It’s been a year since I decided to post on Facebook that I was a cancer survivor. Sharing that news has really allowed me to come very far with everything I went through and everything my family went through almost two years ago. In January, it will be two years since my diagnosis. I am not constantly reminded that I am cancer survivor and it doesn’t come into my head as much anymore. Mostly because I am distracted with a toddler running around and that fact that I am living a pretty amazing life right now.
This past year I managed to accomplish a lot. Putting yourself out there, being raw with your feelings is a major obstacle to accomplish. I’ve always been more of a private person so sharing with everyone what I had gone through on Facebook was a huge step. Then I continued to share by writing this blog. Opening up about the challenges I was constantly facing. In addition to sharing my feelings I started running, competing in my first race and doing another 5k a couple months later. I organized a Dragon Boat Team for the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival, with my team fundraising $7200 for local cancer survivors. I also spoke a couple times to other cancer survivors sharing my story with all of them.
I feel like I am finally free of my cancer diagnosis. I know it won’t be gone forever but I also know I’ve made huge strides with it. I can now openly talk to anyone whether your a stranger or a family member or friend about my diagnosis and my treatment. A cancer diagnosis will never leave you but I can say for myself it does get better.
It’s been awhile since I last wrote, mostly because I haven’t had the need to write. My past with cancer doesn’t come up very often anymore and mostly I know how to handle it when it does. I don’t imagine it will ever go away and there are still some days where I find there are challenges. We are often reminded how important life is and how we should really value the time we have. I appreciate the life I have and I love every minute I get to spend with my daughter. I am often reminded how fortunate I am that I was diagnosed as stage one. Many people are not that fortunate in life and so my daughter is often referred to as a “miracle” or a “blessing.” I mean she really did save my life! I am so grateful everyday for that.
So I’ve been up to a lot lately, I spend six weeks coaching middle school field hockey. Nothing like coaching roughly 25 girls everyday. It was great to be outside and do something fun after I got out of work. Thankfully it didn’t take too much time away from spending it with my daughter. I am back to playing ice hockey in a men’s league one day a week after taking the Summer off. We’ve stayed super busy with spending time with family and friends.
Last night I made the finishing touches to my daughters Halloween costume. I love this time of the year. Its all about family and friends and all that we have to be thankful for.
My Dragon Boat Team to date has fundraised $4918 towards the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. This means the world to me! Not only are my friends and family making donations but twenty of them are paddling and collecting donations themselves. Each paddler paid a $35 entry fee, bought a Soaring On t-shirt for $15 and promised to fundraise a minimum of $50. So many of them have surpassed that.
One of the things that has really touched me over the last couple months and continues to touch me is how my family and friends have shared my story in their own perspectives. This means so much to me and really touches my heart every time I read one.
I will be paddling with my friend and college teammate, Gabrielle, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 at the age of 29 with a 5 week old daughter. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment were successful and Gabby’s one year scans have come back cancer free! However, the journey was not and is not easy, and Gabby is still benefiting from organizations providing ongoing support to cancer survivors.
Gabby and Aaron became friends while at St. Michael’s College. Gabby was diagnosed with cancer at the time of the birth of her daughter about a year and a half ago. They are doing great! Many of us have been deeply affected in our families by cancer. I hope you may be able to help with any donation at all in their honor as well.
For me and my family this is an important cause, because we are extremely grateful for the support Gabrielle received this year after being diagnosed with cancer. 100% of the money stays in Vermont to support cancer survivors like Gabrielle.
I have had the honor of being asked to paddle on a Dragon Boat Team. I am paddling on a team called “Soaring On”. This team was put together by a client of mine who is a very young Ovarian Cancer Survivor. This is very dear to my heart as not only is she a great client but AMAZING person, wife and a mother of a 1 year old.
It makes me realize how much my life touches others around me. My family and friends have been a great support to me. There are also so many of you who have donated to my cause as well. You have no idea how much this really means to me. To me it feels great to be giving back to organizations that helped me recover from a cancer diagnosis and continue to help me.
Thank you to my teammates for all of your hard work in making this possible. Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach to reach our fundraising goals. I am looking foward to race day in a couple of weeks.
I follow Today Parent on Facebook and an article came through my news feed last night that I felt like I had to read. It was titled, “What Happens When Someone Tells You That You Have Cancer“. My story isn’t that different than the one in that article. It’s not something that I will forget. I was a Mom and that was coming first. I couldn’t just go home and cry my eyes out and curl in a ball. I had to go home and take care of newborn child. I even had my daughter with me when I found out the news. My husband, daughter and I went home following the news from the doctor. She still needed to eat, her diaper changed and rocked.
