Tuesday, March 31, 2015

# 169 Cheers to You

To drink or not to drink...that is the question. Actually it isn't a question for me.  The meds have made my delicious martinis and refreshing wines taste like something the cat dragged in so I'm off the stuff for now.  But it has led me to some interesting observations on our society and alcohol.

1.  People love to drink and they love to do it with someone. I'm constantly asked why I'm not joining in and my answer often doesn't curtail the inquiring minds.  "Try this or try that--it will be easier on your stomach."  No thank you again and again.

2.  Going out to the bars can be an unusual experience especially when I order a glass of water.  Many a bartender is taken aback with my request. "Water? That's it?"

3.  Social events are often centered around downing a cold one.  I'm as guilty as anyone when someone comes to my house and before they can slip off their jackets I ask them if they want a beer.

4.  Is there an alternative to a nonalcoholic drink that isn't named Shirley Temple?

I don't propose a turn back in history to the prohibition days and I know I am sounding a bit like Carrie Nations--being deprived of a cosmo will do that to anyone--but the next time you see me at the bar raise your glass and offer a cheer in honor of my cold glass of sparkling water.

Thanks for reading # 169 of 7777.

Monday, March 30, 2015

#168 Ken Burns Tonight

Monday night on PBS will be the first part of Ken Burns' documentary, "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies".  Below is a short synopsis of what's to come from the series.  It sounds like Burns has another winner and I plan on pulling up my easy chair to learn more about this disease that touches too many lives.

CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD.

The series covers cancer's first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the 20th century to cure, control, and conquer it, to a radical new understanding of its essence. It also features the current status of cancer knowledge and treatment —the dawn of an era in which cancer may become a chronic or curable illness rather than its historic death sentence in some forms.
• Episode One: Magic Bullets (Monday, March 30, 2015, 9-11 p.m. EST)
• Episode Two: The Blind Men and the Elephant (Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 9-11 p.m. EST)
• Episode Three: Finding the Achilles Heel (Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 9-11 p.m. EST)

Additional material related to the film can be found at: http://cancerfilms.org/

Thanks for reading # 168 of 7777.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

# 167 Go Bucky!

 Go Badgers!!! 
What a win.
I love this team.
 That's all I have to say.

Thanks for reading #167 of 7777.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

# 166 You Are Cool

cool--informal she thinks she's so coolfashionablestylishchicup-to-the-minutesophisticatedinformal trendyfunkywith ithipbighappeninggroovyphatkickyflystyling/stylin'. From MacBook Dictionary 

Cool people.  How do they do it?  You know who I'm talking about. Those cool people that look cool...all the time.  Is it their dress, mannerisms, vocabulary or what?  I began thinking about this on my very long hike yesterday and concluded that if you asked someone who you thought was cool, what would they say?  Would they agree and say, "Yeah, I'm cool".  I doubt it.

The cool people I know would never acknowledge their coolness--they are just too darn cool to even think that they are. As an experiment we could ask all the cool people in the world and, except for a few (who probably aren't that cool),  many would deny they were in the cool category.  But that is what makes them so cool.

This coolness factor was contemplated on an 8.2 mile hike that had temperatures topping off at 95 degrees so to keep one foot in front of the other my thoughts went to a cooler place.  

By the way, if you are reading this blog, you are definitely "cool" in my book.

Thanks for reading # 166 of 7777.

Friday, March 27, 2015

# 165 Yoga vs Yogi

According to the yoga website, Kripalu, "yoga unites you with your self, your body, your mind, and your spirit." Practicing yoga with my dog, Yogi, has been a slight challenge if I try to unite myself with mind, body or spirit--a dog in the middle of my mat does not lend itself to reflection as I maneuver around his 80 pound body.  There is an entire room that he could occupy but no, he wants to be right under me as I move from downward dog to plank to cobra.

Does he feel the need to protect me against the woman on the screen telling me to move to the left or right. Her voice is calm with no shouting or angry inflections while she directs me through the various movements of a yoga practice.  This dog seems to think the closer he gets to me the safer I will be.  Or something like that. Who knows what goes through his brain or does he even think about what he is doing except getting up close and personal with me?

