Friday, October 31, 2014

#19 Please Don't Color Me Pink

Pink.  I will open a can of worms on this one but remember, honesty was my goal in writing this blog. 

 I hate the color.  There I said it.  Prior to having breast cancer once and now again, I did not have a particular aversion to the color.  Actually, I never thought about it.  Now I am fed up to here ( finger pointing at my flesh colored pink neck) with it.  Pepto Bismo ( an unpleasant reminder of an upset tummy) or a giant wad of chewed bubble gum stuck on the bottom of my shoe comes to mind when I see this pink phenomenon--especially in October.

Do we need a color to tell us about our breasts and what may happen to them?  If we did need a color, couldn't we agree on, let's say, one with more punch to it?  We are in the fight of our lives and the color pink sails around us like a pretty little tutu or a sweet smelling flower or even a sweet baby's bottom.  Ugh!  Give me a mean machine kind of color like Rip it out Red or Go Get 'em Green or Blast it away Blue.  Anything but pink.

 And don't get me started on the NFL teams wearing it.  Thank you for the support but show us the money.  Wear your old uniforms, donate the extra cash to the cause and leave the pink at home.  It doesn't look any better on you than it does on me. If you think I am alone on this, check out a number of breast cancer blogs--the color stinks.

Rants are good for the soul.  I feel sooooo much better now and I apologize if you are of the pink persuasion or an NFL player that actually does look good in pink.  Now go donate to a cause that actually supports the research institutes that are making a difference and not a corporation lining their own pockets.

Thanks for listening and reading #19 of 7777. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

#18 Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost over--or is it?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October. Self Examinations. Mammograms. Exercise. Eat right. Limit alcohol. Don't smoke. Control your weight. Breast feed (if you have a baby, duh). Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Take time for yourself. Donate to ACS. Write to your representative to increase funds for NIH.

Lastly, let's make it a Breast Cancer Awareness Year. The millions of women who are living with this disease are constantly aware so please join our journey by remembering and supporting us for the entire twelve months.

Thank you for reading # 18 of 7777.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#17 A True Fighter

“Like everything in life, it is not what happens to you but how you respond to it that counts.”  Steve BackleyThe Champion in all of Us: 12 Rules for Success

One more post on yesterday's trek to Minneapolis. We were fortunate to meet Robianne Schultz, a thirteen-year breast cancer survivor, and what an impressive woman she is!  She was first diagnosed at the young age of twenty-seven and then again about a year and a half later.  Not only is she going strong but making a difference in the fight against cancer is her passion. She is a lead advocacy volunteer, a committee member for Relay for Life and has been instrumental in increasing cancer research funding at the Federal level.  What a fighter and a champion and I admire her response to what has happened to her.  She can be in my corner for the next twenty-one years.  Bam! Slam!  Take that, *&$# Cancer!

Oh, and by the way, have you written to your representative lately?  Thanks for reading #17 of 7777.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#16 Stayin' Alive!

There is nothing like educating yourself on the road one is traveling.  Our traveling took us to a seminar in Minneapolis that was titled, Living with Breast Cancer: How we can improve patients quality of life.  It was sponsored by The Women Legislators' Lobby and American Cancer Society CAN of Minnesota  (Yay women! We are the best at saving breasts!).

Dr. Jeffery Dusek from the Penny George Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital was awarded a grant to study the impact for integrative treatments to effectively reduce pain in cancer inpatients.  The good news is that I am right on track with his research.  Acupuncture, massages, ginger, reflexology, yoga, mindfulness and relaxation were found to decrease a cancer patient's pain.  The results were significant enough for me to sit up and pay attention.  Fortunately I have incorporated all the above techniques in my daily life to combat everything from nausea to anxiety to a distraction from living with cancer so the affirmation was welcomed.

The second speaker was Matthew Goetz, M.D., a Deputy Director of the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer S.P.O.R.E. (Specialized Program of Research Excellence).  His research focused on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer--that's me so he had me at "hello".  Interesting facts but what it all came down to was the need for money for research--of course.

So again, raise your hand if you know someone living with cancer and want to do something about it.  Advocacy is our best friend to inform (and pester) our legislators and communicate to them that the answer to a cure is supporting NIH (National Institute of Health).  Donations to your local American Cancer Society is the next step.  If you have already generously donated (thank you), now write a letter to your representative in Congress to let them know how critical funding and public policies are needed to fight this disease.  Give or write or both.

