Twenty years… my identity was tied to two decades of being an executive leader in the non-profit field at all levels from local to national. Driven, visionary, in love with managing and developing both staff and volunteers…I thought I’d found my passion…that is until April 23, 2003 when a breast specialist bluntly said, "It’s a tumor, Ellen, and it’s cancer." I now bear the medical label of "Stage 4…incurable." Meaning, I must remain in treatment the rest of my life. By 2004 my job had been filled… and I began facing the heart-wrenching truth that my identitiy was crumbling… I was a cancer patient…period. It was then I began volunteering for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network as an advocate. What began as simply participating in visits to our states capitol soon led to multiple visits to the halls of our nation’s Congress. In doing so I realized there will never be enough non-governmental funding to save my life and the lives of others like me. My story…like those of thousands on this path… needs to be told to lawmakers to make them understand that their “yea” or “nay” to a piece of cancer-related legislation will impact cancer survivors, their families and friends!
Last year I was humbled to recieve a national award from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network for my efforts. But with the continuation of so many issues of profound concern to cancer patients ... like vital health care reform, I choose not to rest on laurels given. For although cancer has stripped away everything I thought I was…I have at last found mytrue passion and who I really am…a powerful advocate able to effect meaningful cancer legislation… through the use of my voice… the voice of a courageous cancer advocate.
NEXT IN THE REINVENTION STORY CONTEST: CRUISE TO HAPPILY EVER AFTER