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  • Teresa Heilbrun

Finding My 'WHY'


It started four years ago. My husband and I were sitting in the living room watching TV. I had gone to the doctor earlier in the week. I have diverticulitis and every so often it gets infected causing pain in my stomach. My doctor agreed that it was a flair up and started me on antibiotics. The pain was intense and I was getting no relief. Now I can tolerate pain but this was like labor pains. I looked over at my husband and said, “let's go to the emergency room". It was Saturday afternoon and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the emergency room. When I said that, he knew something was wrong.

We arrived at the ER and like any other Saturday, it was packed. They check me in and I found a seat in the waiting room. There were people with the flu, a cold, chest pains and so on.... I'm thinking 'I will just go home and go back to the doctor next week. These people need to be seen worse than me, I just have a stomach ache'. My husband said "we are here we are staying". Frustrated; we sit and wait. About an hour and a half later, I was called back.

The nurse came in and took all my information and asked "what brings you to the ER tonight"? I began my spill...'I have diverticulitis and I think it is infected. I went to my doctor who started antibiotics three days ago'.

After another wait, the ER doctor came in and examined me. He said he thought my doctor was right but wanted to do an internal ultrasound just to make sure there was nothing else going on. Praise the Lord for this Doctor!!! I went back for the ultrasound and then my husband and I waited for the results. Now, as I praise this doctor, his bedside manner leaves something to be desired. He came in and said "the good news is, you do not have a flare up of diverticulitis. The bad news is we found a mass the size of a grapefruit on your ovary and it may be cancer", and then he walked out the door.

You could have heard a pin drop. The noise of the ER seemed to be muted and thoughts started going through my head. As I lay there, the first thought was I don't want to die. I have six grandchildren and two beautiful children I am not ready for this. Then I remembered God's word, 'by his stripes we are healed', and if not, then His will be done.

The noise came back and I looked up at my husband and said "it's going to be alright". The look on his face was of both love and fear. No one wants to hear those words.

Over the next month it was a roller-coaster ride. So many different questions and I felt like the only words I said were: Yes, No, I'm not sure.

Then the trip to the oncologist. Sitting in the room, there were posters on the wall. You know the one's: picture of a woman ovaries, womb, and other parts with paragraphs, if your are stage one and two this is what is happening; if you are stage three and four...well, prognosis sounded very gloomy. I was terrified. In walks this tall red headed man with a smile on his face just as nice as he could be. "Hi! I'm your oncologist. I've looked at your CT-scan and feel 90 percent sure it's not cancer. The only way to be 100 percent is the pathologist report". So I leave feeling better and scheduled for surgery on July 27th, 2013.

He did a Laparoscopic surgery to remove the tumor which was sent to the Pathologist. Ten minutes later, the Pathologist confirmed the tumor was cancerous. So I had another surgery where an incision was made allowing the doctor to wash out lymph nodes. While in recovery, still drowsy from surgery, my husband tells me it was cancer and that I would need to undergo 6 rounds of chemotherapy.

My first treatment was August 8th. Of the little I knew about chemo, I knew I would lose my hair. I tell you, that was the most devastating thing for me. Not the {k}ancer, but losing my hair. As women, we go to the beauty shop and get our hair done religiously. We go out, we put on make-up and fix our hair to look presentable. It is a big deal when you no longer have hair and you don't like wearing hats or scarves.

As I sat there in the infusion room looking and talking to other women with ovarian {k}ancer, it hit me...I was letting the loss of my hair take over me; letting it define me. And then I thought, "Teresa you are being vain and childish". I was like, this is not my defining moment. I wanted to be on a mission that God was in the midst of it all. He was and is in control. So what if I lost my hair, I am alive. At that moment, I didn't how I was going to promote the good out of this, but I was going to try and find my 'why'. I knew I wanted to take a stand against ovarian {k}ancer and help women understand their bodies; to be vigilant when you know something isn't right. But I didn't know how or when or what I would do.

While undergoing chemo, I went to school for Medical Billing & Coding and wanted a career in that field. After completing treatment, I started looking for employment but no one would hire me. Door after door was being closed. Even the school where I attended tried to get me employment to no avail. I felt rejected and thoughts started going through my head, 'you are an old women and no one wants a medical risk. You have had cancer and are in your late fifties, you are done'. And even though I wasn't disabled, a voice got in my head telling me to just file for disability. That little voice in our mind is powerful. Once again, I was rejected.

Three years went by and one day in conversation with a lady, who was an Aflac Insurance agent, she asked me what I did for employment. I said: "nothing because no one will hire me". She asked if she could pass along my information to her boss and I said yes, thinking this would end the same way as the others. The next day, the phone rang. After a brief phone conversation, the lady on the phone asked if I would be interested and available for an interview. I said "sure". During the interview, she explained Aflac, the position available and what they do for people. It clicked: I didn't want anyone to go through what I had just gone through wondering where the mortgage payment was coming from; sitting for hours looking for funding to pay the light bill and car payment. The cost of cancer treatments is devastating when you don't have coverage for the care.

Things started coming together. I started realizing my WHY! I wanted to do cartwheels. My 'why' is to help others not to have to go through the heartache of keeping your head above water while paying for cancer treatments. So I became an Aflac Sales Associate!

Teresa Heilbrun | Sales Associate North Carolina West American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac) Tel: 336-906-1488 | Fax: 877-706-1878 413 N. Center Street, Statesville, NC. 28677 teresa_heilbrun@us.aflac.com | aflac.com

I have a powerful story that touches the realistic side that cancer does not discriminate. When sitting in front of employees and employers, I tell them my story and they see the need for a cancer policy. My goal is to help people be prepared if cancer hits their families. You can even get a policy when you are five years cancer free. For less than a case of Pepsi per week, you can have peace of mind (after five years of being cancer-free) and your family can be covered in the event that it ever touches them.

My Why...


#MyWhy #tealdiva #Aflac #CancerInsurance #Advocate

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