A Mother and her Two Daughters

19 January 2011

My Cancer Graduation – A Seed of Hope Celebration

Dr. Kent Westbrook, one of the two visionaries behind the Rockefeller Cancer Institute, has said, “There are significant moments in the lives of cancer patients.  These times are worth celebrating.”  So this past Friday was my UAMS-hosted Seed of Hope Celebration. 

This party-of-sorts is offered to all UAMS cancer patients at the time of final treatment.  And our own celebration was just that – a gathering of very special people who helped me celebrate my “seed of hope” toss. 

Let me tell you, this is one graduation I never aspired to, but I wouldn’t have missed it for all the treasures in the world.  I know, I know – it seems like I’ve been celebrating for days.  Justification – if you’ve been battling cancer for eleven months, it seems quite logical to celebrate the graduation for many days. 

The photos speak for themselves.  It was a personal moment being together with family, lifetime mentors, longtime friends, new friends and my diligent cancer caretakers.  It was an official commemoration of maybe my most demanding and significant victory in life – it was fun, emotional, meaningful and liberating too. 

Let me just say this.  I will forever be grateful to the UAMS Rockefeller Cancer Institute for all they did to eradicate this body – and the bodies of many others too – of the deadly disease we call cancer.  All along the way, my collaborative medical team cared for me with such a personal approach, continued to exude confidence in what they were doing, and carefully planned how they would hunt and kill this physical malady.  Drs. Suzanne Klimberg and Issam Makhoul, Drs. James Yuen and Kenneth Gardner, and Dr. Westbrook who served on my interdisciplinary medical team, and all the nurses and technicians too - they handled each step with skilled assurance, with me believing that they would never face anything that they hadn’t seen before.  It was their spirit and professional poise that gave me confidence, always feeling deep inside that there would be a light of life at the end of this tunnel.                 

And while my cancer treatment is complete, I will continue to stay in the good hands of UAMS.  There will be ontinued tests, follow-up visits, medical monitoring, Lymphedema checks, even a few more treatments to help my bones get stronger.  I'm reminded of what Joel Siegel wrote in Lessons for Dylan, a book he wrote to his son before he died of complications from colon cancer in 2007:  "I don't think anyone is ever cured of cancer.  The pain might stop, your life might no longer be threatened, but the scars never go away."                                                   

On Friday and yesterday, today and tomorrow, I will always celebrate this significant victory in my life story, another chapter closed.  And in my heart, I will forever honor those who have been diagnosed with cancer, and all who courageously fought the fight – those who conquered and those who were ultimately untreatable. 

I am thankful for this day . . .

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