As you probably guessed, based on my lack of updates, my last couple of weeks have been SUPER busy! I apologize for not getting to this, but I suppose, in some way, it's a good thing that I haven't had anything major to update you all on! :)
So, I'll kind of start with the activities that have kept me away from here.
Two weekend ago, I was asked to take part in the Home Run For Life at a Spring Training game. Phoenix has the Cactus League for the MLB, which means that many of the major league teams do their Spring Training here. We have several stadiums all over the valley, and CTCA has partnered up with the one in Goodyear, AZ. During many of the games, CTCA features a patient to walk or run the bases in an event called the "Home Run For Life." And, I was asked to take part in it - again. I did it last year, but I am pretty sure that I forgot to post about it. Woops!
Anyways, we (my family, my parents, and some good friends) all got to go to the game, and between 2nd and 3rd innings, my family and parents and I walked down to the field. I stood at home plate, and the announcer read a quick bio of me, which I had written while I was in infusion the day prior. The crowd was super supportive, cheering me on as the announcer sent me on my way. Along the first base line, the Oakland A's stood, cheering me on and high-five-ing me as I walked to first base. I ran from first to second and then to third, waving to my friends and family up in the outfield, and then met up with the Cincinnati Reds on the third base line, where they cheered me along to home plate. At home plate, my family and my parents met me, along with some folks from CTCA. It was awesome. At the end, the manager from the Reds presented me with a certificate, indicating that I was an honorary Red for the day.
As I walked off the field, the crowd cheered me on and as I walked up the stairs from the field, a lady asked me to sign her A's hat (she had many of the players signatures on there)....it was so weird and yet, so cool! As we walked back to the pavilion where the CTCA crowd stood, another lady asked for a picture with me. It was definitely a unique experience. The kids loved it - and, it meant so much to me to have them go through this wonderful experience with me.
The rest of the day was spent enjoying good food and America's pasttime, and lots of chatting with friends. We were exhausted, in the best way possible, by Sunday night.
What else have I been doing? Quite a bit with CTCA. I was asked to take part in a stakeholder symposium on colon cancer, and to talk about my experience as a patient. As they introduced me, they pulled up a picture of my kids on the projector, which started the waterworks, and really defined how my short talk went. Overall, I think it had a positive impact and will hopefully (and most importantly) influence stakeholders and their families to get tested for colon cancer.
I also took part in an amazing event at CTCA called "Celebrate Life," Each year, the hospitals hold a spectacular event honoring those patients (active treatment, remission, cured...everyone!) that have been treating with them for five years. As this was CTCA's 5th year of being open, the number of celebrants got much bigger. This year, they had 35 patients to celebrate with! I was asked to be an ambassador for two celebrants, which was truly an honor. I was there to help make sure they were at events on time, and to help them out in any way I could. In all honesty, it was a humbling experience, and truly, truly my honor.
This weekend, I took part in a Survivorship Symposium, put on by the local AZ chapter of the Colon Cancer Alliance. I learned a lot, got to see some friends who I have been missing, and made some new connections. They hope to make this an annual event, and I know it will be a success each year. They did a great job with bringing in speakers who had a passion for the cause, who spoke from the heart and who brought a wonderful perspective to the symposium.
Goodness....my fingers are tired just from all of that. You can imagine how tired I was, in a wonderful way, after each event. This month, being Colon Cancer Awareness Month, has been busy, but I am so proud of the work being done and so excited to see how this movement has grown. There has been a ton of activity all over the country, and people are becoming less afraid to talk about this disease. Such a change from almost 6 years ago, when I was first diagnosed. I think back to how afraid I was, how alone I was. And now? I have an amazing network of survivors and professionals that I can ask questions, talk with, and just feel that sense of community that is so essential to survivorship.
I am still on treatment, Xeloda (week on, week off) and Erbitux every two weeks. The rash is still there, and has extended almost completely down my back now. My care manager was talking about potentially holding off chemo for a week, to give my body (and my skin) time to heal a bit more. We'll see how that plays out. Meanwhile, I am continuing to go on with life, and to pursue some exciting things that I can't speak of yet, but have potential to be amazing. :)