Friday, November 7, 2008

Amber's Story

I have never been much of a fundraiser/activist for anything in my life. I mostly cared about living my life the way most average Americans do. Get the 9-5 job, settle down, get married and have children. That all changed when I was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago. I finished my treatment in 4 months and went back to my so called “normal” life- my job, planning my wedding and basically sticking to my original plan. I came back to work and although I really love what I do, it didn’t seem like enough. I soon realized that cancer wasn’t just a bump in the road for me that I could get past after 4 months. It really opened my eyes and made me feel like I needed to take action for those who couldn’t. I decided I needed to start volunteering to help those I saw in the hospital who weren’t as fortunate as I was, whether it is a more advanced form of cancer, battling insurance or finding a way to afford their medication.

Although I am new to this, I decided to jump right in and take on as much as could. I signed up with Ulman Cancer Fund and have volunteered to help on a few different occasions; I have also helped to create a program at the hospital that provides knit hats to patients losing their hair due to treatment (the real hero for this program is my nurse Trish). But so far my greatest accomplishment (keep in mind I am new to fundraising) was that over the past 2 years I have raised over $9000 for a well known cancer organization. That money goes to help patients who can’t afford their medications, need transportation for treatments or just a resource to turn to when they need answers. I participated in a walk (like any other cancer walk) and solicited friends, family, and co-workers (basically anyone whose email address I had who wouldn’t think it was spam) for donations or to join my team. This was such an easy and fun way to raise money. It’s a simple walk, less than a mile, and last year 29 people joined my team and the team raised $4200 (I thought we raised so much because I had just finished treatment so people felt the need to do something).

This year I again sent out the emails, I didn’t discriminate this time- if your name was in my address book, you got an email (probably more than 1) from me. I really wasn’t expecting a huge response since I have been in remission for almost 2 years, but to my surprise word of mouth got around about the walk. I had almost 40 people sign up and we raised over $5000. I won’t lie- I did sort of bribe people by throwing a huge party at my house before and after the walk so that may have contributed to the success, but in the end all I cared about was raising money to help others. I had quite a few people ask me about my plans for next year’s party because they had some friends who may want to contribute and join the team. I have a feeling the team membership and the donations will continue to increase and my parties might eventually have to up the ante and include some fantastic display of fireworks to show my appreciation, but for now we’ll take it one year at a time.

There are so many people out there battling this terrible disease and although I can’t afford to leave my job to volunteer as much as I would like to, the things I have done so far takes so little effort, but have a huge impact. It has definitely made my life after cancer much more fulfilling.

Amber Schad

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cold and Windy Days

"It is easy to begin something new...the hard part is to see it through"

This past Tuesday CANCER to 5K group workout (October 28th) was not for the faint of heart. It was the first Tuesday night workout on a new track with lights. (Washington & Lee High School in Arlington, VA) It was ALSO the first really bitter cold day of the Fall.

Nothing says ENDURANCE and STRENGTH quite like showing up for a workout when the sun is down, the wind is blowing and the temperatures drop. There we were, myself and assistant coach Arnetta, huddled against the far wall of the track, staying out of the wind until the workout officially began - taking bets on if we would be running alone. One by One, through the bitter wind, a few runners came out.

While our group stayed small (5 runners in all), we were surrounded, by the end of the workout, by no less than 20 other runners from different groups who had met to workout at the track. All of us out in the bitter wind and darkness, running in circles, keeping our commitment to health and fitness.

The moment was the perfect reminder, that no matter what your goal is - running a 5K, completing chemotherapy, recovering from surgery, training for a triathlon, raising money for Team Fight or any of the many worth while charities - there will inevitably come a moment when it would be easier to "take a day off" rather than face the "cold wind and darkness" and push through on the path to your goal.

That is when it helps to gather your TEAM (family, friends, doctors, teammates) around you - and brave the challenge together.

24 days to race day! Live STRONG!

-Holly Gannoe, Assistant Coach

"Young Adult Cancer Survivors Giving New Meaning to the work ENDURANCE...One Mile at a Time!"

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