Speaking of dogs and their complicated brains, if you have not read A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron I would highly recommend dashing out and purchasing it today.  Using the voices of an assortment of dogs, he captures their perspective of the world and what they think of humans.  Yoga was not one of the chapters but it very well should be and I would volunteer my pooch for his antics when the breathing begins.

Tomorrow I will attempt another yoga session but will leave the master of yoga locked in the bedroom.  He can perfect his own downward dog without me in his way.

Thanks for reading # 165 of 7777.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

# 164 Swish

The 2015 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involves 68 teams playing in a single-elimination tournament to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. The 77th edition of the tournament began on March 17, 2015, and will conclude with the championship game on April 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. From Wikipedia

March Madness, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four--they have it covered. At one time I thought March Madness was more about being winter crazed waiting for the sun to shine or the snow to melt and not about basketball. According to the media flap, BASKETBALL IS A REALLY BIG DEAL!

 Our television, phones and computers have been buzzing since it began on March 17 when the eldest son suggested a friendly family pool on this ubiquitous event that has the entire nation frothing at each twist and turn as the games go into overtime, double time or whatever time. The frenzy around this game is rather...maddening.

What a pleasant surprise to find that I am a natural (tongue in cheek) at picking the right teams and am leading the pack--for now.  I've been informed by the disgruntled males in the family that since one of my picks for the final four was blown out of the water--Villanova--my chances for an overall win has suddenly been highjacked. Sounds like sour grapes as I repeatedly have to remind the Y chromosomes--I'm still #1.

The idea of picking a winning team--68 of them and only one will wear the crown or whatever they do--is like skipping stones; sometimes the rock sails across the water and other times it sinks to the bottom.  I know the "boys" took great care in analyzing each prospect to insure a win but they all have had a few sinkers lately.  Pfffft--I chose the teams based on if I liked the politics or the scenery or the mascot name, in other words, a pretty random selection.  You may think I am a disinterested fan but who else would check Yahoo Sports every morning to see the rankings?  Random or not, I want my teams to win.

At this moment before the Sweet Sixteen tip off, I am beating my two sports crazed sons, ditto for my husband, and another ditto for my daughter's boyfriend.  A few more weeks to go before we see who will come out smelling like a rose or not.  In the meantime I am enjoying my perch at the top of the charts much to the chagrin of the "experts" in the family.

Thanks for reading # 164 of 7777.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

# 163 #1 Got 'er Done

The start
Chalk this one up for the first swim on my One Woman, Many Lakes campaign and what a success it was or almost wasn't.
Best support team!

The behind the scenes story is it was another sleepless night, woke up with tummy issues and felt like a super crank.  Cancel, I thought, I can always do it tomorrow.  But wait, cancer never takes a day off and if I am to beat this thing, I will not cancel.  So out to the lake we schlepped.

The water temperature according to the pleasant park ranger registered a brisk 58 degrees.  Not to be deterred by a little cold, I plunged in and tackled the chilly water one steady stroke at a time.  It was an uneventful swim--thank goodness--until I ran into a stick that resembled a snake.  Screaming underwater didn't accomplish a thing until I remembered, fool--only a fool would be in this frigid water.

Rob and the dog were fine supporters in the rowboat and led the way across a tad over two mile stretch. As I neared my landing strip imagine my surprise when I heard cheers from the beach. What are the chances that, Gail and Al, friends from Oregon would be in this remote state park?  We found out that Tucson is their winter home and since she follows my blog knew I would be splashing away.  Great to catch up with them and as we were leaving a sunbathing gentleman asked me what I was doing out in the water (with a worried look on his face as if I was nuts).  After my explanation, he asked where he could donate.  This is exactly why I get into the water when it is cold, swim across a lake and keep the conversation going on metastatic cancer.  One person at a time, one dollar amount and it adds up to one stroke closer to a cure.

