Press Release: An Unexpected Friendship- Goes the Distance to Fight Cancer


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jenna Benn  jenna@twistoutcancer.org

TO: Assignment Editors, Planning Editors, Community Calendars

An Unexpected Friendship – Goes the Distance to Fight Cancer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jenna Benn  jenna@twistoutcancer.org

TO: Assignment Editors, Planning Editors, Community Calendars

An Unexpected Friendship – Goes the Distance to Fight Cancer

Tuesday, October 1……At face value Jeremy Balkin from Sydney, Australia and Jenna Benn from Chicago, Illinois have nothing in common. Looking deeper, these two young Jewish social entrepreneurs separated by by 9500 miles (15000kms) share far more in common that their initials.

Jeremy Balkin is the Founder of Give While You Live http://www.givewhileyoulive.com, a foundation that was set up after surviving a life-changing near death extreme sports injury.  Over the last few years he has raised raised millions of dollars for causes around the world including Jewish non-profits and Cancer organizations. During his rehabilitation process after major surgery, Jeremy began running and like Forrest Gump just kept on going.

Jenna Benn is the Founder and Executive Director of Twist Out Cancer http://www.twistoutcancer.org a non profit organization that provides psychosocial support to anyone touched by cancer. After months of intensive chemotherapy for Grey Zone Lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer that affects less than 300 people in the United States, she managed to inspire over 40,000 people and counting.  As a young Jewish professional, Jenna has focused a great deal of her outreach to young Jewish adults who have felt isolated and alone through their experiences with cancer.

In June 2012, Balkin and Benn were invited to attend the prestigious ROI Summit for Jewish social entrepreneurs and change makers in Jerusalem hosted by the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Foundation.

The ROI Summit is an invitation-only gathering where delegates are selected and flown to Israel from all over the world with the Summit theme to “Connect & Create” leveraging ideas and networks for a better world.

These two young Jewish social entrepreneurs from opposite ends of the world met and became instant friends.  They instantly started to brainstorm and collaborate on ways to further propel Benn’s non-profit. After 18 months of careful planning these two passionate individuals crafted a strategy under heavy secrecy and many late night skype calls and emails to launch a Project to raise nationwide awareness for Twist Out Cancer.

“When I was going through cancer treatment I felt increasingly isolated and alone. Upon completion, I was determined to give back in a big way. In October 2011, just months after finishing treatment I established Twist Out Cancer (TOC) …a support community with a twist. TOC harnesses the power of personal connection and community to support those touched by cancer.  When I started this movement 2 years ago I never anticipated that it would grow so quickly. We have held events in Los Angeles, Montreal, Toronto and Chicago. Our hope is to continue to build our community of survivors and supporters and reach as many people as possible through our website, programs and events. The opportunity to share my story at the ROI summit in front of 300 young leaders was liberating and therapeutic.   I wholeheartedly believe that when you share the world opens up,” said Jenna Benn of the experience.

“Jenna is one of those people in life that you meet and leave feeling like you’re a better person” reflects Jeremy Balkin upon meeting Jenna.

On Sunday 13 October, Jeremy Balkin is flying halfway around the world to run the prestigious Chicago Marathon in honor of Twist Out Cancer with the ambition to raise the national profile of the charity and needed funds to promote volunteer programs.

“In 2008 my life changed as I was laying in a hospital bed not knowing what was next.”

“The second chance I was given made me devote my life to making the world better. Since then I established Give While You Live and have been blessed by the generosity of those around me.”

“In my rehabilitation I began to run and like Forrest Gump just kept going! Running is freedom and I’ve seen too many people close to me denied their freedom when cancer takes over.” reflects Jeremy Balkin

Chicago will complete the third of the prestigious Marathon Majors in the United States after Boston and New York for Balkin.

“We’re aiming to raise $1000 per mile ($26,200) to further support our amazing volunteer network in Chicago and expand across the rest of the United States” says Jenna Benn.

