People have asked me "why?" Here is my story...
In November 1999 I was diagnosed with two cancers - cervical and uterine. The cervical cancer was not a complete surprise because of some past test results but the uterine cancer floored me.
When confronted with any problem my first reaction is to find out more so I can figure out what to do next so I started researching this uterine cancer. The very first page I read told me that I had only a 24% chance of surviving this cancer. I couldn't read anymore. I called my doctor who did an amazing job explaining the statistic. You see there isn't a test for this type of cancer. It was only through the grace of God that my doctor discovered the cancerous uterine cells while investigating the cervical cancer. Usually this cancer is not discovered until after it has spread to other organs. At that point your options are very limited. Fortunately my doctor found this cancer at a fairly early stage. I had my first surgery less than a week later followed by a second surgery six weeks after that. Then I got to wait ten days to find out if I had to go through chemo and radiation. I am so grateful that I did not. I don't even want to imagine what that would have been like.
So why do I walk? In my personal battle with cancer there are a couple of experiences that I want to share that best explain why I make this commitment.
The understanding of what I had almost lost to cancer came to me on the top of a nearly deserted ski run a couple seasons ago. It was a cold, clear morning - the first time I'd been able to get back to the mountain since my surgeries. I stood on top of the run looking across the valley to the mountains. The sun was shining, the wind was calm and I was one of the first to come down this particular run. It was one of those moments of perfect calm that don't happen nearly enough. Looking around it came to me in a rush just how fortunate I was to be standing there. I had been given a second chance on life. Suddenly the things that are really important to me came into clear focus - my family, friends and the opportunity to experience every single thing that makes up our life. This moment of clarity continues to impact the decisions I make every day. I share this experience with you because the only reason I was able to stand on top of that mountain was the early detection and quick treatment of my cancers. Without that the cancers would have spread and my choices would have been much more limited. Early detection quite literally saved my life. I want everyone to have the same opportunity to be screened and treated if necessary. Screening is so important and unfortunately not nearly as accessible as it needs to be.
The second experience I want to share is not as specific as the first. It instead revolves around the wonderful support system I had around me as I went through my experience with cancer. The very hardest part of this for me was watching my family and friends have to deal with my illness. Having to tell my husband Jeff and my boys that I had cancer, watching my friends' eyes fill with tears when I told them, watching the people I care about the most experience the fear that the word "cancer" brings is something I don't want anyone to ever have to go through. Realistically I know that is not possible, but if I can do something that goes towards medical research to end this disease forever then that's where you are going to find me.
In a nutshell, that's why I continue to walk...