My Toughest Opponent to Date
  | By Caroline Bloom

I was 47-years-old and diagnosed with cancer. Wow! I thought I was typical. I work, play a lot of tennis, have two children, a husband, and a home on the North Shore. I never questioned my fate, until I was the one that was tested.

Being pro-active, I knew I had to act quickly and attack this awful vermin, after all I was a 3.5 USTA Captain for many years, so I knew how to control and conquer.

The days before my first big surgery, I played endless singles, the game I thought I owned. The next day, I learned what was real. I decided at that point, even though I had more surgeries in front of me, I would not let anyone or anything stand in my way.

During my year-long recovery, I endured numerous hours of physical therapy. I was lucky, I was a fighter and I had Donna Goldman at Pro Health as my mentor to help mend me back together along with my two doctors. When I finally got the okay to play again, I was nervous, for I knew that I did not have the strength or endurance to handle the pressure of hitting a ball or running.

Within a few weeks of getting the clearance to play tennis, Debbie Cichon at Carefree Racquet Club was nice enough to get me out on the court and hit with me. We did this weekly and tried all avenues. Debbie started me out slowly, hitting short balls close to the net, and as I got a little bit stronger, we moved back to the baseline. Even though I could barely hit and was gasping for air, Debbie was always encouraging. Being away from tennis for almost one year, I was not ready to play singles at the 3.5 Level. I knew I had to push myself during the summer, so I could compete beginning in September.

All spring and summer, I played and put myself into my own boot camp. I was determined to not let the one activity I have played since I was 10-years-old be controlled by an awful disease. I was fortunate enough to have joined the Farmingdale ladder in the summer and to my surprise; I made it to the playoffs and played third court singles. I lost two out of three sets, but to me, it felt like I had won something more important.

Now that we are in late fall, I am back to where I was playing at Carefree Racquet Club 3.5 singles and proud to say near the top. I achieved more than I could have ever expected. I got my life back and for that I am eternally grateful.

I would like to especially thank:

►Doctor Dwight DeRisi;

►Doctor Mark Silberman;

►Donna Goldman, my physical therapist;

►Debbie Cichon, tennis league coordinator;

►My wonderful family; and

►My loving husband.

My name is Caroline, and this is my story …

Caroline Bloom