Stay tuned for my next swim in Kansas City May 11th and if you are looking for a good time, join me.
My first cheering crowd

Thanks for reading # 163 of 7777.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#162 One Woman, Many Lakes

Today is the day for my first long distance swim of the year in beautiful, and I hope warm, Lake Patagonia in Arizona.  Cancer, watch out now!  Visit the website on how to support my swim and learn more about this disease. https://secure.metavivor.org/page/contribute/one-woman-many-lakes

I have written about the statistics on what over 155,000 of us deal with day after day and now it is time to stand up and demand more than the paltry 2% that is given to metastatic research. Of all the millions of dollars raised for breast cancer, the ones who need it the most get the least.  Doesn't quite seem fair.

So stroke after stroke I'll attack the water with the hope that we will be heard and no longer ignored. Do I sound mad?  You bet I am so thank you in advance for supporting me and the thousand others who need your help.

Please spread the word and pass this on and on and on.

Thanks for reading # 162 of 7777.

Monday, March 23, 2015

#161 Snow? You Have Got To Be Kidding

According to the weather this morning, my friends and family are waking up to a snowy morning back in Wisconsin.  Fortunately, my dear friend, Deb, came through with a wonderful outlook on the white fluffy stuff.  It will help put things in perspective...I hope. Spring is here in just a whiter color than you had planned.

Snow is precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice that falls from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. (from Wikipedia)

I awoke to fresh snow on the ground today.  I must admit, my first thought was not a pleasant one ( I could use one of Mary’s terms:   #$@%).  Then, I began to think about it from a child’s eyes.  Their thoughts and plans for this day would probably be much different than mine.  I decided I should think about it a bit more and come up with a list of the pros and cons of snow, perhaps this will help me escape the winter doldrums.  This list is of course from my eyes, it may change if coming from the eyes of a 5 year old, thus is truly a “matter of perspective”.  

Pros of snow:  
There is a beauty that brings solitude when you look out the window at freshly fallen and untracked snow.  It does give me a sense of peace.  This white blanket definitely is better than the brown we view after the Fall leaves have dropped and left a bare landscape.  Sunshine on fresh snow is spectacular and is another beauty to see.  Often the snow will sparkle and create a brightness that is hard to describe.  It is on those types of days that I really do enjoy the snow and will attempt to strap on my snowshoes and get outside to experience the snow firsthand.  If I lived near mountains, I would enjoy a good day of skiing as well.  Although our snow came after Christmas this year, I must admit that I do enjoy having snow for the holiday.  There is a magic when Christmas lights twinkle against a blanket of white snow.   If I were 5, my list would include activities such as sledding, making snowmen, having snowball fights etc…  (Maybe I need to think more like a 5 year old when it comes to snow-that list has some fun built into it).

Cons of snow:
Fresh snow usually requires shoveling and/or snowplowing.  Shoveling is hard on the back and knees.  Using a snowblower comes with its own inherent problems.  We do have a snowblower that I have been “trained” to use but I must admit I would rather shovel.  Why?  There is a learning curve to the snowblower and it seems inevitably I am blowing across what I already cleaned or am getting snow blowing back in my face.  I guess I am supposed to be more aware of the wind when using a snowblower.  I am thinking a good sailor might make a good snowblower.  The worst part of snow is probably the road conditions it creates.  Our first snow is always the worst as we try to “relearn” how to drive with slippery conditions.  Some people do better at this than others, beware of the ones that don’t “relearn”!  Another aspect I can do without is the dirty stuff in the streets after snow begins to melt.  That dirty snow makes the cars dirty, gets our feet dirty, and if a dog is in the family is a real problem for them.  Last, melted snow freezes and causes slippery walks and roads.  I am sure you get the picture!

It truly is a “matter of perspective"

Still living in the “wintery climate"

Thanks for reading # 161 of 7777.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

# 160 Happy Birthday to my Youngest

He's a kid magnet

Happy Birthday to our fun loving wild and crazy 27 year old.  I won't embarrass him on this venue with his antics of past years but let's just say life is never dull when he is around.  He makes us laugh, cringe (yep, sorry but that's a fact) and proud enough to make our buttons pop.

