Posts tagged ‘survivor’

It’s OK to go Quiet

I recently renewed the domain name to this blog and realized I’ve not written one post all year. ALL YEAR!

team-in-dc

With my team in D.C. for our 8th annual Call-on Congress

Part of that is unintentional. Working at Fight Colorectal Cancer means that it’s “go time” right when January starts. For two months we work nonstop in preparations for March – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And then once March hits – we’re in a flurry of activity. I’ve ridden in more airplanes, subways and taxis the past three weeks than I have in my entire life.

And every second’s been worth it.

So, I’m just now slowing down after a crazy few months and personally blogging again. And while my activities have taken up the majority of my time, my schedule isn’t the only excuse for not blogging lately. There’s another reason.

Not all of this journey is public. And honestly, I didn’t feel like it.

If I’ve given awareness to anything over the years, I hope it’s a few things:  colorectal cancer in general; a hope that faith can carry you through anything; and, the realization that this disease has many layers and can hit you in different ways.

At the One Million Strong Kickoff in NYC's Grand Central Terminal

At the One Million Strong Kickoff in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal

The KC Star ran my story in January through a full-page spread in the FYI section and an AP-syndicated story that followed. It was certainly gracious of them, and unexpected by me. I had no idea my little birthday bash would soon become a headline story across the U.S. (or I guess the world, since an Australia newspaper picked it up.) For the past several months I’ve seen my face behind The Colossal Colon in many news feeds and articles on a nearly daily basis.

Between my job at Fight CRC and the publicity of my birthday party, I’ve had more doors open to share my story than ever before. Hospital newsletters, Sirius Radio, colon cancer walks, the Today Show… just to name a few. And while all of this has been amazingly awesome… I’ve not blogged about it much.

Because not everything is public.

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At the Blue is the New Black party to celebrate One Million Strong kickoff

No, there are no secrets I’m hiding. My marriage is great. Daughter is amazing. All-in-all, things are going really awesome here. But in the midst of a crazy few months, I’ve taken the slow moments I do have to soak it all in and process how I’m feeling – and not through the Internet. Sharing links to social media are easy. Writing blog posts about the experiences – not as much. While this blog is an amazing tool to share my life and my thoughts with others, I’m learning it’s OK to not share everything. Or at least right away.

There are some moments reserved just for me and my family. Some experiences that I’ve wanted to process and think through before posting about. Some days that weren’t ready for the headlines. And I’ve come to let myself be OK with that.

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At the White House, receiving a copy of the presidential proclamation for March 2014 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Some who go through cancer or really, hard times in general, speak out right away. Others take a little while to get there and find their voice. And for me, I’ve gone back forth depending on the season. Sometimes I’m ready to say a lot; other times not so much. And what I’ve learned over the past three months of my “blog silence” is that it’s all part of the journey. God uses our experiences to help others when we’re ready. But sometimes that takes a bit of time to get there – or at least some time to process things personally before they inspire others publicly.

There’s no one way to fight or survive cancer. The different layers and phases are all part of the journey. Sometimes I speak out and blog about what’s happening. Other times, I don’t. Going quiet is OK. But, as this blog post shows, I don’t stay quiet for long.

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March 22, 2014 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Crawling The Colon Into 30

It hit me early into this year that my 30th would be approaching. A complex bag of emotions soon arrived at my emotional doorway. My birthday is always bittersweet to me – it’s something about surviving and celebrating another year that gets me into this weird state of woeful yet sentimental and thankful. But this year, I was entering a new decade to top things off. A decade that if we were to be honest, many of my family, friends and doctors might have doubted that I see a near 13 years ago. A decade that like it or not (I loved my twenties), I was about to enter.

I thought about planning trips and friends’ gatherings to celebrate the big bash, but nothing seemed to fit. Nothing except the idea of bringing the Crawl The Colon tour to Kansas City felt right. So we got plans rolling. And everything fell into place. I mean everything. Not even a rain/snowstorm the day before stopped us. Or should I say Mark, the most amazing, dedicated driver that left extra early to make sure the colon arrived for my big day. There was something about the way the event went down that I knew it was “meant to be.”

There are so many people to thank for helping make my big b-day event a great success (see a list of a few of them below…). Not only was it a “success” in terms of event planning and fundraising (we raised close to $3,000 and estimate that we had between 200-250 visitors that day); but I cannot say thank you enough to everyone for helping me enter a new era with excitement. Not only did my birthday event make me feel extremely loved, but it allowed me to share my passion for colorectal cancer and my faith with my community.

I could not have asked for a better way to enter this new decade. It’s an unforgettable memory that will forever be a highlight of my life.

