I had a few years left — or so I thought.
My doctor called me in last April and uttered the words no one wants to hear, especially not a 25-year-old girl still elated at finally landing in New York. I had a tumor the size of a Ping-Pong ball, and it was trying to kill me. Life had come down to this: Ashley against a ball.
After an unsuccessful surgery, a round of fertility treatments, and what I now refer to as the Lost Summer of chemo and radiation, my (by then nine) doctors determined that the healthy cells were again turning back over to the dark side. If I wanted to retain my optimism, it was time for a plan of the non-medical variety.
Instead of spending a year pursuing my own whims, I resolved to devote my time instead to a volunteering bucket list of sorts. Then, my mourners would later be forced to discuss my generosity of time and spirit, and I might learn a little about my place in the world before I expired in my prime.
So here we are.
I, of course, have been declared in remission after a second, precautionary surgery, though rest assured that the black humor was my constant companion throughout the process. On a miserably cold day in January, I decided to stop delaying the project and get started while still on the mend.
The rules of the project are simple, to allow for greater flexibility in project selection and also to preserve an outside life for myself.
For one year, starting January 20, 2011, I am committing to an average of one volunteer act per day.
The act must involve:
A.) Physically traveling to a location other than my apartment or office
B.) A minimum one-hour time commitment
C.) Ostensible benefit to someone other than myself or my friends and family
On days when weather, illness, travel, prior engagements, or general sloth prevent me from fulfilling my obligation, I will make up the time by doubling up on subsequent days.
Funds raised for this project will go toward the creation of a grassroots cervical cancer awareness campaign targeting young women, an area that has been woefully lacking as the virus spread over the past decade.
I am in the process of setting up a licensed non-profit in the state of New York, so please check back in the coming month if you are interested in helping fund this project.
Thanks for your support!