My name is Aileen Todd otherwise known as Ikey to those that know me. On a beautiful warm sunny day in August 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Class B breast cancer. I first tried a lumpectomy but when the lines came back as still being positive I went for a full mastectomy. I did that because I wanted to knock down the percentages of it coming back. I then began ten rounds of Chemotherapy and I can tell you it honestly changed my life forever in more ways than one.
After the second round of chemo my head became tingly and itchy. I got out of the shower and combed my hair and there it had begun, clumps of hair were in the comb. I had made the choice when I first started my journey that yes Cancer decided to give me a run for my money and take all of my hair but I was going to beat it and take it first. I called up some friends that were waiting for the call and showed up at their door with a bottle in one hand and hair clippers in the other. We made a party out of me becoming bald, I will never forget it.
I look back at my journal that I kept and see how I did struggle and became ill and ended up at the hospital a few times. It’s funny how I don’t really remember being all that sick what I remember more is worrying about the others that were struggling and how I could help them. I also spent my time making hats and putting together little bags of things such as boxes of lemon drops and a tube of toothpaste for sensitive mouths and various things that helped me make it through the sores and blisters and aches and pains that went along with Chemo therapy. In that bag I included my phone number and email address incase whoever received the bag would want to talk. Someone did it for me when I started my journey and I wanted to pay it forward.
The radiation was just as tough and with the medicines etc and you don’t sleep right either. I was fortunate to have a friend who played in a band and called on his way home from gigs just to chat because he knew I would be awake. I may not have a family of my own but I do a have a family and they are some of the best people and friends a girl could ever want.
My family consists of the people I have met through the course of my life and what all I have been involved with. I have worked at the UP200 sled dog race for many years. I have worked as a Wildlife Rehabilitator for the DNR for numerous years, volunteer at the humane society and run a fishing derby that gets in over 400 fishermen in my small town of Republic Michigan. When I am not doing any of that, I run my own Beauty Shop there which I have done for the past 20 plus years.
I just made my 5 year appointment and was ready to not have to go back for a whole year but instead found out after some blood work they had sent to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio that I have a genetic disease that is called Cowden Syndrome. 1 out of every 200,000 people ends up with this. There isn’t a cure for it today and it leaves me in a very high risk and danger of cancer. I will keep growing tumors through my body and because of my cancer history already it has made me move (jump) up in the percentage rate of getting it again. I have been told this Cowden Syndrome will leave me in danger of thyroid cancer (I had it removed), breast cancer (had it and had them removed), kidney cancer (keep getting checked), colon cancer (being monitored), melanoma (being monitored), and uterine cancer (just had it all removed). I am still working on surrounding myself with good doctors but I will get there. In 5 years I have had 11 surgeries now and I am sure to be looking at more. That’s ok I will do what is needed because I plan to be around for a long time to come.
I am not through the fight nor will I be, but I live life to the fullest. I just don’t have time for drama or the petty things that goes on. I just want to enjoy what’s out there be it birds singing or an awesome sunset or watching the kids play in my neighborhood. Life is precious and we really aren’t given a whole lot of time to spend it mad or upset, those are wasted days to me. As one of Kenny Chesney’s songs says “Live, Love, and Laugh a Lot!”
I am very blessed to have been asked to be this year’s honoree for a Mush for a Cure! I thank you all and I am looking forward to seeing everyone this winter! Mush!
Ikey, WE are very blessed to have you as our 2014 honoree! Thank you for accepting and we cannot WAIT to see you at a Minnesota dog sled event!!!