In March of 2008, a few days before my first chemotherapy for stage IIIC ovarian cancer, a small package arrived in the mail. When I opened it I found a small gold boxing glove with a loop at the end so it could dangle from a bracelet or necklace. The note enclosed with the gift said, “To give you more fighting power.” It was signed by Judy, a friend who was also a work colleague.
I was extremely touched by this gift and those words. I called Judy to thank her and to tell her that I would wear the boxing glove to every chemotherapy session. It would be a reminder of her caring concern as well as the need for me to stay strong. This was going to be the fight of my life for my life. There was just a 27 percent chance I would be alive in five years.
Two weeks later, back at work, I attended the first meeting since my surgery and diagnosis three weeks before of one of the coalitions I led. I was wearing my new wig and hoping no would notice, or if they did, hoping they would assume it was a new hairstyle. Just two people commented that they liked my new haircut. I replied with a simple thank you. Judy and Karen, another friend and colleague attending the meeting, arranged to meet me afterwards for coffee.
Settled with our coffee and muffins, Judy asked about my chemotherapy schedule. As I answered her question, she and Karen tugged at their necklines and pulled out, on gold chains, boxing gloves just like mine! Judy said, “We need to know when you are getting your chemo so we can wear our boxing gloves on those days.”
I was overwhelmed. What an expression of caring friendship! I couldn’t thank them enough.
I was treated with two drugs for nine cycles with a combination of intraperitoneal, which is chemotherapy delivered directly into the abdomen through a special mediport, and regular intravenous chemotherapy. I also had two additional surgeries during this time. Through it all, I wore my boxing glove and Judy and Karen wore theirs.
It has been four years and five months since I finished treatment. I am not only alive, I am well with no recurrence so far.
Susan, a close friend of mine, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I could think of no greater gift of friendship than to send her a boxing glove pendant like mine and tell her I would wear mine on every day she had an important medical appointment, or radiation therapy. She told her radiation technicians the boxing glove story and they let her wear it during her treatment sessions!
I am happy to report that she is doing very well.