My Sister’s a Survivor: Celebrating Life and Liberty
My 34-year-old sister was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) in February 2010 and underwent chemo and full body radiation in an effort to put her cancer into remission to allow for a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant. While I wasn’t a match, an unrelated donor was found through the Be The Match Registry, and she underwent a transplant on July 1, 2010.
Today, my sister, nephew, and I spent the day celebrating her successful treatment at an annual event hosted by the John Theurer Cancer Center of Hackensack, NJ. Under a cerulean blue sky, more than 1,000 survivors, children, and family/caregivers came together at Liberty State Park, overlooking Lower Manhattan, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
Our day didn’t start off on the best foot, but the understanding police officer let me off with a warning about (my sister’s!) overdue inspection sticker. My mom’s only been nagging her to take her car to inspection for the last three weeks.
We arrived at the park and were awed by the huge tent and crowds. There were some lovely tribute speeches to the doctors, nurses, and staff, followed by performances by a band and a Broadway singer. The backdrop of New York Harbor made for beautiful photos.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch, games, art therapy, hand massages, and interaction with other survivors and family members. It was a beautiful day, and we were so happy to be a part of it. It was inspiring to meet survivors who are four and five years out from transplant, living active, cancer-free lives.
I’m so thankful to all of the doctors, nurses, and support staff who treated my sister (and our family) with such kindness, professionalism, and top-notch care and compassion, and we look forward to celebrating with them all again next September.