Friday, April 6, 2018

#548 Roaring in the Wind

A tad late--February 27th was the day this was written-- but with traveling, life and etc. etc. etc.
it was never posted.
My two sisters.  Kathy is on the left.
Today we tackled an extremely steep hiking trail while the wind attempted to blow us all the way to Kansas.  The beginning of the hike was a real bum burner but as we continued it wasn't quite as demanding so allowed reflecting on a variety of topics and events that transpired in the past few weeks.

My first reflective thoughts were about my sister who would have celebrated her sixty-fourth birthday today.  I imagined this hike was right up her alley as we fought with the wind blasts and hanging on to our hats so they weren't blown off.  It was her kind of day and I felt her presence step after step on the climb.

On the downward portion of the trail my thoughts turned to a conversation I was involved in last weekend.  The details are long and boring but the gist of the discussion focused on me and all I heard was how "bravely" I'm dealing with a cancer diagnosis and "My, you are such an inspiration".

A big cringe on my part as I bit my tongue, smiled and thanked them for their kind words...but then I thought about what was said.  Why does this bug me so much and make me want to roll my eyes and feel like gagging when people are only being kind?

I'll dissect this layer by layer starting with the inspiration part.  I certainly don't feel very inspirational--all I did was get cancer and how in the hell does that inspire anyone?   But then looking at it from another angle, could I inspire people in how I am living my life?  Yes, cancer is a shit storm no one wants to weather but what if my actions encourage others to successfully manage their own life's shit storm? With that said, I will work on energizing others simply by being the best that I can be.  That is the lesson.  All of us are a guiding light in one way or another so the next time someone tells me I am an inspiration, I will counter by telling them, "Right back at you".

Now, the brave comment is another one of those phrases that makes me squirm. I can honestly state the fact that I am not brave.  Not even close to it.  Some days I am scared shitless dealing with this diagnosis and on other days only half scared.  But brave?  I think not.  Lions are brave.  What gives them that bold description?   We know they roar ferociously,  sometimes are unbelievably savage and can attack you if you have what they want--a tasty meal already dressed (as in your whole body).  At least that's what I think of a lion.  Although, there is the Wizard of Oz lion...but I digress.

From this day forward I now resolve to accept the brave label because when I advocate I do roar and savagely question politicians to give more. Maybe I won't attack anyone who won't listen, but will definitely speak my mind when it comes to raising more money for Stage IV. There will be no more eye rolling on my part only a smile on my face and a very sincere but humble thank you to those acknowledging what I am doing.  ROOOAAAARRRRR!

To join in the roaring go to More For Stage IV and donate today.

Thanks for reading #548 of 7777.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

#547 Get Up!

Sometimes you just have to get out of bed. Last night was one of those nights when the glorious sleep fairies avoided me and as my eyes slowly opened this morning after a nanosecond of sleep I thought staying in the sack might be better for everyone instead of pretending like all was well.  It would have been so much easier to hide and retreat from the world but, alas, I slowly moved from my state of inertia and joined the human race.

Actually having a cancer diagnosis often puts squandering a morning or a whole day out of the realm of possibilities for me.  I feel I must drive myself to grab those awake moments and celebrate the fact that I am still moving and alive.  In my mind I feel this could be my last best day and I would have frittered it away by grabbing a few lost zzzz's. Waste a perfectly good day?  I think not.

Or do I?  Do I have to expect every single day to be proclaimed my last BEST DAY EVER?  That in itself can be overwhelming and just plain exhausting so I will allow myself to let a day slip by without fanfare or celebration.  It really is okay.  The word humdrum can be underrated when defining a monotonous day but if I want to nap, sit and read a book or simply put my feet up and think of nothing, it is absolutely okay.

So this day I did get out of bed, growled a bit about my sleepless night and then let the day present itself.  Was it spectacular?  Actually it was.  On my walk to shake off the cobwebs in my head I was able to view up close and personal a beautiful hummingbird's nest made out of twigs, plant fibers and bits of leaves all woven together with spider silk.   This stunning display of nature was nestled by my neighbor's front door and not only was it exquisite, but the two navy bean sized eggs put me over the top on the "wow" factor.

Yep, this was the BEST DAY EVER and thank goodness I didn't miss it.  The old saying if you snooze you lose seems quite apropos for today's event and one I will remember the next time those sleep fairies disappear and leave me a groggy mess not wanting to get out of bed.  Lesson learned to rise up and greet the day because one never knows what could be right around the corner.

A close up of the eggs

Thanks for reading #547 of 7777.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

#546 $333,339!!!!!

Guess what?  The numbers are in and we are proud to announce the results of our 2017 fundraising efforts. Drum roll, please...  The impressive financial count for the UW Carbone Cancer Center-More For Stage IV fund is a whopping $333,339!  In one year! We are still trying to wrap our heads around this as we pick up our dropped jaws.  How on earth does this happen and what will transpire because of this windfall?

