Janna Waldher, a 30-year-old breast cancer survivor from Seattle shares her story with Thrive Through Cancer:
Ah, the healing powers of sunshine. The joy of smelling springtime flowers. Relaxing with a glass of wine while listening to your favorite tunes. These are all moments to be savored. Remembered. Repeated. To do this, it requires slowing down. Becoming aware of your surroundings. Inhaling and exhaling, slowly, with purpose. Looking out with your eyes and adjusting your viewpoint to become aware of life’s performance. I remember when my viewpoint broadened. I became much more aware of the life hustling and bustling all around me.
I was sitting in a waiting room. The smell of fear and unsurety were everywhere. I was afraid – the unknown was staring me straight in the face. Now the unknown is tailored to each of us differently, my unknown is not the same as your unknown. But that day my unknown dealt with cancer. Breast cancer. I’d already had a bi-lateral mastectomy and was now preparing to listen to my oncologist review my chemotherapy treatment plan. The unknowns of chemotherapy are scary! Side effects. Effectiveness. Sanity – would my mental where-with-all survive! I had no idea; no research to pull from, no life experience to compare this with, no nothing. My fears were overwhelming. I could feel despair creeping up me like a twisted vine, tears welled in my eyes. Read more…
Thrive Through Cancer is in the midst of strategic planning to shape the future of the organization. How do you think we can best help young adults with cancer? Let us know in this quick online survey!
THANK YOU! One participant will be given a free “Thrive Through Cancer” shirt!
Thrive Through Cancer is pleased to host our first annual expo for young adults with cancer in partnership with Swedish Medical Center!
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Swedish Cancer Institute/First Hill – 1221 Madison Street, Seattle
5:30 – 6:15 p.m. | Exhibition tables open, social opportunity
6:15 – 6:30 p.m. | Rose Egge speaks about Thrive Through Cancer
6:30 – 7:15 p.m. | Session 1: Julie Herbst, RD speaks about healthy eating (recipe & sampling provided)
7:15 – 7:30 p.m. | Break, Exhibition tables open
7:30 – 8:15 p.m. | Session 2: Jacci Thompson Dodd, MA, MSSS discusses intimacy and cancer
8:15 – 8:30 p.m. | Q&A opportunity
Come meet Rose Egge, founder of Thrive Through Cancer and join us for two educational and interactive workshops focused on issues commonly experienced by young adults affected by cancer. Learn more about community partners, resources and services available in areas near you.
This is an opportunity for young adults who have been touched by cancer in the Seattle area to come together and network with a proactive and dynamic community!
If you have any questions about Thrive Through Cancer, contact Rose Egge at email@example.com.
In the past 16 months Thrive Through Cancer volunteers have come together to support young adults fighting cancer in our community in a variety of ways, and we have lots of wonderful ideas for the future. But as the organization moves forward with plans to create a board of directors and apply for tax-exempt status, I feel now is the time to narrow our mission and create a strategic plan.
Thrive Through Cancer will continue to create beautiful Hope Totes for patients and will keep serving Swedish Hospital, but we should consider how we can best compliment existing organizations in the Seattle area and determine what needs have not yet been met among young adults fighting cancer.
To create the best strategic plan possible, I need your help. I am hosting a brainstorming session on Sunday, May 19, 11am at my West Seattle home to discuss what Thrive should aim to accomplish in the coming years. I’m hoping to bring together cancer survivors, volunteers, medical experts, people with non-profit experience and ANYONE who wants to contribute to the discussion of what young adults fighting cancer need and how we can best serve them.
This will be an excellent opportunity to get involved with Thrive Through Cancer in the future or simply share your opinion.
If you would like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please consider helping us shape the future of Thrive Through Cancer!
With endless gratitude,
Rose Egge, founder
Thrive Through Cancer gives young adults cancer patients – and their caregivers – the chance to share their story on our website. We want all people facing this terrible disease might to remember that they are never alone. Cameron’s wife Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005 at age 36.
I’ll never forget November 21st, 2005. For my family, it was the day that everything changed, and I almost thought I would lose everything. My wife was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma on that day. It was also when I became a caregiver for someone with cancer. It wasn’t something that I thought I would ever have to go through. After all, we had just celebrated the birth of our new baby. We had spent months in preparation for our daughter Lily to be born, and we had spent even more time thinking of our first Christmas together as a family of three. Now it seemed like the family dream I had in mind wasn’t the one I was going to experience.
I started as a caregiver from the very moment that we heard the diagnosis together. Our doctor spoke about treatment options, and it seemed like neither of us really could handle the situation. He explained each option to us, but we knew that the specialist was the best one who could help my wife. There was one in Boston named Dr. David Sugarbaker. Out of all the choices, I kept going back to him in my mind, and I knew it was the best choice to help my wife. I had to save my family and I didn’t have time to waste on weighing the options.
Life was a complete mess for a while after that. There wasn’t a daily routine anymore that didn’t involve something complicated or a lot of stress. I was still working, and while I was working, I had to take care of my newborn and wife. It was crazy to do all of this alone, and looking back, I wonder how I even managed it for that long. I had major doubts about my family’s survival. What if Heather didn’t make it? What if we had spent everything on treatment that wasn’t going to save her? I couldn’t imagine losing her and being left alone to raise a daughter who would never really know her mother. I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head, and I would have gone crazy if it hadn’t been for the love and support of our friends and family.
At our darkest moment, friends and family arrived with arms open. I couldn’t believe their generosity. It was there all along. Heather’s family provided so much care and love for us, and even financial help which we desperately needed. They looked after Lily and attended to Heather when she was home after her surgery. Without these amazing people, I don’t know where my family would have been. The greatest lesson I learned as a caregiver is to accept every offer of help. There is no room for pride when a loved one is sick, and as soon as I realized that, a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Heather underwent radical treatment over the following months, and despite the great odds against her, she beat mesothelioma and is cancer free to this day, over seven years later. It is our hope that our story of victory over cancer can be a source of inspiration to all those currently battling disease today.
Milestones have a way of sneaking up on me. I know they’re coming, yet I’m still surprised when they arrive.
Today I realized that Saturday, Dec. 29 is my 1 year anniversary of being cancer-free. It has been a year since my Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma was declared “in remission.”
I can barely believe it. While those 6 months of chemotherapy continue to weigh heavily on me, this past year has flown by.
But this milestone has driven me to think back to one year ago. It reminds me of the person I was back then – the one with poison in her veins and a catheter in her chest. I think of the girl who was pushing herself at dance class one week and barely able to get off the couch the next. I remember praying the Zofran would kick in before the nausea did. I remember my bald head, my swollen face and my four eye lashes. I remember putting on my wig and getting all dolled up on New Year’s Eve but being too tired to stay out till midnight.
If I could track down a DeLorean and travel back in time to see that girl, there are so many things I would tell her. I would give her this letter.
To my former self –
You have no idea what’s in store for you! You are going to feel so much better, and stronger and smarter and more beautiful than you do in this moment.
I know, you don’t believe me. Right now you’re wondering how much damage this cancer has done to your body and you don’t know if you will ever be the same. You don’t even know if remission will last.
Well, you won’t be the same; you’re going to be so much better! You’re going to go back to dance class and take classes with dancers 10 years younger than you. You’re going to start running and complete a half-marathon, under your goal time! And you will return to hot yoga, bald head and all. Read more…