Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Surviving and Thriving

Last weekend I was in Ossining, New York speaking to a group of cancer survivors on behalf of the Support Connection at their annual Survivor Luncheon at the Travelers Rest Restaurant.

To look out into the audience and see husbands, parents, friends, and co-workers sitting beside each survivor made me realize once again that it takes more than a village to get cancer survivors to the place where they are surviving and thriving!

The Support Connection is just such a place. Their mission statement says it all: “To provide emotional, social, and educational support services to women, their families and friends affected by breast and ovarian cancer. The support provided enables women to help each other and empowers them to become their own health care advocates.”

I spoke with one woman who was 23 years old and was just diagnosed with breast cancer, another was a mother of five who just finished treatment, and another woman sitting next to me had not started treatment yet , but through her smile I saw fear—the same fear I had before starting treatment 12 years ago. Some women wore pink ribbons for breast cancer and others wore teal for ovarian cancer, but we all wore the ribbon of courage that bears no specific color. But if I could give it a color, it would be ruby red like the slippers that Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz” wore: vibrant and bold!

It’s been 12 years since I first heard the words, “you have cancer,” but they are emboldened in my brain. When Nancy Heller, the founder of Support Connection, asked the survivors to stand by years of five, ten, fifteen, and “yes” 20 years, I realized they were not only surviving cancer they were thriving—all in their own way!

Photo courtesy of Ken Valenti, Hudson Valley News. Click here to read entire article.


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4 comments:

Greg C said...

We got great news from my wife's recent physical. I was worried since she put it off so long but everything is negative.

My brother in law is in his second year of being cancer free but his father in law just got diagnosed with prostate cancer. That is what killed my father so I have to be really careful and get checked often. That reminds me, it is time for my annual "why I love my doctor" inspection. :( I just wish she wouldn't be so happy about it.

Connie Pombo said...

There you go again...making me laugh (see today's post!).

Remember your lycopene (eat a lot of tomatoes!). I'm not one for vitamins...I like the "real" food better. The most common cancers are: breast, prostate, and colon, so "strive for five." I try to eat the colors of the rainbow every day. Making a fruit salad in the morning is my breakfast, so in case I don't get my "five" at least I've eaten the colors of the rainbow.

It's a good that you're taking care of "you"...keep up the good work!

Susan Kelly Skitt said...

It's good to know that with God's help and strength, we can thrive, not just survive. I'm glad you were able to speak with these women and hopefully they saw that the courage and strength you have comes from your relationship with Jesus :) Love you friend!

Connie Pombo said...

There was a mixed crowd there...always such a delight to see that (husbands and wives; moms and daughters; friends and co-workers). When I looked out in the crowd I saw a reflection of me...oh my! I had to force back tears!

HUGS!