Survivor Stories – 1

These women are truly inspiring.

Last week, I posted an invitation to all of you to post a story about a person who inspires you, a person who has survived cancer, or motherhood, or her own personal challenge.  A number of you took me up on that offer, and I’ve linked the stories below.  Others have left me notes in the comments of this and other posts, and I want to include them here in this roundup too. 

There are so many amazing women and men out there, who have survived so much.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the number of breast cancer survivors (for example) out there until I announced my own diagnosis.  Since then, they’ve been coming out of the woodwork.  Well, not the woodwork, exactly, but the internets, the pews at church, the cubicles at my husband’s office, even the farthest branches of my own family tree.  Their stories, and your stories, are giving me hope.  Here, then, is a dose of inspiration.  If you need inspiration too, read their stories.  If you feel as I did, send them hugs.  They all have suffered a world of hurt and come out the other side.

  • Sunshine at And the Pursuit of Happiness sent a link to a post about her best friend who fought cancer four years ago; 
  • Kim Moldofsky from Hormone-Colored Days writes about her karate instructor who kicked cancer — twice;
  • Canape didn’t send hers in, but I know the story of her momma, who has fought cancer three times — and won — is over on Don’t Take the Repeats;
  • Ella at Limberlime told me about Jane Tomlinson, cancer survivor and activist; her own mother-in-law is another cancer survivor;
  • Lori at Spinning Yellow wrote about her mother-in-law, who had cancer.  Many times;
  • Grrrrlfriend Jess from Sassafras writes about Seth, her brother, who was in a terrible motorcycle accident;
  • BirdieRoark at Who’s The Boss wrote about her mother, surviving a difficult childhood; and
  • Stimey from Stimeyland (where else?) wrote a lovely post about some absolutely amazing women who she is lucky to know, and I am lucky just to get to read about.

Here are more who didn’t leave a link, so I’ve linked to their blog and/or comments on a previous post:

Oh, and before you go (or when you come back, I know this is an incredibly long post) check out this amazing picture of active, smiling, happy survivors  doing something awesome (courtesy MotherWoman).  Very cool.  Very, very cool.  But now I can’t resist the urge to end this post with a varient of an old joke. 

  • Patient: “Doctor, when my cancer is in remission, will I be able to row crew?”
  • Doctor: “Well, I don’t see why not.”
  • Patient: “Fantastic!  I never had the energy before!”

My surgical oncologist (yes, we cancer patients fighters have at least two oncologists each) told me the story yesterday of a woman who not only kept active during chemo but who began training for a marathon.  The next summer, she ran — and finished the race.

Anything is possible.

Edited to add:  Lori from Spinning Yellow has been given my ticket to BlogHer; Kim M will be taking my room at the W!  Have fun, ladies!

Edited again:  I’ve also posted this on sk-rt in hopes that someone else who needs this kind of inspiration will find it.  If you just did — welcome.  You are not alone.

32 Responses to Survivor Stories – 1

  1. Here is the thing: This cancer treatment stuff sucks. And here is the good thing: You have all the power, courage, strength, prayers, tears, laughter, hope and faith of a million women with you, women who’ve fought cancer, survived cancer and those of us who just want to help see you through it. You are right, anything *is* possible.

  2. Amanda says:

    You are a force. I’ll be visiting these courageous women thanks to you.

  3. Amanda says:

    Anything, and more.
    I am banking on you to prove that. WhyYesICan Mommy you’ll become.

