I have been a jewelry designer and world traveler for most of my adult life. I’m accustomed to working hard and relying on myself: I’ve worked on a fishing boat, tended bar, lived in Bali and San Francisco, and taught myself to snowboard and ski. But in 2007, I found myself really struggling. I was seriously exhausted, spending more and more time in bed. I thought it was burnout. It never crossed my mind I had cancer. I’ve always been such a healthy, active person.
Rest didn’t help, and my doctor advised some tests, including a surgical biopsy on some old scar tissue. Turns out I had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was in total shock. The specialist who examined me said that that the cancer was most likely stage 4 and incurable. Basically, I thought I was going to die.
I’m incredibly lucky; my cancer turned out to be far less life-threatening than my doctors originally thought. The thing that impressed me most as I made my way through treatment was the generosity and strength of the people who cared for me. Without them, and without the research that had made my disease treatable in the first place, I wouldn’t be here. As I recovered, I knew I needed to show my support and appreciation.
In particular, I wanted to support patient services and the Peer - to - Peer program as I had benefited so much from this aspect of the LLS when I was first diagnosed. I was matched with someone in the U.S. who had the same diagnosis as I did - who stayed in touch with with me through my treatment - it was reassuring to know if they could get through it - so could I. And once I recovered - I volunteered to do the same.
I also made a very dramatic lifestyle change - I sold my business and my townhouse and pursued my life-long dream of sailing round the world.I’d planned to take a year off - 10 years later I’m still sailing. So far I’ve sailed more than 7,000 nautical miles to 17 countries and participated in numerous international yachting events, including the Baja Haha Rally for Cruisers from San Diego to Los Cabos and the St. Bart’s Bucket race.
So it’s truly an honour to be the honoured hero of this event! I hope you will join us.