Alert “06880” reader Amy Kaplan asked me to mention an upcoming event — one very close to her heart.
But I could never have done it the justice she does. Today’s post is hers.
I have been a cancer survivor for almost 17 years. I can’t even remember when my identity was not “cancer survivor.”
BC — Before cancer — I flew airplanes (my passion). I was a ballet dancer and windsurfer. I worked out often, and was planning my first sky dive.
Abruptly, all that changed. I went from fearsome to fearful. Most of my treasured activities were taken away.
It even became hard to continue with my Westport teaching job. Ultimately I retired early, to start my own tutoring service.
Lance Armstrong once said, “Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.” That is so true.
I started my journey as a fit size 6. But I could no longer fly, dance or work out as I had.
My body was weaker. I did not recognize my new size 14.
At first I attended support groups in Fairfield County. But once it appeared my life was not at stake — only my recovery — they were no longer relevant to my needs.
Physical trainers did not know how to help. They pushed hard, and I was in pain. Sadness took over. I lost my relationship, my fit body, and my favorite activities.
Luckily I heard of the post-resource treatment program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. It’s designed to meet the needs of cancer survivors who are no longer in treatment. The survivorship programs were great, but finding the energy to get to New York after a day of teaching became daunting. Even on non-teaching days, the train and subway were just too much.
Then I found CT Challenge. Money was being raised for a survivorship center in Southport (now open to all cancer survivors and their caregivers). It had every program I needed: exercise, nutrition and emotional support.
A bike ride every July is their major fundraising event. I jumped right in. First I volunteered. For a few years I raised money as a “virtual” rider. The last 2 years, I have been well enough to ride.
And each year on my birthday, I organize an event to raise money. One year it was a barbecue; another, a party at Joe’s Pizzeria.
This year’s event is an art show at Max’s Art Supplies in Westport.
Many of the artists have a cancer connection. From June 1 to 15, their work will be displayed in the store window (68 Post Road East, near Restoration Hardware).
Then on Saturday, June 15 (4 to 6 p.m.) it’s for sale. Anywhere from 40 to 100% of the price will be donated to CT Challenge.
I hope to see you there to purchase art, help CT Challenge — and celebrate my birthday.(Can’t attend, but interested in donating anyway? Click here!)