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A Letter to Family & Friends about My Journey – Part IV

Pink EelephantLetter #4
March 7, 2011
A letter to my friends and family

It appears my Pink Elephant and I have kicked cancer’s butt and this will be our last email!

You have been incredible beyond words in your support and kindness about these Pink Elephant emails, which I used to voice my emotions (even if it was through an imaginary Pink Elephant) during the last six months.

So, as my imaginary Pink Elephant and I conclude our journey together, I feel it is only appropriate to give thanks where thanks are due … because we are only as ‘strong’ and ‘amazing’ as the people who love us.

First my parents … they dropped everything and came to NY without a thought to their own happiness and stood by Jeff and I for four difficult hard months. Mom and Dad – Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You both saved me.

Second, my husband … Jeffrey held the heaviest weight of all in dealing with my cancer and my Pink Elephant day-in and day-out. Jeffrey – You are an incredible life partner, friend, and lover. I will forever be thankful for everything you have done for me. You are actually strong and amazing!

The final thank you I need to make is a bit more complicated and needs a little background to make sense.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer – even before my first surgery – I went to a support group for young women with breast cancer hosted by Young Survival Coalition (also known as YSC). It is a national nonprofit whose mission is to support young women diagnosed with breast cancer. I was more nervous about going to this support group than I was meeting the surgeon who was going to perform my double mastectomy – just to give you a sense of the fear and distrust I felt walking into a group of strangers that I was supposed to open up to!

I don’t think I will ever forget that evening – I had not met my Pink Elephant yet – and I’d only been diagnosed two weeks before. It’s bizarre to think back to how much I didn’t know about my future at that time.

The women in that room were outstanding and they blew me away. They were all going through their own battles with breast cancer, which clearly showed me a path to survival. They were full of compassion, but also anger at what they were forced to go through – which allowed me to also be both angry and compassionate. They listened, talked, shared stories of surgeries, and even showed scars and results of treatment. It was as if I was suddenly surrounded by people that new more about me than I did. And in a way, this group of women did.

Over the next six months these women became as important to me as sisters. While I’m sure I’ll know and love these women for the rest of my life – YSC, the reason I have them in my life, is the important thank you that I must make.

Because this nonprofit exists and is able to offer support to young women with breast cancer … I was able to find these women… and have strong and fantastic women walking with me every step of the way. I’ve spent over half my career working IN nonprofits with the hope of making a difference and this was the first time in my life that a nonprofit made a difference in mine.

It is not by random act that I am sending this farewell email from my Pink Elephant and me to all of you today….. it is very much on purpose. I have been waiting for this exact day because today I turn 37. My 36th year is finally over… today I start a new year, different yet the same, glad to be alive and cancer-free!

As I sign off – I hope each of you is as healthy, happy and fulfilled as you are capable of being. You are all strong and amazing in your own way and I know many of you are carrying your own Pink Elephants with enormous strength and perseverance – and I will continue to support you however I can.

As I conclude my journey, you all have my word that I will continue to give back and do whatever I can to ensure that no young woman ever feels alone when diagnosed with breast cancer because she isn’t … my Pink Elephant and I are here!!!

Signing off, with my greatest love and thanks,
Jen & her Pink Elephant