Monday, June 11, 2012

Survivor checks “run a marathon” off her bucket list. by Amy Cosgrove

Amy pictured at a recent GTS.
In June 2002 (so exactly ten years ago), I was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I initially went to my primary doctor because I thought I had the flu. It took over six weeks and a TON of appointments with different specialists and dozens and dozens of different tests to figure out that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Honestly, the ‘not-knowing’ seemed much worse than actually hearing the diagnosis. Plus, I was really sick from the cancer – I had lost a lot of weight for no reason, had terrible night sweats and was horribly exhausted. Without a doubt, though, the worst symptom was the itching. It literally felt like my bones itched, and no lotion, medicine, nothing relieved it. However, my oncologist told me two things that first day that kept me from falling apart when he told me I had cancer. The first was that Hodgkin’s was one of the most treatable cancers of all and that the survival rate for someone (even in Stage IV) was very good. And, second, that the treatment protocol would actually relieve some of the symptoms I was having. And, that while the chemo and radiation would have their own side effects, I could expect to feel a lot better within my first two treatments. Two days after I got my diagnosis, I had my first chemotherapy treatment. And, by the end of the first month, the itching, night sweats and all the other symptoms were gone. And, I had a new hat collection. Ultimately, I had six months of chemotherapy and 21 radiation treatments. Near the end of chemotherapy I had to meet with a bone marrow transplant specialist, but fortunately the chemo and radiation worked and I was able to avoid a transplant. In March 2003, Dr. Saker, my oncologist, told me I was in remission. I’ve gone back every year and am happy to report I’ve been in remission for over 9 years now.

I first got involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society during this time. When I was first diagnosed, I scoured the internet for information. The most helpful source for me was LLS. They had literally every answer I wanted or needed to know. Plus a lot of new things I hadn’t even thought to ask. My oncologist was absolutely amazing, but having a second resource with LLS was so comforting. When I was a few weeks into my chemo treatments, my colleagues at work (I worked for a small division of Philips Electronics at the time) asked me if they could put a team together to participate in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk in my honor. Of course, I was honored and humbled and said yes. Except that they set a very lofty goal to raise $10,000. I thought they were crazy, but really enjoyed the whole spirit of the season. One of my favorite memories from that time was the day that they held the final event at work before the walk. It was a day where they were going to let all of us know how much we’d raised. I walked in that morning to find that everyone (EVERYONE) at work was wearing a hat. (After I lost my hair, I couldn’t get the hang of wigs, so I only wore one once and switched to hats immediately.) Anyway, everyone, including the Division CEO, was wearing a hat that day. It still humbles me and makes me tear up to think about it. When they announced later in the day that they’d raised not $10,000, but $30,000, I was so overwhelmed. We had a blast at the LTN walk. And, again, it’s still one of my favorite memories.

Several years later, the year that I turned 40, I decided it was time to check “run a marathon” off my bucket list. Since I’m a terrible runner, and because I’ve always supported other Team In Training runners, I signed up with the Virtual Team In Training to run the 2010 Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon. I had a blast, and even though I had expected to check it off my list and move on to the next thing, the minute I crossed the finish line, I knew I would do another one. Now, I work for Deloitte Consulting, and Deloitte has TNT teams all over the country at its various locations. And, during the Fall 2012 season, Deloitte expects to cross the million dollar mark with TNT – meaning, Deloitte TNT’ers will have raised a total of more than $1,000,000 by the Fall races for LLS. (We’re at over $950,000 right now.) So, I signed up with the Deloitte Fall team and couldn’t resist the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. Who can resist getting a Tiffany necklace from a California firefighter after a 26-mile run?

I’m so grateful to be a survivor. I’m grateful to my doctors, my friend, my family. And, I’m so grateful that there is an organization like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that works to support people who are in the position I was in 10 years ago, but that also works to fund research to eliminate the need for it.

Amy Reeves Cosgrove is currently training with Team In Training for this Fall's Nike women's Marathon. Amy is a Human Capital Manager with Deloitte Consulting. Originally from Thomasville in South Georgia, she's been in the Atlanta area for more than 20 years.

1 comment:

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