Dear Friends and Family:
Next Tuesday, I’ll celebrate my 34th birthday. Sadly, there was a brief moment (okay, maybe a few…) last summer when I wasn’t sure I’d live to celebrate this birthday. That is what life with cancer does – it makes you doubt whether you’ll live to experience the milestones that others are lucky enough to take for granted. Fortunately for me, it looks as though I’ll not only see this birthday but, hopefully, many more to come.
When my doctor told me about the “grave” situation I faced on March 10, 2009, I could not imagine all of the ways in which my life would life would change over the next 12 months and beyond. And certainly on that day, I couldn’t have possibly imagined I’d celebrate my one-year wellness anniversary by competing in my first sprint triathlon with five of my best friends, all of whom have supported me in such tremendous ways over the past eighteen months. It’s funny how certain physical fetes that once seemed overwhelming suddenly seem much more manageable after having faced treatment for Stage IIIa ovarian and Stage I uterine cancers. My friends and I will be competing in the U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series race in San Diego on October 17th. The race seemed like the perfect choice for our celebration since the official charity of the Series is the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), which is one of the nation’s leading independent agencies dedicated to advancing ovarian cancer research in the United States.
We’re not only competing to achieve a great physical fitness goal but also to raise critical research funds to help save women’s lives – women who are our friends, sisters, cousins, aunts, mothers, grandmothers, and most importantly, our daughters (present and future!). During my many hours in the chemo treatment room, I was struck by the fact that “the disease that whispers,” as it is known in cancer circles, doesn’t discriminate. I had the good fortune to meet some of the bravest and most interesting women from all walks of life: Many of the women were quite old but several were young girls in junior high and high school (JUNIOR HIGH?!?). While most were white, I also met quite a few from other races. And while some of these women were quite poor, some were clearly very affluent. The one thing we all had in common, besides having been diagnosed with one of the most lethal cancers (the fifth leading cancer killer of women and the deadliest of the female reproductive system), was the will to live.
So, while ovarian cancer has taken some pretty precious things away from me, including my ability to have biological children, it has indeed given me many wonderful things too, including new friends, a deeper faith in God, and a real sense of purpose to help educate women in order to save their lives. My participation in various awareness and outreach activities, including lecturing local third year medical students on the symptoms of ovarian cancer and “starring” in an upcoming CDC PSA ad campaign to educate women about gynecological cancers (check back later for the ad), have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And while important advances in research are being made every day, there is still no diagnostic available to help with early detection of ovarian cancer. For many women, the disease is simply found too late -- but YOU can help change that!
Please support me and my Team TRIumph so that the OCRF can continue its mission to fund research to find a method of early detection and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer. Any donation amount -- $5, $10, $25, $100 or $500 -- is so appreciated. My goal is to raise $8,000 between now and race day, which is just EIGHT short weeks away. To that end, please feel free to forward this note to anyone you know who might be interested in making a donation.
You can make your 100% tax-deductable donation on the secure Web site below: http://www.active.com/donate/ocrf10/jmac2010
Thanks in advance for your support of Team TRIumph and this important women’s health cause.
All the best,
P.S. To all of you loyal blog followers, whom I love so much, I promise to keep the posts coming with a bit more regularity until I write the final chapter after crossing the finish line in San Diego on October 17th!