Sunday, August 4, 2013

36 Years!


         Today is a very special day for me….and on some level a bit weird.  One that I’ve written about before, and even though it comes around each year, I can’t quite believe that what happened to me 36 years ago really happened.  But it did.  Thirty-six years ago today I underwent a 10 ½ hour operation for clear cell adenocarcinoma of the vagina.  It was caused by a drug (DES) that was given to my mom when she was pregnant with me. I was 21 years old and I had cancer.  I had many organs removed.  Now, looking back, it seems surreal, yet I remember it as if it were yesterday.  The diagnosis, the treatment, and the recovery – which was extremely scary and very difficult.  I had to learn how to live with a whole new body and bodily systems that didn’t function as they did before the surgery.   Quite frankly, I never really believed that I would make it to 57!  But I did, and two more cancer diagnoses  (one at age 42 (lung) and one at age 53 (pancreas)), eight surgeries, and at least 20 hospitalizations later, I am grateful and feel extremely lucky to be here.  I am blessed with a wonderful and supportive husband of 27 years, two amazing children who bring me so much pleasure and joy as I watch them become interesting and enthusiastic adults, work that I love and a very loyal network of friends and family.

            How does one celebrate such an auspicious anniversary?  The best way I know how…I’m about to go for a nice long swim and enjoy a simple dinner with my family.  Actually, I try to celebrate my survival daily by living each day with intention, gratitude, exercise and meaningful work.  Right now, I’m in the thick of planning for the 2013 Swim Across America San Francisco Bay Swim.  Swim Across America raises money for cancer treatment and research through swimming events. I am the co-event director in SF, and while this is supposed to be a part-time “job”, it seems to take up most of my time as we get closer to the date which is October 5th.  I am also the captain of Team Susan Survives – and my goal this year is to get 36 people on my team – as swimmers, kayakers or volunteers and hopefully raise over $36,000.   In the past 7 years, since I became involved with this organization, Team Susan has raised over $200,000.  How does one celebrate surviving cancer 36 years since my first cancer (and 15 since my lung and almost 4 since my pancreatic)?  By giving back….and asking everyone I know to help.  No donation is too small.  I thank you in advance for helping me “make waves to fight cancer”.   I also thank you for being in my life and for playing some role, large or small in my survival journey.

To find the Swim Across America page for Team Susan Survives, go to:

And remember:


1 comment:

  1. As a fellow cancer survivor, I have to say you're wonderfully inspirational! I look forward to following your blog!