First, it happened due to a group of dedicated people who are committed to helping those of us living with this disease and their desire keep us around longer than the medium life expectancy of three years.  Our friends offered their lovely homes and provided delicious appetizers which then gave us the opportunity to stand on our soapbox to shout out our request for more funding as well as offering an ongoing education of MBC.   At each event our rockstar researchers presented an informative piece on where the research dollars would go to improve our lives.  Stepping out of their labs and onto the stage showed their commitment to the cause and continues to impress us all.

And the money flowed in.  It was gratifying for us to see actual faces of our donors and show our appreciation to them on the spot.  Thousands of dollars were generated each night we held a function and it certainly inspired us to seek out others to join our rally cry.

Because of their generosity we were able to hand over the total sum--100% of each dollar contributed--to our researchers so they can develop new treatments or add to an existing one as it benefits the already metastasized patient.  Tremendous financial help is on the way as they now share their ideas on what to do with the funds. I am in awe of their skills they will use so my beautiful granddaughter will have her Grandma G around to watch her grow up.

But we are not done.  There still is no cure so we can not sit back and pat ourselves on the back for our one year of phenomenal success.  A plan needs to be created on how we can top that ginormous number.  We certainly could use additional ideas and your creativity as we spend the winter brainstorming other ways to raise the bar.  How would you suggest we tackle our next project? Please, help be part of the solution as we navigate through the complex labyrinth of the fundraising world.  I will keep swimming but we need other angles to bring in the dough.  Don't hesitate to suggest something outrageous--all feedback will help us move on to that next level-- unless it is something along the lines of me swimming sans bathing suit.  Not going to happen.

Again, thank all of you for your tremendous ongoing support.  If you haven't donated or would like to be one of the first donators of the year, please send it to More for Stage IV--UW Carbone Cancer Center.  Remember this quote from Anne Frank, "No one has ever become poor by giving".

Thanks for reading #546 of 7777.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#545 A Grumpy Old Bear

Yep, this looks like me.

Some days when I feel like a million bucks it is as if I am back to my old self again.  I crack jokes, smile at the world and jump up and down screaming, "I'm alive, you *&^% cancer cells so back off."  Those are the good days that I embrace and cherish


When the bad days pop up I feel my eyes crossing and my ornery cantankerous personality surface with a vengeance and watch out to anyone in my path.  I snap at poor Rob (he's learned to stay clear) or criticize my dear friends when all they want to do is help.  It's as if I can't help myself.  I am one gigantic bitch and I want everyone else to feel as miserable as I do.

And I hate it when I'm like that.  That is not me--not the me I remember before cancer.  Yes, I might have had my moments (don't we all?) but nothing, absolutely nothing like what I do now on a bad day.

Anything can trigger those mean son of bitches days--lack of sleep, sore bones, another mets sister dying--you name it the fury will rise out of nowhere and I am ready to knock anyone or anything to the moon and back.

How do I combat this need to slice and dice my good friends or my beloved husband?  Meditation in the morning seems to improve my sour mood for a short time.  Catching myself before I say something hurtful has proven to rid those ugly words on the tip of my tongue when I feel need to spew venom at anyone near me. Exercise can be two fold--either it's that winning sense --I'm on top of my game-- or a depressed --can't do what I used to do and I'm going to hurt someone today--feeling. My goal is to have at least a few good friends left and my loving husband by my side before I kick the bucket, but at times it feels like it might be a wash as everyone will begin to desert this foul mouthed cancer riddled woman before she can make amends.  Let's hope this won't be the case.

Enough!  Tomorrow will be what it will be and if I can stay on top of the pain and the mood swings I might be pleasant enough to either make peace with those loyal friends or at least apologize
in advance for this cranky old hibernating bear.

Love to all (must be a good day for me).

Thanks for reading #545 of 7777.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

#544 The Keister Kicker

 Daily Mail--Wish this was me kicking the keister!

On a cold January day six years ago I heard those fateful words, "You have cancer". It's mystifying how our minds work because I vividly remember exactly where I was and who was with me but have little recollection of what was said after hearing the confirmation I was dreading.  Those three little words profoundly changed my life and the lives of my beloved family from that day onward.

Little did I realize it was only the very beginning of a life long relationship with this disease but at the time I was devastated, angry and felt completely out of control.  How could this happen?  Wasn't I a model of good health being physically active and eating right as I prepared for the next phase of life attempting to be on the top of my game?  Cancer, I later found out, does not care what shape or size you are in or if you have eaten kale every day of your adult life.  It is often a random occurrence that stuns its recipients and attempts to knock them off their keister.  And knock me it did.

