Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#527 Happy Cancerversary!


Here's to spending a LOT more time with this man!

Three years. It has been three long years today since I received the phone call that forever changed our lives.  "You have stage iv cancer".  Did it rock our world and put us both into a spin of no return? Of course.  Anytime a life changing experience pokes its head into our comfortable existence makes us suddenly view our own mortality and gasp that this can not really be happening.

Eighteen months after my initial stage 2 diagnosis,  I was deemed a survivor until my fairy tale view of cancer land was slammed into the reality of a free fall into hell. I dealt with this by perusing the internet to find out the good the bad and the ugly of this disease and was not encouraged by what I discovered.  The first few findings scared the crap out of me--three years median life expectancy, no cure, 40,000 die every year, 113 die every day, no cure, no cure, no cure.

The "no cure" clause stopped me in my tracks because with all the publicity on cancer survivorship, I was under the impression if I caught this cancer bugger early, zapped the heck out of it and now, with keen vigilance to any unusual aches or pains, I would be cancer free after my initial diagnosis.

Not quite so fast, I unfortunately learned.  It took me several months to wrap my head around all of this and sort out exactly how I/we were going to manage it--the fact that I could be gone in three years kept echoing in my head.  Nothing seemed hopeful or promising and quite frankly, I was scared to death (inappropriate word to use describing this experience).

The turning point into seeing a better outcome was the fact that research done five or ten years ago is now keeping me alive longer.  New innovative treatments are rapidly coming to fruition and hopefully will move those horrible statistics to a more encouraging playing field for all of us. Research--the word that is coveted by all metsters--is what will determine the next round of ever changing statistics.

Today I mark this anniversary with a quiet celebration thankful to the researchers who have gotten me to this point as they continually search for answers. Their valuable work will again make a significant difference five years from now so my daughter and granddaughter may live in a true cancer free world.

To make this happen for us, please donate to UW Carbone Cancer Center and keep all of us around for many anniversaries to come.

Thanks for reading #527 of 7777.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

#526 Michael Phelps-- Don't Mess With Me!

Michael Phelps


Picture this scene unfolding before your eyes. Two people churning through the waters neck and neck racing to a victorious end with the crowd cheering us on. Who will touch the edge of the pool first--Michael Phelps or me?  It's an unbelievable contest with high stakes for the gold medal.

Okay, that was fake news--the reality is there are no crowds of people at the Oregon pool watching and certainly what transpires never looks like an all out sprint.  What often happens is my easy warm up turns into a ferocious race as the nearby swimmer comes into my range of vision.  Flip, turn and back to the opposite end churning the waters as fast as my arms can go and my legs can kick.  First lap done and I am in the lead, second one he pulls ahead and now it is time to dig deeper and deeper one stroke after another, side by side until...

Nada, nothing, zip, diddily-squat because...

Unbeknownst to him, as he has absolutely no clue he's participating in a pseudo race, he flips over to do the backstroke and I take off realizing the contest is over.  The backstroke vs. the crawl is not conducive to my nonexistent event, nevertheless I still swim off reveling in my triumphant (fake) win.   Being sidelined from any competitive sport has forced my imagination to restore the drive to push myself to that next level even though the poor chap was simply out for an enjoyable swim completely oblivious to the maniac next to him.  

These sometimes difficult, sometimes easy workouts have readied me for my first summer swim on June 28th at noon.  It will be a two mile noncompetitive plunge in Lake Mendota starting at the Wisconsin Alumni Association dock (next to the Red Gym)  in Madison.

Please join me on June 28th as a swimmer, kayaker or a cheerleader.  The UW Carbone Cancer Center will profit from this swim along with the thousands of Stage IV women and men. Let's all get into the competitive spirit and beat this disease both in and out of the water.

On a side note, please follow my Facebook page, One Woman Many Lakes, for updates on weather or water conditions.

Thanks for reading #526 of 7777.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

#525. Every Birthday is the Best


Best Birthday Gift!

Ahhh.  Birthdays.  If you are lucky they arrive every year on the same day, sometimes the same place, and many times with a gargantuan amount of fanfare.  Mine will be here soon which sent me down memory lane on how I have approached my birthday over the years.

My childhood days were thrilling--cake, ice cream, friends, the center of attention, a year older.  It couldn't get better than that as I anticipated the big day arriving when I would be the one in charge--the one in the center of everyone's universe--for that one glorious day.  Oh! And the presents.  Let's not forget the presents.

Then I muddled through a number of years where, although the day was lovely, it wasn't that breath taking, all about me, kind of day. Time passed and at the exact age of thirty-four,  I had the absolute pleasure of sharing this day with my daughter.  Granted her birth day was a bit challenging to be in labor but the end result of this precious child in my arms was by far the best gift I have ever received.  Nothing tops it or ever will.  (Sorry Rob, not even the Hamilton tickets).

