In May 2013, the Women Survivors Alliance asked women everywhere to submit essays, writing on this theme: Cancer was the journey, survivorship was the destination. How have you used what you learned?
Essays poured in from all over the world, with women eager to share their experiences with one another. In this essay, Sister Survivor Tina Adams shares how she found her cancer’s purpose.
I am fearless! Well I used, to be. I have jumped off piers, photographed wild black bears, swum with wild manatees and flew an open-air biplane. I did not fear what others called dangerous ventures. I was crazy, I never thought once about death, until August 25, 2009, when I heard the words “You have cancer.”
At first I was shocked and confused, then depressed and scared. I had never experienced this emotion before. It was fear. Fearing something that is inside your own body was a surreal experience. When I was faced with never holding my sweet husband’s hand again or watching my daughters laugh, I realized life was indeed precious and fragile. I decided I was not going to let fear ruin my life. I decided to fight against all those killer cells.
I had a radical hysterectomy 2 weeks later, underwent 5 weeks of radiation and 6 months of chemotherapy. I struggled through it all. It was the scariest and hardest thing I had ever done in my 34 years of life. But it was all worth it! I can say I did it – I fought the battle of a lifetime and won. I am cancer free!
Throughout my journey, I continuously looked for the reason this happened to me. People told me that sometimes things happened in life for NO reason. That statement just didn’t settle with me. So I decided to MAKE a reason. I wanted to tell my story hoping to raise awareness and save lives. If I help just one person and their life is spared in the face of cancer, then I have found my reason.
So from my chemo chair, I started a non-profit organization called Walk of Women. I saw a need to raise awareness for gynecological cancers. I want women to be aware of changes in their bodies and feel comfortable about talking to someone about these changes. Early detection is key to all cancers.
In three years I have hosted four 7k fundraising walks, which have helped my mission to raise awareness of gynecological cancers and fund a program called Wellness of Women (WOW). The WOW program provides financial assistance for women who have been diagnosed with a gynecological cancer. We pay for medications, transportation, wigs, doctor appointments and anything else that will help make their cancer journey easier. We also host a monthly support group called Words of Wisdom, for patients and survivors to inspire and empower one another.
Women need to know where to turn when they are told they have cancer. WOW wants to help them feel connected and encouraged during their journey. We have raised $52,000 and helped over 85 women thus far.
The reason I had cancer was to help other women fight during their battle to survivorship. Now it’s your turn to find your reason.