Tuesday, June 21, 2016

National Cancer Survivors Day {Honoring and Celebrating the Warriors I Love}

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Sunday, June 5, 2016 was National Cancer Survivors Day.  It's no secret that I have been touched very closely by cancer over the years (see that little blue ribbon in my signature? For you, Daddy.) and when the lovely Heather Von St. James reached out to me about collaborating to raise awareness, I was honored, to say the least.

Heather is not only a champion and advocate for cancer awareness, she is a ten year survivor of pleural mesothelioma, a very rare cancer of the lining of the lungs.  At just 36 years old, and just three months after giving birth to her daughter, Heather received her devastating diagnoses and was told she had 15 months to live.  Imagine that for a moment.  Her life as a mom had just begun and she had been handed a death sentence.  She fought like a warrior and is now dedicating her life to raising awareness and advocating for mesothelioma research funding.  You can read more about Heather's incredible journey here.

We all know someone who has been touched by cancer in some way.  It's a cold and ugly truth.  Maybe it's the elderly gentleman who lives down the block, your childhood best friend, or even closer still.  Cancer is all around us, and at times that fact is overwhelmingly real.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 is a date that is forever burned into my memory.  For months prior to this date, I had had the nagging feeling, a premonition, that someone I love very much had cancer.  I couldn't explain it, and I still can't, but I just knew.  The evening of May 6 was the same as any other evening; my then-boyfriend/ now-husband, Robert, was at work and I was at home with our dog Chico.  When my phone rang and I saw it was my mom I didn't skip a beat - we spoke every night.  Mom and I chatted for a while about who knows what and then Daddy got on to chat.  After a while, though, his tone suddenly changed and he said something to the effect of "I have to tell you something."  I knew immediately what he was about to say.  Please don't say it.  Don't let it be...  "I have cancer.  I have prostate cancer."

My whole world stopped in that moment.  I have no idea what he said after that or even how we ended our conversation.  The next thing I remember is being at the hotel where Robert works, walking towards him, sobbing.  My dad has cancer. How did I get here?  Did I drive here?  I really shouldn't be driving like this.  My dad has cancer.  

We were blessed that my dad's cancer was found very early, and surgical intervention was all that was needed to eradicate his tumor.  I am extremely happy to say that he has been cancer free for over seven years!!

Christmas, 2008.  You can find our t-shirts here.

After I received Heather's email about this collaboration I started thinking of those in my life who have fought or are still fighting cancer.  I was humbled and heartbroken to realize that there are so many that I've lost count over the years.  This post is for each and every one of them.

Even though National Cancer Survivors Day has come and gone, that doesn't mean the celebration can't continue.  Please join me in celebrating and honoring the warriors in your life who have fought the evil beast and won!  Post a photo of you and yours celebrating and make sure to use the hashtag #CelebratingSurvivors.  Please continue to pray for all those still in the fight of their lives.

In honor of my Daddy, Steve Chaparro.  

In loving memory of Erica R.


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