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What a trip! Our ‘miracle survivor tour’

Posted Aug 21 2012 3:52pm
August 21, 2012 - Posted by tamilb

Me (far right), my daughter Chrissy, husband Mike and Deirdre Carey with her boys Jay and Charlie (front).

In case any of you were wondering why I didn’t post last week, my husband, daughter and I just returned from a lovely New England vacation. We flew into Boston and made our way up to Bar Harbor, Maine, then back to Boston for a few days. We ate lobster, hiked beautiful trails, experienced a tour of Harvard and saw other Boston tourist sights.

But my favorite part was getting a chance to meet some amazing people, most of whom I’ve never connected with in person. Our first night was spent with friend Wendy McCool and her husband Kevin at their beautiful home in southern Maine. Wendy was a fellow Pink Power Mom , when we were nominated back in 2010. Wendy is super busy helping other survivors with her fabulous organization, My Breast Cancer Support , which provides support and hope to New Hampshire and seacoast Maine area survivors and their families. It was great to spend time with them and tool around in their boat.

One of my “wish list” goals is to meet all the amazing people who shared their stories in From Incurable to Incredible. So it was a huge treat to get together with Deb Violette while we were in central Maine. For those of you who haven’t read From Incurable to Incredible, Deb was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer back in 1998. At the time, they told her she had a 10 percent chance of living five years.

I love this quote from her story: “I remember one night I was out in the garden and thinking about my terrible prognosis. All of a sudden, it seemed like the skies opened up and the vise released. This little voice in my head said, ‘Why are you focusing on the 90 percent of people who didn’t make it; why don’t you focus on the 10 percent who do?’” Deb doesn’t take being part of that 10 percent lightly. She has dedicated much of her life to raising lung cancer awareness in the state of Maine and erasing the unfair stigma attached to the disease.

We were also excited to meet with Deirdre Carey and her sons Charlie and Jay. My husband often mentions Charlie’s spunky retort to kids who taunted him for being short: “It doesn’t matter how tall I am; I’m a cancer survivor, and I’m brave.” Indeed, he is, and so are Deirdre and Jay, who have supported him through the years. When Charlie was just six months old, Charlie was diagnosed with a very rare form of brain and spinal cancer and was given a 0-20 percent of living; only 10 months if the chemo didn’t work. Well, Charlie is turning 13 soon and was happily eating a cannoli at Faneuil Hall during our visit!

Marie Petrides is another great Boston connection I finally got to meet. Marie first contacted online me after reading From Incurable to Incredible and soon we became close Facebook friends. Like me, Marie is living with advanced breast cancer and has adopted a special cancer-fighting diet. I found a good vegan restaurant in Cambridge to meet, and we laughed how we both ask a million questions when ordering. She is amazingly positive and is doing great. It truly touched my heart when she told me that reading the book has transformed her life. That was my dream when writing it … no matter how many I sold, I would feel fulfilled it really helped someone.

Last, but not least was our visit with Peter Devereaux and his wife Fiona and daughter Jackie. Peter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, which came back stage IV a year later. A former Marine, he learned that he was among 27 men who lived at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1957 and 1987 who were diagnosed with the disease. Studies revealed that the water source there was contaminated. Pete and fellow Camp Lejeune survivors took their story to CNN and other news outlets and helped lead the way to gaining health benefits the Marines were denying to them.

I came back inspired, feeling a deep connection with everyone we visited, and a lot of material for this blog! There’s too much to share today. Look for more information about these incredible people in future posts!

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