“It makes all the difference in the world to have people like this in the world in horrific times. It put me over the top and it definitely makes me want to pay it forward. They are truly amazing."

 

nicoleShe wasn’t all that surprised when her doctor told her she had breast cancer.

For Nicole Rades, 35, she always felt she had a likely chance of getting it. Both her mother and grandmother had fought the disease. But the stage 4 diagnosis? That was a complete shock.

I had my ultrasound on July 13th and requested results on the 15th. I pretty much knew right then because the radiologist held my hand and told me it was going to be a long road,” she said.

As a labor and delivery nurse, Nicole was the sole breadwinner of her family of four, with two little ones—her daughter, age five, and her son, just 20 months old. It was the fear of not only what would happen to her, but what could happen to her family, her house, and their entire world that terrified her the most. “After I had my daughter, my husband and I decided it made the most financial sense for me to go back to work and him to stay home with the kids. I carry the insurance, and like a lot of families these days we live paycheck to paycheck. Even if your family has two people working most people need both working and it puts them in quite a predicament,” she said. “I thought pretty much we would lose everything. How are my kids going to be taken care of? Are we going to have to sell our house?”

Those fears which paralyzed her at first eventually fueled her fire to fight. “It’s kind of like mourning a death. You’re hysterical, then you’re why me, then you just learn to accept it. I looked at my kids and said I have to do this for them, and so I just got in that fighting mode.”

One of Nicole’s friends and coworkers, Amy, was there to help her fight. As a good friend of Will and Gina McReynolds, Amy and another friend Tosha wrote to the Gina McReynolds Foundation on Nicole’s behalf. “Will called me a couple chemo treatments in but even though I’d never met him before he’s someone that I felt like I’d known my whole life. He’s one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever talked to,” she said.

She shared with him how she did not want to talk about her cancer with her children, especially her daughter who was old enough to understand more than Nicole wanted her to. “It was very calming to talk to him especially since I was at the beginning of my treatment and he had already been through it. When I hung up I told my husband, ‘There’s something amazing about him,'” she said.

On the day of her last round of Adriamyacin/Cytoxin chemotherapy, Nicole was feeling especially anxious. The first three rounds of it had made her feel “like a Mack truck” had hit her and she admittedly was not in a good mood knowing what was coming.

But she didn’t know everything that was coming that day.

While receiving treatment, her friend Amy, as well as Will, Matt, and Tom of the Gina McReynolds Foundation surprised Nicole and presented her with a check to help pay her bills. “It took away all that fear. They stayed and talked a while and joked and it made me forget about the chemo,” she said.

It was also the first time Will had been back at MD Anderson since his wife Gina had lost her fight. For Nicole, that meant more to her than any check. “It makes all the difference in the world to have people like this in the world in horrific times,” she said. “I am totally taken away by how giving and supportive everyone has been. It put me over the top and it definitely makes me want to pay it forward. They are truly amazing.”

 

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