does not discriminate: No one is too young; No one is too fit; No one is immune from breast cancer. With your help and support, Bald Ballerina’s message spread and became a social media movement.
I am very grateful to everyone who has followed my journey and supported me with encouraging messages, prayers, suggestions, and donations. I treasure and appreciate them all. With your continued support and prayers, I hope to have many, many more years of living and dancing.
Here are some of the highlights of Bald Ballerina’s 3rd year:
·All scans were NEAD: No Evidence of Active Disease
·Visited India and saw the Taj Mahal – a dream I’ve had since childhood
·Returned to NYC to perform with my friends at Joffrey
·Spoke on Capitol Hill about living with metastatic breast cancer for the Tigerlily Foundation
· Walked in NY Fashion Week for AnaOno and #Cancerland
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt : featured in Tom Costello’s story about the high cost of drugs
· People: ‘Bald Ballerina’ Keeps Dancing
· NowThis: This Ballerina Is Dancing Her Way Through Terminal Cancer
· Glamour Magazine’s video “Every Scar Tells a Story” won Webby award
· ABC-TV People’s List : featured in Thrive Causemetics Safe Beauty Products
· Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD (my hospital) chose me for a Patient Story video
Dance Informa : Overcoming Obstacles; Finding Fulfillment
· Produced my 3rd No One Can Survive Alone benefit dance concert
· Visited Salt Lake City for the 1st time and taught class for Allison DeBona ’s The artÉmotion Summer Intensive
· Spoke about breast cancer and performed at the Dancers Care Foundation Benefit and at Starbound National Talent Competition showcase.
· Judged my 1st dance competition
· Continued teaching three nights/week at local dance studios
· Continued teaching master classes and speaking to young dancers about breast cancer
· Continued performing on a freelance basis
I can’t wait to see what is in store for the Bald Ballerina in the coming years. Thank you to everyone who has shared my journey and who made these wonderful experiences possible. I can’t begin to express how much your support means to me.
Today is National Cancer Survivors Day. This is the 3rd time I celebrate this day.
Three years ago today, I was dancing full time and felt wonderful. I looked forward to performing in China with the Joffrey Concert Group. I did not know that cancer was growing inside me and that it had already spread to my sternum, pelvis, and spine. I would learn this in late June 2014. With this news, my life would turn completely around. I stopped worrying about what parts I would dance next year and started worrying about whether I would even be able to dance next year. Thanks to my great medical team, presently, my cancer is stable and I can still dance.
Cancer makes one aware of just how precious life, family, and friends are; that small annoyances are just not worth fussing over. I am grateful for the support I have received from people near and far; for the many new friends I have made; for people who have come back into my life.
Today I celebrate life along with my fellow cancer survivors and hope that a cure is found for terminal stage 4 breast cancer before it is too late for me and the thousands of women who die every year from this dreadful disease. I want to celebrate many, many more National Cancer Survivor Days. If you can, please donate to METAvivor Research and Support Inc. where 100% of your donation goes to research for metastatic breast cancer.
Linda McCarthy of Visual Concepts Photography has taken many beautiful photos of me. She has an artist’s eye for composition and lighting. This is one of my favorites.
Pointe shoes Capezio
Dress Rent The Runway Marchesa
Last night was surreal. It has been three years since I performed with @joffreyschool Thank you Stacey, Gabriela and the Joffrey Ensemble for inviting me to be part of this show to help raise money for @imadanceragainstcancer #terminalbreastcancer #metastaticbreastcancer #breastcancer #baldballerina
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. She is someone who no one could replace. Ever since I was little and was speech delayed and dyslexic , my mom made sure I got the best help and worked with me tirelessly until I could speak and read at my grade level. Now she makes sure my insurance is paying for everything they should be, checking clinical trials I could possibly join, and so much more. I love my mom so much. Thank you for all you have done for me Mom💗
Earlier this week my Grandmother passed away. She lived 95 years. Grandma had the strength and courage to flee Lithuania during WWII with her family so her children and future generations could live a better life. She opened her heart to so many family, friends and animals who came to her door. I will continue to look up to and admire her for her strength, courage, kindness and beauty. Grandma, I will miss you terribly and I look forward to the day many many many years from now when I hear you say “So what’s new?” Love you grandma. RIP Grandma 💗
GREAT SCAN RESULTS ! ! ! ! No new activity; old lesions are healing.
I hope this means I have turned a corner. Now life can go back to “normal” for another 6 months.
Thank you for your prayers and support that help me to get through this. #metastaticbreastcancer #terminalbreastcancer #baldballerina #breastcancer
Photo by @visual_concepts
Pointe shoes by @capezio
Dress @marchesafashion @renttherunway
Many, many thanks to Congresswoman Barbara Comstock of Virginia for being one of the few GOP representatives who voted NO on Paul Ryan’s health care act.
I met Rep Comstock last December when I spoke on Capitol Hill about metastatic breast cancer. I was impressed with her knowledge of breast cancer and her genuine interest in me and the other MBC patients who visited her that day. Even though none of us lived in her district, she spent a lot of time with us and encouraged us to contact her if we ever had problems she could help with. She is a great advocate for breast cancer and we need more legislators like Rep Comstock who have the courage to put American people ahead of political party. I hope she will continue to serve for many, many years.
I am very sad that we lost Doris Ann Price to Metastatic Breast Cancer. Doris Ann and I were members of the 1st Hear My Voice class in 2015 where she pointed out that she was the oldest member and I was the youngest. Doris Ann was an amazing woman and I will miss reading her posts which sometimes inspired and uplifted me and sometimes provided very important information. The world has lost a treasure and I am grateful that I met this extraordinary woman. My deepest sympathy goes out to her family.
110 women die every day from MBC. Every week I learn of another friend or acquaintance who passed from this dreadful disease. Please pray for a cure for metastatic breast cancer, and if you can, please donate to an organization like @metavivor where 100% of your donation goes toward research for metastatic breast cancer.