Carrying the survivor place experience onward

Stones from Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg were painted with inspirational message to be shared among survivors.
Stones from Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg were painted with inspirational message to be shared among survivors.
From One to Another Project
From One to Another Project

I am the Director of 2021 Volunteer Director of Survivorship for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of New Hampshire. This is a new role for me this year and I’m truly honored. I began walking over 20 years ago for Team Sarah’s Soldiers in support of a close family friend who lost her battle at a very young age. Later we would lose my father to prostate cancer and Sarah’s mother Donna to breast cancer. My mother is also a breast cancer survivor as is her sister, my Aunt Dawn.

About eight years ago, I began volunteering behind the scenes with Making Strides with calculators and money bands. It was a point of pride to be working with the folks who were entrusted with the fiscal responsibility of the generous donations from our participants.

Coming together to the event this year is exciting, but for me, it will have new meaning.

I will be seeing everything through different eyes this year.

In March of 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So in the middle of the pandemic, I began shuttling myself to Concord for the many tests and procedures that began my survivorship journey. We finally got approval for surgery in June. My husband, of course, felt helpless dropping me off at the hospital entrance on Wednesday and picking me up on Sunday as though I was going on a five-day spa treatment or something.

The challenges of life in a pandemic. I am grateful for the support of my family and friends.

Survivorship is powerful. … and this year, survivors are Coming Together Stronger, as we unite all events from across New Hampshire to this one statewide event.

Every person’s cancer journey is unique, in turn, how a survivor wishes to experience Making Strides of NH reflects that uniqueness. It can be a day of celebration, a day of quiet reflection, or something in between. Any way they choose, survivors are our guests of honor. We welcome and encourage survivors of all ages and stages, to embrace the powerful spirit of this extraordinary day.

The From One To Another Note & Craft has become a tradition over the years at our event.

Survivors are encouraged to write inspirational notes to a newly diagnosed cancer patient. The notes are then delivered to cancer centers throughout the state of New Hampshire.

The volunteer committee wanted the craft to be simple, strong and meaningful.

They decided upon Survivorship Rocks. Survivors write a word or two of encouragement on a small, smooth stone to accompany their note. We wanted NH rocks that came from somewhere special, selected with meaning. Since walking along the lake and checking out rocks is a regular activity at our camp in Pittsburg, I knew just where to look. As rocks were gathered, it was important how each one felt in my hand.

I hoped it may give someone else the peace I felt on the lake that day.

The rocks were then washed and painted and are now ready for words of inspiration!

If you are a survivor – or if there is a cancer survivor in your life, please share this sincere invitation with them to join us on Sunday at Memorial Field, to embrace the powerful spirit and feel the energy of the day.

Author: Mel Shokal

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