Enjoy Some Pics…

THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored, donated, volunteered and promoted!

The location…

Sponsors…

For the silent auction donations…

For coffee and cookies…

For live music..

  • Adam Chiarelli
  • Levi Dalton
  • Jonathan & Malarie Tucker
  • Jeff Class

For promoting…

December 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm 3 comments

Carried

I met with my mentor a few days ago. I always walk away from the coffee shop where I meet her much more caffeinated. And, full of great perspective. She’s a wise lady.

She asked a common question, “How’s life?” and it wasn’t until that moment had I slowed down to really think about it. Life’s been really, really busy. And I’ve been going from one thing to the next for about two months now. But, in the midst of it, life’s been really, really good. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes:

Framily Vacay

metropolis-superman-statueWe took off the first of September with two of our great friends and had an all-out 10-day road trip. We ventured to Wilmington, North Carolina by way of Knoxville, Tennessee and had stops in Nashville, Asheville and Evansville along the way. Ten days in a van with a 3-year-old and great friends was splendid. Honestly. We saw the beach. The mountains. A huge Superman statue. And a big house (Biltmore.) It totally rocked.

I ran a 10K

It goes to show that I’ve been a tad bit busy since I never actually blogged to say that I DID IT! I ran the Plaza 10K in the middle of September and met my goal:  I survived. I had a great time. Got an awesome medal. And most importantly, conquered a fear that I’d never be able to run that far. What a journey God took me on through training and amazing people he used to get me to the finish line.

My baby turned three

princess-maddelenaWelp, it’s official. There’s no baby around here anymore. My little lady turned three. We had a small backyard princess party to celebrate complete with an actual LIVE princess showing up as we chomped on cupcakes and cookies. And while the age of three brings about sass and attitude, I actually love it. I’m forming a relationship with my girl. It’s awesome.

Aunt B’s got a new nephew

My brother and sister-in-law welcomed by little nephew into the world a week or so ago. And what a trooper he’s been – came a few weeks early, has had to hang in the hospital since he had a complication with his lung and is still learning to keep food down. But – he’s cute as a button and I can’t wait to snuggle him soon.

National website launch

I started my new job with Fight Colorectal Cancer in June and was tasked with overseeing our website redesign. Up to this point, my small business had helped with web launches over and over, but the size and scale of building a new national site with about double the content was new to me. But, I had an amazing team and by golly, we did it. And, I’m really happy with how it turned out. Take a peek:  FightColorectalCancer.org

Carried me Through

plaza-10kSo – as I thought about how to answer “How’s Life” this week, memories of these sweet moments and even more I didn’t list came to mind. And I could only think of one thing –

God is carrying me.

Sure, life’s been busy – some would say too busy. Being on the go can be hard. And in the past, with this hectic of a schedule, I’d be so stressed right now. I’d be unable to appreciate the great moments because of the lack of time to stop and process. I’d be sick. And maybe a tad grumpy.

But, that’s not the case. In the midst of the craziness, God’s shown me at every turn, nearly every day, what He’s up to and how He’s orchestrating things. I see Him in opportunities, challenges, relationships – He’s all over. And while that’s nothing new, what is new is that I recognize it.

The last time I felt like He’d picked me up and carried me through a season, I was receiving treatment. Or headed to surgery.

But in this latest season, He’s not carrying me through trial. He’s with me through triumph. I see his blessings all around.

And I’ve gotta say, I could really get used to this.

October 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

My Colon-Themed Weekend

Sometimes, I let my mind wander back to the hospital bed. I hear the beeps on machines pumping to carry fluids in and take fluids out. I feel the pain in my stomach from a fresh incision. I roll my eyes at the doctor’s voice reassuring me that “checking out” my tumor area will only take a minute. But I try to only let myself stay camped in those memories for a second. Because there are better ones to be dwelt upon.

Making New Memories

This weekend was big for me. And it gave me many new memories upon which to dwell. But these aren’t filled with trips to the bathroom or toilet paper. Instead, they’re full of moments I realized how blessed I am to be a survivor. Minutes I felt so loved and supported. Situations that made me realize I’m not alone. Instances that showed me I am strong.

Over the weekend I took part in several events related to my colon cancer. I shot a national PSA for Fight Colorectal Cancer. I ran in the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K in Kansas City with 50ish fellow team members, team B-Hinds. I had a “Colon Club” reunion with some fellow Colondar models. And most of all – I realized how lucky I am to still be here and going strong.

