Today, a little break from my normal real estate jibber jabber to discuss something that’s close to my heart. One month from today, on November 9, 2013, I will walk in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. I would love your support.
I am a 12 year survivor of Lymphoma, a blood cancer. At the tender age of 23, I was coughing constantly, very tired, winded going up and down stairs in my home, waking with night sweats, losing weight (which I didn’t complain much about!) and had an itchy chest. Basically, I felt like I had the flu. It took a doctor’s eye to recognize a lump on the side of my neck and a very off blood cell count to send me for a biopsy, which came back positive for Lymphoma. Weeks later after sending my biopsy sample to countless labs for verification, it was determined that I had Stage 3B Hodgkins Lymphoma. Doctors told me my hair would fall out from the chemo, I’d get fat from the steroids I’d be taking (fat during cancer?! Really?!), and I could possibly become infertile from my treatments, but that I had an 80% survival chance. They seemed to be so happy about that 80% number but all I could think about was what about the other 20%? After undergoing 3 months of chemotherapy and 1 month of radiation, I was declared in remission and have thankfully remained that way ever since.
A few years later, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society asked me if I would be sort of an online mentor to Megan, a patient who also had, like me, Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma. Of course, I said, convinced she’d have the same outcome as I did. Megan had a lump on the side of her neck too, and she was 19 at the time she started treatments. We had so much in common. We talked frequently via email, AOL instant message and MySpace back in those days. Megan finished her treatments, and I didn’t hear from her for awhile. I knew she’d gone on a vacation with her family to their lake house. One day, while at my office, I was on MySpace and saw a page pop up in my newsfeed that said “In Loving Memory of Megan”.
I pretty much lost it on the spot upon seeing that. While I only knew Megan via social media, we’d become very close. We talked about our secrets and fears – could we have children? Would our cancers ever come back? Megan apparently had relapsed I later found out, had a stem cell transplant and passed shortly thereafter. She was in the dreaded 20%. I cringe when I hear about doctors who say things like “If you are going to have cancer, this is the one to have” because I think of Megan. I’m not sure why I had such great success with the same exact treatment that did not work for Megan. More research needs to be done, and I’m walking for the Megans out there. There should be no 20% – we need treatments and cures that work for everyone.
A few years ago, I participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year competition. It is basically a fundraising competition to see who can raise the most – and that person is crowned Man or Woman of the Year. Also a Boy and Girl of the year are appointed, who are undergoing a blood cancer treatment themselves. While I didn’t win, I raised a lot of money for the LLS and I was fortunate enough to meet little Madison and Joshua – both 5 years old. They both had ALL – Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Can you imagine being told your 5 year old has Leukemia?
These two cuties totally kicked cancer’s butt. After undergoing intense chemo treatments themselves, both are in remission over 2 years later today. Here they are at one of the fundraising events we attended together. More kids like Madi and Josh need your donor dollars to help fund new research and treatments.
One of the many reasons I support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is because so much of what they raise goes directly to research and patient programs. Many cancer related charities out there donate as little as 20% of their total revenues to research and patient programs, the rest goes to marketing and CEO salaries.
Please support me in raising money for this amazing charity. You can click here to donate securely online – just click the link on the right hand side of the page that says Donate Now. You can enter any amount and even $5 helps! I’m currently at 32% of my goal – please help me get to the $2,000 mark in the next 30 days!