Cancer Awareness

Make Your Mess Your Message

by Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation for Cancer Research

Everybody's Got Something-coverEarlier this year, the courageous and inspiring Robin Roberts, a board member of The V Foundation for Cancer Research and co-anchor of Good Morning America wrote a new memoir, “Everybody’s Got Something.”  On September 20th, we celebrate Robin on her second “new birthday”.  Two years ago, she received a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

“Everybody’s got something.” That’s what Robin Roberts‘ mother used to tell her.  For the “Good Morning America” co-anchor, her something was myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, a rare blood disorder. Roberts, a breast cancer survivor, underwent a bone marrow transplant in September 2012 to treat MDS, receiving donor cells from her sister, Sally Ann, and candidly documented her journey both on-air and in this book.  Robin was fortunate as her sister Sally-Ann was a perfect match but, as she is quick to share, 70% of those needing a marrow transplant must rely on a stranger to save their life by voluntarily donating bone marrow.

In Robin’s book “Everybody’s Got Something”, she opens up her battle with MDS and the incredible support system – which includes her family, friends, and girlfriend, Amber, who helped her get through it all, from the shock of the diagnosis through each milestone in her recovery.

Robin’s story provides inspiration — she exhibits a level of vulnerability and humility regarding her experience and candor regarding some of her darkest moments fighting for her life against this rare and insidious disease.  That includes her life lesson that time is not to be wasted.

Following her mother’s advice to “make your mess your message,” Robin taught a nation of viewers that while it is true that we’ve all got something — a medical crisis to face, aging parents to care for, heartbreak in all its many forms — we’ve also all got something to give: hope, encouragement, a life-saving transplant or a spirit-saving embrace. As Robin has learned, and what readers of her remarkable story will discover, it’s all about faith, family and friends. And finding out that you are stronger, much stronger, than you think.  As the late Jim Valvano, founder of The V Foundation for Cancer Research said during his 1993 ESPY Awards speech, “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up.”  His famous words are not only a motivation to those battling cancer, but also serve as encouragement for those who want to help in the fight to save lives.

This book is a must read for family members, friends, caregivers and anyone whose loved one is fighting for their life.  It explains what the process is, step by step, for the patient, the hurdles that may occur and in simplest terms what will happen to themselves or a loved one.  Amber also shares the insights of her experience and the importance of self-care for caregivers.

In her book, Robin shares how many cancer patients crave normalcy and not to be treated differently.  And that often times, there is difficulty in accepting help and support from others.  Dr. Roboz, Robin’s Oncologist warned her, “you can’t assume that because the disease sounds the same or had the same letters, that it’s behaving the same way for somebody else as it is for you.”  Each person’s experience is going to be different.

We celebrate Robin and the contributions she makes by using her platform to make her mess her message and to help people feel less alone on their cancer journey.  Robin is a strong advocate for cancer research; during her ESPY Speech for the Arthur Ashe Award, she repeated Jim Valvano’s words “We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s.  It may save someone you love.”   Later in her speech she added, “I’ve never imagined that I’d be standing here, twenty years after Jimmy V’s speech and say that because of everyone who has responded to his challenge, because of all the donations, research and support, mine is one of the lives that’s been saved.”

To read more about Robin’s gut-wrenching and heart-touching post-transplant recovery, “Everybody’s Got Something” is available in hardcover, Audiobook and eBook, visit:  http://www.everybodysgotsomething.com/.

Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers. Copyright © 2014 by Robin Roberts.
Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.