Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Mission Moment

A mission moment is when an honored team mate or someone that got an Honoree gives their story or their honoree's story about their experience with Leukemia or Lymphoma. I am very honored to be the 1st Mission Moment for our Team. Considering 8 weeks ago most people in my life never even knew I had a "Story" This is My story I shared the morning of our second training... it's especially special because my Sister was there and my great friend and running partner joined that morning. Both have such a significant part of my life and my journey.... This is so new to me because in my family “We don’t talk about it” 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 couldn’t 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 Don’ts 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 that’s torture. Even though I was never treated as a sick kid I learned that Cancer is about NO’s and DON’Ts Don’t get too tired, too stressed, if you can’t do it stop doing it. Don’t 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 couldn’t dance or twirl baton competitively anymore because I didn’t have the stamina and would be wiped out for days after a hard practice. I didn’t get to go to prom or graduate with my friends because of this. We still didn’t 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 it’s been 6 years…it’s not back because I’ve made it past 5 years. I didn’t tell anyone. I just kept watching it and praying it would go away and secretly hoping it wasn’t 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 wasn’t about to make this about me. But HE made it about me. He told me one day, you’re sick again. And I told him shut up you don’t know what you’re talking about. And he said How long have you known about it? And all I could do is say it’s not back… I’m ok it’ll 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 didn’t make the doctor’s appointment and tell my mom. I got it checked and they said they thought it was just an infection so they put me on antibiotics then when they didn’t 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 I’ll be right with you! He passed away Feb.2 and my surgery was Feb 13th and honestly I didn’t care about anything going on. They did the same treatment that I had the first time and again we didn’t 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 don’t deserve it. I didn’t 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, you’re going to meet with TNT. It took several weeks for me to decide to be an honored teammate. It’s taken a lot of Talking about it. To my mom, to my friend to my husband. I’ve reflected upon the last 23 years and I have realized why joining this year was so important to me. It was almost obsessive, I’ve never had the desire to run, or do an endurance event. I’ve 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 this…it was in my soul. And these last 7 weeks of reflection has made me realize it’s my Sweet 16. I’ve been cancer free for 16 years! And even though I was lucky and I didn’t have to survive… I’ve been held hostage to this disease. Every time I’d stay sick longer than I should have I’d 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, I’ve 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! GO TEAM!

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