National Cancer Survivors Day 2011!

National Cancer Survivors Day — that’s something to pause and celebrate, now that I’ve got my energy back and most of my symptoms have disappeared.  There are still a few things that need time to recover  — like my wavy hair (I consider this a plus!) and neuropathy in my hands and feet.  I hear it may take a long time to completely heal and I may have some residual permanent neuropathy.  Not a big deal considering the circumstances.

Yes, I am amazed and overjoyed at my good health.  I’ve been walking, tried yoga (too much pain in my feet) and am getting swimming worked into my routine.  I continue to eat well and am trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Tried paddleboarding while hanging with good friends over the Memorial Day weekend (we call it LakeFest as it is turning into a yearly event). Have been sailing more now that summer is here.  Starting yesterday, I am helping my husband, Doug, with his PB&J Sailing series, teaching kids to sail. And we are looking forward to some good vacation time in cool northern California later this summer.

To celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day, I wanted to pause and thank everyone on my team who helped me survive the past 16 months.

Family, especially my husband and mom, who played a huge part in my care. You all were with me through the rough parts, caring for me during the ups and downs of chemotherapy,  surgeries and recoveries.  Kids, you always cheered my up. Family, I appreciate every little thing that you have done for me even if I wasn’t always present enough to thank you all the time.  Thanks for your ongoing support as I make the mental transition out of the hardcore fight to stay alive into living a joyful, healthy and peaceful life (I’m still working on that)!

Friends who helped keep me sane.  Thanks for donating all the meals in spite of your busy schedules.  You brought smoothies, ice cream to make us feel better, coffee, flowers, gifts, tons of encouraging cards, phone calls, prayers and good energy.  But most of all, you brought yourselves – your smiles and humor were most appreciated!  Friendships were deepened and I feel lucky about that benefit!

Fellow cancer buddies, I am grateful that I have met you, whether in person or virtually, and that we have been able to share stories, advice, heartache, joy and empathy with each other. Thank you.  You always give me hope.

My doctors.  To my fantastic doctors at MD Anderson, Dr. Paul Mansfield and Dr. Michael Overman, thank you for coming up with a plan of treatment that was the best bet for beating back my cancer.  Thankfully, it worked! To the physicians assistants, Erin and Lan, thank you for fielding my calls and emails with all my questions and for just listening.  To my local oncologist, Dr. Richard Helmer, III, at Texas Oncology, thanks for overseeing the chemo administration, for keeping me as comfortable as possible throughout and for making me laugh!  To my nurse practitioner, Laura, thanks for fielding my calls, taking my questions and coordinating stuff.  To my chemo nurse, Emily, thanks for giving me the good stuff.  And to my Austin surgeon, Dr. Aravind Sankar, who performed my first surgery in February 2010 and discovered the cancer.

Now, as I ponder my life moving forward, I am trying to take the lessons learned from this experience and make use of them. You’ve heard them all before but they are true. Enjoy the day. Marvel at the simple things, like waking up everyday and having a body that works. Appreciate the magic of kids (sometimes I just listen to them breathe at night after they have gone to sleep and am so grateful that they are in my life in spite of the craziness of parenting). Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Be kind to each other.

I know, enough of the handkerchief stuff.  Just enjoy the day!

3 thoughts on “National Cancer Survivors Day 2011!

  1. Ivanna,

    Thanks for reminding us all of National Cancer Survivors’ Day! Something I should have known about! And now I do, thanks to you! Thanks also for your wonderful indomitable spirit! Your advice is golden! Good luck with the neuropathy–I’m sure it will go away eventually, sooner rather than later! Enjoy the sailing and your vacation out West! Take care and keep seizing the day every day! Randy

  2. IVANNA, WHAT A JOY TO READ YOUR HAPPY AND POSITIVE SENTIMENTS AFTER WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH..

    AND SUCH A FINE MESSAGE OF APPRECIATIATION TO FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND MEDICAL SUPPORTERS.

    EVERYBODY LOVES YOU TOO.

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