20 survivors were honored at the walk, and each had a chance to say something, after which they were given a bouquet of mums to take home as a gift of our appreciation for their survivorship wisdom and speaking out.
Bob, a one-year survivor said, “I had a lump in my neck. My wife nagged me to get it checked several times. But it didn’t bother me. Then I hurt my back lifting something heavy. I went to my doctor, who after addressing my back issues said, ‘Is there anything else that’s bothering you?’ I told him ‘it’s not bothering me, it’s bothering my wife, but I have this lump in my neck.’ I am here today because that doctor asked me about other health concerns otherwise….I may not be here today looking and feeling as well as I do.” Tears fell from his eyes, as they did from most of the listeners.
Mike, a 12-year survivor said this when he was introduced:
It took me:
6 weeks to remove the trach
9 months to eat solid foods and remove the feeding tube
1 year to get back to work full time
2 years to speak publically in a work environment
4 years to get back on a bike
7 years to run a 5K
10 years to get back to the weight I was before cancer
12 years to publicly share my story
Natalie Carillo[/caption]Natalie Carillo, age 27, just had surgery for stage IV oral cancer on September 4, 2013. I was in touch with her mom just after surgery to learn it went very well. I emailed Natalie to see if she was interested in speaking at the awareness walk and what an honor it would be. She admitted she wouldn’t know if she felt up to it until a few days before the walk. Well, not only did she make the walk, speak eloquently with her swollen tongue and scars still fresh with bandages, but she announced she will do everything in her power to speak out to raise awareness and save lives.