A phone call at 2:00 AM is never good news. An ambulance ride in a snowstorm rarely leads to a good vacation. And being delivered to the hematology-oncology department usually means you’re in for a long haul.
Fifteen years ago this week, I embarked on the adventure known as cancer when I was diagnosed with ALL – acute lymphocytic leukemia. It turned out that my limp wasn’t just from a ski injury, those dots on my arms weren’t just a reaction to the winter cold, and my lip didn’t start bleeding just because I smacked it with a sled (though it certainly didn’t help…) – they were all the signs of something much more dangerous.
My diagnosis at CHaD (the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth) kicked off a new normal for me and my family. We spent weekends – and holidays – in the hospital. I missed a full quarter of sixth grade. All my hair fell out, and I spent my week at Girl Scout camp coating my head in sunscreen. I moved two steps forward – returning to the softball sidelines and helping with costumes in the school play – and two steps back, missing classes for weekly shots and monthly spinal taps. I made new friends along the way, and had to say goodbye to far too many.
When I got diagnosed, all I could dream of was a day when I would have hair again (and no bangs, thank god). When it wouldn’t be a challenge to walk across the room or eat the same meal as the rest of my family. When my skin, and my mouth, and my poor stomach would all belong to me again. I could barely imagine that some day I would leave home for college, where I would row on the crew team – that I would get to travel to far off lands on my own – that I would move to Boston to have new adventures every day – that I would be able to put this cancer crap behind me.
And the truth is, you can’t. I’ve been cancer free for more than a decade. My doctor doesn’t even care that I had it once because it’s medically irrelevant (she literally made me carry my chemo records back home because they just don’t matter anymore!) But it’s a solid part of who I am, why I strive to appreciate every day in this amazing world, and why I’m training to run my very first half marathon this spring. Donate now >>
My mom and I are joining the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and training for the Cox Providence half marathon on May 12, 2013. It’s a challenge unlike anything I’ve ever undertaken, and we’re going to be racing the clock to finish before the course closes. We’ll be running in honor of that day 15 years ago – and for Brian, for Granddaddy, for Mike and Danae and everyone else along the way. Running for a better future – and present – for people dealing with blood cancer.
Please – whether you were there or were hearing this story for the first time – make a gift to support a better life for people with blood cancer.
I’m here today and able to run because of the love that surrounded me in my darkest hour, because I had the good fortune to get cancer in 1998 and not 1968, and because of the kind of research that LLS makes possible. Every dollar will go to support this cause – whatever you can give will make a difference.
15 years down, 13.1 miles to go! Add your support now >>