• Glow Up – AYAs


    Has your cancer journey transformed you in some way? Bring a physical object that represents that transformation – a journal, your favorite candle, maybe running shoes?

  • 13thirty Threads

    The Diagnosis – Vicki Ties It Together


    13thirty member, Serena (Ewing’s sarcoma) reflects on the moment she found out her diagnosis.


    You have cancer…and, just like that, you are instantly part of a “club” that you would have never signed up for if given the choice. Your life is changed in an instant. 

    I remember the day like it was yesterday. It felt as though I was under water. The surrealness of the moment, washing over me like a thousand waves. How can this be? Why me? 

    Reflecting on the months and years that followed, I realize that there were many instances where I could/would not process my feelings. All of the fear, guilt, and anxiety seemed to have become a part of me. That said, it soon became abundantly clear that though the negative feelings and emotions were valid, they did not define me.

    Am I going to die?
    How is this going to affect my family, my spouse, and my friends?
    Will the next scan show no evidence of disease or progression?

    Sometimes the feelings came slowly, other times they came in rapid succession. There were moments when I felt strong and confident, looking forward to the future. Then, there were the moments that took my breath away. I think we can all agree that sometimes, you just need to cry. You need to sit in that uncomfortable space and simply be. My advice for you is to allow yourself some grace. No self-judgment, only love. 

    As isolating as a cancer diagnosis can make you feel, you need to know that you are not alone. Consider yourself as a captain. Your family, friends, co-workers, physicians, nurses, and the people you meet along the way, are your team. They are there to cheer you on, to help you rally through, and to support you even in the darkest of days. Stay strong and stay optimistic. You, my friend, are a cancer THRIVER!!

    Peace, love, and light. 
    Vicki

  • 13thirty Threads

    Hi everyone, I’m Vicki, a 2x Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma thriver, and this is my story.

    It all started on Friday, October 31, 2014. The day I heard the words, “You have cancer.” Having always led an active life style – mountain biking, skiing, hiking, anything outside, any physical challenge – a persistent five-month cough, and a deep aching pain in my chest each time I took a breath was concerning, but cancer was not even remotely on my radar, let alone Stage IV metastatic disease.

    Like many of you, I’m sure, a chest X-ray was followed by a CT scan, and then, THAT phone call (you know the one). As I slid down the wall of my office, phone still in hand, I remember vowing – I am invested. This is my life, and if I need to walk through fire, I will. And I will rise through the ashes and fly because that’s what I was born to do. Just like all of you!

    My cancer adventure (adventure? Sure, why not!) was like many of yours – multiple surgeries, scans, lab work, six months of chemotherapy, 18 rounds of radiation, and finally the sweetest four words a Thriver can hear…..no evidence of disease (NED)!

    Eight months later, the beast was back. Stage IV, yet again.

    This time, I asked the universe for clarity and peace. I allowed myself to cry, to feel everything I was feeling, to sit in that moment and allow myself to just be. When there were no tears left, the picture became clearer and the peace I had been seeking found me. In June 2016, I enrolled in a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering, in New York City, that combined immunotherapy and antibody therapy (pretty mind-blowing stuff huh?). The goal of this conditioning treatment was to (fingers crossed) once again achieve NED and prepare me for a stem cell transplant. The treatment worked! Collection of my own stem cells and a preparative regimen of high-dose chemotherapy followed, leading to an autologous stem cell transplant in November 2016. My own cells gave me a second chance at life.

    Today, nearly six years after my initial diagnosis, I can proudly say (who am I kidding, I am shouting out loud), I’ve gone from Stage IV to No More! It has not been easy. There have been dark days and I often struggle to convey all the daily thoughts, feelings, and emotions. But cancer changes your perspective. It humbles you. It makes you appreciate every smile and awkward moment. Every sunrise and warm summer breeze. All of the laughter, along with the tears. Cancer has also inspired me to give something back to the world that I almost lost.

    Through this new series, 13thirty Threads, I will be honored to add my thoughts to yours as we stitch our shared experiences together. All the people, places, and emotions that have colored the fabric of our individual lives will be woven into the collective tapestry of 13thirty Cancer Connect. I can’t wait to get started!

    Peace, love, and light.

    Vicki