Monday, November 3, 2008

Too Busy to Blog?

There's at least one good thing about feeling lousy from a bad cold or the flu or eosinophilic pneumonia. When sickness fades and health returns, the contrast is so stark that you just want to kick up your heels.

I felt that euphoria today as I navigated around the City of Hope - from the parking lot to check-in to blood draw (13 vials today) to a two-hour "chemo brain" test to pulmonary testing to my appointment with Dr. Forman. It was all easy and effortless and pleasant, not a gut-wrenching triathalon.

Writer and cancer survivor Linda Stowell describes the debillitating effects of illness (chemo-induced in her case) in an AP article, "Running for my life: 1 woman's story" that ran in my local hometown paper a few days after I met "Running Woman."
"The fatigue was so intense, the sleep so deep that it was as though a chunk of my life was sucked away. I rose only to take a shower. One afternoon I tried to make tea and slept through the kettle's whistle. I awoke to the kettle burned dry to the stove and belching smoke. I had few conversations: that took too much energy. A trip to the grocery store was overwhelming."
I can especially relate to those last two lines. Is it any wonder that I'm in a state of euphoria now? Since returning from West Virginia, I've found that my energy levels and lung capacity have bumped up another notch (I passed today's pulmonary function test with flying colors), and I'm going full speed ahead from early morning until midnight.

After my return, I threw myself into the silent auction for the A3M's Starnight event on Sunday. It was all-consuming for a few days, but it felt great to be doing something productive for an organization I support. A lean organization with a vast outreach in the Asian community, A3M has recruited more than 150,000 potential bone marrow or stem cell donors. More than 250 of these have gone on to be life-saving donors.

Jackie, the new A3M staff member who is recruiting in the Latino community, and I set up jewelry (donated by Cookie Lee) on display stands (provided by Wasabi Jewelry) at the event.

This is why I volunteer: A 13-year-old Korean-American girl from Kentucky, meets her donor - a brawny Japanese-American LA fire fighter. They now have identical DNA.

The downside of volunteering for a primarily Asian organization: I tower over everyone. My friend Nancy (another reason I volunteer) and I pose with fire (and cancer) fighter Mark Tomita.

Three more reasons why I volunteer: Jerome, an African-American seeking a donor match; Krissy, a Hapa (half Asian, half Caucasian, like me) searching for her match; and Christine, a Phillipina-American who met her match.

One of my goals this year is to help A3M expand their outreach to the African-American community. After all, "advocate" is part of my three-word ID. And that's something that I can really kick up my heels about.


Anonymous said...

Hi Susan!
Wow, what a great event Starnight was! I'm a regular reader, so talk about "six degrees of separation" when I saw today's post and my family friend is that "brawny firefighter" that was a MATCH for someone!! The picture is grainy, but if I'm correct on who he is, he's not Firefighter "Dave" -- unless he's requested some anonymity. I'm so proud to know an actual HERO -- who fights fires and puts out cancer too!!

Anonymous said...

P.S.: You (and everyone) looked absolutely FABULOUS too!

Susan C said...

Wendy, that's amazing that you know the fire fighter. Actually, his name ISN'T Dave - I just remembered wrong. I like your wording, "fights fires and puts out cancer too."

Nancy said...

Hey Susan, I miss you already! It was a great pleasure to work with you over the past few weeks on Starnight. You are dedicated and passionate about your work! Thanks for handling so much and for making yourself available for the cause. It wouldn't have gone so smoothly without your efforts! Plus, you made it so fun! I'm glad we share the same passion; that is, helping A3M! And thanks also for your personal help with the stresses that I faced during that last week. You really helped me through it, and I couldn't be more grateful. Thanks for taking pictures at Starnight. I got so busy, I totally forgot about my camera. I didn't take even one photo! Susan, you are a gem... love you lots, nancy

Susan C said...

Missing you too, Nancy!

I'm so grateful that you reached out to me when I was at the City of Hope and got me involved with A3M.