The Miles of Hope Angels program is an annual event that honors the people who help to care for their loved one going through treatment for breast cancer. The program is initiated at the beginning of each year, and the angels and their nominators are honored at the Miles of Hope Spring Brunch.
Below are the nominations we received for 2013.
Angels: Barry Rothfeld, Rita Rothfeld, Jason Rothfeld, Sherry Hudes, John Barone, and the entire Cooper Family
Who hasn’t been an angel to me during this incredibly hard period in my life? When I was diagnosed in October 2012 at the age of 31, people from all over came out of the woodwork to offer their support and prayers. My friends, family, co-workers, and friends of my family showered me with love, strength, gifts, support and well wishes. Friends offered to aid my parents when they were not available to take me to treatment. I never realized how many people cared and wanted to be there for me until this dramatic and traumatic experience happened.
I would like to give a special thanks to John Barone and Sherry Hudes for taking me to my chemo treatments and keeping me company when my family could not always be there. I want to thank the Coopers for their never-ending love and support.
I carry the red rock of hope, gratitude and love that you gave me from Arizona with me wherever I go and when I get scared, I touch it and remember that I have so much to still be thankful for. And to my best friend Melissa Cooper Pietroburgo, thanks for just always being there and being the friend I so needed always and especially during this time. My doctors and nurses have been amazing and patient with me throughout this difficult journey, and I feel I need to mention and thank them in this letter as well. Thank you Dr. Keleher, Dr. Rachamalla, and thank you to my oncology nurse and friend, Paula LeBarge, I couldn’t have done this without you all. I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank my coworkers for being supportive and for donating days so I could have my treatments without having to take a sick leave.
Most importantly, I need to thank my family. Being diagnosed at any age with breast cancer is a traumatic experience. Being diagnosed at 31 comes with it own set of issues, such as childbearing, body issues, and mental issues. Where people at my age are getting married and having children, I am facing different challenges.
I have definitely leaned on my parents more this year than I have since my teenage years. They have been with me through every step of this journey. From diagnosis, to treatment plan, to actual treatment, they have never left my side.
I know it hasn’t been easy and I know I have not been easy either. Thinking I wanted to know everything I could about this beast of a disease had me exploring the internet to no end. Needless to say, I scared the living daylights out of myself and went to some really dark places. I thank them and love them so much for being so strong when I felt like I could not. At my age, fears about my mortality came to a forefront with my diagnosis. How would I ever live without being scared that this disease would rear it ugly head again, was my most constant fear that kept me up at night. I kept focusing on the what ifs of the future and not the definites and positives of today. I know there are no guarantees in life but I felt with my diagnosis, I really now had no guarantees. I thought the worst; that my diagnosis was a definitive death sentence.
I know that my mental state was really hard for my parents and my brother, yet they always stayed strong and positive that I will beat this disease. Thank you to the three of them for being my legs when I felt too scared to stand. To my brother Jason, thanks for just hanging out with me and talking me off the negativity ledge way more times than I can care to count. You don’t even know how important those nights we hang out together are for me. In a time when everyone’s life was moving forward and mine was at this terrible standstill, I thank you for taking the time to spend with me when I knew you could be doing a lot of other fun things.
My parents, my rocks, thank you for housing me, feeding me and taking care of me all through chemo and soon for taking care of me after surgery. I know this has obviously been hard for you two, seeing your child go through this, but you never faltered even once. Your strength has given me strength. I finally feel a way that I am not so scared for tomorrow, that I know I will lick this disease. You have showed me to appreciate today more as well.
I cannot say I am completely out of treatment yet, but with the help of all my angels, things are finally moving forward towards a brighter tomorrow.
Angel: Lucia Eckhardt
An Angel solicits thoughts of a loving & kind caregiver. My Angel, Lucia Eckhardt, was there for me during doctors’ appointments, surgery, rides to Albany & Poughkeepsie and treatment days! She encouraged me every step of the way, brought meals, spent days and nights, and did whatever I needed, going totally above and beyond in every respect. I can never thank her enough for being a true friend worthy of Angel status!
Angel: Steve Shavkin
My angel is my husband, Steve Shavkin. He is not just my angel, but my hero.
Prior to my breast cancer, Steve was there for me for over 40 years as I struggled with Hep. C. He gave me the shots through all four treatments until, finally, the fourth treatment worked. I have been clear of Hep C since April 2004. In September of 2009, Steve went with me to the Mayo clinic to find out what was wrong. He never complained with this experience, but was there as my rock and supporter. Through all the upsets and tears, Steve never gave up, deserted me nor complained.
In February of 2010, I was dx with breast cancer. I was just feeling that my health issues had subsided when I went for my routine mammogram. Knowing how my husband would react, I asked to have him come into the room where I found out that there was indication that I needed to have more than an Xray to see what was going on. He sat there quietly through the exam as the doctor looked at what was on the screen. He was very calm and comforting even through it was a difficult situation for someone he loves.
In between my two surgeries, I developed pneumonia and was taken to the ER . Steve cared for me and comforted me by just his presence and did whatever was needed during this difficult time of illness. Yes, he cooked and cleaned up, did laundry, never complained nor expected me to do anything other than relax and rest due to my health issues.
In June, of 2009, I fell and had to be taken to the ER by ambulance. A few days later, he was awaken by my yelling with severe pain. It woke me up! Again, Steve was at the ER with me, still with a great deal of calmness and patience.
Then, in June, I began radiation treatment. Fortunately, I did not need chemo. Due to my weakness because it was found that my red cell count was down and my quantity of blood was down, I could not drive. Yes, Steve drove me to all my appointments with love and no complaints. In the meantime, he did the cooking and whatever needed to be done when I was just to weak to do so. On July 29th, my radiation treatment was completed. However, the weakness was getting worse to the point that I could not walk. I was hospitalized and had a room on the cancer floor of Vassar Hospital where I received excellent care and treatment. Again, Steve was there for me and never complained nor showed any type of annoyance due to all we were going through and had been going through. I had severe anemia (6.9), had 600 cc taken from my lungs and had “around-the-clock” antibiotics.
Through all the tests, treatments, doctors and lab appointments, my wonderful husband, Steve, was there without any complains and just plain caring. When it was decided to go to therapy to discuss things, Steve, was there and worked hard at issues that arose.
My hero, my lover, my partner and my best friend is a true angel. As difficult as things were, we were there for each other and comforted each other. Was it all “a piece of cake” and an easy time? No, not at all. We had our ups, downs and upsets, but Steve never left me nor abandoned me even when things got tough and difficult to deal with.
I would like to nominate Steve Shavkin as “My true Angel” because angels are there unconditionally and so is my husband.
By the way, March 21, 2013, Steve and I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary.
This program was inspired by a suggestion from Miles of Hope Volunteer, Shannon Leddy.