My cancer journey began on June 2nd, 2021, when I found out through a routine mammogram that I had HER 2 positive cancer in my left breast. Three tumors all totaled about 5 cm.
I barely had enough time to process this in my head. My port was placed on June 16th, and started TCHP Chemotherapy on June 18th.
After my third round of chemo on August 3 I had acute abdominal pain and had emergency surgery due to a perforation in my colon caused by chemo. The surgeon removed a foot of infected intestine and placed a colostomy bag, which added a degree of difficulty in dealing with certain treatment induced side effects. I was in the hospital for 10 days, missing my father's birthday. I also received a blood transfusion, as the chemo made my blood count plummet.
I stopped working at that point, knowing I was “too sick” to continue working in a very busy veterinary practice. My sister-in-law, Linda Bozzo, told me about Dance for the Cure and put me in contact with Miss Kathleen. I was blown away by the outpouring of kindness and the donation I received from DFC, for which I will forever be grateful.
On October 8th, I finished chemo and on November 18th had my mastectomy. The colostomy bag was removed on February 9th, and contracted C-diff during recovery. On May 9th I had my breast reconstruction, and on May 17th I began working at a new job at a much smaller veterinary practice.
During my entire journey, my family was by my side, helping when I needed, or just to be there for company. My husband, Kenneth Degutis was, and still is my rock. I truly feel our relationship has grown stronger because of this. No words can ever describe how much I love and appreciate him.
My parents, Francis & Rosemary Gelino, my brother, sister-in-law Chris & Cathy Gelino (nephews Zach & Ethan), Linda & Gene Bozzo, John & Julie Degutis, Carmen Fetterman and Barbara Degutis and a whole community of friends too numerous to name rallied with constant texts, calls, prayers and jokes to help keep my spirits up.
I am amazed at my strength in what I endured, even thinking now “it wasn’t that bad,” when others have had it so much worse. It was pretty bad, but having a positive attitude and a fighting spirit helped immensely. I didn’t want cancer to beat me, and being upbeat and happy was one way I wouldn’t let it win.
A friend I made along the way (another Pink sister) asked me how I stayed positive. I told her my mantra “Ain’t nothing to it, but to do it.” It’s what was dealt to us, but it’s our choice on how to handle it. She began saying to her friends and family and said it’s now her battle cry.
I have been so blessed my entire journey and I want to pay it forward.
Are you or someone you know struggling due to a breast cancer diagnosis?
We would like to help. Please visit https://www.danceforthecure.org/get-help