Now excuse me as I temporarily get off my soap box and thank you for reading # 15 of 7777.

Monday, October 27, 2014

# 15 Random Acts of Kindness.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” 
― Henry James

Kindness--catch it. Lately, I am noticing more and more people and their sincere warmheartedness towards me. Look around, it is not just me, it probably is happening to you, too. Maybe with the never ending gloom in the news I was looking for a bit of sunshine.  Cancer does have a way of awakening our senses to the finer things in life.

A quick list from the week

 The vases of flowers arrived at my door from my favorite flower fairy the other day.  It may seem like a small gesture, but she had picked the flowers, beautifully arranged them in a vase and presented them to me on a day that I could use a little pick me up.  How did she know?  Well, she is the flower fairy.

A card that the giver had selected just for me was given with a hug and a smile.  Priceless.

A letter from my dear aunt that warmed my heart.

Talking and laughing with my sisters

A delicious fish fry with the neighbors

Biking with a friend

Generous donations for the fight against cancer

Rob's amazing meals

Coffee and laughter at the Firefly

Hugs from friends

Calls concerned about Rob

Inquiries about David and his adventures

Phone call from the eldest

Lunch with my daughter

A beautiful evening at the Edgewater with friends and people committed to beating cancer

A genuine hug and "how are you doing" from Bo Ryan

On and on and on.  Thanks for reading #15 of 7777.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

#14 Run Rob Run!

I will admit it--jealousy reared its ugly green head again.  Rob ran a half marathon today and although I am "pump the chest" proud of him and his time; that was supposed to have been me. &*^$@*%.  is all I have to say.  

Last May, I began training for my very first half when I was completely sidelined due to the &*!$& cancer in my hip.  Oh my! Swearing seems to be on the tip of my tongue today.  Most likely it is still the repercussions from being a spectator and not the runner.  Note to myself--get over it!

A good thing for Rob (and anyone within listening distance) is that biking 18.3 miles with my friend Jennifer has put me in a much better mood. The benefits from exercise are not over rated.  It works every single time.

 Next goal--run it in 2015.  Don't tell me I can't run a half marathon. Change that "can't" to "can do" and I will see you at the finish line!

Thanks for reading #14 of 7777.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

#13 You Lift Me Up!

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” 
― John Holmes

Exercise has always been a big part of my life but I could not imagine the strength and generosity that your healthy hearts could lift us to these towering heights.

 The Cancer vs Coaches event began three years ago by Coach Bo Ryan.  The idea behind it was to create excitement about the basketball team's upcoming season and to raise money for a cause.  We watched from an upper deck suite as droves of students stood in line to #makebopay while shooting a free throw for a ten dollar donation and a half court shot at a thousand dollars--all paid for by Bo.  It was a circus like atmosphere-- college students congregate, the circus arrives--and they all were genuine in the quest to find a cure for cancer.  

Meanwhile in the suite, Rob and I hosted a group of friends to watch the proceedings unfold.  At the end of the evening, Bo came and spoke to us and was thrilled to report that the event had raised over $53,000 with four people matching it to bring it to a grand total of $286,000! He seemed almost (but not quite) speechless.  What a tribute to him and what a score for research!

Our collaboration was an email, snail mail letter and plea out to as many friends and family we could ever possibly think of including.  Needless to say we have been overwhelmed and also speechless at the amount of money generated and still arriving daily.  Thus far the total is $30,000 with a matching grant of another thirty grand.  We feel blessed and eternally grateful knowing all of you who are willing to help me and others affected by this disease. Thanking you from the bottom of our hearts does not seem adequate but will have to do because I don't do pink souvenirs.

My number one husband also needs to be congratulated for pursuing the idea especially since I was hesitant to begin this drive.   I was proven wrong--again--and his call to action resulted in a victory for cancer research.

A warm hug and thank you for being as mad as I am about cancer and doing something about it.

Thanks for reading #13 out of 7777.

Friday, October 24, 2014

# 12 Searching for the Sleep Fairies

“I think insomnia is a sign that a person is interesting.” 
― Avery SawyerNotes to Self

Sleeping has become an issue for me in the past few years .  I used to be great at it--head hits the pillow and I was out.  Menopause has a way of altering all that is normal about life as we used to know it.  If you are a PM woman you are nodding in agreement.

