March 5, 2018
Cancer, in its many forms, is all too prevalent in today’s world. Everyone is at least aware of someone who has fought the disease; too many of us personally know individuals who have lost that battle. For my 27-year-old self, however, cancer always happened to “other people”. Young and healthy, with little history of cancer in my immediate family, there were numerous other health problems that ranked higher on my list of “Things to Worry About in the Future”.
For those of you who have been following my progress, the eighteenth day of this past February marked a year-and-a-half into a journey more unexpected than that of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. In August of 2016, the tumor was discovered in my left frontal lobe after experiencing a seizure, my only symptom. On October 11th of that year, eight days after the surgery to remove the mass, I was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. That November, I began six weeks of simultaneous radiation and chemotherapy treatment, and for the past year, I have been on what is called a “maintenance chemo” schedule, taking the treatment for five days out every 28.
The drive home from the diagnosis was filled with disbelief and sadness. The surgery had gone so well, hopes were high, so it was shocking to hear my doctor tell me that I might not live another two years. And yet here I am, 18 months later. In fact, I am pleased to share that February 9, 2018, was my last day of chemo.
From the moment the tumor was discovered, I have been overwhelmed with immeasurable support from so many people, that I have lacked for nothing during my battle with cancer. The words “thank you” do absolutely no justice in expressing my gratitude to all those who have helped make this process bearable. From those who sent cards, chocolate, fruit, and numerous other gifts, to those who routinely offered to chauffeur me around when I could not drive, there are too many occasions and small favors to acknowledge here.
To the individuals who have organized— or contributed to— a fundraiser, to the folks that have sent donations in the mail, please know that you ensured this process to be one where financial strain is not a factor. Your generosity has allowed me to continue to work for AIA Detroit, a nonprofit, while miraculously covering medical expenses that are now annually 500% more than what I paid before cancer. I recognize how fortunate I am, to be part of such a thoughtful community, to be surrounded by so many caring individuals who constantly ask after my health or inquire about “the next fundraiser”.
Please know that you are the solid foundation on which I can stand and fight this disease. You have demonstrated more patience than I deserve when my chemo, doctors’ visits, and medical tests have kept me from operating at 100%. You keep my spirits high by sharing in my laughter, however dark the source of the humor. You happily acknowledge my victories, however small. Even though there are no certainties or guarantees when it comes to treating glioblastoma, I can continue to plan for tomorrow because you are helping me survive today. So while these words do not truly express the magnitude in which I am grateful, let me say: Thank you, for your awe-inspiring kindness. You are a true example of the good things in this world that make this fight worthwhile, and I am forever humbled by the altruism I have had the privilege to witness.
Optimistic and Hopeful, as always,
Lauren Myrand, Associate AIA
AIA Detroit Executive Director