Breast cancer survivor Shawn Tesser, ovarian cancer survivor Denise Bing, and thyroid cancer survivor Richard Park share their stories at the 2014 Survivorship Celebration. They are introduced with a few words from Mary McCabe, Director of our Cancer Survivorship Initiative and master of ceremonies for the event.
Ms. Tesser, a producer for Inside The Actor’s Studio, tells of attending the MSK Survivorship Celebration four years earlier, not long after the shock of her diagnosis and the beginning of her treatment, and how the positive energy she experienced there changed her life and gave her hope.
After her diagnosis, Ms. Tesser, a former long-distance running enthusiast, became active with Fred’s Team — an athletic fund-raising group whose runners raise money for cancer research at MSK. Under the supervision of her medical oncologist, Shanu Modi, she began to run again. On November 6, 2011, Ms. Tesser crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon.
Nine days later she went in for what she thought would be a routine PET scan, but the scan showed abnormalities. After weeks of testing she was given a new diagnosis. The cancer had spread to her bones.
With the love and support of family, friends, and the MSK team behind her, Shawn started a new drug protocol and underwent surgery.
By the end of July, 2012, Ms. Tesser achieved full remission and has since competed in two more marathons.
Ms. Bing, an MSK research study assistant and a five-year cancer survivor, describes what it’s like to work with cancer patients while being one herself.
Ms. Bing was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer in 2009 and underwent a total hysterectomy combined with a course of chemotherapy. Throughout her treatment, Ms. Bing says she remained positive, but because she was used to being the caregiver, having others take care of her was a challenge.
Five months after her diagnosis, Ms. Bing joined a support group for survivors of gynecologic cancers. She explains how speaking with other survivors in an open, caring forum helped her immensely.
Mr. Park, a managing director in the investment banking division at Deutsche Bank, shares how surviving cancer gave him the courage to live his life in a way that, in his words, “wasn’t beholden to preordained views of success.”
Mr. Park was diagnosed in 2010 with a late-stage form of thyroid carcinoma that had spread to his neck and vocal chords. He underwent surgery and was hospitalized for two weeks as part of his postoperative recovery. He promised himself that if he survived the ordeal he would live life to the fullest and follow his heart.
He is especially grateful to head and neck surgeon Jatin Shah and the entire MSK team for their outstanding work in saving his vocal chords and he cherishes his ability to continue to tell his wife “I love you.”