After recently celebrating eight years of being cancer free, I have so much to be thankful for. My family and I are participating in the 5k Walk/Run at Nationals Park on September 21 as a small expression of our gratitude to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Without Prevent Cancer, I would not be where I am today.
In August 2006, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It was a complete shock. I was an avid runner and had no family history of cancer. I quickly underwent surgery, and the next seven months were filled with making treatment decisions, getting chemotherapy, and coping with side effects. I had a fairly good prognosis, but then again, my odds of getting cancer in the first place had been in the single digits. I tried to focus on the fact that my oncologist had described it as cancer with a little “c,” not a big “C.” I hoped to just get through it and put it behind me. That was not what happened though.
Testing completed in May 2007, shortly after my last treatment, strongly suggested a recurrence. The medical reviews and discussions took on a much different tone and a sense of urgency. My world had been turned inside out and upside down, and it felt like I was living in a nightmare. I was told in very certain terms that I needed to fight for my life.
At that time, I was working as an employment lawyer at a large law firm. Apparently recognizing my dire situation, partners at the law firm graciously enlisted help from Prevent Cancer on my behalf. Those partners and the staff at the Prevent Cancer Foundation that helped me will always hold a very special place in my heart. They encouraged me to seek out the best possible care and then connected me to the experts. That is how I ended up at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, which is quite far from home, with a phenomenal medical team. After various medical procedures, numerous consultations, and a case of very cold feet, I underwent major exploratory surgery. Miraculously, the abnormality on the scans was not actually a recurrence, and no cancer was found. The relief helped carry me through my long physical and mental recovery.
So I am running to say thanks. Thank you for the help I received in those dark days. It gave me a chance to achieve my dreams of getting married and becoming a mother. It also enabled me to continue pursuing a career that I thoroughly enjoy and to find opportunities to help others facing similar adversity. Cancer has forever changed me, but it has also given me a profound appreciation for the gift of life.
It is a true honor and privilege for me to be able to give back and help Prevent Cancer continue to make a difference in people’s lives.
Will you join me the morning of Sunday, September 21st to raise awareness of cancer prevention and early detection? I hope to see you at Nationals Park!