joy and deb
Founding Partners

Joy KramerJoy

 

Diagnosed with lymphoma, July 2005

I never believed I had cancer. Though that sounds like a controversial statement, I had the facts on my side. No one in my family history, on either my mother or father's side had any kind of cancer. I had always been careful about my weight, ate healthy (enough) and exercised.
When I suddenly developed skyrocketing blood pressure and bone crushing headaches following a weekend hike and a round of golf, the doctors ran every kind of test. The best they could come up with was Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia, a lymphoma disease that hits men aged 60 plus. Needless to say, I didn't exactly fit the profile. And, to compound the diagnosis, I had an extremely rare kidney complication, called Light Chain Deposition Disease. When I sought out help at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, even the specialists were confused.

Kidney doctors are not comfortable with chemotherapy because it is precisely the kidneys that flush the poison out of your system. Damaging them further with alkylyting agents as my oncologist recommended, was maybe not the best choice for me but I had no other clear options and time was running out.

As a single woman living in Atlanta, 500 miles away from my only family members, I needed every friend I could get and they came out in force. Were it not for them, my mother and brother, and my most loving and loyal Golden Retreiver, Kit, I know that I would not have made it through.

Chemo was a horrible ordeal. I hated being bald but that was the least of the insults my body hurled upon me. I was happy to be single because I couldn't imagine a man who would stay through the bathroom episodes. Those that do, I surmised, were the best kind of human on earth. The one thing that meant more than anything else to me when I was going through everything, was the company; real live friends and family coming to sit. If there's any point at all to Kimo Kards, it's to convey that you need to find the right words and you need to deliver them in person. If you say you'll be available to someone with cancer, then be available. Promises kept at this time of life are the most important of all. I am so grateful to all the wonderful people who prayed their hearts out for me and who showed up week after miserable week.

There was a point. I'm not sure when it was, but there was a point when I stopped getting worse and started getting better. Maybe a different drug, vitamin, accupuncture, or prayer. It has been the slowest, longest climb of my life but now I feel well again. I know that I'm better because now people feel comfortable enough to say how scared they were for me back then. Now that I've gained back my curves, I've resumed the search for that elusive, Mr. Right, and am hoping to live a very long, cancer-free life.

 

Debbie TrujilloDebbie

 

Diagnosed with breast cancer November 11, 2004

Cancer touched my life long before I was diagnosed. I met my husband in 1994, a widow with two children ages 9 and 12. His wife died of cancer the previous year at age 44. In 1995 Eddie and I married, and I dove into motherhood with two heartbroken children. In 1996 I gave birth to my son, Tanner, and relished in the love and devotion a newborn can instill. A special bond developed between all three of my children.

Through the years, I had annual mammograms, but I did not consistently do self exams. In late September of 2004, I learned about a friend, Patty, who was about my age and diagnosed with breast cancer. Exactly one week later, October 1st, and six weeks after a completely clear mammogram, I found a lump in my right breast. I attribute Patty’s unfortunate diagnosis with saving my life and catching the cancer early.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I was not able to get an appointment for an ultrasound until October 25th. By that point, I had five small lumps. A lumpectomy revealed that all five lumps were malignant. I had the privilege of being treated by Dr. Charles Cox and Dr. Susan Minton at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. After a mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy (three lymph nodes were positive), and a year of herceptin, I have survived. My biggest fear, since my cancer had already moved to my lymph nodes, was that Tanner might have to face the same heartbreak as Christopher and Jessica when they lost their mother.  I’m not afraid anymore, and I’m healthy again.

I thank God everyday for my friends and family who helped me through this ordeal. I am eternally grateful to my husband, Eddie who still called me "beautiful" even when I was bald and pale and to my sister Linda, who left her family for a month to nurse me through my surgeries. Nobody else could have made me laugh as much as Linda on the night of my mastectomy. I'm also thankful to have my Mom, Doreen with me by my side; she felt all my pains and fears as if they were her own. And, though I wouldn’t wish a cancer diagnosis on anyone, I am indeed a better person for having survived cancer.

 

 

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