Cardiogirl 19 percent body fat 100 percent fun


giving back to Gilda's Club


Alright, today I have a shameless plug with a philanthropic goal in mind. This is the shameless plug: Please visit this site and vote for my blog. If I get the most votes, (by the end of August 2007 -- tell your friends to vote, too) I will earn $50 by winning first place (and you know how competitive I am). Should I reach that goal, I plan to donate the $50 to Gilda's Club here in Michigan. There is a monetary prize for second and third place and, honestly, any money I might win will gladly be donated to Gilda's Club. (If I do earn the money, I'll post a photo of Gilda's Club and the person at Gilda's receiving the check. That'll keep me honest.)

Now onto the philanthropic part: As you may know, I had thyroid cancer and had my thyroid removed. I never had any symptoms and the only reason I had a physical was because my husband and I were planning on starting a family. I thought it would be a good idea to have a general physical before we embarked on that venture.

I remember sitting on the exam table with the doctor's hands around my throat (sort of in a choke hold) and him saying over and over, "Swallow. Swallow. Again. Swallow." He wasn't extremely alarmed, but I think he could see that I wasn't very concerned. He stressed that I needed to make an appointment with the endocrinologist before I left the hospital that day.

It took roughly two months from the physical to get an actual diagnosis of cancer. During that time I didn't have a (medical) care in the world. Waiting for test results was somewhat meaningless to me; I went to the appointment and then promptly forgot about it. So it was a surprise when my husband called me at 7:15 am at work one day and asked if the doctor had called me yet.

I didn't know what he was talking about, since I had forgotten about the medical test and the appointment. I actually said to my husband, "What doctor?" This is how unconcerned I was. All of that changed very quickly. Two months after that I was recuperating from a thyroidectomy. I was fortunate since I did not require any more treatment after the surgery -- no radiation, no chemo.

For me, having cancer was kind of like planning on browsing a fancy boutique but ending up getting mugged at gun point instead. I had a different expectation when I started the journey and came out of the experience alive, but I was traumatized in the process. Something very important was taken away from me and I had to really work at recovering.

As luck would have it, Gilda's Club (the first in Michigan) opened just weeks before my surgery. It is located roughly two miles from my house. A couple of months after my surgery I joined the Club and met so many wonderful people. Everything at Gilda's Club is free. As a member, I attended a weekly support group. I really credit Gilda's Club with my mental and emotional recovery.

My support group met on Tuesday nights at 7 pm. I really grew to care for all of the people in my group and struggled as quite a few of them died from cancer. I remember sitting on the couch one night listening to a new member talk about her experience. She was bald and she had really intense, bright blue eyes. As she was talking something inside of me changed and I truly felt I was seeing this woman's soul as she spoke.

I realized that the outer package (our faces, eyes, hair style, etc.) is just an identifier, if you will, for all of us to know who is who. But it is our soul, what's inside of us, that really defines each one of us. At that moment, I really felt God had blessed me with having cancer. It radically changed me and my outlook on life.

I met that woman with the intense blue eyes for the first time on a Tuesday night. The next week at our meeting I found out she had died. I really took that hard. I didn't know her, and yet meeting her just one time for one hour changed my life in a profound way.

I am so thankful for Gilda's Club. I would love to be able to earn this money through my writing and to be able to give back to an organization that helped me in so many ways.

Thanks for listening.


2007-08-15 at 6:22 a.m.

last post | next post