Then I called my Mom and I told her that she needed to come over right away. I didn’t tell her over the phone but I imagine a lot was racing through her head, but I am sure “cancer” wasn’t something that she was thinking of. We told her what the doctor said and asked her to share the news with my Dad and Brother. I couldn’t bare sharing that news in person with them. It was hard enough having to tell my Mom something like this. I just kept picturing my daughter telling me that same news and how devastated I would’ve been. My Mom she was amazing though she held it together, she was my Mom and did everything I needed her to do as my Mom. We then made the trip to my in-laws to tell them the news. We stood in their kitchen, I was holding my daughter in my arms. I began by saying remember when the doctors were talking about the cyst they found during the c-section, well it came back as cancer. Sharing news like is never easy I will never forget those moments of watching you turn someones life upside down. I wish I was done having to tell people at that moment about the diagnosis but then you realize how many people are part of your life. There were still friends and colleagues that I needed to tell.
We went back home and this time I just slept and I slept. My husband took care of our daughter and I just slept. By sleeping I could dream of amazing things. I wasn’t having to deal with the reality that I had cancer and that I didn’t know how bad it could possibly be. Being awake was horrible to me, sleeping was what made everything better. However, I still needed to get up for night feedings for my daughter.
Thankfully the next morning at 8am my doctor gave me reassuring news that they had good margins from when my doctor removed the cyst from my ovary during the c-section. That night I had my scans done and by the following morning I knew that there was no cancer in me. I am thankful for my amazing doctors who worked on their day off and constantly reassured me everything was okay. I was fortunate enough that I only had to live two days thinking cancer was in me. I am thankful for the quick turnaround the hospital did in getting my insurance approved and my scans processed the same day. I know not everyone is so fortunate but I am very thankful for all the hard work that everyone put in for me that day. I know it goes beyond the doctors, I know it goes to the schedulers, the admin clerks, the processors, the technicians, the insurance claimers, who all worked very hard in a short period of time for me and my family. I am extremely thankful to all of you!
Last night my Young Cancer Survivor group had the opportunity to go out onto Lake Champlain and paddle with Dragonheart Vermont. We went out on Lake Champlain for an hour just paddling around. This is a group of individuals who range in age from 18-40 who are all cancer survivors. Some have even beaten cancer twice! Some were diagnosed and survived years ago and then there are others who are newer like myself. It was a great opportunity to meet other survivors, as Dragonheart is made up of breast cancer survivors.
I am extremely happy to fundraising to help support Dragonheart’s mission. “The members of Dragonheart Vermont strive to promote breast cancer awareness in our community, to rovide hope to other cancer survivors and their families to live each moment fully, and to support our own team members in a spirit of camaraderie and joy,“ (dragonheartvermont.org, 2017). Although I am not a breast cancer survivor I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Dragonheart supports all local cancer survivors. Many of the programs I’ve utilized in my recovery were sponsored by the money raised by Dragonheart.
I am organizing a dragon boat team to paddle in the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. By clicking this link it will bring you to my fundraising page. The Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival supports cancer survivors just like myself. It is a great organization and a great cause.
I’ve met some amazing people through the Young Cancer Survivor group. We’re all different and we all need support in our different ways. It felt amazing to be out on the water last night. I am looking forward to being able to do it again soon!
I did it! I finished the race. I crushed my training time and managed to run all 3.4 miles. It was the most amazing experience.
As I started to cross the start line of the race. The music was blaring and the crowds were cheering. I could here the announcer in the background. As I started on with the race my emotions started to get the best of me. It was the feeling of accomplishment. It was only sixteen months ago that I had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had beaten cancer, I had raised my daughter and now I was running on a relay team in the Vermont City Marathon. I had accomplished so much. It felt like I had closed a chapter in my life. As I continued running I realized that I need to focus, so I took one deep breathe let it out and started putting one foot in front of the other.
I took the corner onto Pearl Street and the crowds were still cheering. My friend Holly told me to get moving, and well that’s when it all started to sync in. I was watching the crowds, reading the signs along the way. My speed started to increase. I made it to South Willard Street, I took that corner and my speed continued to move. I was suddenly passing other runners on the course. I was improving my performance as I went up hill. I finally reached the top and made my way down Beech Street. Up next was South Union. At that point the crowds were dying down and I was already past the two mile checkpoint. I plugged in my headphones and let the music blare. I saw two kids on my right with the hands out looking for high-fives. I made my way over to them, there faces lit up as I put out my hand for them. Then I suddenly at the corner of Main Street. I know my husband and daughter were not that much far away. I couldn’t wait to see them in the crowds. I picked up my pace once again. However, I completely forgot that Church Street is up hill. Thank goodness my cheering crowd was at the top of the hill. Seeing them was the motivation I needed to keep my feet moving. I saw them in the distance. I yelled to them and they waved back and cheered. Once I passed them I knew I wasn’t too far from the finish line. I kept running I knew the exchange point for the relay wasn’t too far away. I made my last corner and was coming down Park Street. I could hear someone yelling my name and the next thing I know I see my relay teammate jumping up and down. I hand him the bracelet cheer him on and realize I am done. I had finished the race!
