Cancer Survivor: My Sister Finally Fights Back February 18, 2009Posted by Carolyn Watson in Healthcare, Prevention.
I was surprised and moved by an email I recently recieved from my sister, Wanda, announcing she had joined the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk and urging me and the rest of her sisters to join her on the 60-mile journey or help with fundraising efforts. Tongue-in-cheek, she prefaced her message with “Nope, I’m not crazy.”
I have five sisters, and Wanda (by her own admission) is the last among us to participate in physical activity for more than ten minutes— not since her days as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corp. Her pledge to participate in the Walk touched us all because it signifies she has come full circle with her healing process. In her email, she enthusiastically acknowledges her ability to make a difference, stating,
“I want to help others as a cancer survivor and as a woman, and this is as good a place as any to start.”
…“I know my bout was with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but as women, we are all at risk for breast cancer,” she adds.
Wanda was diagnosed several years back with late stage-four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. We consider her recovery nothing short of a miracle. As a newly diagnosed cancer patient, she was overcome with fear and drifted between stages of disease acceptance–mostly at some level of denial. Her husband was supportive throughout her recovery and helped manage her treatment. Ultimately, my sister’s desire to see her two small children grow up gave her the strength to fight for her life and her family’s future.
My sister is now 11 years cancer-free. For the first time Wanda is truly embracing survivorship. Not that she hasn’t celebrated her amazing victory before or expressed gratitude for it. She has done that in many ways, including acknowledging the five-year cancer-free mark. What is different this year is she found her voice. In doing so, Wanda was able to relinquish the residual fear cancer (even the word) held over her. She now envisions a cancer-free future for herself and all women. I am proud of her for having the courage to concur her fear of cancer recurrence and joining the fight for a cure.
Training for the 3-Day Walk is not easy for her. However, Wanda, like many others, will do the work required to bring researchers closer to the cure. My sisters and I will support her in meeting her goals in any way we can. For more information about my sister and her fundraising progress, visit: http://www.the3day.org/goto/Wanda.Bullock
Sisters helping Sisters: It is not lost on me that the 3-Day Walk sprang from a Foundation that began out of a woman’s pledge to her sister.
Nancy G. Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, made a promise to her sister (Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1984), to do everything in her power to end breast cancer. She has since kept her promise and continues to move forward. Brinker, also a breast cancer survivor, started the Foundation by networking with corporations, local business, the local community, and government agencies. What started out as a small non-profit has become a global movement.
For more information about the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the scope of its mission, please visit http://ww5.komen.org/AboutUs/AboutUs.html.