Roberta comes from an extensive family history of cancer. All three of her sisters were diagnosed with different types of cancers throughout their lifetime and now Roberta is enduring her own experience with cancer.
“My second oldest sister had ovarian cancer for three years and passed away in 2008. About a year after that, my next oldest sister was diagnosed with two forms of breast cancer. In 2013, my oldest and the last remaining sister was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She was diagnosed after me and also passed away,” Roberta reflected.
Roberta was diligent about cancer screening and staying on top of her health because of her long family history of cancer. She exercised, tried to eat healthy and even went as far to have a hysterectomy six months after her sister passed away from ovarian cancer.
In 2012, Roberta was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, known as Primary Peritoneal.
“It was really disheartening after all of these efforts to keep cancer away. I felt kind of victimized by it,” Roberta recalled. “How did this happen? I’ve done everything I could possibly do.”
Roberta has tried several different treatments throughout her cancer journey. Upon her diagnosis, Roberta was immediately entered into a clinical trial which was like a triple form of chemotherapy. The cancer progressed despite her being highly responsive to the treatment.
Although she has endured many procedures and unpleasant side effects, she has found that there are also many gifts that come with facing cancer.
“You start to live your life with a new set of values and priorities. You really understand the merits and the beautiful aspects of friendships and relationships. You get to see the good side of people; how they treat you and pray for you.”
Roberta’s diagnosis also inspired her to conquer her fears. “I call it a leap list,” Roberta explained. “There are things that you look at and say, ‘Wow, I’ve always talked about doing this but I better get to it.’”
Roberta’s leap list includes overcoming her fear of heights and going on a Mediterranean cruise, but she said it doesn’t matter what your goal is. “For someone else it might be riding a bike or singing karaoke. Even if you’re scared, there’s a sense of accomplishment and rush that goes through you.”
Cancer also caused Roberta look at life as purposefully as possible. “You get to come at life every day like, ‘How do I want to spend this day rather than how do I get through this day’,” Roberta reflected.
Roberta advises other cancer patients to get organized when they learn their diagnosis. “The onslaught of information and materials are going to come. You’re going to have books, claims, bills and you need someone to help you cut through the clutter.”
She also encourages people to have an open connection where they can express what is going on. “One of the most frustrating things for me is when I hear, ‘It will be okay or it will all work out.’ You want someone to acknowledge that this is life or death.”
Roberta’s most important piece of advice for people affected by cancer is that everybody needs their own cathartic outlet. “For me, mine is writing. When I journal and post it isn’t just the details of what is going on. I really write about the insights and revelations. Whatever your outlet is, make sure you invest and do it.”
Roberta uses MyLifeLine.org as an outlet to share her writing and coordinate help during her cancer experience. “MyLifeLine is such an appropriate name. It really has been my lifeline. I am grateful to have cancer in this time and age in social media.”
Read more about Roberta’s inspirational story by visiting her MyLifeLine.org personal site.