After this birthday sharing daughter grew a little older, my mind was more focused on aging than enjoying the day.  One more year older I would moan and dreaded those years passing by so quickly.  How does that happen--the 40's turned into 50's which turned into 60's.  And look at me. What happened to the looks from my twenties--probably my peak in physical and mental attributes.  Birthdays had somehow become the dreaded event of the year.

Time moved on and when my parents passed away, my birthday evolved into a day of remembering.  Thinking about how excited they were at a new baby entering their family, I began viewing birthdays differently and would be thankful for this magnificent life they gave me. The day turned into a observance of being and the feeling of closeness to the two people who loved me unconditionally.

Fast forward to the present with my birthday just around the corner.  Hallelujah!  I am alive and here to celebrate it is all I have to say.  Cancer tends to put certain events into perspective and years ago, if someone had told me I would be jumping up and down thrilled to be turning 66, I would have rolled my eyes thinking the distant age of seventy is closing in at an alarmingly fast rate of speed.

  But now, on the verge of my big day, I plan on whooping it up even though the number of candles adorning the cake could start a fire--who cares because-- yippee coyote and all that jazz--I AM HERE living and thriving for one more year.

Now---"Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it" ( a reference to Hamilton if you haven't seen it)...

To help make this upcoming day even better, please consider a donation to UW Carbone Cancer Center--My birthday!  It will come close (but not quite) to rivaling the best gift I've ever received.

Thanks for reading # 525 of 7777.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#524 White Knights and Super Heroes

Rob at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Convention
Numerous times I have written about my lovable husband and how he has been a reliable standup guy with the whole cancer diagnosis.  This--can I call it "an experience?"--is not for the faint of heart but to manage every day, every doctor's appointment and every scanxiety attack with such devotion and unfailing loyalty is beyond what I would have ever imagined from him...or, quite frankly, anyone else.

Not that he isn't generally a kind compassionate person, but to stick with this s#*& show and display your true colors when the chips are down and your wife's unlucky lottery number was picked makes me feel pretty darn lucky to have married him.

The blog, What They Don't Tell You the Day Your Wife is Diagnosed with Cancer, will give you a glimpse into what these courageous men face daily.  Parts were an eye opener for me and some were a bit disconcerting--you'll understand it when you read it--however, other paragraphs I was nodding my head in agreement.

 "I can say with Confidence no man enters marriage with the thought of losing his wife. We are the ones that go too fast, take too many chances, drink too much, and test limits. We see ourselves being the ones laying down at the end of life, hoping to leave security for our loved ones. In one moment in an office words are spoken and at that moment your life has changed forever. Let me repeat that. A Cancer diagnosis for your wife means life as you knew it or thought it would be has changed forever."

 Our lives have changed forever and although I frequently thank Rob (at least that's my attempt) it will never seem enough because who would choose this kind of life for our golden years. But the standup guy that he is offers no complaints from his sweet mouth. That is why his flowing superman cape is waiting for him to adorn his broad shoulders as soon as I can figure out how to sew the darn thing.

On a side note:  Rob always reads my blogs and was quite embarrassed by my glowing accolades of his caregiving.  He thought maybe I should mention his latest faux pas with Mother's Day.  I reminded him that being absent that day due to fishing and a poorly assembled bouquet of flowers picked from the neighbor's garden does not diminish my love for him (Okay, maybe I was a bit miffed about the whole ordeal, however, I should remember white knights do occasionally slip off their horses--but they always seem to climb right back up and resume their charge).

Despite his forgetfulness of the big day he still deserves extra hugs and high fives for being a super duper hero--in spite of his lack of any flower arrangement abilities/Mother's Day priorities/breakfast in bed would have been nice, etc. etc. etc...(I'm over it, really I am).


Thanks for reading # 524 of 7777.









Wednesday, May 17, 2017

#523 Just Write/Right


                                                            Bronte Sisters


I'm just going to write because I cannot help it. 

Charlotte Bronte
                                              Read more at: Brainy Quote Charlotte Bronte
  

Aha!  Here's a portion of an email I received today from Healthline that put a big old smile on my face.
  "We'd like to let you know that you've been chosen as a winner for our Best Blogs 2017 in the Metastatic Breast Cancer Category. You can see the article here: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/metastatic-breast-cancer-blogs

One of the best blogs of 2017 from Healthline.  Wow! is all I can say. Thank you to this organization's kind words and encouragement.  It certainly makes getting back to the computer a little easier especially when the writer's block flops down and glares at me with its beady eyes.