There was nothing more amazing than having my seventeen month old daughter watching me run in a race. I was showing her that we can do whatever we put our minds to. We can be strong and powerful when we want to be. Running has been great for me. It has given me so much. It always amazes me how much we can all accomplish if we just have the confidence to do it.
Every so often you’re hit again with the reminder of how lucky you are. Yesterday I had a routine doctors appointment but what should take people a few minutes takes me 20 minutes just to go through my history. “Anything in your past medical history we should know about?” “Have you had major surgery recently?” You have to go through this every time because the person checking you is either new or they won’t remember. It’s also important and vital information that the doctors need to know about.
Then you get an email the next day about someone you don’t know but its shared through a newsletter. This persons life just changed their cancer came back and has spread to the brain. They are living in respite care now. You’re reminded how lucky you are that your life is fairly normal. You’re working full-time, you’re working out, you have no restrictions, you’re worries are about whether you packed enough diapers and wipes. You realize how lucky you are that your worries are so minimal.
You’re happy because its Friday and that you’re spending the whole weekend with your kid and Husband, and that you’re almost halfway through the workday. You know that going to the doctors office is important because of your history so you take the time to make the appointments, talk to your doctors and go through your entire medical history.
I am thankful that my cancer was caught so early by a doctor. It had nothing to do with me. I had no idea that it was growing inside me. It’s important to know your body and to have annual doctor visits. These things can save your life.
Ovarian Cancer is pretty much impossible to recognize. Most people don’t notice the symptoms until the cancer has spread. Click on the link to know what to look out for Ovarian Cancer. Knowing your body is the most important thing you could possibly do.
I’ve started my Dragon Boat Team for the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival happening Sunday, August 9th on the Burlington Waterfront. Our team is made up of twenty boaters and one drummer. We are working to raise money, all money raised goes to support local cancer charities including the Young Cancer Survivor Group that I am part of. The Young Cancer Survivor Group is made of individuals between the ages of 19-40 years old. They do monthly meetings that include dinner but also do activities. I’ve participated in zip lines in Stowe and my family went to the Echo Center in Burlington. It’s a great opportunity for people to meet other people who have survived cancer. Money raised will also support Camp Ta-Kum-Ta (a year-round camp for children with cancer) another amazing program local to Vermonters.
The design was something my sister-in-law worked together to design. The butterfly represents the change I’ve made of myself over the past year and half. The name represents me moving on beyond my diagnosis, nothing is stopping me! The color teal represents ovarian cancer which was what I was diagnosis with. We are working on having shirts made up where proceeds will go to support the Dragon Boat Team.
To make a donation to my Dragon Boat Team please click below:
I’ve been asked to speak at the Stowe Weekend of Hope in a month. I will be speaking Friday, May 5th at 7:30pm. I will be part of the Young Survivor’s Panel Discussion. The speech is very similar to the one I gave at UVM Conference this past Fall. I plan to share my story and explain how I’ve managed to deal with my life events. This is my first year attending the Stowe Weekend of Hope. I am really looking forward to attending. It is nice to be around other individuals who understand what its like to receive a diagnosis. Everyone’s story is different and unique and we all have coping mechanisms.
I look forward to sharing my story I hope it helps someone else as much as it helps me to share my story out loud. Look for a future posts!
My scans came back normal which is the best news I could possibly get. They also told me they no longer need to monitor me with chest scans. I will only be monitored via ultrasounds going forward. This is also great news! So you may ask now what?
Well I’ve signed up to run on a relay team for the Burlington Marathon over Memorial Day weekend. I am running 3.4 miles in the first leg. I’ve started training for it. I am on day 5 of training. I run for 30 minutes every other day. I either run with Neely (my dog) or with our jogging stroller with my daughter. The other days I either play ice hockey which I’ve been doing since June or I am lifting. I am determined to continue with getting in great shape. I am doing everything right to achieve this and I can’t wait to see the results!
So I hope you won’t see my future blog posts about my diagnosis. I am sure it will come up in the future as it will always be part of me. I hope this will be a new journey for me going forward with my life.