“My ambition is to help raise the national profile of Twist Out Cancer so that by year end 60,000 people can be touched by the amazing work Jenna has inspired.” says Jeremy Balkin

Lynn Schusterman, Chair, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network states, “We are deeply inspired by Jenna and Jeremy’s  leadership. We are proud that ROI could help spark their partnership, and we look forward to seeing it blossom and provide a model for others to work collaboratively across continents for positive change.”

Click here to donate and learn more about Jeremy Balkin’s Twist Out Cancer Campaign.

For more information contact Jenna Benn jenna@twistoutcancer.org

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The Power to Choose

It has been two years.

Two years since I heard the words “No Evidence of Disease.”

Two years of seeing the world in hyper-color.

2 years of wiggling my toes, breathing deep, and savoring moments.

I woke up this morning uncertain of how to approach this day. With my 2 year scan scheduled in April, I was hesitant to celebrate my remission birthday without a concrete scientific endorsement.

After some thought and reflection I came to the realization that while the system that I am in has its own predetermined markers and finish lines, it is up to me to determine which dates and moments in time are significant.

The last two years have not only been about cancer but they have been about choice.

The choice to find meaning in suffering, the choice to find hope amongst trauma, and the choice to use my experience as the catalyst for living a life full of profound gratitude.

I may not have chosen the cards that I was dealt, but I had the ability to choose how to respond.

I chose to face cancer in an authentic, open and  honest way- a choice that not only helped me navigate the trauma but has significantly enhanced my life in the here and now.

Perhaps there is a chance that my cancer has returned.

Perhaps there is a chance I will again be betrayed by my body.

And perhaps there is a chance I  will again endure hardship and pain.

These what ifs, these unknowns, these maybe’s-are crippling.

Today I woke up wiggling my toes.

Today I had moments in hypercolor.

And today I am reminded of how great it feels to breathe deep.

I am here- I am alive- and I choose to celebrate.

Thank you for those that have been by my side- holding my hand in the darkest of hours- and to those that stood on the sidelines cheering from all corners of the globe.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I felt you then-and I feel you now.

 

   

Twist Out Cancer – Gets Big.

A few weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of meeting Ayush Maheshwari who is the founder of the I AM BIG SHOW which is a weekly web- based program that focuses on what is working in a big way.   I AM BIG focuses on what makes everyday life extraordinary. Ayush believes that there is‘ bigness’ in each one of us. The purpose of this weekly show is to bring folks from day to day life and talk about what’s working in their life- what’s working in the personal lives, what’s working with their careers’ and what’s working with their connection to the community.

I had the rare opportunity to be interviewed by Ayush for his show and blog for his website.

Check out our interview and the blog I wrote for his show.

Ayush- you are undoubtedly changing lives one story at a time.

 From the I Am Big Show Blog

 

Yes we can. Our guest Jenna Benn, at the age of 29, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.  One of the hardest three words one can hear in their lives is ‘You Have Cancer’. This was not part of her plan. However, she took control and empowered her life. As a result, ‘Twist Out Cancer’ (TOC) was born.

TOC is a movement today and helps survivors and their loved ones combat the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and helplessness that often accompany cancer diagnoses and treatment. In other words, Jenna wrote her own story and continues to do so. It is our honor to have Jenna on our show. The post below is from Jenna to You. Read Jenna’s story and then please tell us your own. With gratitude, Ayush.

  Writing My Own Story

When you are forced to come to terms with your own mortality at a young age, the way in which you see the world inevitably changes.

Diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer that affects less than 300 people in the United States, I realized fairly quickly that I had two options. I could either turn into a recluse and cut myself off from the rest of the world -or I could write my own story.

The need and desire to write and chronicle what I was experiencing was almost instinctual. Within days of my diagnosis I had started a blog that served as my coping mechanism and strategy for managing life with cancer.  While the rigorous treatments rendered me speechless- I found my authentic voice through writing.

