Two years ago my life changed forever. A little over two years ago I went to my doctor for bloating and discomfort and two weeks later I was diagnosed with appendix cancer. Those two weeks were a whirlwind of doctors appointments and scans and surgery and ended up creating so much uncertainty and anxiety and fear in my life. I had no idea what the next 8-9 months were going to look like. I had no idea how terrible they would be. I had no idea the wonderful support and love that would pour through the mail, the internet and in person. I truly cannot believe where I am two years later. I am a week away from
fleeing the country visiting my perfect niece and her parents in Italy. I am getting stronger every week; I actually have muscles again. That’s very exciting. I don’t get exhausted doing things that shouldn’t exhaust a normal person. I don’t need 10 hours of sleep a night like I did even a year ago. I don’t need afternoon rest time anymore. It was so frustrating to feel good but still be so fatigued all the time. I can hike and run and kayak and do all my things. I’m not the old me mainly because I’ll never be that person again. Cliched as it may sound, cancer changes you.
When reminders like the one on the right pop up it’s just strange now. I like my hair right now and am happy with the length, but the reminder of how long it was two years ago and how I got to today is still really difficult, no longer devastating as the initial hair loss was, but the short hair was never my choice. I actually like the hair on the far right better than the hair on the left. It has taken a long time to get there. I tolerated the hair in the middle because I was so glad my curls came back. I’m still not sure anything would have helped me deal with the hair loss any better. It was, unfortunately, something I had to go through.
I had another set of scans a few weeks ago. I had another set of clean scans! My quarterly scans snuck up on me this time around. I don’t even really have the “scanxiety” I read so much about. I don’t feel like I’m living in three-month increments. I’d rather they are scanning me and checking everything out. I feel good and don’t have any of the symptoms I had two years ago. I’m easily paranoid about little things, but when they go away I’m fine. What I went through is often on my mind still, but not necessarily a fear of recurrence. When your face is literally everywhere at work it’s a little harder to not think about things, but I’m still so glad my story is out there. Now if only all those pictures and stories linked to my fundraising.
I have raised over $7000 for the MCW Cancer Crush and my team, Run with Renee, which is amazing and has exceeded all initial expectations. Every dollar means a lot to me. Donations have come in from Italy and Costa Rica (thanks awesome Backroads people!), down the street, and across the country. I am not done fundraising and it is not too late to join. Please consider donating or joining the team. The culmination of this event is on September 22nd and is either a 1 mile or 5 miles run or walk! I can’t wait to see so many of you out there. Even if you can’t join us in Milwaukee on September 22nd you can be part of the team. Please consider joining. Runner friends – this is a great price for a 5-mile run and the money goes to cancer research!
I’ve never fundraised for a race before but this cause means so so much to me. Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin saved my life and this is such a great way to give back. It would be great if I could turn just a few more of those Facebook likes into donations. Every dollar counts. I spoke with someone in the development office and found out how they will be disbursing the funds raised and am really quite happy with the grant process they will be using. Researchers will have to write grant proposals and they will be reviewed by a committee. I’m still hoping I can make a push that some funds are earmarked for rare cancers. Our little orphan diseases need the funds. No idea if this will happen, but I’ll try.
Sometimes I think I should stop making a big deal out of every set of clean scans I have, but I don’t know why I think that and I don’t think it’s true. I will celebrate being cancer free for the rest of my life.