At the NC Association of Government Information Officers (NCAGIO) conference last week, I was very honored to receive the Ernie Seneca Award for Excellence in Public Service. This was an outstanding honor to receive among peers of communication professionals from across the state. I also accepted two Excellence in Communication awards the same day for projects I worked on for Wake County Government, including a first place award for publication design for the 2013 Wake County Accomplishments Report and a first place award for video I filmed and edited for a breast cancer awareness campaign. I was also one of the speakers for the conference and gave a presentation on mobile and drone photography. It was an awesome day and was very proud of being a government employee for Wake County, NC! View more details about NCAGIO and the seminar.
Front Staged: Living With Cancer
In early September 2014, I started having sharp pains on my left side. They kept growing in intensity. I went to my doctor and she sent me to have a CT scan. It turned out I had a pleural effusion of the left lung, which is fluid built up between the chest cavity lining (pleural tissue) and the lung. I was sent to see a pulmonologist and he scheduled a procedure where they put a catheter in my back and pulled out 2 litters of fluid. My pulmonologist explained that it was very unusual to have that much fluid built up and that was just a symptom of something major happening in my body.
They then started running a lot of tests to try and determine what caused the fluid. I was tested for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, lyme’s disease, HIV, pneumonia, COPD…everything came back negative. The only thing they couldn’t rule out was cancer.
The pain on my left side continued to get worse and I developed a chronic dry cough, I started to get short of breath easily and I lost a lot of weight, dropping from 205 lbs to 145 lbs in less than a year.
Later scans showed hardening of the lower pleural tissue of my left lung. My pulmonologist at Duke scheduled me with a surgeon that specialized in a surgical procedure to try and remove this hardened tissue. During that surgery, they didn’t remove the tissue, but instead took samples for biopsies. They sent the tissue to the Duke Lab and they determined it was cancer. Duke then sent my biopsy tissue to the Mayo Clinic and they both confirmed the same diagnosis.
I have been diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of sarcomatoid mesothelioma cancer. There is no treatment or cure for this form of cancer. Follow my daily blog posts about battling this cancer and the journey of how to live life to the fullest with what time we have.