Twenty-seven years ago he came screaming into this world and the volume keeps growing as he fights to right the injustices in our world--one person at a time.  Those are proud moments in any parent's life and there have been many occasions where we were brought to (good) tears with his passionate personality.

Besides being smarter than a whip, he is also funnier than a crutch with his outrageous comments about absolutely everything--nothing is sacred.  Many are rated R or--you had to be there--incidences but trust me on this he has tickled our funny bones more times than not.

David, if you are reading this enjoy your special day.  Your ma and pa are crazy in love with you so remember when you are hanging upside down on your mountain climbs--Mr. Safety will protect you.
Happy Birthday, Dave the Wave!
One of his many talents--pie making.

Thanks for reading #160 of 7777.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

#159 ZZzzzz

I'm fine. Really I am.  But somedays, just some days frustration takes over with a few minor issues caused from my life saving medications that I down every morning.  Insomnia is the worst side effect followed by constant canker sores, diarrhea; and with a few body aches and fatigue thrown in it all equals to an irritable me fifty percent of the time (okay, maybe 60%).

The realities about living with cancer are the unsettling thoughts that it is not a perfect world now--not that it ever was--and the future seems, at times, scarier than pre diagnosis. While I do have moments--an hour or two in a day--that I forget about this disease, it is always lurking close by on my radar screen.  Unfortunately with the lack of sleep those glorious moments of forgetfulness have become as rare as a Badger loss.

On good days no mountain is too high to climb, no lake is too cold to swim and cancer gets overshadowed by the joys in my life.  Those are my grateful days. On the flip side are nights when I stare at the ceiling willing the sleep fairies to please hit me over the head as the cancer fear settles in my gut.  Not so grateful on those days.

So I plug along with giant bags under my eyes, catch a nap when I can and think that if this is the worst part of cancer I can handle it.  Meanwhile as Rob picks up the slack when I'm down, we both relish the days when the nights are kinder and the dark thoughts are momentarily tucked far away
into the deep recesses of my brain.

Thanks for reading #159 of 7777.

Friday, March 20, 2015

#158 Hiking with a Racehorse

Relaxing Rob at the top

Hiking with Rob is aways an entertaining venture.  We began our trek with me in the lead and him breathing down my neck--never criticizing my slow speed--but close encounter breathing none the less. When I finally stopped and demanded him to get in front of me or stop breathing, he reluctantly clambered ahead and took off at his usual pace up the mountain that rivals a barn sour horse.

Let's just say it was a difficult climb and when he was in view, I did see his back end at various switchbacks but mostly had the whole mountain to myself. This left me to amble along at my own speed--it was a 1700 elevation gain over rocks and boulders--and reflection time when I wasn't gasping for air from the lack of oxygen.

Solo hiking has its definite advantages.  Being surrounded with natural beauty leads to contemplating everything from the meaning of life to how much longer until the end of this trail.  I vacillated from being high on the all encompassing beauty to asking myself, "Where the heck is the top?" but trudged on until the summit sprang up with a sign stating it was the end of Blackett's Ridge trail.   Duh! Thanks for the warning. The next step would have had me plunging down the 1700 feet at a much faster rate than the ascent. (I apologize for the sarcasm--I'm a bit testy at the end of a climb).

Of course, Mr. Racehorse was sitting on a rock fully recuperated and patiently waiting for me.  What a guy and what a magnificent view.  Hiking sometimes is like childbirth--"I'll never do this again" while in the process to when it is over--"I loved it! When's the next hike?".   Well, maybe I wasn't quite that exuberant but it definitely ranks high on the list on the wow factor of hiking.

Exercise, meditation time and fresh air all rolled into one activity makes me one happy (and a little weary) hiker ready to take on another monster of a mountain...well, maybe not tomorrow or the next day and definitely after a long hot tub soaking with a massage thrown in; and possibly after all that pampering, I might be persuaded to join racehorse Rob on his next march up the mountain.

