The following is a special submission from Kristin Vellandi, Coalitions Director of the Carly for California campaign. Please join her, along with Carly, her husband Frank, and the entire Carly for CA team at the Race for the Cure in Sacramento tomorrow. For more information, visit http://www.carlyforca.com/cure.
What a journey, the road to breast cancer survivor…
Election week, November 2008, I felt something odd in my breast. That was followed by the fear that comes with rapidly accelerating doctor’s appointments. November 21, 2008, at 36-years-old, and with no family history, I was diagnosed with triple-positive breast cancer. It still seems surreal.
My children were 2, 4 and 7 at the time – the rest: surgeries, chemotherapy, never-ending visits to specialists – is all a blur.
By May 2009, I finished chemo and continued just the regular infusions of herceptin. June 2009, I elected to have a bilateral mastectomy, since the first surgery had not been successful.
A woman I didn’t know personally at the time, Carly Fiorina, had just started her own personal battle with breast cancer. Diagnosed in February 2009, she actually addressed numerous groups at the California Republican Party Convention the DAY she received the official – and as too many of us know, SCARY – diagnosis.
By October of 2009, with expanders in place and herceptin ongoing, my earliest mentor called. He asked me to come meet a woman named Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, a current candidate for U.S. Senate AND a breast cancer survivor!
I had a little hair by then, and I remember the sparkle in her eye as she walked in – with far less hair than I had. (Her decision to get rid of the wig the moment she had barely a stubble SHOCKED her campaign consultants.) She looked at me, and said “I want YOUR HAIR!”
Her drive, her humor, her decision to take this opportunity to give back and serve the people of California – even while then battling for her own personal health – was awe inspiring to me.
Only weeks later, I joined Carly’s small, dedicated campaign team as her full-time Coalitions Director.
I can’t tell you how blessed I feel I am for being given a chance to work for someone like Carly Fiorina — a woman who has faced and conquered challenge after challenge.
And, with Carly’s campaign, I have a team – a team who values my every contribution, even with breaks for treatments, surgery, and all the other fine tuning as I finish this path to survivor. A team.
We all are a team – a team of survivors and supporters, a team of friends and family, a team that will Race for the Cure in Sacramento on May 8 to help ensure more and more women make it to the end of the trail, and fewer and fewer ever get here at all. Carly and I look forward to every step of that 5K on May 8; we’ll both be there.
Carly for California