2017 Participant/Breast Cancer Survivor
September Lake Tahoe, CA
This story is not so much about me and yet is was all about me. I never once thought about my treatment during my Little Pink Retreat. It was about healing – healing for me and my family. I was so excited when my boys and I were picked. We so needed this vacation. I had been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2015. Since that time, I finished my Master’s in Nursing at NYU , continued working as a nurse so as not to lose my benefits (and I also I love my job), began working one day a week as an NP, moved ( always looking for that elusive cheaper rent in NYC) went through a divorce this year and have gone through 7 treatments including 3 trials and was supposed to start s new treatment on return. The week before my flight I noticed my gait was off at work. My leg was pulling to the right and I was feeling dizzy. I asked my oncologist to draw all kinds of blood work hoping for an infection but knew when it came back negative and we discussed an MRI of the brain what was in store. I had emergency radon knife surgery the day before my flights scheduled but I was still planning on going come hell or high water. This was not the trip I envisioned. Yet, it could not have come at a better time. The trauma of my surgery for the boys was devastating. My parents came to take me to surgery and my girlfriends came over to take care of me my boys and, help me pack and take care of our cat and our apartment for the week. I called Little Pink asking if I could take my mom with me as I could no longer drive and I was shocked by how accommodating they were. From the moment we got to the meet-up place everything was taken care of. I was initially worried I would scare the other families. I thought maybe they were early stage. At every cancer place people with metastatic disease are always separated from those with early stage disease and initially, this bothered me ( and sometimes still does). Initially I kept to myself but volunstars came to me and shared their stories and little by little I learned of other people’s diagnosis and their struggles and I was no longer afraid to share my story. Our vacation house was switched so I could remain on the first floor. My boys could see me slowly get a little better each day without worrying about day to day things. Every meal and activity was thoughtfully planned and thoroughly enjoyed. We were surrounded by love, nature, and beauty. I was able to spend time with my mom and the boys and got wonderful gifts EVERY day (bring an extra bag for gifts). But most of all it was the incredible energy of the voluntstars and the love that surrounded us that made me want to get up each day and go to the activities. I loved seeing the smiles on my boys faces. I loved never having to prepare a meal. I loved sitting around a gorgeous fire at night doing a puzzle together and spending time together as a family. I also loved that my teenage boys had their own space if and when they need it. I loved every minute. Even though we shared our stories I didn’t think about cancer or treatments once. I was there, I was present. I was in the moment. I was grateful. I was blessed – and Yes Jeannie you were right I hated you guys the first day I came home and no longer had my chauffeur, or my volunstar and had to take public transportation during rush hour from Brooklyn to Washington Heights for my daily radiation treatments. But when I got home I fell asleep and in my dream I heard the doorbell ringing and wondered why the butler didn’t get it. After more incessant doorbell ringing I realized I did not have a butler and it was my son just getting home from school who forgot his keys – I opened the door of course – and returned back to dreaming of another Little Pink Retreat.