Putting the pen to the paper (or in this case, fingers to the keys) has provided me several different avenues ranging from comfort of spreading the MBC word, to angst.  Either the idea is there or it is not; and when it isn't--nothing makes sense and my hands wave the white flag of surrender.

Other days I feel a tad like Charlotte (not in the same range of talent, but I digress) and can not get the words down fast enough.  So much to say and so little time.

But today--I will steal a portion of Sally Field's academy award's acceptance speech--"You like me, you really like me"!  It is a huge ego boost for me to be recognized and realize that I am making a difference to those women and men living with metastatic breast cancer.  Thank you Healthline for making my day!

Thanks for reading #523 of 7777.












Thanks for reading # 523 of 7777.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

#522 Reaching for the Stars---YOU!


Thumbs up to you if you join us!

Calling all advocates or "wanna be" advocates or "I'd like to help but don't know how" advocates in Wisconsin.  Yes, I'm talking to you today.  Rob and I have been stewing a while on a plan for swimming this summer and how to reach out to others but we need your help.

We are looking for a few ____________(fill in the blank with --good, kind, generous, wonderful, marvelous) human beings to offer their lake homes with a place to swim, people to educate and purses to contribute to the stage iv fund.  It is quite simple, really.  Set up a date with us, contact your friends on your email list and on the lake and I'll swim and share information on MBC.  You provide the people and we will provide a caterer for a lovely evening or afternoon get together.  We may even convince our UW Carbone Cancer researchers to speak and share their knowledge.

Oh, so you don't have a lake or friends with a lake?  No problem.  I don't need water to spread my message.  Just have a cocktail/luncheon/whatever meal you want and I will provide "entertainment" with some graphics about MBC.  I know it doesn't sound terribly amusing but I will make sure your guests will feel that are making a contribution to a worthy cause.

Our reasoning behind our shift in venues is we have had many "asks" of our friends and family to contribute and they have been extremely generous but we need to expand our circle and find others to support us.  We will give you all the assistance you need to make this successful because if it is successful for you imagine what it will be like for the funding that would come in for MBC.

Please contact me about details on how your lake or your friend's lake can be party central for getting the word out.  It will be a good time had by all--guaranteed.

Thanks for your consideration and sharing of this information.  The more we reach the more we gain.

Really and truly can't commit?  Please go to UW Carbone Cancer Center and donate.  Trust me, today on Mother's Day, you will be making a difference.

Also, thanks for reading # 522 of 7777.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#521 The "Unrant" Rant



This is not a rant. Trust me. I've ranted enough to know one when I write one.  This, instead, is a plea.  I would get down on my hands and knees if you could see me because it is that critical.  It is a plea for all noncancerous robust women and men to take up our cause.

I know you are probably as fit as a fiddle and cancer is the last thing on your mind but guess what? It was not on my radar either.  How could this disease creep into my healthy lifestyle when I was too busy running, working out and eating a (mostly) nutritious diet?

Well, my friends, this ugly disease can raise its monstrous head and attack when you least expect it.  That is why I am pleading with you to get on board today to take action with us.  Those of us with metastatic breast cancer number between 150,000 and 250,000 and many are too sick to rally about anything except getting to the next day.  We need your energy and your drive to help us out.

One out of eight women will be newly diagnosed this year and one out of three will metastasize either as de novo (first time breast cancer) or as a recurrence.  I was sitting in the same place you were six years ago helping out friends who were diagnosed and mentally counting the people I knew figuring the one out of eight ratio had been reached.  I was on easy street or so I thought--I was on the "right" side of the statistics.

WRONG!  Easy street just hit a dead end and bingo, here I am getting thumped by the cancer bomb--twice.  Was I interested in advocating for those with breast cancer before the bomb went off in my body?  Of course I did walks and sent donations when needed but to stand up beside women living with this disease and advocating for them?  I will admit it was the furthest thing from my mind.

My request to you is to please help us.  Help us advocate for more research, better health care and larger chunks of money to go directly into finding a cure. Sixty percent of the population knows little to nothing about metastatic breast cancer.  We need more voices spreading the word screaming from sea to sea so legislators and other government officials hear us.

Get involved, ask questions.  Let's stop 113 women and men from dying every single day.  Not to scare the pants off of you but the life you save may be your own.

Here are a few ways to you can get involved:
1. Go to www.onewomanmanylakes.org for information on writing to our legislators about increased     funding for NCI and NIH.
2. Donate to UW Carbone Cancer Center
3. Sponsor a swim (I'll join you) and do your own fundraising
4. Share this site or the One Woman site to your friends.
5. "Like" my One Woman page on Facebook and share
6.  Talk to others about our concerns of being ignored

That's it for now.  Many thanks for the shout out.

Thanks for reading #521 of 7777.