Oliver, the Gift of Life (Or, when-beautiful-things-happen after camp.)

This was shared to me by Dash, one of our Camp Koru Ambassadors, who attended Camp Koru in April 2012. Her story is fitting this time of year, revealing that sometimes the best gifts don’t come with a price tag. You can also watch her story via video here.

Shared by Dash —  November 27, 2012:

It was mother’s day, 2011 when I found out that I would never have biological children.  My pathology report showed uterine papillary serous carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of endometrial cancer. There was no time for harvesting my eggs. The cancer was growing so fast that my odds of surviving were decreasing with each week.

During treatment I didn’t have time to mourn the loss of my fertility–I was focused on surviving. After almost a year, I was declared in remission and had one of those dramatic, made-for-TV moments. I went into the changing room at the cancer center and let myself slide down the wall and slump in to a little ball.  After putting aside my emotions for a year to survive treatment I let myself feel for the first time.

In the coming months I began to mourn everything that cancer took from me. Physically I was exhausted and weak.  Emotionally I was reeling in a deep, desperate pain. Infertility was a crushing blow to how I had always imagined my life. I daydreamed about what my children would have looked like. I blamed myself for putting my career first and waiting for the “right time” to get pregnant. I wondered if my husband wanted to leave me now that I couldn’t carry a child. I began to get angry. I listened to my friends with children complain about how their kids were “driving them crazy”, I celebrated friends’ pregnancies, I politely answered strangers when they asked me if I had kids, I attended baby showers — all the while feeling like I was dying inside.

The first time I felt hope was in the van ride from the Maui Airport to Camp Koru. Connecting with other young adult survivors showed me there was life after cancer. I didn’t feel the desolate isolation anymore.  Sitting on the surf board in the warm Hawaiian waters staring out into the horizon, I could feel hope growing inside me.

Beginning to heal made me want to once again plan for the future and my husband and I decided to adopt. A few months ago we got the phone call that we had been chosen by a young birthmother to receive a beautiful baby boy. When we met I asked her why she had chosen me — “I knew if you could survive cancer, you were strong enough to raise a baby”. Coincidentally, her mother and I had been diagnosed with cancer at the same time. We had received chemo at the same hospital, sometimes even on the same days. The one reason I thought that no one would want to give me a child was precisely why I had been chosen.

My ‘ohana, meet Oliver and thank you for welcoming him into our family.

~ Dash, Camp Koru April 2012

Camp Koru was a life-changing (and life-giving) gift for Dash. Consider giving the gift of a life-changing experience.


3 thoughts on “Oliver, the Gift of Life (Or, when-beautiful-things-happen after camp.)”

  1. Tonya, What an overwhelmingly powerful story!! Lends credence to everything you do for cancer survivors. Count on support from our family! Sue Carroll

  2. Oliver and Dash and husband, welcome to our family. With miles apart and separated by many seas, i am touched by your story. I am glad you found you’re way to Tonya and joined our great extended family. I read your message and am happy for your many blessings, story of hope and triumph. I hope that our sons will get to meet and play together at future events…I am forever proud of the friends i’ve made and all the participants who have taken part in Athletes for Cancer, we’ve all done so much, and still have more to do. Great job to all! I hope to see you at the next Kiteboarding/Athletes 4 Cancer in Hood River. Tchau, much love David, Paz and RIo Benjamin Rittberg – Brasil.

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