Tag Archives: cancer survivors

Living Life to Its Maximum – My Son’s Cancer Story

Today we welcome guest blogger, Michele Mitchell, a MyLifeLine.org board member who shares the story of her young son’s brain cancer journey, including some of his own reflections on the experience.

Every Thankful Thursday is an opportunity to reflect on feelings of thankfulness and meaningfulness.  However, nine years ago the idea of even trying to pretend to be thankful would have been next to impossible.  Now, I know an even deeper meaning of being truly thankful as a result of many experiences my son and I shared as we adventured through the land of pediatric cancer.  Nine years ago, my only son was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumor two weeks before kindergarten.  As most families were preparing themselves for new adventures at school, we were preparing ourselves for the storm of a lifetime that consisted of brain surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and countless doctor appointments.  However, it was amidst this very storm that we have learned to understand and feel the true meaning of being thankful.  There is no better way to capture this understanding than to share some insights from some of my son’s writings.

When Sean was in the 5th grade, he was asked to write about an event that changed is life.  His story was titled “Living Life to Its Maximum”.  He started his story by sharing his favorite quote by Babe Ruth: “Hero’s get remembered, but legends never die”.  Then, he proceeded by stating….”Shortly, after moving to Colorado a tornado came sweeping into my life: This tornado was called brain cancer.  The story does not end there.  Now, five and half years later, my life is full of memories and surprises.  I hope you enjoy this journey of memories and learn that all parts of life are never forgotten.  No one said life was ever easy, but hard times help us embrace and appreciate our friends and family around us.  Continue on, this story waits for no one.  In August of 2004, I was diagnosed with brain cancer.  I was very scared, confused, and felt tired a lot.  Both of my parents were with me during this time.  I don’t know how I could have got through without them.  They both still help me deal with the effects of the treatment and are very patient and understanding.  The storms of life can be very hard.  This storm changed everything.  For a few weeks I had been feeling very tired and dizzy.  My stomach hurt all the time and I could not think clearly.  After my brain surgery, I felt somewhat better at least for a while.  Then, radiation started and I felt horrible.  I went from 54 pounds to 39 pounds in one month.  Then, chemotherapy started: The only word to describe this is “horrible”.  I felt light headed, tired, nausea, and my body hurt all of the time. Through all of this, I learned to never give up when things seem impossible.  I learned that God has a plan for my life and he can turn even the most impossible situations around.  My life since then has been better.  My memories of childhood will also be good.  My trip to Disney World from the Make a Wish Foundation was great.  I will never forget the times my mom and I had there.  I will remember the time I have spent with my dad and how much time he spent with me and loved me.  I know how much my mom and dad love me, and how much God must love me too.  Those will be the things I think about most.

I have also learned that I never let a great thing pass.  I like to eat so much chocolate ice cream.  I will always remember my cats, they are so cute.  I will remember learning about owls; my dad says I look like one.  I will always have good memories of my parent’s houses.  I like to think about the first time I beat my dad at chess.  I like the peaceful quiet nights at my dad’s house playing video games.  I will remember how my mom was so caring for even the little things.  I will always remember my great room at my mom’s and all the good meals.  My friends at school will always be a special part of my heart.  I will never forget them.  Holidays are going to be great memories too.  Great food and family at Thanksgiving, and the great days we had at Christmas.  I will always remember how many people really cared for me and made me feel loved.

I look forward to living a life with a great family and a great passion just for living.  My early years have taught me to live every day, I mean really live.  I will work as hard as I must to achieve my goals.  Knowing that I have God on my side, I will never fear.  I know God has a purpose for me because he saved me from cancer.  As I get older, I know I will still feel young in my heart.  I want to continue to grow and learn.  I am excited to see the world and experience life in every way.  I will always be honest and treat people well.  I look forward to having my own family and being a great dad just like my dad.  I will have a good relationship with my children.  I will use my hard times to teach them great lessons.  I will teach them that God hears your prayers and it does change things.  I am so thankful for a chance at a great future.  I will make the most of this life and never waste it.  I will always be thankful for my friends, my family, and the lessons learned from this storm.”

