After 3 1/2 years of treatment for acute lymphocyctic leukemia (ALL), I found my soul worn thin. Being 29 at diagnosis and 33 currently, single, with one parent, self-employed, and, over alone, I had no one to turn to. Immediately following my diagnosis in Boca Raton, Florida, it became all too clear that supportive care in South Florida is geared towards geriatric and minor patients, not co-ed young adults. Although there were a few breast cancer survivor parties I thought of crashing, I was traumatized by the isolation of my circumstances to say the least.
In March 2009, I received a flyer advertising a Young Adult Cancer Survivor Retreat, hosted by The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, and I signed up. I hoped only for a benchmark, to see for myself an array of people who had a similar plight. What were their challenges, their fears, their reality? I found what I was looking for during that weekend retreat, and more.
With the help of all of those who joined me that weekend, I found that I was never alone, just a little off the map. It also became very clear through the experience that even though I had leukemia, I actually had a relatively easy treatment and responsive disease; I was lucky.
Looking ahead, I now know that it is part of my life’s cause to help in any way I can. Since The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation’s Young Adult Cancer Survivor Retreat, I have found myself full of new vigor and a new direction. We young adults need all of the help we can get, and your warmth and genuine approach put that help within reach.
Thank you for a wonderful experience, and I hope to see you all again. Only one more year and I’m classified as cured!
Christopher D. Perrera, Leukemia Survivor
Remission achieved in September 2005 through a clinical trial offered by Hematology Oncology in Palm Beach County, Florida.