  4. Michele says:

    Hi Whymommy. I can here from motherhood uncencorsored and thought I should share my story. My name is Michele and I am a ovarian/cerival cancer survivour. Last July I found I was pregangt with my 2nd child. We were so excited since we planned this and, as with our 1st baby, got pg ont he 1st try. THings were great! A new baby…what could be better. At my 1st prenatal visit I had a pap which came back abnormal. This didnt scare me too much becuase I’ve had adnormal paps before but when my OB suggested an appt with an oncologist things changed for the worst. The next 3 moths were filled with simple biospies, colposcopies, cone biopsies and a curclage (this is a procedure they used when you have a cone biopsy if you pg to to stitch your cervix closed so the baby doesn’t come prematuraly). Scary isn’t even the word for waht were going through. The cells in question were very rare and very hard to diagnosis. Not only were we waiting to see if I had cancer, but our new child’s life is hanging in the balance. Then we got the news one night while making dinner…I as ok, it was precancerous cells…we can continue with my pregnancy and deal with the rest after the birth. We cried for many reasons that night…all us of, including my doctor who we’ve come to love as a good friend. That was around the end of October 2005. A week later I went for an ultrasound and the tech was questioning the size of my left ovary. The doctor came in and suggested to get further testing, which I did under protest. I was done with testing. All I wanted was to have my baby and then get ‘cleaned out’ – total hysterectomy was the next line of treatment and I was ok with that. I considered myself extremely lucky to be able to have 2 children and if the hyterectomy would keep me healthy then I was all for it. Well, further testing showed that my left ovary was twice as large as the right one and since things were questionable it should come out right away. WHAT!?!?!? This conversation was had on a Thurday night and they wanted to schedule surgery for MOnday morning. All I could think of was my unborn child and the effect all this was having on her. Friday night, on my was home from work, I suddenly began to have incredible pain on my left side and the next morning was rushed to hospital. My ovary had ruptured and my doctors decided to do the surgery that day. My baby…just make sure my baby is ok. That’s all I can remember saying. I was ok with the surgery as long as my baby would be ok. As I came out of the surgery I can remember asking my doctor if my baby was ok. She shook her head no and had tears in her eyes. NNNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! was all I could get out. They got my husband to calm me down. Its all a bit hazy b/c I was still under anesthia but I can see his face and see his tears. She was still with us but during the surgery something went wrong and amniotic fluid began to leak out. They next day the doctors were all buzzing around us, preparing us for the ultimate worst. Before my surgery ended they removed the cerclage. The ultrasound showed almost zero fluid left in my sac and our baby would be born within the next few hours. Having a group of doctors telling you you will give birth and not take your baby home is devasting. But when they hooked me up and began another ultrasound they saw fluid! They all seemed incredibly shocked and I took this as a good sign. Maybe they were wrong. Doctors can be wrong, right? I lay there in my hospital room for about a week, hoping and praying that my little one would hang on, that she was a tough cookie and wanted to be born. Dr. O is an awesome doctor and he wanted to try and redo my cerclage. That would be the only chance our baby had. The hole left in my cervix by the cone biospies was too much. They baby would come much too soon without it. All the other doctros thought he was crazy to even try but we thought ‘what did we have to loose at this point’ and so it was scheduled for the next day. ‘The procedure should take no longer then 1/2 hour’, he tells us as I getting wisked away, yet again. I was given an epidoral and wasawake for everything. There was a clock on the wall and as I watched the minutes turn into hours I knew in my heart something was wrong. My head is telling me it’ll be ok. That Dr, O knows what he is doing. Everything will be ok soon. Then Dr. O comes into my sight and says ‘I’m so sorry Michele, your membrane has ruptured’. I will never forget those words. It was the beginning of the end and that evening, at 17 weeks, I gave birth to our baby girl, Hope Maya, whose face I’ve never seen. She weighed less then 1lb and all I have of her, besides whats in my heart, is a card with her little footprints on it. That was Nov. 10. The holdiays came and went and we tried to get back to some kind of normalcy. My hysterectomy was scheduled for Jan. 11. The surgery was long but went well. And my recovery was good…long but easy for the most part. Then I was told the devasting news. The reports from my surgery came back as cerival, borderline ovarian cancer. The cancer I have is so rare that only 24 other people in the world have been diagnosied with it. To be completely honest, I’m not even 100% sure what the name of it is. All I know is that in February I began 6 rounds of chemo, even treatment lasting for 5-6 hours. I lost all my hair, which was ok until the eyelashes and eyebrows went. Then I felt like a total freak. I handled the chemo fairly well. I’ve always bee a fast healer and tolerated medicines well. These traits can in handy during this time. I was able to continue working, only taking off treatment days and the day after. Its now been about 6-7 weeks after my last treatment and my hair is starting to grow back. I can finally look back and see things I hadn’t before. I am able to look at my sweet Hope’s life as a gift from God. I believe she was sent to me so I would be diagnosed. My doctors feel I have been living with cancer for many years. I had been diagnosed with hpv a few years ago and was being closely monitored but my cancer cells were sneaky and would hide or jump around, something known as ‘skip lesions’. Without this pregnany, who knows when my cancer ould’ve bben found. She saved my life and gave my 1st daughter, Emma, the luxury of her mother. Some days its harder then others to get by, but I try to think of brighter side of things. Its not always easy but its a better way to live. I’m just no the type to stay down for very long. And I hope this hopelessly long story is able to give someone a bit of ‘hope’. Stay strong whymommy. Having a positive attitude will help, I promise.