Now at the age of 14 years old, my son is still teaching us about the true reasons to be thankful for every minute of every day.  Oh how I wish mylifeline.org had existed nine years ago; however, I am so thankful that today this organization can help so many families stay connected and feel the power of support as my son so beautifully articulated above: “I don’t know how I could have got through without them”.

Stepping up for Cancer

Pulling into the parking lot at 6:00 AM last Sunday, I assumed I would be one of the first participants to arrive at the Step Up for Cancer event, I was mistaken. The place was already crowded with staff, supporters and cancer survivors eager to begin the day in support of friends, family and anyone touched by cancer.

Colorado couldn’t have given us a nicer day to run the over 1,700 stairs at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. Watching the timed stair runners begin their trek around the large sports arena with names of loved ones hand written in marker on the back of their shirts gave me a strong feeling of community and inspiration.

I began my run shortly after 9:00am, thinking how hard could this really be? A quarter of the way through my question was answered. I realized that my 1.5 mile daily treadmill run didn’t hold a candle to what I had signed up for, but that was soon forgotten as I thought about my Grandfather, my Aunt, and my Uncle who all battled cancer. Before I knew it, I was down to the last few sets of stairs. The runner in front of me was alongside his wife, a cancer survivor, who was easily making her way through the course. Keeping up with them was a chore, but helped motivate me to push to the finish line where we were greeted by a group of volunteers, some cancer survivors and others loyal supporters.

After catching my breath, I walked around the stadium to talk to other non-profits and MyLifeLine.org supporters. It was an amazing day that I am excited MyLifeLine.org could be a part of, and look forward to attending Step Up for Cancer with our team next year.

Thank you to everyone who came to support MyLifeline.org and the other Cancer non-profits. Have you ever participated in a sporting event to support cancer patients and survivors? What did you get from the day?

-Enmar Hilu, MyLifeLine.org Development Director

How Has Cancer Affected Your Friendships?

How Has Cancer Changed your Friendships? We’ve heard amazing stories of how cancer profoundly changes relationships. Some for the better and some friendships are sadly ended. We’ve heard that new friendship bonds are created from meeting people who’ve been through the same thing.

March’s theme for the month is Reflect on Friendships.

This month the focus is on friends!

  • How has your cancer journey changed your relationship with friends?
  • How did your friends help during your cancer journey? How could they have been more helpful?
  • Have you made new friendships throughout your cancer journey?

Bonus Reading:

Find yourself an ostrich: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/living-with-cancer-for-the-birds/?src=recg

Huffington Post has an entire section dedicated to cancer fighter blogs: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/generation-why

Kaylin blogs about the stigma she felt at first and how she’s breaking down the stigma: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kaylin-andres/living-with-cancer_b_2806442.html?utm_hp_ref=generation-why

Erika found love amidst her cancer journey: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erika-lade/cancer-dating_b_2680547.html?utm_hp_ref=generation-why


Now it’s up to you!!

Share your reflections on your MyLifeLine.org website. Share it to Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment below!

You can share on FacebookTwitter (use #MLLCommunity), or by commenting below. We hope to hear from you!

Feel free to use the #MLLCommunity hashtag for anything you write about that brings you connection, inspiration, and healing!

Stay tuned for the next #MLLCommunity post, next week! If you missed February, here’s a recap!



February #MLLCommunity Theme- Reflect on Family

Now we’re into month 2 of the new #MLLCommunity campaign. We hope you enjoyed January and exploring your goals for the 2013.

February’s theme for the month is Reflect on Family. During a cancer diagnosis, family is such an important part of your recovery. Family comes in all different shapes and sizes. It’s your blood relatives, or it’s the people who’ve been through everything with you. Every chemo appointment, hair loss, breakdown, you name it and they’ve been there to help you get through it.

