The following was provided by nonprofit organization First Descents and by Amber Vaccaro of Lynnfield:
Amber Vaccaro of Lynnfield has spent the last year of her life recovering from cancer. With the help of The Reading Athletic Club (RAC), she is running her first Half Marathon on December 2, 2012 in Las Vegas, to raise money for ‘First Descents’, an organization that provides outdoor adventure therapy to young adults with cancer.
RAC Program Director, Lori Haverty has made a special investment in Vaccaro. By modifying exercises and providing encouragement Haverty has seen an amazing transformation within Vaccaro, not only physically, but mentally as well.
Haverty says, “Amber is tough. At first she struggled through the workouts, but she overcame the first few months. She inspires all those around her.”
Together, the two women have organized a fundraiser, ‘Cocktails After Cancer’, to help raise money to send other young cancer survivors on a life alternating ‘First Descents’ trip. Every $1,000 raised sends one survivor/fighter to camp. Their fundraiser will be held on October 24th at Grumpy Doyles in Reading.
At the age of 32, Vaccaro was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma of the right breast. Exactly one year ago, she finally finished her cancer treatment, which included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She soon learned that the hard work did not actually begin until after treatment. In her words: “The past year and half of my life have been in survival mode – taking care of my 3-year old daughter and husband, going to doctors appointments, listening to my naturopath, exercising and preparing all-natural, organic foods for our family were my focuses. Everything that was on the ‘recovery checklist’ I did, completely. However, what I neglected were the emotional impacts left by the cancer.”
In July, Vaccaro attended a life-changing week-long kayaking trip with an amazing organization, ‘First Descents’, for young adult cancer survivors. It was one year after her last chemotherapy treatment that she took her first whitewater kayaking stroke in the waters of Kalispell, MT.
Of her experience at First Descents camp, Vaccaro says, “This trip allowed me to grieve all my losses and develop new strengths, which I never realized I needed to do to keep living. The support, compassion and laughter brought me to a new realization. I learned that I wasn’t really living. I was just surviving and that it is not until you ask for help that you can truly heal.”
She continued, “Cancer has taught me more than I would have like to known, but has opened my eyes to see what really matter in life. To me, that means living as full and light as you can be.”