Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back. That’s what the shirt says, and that’s what I have to do. I lived 18 years before cancer came into my life and was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at the end of my senior year of high school. It has now been 18 years since I was diagnosed, and I have been cancer free for over 17 years. Like most survivors, cancer became a part of me even after it was out of my body. During my junior year of college, two people I knew (a friend from high school and a 13-year-old I became friends with in the hospital) passed away after courageous battles with cancer. It was a tough way to be introduced to bouts “Survivor’s Guilt”, and it would not be my last. In 2004, my friend Matt’s former girlfriend Casey passed away from cancer (http://caseymemories.blogspot.com) and last summer Greg Montalbano’s and my friend Aimee’s mother’s battles came to an end.
Three years ago, fate help me find my job at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Worcester. Although there have been tough times (hearing a guest dealing with the familiar pain of chemotherapy, having to call an ambulance to come pick up a guest in the middle of the night, hearing when former guests have lost their battle), the rewards of working here far outweigh them.
Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back. Beating cancer taught me how to try and celebrate every single day, no matter what life throws at you. I think about and remember those I know who have lost their battles every day, and these thoughts are fuel to my need to fight back. I fight back through working at Hope Lodge. I share laughs with the guests every night, and together we show cancer who is in control. I get to walk in the survivor’s lap of the Relay for Life every year with the Hope Lodge guests, which (as the shirt suggests) is the perfect combination of celebrating, remembering, and fighting back.
Cancer has affected me and my family directly, and they have supported me every step of the way from first diagnosis up until the latest Hope Lodge or ACS event. I know cancer affects everyone differently, but I also know it seems to affect more and more people each year. If you would like to help me fight back, Hope Lodge has a team at this Friday’s Relay for Life in Worcester…you can sponsor me here (I know times are tough for many financially), even if it’s $1: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY10National?px=7135674&pg=personal&fr_id=23379
If you would like to help Hope Lodge directly, I am organizing a Relay for Life-type event called Skating for Hope (just like Relay, but on ice). Like the creator of Relay, I will be skating for all of the 24 hours! If you would like to support that, you can here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr (the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you to all my family and friends who supported me during my fight with cancer, and who continue to support me fighting back!