Friday, July 22, 2011

Konquering Kancer - 1 year, 5 months and 4 days

Thanks to Shannon R., ovarian cancer survivor and Teal Diva founder, for sharing her thoughts about her journey with Kancer. Shannon will be facing another challenge in the coming weeks: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise ovarian cancer awareness. If you were to write a letter to Kancer, what would you say?

Dear Kancer,

It has been a while since we last spoke; one year, five months and four days, to be exact. I am appreciative of you respecting my wishes and keeping your distance. So, I bet you are curious why I am writing again. Well, I’ve got this ‘thing’ coming up, which I will talk a little more in just a bit because it is really why I am writing and perhaps why you may hear from me again soon. Because of this ‘thing,’ the folks at Presbyterian asked me to write on their blog from time to time in an effort to raise awareness and introduce people to why I am doing this ‘thing’.

As a reminder of where I was in thought one year, five months and four days ago, I have included my last letter to you.

Dear Kancer, Tomorrow I hope to say goodbye for good. While it has been interesting getting to know you and though I am forever changed by you, I am happy to part ways. I was extremely scared of you in September, but now I no longer fear you. I know that God gives me the strength to face you! He will not give me more than I can handle. You have scarred me not only physically but emotionally. I have tried to overcome you by having a positive attitude and not let you get me down. You have made it tough. You have made my body weak. There are days I am physically tired and just plain worn out. Days I find it hard to lift a finger or move even a toe. I still can't look at my scars. And as of last night, I am 37 pounds heavier. I absolutely hate the way I look and feel. And I have become more aware of people around me...what I mean by that is that I notice all of my shortcomings in everyone that passes me by. So you have left me in a state of mind I have never been in before. You have given new meaning to soul searching. But on a positive note, you have given me the knowledge to help others. You have slowed me down - in a good way - by teaching me to appreciate life more. You have brought my husband and me closer together. You have reconnected me with people I otherwise may not have reconnected with. I have met other women who also know you personally. You made me a stronger woman. So farewell kancer. Thank you for the goo;, thank you for the bad. Both are shaping me for the person I am meant to be. I will get there and I will be stronger when I do. Shannon

Well, I have come along way since this letter. I have gained a lot of my strength back. There certainly were days when I questioned if I would ever be able to walk farther than the end of my street without tiring out, thanks to you. Now, I can not only walk to the end of the street without tiring, but I can run four miles. I ran a 5k and an 8k and finished both. One thing you have taught me is to slow down. Life is not a race. I definitely do things at my own pace.

This brings me to that ‘thing’ I mentioned earlier.

On August 29, I will be standing at the base of a huge obstacle; one that is 19, 340 feet above sea level. I will be a half-mile above sea level looking up. Yes, I am climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.

Now, why in the world do I care if you know about this? Besides the fact that I am happy to have the strength and willpower to even attempt it, you two have a lot in common.

Kancer, you are/were my Kilimanjaro. I want to look at this mountain in front of me the same way I looked at you the first time. I will cry because I am overwhelmed and not quite sure how the end will turn out. I will question myself and perhaps have doubt that I can actually do this. It will undoubtedly be the topic of conversation for those involved. And there will be that moment where a decision needs to be made and I will put my big girl panties on and deal with it. My hope is to have the strength, willpower, faith and belief that I can do this.

I definitely have doubters. People say I am allowing you to ‘define’ me. There are people who say I give you too much of myself because of the work I do with Teal Diva. I disagree. I mean, it’s been one year, five months and four days since we last chatted. The way I see it, I am working against you so that I can arm people with the knowledge I did not have. I am trying hard to give toward research so lives can be saved.

Kancer, you took a lot from me. Because of you, I have more faith than I have ever had. But my relationship with God is very broken and bruised. I am an ‘on the surface’ kind of girl. I don’t like digging too deep with emotions…afraid of what I might find, I guess. I am hoping Kilimanjaro will restore my relationship with God in a new and different way. I am hoping to find myself A SURVIVOR WITHOUT CANCER! So that I can continue helping others.

I will write more to you as we continue our training. I am sure I will have a lot more to say.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A New Look, A New You!

When a cancer patient undergoes treatment, their body may experience physical changes. Some of the changes can be difficult to cope with because many people are used to looking the same way their entire life, up until now. Patients may have lost their hair or had to undergo surgery as part of their treatment. Everyone’s body can react differently, depending on what kind of cancer they are going through. Thankfully, there are options out there to help everyone!

The Look Good…Feel Better program is administered by the American Cancer Society, and takes place every first and fourth Monday at Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center, as well as many other places around the nation! (The Look Good…Feel Better website has a place where you can locate a program near you!) The program has served more than 700,000 women all over America and has 14,000 volunteers. It allows cancer patients to learn complimentary beauty techniques that help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. The program includes beauty sessions for women and teens where a professionally trained cosmetologist shares helpful makeup tips with cancer patients and provides free makeup kits for each participant at the end of the session. Patients are more than welcome to bring a friend to the session, too!

A common side affect from cancer treatment is hair loss. Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center offers wig services as well, which are completely free to borrow and are available to try on! Patients are also provided with free scarves and hats to borrow (and we’re always accepting donations!). Patients are taught other tips, like how to care for their scalp, keep it out of the sun, and how to tie a scarf properly for coverage. It never fails that these sessions usually end up being a fun, social event where everyone can chat, make new friends, and look fabulous in the mean time!

It’s important to remember that you can still look amazing if you are going through treatment! I encourage you to step outside of what you feel that you have always looked like…why not take this time to start a new look, a new you!

Join us for an upcoming session! New programs have been added in Huntersville (July 11) and Matthews (July 18) as well. To register for Look Good...Feel Better, call 704-384-5223.

-Marcia Lampert, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center