Updated: Sep 11, 2020
I met Skye Leybold when we served on the Jackson Middle School Choir Booster Board together. At the time, she’d just recovered from her first bout with breast cancer at age 41. She had a mastectomy and was given a 1 percent chance of the cancer recurring. She thought she'd be able to get on with her life. Unfortunately, she fell in that 1 percent.
Three and a half years later, her cancer returned with a vengeance, and it had spread throughout her liver and her spine. When she found out this devastating news, the doctors told her that she had only four to five years to live. Then a week later, her liver began failing, and the doctors seemed to give up on her entirely.
Fortunately Skye’s husband Ted found another doctor (who happened to be a cardiologist), who showed Skye’s file to the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU. They believed Skye’s case was not hopeless and said “she doesn’t have to die.”
They were able to talk her doctors into trying a more aggressive chemo and immunotherapy treatment, and it was successful. Her tumors are gone. She knows they will come back eventually, but her medical team has a whole series of treatments prepared for when that happens.
Skye couldn’t imagine not seeing her kids grow up, and that made her fight with every fiber in her being.
Fortunately Ted knew Skye wouldn’t want to give up, and thanks to his advocacy, Skye is still alive. They had to continue fighting her medical team until they were finally able to transfer over to the Knight Cancer Institute, where they are giving her a fighting chance to keep living.
In the past few months, Skye has been feeling much better than she has in years, and she’s able to appreciate the simple joys of life, even in the midst of this pandemic. She loves to read, and she’s finally gotten her energy and concentration back to read again. She loves to walk her dog, cook, and spend time with her family. She looks forward to spending time with her friends again after the pandemic is over.
Skye is an incredibly hard worker and exceptionally determined. I asked Skye how she became so strong, and she shared that she didn’t grow up in a loving home. She put herself through college and worked for everything she had. She knew she wanted to surround herself with kind, loving people, so she created the wonderful family she has now.
“I didn’t want something as stupid as cancer to change their lives drastically,” says Skye. “I didn’t want to die and have it be this huge thing."
"I wanted to see my kids get through high school and until recently, I didn’t dare dream beyond that. Now I’m able to see more than that...”
She was told she wouldn't be here any more, so she is thoroughly enjoying the fact her life has been extended.
I loved this conversation with Skye and found myself appreciating the little things in life that we all take for granted. She is an inspiring, fierce fighter, and I know you too will be inspired by how Skye has found her fertile ground.
Next week, we'll talk to Dennett Edwards, who has started Corona Daze Professional Development, an online network that helps people from marginalized communities get back to work. Don't miss it!
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