Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Welcome to my hangout September 23, 2010

Filed under: Cancer Tips,Life Lessons — Heather @ 4:38 pm
Tags: , ,

To start this blog off, I guess I should share a bit about me. It seems the thing to do, if I base that on the many blogs I’ve read by others. So this is me.

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I turned 35 years old last week.

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I’m not someone who dreads a birthday, cringes at the idea of aging another year. I welcome it. I celebrate every year, every day of life. I guess when you face your own mortality, at a young age, you appreciate the days, the moments you’re lucky to get.

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I am a cancer survivor, diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a fancy name for bone cancer) in 1997 at 21 years old. Four months shy of graduating from Central Michigan University, I was told by an urgent care doctor that the mild, ongoing knee ache was a tumor in the lower part of my femur and I should prepare for the worst. Thankfully my surgeon at Beaumont Hospital was much more optimistic. Between him, my team of oncologists, nurses, family and friends, I made it through 13 months of chemo hell. Cancer did score some points – my femur and knee were replaced with titanium, a constant reminder of all that I’ve overcome. Yet I took my surgeon’s advice (“80 percent of your survival will be your attitude”) and stayed cheerful and optimistic. I learned to look at this situation, which could have made me into a very bitter, angry young woman (I’ve seen it happen unfortunately), as another chance at life.

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Being a cancer survivor is just one part of me though. I also am blessed to be a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and more to an amazing group of people. I’m grateful daily for these people. I’ve had some great opportunities in my career, from obtaining challenging positions in PR/marketing, to writing for magazines, to speaking around the country on behalf of cancer survivors. I’m an active person who enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking, canoeing, yoga and more.

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But no worries, this blog won’t always be about me! I like to get involved with community organizations, many you’ll read about in future blogs (my friends joke that any time the word “volunteer” is said, my ability to say no decreases!). I’m a big advocate for cancer survivors, animals and the environment. There are so many fantastic things that happen every day in our world, so many wonderful people making a difference in our communities. I am ever the optimist. I always remember my surgeon’s advice of a good attitude. I believe we can all make a difference in the world – change begins with one person. I look for the best in people. Yes, this outlook has burned me at times, however, I still believe in our society, in our communities. I have to. I have to believe that I was kept here for a reason, that there is greatness in the face of cancer and other diseases, war and violence, sadness and pessimism. I’ll search for it, and share with you.

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So this is me, focusing on being happy and making a difference where I can. The journey so far has been a bit of a roller coaster – the highs make my heart want to burst with happiness; the lows, well, the lows have been pretty dark. But this is my life. And I’m thrilled and grateful to be here. You’re welcome to come along for the ride.

I love to explore the world so travel as much as I can (afford). Alaska was a magical place.

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