Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My 5 Minutes

I've never actually written a speech. But I've written plenty of blog posts. So I thought I'd have a crack at writing my speech here. Any comments??

**Here is the revised edition (for some reason I can't get rid of the underlining).**

Thank you for that kind introduction, Alison.
My name is Anna. Iam also known as Sawyer’s mom, Stephan’s wife, a massage therapistat Massage Envy, and a DetermiNation runner.

When people ask me to tell them about my journey I
usuallysay, I had cancer. Now I don't. But I need to fill a few more minutes here!

I was that kid in school who faked all sorts of injuries in order to skip gym class. Through my advanced acting skills I was able to avoid running a mile until I was well into my twenties. When I was 29 a doctor removed melanoma from the bottom surface of my right foot. After the stitches healed I bought my first pair of running shoes. A year later
I was 9 months pregnant when
I ran/walked my first10k. Two years after that I finished my first marathon in six hours and thirty minutes.

As members of the DetermiNation Team
I'm sure many of you have wondered what you would do if you ever got that phone call. The one where the doctor comes on the line (you know they only do that for bad news rattles off some words, and some numbers, and then puts you on the phone with the nurse to schedule your next appointment. After you sit stunnedyou might cryor phone a friend or family member. Heck you might even post the news to Facebook.

And once you're online, the real fun starts. Google your diagnosis and you'll have three options. You have the Medical Community, who will scare you with their obscurity and giant words. You'll have the well-meaning Answer Community- people who post things online without any formal medical training. And finally you'll have the American Cancer Society, conveniently located at cancer. org

In rural Montana, where I lived when I was diagnosed, the internet was all I had. And thank..... well.... thank YOU, the ACS
, who
was there, online, with answers, with research, and with personal support at the Cancer Survivors' Network. This Network has an easy to use message board covering every type, and stage of cancer. Supportive people post answers to questions and comforting words 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!. They also have a live chat, an extensive resource library, and the ability to create a profile for yourself. There is something magical about a complete stranger reading your story and typing back to you, "You are going to be ok." Knowing that people just like you have survived makes it real and gives you hope.

As a newly diagnosed cancer patient, y
You need to know you're not alone. You need to know you're not going crazy. You will NEED to know these things at 3:30 in the morning when everyone in your house is sleeping.

I'm thankful every day that the cancer was removed while it was so tiny. But it's left something far more insidious in its absence. Constant paranoia, extra vigilant attention to tiny details, and a feeling of betrayal that my body is out to get me
all remain. I share these fears with all cancer survivors- that any minute now the whole process can start over at any time. When the chatter in my head gets too bad I always turn back to cancer.org to read the inspirational stories of other survivors, and to replace the fear with serenity and hope. By running with the DetermiNation team I've added a new dimension to my fight- now I fight for other people. I run to raise money to pass forward the comfort and support I’ve been given. I know how the blue glow of a computer screen in the early hours of the morning can reflect so much more than lines of text. It can shine hope deep into a cancer survivor’s heart.

It's been four years, three additional biopsies, and fifteen follow-up appointments since the Borders Were Clear. I am so very
very lucky to have escaped this diagnosis with such little pain. In fact, when I was asked to speak tonight I told my husband I didn’t feel qualified to speak as a Survivor. I never needed a wig or a car ride to treatment, or help at home. But he reminded me that that's the point of the ACS- to make cancer easier, to catch it sooner, to fight it more effectively, and, eventually, to make it gone. Thank you for fighting for me, for them, and for us. See you bright and early on Sundaymorning- good luck DetermiNation runners!!


Annie Crow said...

That sounds like exactly what they are looking for, especially your husband's comment at the end. Good work!

Jenny Bender Redfern said...

Great speech, Anna. I didn't know you had cancer. I also had cervical cancer. It's been one year, next week, since my biopsies have been clear. I was lucky it was caught early and treated aggressively. Still scary every time I have to go for a recheck (still every six months for another year). I identify with a lot of what you said. Glad you're ok! :)