One might assume that Amber Marchese joined Real Housewives Of New Jersey to cause mayhem, but not so. Amber’s true motivation was to share her story of surviving cancer, which when you think about it, is a far more noble reason to joining RHONJ so your husband Jim Marchese can insult the entire cast and dish on embarrassing family secrets!
“So, you ask? Why? Why do I share my story? Good question…” For Amber there really isn’t any other option than to share the true story of her life – and that, of course, includes cancer. And with a platform like RHONJ and Bravo to educate people, it turns out that is why Amber continues to speak out about The Cancer.
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“When people dare to say to me, ‘You talk about cancer too much,’ or, ‘You’re using cancer as a card,’ I say to them don’t you dare try to shut me up with your ignorance,” Amber states. “As another cancer survivor and friend, Brian Dowd, who works tirelessly with the Livestrong foundation said to me once, ‘As a survivor, it is your duty to tell your story to potentially save others.’ That has been etched in my mind ever since, and I proudly will take those marching orders.”
Amber says that as a healthy a 31-year-old woman she found lumps in her right breast while nursing her daughter. Initially Amber didn’t believe they were any cause for concern because she’d had many “benign cysts” in her breasts throughout her twenties. Of course, this time it turned out to be different.
Jim encouraged her to go to her doctor where eventually a biopsy revealed she had cancer. To Amber’s “complete surprise” she was told she had atypical cells that turned out to be invasive carcinoma. Being able to share that story, potentially educate others, and help women realize the importance of self-screening is why Amber continues to speak out about The Cancer. She also wants to show women what a portrait of survival looks like.
“I am completely honored and grateful to have had the ability to film these amazing moments in my life. When I think of where I was just five years ago to now, I am just in complete amazement,” Amber reflects. “I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but if my story encourages even just one person to be proactive with their health, then I have accomplished what I came to do.”
Amber reminds us it is imperative to be thorough and get a second opinion. She tells the story of how a near-miss from a less concerned surgeon could have meant a very different portrait of survival for Amber. After initially getting the lumps looked at, Amber’s gynecologist sent Amber for an ultrasound, the results of which she forwarded to a surgeon for a biopsy. “That surgeon sent me away telling me not to worry about it and that my doctor was being far too overly cautious,” Amber writes. “He felt that she was creating unnecessary stress and anxiety. Despite this surgeon’s position, amazingly, my doctor insisted that I get a biopsy.”
“Fact is, if I would have listened to the surgeon, I would not be here to write this blog to all of you,” Amber cautions.
After learning she had cancer, things moved rapidly as Amber, supported completely by Jim, struggled to get her disease under control. “I went through many surgeries, including a double mastectomy, and a year and half of chemotherapy/adjunctive therapy,” Amber reveals. “I had an aggressive form of breast cancer, so time and aggressive treatment were crucial for me.”
Amber also shares the story of how years ago, when young women found lumps in their breasts doctors often did not take it seriously, believing young women could not get breast cancer. Today, obviously, we know that is incorrect. Amber credits her amazing gynecologist for pushing her to get treatment immediately, and acting quickly. For Amber hearing a story from that doctor about a young woman who died after being diagnosed too late, “saved my life.”
Part of sharing her story of survival was Amber’s photo shoot. “For me the point of this photo shoot was to capture triumph, strength, and victory. I may have the scars, my breasts will never be the same, but I have never felt more powerful and beautiful in my life,” she writes. “I wear these scars with pride, as I have earned them.”
Another part of sharing her survival story is the relationship Amber has with her husband Jim. Amber admits that RHONJ is not for Jim, and that he is not coming across as she sees him. Clearly Jim is fiercely protective of his wife, and almost losing her to cancer is part of that.
“Jim and I have seen good and bad times in our lives, but we always manage to make sure we show our appreciation towards each other,” Amber says.”I have learned much about myself and my family this season, but no lesson has been more important than how much the little things matter.” Amber reminds us that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so get screened and self- monitor, ladies.
If you would like to see more of the photos from Amber’s photoshoot, click here. Personally, I have to say, at least Amber’s cancer story is actual reality, not a contrived storyline. So I appreciate her sharing it from that perspective. And her photos were amazing!
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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