Sunday, October 18, 2009

Letter of thanks to my virtual support system

Dear Readers of my Blog,
Following is a letter that I sent out to my family and friends last week, 8 weeks since my surgery. I’m posting it for all of you to read and would like to thank those of you following my blog, and for being out there and supporting me during my latest leg of my cancer journey.
Fondly,
Susan

Dear Friends and Family,


Tomorrow (Thursday, 11/15) will be exactly 8 weeks since my surgery. It’s hard to believe that I am on the other side of this ordeal, and I just want to tell you one last time how great it was having you all out there. Even if I haven’t heard a word from you, just having this big, long list of family members, friends and acquaintances was my lifeline and truly helped me get through it all. As you know, from my amazing friend Susan Meadows (those of you new to the list missed her updates), the surgery was big (6 ½ hours) and the recovery was grueling. For many days, I did not do well, and 23 days in the hospital felt like an eternity. So now, just 8 weeks later, I’m happy to tell you that I am doing well. My abdominal incision is healing (photo on my blog), I’m swimming (slowly, and have done up to 1 mile at once so far), walking, eating, and my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. For the most part, I feel OK. I am still very tired, at times, but I am back amongst the living, out of the hospital, and, once again, feeling incredibly grateful just to be here.


Beginning in December of 2008, when the doctors at UCSF suspected a tumor “someplace in my abdomen”, I lived with a tremendous amount of uncertainty. “Did I have cancer again or not?”, “Was I going to be OK or not?”, “How serious was this?”, and the list went on and on. It took 6 months to diagnose the tumor (a neuroendocrine pancreatic tumor which was slow growing). The diagnosis was confirmed in April. Then the uncertainty continued as we debated over whether or not it would be safe to go on our long-planned trip to Israel, which we did, and I’m so glad. Then we had to wait another 4 weeks for the surgery because the surgeon was on vacation. So, essentially, we lived with a dark cloud over our heads for about 9 months. And now, the uncertainty is gone, and it is all behind us. My prognosis is excellent, and the tumor is gone. No chemotherapy or radiation is needed. It has all been surreal, and I’m thrilled to report that I’m now on the other side of what felt like a nightmare. I’m making progress every day, and I can see that I’m approaching a “normal” life once again. We are even planning a trip to New York City at the end of this month to watch David (my son) run in the NYC Marathon!


And so, this will be my last email update. Thank you for putting up with the mass electronic messages, and for supporting me during the past few months. As I have said each time that I’ve written – THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART – just for being there. Your encouragement and kindness through this have been humbling. Your cards (about 300), emails, visits, phone calls, meals (yummy soups and wonderful homemade baked things), books and books on tape, DVDs, quilts, jewelry, works of art, gift certificates, prayers, thoughts and donations have been overwhelming. I really don’t know how to adequately thank each and every one of you. I (and my family) am eternally grateful to all of you. I have great confidence in the power of friendship because of all of you. I only hope that in a time of need for any of you, I can be there for you as you have been for me. From now on, I will not send mass emails, but will be posting on my blog periodically, when, and if I have something to say. I was going to say that my journey has ended, but in many ways it has actually only just begun. I hopefully have a long road ahead of me, and I am proud and lucky to have all of you out there in my life. Once again, I have learned what’s important in life, and what is important is all of you.


I hope you are well, and to those of you who are not, you are in my prayers. I’m particularly sending healing wishes to Jen, Andrea, Tamara, Bob, Sandy, Thea, Deanne, Darci, Rhonda, Carolyn, Tim, Tom, Jill and Len. (I hope I’m not forgetting anyone!)


Thank you for everything,
Love,
Susan


http://www.susanhelmrich.blogspot.com/ (my blog address –some new photos posted)
www.swimacrossamerica.org/teamsusansurvives (Team Susan Survives! raised over $58,000 and the total for the swim was over $200,000 – money raised goes to cancer research in the Bay Area.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmyUkm2qlhA (Just Keep Swimming)

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