Andrea and Samuel Severson via Crowdrise
May 19, 2011
BENEFITING: NATIONAL LGBT CANCER NETWORK INC
ORGANIZER: NATIONAL LGBT CANCER NETWORK INC
EVENT DATE: Nov 06, 2011
December 22, 2009 is a day forever etched into my memory. It is the day my partner and I received the results of her breast biopsy. The phone call came in the afternoon, while we were out at a local shopping mall. We had decided that morning we needed a strategy for occupying ourselves, beyond watching the hands move on our living room clock. We spent the day wandering aimlessly from store to store, knowing we would receive a phone call at any time and trying to maintain hope. The phone rang and time seemed to pause, temporarily.
My memories of the next several minutes are audio and visual snapshots, frozen in time. <Click> I see my partner slowly sinking to the ground and handing me the phone. <Click> The doctor’s voice sounds urgent. <Click> The doctor tells me, “Andréa, Karen does not comprehend what I am saying. She has Stage 3 breast cancer.” <Click> Followed by, “You need to seek treatment immediately.” <Click> “Yes, cancel your Christmas vacation plans.” <Click> Finally, “Karen is going to be a survivor.” <Click>. After the phone call I quickly put on a brave face, told Karen her diagnosis and assured her that we were going to “beat” cancer. Truthfully, inside, I was very frightened and knew nothing about how we were going to battle cancer.
Beating cancer requires a lot of strength and inner reflection. I thought to myself and aloud to others, “Where am I going to find the strength necessary to beat cancer, parent our three-year-old child, and continue finding enjoyment and meaning in my life?” I also wondered how Karen would cope and how I could help her cope. It didn’t take me long before I decided to find my strength and solace in running. Running has amazing parallels to life. If Karen was going to battle cancer, I would move my daily running into training for a marathon. The parallel seemed appropriate. My training and Karen’s treatment would both extend over many months and crossing the finish line seemed a great way to celebrate the ending of Karen’s treatment and to mark the battle against cancer as “won!” Running kept me steady and strong for the eleven months of Karen’s treatment (chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation), and I crossed the Cocoa Beach marathon finish line (November 28, 2010) five days after her final radiation treatment. We had battled and had beaten cancer!
The battle to keep cancer at bay requires consistent change in survivors’ and partners’ lives. Karen had always been very active, especially in dance and yoga. She modified her routine throughout her treatment and took yoga classes with breast cancer survivors. Her exercise helped her to connect with others and helped her confidence and strength throughout her battle. She is now taking daily yoga classes, weekly dance classes, and also incorporates walking. Exercise is an awesome measure for her to assess her progress and to regain confidence and trust in her body. Likewise, I have continued to train for marathons, including the Flying Pig marathon on May 1, 2011. We are both committed to the battle against cancer and understand firsthand the important role exercise has in the prevention and treatment of cancer and the quality of life for patients/survivors and their partners.
To honor the treatment and life of my partner and to fulfill one of my life dreams, my younger brother and I are running the New York City marathon this year!! We have teamed with the National LGBT Cancer Network Inc. The National LGBT Cancer Network addresses the need of LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk through educating the LGBT community about our increased cancer risks and the importance of screening/early detection; training healthcare providers to offer more culturally competent, safe and welcoming care to LGBT patients; and advocating for LGBT inclusion in national cancer organizations, research and media. We are now participants in their team “LGBT Solvitur Ambulando.” “Solvitur Ambulando" in Latin, means to solve things through walking...to find spiritual answers through walking. Walking, like our running, can be powerfully meditative and healing, especially for folks battling cancer. The money raised through your donations will be used to develop a program that encourages exercise within our LGBT communities and, therefore, helps to improve our health and longevity.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. -- Confucius