Last Modified: May 25, 1997
On Monday, I was dancing, and on Friday, I had no leg! The diagnosis - Lymphangio Sarcoma. The treatment - amputation and nine months of chemotherapy. After doing everything I was supposed to, I still had a recurrence. The choices presented to me were either a new chemotherapy, or further amputation to the hip. I wound up having both, plus 6 weeks of radiation. Up to this point, as far as I was concerned, the doctors were in charge. Now, I was ready to become involved with my medical team in this very critical fight for my recovery.
Painfully self-conscious, with barely any self-esteem, and terribly frightened, I came to The Wellness Community. I cannot emphasize enough how it helped me to have people to talk to who were living with cancer. Being with survivors living with cancer was as potent and essential a part of my treatment as chemotherapy and radiation. In The Wellness Community support group I was able to talk about the things I longed to talk about and even what I didn't want to talk about, but needed to address. My big issue was, "What am I going to do about feeling so different and noticeable?" Before The Wellness Community, I was the kind of person who didn't like being "different." Believe me, "blending in" isn't easy when you have one leg. I couldn't stand it when children would point at me. With the help of my group, I learned to stop being so "deferential," to stand up for myself. I gained self-esteem. No one in the group ever tried to tell me what to do. What they did was support my choices and tell me about the hard choices they were making in their fight for recovery. The day I brought up the subject of amputee skiing the groups encouragement gave me the courage to give it a try.
Learning to ski was my starting point. With the support of my group, I saw that I could do things - that I could take risks. This was the beginning of many new paths, including learning how to ride a bike, and going back to school to get my teaching degree. Every step of the way, The Wellness Community was there to give me support as I reached out and gained confidence. In addition to my support group, attending many different workshops at The Wellness Community was also helpful to me. My favorite workshop was art therapy, because it was there that the transformation took place that my crutches were no longer a symbol in my mind of what was different about me, but became a symbol to me of my courage.
Today, I have my degree and elementary school credential. I stand daily before those very children I feared would point at me. I ski, bike and take long walks. I even walk in the Revlon Run/Walk each year on The Wellness Community team. I now have self-confidence that I never had before. Today, thanks to The Wellness Community, I feel like I can do most anything!