The team will be compiled of family and friends that I have had in my life. We decided to go with “Inspired” because while, I am the cancer survivor, all of us have had some type of “life changing experience” which has inspired us in different ways. We have done the Lakewalk for Cancer in Oconomowoc in the past, however, this last year, my family moved to Minnesota so we didn’t organize a team. The pictures I have attached are from that experience. At the time of that last walk, I was pregnant with our second son.”
Last year we offered participants the opportunity to create teams. It was a success! In our first year we had 20 teams participate in Laura’s Smile Mile. We featured several of those teams on our blog. The teams shared amazing stories of memory, support and survival. Below, is a story from a new team in 2013 that can “Inspire” us all.
Team Captain Brenda Vogds says in an email to us…..
I was diagnosed in December 2003 with my Ovarian Cancer. Just 6 months after I was married to my high school sweetheart, Weston Vogds. It was the first week in December and I was out Christmas shopping on a Sunday afternoon when all of sudden I was keeled over in pain and had to sit down. It went away and I came home. I had suspected that I had endometriosis based off of conversations with some of the people I worked with and scheduled an appointment. That Wednesday, I went into the doctor and was put into surgery within hours. Not realizing at the time the severity of my case, I had told work I would be back on Monday! I was teaching high school at the time at Oconomowoc High School.
My doctor, Dr. Jill Wohlfeil, performed the surgery. I was fortunate enough to have a doctor that didn’t mess around, and in retrospect, saved my life. The following Monday I was made aware by a visit to her office that the ovary that they had removed, was cancerous and that I would have to determine what route I wanted to take for care. After conversations with an on-site doctor and one down at Froedtert Memorial Hospital, I began preparations for my chemotherapy. I was scheduled into four week long treatment cycles, three weeks apart. Dr. David Boruta II, who is now practising out in Massachusetts, was my doctor. The next five months were a complete blur and by the end of April in 2004, I was bald and tired, but I was alive. I had one of the strongest support systems available; my father spent everyday with me at the hospital (my mother was there too but was still working full time and supporting her mother through her cancer treatments), my friend Sarah studied for her tests from my bedside, my friend Cara took over all of work responsibilities, my brothers, sister’s in law and friends threw me a “early New Year’s” party because I was going to spend the “real” New Year’s in the hospital. My nights were always buzzing with millions of family and friends and refrigerator always stocked thanks to my friends at OHS! Most importantly, my soul mate and husband (of just 6 months at the time) told me I was beautiful when I had no hair, snuggled me on nights I would cry myself to sleep and always assured me “we” would make it through.
Being only 25 years old, I still had hopes that I would be able to have a family, at the time, there was a very glimpse possibility that I would be able to. In 2005, I completed my Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology and finally in 2007, we were blessed with our first child, Sullivan. In the summer of 2008, I began my PhD at Cardinal Stritch University in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education. I was blessed with a second son in May of 2010 and am currently ABD, working on finishing my dissertation in Personalized Learning.I worked in various roles throughout my career in education; a teacher, a grant writer, a university instructor, a technology coordinator and in the last three year, as a principal in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.
This year is sort of a “BIG” one for me, as I am celebrating my 10th year married, turning 35 and celebrating my 10th year “cancer” free. Today, I view my journey through cancer as my greatest time of personal growth. Often times, I remind people that “Life is about perspective”. I feel this statement is one that reins true through all of life’s obstacles. Not many people are given their “life changing moment” at a young age, and while I will never understand why I was so “lucky”, I now know I am truly blessed for it.”
“We decided to create a team when I was asked if I would speak at this year’s Laura’s Smile Mile.
Thank you, Brenda for sharing your story.