I have learned a few things about sleeping or staring at the ceiling until the wee hours of the morning.  No chocolate or caffeine after 2:00.  Just a bite will cause a sleepless night.  Laughing and carrying on prior to sleeping is enough to trigger a pacing the halls' kind of night.  Since I have given up alcohol I'm not sure if that would help or hinder.  The same is true with my exercise routine that is over by midmorning.  Staring at a computer screen is a big "no, no". Reading a good book will put me to sleep only to wake up hours later thinking about the last sentence.  Warm milk makes me gag and a hot bath gives me chills. Sleeping aids can be habit forming and I certainly don't need any more bad habits.  Making mad passionate love doesn't help me either, however, my faithful partner snores up a storm as I lie next to him with my eyes wide open.

So there you have it.  Sleep can sometimes be as elusive as finding a post menopausal woman after she's had a good night's slumber.  This returns me to the above quote; and as I stomp around looking for the sleep fairies, I will be reconciled to the fact that all is not lost--it simply means that I, indeed, may be an interesting person.

Thanks for reading # 12 of 7777.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

#11 The Power of Touch

Ahhh!  The luxury and joy of a facial/massage.  One hour and forty-five minutes of complete bliss as Micki from Nourish Massage and Skin Care worked on my body and face to make me feel like a million bucks.  It worked and I left smiling like the cheshire cat with a chilled out body that floated to my car.  I don't know how she does it, but a masseuse has to have the touch of gold in his/her fingers and Micki certainly is a master at her craft.

The time flew by but as I relaxed on the table I thought about taking care of my body is now my number one priority.  Healthy eating, working out and rejuvenating and healing my complete self are all critical as I head into the next 7766 days of living.

No more writing today as I snuggle under a blanket with a good book and a body and brain that feels like mellow jello.   Ahhhhh!  The power of touch!

Thanks for reading #11 of 7777.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#10 Backing Bo--100%

Generous, adj. 
showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected

 Tonight is an event that Rob and I are very excited about paying it forward and spreading the word--Coaches vs. Cancer.  If you've been on Facebook or on my email list you have been bombarded by me shamelessly promoting it (similar to a politician right before elections).  Well, I am back to scream about it one more time.

 A little behind the scene story about how we became involved.  After this diagnosis, we felt our energy needed to be put into action instead of retreating and that shift of action was money for research.  Millions of dollars are spent on the initial breast cancer diagnosis, but the money has not been as available after a recurrence. As Musa Mayer says, ““It is as if these metastatic [people]  are invisible, that they literally don’t count. And when we don’t count people’s needs, we can’t provide or plan for them.” That's where I took it personally, got mad and decided something needed to be done about it.

  For the third year in a row, Bo Ryan has created a unique way to raise money and awareness through the American Cancer Society. Students show up, shoot a free throw or center court shot and he pays up.  A buck for each student, ten dollars for a free throw and one thousand dollars for a successful center court shot.  This is money coming out of his own pocket and last year he raised $66,130!  We were so impressed with his determination and generosity that we decided to piggy back on his parade and join the fun.  Below is how we are collaborating in tonight's event. Rob and I will be in a Kohl Center's suite cheering the students on as they shoot and score a big one for research.

Thank you to all of you who have generously donated.  And, thank you for reading # 10 of 7777.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#9 Yoga

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I am guilty of thinking this whole Yoga business was not for me.  I had tried it before and happiness for me was watching the clock slowly ticking to the end of class.  Cancer has had a way of altering what I think and do especially when it comes to exercise.  My previous idea of working out was pushing myself as hard as I could until the sweat was dripping in a nasty puddle by my feet. No can do anymore.

  I needed to find an alternative to the high impact, weight bearing exercises that I loved.  I believed that Yoga was too slow, however, I have now reached a level where the names, downward dog, child's pose and my favorite, monkey, do not make me cringe or giggle--and clock watching is not part of the class.  Standing in warrior pose does makes me feel like I'm about to begin battle (a very slow battle), but surprisingly my body is beginning to easily flow from one movement to the next without too many tip overs.  I still miss the feel of running hard or the brutal Burpees ( I can't believe I would ever say that) but I have moved on and discovered nurturing my body may lead me to discover another kind of happiness. 

So, Thich Nhat Hanh, I will go home to be in the present and I will recognize happiness when it comes up and bites me doing downward dog.

Thanks for reading #9 of 7777.

#8 What to say to someone with cancer

Yesterday's entry was a bit of a downer so I will lighten up and let you know what we would really like to hear.  Some of these comments were made by the wonderful and caring people in my life.  

Let's go biking or for a walk or swim or anything physical!

