Friday, June 6, 2014

Survivorship event a celebration of life

With Boston Mayor Marty Walsh
This is the third week in a row that I have gone to Dana-Farber, but unlike the usual, this one was for fun.

I don't usually do these things, but it worked out with my schedule, so I went to Dana-Farber last night for the annual cancer survivorship celebration, Living Proof, and I'm glad I did. Some 200 people gathered for an evening of food and music and a speech by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who was treated at Dana-Farber for the Burkett's lymphoma that he had at age 7.

I used to be shy, but my years of asking people questions for newspaper stories turned me into the opposite, so I enjoyed sitting with a family I hadn't previously known: a breast cancer survivor, her husband and their daughter.

I was next to Dr. Edward Benz, president of Dana-Farber, at the buffet, and I told him that I had had four bone marrow transplants, that his people did good work, and that I was a big cheerleader. He seemed impressed.

It was the only social event where people could actually ask each other what kind of cancer they had without being rude. I exchanged diagnoses with a woman in the elevator, for example. She told me she was three years out from ovarian cancer and I told her I was five-plus from leukemia. We each congratulated the other. You could pick out the survivors through the "Living Proof" pins we received.

I talked for a bit to to Dana-Farber's staff photographer, Sam Ogden, who has become a friend through living on my sister's block. He and his wife, Cindy, are both cancer survivors, and we share a special bond.

After the mayor spoke, I joined the line of people wanting to greet him. Everyone told him their diagnosis or their relationship to someone with cancer. Just as you might introduce yourself with the year of your graduation at a school reunion, I said, "Ronni Gordon, leukemia, four transplants."

I congratulated him on
his accomplishments and said I would have voted for him if I lived in Boston. Then he told me I looked great, and Sam took our picture.


Saul Wisnia said...

Excellent account of your evening, Ronni -- I feel like I was there, which i wish I was -- and you continue to be "Living Proof" of how someone can live with poise and purpose through the ups and downs of cancer. I am sure Dr. Benz enjoyed your buffet greeting.

Joanna said...

You are so awesome! You are such an amazing survivor.