46 Days… That’s the length of time between when I said “I Do” and I heard “you have cancer”. In July 2005, I was married on a perfect day in a park in Boardman, OH to a woman who made me smile every day since the day I met her. We had an awesome honeymoon and returned home to begin planning the rest of our lives together. In August of that year, we sat in a doctor’s office and heard that horrible 3-word phrase – “you have cancer”.
Needless to say, my life was turned upside down as this was not something I expected at 30 years of age. Julie battled a little more than 3 years through multiple surgeries and countless cycles of chemotherapy. We thought we had it beat only to hear an even worse phrase – “there is nothing more we can do.” Several months of hospice care followed before I said goodbye in 2008. In such a short time, I had to grow up and face the harsh realities that life brings us sometimes.
Shortly after losing her, I found a “support group” – Relay For Life. The American Cancer Society and Relay welcomed my friends and family. I have taken on several leadership roles – locally and nationally. I did not know much about the American Cancer Society while Julie battled cancer. I have learned so much since joining Relay. I use my podium at Relay to celebrate survivors and share the mission of the American Cancer Society.
Following my mom’s diagnosis of breast cancer in 2020, I have expanded by volunteering within the ACS to also include Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Real Men Wear Pink.
Julie taught me the importance of giving back. I use my role as a Voice of Hope to give friendship, love and hope to others. I focus on the fight of a survivor, but also the battle the caregiver goes through.