As most of you know, I found my first lump last year (several months before my ultimate diagnosis) and showed it to my doctor, who said it was nothing to worry about. Then when I got pregnant in February, I found another lump in my armpit. I showed both lumps to my doctor (a different doctor than the first one) and he too told me the lumps were nothing to worry about. I miscarried a couple weeks later, around the end of February. I questioned why the lumps were still there but was told it may take a while for them to go away or that they may never.
On March 10, 2009, Oprah aired a Dr. Oz special on medical mistakes and a statistic on their show startled me. “More people in the US die every year from medical mistakes than breast cancer, AIDS and car accidents combined!” They highlighted a story about a young girl who was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy, removal of lymph nodes, etc., only to learn later that they had switched her scans with someone else and she never had cancer to begin with. And even worse (I guess), the other girl who was given a clean bill of health actually had cancer and wasn’t getting any treatment at all.
After watching this show, I began worrying about my doctors’ dismissal of my concerns and their opinions that my lumps were nothing. I thought, “What if they were wrong?” Dr. Oz had mentioned on the show about how important second opinions were and it made me think a third couldn’t hurt or maybe I should just insist on a mammogram. I called and did just that, insisted on a mammogram, which I scheduled for March 17, seven days after the Oprah Dr. Oz show aired.
I am a big fan of Oprah and Dr. Oz and have written the show in the past asking for them to do a special on fertility issues in young couples, since Dan and I struggled with fertility for more than three years. I always check Oprah’s website to see when the Dr. Oz specials would be air next hoping to see one on this subject. I got on there in April and saw a link that read “Be on the Show / Did Dr. Oz’s Advice Save Your Life?” I wrote in and told them my story. I got an email the next day from their Associate Producer, Amanda, asking me to send in a picture for an upcoming show, where they were posting pictures of all the people whose lives Dr. Oz has saved!!! I sent one right away and took one the next day in the chemo room holding a sign for Dr. Oz. I emailed that one that night (or the next day, I can’t remember). I thought the chemo sign one didn’t make it in time but Amanda was able to add them both to the set of the show, which aired on May 12, 2009! Amanda also gave me tickets to another Oprah show taping, which Nina and I went to on May 7 and which aired on May 21, 2009. Thanks Amanda!! Truly exciting!!
I also had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Dr. Oz in person at charity presentation in Moorseville, NC. It was a dream come true!! Amanda also helped me arrange this and I couldn’t be more thankful. I thanked Dr. Oz for saving my life and explained how his medical mistakes Oprah show on March 10 prompted me to question the two doctors that told me over the past several months that my lumps were nothing to worry about. I explained that I had stage IIB HER2+ invasive ductal carcinoma and how I emailed the Oprah show about my story for Dr. Oz’s finale show. I mentioned how my picture was on the set of his show and he said how touched he was to see all those pictures.
Now get this……… HE ASKED ME TO BE ON HIS NEW DR. OZ SHOW IN SEPTEMBER!!!!! His publicist was there with him and got all my information for the show later this year!! What an honor that will be!!! 🙂 We took a few pictures together (posted below and in my pics page to the left), he signed my “YOU The Owner’s Manual” book and a picture that I had brought me with (the one of me holding my sign in the chemo room a couple weeks earlier). I gave him a copy of one of them and wrote my blog link on the back. He said he would visit my blog soon and leave me a message!! It was such an honor meeting him and such a fun day!! Here are some pics (me in wiggie #1, which I’ve since learned to style a little better):
About a week after meeting Dr. Oz, Nina and I arrived in Chicago for the Oprah show taping on May 7, 2009. We checked into the Marriott on Michigan Avenue the night before and arrived at the Harpo studio early in the morning. Our names were on the audience guest list and we cleared through security pretty quickly. We knew we weren’t allowed to bring in cell phones or cameras so we left those at the hotel. They held the audience in a holding room before we were let into the studio room. There were several rows of chairs lined up with big screen TVs all over the room showing clips from past shows and a bunch of still shots hanging on the walls, including one of Oprah and Richard Gere ~ my ALL TIME FAVORITE movie star!!!