This month the focus is on family!

  • Share your favorite family memories and include your favorite family photos.
  • Ask your friends and family to contribute their fond memories or your family. Ask them to include their favorite photos.
  • Post family photos in the Photo Gallery

Now it’s up to you!!

Share your favorite family memories on your MyLifeLine.org website. Share it to Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment below! Share your memories and walk down memory lane with your friends and family.

We’d love to hear the fond memories you have of your family. You can share on Facebook, Twitter (use #MLLCommunity), or by commenting below. We hope to hear from you!

Feel free to use the #MLLCommunity hashtag for anything you write about that brings you connection, inspiration, and healing!

Stay tuned for the next #MLLCommunity post, next week! If you missed January, here’s a recap!

Bonus: Check out this article from MD Anderson on the benefits of writing through cancer treatment

#MLLCommunity- Share Your Goals for 2013

#MLLCommunity- Share Your Goals for 2013

We’re excited to kick off our new campaign called #MLLCommunity. The goal is to provide patients, caregivers, and those who support them with meaningful dialogue to help them Connect, Inspire, and Heal! Visit here for more information about the #MLLCommunity

Welcome to the #MLLCommunity. We hope you find connection, inspiration, and emotional healing here!

Every week we’ll share writing ideas and writing prompts to encourage dialogue between you and those who support you. We’ll send a monthly email with writing prompts for each week. Then it’s up to you! Write a My Update on your MyLifeLine.org page. Post your answer to the Facebook wall. Post a comment on the blog with your answer. Read other people’s answers and be inspired!


Now, for the first #MLLCommunity prompt for 2013:

  • Share your personal goals for 2013 so your network can help hold you accountable.
  • Make your goals specific so you know what you need to do to accomplish them.
  • Ask a friend to help you by joining goals together!


At MyLifeLine.org we have a few goals this year as well!

MyLifeLine.org’s 2013 Goals

  • 2,500 newly diagnosed cancer patients find and utilize our service; 42,000 of their friends and family register to follow their progress through MyLifeLine.org
  • Provide outstanding customer support to all of the cancer patients, caregivers and their supporters!
  • Grow our team! Hire a Marketing and Communications Coordinator to help us reach our goal of finding patients as close after diagnosis as possible.
  • Translate the website and customer support system into Spanish!
  • Build an AMAZING online community for cancer patients and those who support them! Learn more about the #MLLCommunity.

Now it’s up to you!!

Share your goals on your MyLifeLine.org blog. Share your goals on Facebook and Twitter. Leave a comment below! Share your goals and be inspired by other people’s goals!

We’d love to hear what your goals are! Please share! You can share on Facebook, Twitter (use #MLLCommunity), or by commenting below. We hope to hear from you!

Feel free to use the #MLLCommunity hashtag for anything you write about that brings you connection, inspiration, and healing!

Stay tuned for the next #MLLCommunity post, next week!


Step Up For Cancer Reflections

Reflections from Step Up For Cancer, from our Executive Director, Melissa Bowen

I had the opportunity to participate in my first Step Up for Cancer Event on August 5th.

MyLifeLine.org was one of over 40 cancer organizations participating. My experience was one of unexpected emotions and positive energy!

Reading the t-shirts people wore and collecting the swag that was handed out, brought both tears to my eyes and many smiles.

I stepped up for two dear friends, Wayne and Vtara, who have passed on. They both showed such poise and grace during their battles with cancer. I was proud to be able to honor them in this way.

The most amazing part of this event was talking to the real heroes: those who have battled and won their fight against cancer, those just beginning and those who love and care for them. They are all so brave.

It was also a bonding experience for my husband and niece. That we were able to witness so many people supporting those affected by cancer and participate together, warmed my heart.

I am humbled every day and feel immensely grateful to be a part of something that is so much bigger than me, and to know that in a small way, I can make a difference.