I’m Not On The Back of the T-Shirt

All cancer races feel somewhat like a running cemetery to me – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. But many times it’s those who’ve lost a loved one that come out for cancer events. Many form a team and rally the troops as a way to have a very personal Memorial Day. T-shirts and signs displaying the years their loved ones lived and the battle they fought are all around. It’s very moving. Especially when you’re a survivor.

At Saturday’s 5K GYRIG race, many t-shirts passed me along the 3 miles listing fellow survivors whose battles have since ended. I realized how fortunate I was to be out in the crowd – running in my black tutu and red beads. My name was listed on the race roster as the B-Hinds Team Captain. Not on the back of the shirt as a beloved daughter, wife, mama and friend.

Survivor’s guilt? Maybe just a little.

Humbled beyond belief? Absolutely.

After a weekend full of great friends, much love and a little sweat (I did run the whole 5K) – all I can really say is thank you. I’m blessed to still be here and have such an amazing community. And Jehovah-Rophe:  God is my healer.

Enjoy some pics…

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Shooting the PSA for Fight Colorectal Cancer – should come out in March!  Photo courtesy of Michael Sola

 

danielle-frank-white-psa

Did I mention that I got to meet Frank White at the PSA?

 

colon-cancer-survivor-family

Me, Mike and little Miss Mae out at the GYRIG 5K

grandparents-5k

All of my parents (also now known as the grandparents) came out for the 5K!

b-hinds-runners-5k

The runners from B-Hinds – we had 4 who placed in the race!

b-hinds-5k-team

Team B-Hinds ended up having around 50 people (including kids!) What an awesome experience!

 

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Me and two of my long-time best buds – Em & Leah

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My dearest friend Ber traveled over 3 hours with her family and her 9 month old to be on team B-Hinds.

colon-gurl-b-hinds

The Colon Gurl herself came all the way from Evansville, IN for my B-Hind

colondar-models-kc

Colon Club party! Colondar model Belle (Feb ’12), myself, Krista (president of Colon Club) and Colondar model Adam (Sept. ’12)

 

October 1, 2012 at 2:04 am Leave a comment

“No” is not the issue

I tend to stay pretty busy. Well, that may be an understatement. Really busy. And even after typing that, I feel the guilt coming on. Those email forwards about BUSY = “Being Under Satan’s Yolk” did have an impact on me although I didn’t think I gave them much weight. Grrr. And just admitting that we stay really active already has me feeling bad.

This week I had a conversation that got me thinking about my schedule and my life pace in general. I think looking from the outside in, it might seem that we … or at least I … have an issue with saying “no.” And while at times that’s certainly at play, this week I realized there’s more to it than that. I don’t say “no” so much because I want to say “yes” so much. And fortunately … or unfortunately … I live with the reality that if I don’t say “yes” today … there might not be another shot tomorrow.

Live Like You were Dyin’

cancer-survivor-stories-arch

Talk about live as we were dying – I went up in the St. Louis Arch again.

As a writer, I’m not a big fan of clichés. But I don’t know any other way to put it – my cancer survivorship really does make me appreciate and live for today. As I’ve reflected on my conversation this week, I’ve realized all the different ways this plays out in my life … even down to my schedule. I do stay really busy. But I’ve also had some awesome life experiences thus far because I said “yes” to an opportunity, or sought out the opportunity because of a passion or curiosity.

Sure, sometimes it is time to say “no.” The reality of timing, finances, responsibilities and overall health (physical, mental and emotional) does not make me exempt from needing to learn that little word and practice it more. And I do use it often when we need a break or extra rest. But I guess  as I continue to work out my survivorship and understand all of its implications, this is just part of it. “Live like you were dying” as the country singer says, is definitely part of my life.

More Birthdays?

I don’t make plans for my 50th birthday party. Or honestly, even my 40th. And it’s not because I don’t hope to have one, or even plan to have one. It’s because I don’t count on it. Regardless of if I see age 30, 40 or God-willing… even age 50 … I want to be glad I took the chances, experienced the opportunities and invested in the people along the way.  If I do make it to 50 – that will be great. A big party will ensue. However, in the event I don’t make it to 50 – I want to embrace it the best that I can. If there’s ever a “no tomorrow” may I still be counting my blessings because today in itself was pretty great.

July 14, 2012 at 8:10 am Leave a comment

A Third-World View of Survivorship

Over the past several days, I’ve had the opportunity to get together with Taylor. While unknown to most of the world, those who’ve seen the documentary Rainbow Town know who I’m talking about. Taylor is one of the children featured in a film about a Liberian orphanage and is currently traveling around the United States. My friend Amy hosted him over the weekend and today he spoke at our church. As I’ve gotten involved with Rainbow Town, my heart’s grown for this amazing group of people in West Africa. Not only are they beautiful, courageous and strong. I’m convinced they’re some of the most faithful individuals on the planet.

rainbow-town-taylor-avenue-church

Taylor hanging out with our life group from The Avenue Church!