As I documented my journey I started to realize that I was in a unique position to be able to raise awareness about the unique set of challenges and issues facing the young adult cancer community.

I tackled what it was like to feel betrayed by my body, the inevitable regression and dependency on my parents, and the eventual loss of my perceived femininity. In addition to these challenges, I also painfully opened up about what it feels like to lose your own fertility.

The more that I wrote- the more that I shared- the more I felt the world opened up.

I no longer felt burdened or smothered by my cancer diagnosis, but rather I felt an inexplicable sense of freedom.

Silence is what shames us- and so I was screaming.

I chose to find my voice, I chose to write my own story, and I chose to twist out cancer- because it was what was right for me. I can only hope that my choices and my story will be able to help others.

 

Our Voice, Our Narrative, Our Twists on Cancer

Over the last two years I have spent a great deal of time connecting with other cancer survivors to learn about their unique experiences in managing their illness. Some of of these survivors describe feelings of isolation, loneliness, ostracism and misunderstanding, whereas others describe unprecedented love and support.  Some survivors describe their experiences as colored by profound loss and repeated victimization where as others describe it as a journey filled with countless blessings.

What is clear, is that there is not one cancer narrative- not one coping strategy- nor one particular model patient experience we can look to to mimic or follow.  Our experiences- our narratives-our reflections on what was and what is-is so deeply personal.  And perhaps our experiences and the way we choose to describe them-are influenced by where we stand. Are we recently diagnosed- currently in treatment- recently relapsed or post treatment?   The options are endless and the words we choose  to describe our stories, can quickly change depending on where we are at.

In my case, with little to no statistics or research to explain my diagnosis and treatment regimen, I realized early on that I felt empowered by writing my own story. Writing became my primary coping mechanism for how to navigate an experience that was traumatic, chaotic, yet undeniably mine. As I felt increasingly lonely and isolated I was deeply concerned that I would eventually lose my own voice. There were times when I appeared silent, but I was really screaming. And there were times when I was screaming yet struggling to speak.

In a failed attempt to preserve the voice I once knew and once loved, I ended up by accident discovering a more authentic self.  This self was braver, more courageous, and more giving. This self was determined to raise awareness, educate and find an outlet for my creativity.

The voice that I was so desperately clinging to was no longer the voice that I needed.

And today, I have recognized that the voice I had during treatment- is no longer relevant for my here and now.

Our voices- our narratives- our twists on cancer are ever- changing.

Perhaps through writing, through art, through music, our voices then and now can and will always be preserved.

 

On April 17, 2012, Twist Out Cancer will launch “Brushes With Cancer: Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create For a Cause.” This event will celebrate survivorship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by 
Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer
Jonny Immerman, Founder of Immerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker
Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa

Music Provided by Palter Ego
Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

 

Twist Out Cancer Presents: Brushes With Cancer- Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create for a Cause

Brushes With Cancer is an evening that celebrates survivor-ship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by


Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer


Jonny Imerman, Founder of Imerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker


Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa


Music Provided by Palter Ego

Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

How Do I Get Involved:
If you are interested in joining the Twist With An Artist Host Committee or are interested in donating goods/services please contact Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

There will be 4 host committee meetings between January and April. Please note that you do not need to be in Chicago to participate.

 

Campers fight cancer with creativity, social media

 Press Release

Media Contact

Rachel Ritter Smith

Jewish Community Center Chicago

Office: 847-763-3661

(October, 2012, Chicago, IL)—Campers at JCC Camp Chi in Wisconsin fought cancer creatively this past summer. Fifty Staff-in-Training (SIT) participated in a pilot curriculum based on the Twist Out Cancer (TOC) project. TOC is a virtual community founded by 30-year-old lymphoma survivor Jenna Benn, through which individuals affected by cancer create a profile distinguishing his or her individual “twist” on fighting cancer. This twist becomes a collection of videos, posts, songs, pictures, or other media gifted to the survivor by anyone who chooses to respond.

