BENEFITING: STUPID CANCER
ORGANIZER: STUPID CANCER
EVENT DATE: Mar 30, 2012
HOURS PLEDGED: 1,280
Mileage Tracker: 12,000
It’s not okay!
It's not okay that every 8 minutes, a young adult is diagnosed with cancer and every hour a young adult loses their battle to cancer. Cancer is now the #1 disease killer in young adults.
On February 15, 2007, during a much-needed and thoroughly enjoyable nap with my two year old, I received a call from my endocrinologist. Her british accent and normally strong voice sounded much softer and timid than usual, like a 16 year old boy getting ready to ask me out on a date. Instead she said "Colleen, I don't have good news." Immediately my brain chatter began...of course you don't. How could you? Doctors don't call in the middle of the afternoon unexpectedly with good news. Wait. Wait. Wait. Why IS she calling? Shit. That biopsy I had on Monday. The one she told me she was sure was NOT cancer. The one where she pierced my neck three times with a needle while my toddler sat waiting for me - revelling in her stickers, her sucker and all the gadgets - while I assured her this was just like when mommy clips her nails. The one where I was unusually calm and left the office with with my doctor telling me "98% of these tumors are completely benign and I do not see anything here that is making me think otherwise. This is not cancer, Colleen." What about the bouts of paralysis? No. What about the weight loss? No. The chunks of hair that had started to fall out? No. Not cancer. Phew! I can just go on my merry way. Pick up some McDonald's for my kid as a treat for being such a good girl, head home to prepare for a day full of auditions and hit the gym for my regular 5 mile run.
Other than my bruised neck, I had completely forgotten that after a biopsy comes results. I rolled over that night after my biopsy and said to my husband "this is really weird...I'm totally calm...oh gosh, is it the calm before the storm? Haa haa. Good night."
Two days after that I accepted the call that will forever be known as "the storm." I had cancer. I stopped listening after the doctors quivering voice said "I'm so sorry, Colleen. I did not expect to be making this call." I think I said "Oh...um, OK. So, now what do I do." I know she expected me to breakdown, because she has gotten to know me very well over this last year through the kazillions of tests and "inconclusive" results. Through the frustration and after a few months...the tears that started to come out of nowhere. But, I did not breakdown. Truth be told, I think I was still half asleep and half in shock. I started writing down what she was saying to me as if I were a robot and later realized that I had been able to pull out shorthand that I didn't even know I remembered and surely have only used during a class I took while a sophmore in high school. Thyroid cancer...most treatable...full thyroidectomy...radiation w/ radioactive iodine...call surgeon...it will be OK...95% cure rate...it will be OK. I didn't notice until after I hung up the phone, but I started doing lamaze breathing - in through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth. I hung up the phone and started to shake...now what? OK, I have about 30 minutes before my baby wakes up from her nap. I have a baby. I have cancer. I have Lola and I have cancer. I am in the best shape of my life, things are finally going my way, I am finally a successful WORKING actor, I am married to the love of my life, my beautiful child, the plan for another child in the works. Damn it! This is not supposed to happen NOW. I am too young. What the f*ck?! Update: This year, due likely in part to my treatment for cancer, I was diagnosed with Lupus - in incurable, sometimes fatal, autoimmune disease. This is just another example why I'm Too Young for This! is important. We don't stop when cancer is supposed to. We go beyond a cure and we deal with survivorship and what comes during, after and beyond.
Becoming a part of The I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation has changed my life and the lives of so many young adult survivors and thrivors. The largest support community of young adult survivors and caregivers in the US (www.stupidcancer.com), they give all of us a voice and raise awareness for the unique issue that we face - issues like isolation, fertility, secuality, dating, insurance, career building and more. The OMG! Cancer Summit is a pivitol event that brings together hundreds of young adult survivors, thrivors & caregivers for a one-of-a-kind experience of healing, education and community. NO ONE SHOULD GO THROUGH CANCER ALONE. The OMG! Cancer Summit makes this possible. Please donate or join our team and support efforts to ensure that young adult survivors get the chance to attend this event and participate in a life-affirming weekend of support, education, community and hope.
Stupid cancer. Survivors rule.
“The OMG! Summit taught me to keep fighting, be my own advocate and never give up, no matter what the doctor says.”
"I loved meeting new people as well as seeing old friends in person who I’d only known through Facebook.”
“The OMG! Summit and the sheer enormity of our community has left me more inspired than ever."
“I made so many new connections. I can't wait to spread more awareness about young adult cancer.”
“What an amazing, life-changing and inspiring weekend.”