Emotional roller coaster

I’ve experienced many emotions during the few interactions I’ve had with Taylor. I imagine this is common when you either travel to third-world countries or meet people from them. Guilt – I was born a “Westerner” and have “simple” privileges like cars and credit cards. Sadness – no child should have to live through war. Embarrassment – he must think we’re so lazy. (He walks 1 hr 45 min to school ONE WAY!) Excitement – his passion to be a pastor is contagious. Joy – God SAVED him! And most of all – humbled. Now that’s a survivor.

Defining Survivor

I am a survivor of cancer. And Taylor, he is a survivor of war. And while I certainly am not trying to liken our experiences – I do understand life-threatening situations that leave physical wounds, emotional scars and life-changing consequences. We both identify with the word “survive.”

danielle-burgess-taylor-rainbow-town

What an honor to meet this guy!

The thing about Taylor though is that he doesn’t find his identity in survivorship. He’ll openly talk about being orphaned at birth and tied naked to a tree as a 4-year-old when rebels overtook his country; however, Taylor always ends with the point that God saved him. God had mercy on him and rescued him. No calls for pity. No room for tears. He shares his story to share about Jesus.

Finding Purpose in our Pain

Taylor’s story isn’t about Taylor – it’s about Christ. And that’s the way it should be. This teen has already found the purpose for his difficult life circumstances. He has no question about why he survived war, and what he’s to do now. And I’m rapidly taking notes.

I live in America where we process our feelings and talk about what happened. In the midst of it, we also get a “free pass” when it comes to our faith. We often aren’t pushed to lay down the pride and selfishness that can come with surviving something so awful. (After all – we do get a lot of attention and free t-shirts.) Instead, we can fall into the trap of self-pity and let ourselves off the hook. We think we’re acting like the Psalmist when we question God and blame him. However, for many of us – we can stay camped out at that place way too long, or never fully let God back into our hearts to do His work.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to have met Taylor. He’s showed me once again that there is purpose in survival that is far beyond ourselves. God works for our good and He loves us. No, life’s not always easy. And things aren’t going to be fair. But that doesn’t take away the fact that we are to fear Him and that He wants to use us. If we will just open up our hearts to Him, the journey through survival will make so much more sense… from any part of the world.

July 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm 2 comments

Rocking The Medical Routine Boat

So yesterday I had a challenging experience. I had to visit my oncologist. At his new clinic.

Hopefully some other long-time survivors can relate with me so I don’t sound like a total patient-snob. But, after you’ve gotten used to your “medical routine,” it’s hard when it’s changed. Whether you’re going to a new place, have a new nurse, or heaven forbid, get a new doctor – those changes are hard. And although I knew to expect changes yesterday, I didn’t expect to be affected by them so much.

There were probably some really legitimate changes that can be made to the new clinic to make the patient experience better. I’ve got a great doctor who actually took down notes after he saw the flustered look on my face as he walked in the exam room. But even getting past some of those things, I tried to really figure out why I was so startled yesterday. And I decided this:  The reason I’m there in the first place is unsettling enough.

I try to be go-with-the-flow as much as I can. But for some reason I was really, really not up for changes yesterday. I didn’t like going to a new office, nor the new check-in procedure. I wasn’t crazy about anything really – and I knew my poor attitude was stemming from something bigger than the fact there were no magazines in my patient room. I was struggling because I like security, and the reason I’m sitting there is very insecure.

Thankfully, my doctor is a gem and he really did care about my experience and will try to make it better. Having him come in, know my past 10 years history and tell me what’s next, was comforting. And to add another positive – a nurse came in and remembered me from when I was 17, so I didn’t have to explain why I was a 27-year-old colon cancer patient – major bonus points.

In the end, I guess my hope for sharing my story is two-fold:

– For any medical practitioners out there to see the patient’s point of view sometimes. Remember that while you may be making small changes in your world, they may be big changes in your patient’s world. You and your staff offer security to your patients and their families, security that they may not be feeling anywhere else. So while you have all rights to make changes to anything, make them slowly, communicate a lot, and be understanding at how it’s taken. And make sure it’s very clear how much they will owe at the time of their visit.

– To kick myself in the butt, and challenge myself to be more flexible. To find my security in things outside of my medical routine. And to remind myself that although I’m driving to a new clinic with new people and  new routine, that doesn’t mean that my whole world has to turn upside down. Maybe I’ll actually come to like this new place one day.

 

August 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm 1 comment

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