Survivorship Series: New Jersey musician shares his story and the song he wrote to thank his brother for saving his life
Well, times were dark indeed
Feeling my body betrayed me
Life was good. My wife Bonnie and I were settling into a lifestyle that was becoming less demanding and more fun. Our only son was about to graduate college. My son and I were making music together and playing some local clubs and bars. I was physically active and worked out regularly.
I had recently made changes to my diet due to a history of slightly high cholesterol and was curious to see what effect (if any) it would have. A routine blood test told me that my cholesterol was well within normal range, but my red, white and platelet counts were all low. I was convinced the lab had somehow screwed up the test. I felt fine. After a repeat test, same result. I was referred to a hematologist. When I called they answered something like "Cancer Center." Uh Oh. Not good.
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So you’re in remission and you can officially call yourself a cancer survivor. Congratulations for making it through the hardest part of the journey. Now you may be thinking “What comes next?”
Most people don’t think about survivorship until they finish treatment. And it’s only much later, when there hasn’t been a recurrence and they’re not thinking about the cancer so much, that they really contemplate long-term survival. At that point, there can be many questions: What can I do to make sure it doesn’t come back? What if it does? Will I have issues or late or long-term effects from treatment?
The post-cancer recovery period is all about finding a new normal, said Patricia Ganz, M.D., professor of medicine and associate director of the Cancer Center at University of California at Los Angeles: “What will life be like? Who can I count on? Who don’t I want to spend time with? Who brings positivity into my life? Who brings negativity?”
What we’ve learned is it’s not over when it’s over, Ganz said. Survivors may face ongoing symptoms or problems resulting from their initial treatments — pain, fatigue, late effects such as second cancers or organ dysfunction, as well as other chronic diseases. There needs to be a focus on prevention, symptom management, emotional support, and healthy living – and it’s best that the oncologist share the care with a primary care physician.
Burlington Stores and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 14th consecutive year of partnership in the fight against blood cancers was a huge success. As LLS’s #1 national corporate partner and honored friend, Burlington, the national off-price retailer, beat its $3 million goal for its annual Light The Night Walk campaign by a long shot, raising an astonishing $3.35 million. This marks one of the retailer’s most successful and longest running philanthropic campaigns.
Funds were raised through a national 12-week in-store promotion, where customers were encouraged to donate to the cause at check-out. All donations are used to invest in life saving research and breakthrough treatments for blood cancer patients.
This year’s campaign launched in September, Blood Cancer Awareness Month and concluded last week. Donations were especially high during the fall and holiday shopping season, when millions of customers could donate to the cause at check out. Burlington Stores and LLS believe in the power of teamwork, and have proven that each and every donation helps in the fight against blood cancer.