Thanks for reading #158 of 7777.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

# 157 60 Degrees of Fun

The water is your friend...you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.
Alexandr Popov

First of all, thanks to all of you who passed on my swimming plan to others out there in the internet world.  I'm hoping the momentum will build with each swim as well as awareness about the disease and increased research funding.  If you are interested in getting wet with me, bring your suit and your support kayaker along and join me.  I'd love the company. Meanwhile stay tuned for the date of the next big splash.

Since my practices have been in a small over heated pool for laps (boring and too hot to get a good workout), I anticipated a slow showing next Tuesday.  However, the word from the park is the lake is 2 1/2 miles long with a water temperature of 60+ so my swim will be much faster than I have been training.  My goal for the day--get in, get going and get out...as quickly as I can.  Or as Mr. Popov states--"share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move".  Move is the key word here and ideally will be moving fast enough to avoid any icicles coming out of my nose.

Rob will be my support man--of course--and will have the dog riding shotgun in the rowboat.  It will either generate some interest in what I'm doing or else the park rangers will be called to haul us away.  Let's hope for the former.

Thanks for reading # 157 of 7777.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

# 156 It's a Small World

A chance encounter at the book fair the other day led me to think about connections and how a remote link can intertwine and eerily tie us all together. The story began with me waiting in line to see Leonard Pitts Jr. while Rob roved around finding if there was a quicker entry.  Reality is he hates to wait in line and that is his ruse for not standing in one place for more than a nano second but, I digress.  After Rob sprinted off, the woman behind me asked if he had been in the Peace Corps.  Yes, same shirt as the other day.  She mentioned she had been involved with the organization a half century ago and was in Panama.

Our friend, Peter, was there about that time.  Could this be one of those links?  Yes, it was.  She knew him, same group and same year.  What are the odds that this strange phenomenon would occur in the masses of people at an event thousands of miles away from Panama and Wisconsin?

 Long story short--we had a nice conversation about Peace Corps, Peter and the coincidences that happens to us.  Life is sweet and we are not alone so reach out and grab the next line that might connect us in this--not so big--world.

Thanks for reading # 156 of 7777.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

# 155 The Beauty of Books

Books...millions of books with over 350 authors either selling their wares, leading discussions or signing their cherished publications.  A book lover's heaven.

The Tucson Festival of Books is an event in this city that is now in its seventh year and after spending the day in the center of the activities, I will have to say that reading, book publishing and authors are all alive and thriving.  Who said the printed word is becoming obsolete?  With over 140,000 people participating in this venue I would have to say, Hallelujah!  for the printed word.

What a day we had.  Leonard Pitts Jr. spoke first thing in the morning but, unfortunately, by the time we arrived the line wound around the building and our chances were close to nil to be in the audience.  Little surprise on his popularity.  The man is a genius.

I am in awe of listening to the authors speak with such passion and angst about their writing.  The narrative nonfiction writers verbalized how much they love the research--learning about either the person or the event that are covering but how the real work begins when they have to "put the pen to the paper" and bring it to life for the rest of us.  And they do so brilliantly, book after book.

Of course we couldn't miss the two Wisconsin authors--Michael Perry and David Maranis.  Mr. Perry had us laughing and nodding our heads as he recalled his days in northern Wisconsin while Mr. Maranis was masterful as he revealed riveting stories about Clinton, Lombardi and his Viet Nam experiences.  

After spending the day amongst the talented, I will head back to the computer with the knowledge that this writing thing is not easy for any of us--well, at least many of us--but we keep on plugging away day after day after day.  

Thanks, no really, thank you for reading #155 of 7777.

Monday, March 16, 2015

# 154 A Little Help, Please

Since it is MetsMonday, I am sending out a request to all the techie experts out there for a little assistance.  On March 24th, I will be doing my first swim for Metastatic Breast Cancer--my One Woman, Many Lakes--campaign to bring awareness to this disease and money for research.

I need to get the word out across the internet to broadcast this swim and am counting on you to help.  Please send out the following press release to Twitter, Facebook or whatever social media you use to get the word out about my swim.  Below is the press release that you are welcome to copy.

