Maine Cancer Foundation Board Member Laura Davis Rinck spends her day job as President of Rinck Advertising. In addition to serving on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, Laura has been a voice for those affected by cancer and has shown how to live with hope and success. She won the 2011 Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Survivor award for her involvement in community outreach and for demonstrating a passion for helping others with cancer. The national award is given to a cancer survivor who is involved in community outreach and demonstrates a passion for helping others with cancer.
The month of July is dedicated to cancer survivorship. In our guest blog series, Laura, who was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1989, shares unique and impactful perspectives on 28 years of survivorship. Most recently, her journey included over six months of trying to gain access to medical records she was told had been destroyed.
According the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship, there are approximately 15.5 million survivors in the United States. Just 17% or 2.6 million have survived over twenty years. And the number drops to about 6% or 960,000 survivors who have lived for thirty years.
I am a twenty-eight year survivor.
The data from NCI supports my own internal clock which, lately, has felt like a bit of ticking time bomb. I suspect that ticking is probably heard by most people who are fifty-something but I only hear it as a survivor. In fact, I have now lived longer as a survivor than not. The advantage of long-term survivorship is a kind of health vigilance that you gain when you’ve been introduced to your own mortality in your early 20’s. Sometimes that clock ticks louder than other times.
A cancer survivor is anyone diagnosed with any type of cancer from the time of their first diagnosis through the balance of the rest of their life, whether that is a few precious months or several decades. My survivorship journey has been defined as living cancer-free for most of that 28-year period, with intermittent secondary cancers including thyroid cancer and multiple basal cell carcinomas. I’ve also had health issues related to radiation scars like pulmonary fibrosis, colon strictures and angiomyolipomas which are benign tumors of the kidneys. There have been plenty of suppressed immune issues over the years including pneumonia and a case of meningitis.
My story is quite typical of a long-term Hodgkin lymphoma survivor. Many of my long-term effects have been the result of receiving a lifetime quota of 4800 rads of radiation treatment. While I have had my ups and downs, in 2011, I took a much more active role in the management of my survivorship when I stumbled upon a medical article that had been published in the American Journal of Medicine entitled, “Care of the Adult Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivor”. I distinctly remember feeling alarmed after reading the abstract: “Hodgkin lymphoma survivors are at risk of developing secondary malignancies, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, thyroid disease, infertility, premature menopause, chronic fatigue, and psychosocial issues. These conditions usually have a long latency and therefore present years or decades after Hodgkin lymphoma treatment, when the patient’s care is being managed by a primary care provider.” (Read the article in full).
In our Snapshots blog series, we turn to Maine Cancer Foundation constituents - from staff, board members and other volunteers, donors, grant recipients and beyond - to share important moments in their lives related to cancer. Our series will paint a broad stroke of the cancer landscape in the state, while narrowing the focus into the rare and intimate moments that bring us all together.
We're speechless after yesterday's Tenth Anniversary Tri for a Cure.
For this month's Challenge Cancer 2020 package, our media partner, WMTW-TV Channel 8, reports Maine Cancer Foundation's funding shift from cancer research towards prevention, early detection, and improving patient care.
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