Later this year will be a bittersweet celebration for myself and many ladies from around the world. Bitter because it marks the anniversary of the birth of a highly successful support group that I have been involved with from the first day.
Ten years ago I found myself in a situation that not only shook me to my core, but also left me with the need to track down others that had been disfigured like myself. What was this disfiguration? The year before I had been given a chemotherapy drug, Taxotere, as part of my treatment for breast cancer. Instead of my hair growing back, as I was told it would, I remained looking like an orangutan—an ugly freak. My doctor told me that the drug company, Sanofi-Aventis, had informed him I was only the third or fourth person in the world that this has happened to! So there must be two or three others out there somewhere, and I vowed to track them down. I hadn’t banked on it being so easy.
The first lady I found was Pam, from Oklahoma, and we decided to find others and create a support group. Cynthia then joined us and she created a website for our group of monk look-a-likes. Little did we know in those early days, how successful the group would become in finding so many ladies. We are now a large, thriving global group, with a constant stream of new members. It’s a group none of use wanted to join and it comes with a lifetime membership.
Now on to the sweet bit.
This group is a safe place for all members, there’s nobody to judge us and accuse us of not being grateful for being alive, which happens to us constantly. These people hear us but do NOT listen to us. They don’t want to understand our message. So we know that when we lend a shoulder to cry on, sometimes just listen, tell our stories and share tips that nobody ‘gets it’ more than we do. What would we have done without this support group? I have no idea, but I do know it’s been an incredible help to us all. We might not be happy to be in this situation but we are sure as hell happy to have each other.
This week I was invited to be interviewed for a radio podcast show for “inspirational authors’ so I asked our members what the group meant to them. I would like to share some of their comments with you.
“This group has given me strength and courage.” — Pam
“This group means I’m not alone.” — Chrissy
“Ladies understand how I feel when no one else does.” — Susan
“I’m not a freak.” — Erica
“This group has taken me from a place of isolation and despair to a place of understanding, validation and most of all hope.” — Suzanne
These are just a few of the comments I received.
I will end this blog on that sweet note, not only sweet because of how we feel about our support group but because it’s a good excuse to have another slice of cake!
Happy birthday to the amazing ‘Taxotears’ group!