Go ahead and rant--I'm listening.

Have you read a good book lately?

I care about you and hope you are doing well.

Cancer sucks.

How are

I made soup and will drop it off.


I just donated a gazillion dollars to American Cancer Society!

I am on my way to clean your house--okay so no one really will say that but had to put it out there just in case.

You look fabulous--I know, that was on my NOT list but I actually like hearing it and when I hear it enough I start believing it.

Hugs-- nonverbal but always feels good.

You have inspired me to take better care of myself.

I just had a mammogram/colonoscopy/skin check.

I'm wearing sunscreen.

Ate lots of green leafy veggies today.

I'm here for you.

We've got your back.

I love you.

And the list could go on and on but you get the idea.  We're listening and a phrase, word or gesture can wipe away the ugly "not so helpful" comments in one single swipe.

Thanks for reading #8 of 7777.

Monday, October 20, 2014

#7 Things NOT to say to someone with cancer

A warning before you read this.  It may sound like an ungrateful blog but when I began this 7777+ Day gig, honesty and not holding back would be part of my writing. I promise tomorrow's blog will be a more pleasant take on life.  (The parentheses are my reactions to the actual comments)  So here it goes...

My aunt had the same thing and died a horrible death (Obviously inappropriate).

A positive attitude is everything (Yes, this is true, but it can be wearing at times and will any negative thoughts doom me?).

Let me tell you about my ______surgery/procedure/etc. (Suddenly everyone wants to share their medical history with me--I'm semi listening).

Were you a smoker? (What????  It is breast cancer and not in my lungs and besides, you can get lung cancer without smoking).

If you eat this it will cure your cancer (Sorry it doesn't happen that way).

You look fabulous (this is a tough one because I'm sure it is a genuine and kind remark but I am wondering how bad I looked before).

You are such an inspiration (Another difficult one to criticize and you shouldn't feel badly if you had said this to me but I would rather inspire people to work out, eat right, read books-- anything but be an inspiration on how to live with cancer--so this one is really about me and not you).

Have you lost/gained weight ( I'll admit that I am a tad sensitive because the scales keep going up or down depending on the week...and really, someone did ask).

Have you tried this pill/treatment/whatever (No, but I am following my doctor's orders and he will decide if the "whatever" will work for me, but thanks for the information).

I had a close encounter with cancer but luckily I'm okay (I'm thrilled you dodged this bullet and I don't mean to be unsympathetic, but, as my kids would say, "too soon" for me to hear this now--I'll admit, jealousy reared its ugly head).

NOTHING (This one speaks volumes and it bothers me more than any of the above).  

You may be thinking about how to avoid me because anything said might end up in the blog? Fear not, tomorrow I will have advice on what to say so you are prepared when I approach you at the next cocktail party with notepad in hand.  Kidding, just kidding. 

Thanks for reading #7 of 7777.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#6 Short and Not so Sweet

As we are driving back from Michigan, Rob lovingly turned to me and said, "Nothing could be better than having you by my side while I listen to three hours of Packer highlights.

Really, almost perfect husband of 36 years?  Am I to be flattered or insulted that our love is only complete if the Packers are carrying on about their win?  I wonder if he would have said the same thing if the outcome had been different?  All I can say is PMS (Packer mood swings) can be extremely trying.

This will be it for the blog today.  After a wild and crazy weekend with my sisters and their families, I have used up all my words.  Yikes!  What was I thinking of writing every single day!  Let's hope the words return tomorrow.

Now it's off to bed with my Packer loving man by my side--and the radio on mute.

Thanks for reading #6 of 7777.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

#5 Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers.  And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” Bill Cosby, quoted in the Tampa Tribune

Tickle my funny bone and hear me roar!  Best medicine around.  

This reminds me of a comedian telling about PP laughing.  What, you may ask, is that?  It is when you laugh so hard you...g-rated blog today so figure it out on your own.  

I will admit that on certain occasions, I have been with my sisters and some PP laughing was definitely taking place.  It was good for the body and soul, but not so great for the laundry.  Enough said.  Thanks for reading #5 and go out and have a good laugh today.

Friday, October 17, 2014

#4 Pollyanna is Back!

My mantra has been to stay positive through this journey and I'll admit that some days are easier than others.  I've kept a journal from the beginning to record thoughts and found one of the first entries after the diagnosis.  It's a good reminder for me to read and reflect on looking at the glass half full.  

