Reflections on the Past 15 Years – by Diana Ulman

It is August 2011 and I find myself reflecting on the last 15 years – The happenings of August 1996 affected our lives in ways that no one could have predicted – ways large and small – positive and negative – global and local and personal –

My mind is spinning – we have all changed so much – learned so much – grown so much –

We have been molded by the incredible experiences that we all have processed in our own individual ways –

It is our CANCER STORY – The cancer story of the Ulman family –

And yes, when one person in the family has cancer, the whole family has cancer –

On a hot August day in 1996, an arrogant, callous doctor walked into the room and told Doug, “IT’S CANCER” –

The world stopped – all color drained – and the flood of emotions overpowered all reason –

We traveled that emotional path – tears, fear, pain, some hope, worry, shock, determination, perseverance, exhaustion and more pain and fear and soul searching and wonder, thinking why and how and what to do next to survive it, to live through it, to live past it –

Some relief came when we learned that the surgery had probably removed all of the cancer –

We loved one another – we held each other close and we held each other up –

We traveled that timeline of cancer emotions and after some months we found a way to deal – we created a mechanism through which we could channel our anger, frustration, bewilderment and our hope and relief and gratefulness –

We found a way to reach other young people and their loved ones who were facing cancer – to share our experiences so that they could learn from us and feel support – we found a way to teach prevention – to raise awareness of young adult issues related to cancer – to listen – to help – to protect – to educate – to connect – to affect public policy –

This work has been both therapeutic and rewarding – exhausting and exhilarating –

And our whole family has done this work through the Ulman Cancer Fund For Young Adults – (UCF) – Doug, Ken, Jaki, Lou and me – creating programs and services to assist young adults in navigating their cancer experiences –

And Doug moved on to work through LIVESTRONG – helping and inspiring people all over the world – continuing to reach out to folks who are struggling with their own cancer stories – raising awareness of the stigma of cancer internationally – building a cancer community of survivors – motivating people to work together on all aspects of cancer research and survivorship and prevention and early detection and fitness and hope and empowerment –

And Ken works through elected office to protect people from health hazards like secondhand smoke and tanning beds and to assure that all people have access to healthcare –

And Lou was diagnosed and came through his surgery and reaches out to help those who came after him –

And Jaki has guided us through years of fundraising and budgets and planning –

And I was diagnosed and came through surgery and treatment and continue to work through UCF –

And Maddie and Lily were born and enthusiastically grew up with UCF holding lemonade fundraisers, painting chairs to auction and helping at all the UCF events –

And AG joined the family and the cause, supporting Doug and all of us in the journey –

And Clara’s birth made us all reflect on what is and what might not have been possible if it were not for modern medicine, early detection, insurance, perseverance, hope and love –

And then there were the hundreds of friends and family and strangers who all joined us to help cancer survivors –

And it has been an incredible 15 year story – look where cancer has taken us –

Still it is an emotional subject – although the intensity diminishes with the passing of time – still the emotions are all over the spectrum – relief, fear of reoccurrence, joy, anger, hope, disappointment, appreciation –

And so on this August day in the year 2011, I reflect – I feel enormous gratitude, I feel extremely lucky – our lives have been enriched beyond words by the experiences of the last 15 years and by the incredible people we have encountered on our cancer journey –

– Diana Ulman

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About The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

The Mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults is to enhance lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer.
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2 Responses to Reflections on the Past 15 Years – by Diana Ulman

  1. Proud to fight for UCF!! Thank you for sharing!

  2. 15 years and still going strong. Proud to support Ulman efforts

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