Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mixed Emotions

Sometimes I find myself so deep in my advocacy work and spending time with family ( my son and his wife visited for a few days)  that I don't have time to write blog posts. I apologize to my readers. 

This past weekend, I attended events for two ovarian cancer organizations. The Teal Tea Foundation (TT) held their 10th Anniversary Gala on Saturday.  And the Kaleidoscope of Hope (KOH) Foundation  held their Annual Awards Luncheon on Saturday. Both NJ based foundations raise funds for ovarian cancer research and awareness.

But in the post will not be writing about the wonderful work these foundations do each and every year.  Rather, I want to share how I felt as one of the survivors in the room.

When I arrive at each one, I am proud. Proud to be involved in organizations that are making a difference.  I am hopeful. Hopeful for the future as I listen to the researchers talk about their work.  Yet, I am sad. So sad that I at times I have to hold back tears. 

Why? You're healthy you say. You should feel good. Yes,  that is true but surviving without your friends by your side is difficult at times.

My friends, three in particular, whose lives were lost due to a gynecologic cancer, were missing from these events - Anne, Shari and Carole. But do you know who was there? Their husbands - Don, Dave and Bob.

I watched the faces of these supportive caregivers as their wives were honored and again as they watched survivors receive a special gift. I glance at my husband who had that look - knowing that he was thinking how it might have been him. 

Don't get me wrong it was wonderful to see Don, Dave and Bob. They knew me during those "no Hair Days". But I got well and their wives did not. So in a way the relationship changed.

It is hard to describe the nervousness and funny feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I first see these men.  Sometimes I worry about what I will say. Do I remind them of a time filled with pain? I'm not sure what I am feeling - survivors guilt maybe?

I haven't seen Don since last year's TT event. We reminisced over the times he brought Anne to support group because she wasn't well enough to drive herself. He told me how he loved hearing all of us laugh at those meetings as he sat in a nearby lounge. That funny feeling started to go away.  Don smiled as I told him about the heron who regularly visits the pond behind my home. Anne loved herons and asked that we think of her when we see one. I think of her a lot. 

It took me until the last 15 minutes of the TT Gala to walk up to Dave. Shari passed away July, 2014. Like Don, the last time  I saw him was last year's TT event.  I walked up to him and said, " I was friends with... " he stopped me mid-sentence and said "Sure I know who you are. Dee, how are you doing?"  and I got big hug and the funny feeling went away. We talked about our families and he repeated more than once how strongly he feels that supporting research is the only way we can make a difference in the lives of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I totally agree. Together we are focused on finding a cure.

I've seen Bob a number of times since Carole passed away in February. We both now serve on the Board of KOH. One of the reasons I returned to the Board of KOH was because of Carole and her dream of finding a detection test and a cure. I am happy that I will be working with Bob because we are on the same page when it comes to the importance of research . Seeing him more frequently  keeps the funny tummy feeling from kicking into high gear. 

At events like these two I especially feel the loss of these women but I am glad that I have the chance to see their husbands and families, even if it means I feel such mixed emotions.

I know there are bereavement groups but does anyone know of a group / organization the reaches out to the countless partners, spouses and family members whose loved ones lives were taken by ovarian cancer?

Every Day is a Blessing! Blessed to know that Teal Tea and Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundations are focusing their efforts on research.

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