Survivor Story: carrie
Not even the pandemic could thwart Carrie in her quest to train for and summit Mount St. Helens with Team Survivor’s Mountain Climb Group. After training on her own for more than a year, Carrie shares the thrill of coming together with fellow survivors to achieve the goal that was 2 1/2 years in the making!
Survivor Story: Peggy
When Peggy was diagnosed with cancer, a friend told her she had a silver lining to share: Team Survivor Northwest. Follow Peggy’s journey from navigating the tough terrain of cancer treatment all the way to the top of Mount St. Helens!
Survivor Story: Susanna
Summiting Mount St. Helens
Susanna Ray shares her experience preparing for and ultimately summiting Mount St. Helens with the Team Survivor Northwest Mountain Climbers. Don’t miss Susanna’s inspiring journey from a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis to the top of one of Washington’s most iconic peaks.
Survivor Story: Priti
Summiting Mount St. Helens
Priti Gairola shares her experience summiting Mount St. Helens with the Team Survivor Northwest Mountain Climbers, and how tackling this challenge helped empower her to recognize her own strength after a cancer diagnosis.
Survivor Stories: Susan
Survivor Story: Kathryn
“I never thought that breast cancer would be part of my life.” Cancer survivor Kathryn explains the role TSNW played in her healing journey.
Survivor Story: Cami
Survivor Story: Joann
Survivor Story: Sharon
TSNW member Sharon was active in water sports her entire life. As an adult, she even got her children involved! When Sharon was 52, she was in the best shape of her life when her ovary ruptured and she got the news that she had stage 3 cancer. As she battled her diagnosis, Sharon felt worn down by her fatigue, but still continued to exercise as much as she could. When Sharon’s friend introduced her to Team Survivor, it was an immediate fit. She found a network of supportive and encouraging women who understood what she’d been through. Sharon even reconnected with her love of the water through dragonboating!
Survivor Story: Susan
I found I was allergic to Adriamycin, which they simply administered intermittently with Benadryl, a drug that makes me silly and as I understand it quite entertaining. In fact, I guess I asked the oncology nurse if she hadn’t tried a round of chemo drugs, she really should; you know, so she would know what she was doing to us.
I gained 33 pounds in 6 weeks from the treatment, going to the thrift store each Saturday to buy new pants. Of course, I lost the obligatory hair on my head, eyebrows and eyelashes but wouldn’t you know it, my leg hair was just too stubborn! Needless to say, I was not a “pretty chemo patient”, you know the type you see on get well cards, the slightly gaunt runway model look with a beautiful bald head.
As an active woman, I was devastated both physically and psychologically by the treatments. I was fortunate to be part of the Yale clinical study of how exercise benefits patients during treatment. I got to be in the exercise group where we walked a min of 10,000 steps a day and recorded any additional physical activities. I hired a personal trainer, but was disgruntled as I found it harder and harder to walk on a treadmill more than 4-5 minutes. My muscle tissue had been greatly compromised by the drugs. My intestines were ripped to shreds, I developed a horrible case of plantar fasciitis and a weird chronic bout of hiccups and burbs simultaneously (I told you it wasn’t pretty!). The week after my last treatment I walked a Father’s Day 5K. It took almost two hours. But I was determined, there really was nowhere, but up from here!
Serendipitously in the 6th week of radiation my dream job fell in to my lap. It was a chance to start a new department at the Seattle Art Museum. I flew out for an interview with my tiny peach fuzz artsy hair style. The next thing I knew I was building a new life in the PNW.
After walking a 5K in West Seattle, a young volunteer gave me a TSNW brochure. Little did I know it would forever change my life. I immediately contacted the Operations Manager, Monica Strasen, and signed up for the annual retreat; my first TSNW experience. I carpooled with 3 Dragon Boaters, Jean Vye, Betty Woito and Ann Miller who to this day are still dear friends who constantly inspire me!
Joining in 2007, I went on to try, and chicken out of, many of the programs TSNW had to offer. Within two years after treatment, I had built my strength back up enough to run (ok, ankle shuffle) my first half marathon. I’ve gone on to do 1-2 half marathons a year since. Given the chance to give back, through fundraising I accepted the challenge to climb Mt Adams and all I can say is. “Sometimes you’ve got to sleep with the dog to know its got fleas”.
In addition, I found that triathlons really light my fire! I get to swim, run and ride my bike!
Team Survivor, its staff and coaches have not only given me the opportunity to try different activities but it has also built up my courage to see myself as an athlete, marathoner, a climber, a dragon boater, a triathlete. It has taught me to stay with it, to try harder when I can and slow down when I want to quit. It has also rubbed off on those around me. My husband now does half marathons and triathlons and my friends join me for 5Ks.
TSNW has become an integral part of my life and in large part has defined a significant part of who I am today; a survivor who lives life to its fullest!”
Survivor Story: Nina
Survivor Story: CAROL
“On Oct 1, 2015, I was prepped for surgery expecting to have a hysterectomy since I had the BRCA 1 gene and was at high risk for cancer. I discovered the gene the summer after my younger sister came down with breast cancer and tested positive for it. In addition to my sister and I, our mother had also died of complications from breast cancer. So to say I was at high risk is an understatement.
When I woke up from my surgery I found a room full of family and friends and the surgeon telling me I had advanced cancer and so began my journey of chemotherapy, which included abdominal chemo and being twisted into all sorts of different positions to get the agent to as many abdominal areas as possible. After six months, I was very weak and that’s when I saw a brochure for a Team Survivor Northwest Active Women Healthy Women (now known as Move to Heal) exercise class being held near me in Edmonds. I began attending the class after getting permission from my medical team and saw rapid improvement under the watchful eye of the instructor, Toshiko Aramaki, who was herself a survivor. She then told me of a program called Live Strong and joining that brought further recovery and strength.
Utilizing the chance to get supervised exercise made me begin to feel like my old self again and was so motivating that I began to pass on what I was learning to my friends who started to look to me as their coach. Simultaneously I was chosen for a nutrition and exercise experimental study through an alliance that SCCA has with the University of Arizona. It was great to finally feel that I had power to change my circumstances and find hope, even if the hope is just to feel healthy in this moment. I am grateful that I found Team Survivor Northwest and that my instructor, Toshiko, is in my life weekly and looking out after me in ways I cannot do for myself.”