19 & Counting

A picture of me and my siblings in May of 1991. I was too sick to attend my sisters graduation.

I usually try to blog on Tuesday's and Friday's -- but this week, Wednesday would be more appropriate.

Today is the most important day of the year for me, in fact it has been since 1993. It's my rebirth. It's a day to reflect, a day to be thankful, a day to celebrate. June 6th is my "cured" date, my "cancerversary" if you will!? On this day in 1993 my oncologist, for the second time, said to me; "you're done." Though I was scheduled for 2 more rounds of intense chemo, my body simply couldn't handle any more -- my organs were begging for mercy from the concoction of toxins. By June 6th, 1993 I "should" have been dead 3 times over...But, on this day 19 years ago, after leaving the oncology clinic, Ice Cube said it best through the speakers of our car, "It Was a Good Day." June 6th, 1993, was indeed a good day and I will celebrate it every year of my life because from Milwaukee to New York, doctors thought I was as good as dead. For me, June 6th is a day that speaks to the power of POSSIBILITY.

In fact, since that day I have searched for the reason why I survived while many others I knew who were re-diagnosed with ostersarcoma, unfortunately did not win their battles? It is since June 6th, 1993 that I have wondered; "how will I give back to honor my survivorship?" Was it to help out other childhood cancer patients -- patients in the hospital and those who were newly diagnosed? Well, I already did/do that, but it didn't/doesn't feel like it was/is enough for me. Though I knew/know I was impacting lives, I never felt like I was making a big enough impact. I needed to do more. Was is to lift the spirits of campers at the various childhood cancer camps I volunteer(ed) at? While it is/was fulfilling and I am/was darn good at it, I wasn't making a daily difference in enough lives. I still failed to feel like I was fully honoring the fact that I was/am a one-in-a-billion survivor. I needed more. I needed to give back in a bigger way! I always dreamed and prayed that I could volunteer 100% of my days away -- it turns out after searching for 16 years, my prayers were answered and I discovered without question EXACTLY why I survived, what my "plan" was, and how I would give back. It turns out I have been volunteering 100% of my time for the last 3 years to the dream of The Ability Center -- and let me tell you something, I couldn't be more honored to be the person to deliver this vision. 

In the last year The Ability Center has begun to come alive. You are now able to see what is in my heart and soul, what I live every day for, and what I wake up in the morning thinking about because it spent the night manifesting in my dreams. The Ability Center (TAC) WILL make a daily diffenence in the lives of thousands of people affected by disABILITIES. TAC will allow people with disABILITIES and their families to have the same daily opportunities as their able-bodied peers do -- to be fit, active, healthy and to play in an accessible, affordable and inclusive environment alongside their friends and families. I have been groomed for this very mission since March 7th, 1991 and will not quit until the doors are open.

There are already countless people I owe an infinite amount of thanks to; from my mother to my wife, my oncologist to my surgeon, my childhood hero to my neighbor and people from Portland to Boston (literally). Hundreds of people have played a role in my survivorship and many more continue to do so -- I will always be humbled by their kindness. Today, I'm hoping you'll add to those hundreds of people as I reach towards "100,000 Strong." In fact, I put the same call out last year on this day, but, know that today TAC is in a much stronger position, just one year later. 

Today it is my hope that you will help me honor my survivorship by helping to make The Ability Center a reality, not for me, but for the 29,00 children and the 190,000 individuals and families affected by disABILITIES in southeast Wisconsin, and even the 40 million across America. This movement and vision must start somewhere, so that together we can duplicate it across the country. Today, I am asking that you join The Ability Center's "100,000 Strong for Ability" community by sponsoring 1 or more square feet of TAC. While I understand $100 is too much for many, donate $10 and consider asking 9 friends for $10 as well. Or, you could donate $19 for 19 years or simply donate any amount you can to help bring TAC to life. And, if you're unable to donate monetarily, sign up to volunteer with us or you can help by simply spreading the word. Share this blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, any where and everywhere in hopes that the right person/people will see the vision and reach back in a positive manner.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for helping me honor my survivorship. Thank you for your support. What will YOU do today to make a difference? To give back? We are all a part of the whole, we all hold a piece of the puzzle, if you haven't already done so, it's time to play your piece! Stay tuned for June 6th, 2013 -- It's going to be a 20 year party you're NOT going to want to miss! 

NOTE: The above picture is from May of 1991, it was my sister's High School graduation and holds a particular significance because I was too sick to attend. In fact, I had to watch it on public access because my immune system was too weak to be in the gym with thousands of people.


Happy Cancerversary Damian!!! We are all grateful you survived! I can't wait to walk into the doors of The Ability Center!

Damian Buchman's picture

Thank you Andrea -- You continue to give to and honor our mission, I cannot wait to see you standing in your square foot! 

Damian Buchman's picture

Today my mom sent me an e-card with "The top 10 reasons I celebrate your 19 years of Survivorship." Here's a few of them;

"4. TAC would not have been born."

"7. Hundreds of One Step [campers] would not have the inspiration you have provided or claimed the hope that your essence exudes."

"8. I love seeing your smile and the sparkle that emanates from your eyes when you’re doing what you love most – helping people."

"9.  You have a special wisdom and insight that few will ever possess."

Thank you Mom, I love you! Wouldn't be here with you!!

Like I said in reason #1:
1.) The first one is very selfish: My soul would have been profoundly broken for the rest of my days.
I love you beyond words.O

Happy anniversary Damian - what a wonderful and joyous day! I made a donation today in celebration of your tenacity, spirit and generous heart.

Damian Buchman's picture

Thank you Sue for being the 44th of 100,000 -- You truly continue to inspire me with your kind heart! 

Your drive and passion assures that The Ability Center will move from "IF" to "WHEN". Take care and I'll see you a week from Monday!

I still can't look at that picture without crying. It is good to remember and be thankful!

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