Sunday, November 11, 2012
Congratulations to Janice Fisher, 10 year cancer survivor!
After feeling ill from continuous sinus infections, anxiety, and exhaustion for over a year, imagine how devastating, on March 6, 2002 after 29 years of teaching, I had to inform a teary eyed group of 5th and 6th grade students that I would have to leave my position as their teacher. Further testing proved my exact diagnosis to be Acute Myeloid Leukemia. My prognosis included a 30% chance to survive, after extensive chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant.
Finally, after a two year recovery period I was able to return to my cherished teaching position in September of 2004.Though I had survived many challenges, the challenge to start my life all over where I had left off, was the most difficult. I had already lost my self-esteem, and was diagnosed as clinically depressed.
Then, one magical spring day as I was purchasing “cat food” in an animal adoption and pet supply store, a ball of breathing white fluff, spotted here and there with black markings caught my eye. This 7 week Shih Tzu pup had been placed alone in a crate as two other playful pups had been too rough to accept her. Her breeder, ironically a struggling cancer survivor herself, thought it best to put her up for adoption. She looked up at me with the most expressively beautiful dark brown eyes, and whimpered, as if to say, “I’m lonely too.” This time cancer was “giving back”. As I held her I knew I would never be lonely or afraid again. This beautiful canine would fill my loneliness, calm my fears, and encourage me to “Take deeper root and reach for the sky”.
I named her “Dinah”, after my transplant nurse, who had calmed my body and soothed my soul. Through Dinah’s acts of curiosity, comedy, caring and loving attention, my recovery from clinical depression began. I started to appreciate many of the exciting things that life has to offer. That is why I decided that Dinah and I should become members of the American Cancer Society Bark for Life. Not only is Bark for Life exciting, it gives us the opportunity to help others to live and laugh again as Dinah did for me!
Janice L. Fisher-9year Cancer Survivor AML