This past July, on a Saturday dedicated to the project, Benn engaged campers in a discussion about her fight with cancer, creating TOC, and how social media played a huge role in her persistent positive attitude. Before she got sick, Benn loved to dance; one day she posted a video of herself doing the twist and invited others to share their own videos. She got thousands of responses and realized the power of video to connect survivors and supporters.

Using the TOC Web-based platform, campers were challenged to respond to three survivors, to create a piece of art, to film a carefree, childhood moment, and to share their own inspiring stories. The SITs enthusiastically spent the day under Benn’s guidance, working together on their gifts. “They were not only willing to participate and give back in a meaningful way, they were motivated to continue to bring TOC’s message back to their respective communities,” said Benn.

“This program went above and beyond my expectations,” said Rachel Jacobsohn (SIT ’12). “Jenna was fantastic and inspiring. The entire group joined together with 110% effort to create meaningful answers for each challenge.”

“They experienced the importance of supporting those in need and have been inspired to continue this type of work,” said Jamie Lake, assistant director of JCC Camp Chi. Each summer, staff at JCC Camp Chi find new and creative ways to bring Jewish values to life through hands-on and meaningful activities. The TOC project embodied the Jewish value of caring for the sick, bikur cholim. SITs are no strangers to helping others; they have organized recycling, helped clean after the Lake Delton flood, and volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, to name just a few of the many projects.

“We discussed that bikur cholim is a responsibility not only of an individual but of the community,” said Jacobsohn. The TOC project engages the community in bikur cholim through social media. Through that medium, Benn’s vision has touched countless lives, and it was the catalyst that brought the project to JCC Camp Chi. Growing up, both Lake and Benn attended Birch Trail Camp, and later reconnected through Facebook. Through updates, Lake learned about TOC and contacted Benn to find out how JCC Camp Chi campers could be involved in the project.

“At the time, Jenna was working with a professor at Northwestern University, to develop an educational curriculum, and we volunteered to try it out over the summer,” said Lake. TOC was used as a case study by Danny M. Cohen’s, PhD., Program Development & Implementation class. Students analyzed and critiqued the TOC initiatives and created an action plan for sustainability, including programs and evaluation methods that will help TOC grow in the future.

“It was one of the best things I’ve done at camp in years,” said Lake. “The kids were so into it.”

“At the end of the session, as I looked at my entire SIT class going crazy doing the Twist, I was overcome with an intense sense of teamwork and genuine satisfaction,” said Jacobsohn. “I was truly inspired by being part of this.”

“This group demonstrated remarkable leadership and creativity,” said Benn. “It was wonderful to witness an incredible transformation. They learned a lot about each other, and their relationships were undoubtedly strengthened from it.” To learn more about TOC, training and/or hosting a program for your camp, or school, visit twistoutcancer.org.

JCC Camp Chi is the Midwest’s premier Jewish overnight camp for boys and girls ages 9-16. Modern facilities bring campers’ summers alive with horseback riding, sports, high ropes/climbing tower, arts and crafts, and water adventure. Campers live in gender- and age-specific villages, engage in specially-tailored activities, Israel education programs, Shabbat celebrations, and are guided to embrace respect, community and kindness. Interaction and connection with other Jewish campers and Israeli staff provide the framework for pride in their Jewish heritage. campchi.com.

JCC Chicago is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring a strong and vibrant Jewish life and community for generations to come. JCC is a partner in serving our community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation. gojcc.org.

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Filling Your Shoes

It was June 2011.

I was finally untied, unlocked, let go- from the ward, the routine, and the heaviness of cancer treatment.

I was starting to emerge from the shadows-starting to find my rhythm- starting to find my footing.

There was only one problem- I couldn’t find my shoes.

7 months earlier, when I heard the words “you have cancer,” I unwillingly and unknowingly took off so fast-that my shoes were left behind.