I eventually learned the nitty gritty details about the diagnosis and discovered that it was a small (the medical team's words) 3 cm tumor which was surgically removed, afterwards the breast was zapped with chemo for six months followed by six weeks of radiation.  It ended up to be an exhausting nine months of terror but when the final rays blasted through my body I was done--a survivor of this ungodly year from hell.

Recovery from the onslaught took more time than I had anticipated but I was thrilled to be able to run a race shortly after the last radiation treatment and began preparing for a triathlon the following June.  I was on a roll and felt cancer was just a blip in the radar of life that was finally over.  Unfortunately my celebration was a short lived "cancer free" existence as twenty months later my oncologist carefully explained what happens next because those nasty cancer cells had metastasized.  Another kick in the old keister but this time it felt like more of a stomp.

Back to this "anniversary" of sorts. On January 6th I will not celebrate my six year cancer diagnosis.  It is the antithesis of a beautiful memory so will simply nod as the day flows by and remember how this gut wrenching disease has not gotten the best of me yet.  I will never be a survivor but I am a thriver and every day I get up, see the sunshine, the clouds or whatever is outside my window and think, "I am not dead yet so turn around you #*$#* cancer because I am kicking your keister as hard  as I can...of course with a little help from my friends. "

To be a keister kicking helper, please donate to UW Carbone Cancer Center.

Thanks for reading # 544 of 7777.

Monday, December 18, 2017

#543 Top Ten Reasons

My #1 reason to keep on keeping on

Tis the season upon us to get our rear in gear for the big year end tax write off.  If you have plans to donate some of your hard-earned cash and want to make sure it goes to a good and worthwhile cause, may I suggest you peruse my ten best reasons where it should be given?

Top Ten Reasons to Give

10. The UW Carbone Cancer Center UW Carbone Cancer Center is one of the leading breast cancer centers in the country.
9.  Drs. O'Regan, Wisinski, Burkard (all are from UW) are three of the brightest and the best researchers around and dedicated to their profession.
8.  Metastatic breast cancer receives less than 7% of all research money except in the More for Stage    IV fund at UW where 100% is given directly to the researchers.
7.  113 will die today because a cure has not been found.
6.  It takes money to keep talented researchers in the field.
5.  Not one more person should have to hear the words, "You have a terminal disease."
4.  Research is our best hope.
3.  Our mothers, daughters, aunts, nieces, men in our lives and friends deserve better.
2.  Maggie, Heather, Mindi, Shannon, Beth... and the rest of the 120,000 who have died since my diagnosis must be remembered as we work towards a future for those of us still living.

And the number one reason why we (Rob and I) are constantly working on raising funds for the UW Carbone Cancer Center:

1.  More time with my precious and beautiful daughter and granddaughter and making sure their future is bright and cancer free.

Thank you for your donation to this worthwhile organization UW Carbone Cancer Center .  Because cancer does not discriminate in race, religion, gender or social status; the life you save may someday be your own or a loved one.

Thanks for reading # 543 of 7777.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

#542 Texas, Tummy and Stars--What???

No, I have not taken a brief vacation to some exotic place, however, it does sound tempting right now. Alas, my absence has been due to a gurgling stomach(actually much more graphic than that but I will spare you the details) and a love/hate relationship with the bathroom's white porcelain buddha  during the wee hours of the morning before we were to leave for Texas.  At one point I came to the realization that I would not be on the flight that day to the San Antonio Breast Symposium--largest in the world--no matter how much I was wishing away my rocking and rolling gut.

 This is the second year I've had to abort the mission of going and, to say I was miffed, mad, pissed, furious, incensed, etc. etc. etc. (you get the idea), is an understatement.  My plan was to meet many of the metsters attending to form an alliance when approaching the researchers so they would understand our needs and requests to put us as a priority on research.  I also wanted to learn about the types of treatments on the horizon that may potentially save our lives.

While in a foggy stupor, due to the horrible early morning stages of movement...(TMI), I encouraged Rob to go without me--I would be fine.  I will admit I wasn't fine for a few days but with a little help from my friends I slowly recovered from this nasty stomach virus. While Rob was at the convention, he soaked up all he could to share with me even though his tummy was in a bit of a twist as well.

With plenty of time on my hands I was able to view the video from the pharmaceutical company, Novartis, who had filmed us in our home last spring.  We are our own worst critics so I cringed at my part but the dog and cat come across as shining stars.  Go to Afinitor Stories if you care to see both hubs and me in action...along with the dog and cat.

This is also the time of the year to get your tax deductions so go to UW Carbone Cancer Center and donate this month.  All donations go directly to research so your money will make a difference of making MBC a priority.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart (and gurgling tummy).

Thanks for reading #542 of 7777.