2015 Rock The Dress model participants:
We were hoping to buy a house; had just had another child, a beautiful, happy baby girl. We had absolutely no idea really, what oral cancer was. Now here we are, Stage 4, tongue cancer “warriors,” fighting the fight, sharing our story about “Super Steve” to try to help save somebody else. (And why the whole gang painted my wedding dress with Superman colors.) We hold our heads high, take each day as it comes. The five and six year olds know all about feeding tubes and how to hook it up to Daddy. But most importantly, our cancer journey has taught them – and us – about compassion for others.
Despite the challenges and pain Justin faced weekly with every treatment for Hodgkin’s Disease, he was an amazing new father and a wonderful husband. And while I couldn’t understand the WHY of infertility and even more so, the WHY of cancer, eventually I realized God had a plan. Our beautiful daughter, Annabelle, slept on her daddy’s chest and healed his tumor more than any chemo or radiation ever could. She made him laugh and smile during treatments and encouraged him not to give up.
I noticed a small freckle with a little, red discoloration – and an odd itch – on my left upper arm. Being the ever-cautious type, I saw my dermatologist the next week and he performed a biopsy. The pathology report said Stage 1. I felt very fortunate and proceeded to have a wide excision of the area, blood work, and scans to rule out any metastatic disease. All were negative. Still, the excision left a painful and unsightly reminder of my brush with cancer on my arm; one that I saw every day in the mirror and that I tried to cover up wearing long sleeves.
Not long after I volunteered to “Rock the Dress,” a young woman walked into the store where I work and, after offering my help, I noticed she had a really happy aura about her. She must have noticed my stare because she said, “I’m sorry. I just met with my doctor and he said I was breast cancer- free!” Then, I got all happy, too, and asked if I could give her a hug. “Absolutely!” she said.
I’m honored to “Rock the Dress!” Mine was worn at my sister’s wedding. Ironically, it’s the color of Multiple Myeloma awareness, which my mum was diagnosed with in August 2014. Since very young, cancer has affected my family. First, my uncle and, in 1999, my father. It’s been “bittersweet.” We all agree that love and support from those around us has played – and still plays – a huge role in dealing with this terrible disease. My mum and I came up with a meaningful way to show our appreciation. Not only is our “army” of Cancer Worriers & Supporters represented, but “armies” everywhere giving unconditional love and remembrance.
As if the physical limitations from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma weren’t bad enough, I was an emotional “basket case.” Think about it. A young, vibrant 16 year old teen, finding her place in the world, hoping to fit it, where personal appearance means absolutely everything to one’s self-esteem. It hit me hard as in, ‘oh, my gosh, I’m going to lose my hair’ and, ‘I’m not going to be able to stay on the cheer leading team.’ But imagine that singular moment when the question of all questions formed in my invincible young woman’s mind, ‘am I going to die?’
I’m so lucky to have a grandfather like my Papa, Jeff Kantor. I just love spending time with him and he with me. Whether working together in his woodshop, motor boating in the Atlantic, or him cheering me on in sports, we’ve been a team since I was born, 13 years, but he has fought a terrible disease called Prostate Cancer for far longer. Tonight it’s my turn to cheer for him in my mom’s wedding dress painted blue for “Seeds of Hope.” Papa, you’re an amazing man. Your positive attitude and incredible energy has taught me so much about life and love. Lessons I will never forget for as long as I live.
Check out an article on 2015’s Rock The Dress portion of Seeds of Hope, published on Manchester Ink LInk! →