Enlightenment in the Woods
By guest blogger Christina Gorczynski.
In May, I attended a yoga retreat at the beautiful Retreat in the Pines, a gorgeous property in East Texas. I had just completed my second triathlon season with Team in Training and was busy with work, volunteer obligations, Leadership Houston and everything else I generally have going on in my life. Needing a break, I thought “A long road trip provides excellent, satisfying quiet time and yoga is a powerful was to decompress and recenter.” So a yoga retreat in the woods it was!
On the 4.5 hour solo drive to the retreat center, I spent time reflecting on my plans for the upcoming Team in Training season. I had a decision to make regarding whether or not I was going to participate. The choice was hard. On the one hand, Team in Training is such an incredible program that has done so much for me and a great cause that helps so many people. On the other, it would be my third in a row– and I tasked myself with figuring out if my body could take it and if I thought I could realistically do the fundraising. At that point, my brother and I had already raised $24,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society within one year. I was STRONGLY considering taking a break. And then I met Frances.
Over breakfast, I mentioned Team in Training to the two other women sitting at the table with me. They quickly told me that their friend Frances who was also there on the retreat was involved with the North Texas chapter of TNT. All three friends are cancer survivors and were on the retreat together. I made a mental note to meet this Frances and talk to her about her experiences. When we met up as a group to go on our morning yoga walk, a woman wearing a purple bracelet walked over to me and gave me a huge hug before I could say anything. She told me that her name is Frances and she smiled and thanked me for what I am doing for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Frances is a beam of light, a hilarious and friendly person, and she was a pleasure to get to know that weekend. After our walk in the woods and a day of yoga, we spent time talking. She told me how she was first diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a very rare form of AML, shortly before Christmas 2004 when she was 56 years old. Doctors told her 95% of her blood cells were malignant. She focused her positive energy on getting better and thought about her 4 sons, of whom she is extremely proud. At the time of her illness, her youngest boy, who is a kidney cancer survivor, was a high school senior and she wanted to see him graduate. After undergoing aggressive treatments and bone marrow transplants, Frances beat Leukemia and is currently considered cured– which is amazing. She saw three of her sons graduate from college, she saw them get married and she is a proud grandma to four grand babies. Hers was a personal story about the ups and downs of life, trusting one’s instincts, and letting go of “bad blood” and negativity. Frances also reminded me how much progress has been made in cancer treatments because of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and she again express gratitude for my team’s commitment to LLS and the cause.
Needless to say, I reaffirmed my commitment to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society this year after meeting Frances. I’m now a mentor for the LuluVegas Cycle Team, because she made the time to remind me how important the fundraising that we do is. One of her main points when she was talking to me was that everything happens for a reason. I completely agree with her. She gave the push that I needed at the right exact moment that I needed it. And because of her and because of your help, we are going to raise another $2,650 for cancer research and patient support so that more moms like Frances will be able to enjoy long lives with their children.
Thank you for supporting me and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Frances thanks you too! According to her, there isn’t a day that goes by that she not grateful for research done and the doctors who helped make a cure for her possible. Thank you for being part of the cure.