Ways to stay positive or "The sun will come out tomorrrrroooow!" (picture me singing that last word--pretty scary).  Here goes...
  1. Keep topnotch and caring people near my side
  2. Make goals for the future
  3. Wallowing only one time a week
  4. Enjoy every day
  5. Sing in the shower, outside, in the kitchen, etc. etc. etc.
  6. Nurture myself and others
  7. Reach out
  8. Laugh
  9. Watch funny movies
  10. Feel blessed for what I have
  11. Exercise
  12. Breathe in nature
  13. Appreciate the beauty of life
  14. Learn something every day
  15. Remember everything
  16. Love hard
  17. Hug
  18. Embrace
  19. Smile
  20. Celebrate
  21. Be in the moment
  22. Buy presents
  23. Make baby quilts
  24. Write memories of kids
  25. Eat ice cream
  26. Chocolates
  27. Write
  28. Play the piano
  29. Plan ahead
  30. Listen to the sounds of life
  31. Baby myself
  32. Be comforted with prayers
  33. Accept
  34. It will be okay
  35. Live
  36. Massages
  37. Notice the little things
  38. Be kind
  39. Be gracious
  40. Persevere
  41. Facials
  42. James taylor concert
  43. Rappel
  44. Swim
  45. Travel the bucket list places
I'll be adding to this list so suggestions are always welcome.  Thanks for reading blog #4 of 7777.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#3 What a Beautiful Day!

What a day!  Yoga in the morning, oncologist in the mid day followed by a brisk bike ride in the afternoon with Rob.  To break it down a bit, yoga was a soothing relaxing activity aside from the fact that it went ten minutes over which led to a frantic shower to get to the next activity.  Next activity--oncologist.  All is status quo--which is a very good thing.  Flu shot and bone infusion later and it was on to the bike ride.  Sunshine and warm temperatures in October--what could be finer?
Thanks for reading #3 of 7777.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

# 2 Oops!

Okay I will admit I am not as techie savvy as I should be--my kids have always been my computer experts, however, since David (Mr. Two Years in Africa without a computer) was the only one around- - I needed a bit more guidance. Anyway, the blog was not to be posted quite yet.  Maybe this is telling me something--get the word out and start writing.  The warm responses from everyone has certainly motivated me to continue.

I've come up with a number of goals for writing and the second one is to shout from the tops of mountains about cancer and how we have to keep fighting it--not just in October--but for twelve months of the year.  People who have cancer don't get the month off and are living with it every single day.  Enough standing on my soap box--donate to American Cancer Society...period.  Research will save our lives...another period.

A quick observation for today:
What would be the the worst thing that could happen?  Cancer?  Not even close when I started to think about it. In no particular order is the "awful rotten $^&%#  crummy" list and right now life doesn't seem so bad.

1.  My clever and charming children could have this diagnosis
2.  Ditto to Rob, the best husband ever
3.  Not having my children in my life
4   Being a younger woman facing this disease
5.  Living in a country without proper health care
6.  No support from family and friends

And the list could go on and on but I am feeling better already.  Maybe writing this blog will be a hidden benefit.  Thanks for reading #2 out of 7777!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#1 The Beginning

On June 20th, 2014 at 11 AM  I received the devastating news from my oncologist that the dreaded cancer had spread to my hip and arm bones and a spot on my neck. Crap! That is the “G” rated version of what I thought and later said, but that is the gist of it. A brief history—I was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 6, 2012, went through an array of treatments until October  and thought I was done with the whole cancer business. Well, it is back and now the real fight has begun.
Writing this blog will cover a variety of goals for me of which one is keeping my family and friends from near and far updated on my progress of beating this disease. I apologize in advance for grammatical errors or other language snafus. Time is precious and although I would preach to my children and students the importance of revising and editing over and over again; I will be breaking that rule. You get what you get and a poorly written blog is not the worst that can happen. Stop reading if it really bugs you.
You may be wondering about the heading? I asked my oncologist how many years was the longest someone lived with this disease-“twenty” was his reply. I informed him that I would beat that by one—Rob thought beating it by five was a betIMG_1129ter number but for now I am working on that extra year. Talk to me when we get to year twenty. So, 7777 days equals the promised twenty-one years (and a few more days added in) and that, my friends, will be the magic number of entries I will pound out on this computer. (Isn’t there a Vegas thing about lucky 7’s?). Sounds like quite a few entries but are one word entries not allowed? Breaking the rules on everything from writing blogs to beating cancer is what this will be about. Thanks for reading entry #1.