After about an hour in the holding room, they made an announcement that we would all be filed into the audience shortly; there weren’t any assigned seats, and the parties were not guaranteed to be sat together. They said there were a couple people who had special seating though and then asked for “the Murray party” to please step forward!! They then escorted Nina and I to our 5th ROW ISLE FLOOR seats reserved near the front of the stage!!! We were so excited!
They played one of those fun Lady Gaga songs and had everyone up dancing and cheering. It was such a fun time. Then one of the producers appeared on stage and explained how they were going to do a few trial run rehearsal type things and explained how Oprah sometimes calls on audience members who may make a funny face or something asking for their thoughts. If and when she does this, the audience member would stand up and speak into a microphone over their head (not seen on TV) but shouldn’t lean into it since that would look funny. Anyway, one lady stood up and asked a question, then of course I had to raise my hand and couldn’t resist the opportunity. We were just asking general questions so I asked what door Oprah was going to walk out of, hoping it was the door behind the isle where we were sitting. They said normally it was but that she would be coming from behind stage that day. The producer then asked me my name, who I was with, where we were from and how we got tickets. I explained that I emailed the Oprah show about how Dr. Oz’s show on medical mistakes saved my life and told the quick general story. Then the whole audience started clapping and cheering for me!! It was so exciting!
The show started moments later and out walked Oprah!!! I was so excited and did not stop smiling the rest of the show. It was such an exciting hour and the time flew by really fast! The topic of the show was Skype, the free Internet web cam phone service that she’s done on her show several times this season. They were skyping in people from all over the world (no one famous). It was really neat seeing the behind the scenes activities like in between commercial breaks. I made eye contact with Oprah at least five times, which was so surreal and I couldn’t believe it. The taping of the show went exactly as it does on TV, lasting one hour with timed intervals for commercials in between, just like the live shows. The show aired on Thursday, May 21, 2009.
After the show, I thought they were going to do an Oprah After Show for the Oxygen channel but they didn’t for this show. I also mentioned in a previous blog post that we were at the finale show but we actually weren’t because they had two other shows they were taping that afternoon. Anyway, they announced the show was over, Oprah left the stage and they told everyone to file outside like they did when we came in. But before they asked everyone to leave, they asked for “the Murray party” to please step forward again I thought I was going to meet Oprah and my heart sank. We didn’t but they had a nice gift bag for me waiting outside, which was so thoughtful. I mean, how often do you hear someone getting Oprah tickets, reserved seating and an Oprah goodie bag!?! I’m so thankful!!
After we got out of the show, several people came up to me outside and thanked me for telling my story, told me how brave I was or just wished me well and offered prayers in support. Oh yeah, and the producer asked the whole audience before the show to make sure they said a prayer for me and Nina. 🙂 It was so sweet.
Outside the studio, there was an Oprah store where of course I spent a fortune on Oprah souvenirs, including a duffel travel bag, two magnets, two pairs of PJ pants, a book, Oprah’s magazine, which I later subscribed to that night, and an Oprah engraved picture frame for my Dr. Oz picture. We took down the nursery upstairs (yes, we already had one set up) shorlty after the miscarriage 😦 and I now have my Dr. Oz pictures hanging in the place of where I was going to hang baby pictures on the shelves that Dan made. That makes me sad, but at least I can replace those far reaching thoughts with happy thoughts about Dr. Oz and Oprah.
After we left the Oprah store, Nina and I took another cab back to our hotel. On our way back, we talked in awe about the morning, how exciting it was, and how we couldn’t even believe it happened. I told Nina how the past few weeks have been so exciting and that I didn’t want them to end. In the midst of a miscarriage (after 3+ years of trying) and an invasive cancer diagnosis, I wouldn’t have thought my life would be so exciting, fulfilling and fun at the same time! I was kind of sad though that those exciting times were coming to an end. I had met Dr. Oz, went to the Oprah show, and the show with my picture on set would be airing soon. It would all soon be over and just a pleasant memory in the past. But little did I know, I had emails awaiting on my blackberry when we arrived back at the hotel; it wasn’t over quite yet!
