21 Again!

Guess what?  I’m turning 21 again!  That’s right, 21 years cancer-free, on October 1, 2016.  Hallelujah!!  But don’t buy me another a drink—I’ve got an even better idea.  But first, I want to share some important things from the past year.

Last October, I celebrated the major milestone of 20 years cancer-free! (I’m still so thankful!) with a party at mom and dad’s house and some celebrating in San Diego too. November brought OMG!/West in Irvine–Stupid Cancer’s one-day mini conference/networking event, plus the first annual Stupid Cancer Disneyland Meetup.  In December, while baking tons of cookies, I painted wooden ornaments as a fundraiser (back again this year!). My Christmas cards finally got mailed in January and I began planning my game show fundraiser. February brought me 50 boxes of Girl Scout cookies; 48 of them became raffle prizes.  These months were a lot of fun—

But April was awesome!  Even though the donations were barely trickling in between December and March, over $1,400 was raised by the time April rolled around.  I felt incredibly thankful to have gotten that far, because of the support of amazing family and friends like you (you know who you are!) and some self-donations too.  I felt hopeful for my game show fundraiser to raise the final $500 or so.  However, despite my best effort and a lot of sweat and tears, it had extremely poor turnout.  I needed 30 participants—but only 6 people showed up!  Plus 2 more joined in from the bar.  Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful and thankful for all 8 of them—but I felt like a massive failure.  With just 7 days to go, I need to raise a few hundred dollars.  I felt so discouraged, afraid I wouldn’t meet my goal; afraid I’d be letting everyone down.

So I said a prayer and let it go.  And that’s when the miracles started happening!  People I’ve never met started making donations.  Some anonymous, and some sent over from my friend Dawn, who was fundraising for the same cause!  On the day before the deadline, I needed over $300 to reach the goal—and more donations showed up!  On the final day, April 10, I was $70 short and figured I would just need to self-donate to fill the gap.  I looked at my page around 2:00 p.m. and I was shocked to see that the goal was met!  What??  My friend Chad covered it, with just 7 hours to spare, and he posted congratulations to me on Facebook.  (Dawn and Chad are two of my fabulous Stupid Cancer friends.)

Finally the fundraising was over, and I could relax a little.  Whew!  Now onboard Cari Ann’s Caravan—a 5-day adventure through CA, AZ, NV, UT, and finally to Denver, CO for CancerCon.  (Read more about it in my Cari Ann’s Caravan blog post.)  Cari Ann’s Caravan was an amazing experience, where I got to know some old friends better, and make a few new friends too.

I knew I’d have a blast at CancerCon.  It’s like a homecoming, with people who’ve endured so much in life, that I only get to see once a year. What I didn’t expect was how much emotion it would bring up.  I had lost 4 young adult friends to cancer since the last CancerCon; 2 of whom attended the previous year.  It was sad.  But thanks to the time spent on Cari Ann’s Caravan, I had new friends to turn to.  On long trips, I usually need my own room for alone time, to recoup my energy.  But this time, it was too hard to be alone.  I’m immensely thankful I had a friend who became my perfect roommate.  Thanks Cori!

I was looking forward to seeing my friend Brittany at CancerCon this year. We met in 2014, and we saw each other briefly last year, but on our way to different things—this is one busy event!  We promised to make time to get together—but with the 2 papers I had to write during my final semester in college, and staying a few miles away from the event to save money—our time to catch up never happened.  I looked everywhere for Brittany and asked everyone I met if they had seen her there.  But she wasn’t there.  She was home, getting treatment again.  A few weeks later, I got the news that the treatment wasn’t working: she had passed.  I started screaming at the computer—this couldn’t be happening; not my friend; not again.  It was just about a year to date after my dear friend Amanda passed.  Two of the bravest, kindest, most caring young women I’ve ever known, along with Cari Ann, Vanessa, and Gladis, who also passed in the last year.  The disbelief, horror, and incredible sadness I felt after hearing the news was the same.  I still can’t comprehend it.  I still have no words.  But these five beautiful souls are in my heart in their own special ways, and always will be.

Even with the sadness of losing them, I’m so thankful these amazing women were in my life. Life was sweeter because I knew them.  And their lives were brighter because of Stupid Cancer.  Remembering that makes it a little easier to move forward.  Remembering that strengthens my resolve as an advocate:  to keep spreading awareness, lending support, and fundraising, so Stupid Cancer’s award-winning programs continue to impact countless lives.  CancerCon really does change lives and improve quality of life for hundreds of young adults each year.  I can tell you that from my own experience, and my friends will tell you the same.  What I love about Stupid Cancer is they have support and resources that people can access right now, immediately, today! not 20 years from now when it won’t help them personally during their cancer treatment or with pressing life issues.

Yes, I’m all for research and finding cures, but there’s something incredibly powerful about helping people live better lives right now.  Despite the cancer.  Despite the pain and health issues.  Despite all the crap we deal with on a daily basis.  We are living better lives. We know the power of ‘get busy living’ – we remember what life felt like without it.

Today, some of my friends still go though treatment, have resumed treatment, or participate in clinical trials because no standard treatment exists for their cancers.  Some of them are years post-treatment, but still struggle with health issues that developed from treatment, like me.  Some of them are thriving despite the cancer, because they’re staying positive, and they have phenomenal support systems, including their Stupid Cancer family.  We’re all incredibly thankful for what Stupid Cancer has done for us and for hundreds of our peers.

And I’m incredibly thankful for all of you!  Many of you helped me reach last year’s CancerCon fundraising goal, which helped me and hundreds of young adults immensely.  Words alone fail to express my gratitude—maybe I’ll create a meme!  Seriously though, thank you!!!

Remember that idea I mentioned earlier?  Here it is:

Instead of buying me a drink for my second 21st, let’s share the love with the young adults who’ll benefit from CancerCon 2017.

6 Ways you can support this incredible cause:

  • Share my campaign with your friends, family, & co-workers (maybe even your boss!) in person, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram—we have hashtags, too. There are people out there searching for an amazing cause to support; help us find each other!
  • Get products/services donated as prizes for my game show fundraisers  (I have all the tax ID info your donors will love!)
  • Help me book a venue to host a music benefit concert in San Diego (for Spring 2017)
  • Put on your bowling shoes, grab some friends, and get ready for a week-long bowl-a-thon downtown in San Diego (Pending date in January 2017, details coming soon!)
  • And of course, you can make your tax-deductible donations on my fundraising page.

(If you prefer to cash or checks, no problem.  I’ll post the donation to my account for you.)

Last, but most importantly—I want to thank you.  All of you.  Because you were there for me during my cancer treatment; or you’ve walked with me along this long and winding (and bumpy) post-treatment road; or you’re here now.  Maybe even all three.  So thank you, thank you, thank you!  You’re an incredible person.  Your support means so much more than you know.

Love,  Michelle

To Dotate:

(This campaign ended in April 2017.)

Please visit my current CancerCon fundraising campaign here.

Thank you so much for visiting my page. 🙂

Info:    StupidCancer.org     CancerCon.org

#StupidCancer #CancerCon #GetBusyLiving

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