WOW! I can't believe this is our 12th year Riding in the Ride for Roswell. The tremendous support we have received through these years is truly overwhelming. I can't thank you all enough. I know most of us have been changed by cancer in one way or another. Here is my story.
My cancer story began in 2009. However, that is not when cancer first intruded on our family. Our family's story began before I was born.
My father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma while my mom was pregnant with me. He lived with cancer for 6 years. My father died Jan 8, 1983, one month after his 32nd birthday. Just a few years later, cancer once again intruded on our family.
This time, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer. After just a few short years, she died on the anniversary of my father's death, Jan 8, 1990, only 1 week after she turned 60.
Fast forward 19 years to March 2009. I felt a lump in my right collarbone. It grew considerably in the week or two since I first noticed it. Although physically I felt fine, I made a doctor appointment so he could check out this lump. On March 19, 2009 (2 days after I turned 32), I saw my primary. He wanted to prescribed me an antibiotic. I refused. He couldn't tell me what was wrong with me so I wasn't about to take antibiotics just for the heck of it. I pushed and he finally agreed to order a CT scan. It took a week for the insurance company to approve the order. On March 25th, I had my first of many CT scans. One hour later, my primary called me to come into his office. By 5pm, my world exploded. I remember every detail about that day. My doctor saying "it looks like you have cancer" to me saying "are you kidding me?" followed by hysterical crying. I asked him what else it could be. Again, he said "it's cancer". He gave me the phone number for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a script for an anti-anxiety medicine to calm me down, and sent me on my way. My mother, helpless in Florida, called my aunt and uncle to come pick me up. They found me crying on the front steps of my doctor's office. I had also called my best friend and she came down too. By this time, I was in shock.
The following week, my mom (who immediately returned home from Florida), my aunt, my brother, and I were on our way to Roswell for my first appointment. I was so scared on the ride there. Not knowing what to expect, what was going to happen to me, how long I was going to live, these were all questions running through my mind. The first doctor I met with at Roswell was so nice. She explained everything that was going to happen. After several visits, many tests, and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Fast forward through 2 months of chemo, another CT scan to see if the treatment was working. Then those words every cancer patient hopes to hear. I was in full remission. My mom and my aunt cried when the doctor said full remission. I just sat there. I think I was in shock or afraid to believe it. I still had to finish 4 more months of chemo just to be safe.
Here I am, 11 years later. The cancer has never returned and the doctors now tell me I am cured. Everyday, I am reminded how lucky I am. It was a difficult journey and I still struggle with anxiety but I made it through. Many people, including my father and my grandmother, were not so lucky.
About a month after my diagnosis, my boyfriend at the time, Jim Griffin, created our Ride For Roswell team, Danielle's Wild Birds. Our team consists of family and friends. This will now be our 12th Ride. We are so proud to Ride and help other families like ours. This disease touches the lives of almost everyone. Roswell is making huge advancements in treating and preventing this horrible disease. We are helping in any way we can. No one can fight cancer alone. I was very lucky to have a wonderful support system. Thank you to everyone who helped me in my journey.
I Ride in memory of my friends and family who aren't physically with us anymore, for all those currently fighting, and for everyone who will face this demon in the future. This year, I dedicate my Ride in memory of my friend and coworker, Bob LaPorta. It devastates me to be Riding in his memory this year. Though my heart still breaks for his loss, I will use his strength and spirit to continue this fight. I will make him proud.
Thank you for reading my story. If you would like to contribute to my Ride, just click the Donate Now button. If you prefer to send a check, you may do so. Please make the check payable to Ride For Roswell and in the memo field, write my name, DANIELLE PECORARO. Checks can be mailed to my work:
Wild Birds Unlimited
3835 McKinley Pkwy, Ste 1
Blasdell, NY 14219
If you are unable to donate, thank you for reading my story and please share it with others. Thank you to all my friends and family for all their support throughout my journey. And thank you to everyone who has supported my Ride. I assure you, each and every dollar is greatly appreciated!
With Peace and Love,
With one in two men and one in three women in America being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, most of us know someone who has been affected by this devastating disease. You can make a difference by supporting me in The Ride For Roswell. Funds raised through The Ride support cutting-edge research and compassionate, innovative patient care programs at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Please consider making a donation today. Together, we can help find cancer cures and save lives.