Help Raise Money for Childhood Cancer with Aflac #Duckprints
In honor of Mother’s Day and Aflac’s goal to help support the fight against childhood cancer, Aflac will donate $2 to the Aflac Cancer Center for every post or tweet of former Aflac Cancer Center patient Trisha Henry Gaffney’s inspiring story using #Duckprints.
Cancer Survivor and Mom, Trisha Henry Gaffney
On Valentine’s Day 1996, 19-year-old Trisha was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive tumor usually found in the head, neck, hands or feet of young children. Trisha’s was the first reported case to occur in the right ureter, the tube connecting the kidney and bladder. After going through surgery to remove her right kidney, ureter and a portion of her bladder, Trisha spent a year at the Aflac Cancer Center undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Following her treatment for this rare form of cancer, Trisha Henry Gaffney was eager to put her health problems behind her. The last thing she wanted to do was dwell on the effects of her illness.
Trying to Get Back to Normal
Trisha was eager to get back to school, and in January 1997, she went back to Illinois ‒ where she was a student and scholarship swimmer at the University of Illinois ‒ to finish the last few months of chemotherapy. Her treatment ended in April 1997, and she was ready to put her focus on all of the positive forces in her life. During her treatment at the Aflac Cancer Center, Trisha had started dating Andrew Gaffney, a fellow swimmer from high school. She had a big group of friends in Champaign, Ill. she looked forward to seeing again. In addition, she became a journalism major with the goal of focusing her energy on telling others’ inspirational stories of overcoming obstacles. In 1998, a friend encouraged Trisha to visit the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center. The Aflac Cancer Center provides specialized, long-term follow-up care and helps identify and treat problems associated with the effects of cancer treatment to help survivors lead a full life, including school, work and a family of their own. However, the idea of going to even more doctors didn’t sit well with Trisha. “You don’t want your cancer to define you,” Trisha said, “but as you get older, you realize it plays a much bigger part in your life than you’re willing to admit.”
Hearing More Bad News
After several years of going to general doctors for check-ups, Trisha finally made an appointment with the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center. “After college, I devoted myself to my work and being normal,” Trisha said. “I put cancer behind me. Then it reared its ugly head at 32.” During her first appointment at the Cancer Survivor Program, Trisha received her health records. She was able to gain a broad understanding of her entire health history, including her treatments and the issues they could cause, called late effects. After meeting with the Medical Director, Trisha went to a fertility specialist, who delivered some devastating news. The lab work showed Trisha’s chemotherapy and 23 radiation treatments had wreaked havoc on her body. Only one ovary was functional, and the radiation had damaged her uterus; she was
approaching an early menopause, and she would not be able to carry a child. “It’s devastating when you can’t have a family,” Trisha said. “I froze my eggs that year. I thought, ‘Screw you, cancer! I want my own kid.’”
Taking Control and Moving Forward
After her sister’s best friend offered to be a surrogate, Trisha and Andrew, now her husband, became parents to Isabella in April 2013. Isabella just celebrated her first birthday, and this Mother’s Day will mark Trisha’s second, thanks to the Aflac Cancer Center and its programs. The impact of the Aflac Cancer Center isn’t lost on Trisha. Without the intervention of doctors and nurses in her health, her life would be incredibly different. “If I hadn’t had my friend telling me to go to the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center,” Trisha said, “I wouldn’t have my daughter.” Armed with the knowledge about her medications, treatments and the potential challenges ahead, Trisha is empowered to be an advocate for her own health. She knows it is survivorship that defines her ‒ not cancer. She encourages survivors to take advantage of the resources available through the Aflac Cancer Center so they can become healthy, happy adults ‒ and parents if they choose. “It is great that in this day and age, children will most likely live,” Trisha said. “But once they do, they’re going to have some expectations about that life.”
Some Facts About Childhood Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from 58.1 percent in 1977 to 79.6 percent in 2003. In 2007, approximately 10,400 children age 15 or younger were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Cancer remains the leading cause of death by illness in the U.S. for people age 15 or younger. Aflac Duckprints is committed in its mission to eradicate childhood cancer. Thanks to donations made to theresearch and treatment of this disease, 75 percent of childhood cancers can now be cured.
If you would like more information, please visit the Aflac DuckPrints Website. If you would like more information about the Aflac Cancer Center please visit the Aflac Cancer Center Website. Be sure to stay up to date on all of the latest news from Aflac DuckPrints by following their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. While you are there be sure to follow Mom Blog Society on Facebook and Twitter.
In honor of Mother’s Day and Aflac’s goal to help support the fight against childhood cancer, Aflac will donate $2 to the Aflac Cancer Center for every post or tweet of former Aflac Cancer Center patient Trisha Henry Gaffney’s inspiring story using #Duckprints. To help spread the word we are giving away a $50.00 Restaurant.com Gift Card to one very lucky entry! You can tweet your heart out using the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win now through Mother’s Day! Don’t worry if you don’t want to enter but still want to help donate with Aflac! Simply use the hashtag #DuckPrints in your tweets!
Disclaimer: “This giveaway was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Aflac. I was compensated to participate in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.”