Caitlin’s Story

Angel Type: Survivor

Cancer: Rhabdomyosarcoma

Date Type: Diagnosis

Date: 6/28/2012

Why is this date special to you?
On June 28th, 1996 I was finishing packing for my godmother’s wedding, in which I was supposed to be a junior bridesmaid. I suddenly had trouble catching my breath. This had been happening more frequently the last few days so my dad decided to take me into the walk in clinic to check it out. 1 ambulance, 1 helicopter ride and 2 hospitals later, they discovered that my respiratory infection was actually a football sized tumor that had collapsed my right lung and was beginning to press against my trachea. For my entire family and I, June 28th marked the day we first begin my battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. After I finished treatment, the date became so much more to me. It’s a milestone marker I use to measure how far I’ve come.

Is there something special that you do each year to honor or celebrate this date?
Initially, I thought nothing good could happen on June 28th, and spent my first two “cancerversaries” hiding in bed. My older sister eventually got tired of this and decided that we needed to start creating some happy memories to associate with this date.  It has become a day I celebrate how far I’ve come and how incredibly lucky I’ve been.  My three sisters and I are the main celebrators of the day, with celebrations ranging from Abba cover band concerts to cancerversary parties. Traditions such as “Happy I’m alive day” cakes, to silly t-shirts with embarrassing photos of me as a little kid (the first being a picture of me in a teenage mutant ninja turtle costume with the slogan “Kicking cancer since ’96”).

What is a lesson your experience or your loved ones experience with cancer has taught you?
Not everyone has to face cancer, but we are all going to have tough times, bad days and “why me?” moments….but having cancer taught me that scars don’t break you down, they make you stronger, bad days don’t last forever and that you usually don’t notice the generous and amazing people in the world until times are tough.

This blog post is a part of the Imerman Angels “What’s Your Date?” Campaign, honoring & celebrating cancer stories.