Once I had completed  treatment- was given a clean bill of health-and finally released-I made it my mission to find those shoes.

I wrote about my efforts- I documented my failed attempts-and I opened up about my frustrations.

2 complete strangers- a mother and a daughter-read about my plight, and decided to create a pair of adorned flip flops that were noticeably  brighter, perfectly bedazzled- and just the right fit.

All of my failed attempts to pick up where i had left off- led me to exactly where I was supposed to be.

This pair of strangers,  gently informed me that it was superfluous to continue searching for the person I was once was, and that it was time to embrace who I had since become.

Over the last 15 months, I have been working hard to mourn my former self- and embrace who I am today.

Tonight, on September 21st, I was yet again given a new pair of shoes, destined to take me in a new direction, intended to lead me in a new dance.

Robert Piercy was a dancer. Diagnosed with Leukemia 7 years ago, he chose to find meaning in his suffering, embraced the uncertainty of his own mortality, and thereby lived differently. During this time, he noticeably held his loved ones tight, used his experiences to fuel his advocacy, and chose to dance in the rain- in the midst of a thunderstorm.

Tonight at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Celebration of Life Dinner, Robert Piercy’s family presented me with the “Dancing in the Rain Award.”

As his father gave a heartfelt speech, describing his son’s beautiful nature- all I could picture was Robert Piercy’s shoes.

They were tall, polished, and over-sized.

My feet slipped right in but I was quickly overwhelmed by the space.

When you left us, we were left with your empty space- a space that is impossible to fill- and impossible to forget.

How could I possibly fill your shoes?

How could I possibly walk in your footsteps?

And so it seems, a year later- I am still agonizing over shoes.

This time however, it is not about trying to find the shoes I left behind in December 2010, but rather it is about learning how to walk, learning how to run, and learning how to dance- in your  shoes.

They may not be a perfect fit, and I may not fully understand the road you traveled- but I assure you, it is your  shoes that will lead me to my next destination- and it is your shoes that will lead me in this dance.

With love and gratitude- may your memory always be a blessing.

And to the beautiful Pickering Family and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society- I am humbled and grateful for your honor.  Thank you for believing in me.

 

 

1500 Tiny Twisters- Start a Commotion!

This past Sunday, I had the honor and privilege of sharing my story and leading 1500 survivors and supporters in the twist. The Lymphoma Research Foundation had their 10th annual walk which raises money and awareness about Lymphoma.

The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is the nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to funding innovative lymphoma research and providing people with lymphoma and healthcare professionals with up-to-date information about this type of cancer. LRF’s mission is to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by this disease.

LRF assists members of the lymphoma community by providing comprehensive, disease-specific programs and services to more than 35,000 people each year, including:

  • Clinical Trials Information Service
  • Disease-Specific Publications and Websites
  • In-person Workshops and Educational Forums
  • Lymphoma Helpline
  • Lymphoma Support Network
  • Online Resources, Teleconferences and Webcasts/Podcasts
  • Patient Aid Grants
  • Professional Education
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Volunteer Chapter Network

In the last 10 years, LRF’s Chicago based “Lymphomathons”- are not only the largest and most highly attended in the country- but they have raised upwards of 3 million dollars!

It was a pleasure to be able to be a part of this event. There is nothing quite like seeing a sea of survivors and supporters- twisting out cancer.

 

 

My Speech at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Annual Meeting

It is an honor and privilege to be here tonight- to share my story with you- and to convey to you the overwhelming gratitude I have for your tireless efforts.

On December 20, 2010, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Grey Zone Lymphoma that affects less than 300 people in the United States.  Because this disease is a relatively new diagnosis characterized by features of both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had virtually no statistics and little research about my disease. I decided that instead of being crippled by the lack of information- it was time to write my own story.

