Amy Kaplan Challenges Cancer

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.

Amy Kaplan

Amy Kaplan

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.

Amy Kaplan, with her bike.

Amy Kaplan, with her bike.

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!)
Amy Kaplan: survivor!

Amy Kaplan: survivor!

10 responses to “Amy Kaplan Challenges Cancer

  1. Your story is a reminder of sheer determination’s value to us all, Amy. Stay with it and warm, good wishes to you. –Karl Decker

    • KDEK–I thought of you (and actually mentioned you to Dan) as I was writing the article. YOU taught me how to become a better writer. Thank you.

  2. I teach yoga at the ct challenge, Amy is one of my students and a total inspiration to all!!!!!

  3. Meaghan Carey

    Ms. Kaplan was a great science teacher and I was confused as to how didn’t know about her cancer until I realized that she was my teacher more than 17 years ago (which is sort of painful to realize). Glad you are doing so well and I wish Dan had his blog back then so your former students could have offered you our support.

  4. Hannah DeQuadros

    Great story. Like Meagan, I remember Ms. Kaplan as a great teacher although I wasn’t very fond of science. I still remember building submarines in her class for Yellow Submarine Night. Ms. Kaplan must have been battling cancer around the time I was her student but I have no recollection of her being ill. Hopefully we were (mostly) well behaved teenagers and didn’t add to her stress. I’m glad to hear she is doing well and has been a survivor for all these years. Here’s to many more! -Hannah (O’Brien-Rupert) DeQuadros

  5. Oh, Meaghan, so glad to read your comment. I remember you fondly. You had such spirit. Let me know what you are up to–

  6. And, Hannah, I remember you, too! I’m glad I didn’t let me health interfere with my students’ education.

  7. Amy is a true warrior and we are glad to have her support at the CT Challenge. Keep it up!!!

  8. Amy "C" Kaplan

    Good job, namesake – see you on our birthday mid-point!

  9. Will be biking the CT Challenge this year as well as the Hartford ING Marathon. Need a WAR ON CANCER instead of these silly military battles that merely mess up another generation.