I checked my cell phone and blackberry when we got back to our room, which again we had left in the hotel room since they weren’t allowed at the Oprah show. I had an email from another Harpo producer and another one from Dr. Oz Himself!! They asked me to call into Dr. Oz’s show on Oprah’s XM radio channel today to tell my story on air!! Oprah has a national channel on XM satellite radio and Dr. Oz has a daily show on there. They were going to be talking about the upcoming Oprah show that Tuesday (the one where my picture was on set) and wanted me to call in and tell my story on the radio!! I was honored and agreed right away!!! They dialed me into the show this morning and it broadcasted 3 times that Tuesday and once the following morning on the Oprah Radio XM channel (XM channel 156). During the taping, Dr. Oz mentioned my blog and asked me what it was again! When I told him the address, he said “we’ll have this all on Oprah.com”!!!
Here are some pics from the Oprah show (after we rode back to the hotel to get our cameras and returned to the studio about an hour after the show).
The Dr. Oz radio show that I got called into on Oprah XM Radio aired at 11am, 4pm, and 10pm on May 12, 2009, the day of the Dr. Oz finale show on Oprah, and again the next morning at 7am. I was on for 6 minutes about half way to three quarters of the way into the show. I’m trying to find a way to save the show so I can share it with everyone somehow. (They didn’t end up airing that part about my blog.)
Copied below are two links to www.oprah.com (specific links below) where an article is posted on the website about the Dr. Oz finale Oprah show (May 12 4pm). Pic 8 and 11 show my pictures on the set of the show!!!! I’m up there twice actually!!!! Wooo hooooo!!! You can see two pictures of me in the first link. I’m the one in the purple shirt holding my dog Buster on the bottom right and the one holding the sign for Dr. Oz in the chemo room on the bottom left!!! I didn’t think the one of me holding the sign made it in time for the show but they got it in on time afterall.
2. Tell us about chemo and whether or not you mind whether people ask you questions about it. I told him I didn’t mind people asking me questions at all. I explained the chemo room a little and mentioned how I got to know people over time, how I would see “regulars” but also noticed a lot of new people each time. I mentioned how it was scary but also somewhat positive in a way because it meant people were hopefully getting diagnosed earlier and were being more proactive, since breast cancer is the most common cancer at my oncologist’s office.
3. Did you do anything out of the ordinary like alternative medicine or diet changes? I mentioned how I started taking yoga classes in the beginning and tried eating all organic foods and avoiding sugar, but then proceeded to admit that that didn’t last long and I eventually just wanted that……at which point I paused and tried to think of a snack but the one that came to mind first was a Ho Ho and I didn’t want to say Ho on air. Ha. So, after a while of stuttering I said……… “brownie”. When we went off air later after the interview, Dr. Oz thanked me for calling in and told me to get back on that diet. I think I goofed on this question obviously. I mean, I should be encouraging healthy eating right? I mean, it is the Dr. Oz show, come on Danielle. But honestly, after 6 rounds of aggressive chemo, all I really wanted to eat was McDonald’s……..and fruit, I did like eating fruit………and salad (anything cold and wet, or juicy and greasy). Regarding the yoga, I would have probably continued but after losing my hair, didn’t really want to show up to class in a hat, wiggie or scarf. Sometimes they go around and massage you during class, I guess in an effort to keep you relaxed, but I wouldn’t have been so relaxed if they had approached me for a head massage and fainted when my hair fell off in their hand. 😉
4. What would you suggest to the listeners who are dealing with the same issue? I said for me it was important to stay positive and involve your family and friends in your journey.
5. He asked me about my website. I mentioned chemomaids.com and daniellemurray.wordpress.com 🙂 The last interview they edited out my answer so who knows if that’ll make it on air this time or not. If so, I hope my chemomaids.com site gets some hits! I need to work on it I guess.
6. Nancy asked if I had any other kids. I had mentioned earlier during my initial introduction and recap that I found the lump in my armpit during a pregnancy (followed by miscarriage). I was trying to be as positive as possible but I did mention how my cycles had stopped and was still having fertility issues but just beginning the adoption process.
Well, that’s about it for my second Dr. Oz interview I think. I don’t know when it’s supposed to air yet but I’ll keep everyone posted. It should air sometime in early Setepmber.