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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Blog Special: Gratitude from The Heart from Nancy Kershaw

I am writing this letter to express my extreme gratitude to the management and staff of The Works.  It would be very difficult to find the right words to express how I really feel about what my involvement with The Works has done for me. - Nancy Kershaw, Works Member

         On February 19th, 2007, my entire life as I knew it changed.  I woke up that morning a happy and active person.  I loved my life; I had a new grandson, a loving family and a career which I adored.  By nightfall, all would be different. 
I had been feeling a bit fatigued, enough so my doctor sent me for some blood work.  Within an hour of going to the lab, I was in the Emergency Room and was told I would have to have a bone marrow biopsy right away.  Well, that did not go well.  The results of the biopsy led to a diagnosis of a very rare and aggressive blood cancer.  It felt as if everything went into a suspended life form.
I began a long drawn-out battle for my life.  With the help of excellent medical care I won the battle but my body was a pretty tangled up mess.  My heart and lungs had been negatively affected by months of chemotherapy.  The chemo also left me with a chronic condition of lymphedema, especially in my legs.  I was hospitalized several times fighting infection after infection in my legs.  Finally I met a physical therapist from Wentworth Douglas Hospital; working with her made all the difference. She helped me get moving again and once I was stable, she referred me to a program at The Works, The Cancer Recovery Program.  I met with Melanie, the program’s director.  She explained the program and invited me to join the next day.
Little did I know this would turn out to be the single most life-changing activity I ever participated in.  The next day I went to the Cancer Recovery Program class.  I looked around the room; I was so nervous I thought to myself I couldn’t do this.  Then Melanie began the session.  First off, she introduced me.  Her voice was so welcoming and encouraging.  As the class went on I really wanted to do well but I had been a couch potato for so long during the lengthy recovery period I wasn’t sure I could do it.  But as each minute went by I watched and listened as Melanie walked around the room encouraging and supporting each of us.  Her deep investment and dedication to the program were so obvious.  She displayed no judgment towards anyone’s abilities. Melanie was just a source of encouragement.
The time ticked by and class ended. I had made it through. From that day on I was hooked.  I knew if could keep coming, Melanie would guide me through with her positive, happy and supportive nature.  Maybe even I could get this beaten up old body going again.
Well, time passed and I attended regularly; with each passing week, I became stronger and stronger.  Eventually I graduated out of the Cancer Recovery Program and Melanie helped me enter the next program offered by The Works called Prescription RX.  This would give me sixty more days of using the resources at The Works.  As time went by, I began to use the pool, walk on the tread mill and cruise the track.
During that time, I met another very inspirational young woman named Lily.  She was an intern from UNH.  Her bright smile and happy demeanor were a great help and inspiration to me.  I often stopped and asked her questions about my workouts; she always took the time to guide and encourage me.
As my sixty days of the Prescription RX program ended, I was so very sad.  I had made my time at The Works a daily part of my life.  I knew my hope of getting well would have to include movement and staying active but I also knew affording a membership would be a stretch.  Once again, though, Melanie came to my rescue.  She referred me to the next amazing person I met at The Works.  Her name is Kris and she is in charge of the scholarship program.  I met her and couldn’t believe my good fortune; I was granted a scholarship.
But right after that I developed a serious problem with my heart.  This led to my needing a cardiac procedure during which I suffered a complication that landed me on life support.  Once I became stabilized and woke up, I was even more determined to get my body into a much healthier place.
Lucky for me, I was already connected to such a place – The Works – and I knew people who could help me make my dream come true.  Once I was cleared by the doctors, I returned to my special place, The Works, where I was welcomed back by the desk staff.  As usual, they had smiles on their faces and are friendly as they swipe your key in.
My first day back, a young woman named Kristi was on duty; it shocked me when she said she wondered how I was doing as she hadn’t seen me for a while. I couldn’t believe that even the front desk staff seemed vested in my getting healthy.
As each workout goes by I get stronger and stronger.  Every day as I drive to The Works, I can’t wait to get there.  I think of it as my very own happy space.  No, it is not always easy to walk on the treadmill, cruise the track or exercise in the water but I never lose sight of this amazing gift the management and staff of The Works have given me.  I have progressed from being in a state of poor health to being well once again.  I no longer suffer from the effects of the lymphedema.  I haven’t had a single infection in my legs in months.  My cancer is gone, my heart is pumping away, my breathing is strong and my legs are working great.

I owe all this to the opportunity given to me by the programs I’ve participated in at the Works and to all the amazing people there.  I wish I knew everyone’s name so I could individually thank each person but I don’t – so a wonderful young man named Matt has helped me get this thank-you out.  I will be forever grateful for this organization for it truly is all of you and this space that has given me my life back.

-Nancy, the staff at The Works very much appreciate your kind words and are grateful for members such as yourself.  Stay healthy and strong!  
{Your Friends at The Works}


1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story. Glad you are doing so good. Keep up the good work. Maybe I will see you there.