Life at DHG Blog

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer – Danielle’s Story

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Story updated October 5, 2017.

Hello fellow DHG family! My name is Danielle. Some of you may know me. I work as a Manager on the Risk Advisory Services (RAS) team in Charlotte and joined the firm about a year and a half ago. One of the things I noticed immediately about DHG was the vibe I got walking in the door. The feeling of family and friends. No unhappy co-workers or mean cliques here! That is why I am taking the time to open up my story to you, especially as I’ve gotten to know a lot of you more over the past year.

We all know what October is – Breast Cancer Month. I was diagnosed with an aggressive stage 3 form of breast cancer in March 2009, the day before my 31st birthday. It was a shock to my doctors, my family and the community, because of my age. I went undiagnosed by 3 different doctors and only discovered my breast cancer after insisting on a mammogram after watching a Dr. Oz special on the Oprah Winfrey Show. By then, my cancer had spread. I had 4 tumors, all fairly large, and 2 had spread to my lymph nodes.

I underwent a year of treatment and a nasty chemo regimen – I lost my hair, eye brows, eye lashes, and my fertility. I had to walk down the aisle in my sister’s enormous wedding wearing a wig (not fun). My family lost their sense of security and our perfect life. I also had 2 surgeries (and since then a few more), 33 rounds of radiation and 10 years of adjuvant Tamoxifen pills. My thyroid has been impacted, along with my fertility, immunity, and other imbalances. I also lost many friends to breast cancer. The Charlotte community of “young survivors” is very close.

Some good things came from my diagnosis though. For one, I lived. I am now an 8-year survivor. My infertility led my husband and I to adopt our 2 precious children, Aidan, now almost 8, and SaraGrace, 4 ½. They are our lives these days.

The American Cancer Society has shared my story to educate others and invited me to speak on stage as a survivor advocate last year (you can watch here: https://youtu.be/FinRfheIq0k). There were 30,000 people in the audience!. Aidan and I also got on stage a couple years ago and he grabbed the mic from the MC (Natalie Pasquarella) without pause and yelled into the crowd “what are all these people doin’ here!?”  She replied with a big smile, “They’re here to find a CURE!” Everyone laughed.

I set a pretty hefty fundraising goal last year – $7,777.77, in celebration of my 7 years. This year it was a measly $888 in celebration of 8 years. I lowered my goal this year because I wanted a break from cancer.  I was sick of pink and bitter because in April, I endured yet another scare, this time a stage 4 cancer scare. My doctors thought my cancer had spread to my bones. An MRI image showed a new lesion in my sternum. After a month of scans and a biopsy surgery to remove the mass, I was thankfully told it wasn’t cancer. Anyway, that’s more of what I call “cancer aftermath” and that’s why I was bitter. But I shouldn’t have been! Because while I set my goal lower, I quickly raised $8,500 by my family supporters, and am on my way to raising over $9,000!

My doctors told me I had a 40% chance to live 5 years, and here I am 8 years later. You are all welcome to join our team, the Primax Pink Warriors! We are the BIGGEST in Charlotte and highly recognized across the community. I am currently the #2 fundraiser in the city. Thank you for your support!

The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is coming up in Charlotte, NC on Sat. Oct 21. To join our team, or make a donation, please visit my personal page:  http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCCY17SA?px=44271623&pg=personal&fr_id=84844