Saturday, June 02, 2012
This is so new to me because in my family ďWe donít talk about itĒ so to stand here and tell you about my disease is new.
In August of 1989 I was doing a dance competition and I had a bad lower stomach pains. I couldnít stand it hurt so badly. I did our dance like nothing was wrong and came backstage doubled over. The pain got worse and I had to go to the doctor where I had an emergency appendectomy because they were worried it was going to rupture, only to find my appendix was ok but I had several tumors in my lymph nodes. They asked my parents if they could use a new implant medication and then would have to be monitored with blood work. That was my treatment. I was never treated by my family as a sick kid. We never talked about what was going on. Just the doctor apologizing for how big my scar is and then giving me the list of Doníts. My diagnosis was Non Hodgkins Lymphoma Unspecific type. The only thing I do remember about me getting sick is having to go get blood done A LOT!!! And for a girl who hates needles thatís torture. Even though I was never treated as a sick kid I learned that Cancer is about NOís and DONíTs Donít get too tired, too stressed, if you canít do it stop doing it. Donít push your body too hard. I ended up having to be homeschooled my sophomore year because it was too hard on my body. I was sick all the time and tired all the time. I couldnít dance or twirl baton competitively anymore because I didnít have the stamina and would be wiped out for days after a hard practice. I didnít get to go to prom or graduate with my friends because of this. We still didnít talk about it much..occasionally it would come up and it was a very candid I had cancer and that was the end of the story. It was about 4 years after my diagnosis that I started feeling great! I had an amazing year. I could dance again and hang out with my friends and run around crazy. I was so free! It was an amazing year!
In 1995 I was 18 and I found a lump in my right armpit and I remember thinking NO!!! And then thinking itís been 6 yearsÖitís not back because Iíve made it past 5 years. I didnít tell anyone. I just kept watching it and praying it would go away and secretly hoping it wasnít back and being scared to death it was. My best friend had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and we were watching him fight for every extra day over the 3-6 months he was given. I wasnít about to make this about me. But HE made it about me. He told me one day, youíre sick again. And I told him shut up you donít know what youíre talking about. And he said How long have you known about it? And all I could do is say itís not backÖ Iím ok itíll be ok. He said you are sick and you know it. What does your doctor say about it? He told me that he was going to tell my mom that I was sick if I didnít make the doctorís appointment. I got it checked and they said they thought it was just an infection so they put me on antibiotics then when they didnít work they gave me a stronger one and after a month on antibiotics and no change they scheduled my surgery. My friend was in his final days when I told him that it was back and I was having surgery. And he said to me Iíll be right with you! He passed away Feb.2 and my surgery was Feb 13th and honestly I didnít care about anything going on. They did the same treatment that I had the first time and again we didnít talk about it. But I owe him my life. I would have stayed in denial and ignored it. And it would have gotten worse!
So when I joined Team 7 weeks ago and Jennifer mentioned that I was a survivor it knocked the wind out of me and all I could say is my sister has a big mouth. She asked me if I considered running as an Honored team mate and my answer was immediately NO. I donít deserve it. I didnít have to survive anything. I was lucky I had surgery and I was fine. I never had to survive anything. She said you are going to be so surprised how many people just like you, youíre going to meet with TNT. It took several weeks for me to decide to be an honored teammate. Itís taken a lot of Talking about it. To my mom, to my friend to my husband. Iíve reflected upon the last 23 years and I have realized why joining this year was so important to me. It was almost obsessive, Iíve never had the desire to run, or do an endurance event. Iíve been the proud big sister and have supported Stephi and I was good with that. But this year it was so different. I NEEDED to do thisÖit was in my soul. And these last 7 weeks of reflection has made me realize itís my Sweet 16. Iíve been cancer free for 16 years! And even though I was lucky and I didnít have to surviveÖ Iíve been held hostage to this disease. Every time Iíd stay sick longer than I should have Iíd worry. If one of my lymph nodes flairs up I freak out. When I found another lump in my armpit almost 2 years ago I was scared and went to the doctor right away. No matter how lucky I was, Iíve been hostage to this disease my whole life. So this is my year to celebrate my milestone, time to heal,to face my past and run to my future!