The news of my cancer diagnosis was both jarring and devastating. While it explained the months of flu like symptoms, night sweats and weight loss, I was an otherwise healthy young adult -who had always been proactive about my health.  It took a while for me to fully process the severity of my situation.

The night that I was diagnosed, I made a pat with myself that I was going to fight this disease with the same tenacity with which I wanted to live.

With the help of Northwestern’s Oncofertility Consortium, I took steps to help preserve my chances of having biological children before I started treatment and started to believe that there could be life after cancer, and that there was tremendous hope amidst the trauma.

I started an intensive chemotherapy regimen called R-Epoch on January 22nd which included a 5-6 day in-patient hospitalization where I would receive 120 hours of continuous chemotherapy every 21 days.

On May 10th, 2011-after multiple surgeries, scans,bood transfusions, and over 720 hours of intensive chemotherapy, I completed my 6th and final round of treatment.

As I headed toward the finish line- I was tested for one last time. I had contracted what could have been a fatal infection called gram negative rods that entered into my urine and my blood stream compromising my health to the extent where I was told minutes mattered. Fighting against the clock, and fighting for my life, the months of mental and physical training were drawn upon and leveraged. After spending another 4 days in the hospital, and two weeks in recovery, I started to write a new chapter.

When I finished treatment, and ended the routine of intensive checkups and surveillance-I found myself disoriented and confused about how to re-enter the world. Desperate to connect with the body that I felt increasingly disconnected from- I was determined to find an outlet that could help me strengthen and heal in the days to come.  Running became my refuge- it was my new drug. Running not only allowed me to escape from my overwhelming fears- but it allowed me to push myself in a way that reminded me that I was alive.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, and determined to pay it forward, I decided to sign up for the ½ marathon through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I felt a particular affinity and attachment to you because you were responsible for discovering the drug Rituxan which was a key component to the chemotherapy regimen- that saved my life.

Team in training became my second family. My coaches and teammates quickly replaced my beloved medical team.  You were my team of cheerleaders- working on overdrive to bring me to yet another finish line- a finish line that would eventually lead me to my next chapter.

In less than 3 months I ran hundreds of miles, and raised over $19.000 for LLS. Since then- I have joined your advocacy committee, served as your honored hero, and premiered on our city’s buses and trains- to help spread the important work that you do.

I stand here tonight- overwhelmed with gratitude. I am grateful for your fever pitch screams and motivational speeches on Saturday mornings. I am grateful that you believed that my body and mind could handle the journey to the next finish line. And I am grateful for your commitment, research, and advocacy to rid the world of blood cancer.

I am not the hero- I am merely the fortunate recipient of your hard work.

And so tonight- I honor you. I am surrounded by a room full of heroes. And without you- I would not be here.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

 

From me to you.

From December 2010- May 2011 it was-and had to be- all about me.

As I wrote my own story- you listened.

As I paved my own path- you guided.

As I fell down and got back up- you cheered.

Cancer left me with no choice. I had to take to survive, I had to take to live, I had to take to heal.

From a life of giving to a life of taking.

The paradigm had shifted- and I hated her for it.

Me. Me. Me-Calling on You. You. You.

For help-for support- for hope.

When I finished treatment, I was desperate to shift the focus from me to you.

I was sick of me. Sick of my own voice. Sick of my own story. Sick of sickness.

As space and time entered, my mind started to calm, and my body started to heal.

As I started to rebuild, there was an insatiable need to take what I had learned, to take what you had given me, and put it somewhere.

I needed to give.

How could my story, my narrative, my journey serve as the backdrop for giving to others?

It could no longer be about my twist- but had to be about yours.

In the last week- Twist Out Cancer has once again shifted.

We have seen bravery, resilience, love and support from all corners of the world.

We have seen survivors supporting survivors, strangers supporting strangers, loved ones connecting and creating in ways they never anticipated.

Slow and steady- we are building and growing- creating a community based on sharing and giving- from me to you.

Thank you to those that have contributed. Your participation means more than you will ever know.