  5. Oh, Michele. What a story.

    WhyMommy, I think I will follow Amanda’s lead and start calling you WhyYesICanMommy.

    Look at all those survivors, friend! How cool is that?

  6. Amy says:

    I read your posts and I feel GOOD. I feel positive. You, with all you’re going through make me feel like all is right with the world. That is your strength and your feelings just coming through as words in a blog! I cannot imagine what you are like in “real life” but you are one strong cookie and you will beat this thing to a teeny tiny little pulp. THat’s for damn sure.

  7. Michele says:

    I believe that everything happens for a reason and although you don’t know why, yet, you going through breast cancer will benefit someone somewhere. You are strong. I can hear it in your words. After I left my super long and not very well written post I got a feeling of positive power. Good attitudes are just as contagious as misery. We feed on what reactions we get from others. Feed on us and all the good thoughts and prayers being sent your way. Your babies are lucky to have such a wonderful role model. Stay strong and powerful like the great woman you are!

  8. Jenn says:

    Anything is possible.

    And I know that you’re going to surpass all that you ever thought possible.

    I just know.

  9. canape says:

    Dang woman! I know you did all this research on the internet, but somewhere, there is a stack of notecards with each link written on them and the core subject in the top right hand corner . . .

    I can’t wait to read all of these!

  10. Jennifer says:

    You’ve given me quite a reading list! This must have taken forever to put together. Thanks for doing this!

    You rock WhyYesICanMommy!

  11. whymommy says:

    It was wonderful therapy. Each time this weekend I got a little tired or a little frustrated at having to wait 6 more days for chemo, I just pulled out my laptop, read a little, and gathered a few links. Each time, I felt better and better.

    It’s one thing to know that there are millions of breast cancer survivors out there … it’s another to read that so many of the women who are reading my blog this week have cancer survivors so close to them. They care about them, and they love them.

    And because of that, I’m pretty inspired by them all.

    (And Canape … you know me *and* my mother well! Some days I still find it difficult to write a long report without notecards … or sitting down at the kitchen table with drafts and a sharp pair of scissors, to better reorder the sections!)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Survivor Stories – stories of women who have fought cancer and won

    I have just begun my fight against breast cancer. Other bloggers have been leaving me notes of support all week — these are some (60+) stories of the women and men that they love who have won their fight against cancer.

  13. Jennie says:

    You’ll be on the list yourself before long!

  14. Bon says:

    this is an amazing list, and a gift that you’ve put together to give out into the ether, to all of us who may need it or pass it along to someone else. you’re creating a great web of hope, with all of us all tied into it. thank you.

    and Michele…oh Michele. sweet Hope. what a year. what strength.

  15. christine says:

    I was just taking a minute to lurk around while my visiting sister naps, so i stopped over. I am christine from running on empty and i actually had malignant melanoma when my baby was 5 months, not breast cancer. I know it was just a typo, but wanted to add that correction. I talk about it a little here: http://runningonempty-christine.blogspot.com/2007/05/me-and-my-random-self.html

    Thanks for the nod and stay strong woman!!! You are on my mind every day. .

  16. GTech Doc says:

    Hi WhyMommy. Mom2BeinWV and I keep thinking of you and the rest of the family daily. We talk about ya’ll a lot now and our thoughts and prayers are with you always.

    Just wanted to share a brief story about my first experience as a brand new doc and cancer. I admitted a patient the other night who was having some bleeding recently from his rectum. It was a not so tremendously young, but not old person by any stretch either, by all accounts tremendously healthy individual, and as such, did not really go to the doctor. After some tests, we found out this person has colon cancer with mets to multiple places in the body. A very sad story for me, just learning how to deal with patients. And especially a reminder of how cancer doesn’t just pick on the unhealthy, or those who smoke or drink in excess. And a very sobering reminder of how important regular health maintenance is these days.

