With Mother’s Day just around the corner, many of us are reflecting on our children and our roles as mothers. Not only was I blessed to have healthy, thriving children, but I was also blessed to have conceived them easily. Not all women and children are as fortunate. Each year, many children face battles with cancer that not only affect their immediate wellbeing, but also their fertility in the future. The god news is that amazing companies like Aflac are helping!
The Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the largest childhood cancer centers in the country which is committed to providing childhood cancer patients a brighter future through advanced medical treatment, family-centered care, a child-friendly environment and innovative research. Aflac is proud to have donated more than $87 million to the Aflac Cancer Center, with the goal of reaching $100 million by the end of 2015!
To help reach their goal, Aflac is using #Duckprints to raise awareness and donations to eradicate childhood cancer. And the best part? You can partner up with Aflac to help, and it will only take you a minute or less!
Aflac will donate $2 to the Aflac Cancer Center for every #Duckprints tweet/retweet on Twitter or post/share on Facebook from now through Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11th).
To inspire your tweets and Facebook posts, I wanted to share the story of a courageous woman whose life was saved and enhanced by the Aflac Cancer Center. Her name is Trisha Henry Gaffney.
On Valentine’s Day 1996, 19-year-old Trisha was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive tumor usually found in the head, neck, hands or feet of young children. Trisha’s was the first reported case to occur in the right ureter. After going through surgery to remove her right kidney, ureter and a portion of her bladder, Trisha spent a year at the Aflac Cancer Center undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
Her treatment ended in April 1997, and she was ready to put her focus on all of the positive forces in her life. In 1998, a friend encouraged Trisha to visit the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center. The Aflac Cancer Center provides specialized, long-term follow-up care and helps identify and treat problems associated with the effects of cancer treatment to help survivors lead a full life, including school, work and a family of their own. However, the idea of going to even more doctors didn’t sit well with Trisha.
“You don’t want your cancer to define you,” Trisha said, “but as you get older, you realize it plays a much bigger part in your life than you’re willing to admit.”
After several years of going to general doctors for check-ups, Trisha finally made an appointment with the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center. During her first appointment at the Cancer Survivor Program, Trisha received her health records and was able to gain a broad understanding of her entire health history, including her treatments and the issues they could cause, called late effects.
After meeting with the Medical Director, Trisha went to a fertility specialist, who delivered some devastating news. The lab work showed Trisha’s chemotherapy and 23 radiation treatments had wreaked havoc on her body. Only one ovary was functional, and the radiation had damaged her uterus; she was approaching an early menopause, and would not be able to carry a child.
“It’s devastating when you can’t have a family,” Trisha said. “I froze my eggs that year. I thought, ‘Screw you, cancer! I want my own kid.’”
After her sister’s best friend offered to be a surrogate, Trisha and husband Andrew became parents to Isabella in April 2013. Isabella just celebrated her first birthday, and this Mother’s Day will mark Trisha’s second, thanks to the Aflac Cancer Center and its programs.
“If I hadn’t had my friend telling me to go to the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center,” Trisha said, “I wouldn’t have my daughter.”
Armed with the knowledge about her medications, treatments and the potential challenges ahead, Trisha is empowered to be an advocate for her own health. She knows it is survivorship that defines her ‒ not cancer.
Here’s the part where you come in. You can help Aflac eradicate childhood cancer and raise funds for this heartwarming cause by tweeting using the hashtag #Duckprints.
Don’t forget that for every tweet or Facebook post using the hashtag, Aflac will donate $2 to the Aflac Cancer Center!
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