Our Inspiration: Louisa's Story
The meaning of the name Louisa is "famous warrior." It is the female form of Louis, a name given to great kings and leaders throughout history. This is the name my mother and father gave to their fourth born child.
When I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer I was summoned to a fight. I remember excusing myself from the fateful meeting at which I received my diagnosis. Under pretense of needing to use the restroom I took some time for myself. I splashed water on my face and took a long hard look in the mirror. Like a prizefighter I rolled my shoulders and squared myself for what lay ahead. I knew that I had to be victorious, and I knew that I would be victorious. Standing there alone in a cold clinical bathroom I promised to take the devastating news and turn it into a blessing and use it as fuel for my fire. I promised to live up to the name my parents had given me.
The story of my experience with breast cancer has a long ago and far away beginning. Before I could even speak cancer made its mark on my life. I was 12 months old when my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35. She fought a hard fight and she was disease free for many years; when I was 18 the cancer returned and by the time I was 20 she passed away. She passed away peaceful knowing that her children were on solid ground and their paths were clear. My mother was a legend, an incredible artist an amazing friend and an inspiration to all who knew her. My first victory was being born her daughter.
When my mother passed away I was devastated, but as she had wished I continued on my path. I married Drew who had been with me through my mother's illness and we had two beautiful daughters and life was good. Although cancer had scarred me badly by taking my mother I didn't lay awake at night worrying about it. I didn't think I would have to worry until I was much older. I did breast self exams and I went to my annual doctor appointments, but I was not as diligent as I should have been about self monitoring and having moved a few times I had not found one doctor that was consistent and attentive. Even though I was in the high-risk category for breast cancer, rarely had a doctor listened closely and driven home how important it would be for me to monitor my own breasts. So it was lucky that I brushed my hand against my breast while in the shower and felt the lump. I was 31 years old.
Within hours of my first mammogram and the preliminary communication that I had "some form" of breast cancer, I was on the phone with anyone I knew in my community who had connections in the medical world or experience with breast cancer treatment. An immense support network flew into place around me and I was held up and carried forth. After much deliberation with doctors at both UCSF and Stanford I decided on my course of treatment. Throughout my treatment I reflected on how blessed and downright lucky I was to have many advantages and I vowed to use my resources to help other women in their battle against the disease.
This experience has changed the course of my life and led me here to Triple Step Toward the Cure where I will continue to be the warrior my mother and father knew I would be.