So... Remember that one time I disappeared for two months and everybody stopped checking the b-log looking for an update? Yeah, me too. There is good news, though, for anyone still maybe somewhat around. I am not done here yet. After last semester ended, I pretty much crashed. I read a whole lot of books, biked a whole lot of miles, started running again. Basically, I did everything I could to try and turn my brain off. I needed a complete mental break, and now I feel much better. Classes resume in three weeks, and I can't wait to begin my (hopefully) final semester in Boston. I have much going on and much to look forward to both academically and extracurricularly (is that a word? it is now). But first:
Cancer. Cancer is a terrible, smelly, mean jerk, and I hate it. I hate that I had cancer, and I hate that people continue to be diagnosed with different types of cancer. Every time I think about it, I get angry. I do not want anybody to have to go through what I and millions of others have gone through. I am thankful for the advances in diagnosing and treating a lot of forms of cancer for a lot of different types and ages of people, but we still have such a long way to go. These past few months, I have met so many wonderful people who are committed to eradicating cancer. I have gotten involved in a few different fundraisers for Dana-Farber, and I have done a number of different things unrelated to Dana-Farber but still raising cancer awareness. Every event that I attend or speak at or even hear about reminds me how much I want to help make this disease go away. Luckily for me, a number of people have invited me to be a part of their events these past few months, and hopefully I can continue to help.
All the way back in June, I spoke at a major conference for a national group of doctors. The group, Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), basically leads a huge number of national studies and clinical trials that are all helping improve cancer care and quality of life for patients and survivors. The theme of their conference this year was "survivorship," and my doctor from Chicago had asked me a while ago if I would be able to come and give a speech about my experiences as both a patient and a survivor. I said of course and talked about what it's like being a young adult patient/survivor because that's what I know, and it is an important topic. I only spoke for maybe 10 minutes, but I feel it is significant that the doctors even asked me there in the first place. I couldn't speak about any of the technical, medical details. Instead, I offered the reality of what it was like to be 20 and a patient stuck in a hospital room. (The reality is that it bites). At this point, I can only hope that what I said will have some influence even in how the doctors think about their young adult patients. Possibly I'm being idealistic, but it's nice to think that maybe I made some small difference. Baby steps as we young adult survivors become more vocal and more involved in our care.
Which leads me to the next major event where I spoke. The Mark Ungerer Memorial Golf Tournament is an annual event that raises money for Dana-Farber. This year, all of the funds raised will be donated to the Adolescent and Young Adult program at Dana-Farber, which is pretty much amazing as this tournament raises a tremendous amount of money. Once again, I spoke to a large crowd of people with whom I have very little in common aside from our desire to fight cancer. That is enough though. Besides, I managed to get a rise out of the primarily middle-aged male golfer crowd when I cracked some joke about how I used to sit in my hospital room wishing I could just be one of the masses again getting wasted on the weekend. My mind continues to be blown by the realization that my words and my experiences can actually have a positive effect on people. I am also continually amazed by the generosity and support of people. Every once in a while, I hate people, but most of the time I am reminded that we are all pretty generally decent.
So, okay life, let's go. I am yet again at a bit of a crossroads of my life. So many ridiculous things have happened this past year, and I am just trying to take them all in and grow from everything. I am doing an okay job so far, but I am still working on it. I just got back to Boston from a three-week vacation in Canada and Chicago. I was SO thankful to be able to go up to Canada this year since I missed last year. Unfortunately, I also got wicked sick up there, so all is not exactly peachy. The sickness of death is nothing new though, and I know it will eventually (maybe) go away. The good news is that I am mentally ready to attack this upcoming semester and all of the exciting things that are pending. First on the list, the Jimmy Fund Radio/Telethon this Thursday and Friday. Check out NESN or sports radio 850 AM around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday if you want to hear yours truly speaking my bit and urging people to donate to the Jimmy Fund. Woo! I'm sure I'll get to meet some cool people, and at the least, I get to go to the Red Sox game that night. Anyone want to join me?
Alright, so I am set and ready to go. Good luck to everyone this week with any and everything you may be working on or challenging yourself to. My challenge is to go on a date... Seriously. That is all, and check back soon. I promise I'll update. Peace and homefries!