Exactly four years ago today I woke up, after ringing in 2006 with fondue and a few glasses of champagne at a friend’s house, to horrible stomach pains. What at first felt like the flu turned out to be the first symptoms of ovarian cancer, eventually diagnosed in May, and treated successfully throughout the rest of that year.
New Year’s Day always brings back those memories, and also reminds me how lucky I am to be healthy and happy at the dawn of another year. This holiday is also a particularly painful time to be single, and I’m reminded of that each year too as couples around me kiss in the new year on tv and at celebrations closer to home.
It is with both of these thoughts in mind that I resolve this year to finally make progress on two goals I have had for some time now. They are:
1. To find a way to serve single people who are dealing with cancer.
2. To write a book about my experience as a single person with cancer that might help others in the same boat.
Both goals are highly attainable, and progress has been made, but it has been slow. I am sharing the goals in this column to ask you to hold me accountable. By so publicly promising, after years of moderate progress, I hope to jump-start the process with the help of a strong support network with a vested interest in seeing these goals to fruition. There are many ways you can help:
If you are a single person who has had cancer, I want to hear from you. Your story could inspire someone, and you can share what services would be helpful to you as you navigate this experience. Complete the survey sponsored by the i2y Foundation and Imerman Angels here.
Send thoughts, ideas or just encouragement in the form of comments on this blog or email. Check in occasionally and ask how things are going. This will remind me that I better have something to report when someone asks. I will also share an update each month at the end of my column. Short excerpts from past columns will be published in a book from Planet Cancer coming out this spring. The columns will likely be the basis for much of my book as well. I have been writing about living with cancer as a single person for almost three full years now, so there is lots of great content there. Let me know your favorites, or share topics you WISH I’d cover.
Let your favorite cancer organizations know what special support you might benefit from as a single person. There are lots of great organizations already out there serving the cancer community, and I feel no need to reinvent the wheel. If this population can be served through joining forces with existing organizations like i2y, Imerman Angels, MyLifeLine.Org, Planet Cancer, First Descents, Voices of Survivors and others, that is ideal. If eventually, a separate organization becomes necessary, that’s fine too. Help me figure out how to best reach single people and get you what you need.
I am planning to put together a dream team of single survivors to help me get this going this year. I know I can’t do it alone. I was lucky enough in November to connect with so many amazing people from the Young Adult cancer community and I will be calling upon them as well.
I hope you will make some resolutions this year as well. Instead of the same old ones about losing weight and saving money, be creative. What do you really want to do in 2010? Now is a great time to reflect and put some goals on paper. Share them publicly and ask the people in your life to support and encourage you to reach them.