So it’s definitely been a while since I’ve posted anything and I apologize for the long wait. I have been busy with work and raising my son and trying my darndest to stay in remission (so far, so good!). Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in The Dempsey Challenge. This was my second year doing so. This event runs all weekend with the running events being held on Saturday and the biking events are held on Sunday. In addition, there’s a ton of activities to participate in leading up to the big weekend which are all totally optional but they really add to the spirit of this very sincere and generous cause. Let me backtrack just a bit…
When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer two years ago, I did not know any survivors of this insidious disease. My own grandmother had passed away from it nearly 14 years prior to my diagnosis. It’s known as The Silent Killer for a reason. I didn’t want this cancer to take my life and prevent me from raising my son and seeing him graduate high school and college and see the man that he will become.
I was careful in my searches on the internet when I was first diagnosed because of all the terrible stuff out there about this cancer. I tried to learn about the disease but didn’t go too deep since I didn’t want to scare myself. I realize that’s naive but that’s what worked for me at the time. What I really wanted was to know someone who was a survivor and thus began my search on the internet for any survivors in my area. The only one that I was able to find was Amanda Dempsey, mother of three. Not only was she a survivor, she had battled several times and was still around. So this is what I held onto – a woman that I had never met but she lives in my area. I “knew” someone who had battled ovarian cancer and won so this added some fuel to my fight.
Since there was no cancer-specific support group in my area, I turned to the internet and was blessed to find some very giving women who offered loads of support in a safe and confidential setting even though they’d never met me. With their generous sharing of information, I was able to gain enormous knowledge and emotional support from survivors who told me that I was more than a statistic. Between them and the support of my friends, family, and co-workers, I was able to navigate through the surgeries, chemo, and all those lousy side effects. During this time, I had heard that there was a cancer support center that was being planned in the central part of the state and it was inspired by the same woman who inspired me – Amanda Dempsey. This was good news to me since it sounded like it would be a place that was very much needed but didn’t exist yet. I wondered if it would be too good to be true but I kept my hopes up.
In the meantime, thanks to these generous women on the internet, I learned of the annual Ovarian Cancer National Alliance that is held each July in Washington, DC. In July 2012, I went to DC and was fortunate to meet some of these wonderful ladies in person. It truly gave me a passion to help others and once I came home, I decided that I wanted to participate in a fundraiser for this new cancer center that I had heard about. The fundraiser is called the The Dempsey Challenge and all of the money raised goes to the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing. I have had the pleasure of going to the Center which offers support, gentle exercise, massage, information, and a lot of hugs for all cancer patients and their families and caregivers regardless of the type of cancer one has. The bonus: the Center does not charge anyone for any of the services they offer. It is truly a safe and welcoming place to go to heal. Having cancer leaves us shunned at times because those not familiar with the disease just either stay away or don’t know what to say to a person who has no hair and a swollen chemo face. This is NOT the case at the Center. Everyone is accepted and valued and they provide so much support and information.
The Dempsey Challenge is a truly wonderful event to participate in. There’s no competition (the events are not officially timed) and the generous support of all the participants and volunteers is top-notch. Survivors are recognized and sincerely welcomed and celebrated (just like they are at the Center). Not one cent that is raised by the participants goes towards putting on the event. They have a lot of sponsors who generously cover all of the costs for the weekend which is a lot of fun for families, survivors, and caregivers. It is by far one of the best organized events I have ever participated in. This is the second year that I have participated and it’s something that I plan on being a part of every year.
It is also at this fundraiser that I have had the pleasure of seeing the beautiful Amanda Dempsey, ovarian cancer survivor and mother of 3. She’s such a fighter and I doubt she knows how many people she inspires. She inspires me each and every day.
To learn more about the Challenge and to donate, please go to: The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing
To learn more about this wonderful place that was inspired by Amanda, please check out this video: