Today was National Cancer Survivor’s Day. Every year on the first Sunday of June, events take place in communities across the nation to celebrate life after cancer. City of Hope has one of, if not THE biggest event of them all.
The theme this year was “Academy of Hope Awards”, complete with Oscar statues, stretch limos and the illustrious red carpet. I volunteered, dressing up like Kate Winslet from Titanic, an outfit that included a wig of long luscious auburn hair. My friend CN is a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and she fired up the red carpet while I helped welcome and take pictures of the beaming survivors. We wanted them to feel like stars. We even had paparazzi and adoring fans cheering the survivors on as they stepped out from their limos. Just being there was magical and unbelievably rewarding. One sincere smile coming from one sincere soul can restore faith in anything.
While I was there a young woman approached me and said my name in earnestness. How she recognized me in that giant wig I do not know. But she introduced herself and her eyes welled up as she told me the story of her Mother. How a year ago her Mother was told she was dying of cancer and sorry there was nothing the doctors could do for her anymore. They gave her Mother a bottle of morphine and sent her home to die. This young woman said her mother was at first resigned to her fate but then was inspired when she saw our website. Her Mom decided to fight, went to City of Hope and was given a brand new drug that no one has ever heard of. One year later and there was her Mom standing in front of me, healthy and cancer–free. We both burst into tears and hugged each other for what seemed like forever. Her husband glowed. The young woman’s mother kept repeating, “Because of you, I am alive. Because of you.” And I smiled but all I kept thinking was, it wasn’t just me, it was everyone. My friends, my family, and people I haven’t even met who inspired her to not give up and seek the right doctors and treatment for herself. And then I felt so blessed for having such incredible people in my life. Again, what we have accomplished together is simply immeasurable.
Update on health: I go in tomorrow for another full day at City of Hope. Health-wise, there are still some complications going on with my skin, endocrine system and whatnot. But compared to other patients at 11 months post-transplant, I am doing remarkably well.
Since I started getting acupuncture treatments three weeks ago, my energy and stamina have skyrocketed. I fulfilled another wish and returned to my beloved bike path and actually pedaled all the way from Playa Del Rey to Manhattan Beach and back. Granted, I was slow and it took me three times as long to do it but I did it and even I was amazed. There was no way I could have done it 6 weeks ago. Recently I went to a party my friend was DJ’ing and was able to rock out and dance without hurting myself. Again, I was amazed that I could keep up. The best part was when some college-age kids in attendance asked “So when do YOU graduate?” “Very soon.” I thought. “Very soon.”
P.S. The other night I walked along a warm sidewalk chasing the colored sprinkles and vanilla ice cream dripping down from my cone and onto my fingers. My friends and I talked about plans for beach bonfires, the Hollywood Bowl, and camping in the Sierras. Aah, I thought, summer has officially begun. Care to join? :)