June 2015, Sydney, Australia
For over 12 months, I've been fighting stage 4 bilateral breast cancer with widespread metastases to the bones. I'm fiercely strong and I'm independent, and I find it hard to ask for help. I smile and I say fine a lot, and I love to win. These are now my greatest weaknesses.
I had the most perfectly crafted speech a week ago that I was going to tell you like a TED speech, you know, the ones that make you laugh and cry, and you're gonna all give me a big standing ovation and it was going to be fantastic ...
That speech is bullshit.
Because on Monday everything changed. My cancer came back, and it's time for me to stop looking like I'm okay with having cancer. I'm not okay with having cancer. It's time for me to talk about what it feels like to have cancer, and tonight I'm calling it my cancer 'coming out'. I was in hospital on Monday, if any of you were following my Facebook you would have known this, recovering, and I was about to leave the hospital as the revolving door of doctors started and I knew something was wrong.
By the way, I love all of my doctors. They are incredible.
I was told that my cancer was no longer stable and that we would have to start new treatments and new drugs in two weeks. On Tuesday I cried. By Wednesday, I was bored with being sad and angry, so I gave myself a deadline by 8:00 a.m. Thursday that I would start pulling myself together and getting on with life.
It's so hard, because I've just spent 12 months fighting to get here, and now I'm back to square one. If the drugs work, we might have years. If they don't work, I might have 12 months. This is what cancer feels like: You constantly have no answers. You always have questions. You are constantly worried that this day is going to come, and it did, and again, and it will come again, and you just constantly want more time.
Thursday night I got on the plane with my brother to come to Sydney. I was so broken. I fell asleep the whole way, and he ate my cheese and biscuits while I was asleep.
Today I haven't even been out of bed. I used all my energy so that I could attend, and as I said to many people tonight, they were like, "Why did you come, you could have not?" Oh, my God, I would have had the worst migraine ever because I love the Tour de Cure family, and it would have killed me worse than the cancer to be at home and not be at this event tonight.
Nothing is ever going to be okay for me. I have stage 4 metastatic cancer. But I'm not feeling sorry for myself. As you all know, that's boring.
I'm not shaming anyone for not knowing any better, but it's now my job to educate. The most asked question I am asked is, "What can I do for you? I want to do more' I usually say, before today, "I don't need anything. I'm fine," 'cause I don't like asking for help. But this answer has changed. This answer is now, please don't forget me. I need hugs. I need my hand held. I need to be allowed to feel vulnerable, and I need to be allowed to cry. I need to be able to tell you this, and I need you to visit me. I need you to Facetime me, and I need you to Facebook me. I need you to pop me a note in the post, and I need you to keep calling me even if I say no. I need you to stalk me, because it's hard keeping myself up when alone, you know, other people not being there as well.
The second biggest thing that cancer does and feels is it consumes you. When it consumes can feel devastating. What consumes you runs you. When you know me, you'll know I love business, I love ideas, I love making things, I love entrepreneurship. I am very lucky to have very good friends. Dylan, Matt and Chris. They knew that one way to avoid cancer consuming me was to give me a project that consumed me, so we created the project called Kit for Cancer. Some of you may know it. Now, you all know about it. When you're diagnosed with cancer, the worst possible moment happens, and nobody knows what to give you and nobody knows what to say to you. We designed a kit full of beautifully curated items for patients by patients. It is the gift you never want to get, and it is the gift you never want to give, but it is here when you need it. It is something that family and friends can buy for their loved ones when they are told, "You have cancer."
I thank you, guys, for pushing me through and working on this project with me so I could forget, most of the days, that I have cancer. This week, I hate cancer. I hate it. I hate fighting, and I want a day off. I'm tired of being positive and happy and energetic, and I'm sick of being okay and trying to make everyone else feel okay. I'm exhausted. This is what cancer feels like. This is what cancer feels like, and cancer patients will never tell you that it feels like. This is what it feels like every day.
There is no cure for my cancer. There is not much money allocated, either, to researching the kind of cancer that I have. This cancer will kill me. This means that I may not see my niece turn four. I may never go on another Tour to Cure, which would break my heart, 'cause that was awesome. I may never see the legacy of Kit for Cancer succeed. I may never go on another date with a boy again. I may never travel to see my best friends in the USA. I was meant to leave next week, and that's all gone on hold.
But then again, I might. I don't know, because I live in a place of constant unknowing, and that's what cancer feels like. I'm fighting this cancer now on the inside, but there is not a moment that Chantel and the team aren't fighting harder. She surrounded me with the best people in the industry, and they fight hard to make sure that I can stand here today. While we may not be thankful for the cancer, we need to be grateful for the doctors, the researchers, the nurses and the treatments that give me the chance to fight this. If there ever comes a time where the treatments stop working, please know I will always be grateful for having lived a great life with no regrets and now having you all in it.
As we go into the auction right now, and you're all having bubbles, which I wish I could drink but I can't because it tastes awful, and if anyone knows me, champagne is my thing. If I'm given 12 months, I will be going to champagne. I will drink it even if it tastes awful, and drink every single ounce of it. The other thing I will do, of course, is I promised my niece I would take her to Disneyland, and that will happen. We will [inaudible 00:07:26] every single day. As you're thinking about spending money tonight on some of these epically cool items, cross your fingers and know that maybe just one of those dollars or some of those dollars that you're raising for Tour de Cure just might go into a breakthrough drug that might make me stay alive.
Kindness is free. You can sprinkle that shit everywhere, okay? And broken crayons still colour.