Volunteer January 2019: Dawn Sesto
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Posted by: Megan Purtell
Diagnosed on: Feb 1, 2005
Retreat Date/Location: June 2010, Björklunden, Baileys Harbor
Starting volunteering: July 2011, Apostle Islands. I also had the privilege of volunteering at the 2018 Young Survivors retreat. Because of my own experience, I feel drawn to young survivors and the Young Survivors retreat is very near to my heart.
Favorite Retreat Elements: I love how all the retreat elements work together to make the retreat special and memorable. The music is woven throughout and brings the activities and discussions together. One of my favorite retreat songs is Wise Women Circle, which reminds me how special our retreat circles are. We open ourselves up to our sisters in the circle; share the good, the bad, and even the ugly; we bond, we heal, we grow. I also love the Letting Go ceremony and the Sufi dance.
Most memorable retreat experience: At my retreat the physical activity was ziplining. It was raining when we arrived, and I was secretly relieved because ziplining was out of my comfort zone. Instead we began our adventure in a huge barn where we gathered around the Wooden Giant. Climbing the Wooden Giant was an amazing experience in many ways, even though I was terrified. I had the best partner! Not sure I could have done it without Mary Kay’s help, she is very athletic and strong, and an amazing woman. At one point as she was climbing I saw her lower stomach and noticed she had the same scars that I have from TRAM flap reconstruction. When journaling that evening I cried over the fact that I had been limiting myself physically for no good reason! I did end up ziplining that day too! Zip On!
Background: I was diagnosed at the age of 36; happily married with two daughters, successful career... Our daughters were 6 and 2. My motto was “Never Give up Hope”. I was entirely focused on doing what I needed to with treatments so that I’d be around to be their mother, and someday a grandmother to their kids! On Feb 1st 2019 I’ll be a 14 year survivor, married 27 years. Cassie’s a sophomore at UW-Madison, and Becca’s a sophomore in high school. After 21 years working at Ohmeda developing anesthesia machines, I’m well into the second phase of my career at Thrivent Financial.
Other Volunteer Roles: I’ve been an ACS volunteer for many years, including being on the planning committee for our local Relay For Life with my daughters. Our family has been involved in “Unless.. we find a cure” movement in our Woodland school community, which has raised well over $125K for ACS since 2009. Even more amazing is the countless kids that have learned that being there for other people in their time of need is the greatest gift anyone can give, and that each of us really can make a difference in the world. I’ve also gone on a Habitat for Humanity build in Costa Rica, participated in many Thrivent Action Teams for various causes, taught faith formation at our church and other volunteer opportunities in my community.