Thursday, August 4, 2011

Today is an anniversary - how to celebrate?

Dear Blog Followers,


     Today is an anniversary – it’s not my wedding anniversary or anything quite like that….it’s the 34th anniversary since my first cancer surgery. I was 21 years old, had just graduated from college and underwent a 10 ½ hour surgery at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in NY. I was in the hospital one month, and little did I know that this would be the first of many surgeries and my first of 3 bouts with cancer. But August 4th is an important day for me and one that I will never forget – how does one celebrate such a milestone? How should one feel on a day like today? Happy that’s it all behind me? Lucky that I got such extraordinary medical care all along the way? Scared that I might get “it” again? Grateful that I have lived as long as I have, and that I have such an amazing family and so many supportive friends? Yes….I think all of the above and so much more….and very difficult to put into words.

     As I think about my life and my cancer experiences, I do, in many ways feel lucky. During the past few months there has been a video tape made of my journey, a radio interview and a magazine interview and photo shoot. I have in a very small way become a poster child for someone who has survived cancer. And yet, as I write this blog, I have way too many friends currently undergoing treatment for cancer, and I lost a very dear friend this month to a recurrence of clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina – the type of cancer I had 34 years ago.

     What can I do to mark this occasion? How can I give back to the doctors and researchers who saved my life? While survival rates have improved for many cancers, we still need to find a cure. I suppose, raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment is the only way I know how to do something. So, in September, I’ll be jumping into the freezing cold water of the SF Bay and will help raise money for cancer research here in the Bay Area. Swim Across America raises money for world-renowned cancer centers across the United States, and here in the Bay Area the money raised goes to pediatric cancer research and treatment. Our two local beneficiaries are UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Oakland Children’s Hospital.

     If you haven’t already done so, please watch the video that Growing Bolder made about my cancer experiences and my love of swimming, and/or listen to the radio interview – both were made by a team of Emmy Award-winning TV and radio people who produce and license active-lifestyle and wellness content for the Web, TV and Radio. They like to tell stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

The link to the video: http://growingbolder.com/media/health/cancer/beating-cancer-one-lap-at-a-time-737153.html#content_tabs

The link to the radio show: http://growingbolder.com/media/health/cancer/susan-helmrich-742140.html#content_tabs  

     Visit the Swim Across America website http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/  to see how thousands of people who love swimming are helping to make a difference in the cancer research, treatment and prevention arena. My team is Team Susan Survives and together a very small group has raised over $20,000! (www.swimacrossamerica.org/goto/teamsusansurvives )

     Thank you for reading my blog, for following my story, and for being “out there” for me along the way. If nothing else, I believe my story has inspired and hopefully helped others going through difficult times, whether they be physical or emotional or both. I wish everyone reading this good health and a happy August. Hope to be in touch with you again soon.

And of course…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmyUkm2qlhA

Love,
Susan

2 comments:

  1. Susan,

    You are as amazing, inspirational, and beautiful as ever! Congratulations of surviving and thriving!

    XOXO
    Ellen

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello,
    I have a question about your blog. Please email me!
    Thanks,
    David

    ReplyDelete