    Anyway, my prayers are with this new patient of mine as well. My hope is that this person exhibits the strength and courage that you are now showing, and can beat this cancer as I know you will beat yours.

  17. Stimey says:

    That is an amazing list. I am honored to to have my inconsequential little post on it. You are an amazing woman, WhyMommy. Really. Amazing. You are creating an incredible resource for the next woman in your shoes.

  18. Nancy says:

    I didn’t get my story (or really, the story of another amazing woman) written in time to make today — but I promise, it’s coming.

    Thanks for this round up of links. I look forward to reading through them.

  19. breathtaking all these posts and survival stories i’m still in the process of writing mine to share later…

  20. mo-wo says:

    Looking forward to all the good reading. And glad you like the reference those women rock!

    Go WM go!

  21. Lady M says:

    These are amazing stories. I have one to share too – about my friend who has kicked cancer three times and still performs in our dance troupe:

    http://nupboard.blogspot.com/2007/04/test-post.html

  22. binkytown says:

    I have another one; Have you read about Leann? http://luchalee.wordpress.com/. Very inspiring.

    Im SO glad to hear you have had some positive news. The first hurdle is cleared. Hooray!

  23. maggie says:

    So, will you be running a marathon next summer? I hope so! You go, girl!

  24. Aliki says:

    This list is so inspirational! So amazing…stay strong, stay happy.

  25. canape says:

    Oh, Binkytown. Of course Leann. Isn’t it AWESOME to be able to list her with the survivors?

  26. Matt says:

    WhyYesICanMommy – Just an old dude her to say you and this community of women who are circling around you are amazing. It is obvious (even to guys) that you and they are doing something special here. I’ve been reading your posts since TheNewGirl mentioned you and have been affected deeply by your courage and the support your circle of friends has offered you. If you were awake about 5:00 this AM, that good feeling you got was me lying in bed thinking about what I had to get done today and then, out of nowhere, thinking “I hope Whymommy is doing well.” Jeez, humanity, it just might catch on. Keep kicking cancer’s ass to the curb.

  27. Wonderful. You are just so wonderful.

  28. shauna says:

    Wow… All this strength, love, support, and resilience is inspiring. My thoughts are with you, WhyMommy. I know that you can beat this!

  29. Jess says:

    I just read Stephen Jay Gould’s essay about being a survivor of mesothelioma (very bad cancer, indeed). As a scientist youself, I thought you might like his approach. It’s entitled, “The Median isn’t the Message”, published in Bully for Brontosaurus. Perhaps you’ve already found it in your search for inspiring and strengthening stories.

  30. whymommy says:

    Jess — yes, awesome essay! I really do like it, and am working on a post on statistics myself. (Must remember to finish, must remember to finish)…. thanks!

  31. dottycookie says:

    Your courage is inspirational. I’m off to my blog to link to you, right now.

  32. swillparty says:

    I’d like to share with all women, especially African-American and Hispanic women, the name of an organization that empowers women affected by breast to live as long as possible with the best quality of life. Living Beyond Breast Cancer (www.lbbc.org) also has specific literature aimed at the Black and Hispanic communities. Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC), founded in 1991, is a national nonprofit education and support organization serving women and families affected by breast cancer. LBBC’s mission is to empower all women affected by breast cancer to live as long as possible with the best quality of life. Programs and services include: conferences; teleconferences; the toll-free Survivors’ Helpline (888.753.5222); a website, lbbc.org; free quarterly newsletters; publications for African-American and Latina women; recordings; networking programs; healthcare-provider trainings; and the Paula A. Seidman Library and Resource Center. Support LBBC’s mission by purchasing a Women of SWILL 15-month wall calendar at http://www.swillparty.com. It’s not pink and it is a wall calendar which has received rave reviews from survivors of all ages. All of the proceeds, yes that’s 100%, will be donated to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. This highly popular calendar produced by the women of the SWILL (Several Wine Imbibers Liking Libations) social wine tasting club is sure to sell out soon, so get yours while supplies last. If you’re more comfortable, you may also purchaes it at Amazon.com (but they take a fairly large commission which means less for LBBC). I know this won’t cure cancer but hopefully LBBC’s support will help a survivor who reads this.

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