Sunday, December 3, 2017

10 Years

On November 29, 2017 I marked the ten-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery. I know that I have shared before that I think of that day as my cancer-free date. Ten years ago I was healing from a lumpectomy and facing a round of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments. I was also finishing up law school with a graduation date of March 1, 2008. I was reviewing some correspondence to family and friends during that time and thought I’d share a few notes with you.
From November 2007:
“What is most amazing to me is number of people I am sending this to. God has truly blessed me with some tremendous friends. Your love and support is my strength.”
From December 2007:
“I had a call from my surgeon this afternoon. My lymph nodes were clear – no cancer. And she was able to get clean margins. Both of these are excellent news. The diagnosis is officially stage one.”
“We met with the oncologist today. The doctors continue to get good news. As a result of my various pathology reports the recommendation is to still do a series of chemotherapy treatments. However, the treatments will be a total of four treatments, every three weeks (as opposed to eight treatments every other week).”
“My doctor told me I was a remarkable patient because the news is continually better than expected. I know that it is the power of prayer.”
From January 2008:
“Thought I’d share a funny little side effect. I’ve been joking around at work that the chemo has compromised my immune system so my brain isn’t working right. Little did I know that there is a name for it: chemo-brain. Yes, I was reading last night that some chemo patients experience significant short-term memory loss. At least mine is minor enough to not cause too much damage at work.”
From February 2008:
“Wednesday is my third treatment and everything went about the same after treatment #2 as it did after treatment #1. Therefore, I'm pretty confident that I know how things will go. I did buy some hats and am enjoying them. It is kind of fun to pick out a hat to go with today's outfit. I have enough variety to keep it interesting.”
From March 2008:
“Saturday, March 1 was graduation. It was a wonderful and very special ceremony. My classmates are my heroes. We accomplished something truly amazing. We made it through law school and earned our degrees.”
“My update comes as the result of a slight set-back. I was admitted to the hospital Monday night due to a very low white blood count.”
From April 2008:
“I am feeling better. My white blood count is up over 5,000, which is where it should be. My head cold has gone away, though I still have a residual cough. My energy is best in the morning and good in the evenings. I have a “2 p.m. slump” but I think that is normal. I am told that I may begin to feel more fatigue after two or three weeks of radiation treatments. It’s a cumulative effect. However, I’ve been encouraged to do some light exercise; specifically walking (or the treadmill at the gym). Now if we could just get rid of winter.”
“Thank you for taking care of me over these months. Your prayers and love have been my support.”
From May 2008:
“Radiation treatments are routine and there is not much to report.”
“My hair is coming in nicely. I am still self-conscious about the length and the amount of gray so I will keep wearing hats for a while. Now that spring is here (I think) I’ve switched over to my beautiful baseball caps. I have received many complements on my different hats and it is kind of fun to pick out a hat to wear each morning.”
“I hope this finds everyone well. I am thankful for your love, prayers and support. I could not have gotten through this without you.”
November 29, 2008
Dearest Friends & Family –
One year ago, on November 29, I had my surgery for breast cancer. I celebrate today as my one year anniversary of being cancer free. I know I faced other challenges with chemotherapy and radiation over the past winter, by I count those as preventative medicine. I truly believe that I was cancer free as of my surgery. I owe each and every one of you a huge debt of gratitude for your love, prayers and support. I learned that you can get through anything with the love of your friends. I also believe that I received the gift of healing between the time of my diagnosis on November 2 and my surgery. Even my doctors were amazed at my various test results. I know that came from the faith that each one of you carries.
While the past year was filled with challenges and losses, it was also filled with grace, love and many gifts. I am thankful for so many things: my health, passing the bar exam, and my new kitten to name a few. However, love and hope remain the greatest gifts I received. Each one of you expressed your love in a unique way and I treasure each one. I send this with a virtual hug and plan to give you one in person the next time I see you. Please celebrate with me at this time of thanksgiving.
With much love and gratitude, thank you for ten years of life.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bucket List

I want to say “Thank You” to all of you who have supported me over the years. Your encouragement. Your love. Your generosity toward my Avon Walk fundraisers. You may have heard that 2017 was the last year for Avon 39 – The Walk to End Breast Cancer. The email I received indicates that the Avon Foundation will launch a new fundraiser in 2018. I do not know what it is. And I do not know if I’ll participate. Stay tuned.

In April 2011, I participated in my first Avon Walk. A team from law school was formed from in honor and memory of a colleague. During that first walk several of us committed to walking the following year. We did. In Washington, D.C. At some point I made the decision to walk in each of the host cities; a new city each year until I had walked in them all. At the time there were nine walks per year. By the time I walked in Boston there were only seven.

Each year I have walked. Each year I have held a fundraiser. Each year family and friends helped me reach the financial goal necessary for me to participate. Each year was a unique experience. And each year I came closer to fulfilling that item on my bucket list.

This year I walked in my seventh Avon Walk, in city number seven on the list. I was only able to walk the first day due to a knee injury, but I did in fact walk in Santa Barbara. I had accomplished my goal.

I never doubted I would get here; it just seems to have gone so fast.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.