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Reflecting on My Birthday: 10 Years Cancer Free

Reflecting on My Birthday: 10 Years Cancer Free

March 24, 2016

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

As someone once said to me, “I love your daughter’s blog, but yours is all about learning.”  I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I could tell that the speaker meant no ill-will; none taken.

Dawn Wink: Dewdrops.

This time WinkWorld will be personal, and not about learning, she said with tongue firmly planted in her cheek…

I’ve always really liked my birthday, but this one was very special, as I received beautiful greetings from so many friends and family members.  In addition, it was the 10th anniversary of being a cancer survivor.  I so remember when I was hoping for one more year of life; five was beyond my dreams.  The two drugs, herceptin and arimidex, had just come off trial in March 2006, when I was diagnosed, and the doctor thought we should try.  Way to go, Dr. Zhou! I am amazed by my good health and so very thankful.

When I got on Facebook for my birthday, I started my day with a photo of this cake, which was created by a former student from Mallorca, Spain.

birthday cake from Dawn Doig

This cake was created by Dawn Doig who now lives in Ulaabaatar, Mongolia.  Dawn, how did you ever find turquoise food coloring in Ulaabaatar?!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

WinkWorld Readers, where in the world is Ulaabaatar, Mongolia?

Next, I received this photo from my brother, Jim Richardson.  Maybe I have seen this before, but I have no memory of this photo.  Thank you, Jim, for this treasured gift.

Joan, age 4

This photo really tugs at my heart, as my mother died of cancer less than a year before the picture was taken.  I look at this photo and wonder: Who did my hair?  Who washed and ironed that dress? I have no idea.

Yes, my blog is usually about “learning,” and this one is very personal.  For the first 30 years of my career, I believed the idea that we must separate the professional from the personal.  However, I started to notice that my personal life informs my professional life and visa versa.  Now, I realize that I cannot separate who I am, as a person, from who I am as a professional.  Once I realized this,  I started bringing my whole self into my teaching and learning; the last 20 years of my career in education have been far richer and deeper.

Yes, I started teaching 50 years ago. Life is crazy good.





  • Carol kortan

    Oh Joan Richardson Wink! Ten years–wonderful! (20 for me). And 50 year teaching- that means I’ve known you even longer! And you are so right about how good life is!

  • Annie Wilkinson

    What a beautiful reflection on hoping for one more year of life, 5 beyond your wildest dreams, 10 years cancer free and here you are! Loved reading this and want to hear more about your experience. See you Monday,
    Love you,

  • Ione Stiles

    Such heart-felt words Joan. Congratulations on a wonderful life!!!

  • Julie D Gorman

    Joan, I can’t believe it has been 10 years. Time flies and I’m so happy you are healthy, happy and busy as always. Love & hugs, Julie

  • Janice Herring

    So right about letting students in on who you are as a person… I enjoy sharing in that way so that they feel comfortable doing the same. And when I spent time coaching high school swimming with my husband, I had very real examples to tell my Aquatics students. The same is true with the volunteer soccer board and encouraging students to promote physical activity in their communities. Thanks for being the positive encourager that you are and for demonstrating the courage that helped to heal you.

    • Joan Wink

      Janice, I know you understand what I am saying about the personal and professional. Thanks for all YOU do!

  • Heather Hurst

    Happy Birthday Dr. Wink! It sounds like you have a lot to celebrate! I enjoy reading your blogs. I don’t know if you remember me, but I was a graduate student in your program and you were one of my advisors for my thesis. After I received my Masters Degree from California State Stanislaus in Turlock, I moved back to my home state of Pennsylvania. Since then, I have lived in Utah and Florida. I have come full circle and am back in California with my husband and 2 girls. I left teaching to raise my girls, but am hopeful to get a teaching position for this coming school year. (Fingers crossed!). Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Joan Wink

      Of course, I remember you. I also remember your initials: HoH. Pretty cool. Glad to hear that you are back in CA, and I’ll look forward to hearing of your new career position, when the time is right.

      • Barbara Skalina

        DEAR joan…Im so happy for you….10 is a wonderful number (25 for me) so lucky to have such a sweet,kind neighbor.Every day is a blessing,my son was 6 when i was diagnosed, and now my grandaughter is 7!!Who knew!!hugs,your new neighborBarbara ×××

  • Mary Kay Sandal

    Thank you for sharing Joan, I love the cake and the picture! You are such a great example of living life abundantly and you have blessed my life in an abundance of ways! I have a wonderful picture of us around the firepit before either you or Larry knew you were fighting the battle and I love it to this day, would have been summer 2005!

  • Mom, this is beyond gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing this. YOU are crazy good!
    Love you oodles,

  • Mom, this is beyond beautiful. Gorgeous, gorgeous.
    YOU are crazy good!
    Love you oodles,

  • Don’t know how I missed this except for chemo brain. What a wonderful celebration, cake, birthday!! And it really lifted my spirits!! Thank you!!

    • Joan Wink

      Joan K., sending our very best support as you begin your journey through chemo and beyond to restored health. Hugs.

  • Linda Pesquiera

    Joan, we’re so happy the 10 year year anniversary is being celebrated and pray another decade (or 3) are added. I have been blessed to have you in my life for 34 yrs and I continue to learn from you (& your family). You give true meaning to the terms: “strong” “unconditional love” “kind hearted” “selfless” “supportive” “spirited” and “true friend.”
    God continue to bless you and your family. Love you!

    • Joan Wink

      Linda, thank you so much for your generous words. You really touched my heart. Sending love back to you.

  • Joan, congratulations. I have used you as an example many times when meeting friends with cancer. One of my best friends is coming for lunch today – she has had a really scary cancer with lots of metastases, big operation, various chemos, and a week ago they told her that ALL of it is now OK! I cried, of joy. I’ll tell her today about your 10-year anniversary. Love, Tove

    • Joan Wink

      Hi dear Tove, thank you for your kind comments. I must apologize for being a poor pen pal! I can’t seem to catch up with my own retirement…. I will write. Love, Joan

  • Lori Stofft

    Sweet blog, mama Wink! Celebrating your continued vitality. Glad to be in touch with you and your amazing daughter. With love from Yuma.

  • Cathe McCoy

    Joan, When I read this two weeks ago, I was stunned, shocked, speechless. As my role model for Super Woman, this was not supposed to happen. Not to you. This must have happened right after Jerry and I left California. You have no idea how happy I am you are free and clear. You will always inspire people to achieve more than they dare dream. Forever, my role model and with love, Cathe

    • Joan Wink

      Thanks, dear Cathe, but you know that I have no interest in being super woman! I’m pretty sure that everyone who is diagnosed, must think: Wait, this was not to happen. 😉 I was diagnosed March 2006. I am doing great – can hardly believe my health! Thanks for caring. Love, Joan

  • Dawn Phillips

    So good to read this! It has been ten years since I got my dream job. I love having my own class and all of my students feel like family members. What I always remember from your classes is to reflect. I do frequently and always come up with solutions to problems. Congrats on being cancer free!

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