The Relay for Life event scheduled to take place tonight at LSU has been postponed. It has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 25 at noon. Sadly, I'm committed to be elsewhere, so I won't be giving the speech.
For those who are interested, here's what I would have said:
At no point in the last three years could I ever have imagined giving a speech at a Relay for Life event.
Because this year's theme is "Celebrating Birthdays," I'll tell you how I came to have three birthdays.
I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic Leukemia on January 9, 2007. I was 32 years old and up until that day, cancer wasn't something I worried about happening to me. It was something that I would worry about when I was older. After all, I was young, active, and healthy.
I was treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center where they discovered that my particular flavor of leukemia had a rare translocation. That meant chemo alone wouldn't cure me. I had a cord blood transplant in May 2007. In transplant circles, the day you get your transplant becomes the date you celebrate your second birthday. So now I have my "belly button birthday," which is in October and my "transplant birthday" in May.
I attended my first Relay for Life event in 2008 when a friend raised funds in my honor. It was the first time since having the transplant eleven months earlier that I almost felt normal and I had a fabulous time.
I relapsed two months later.
Back at MDA, I had more chemo and was fortunate enough to have a second transplant. This time, a complete stranger was donating bone marrow to save my life. September 7, 2008 became my third birthday.
Almost two years later, I'm able to stand before you because of life saving treatments that came about thanks to research funded by organizations like the American Cancer Society. Men and women like you all leave me in awe. You give a voice to people like me thanks to your dedication and resolve. The money you all raise goes toward programs that provide life lines for people dealing with cancer.
Through your efforts, you give the gift of hope. So, on behalf of cancer survivors, I'd like to thank you.
Thank you for giving me the chance to celebrate another birthday.