I admit that I am not a researcher, scientist, doctor or anything else that has to do with the medical field.  I can’t find a cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer, but I can swim and I plan to swim across many lakes this year—One Woman, Many Lakes—to raise funds for research that is desperately needed so that I and others can continue to pursue our dreams and be there for our families. My first swim is in Lake Patagonia, Arizona on March 24th.

  I know firsthand about this disease since I was diagnosed in June of 2014 with breast cancer that metastasized to my bones.  Since my diagnosis it has been my mission to seek more research funding along with raising awareness that this disease will claim 40,000 lives each year unless we do something now.

Although many of us are thriving and living our lives, we do need your help.  As I swim lake after lake after lake this year, please support me with a donation to METAvivor, an organization that provides 100% of its donations to research. View their website and how to donate at http://www.metavivor.org.

Thank you.
Mary Gooze

Thanks for your help and for reading # 154 of 7777.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

# 153 Pinocchio

To set the record straight, Rob is as honest as the day is long.  He abhors dishonesty with a passion.  With that said, there actually are a few times where he...let's say...stretches the truth.  Hiking or biking distances are the main culprits of his-- growing Pinocchio nose--little white lies.

 Point of contention today.  We hiked two very difficult--climbing over boulders, straight up the mountain--six milers this week and I told him I needed a little a break and could we do a mini hike today?  "Why, of course we can--Bear Canyon is four miles and will be a relatively easy jaunt today." (Nose is beginning to grow).

Fast forward to the hike--after about an hour of moderate boulder climbing and river crossing the following transaction took place:

Me: Are we there yet?  Two miles shouldn't take us this long.
Rob:  Didn't I tell you that it was four miles-(mumbling, one way, under his breath)?
Me: No, lambkins, you did not. Actually I didn't use that endearment and certainly won't write what I did say to him.  Too harsh on the ears.
Rob: Well it isn't too much longer.
Me: Liar, liar pants on fire--I wanted a short hike and this is not a short hike. And like the dog, all he heard was blah blah blah blah blah.
Rob:  (Increased hiking speed to get out of my range of ranting).

The extra four miles earned me a stop at the DQ and a nice thick shake as he tried to make amends for my sore feet.  No, I did not pour it over his head but from now on, I am the newly assigned hiker navigator and he is forever banned from saying, "It's only ____ miles" because I am watching him ...and his pointy little nose.
Mr. Pinocchio

Thanks for reading # 153 of 7777.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

# 152 Happy Pi Day


This entry is dedicated to all my pi (and pie) loving family and friends.  Since math is not my thing, I can't get as excited as--you know who you are--about this day, but I won't stop you from enjoying this perfect Pi Day.

For 24 hours, Pi Day 2015 will be the one and only Pi Day in the next 100 years that will actually reflect the first five numbers in everyone's favorite irrational number, pi, which is 3.1415.
The next time pie lovers and pi lovers alike will see such an event will not be until March 14, 2115.
Math nerds everywhere: Rejoice in the sweet, sweet sequential glory of the day. Eat some pie. Do some math. Time really is a flat circle.

Thanks for reading # 152 of 7777.

Friday, March 13, 2015

#151 "Strangers Become Friends"

 “Hospitality is beyond the care, bear, and share adventures.
In the interruptions of our normal schedules,
When attempts are made to remove the anxieties of others,
Strangers become friends.” Sinnantamby Thevansenasan

I received this lovely tribute from a dear friend--she will explain the situation below.  Cancer has led me to many different connections and I embrace the one that led me to Di--a true giver and a remarkable friend.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When Di Met Mary

Four years ago, as I was nearing my 55th birthday, I read an article in the WSJ by Doug Moe about Mary Gooze and her 60 goals for her 60th year.  I was inspired to do the same using 55 as the common denominator.  My goals were perhaps not as lofty as Mary’s, but I have a demanding career and I had to be realistic about my time.  I did succeed in accomplishing much of what I hoped to do, including traveling, meeting new people, and doing more random acts of kindness.  I shared Mary’s story with friends, and many of them were also inspired to try to new things, mostly to better themselves or others.  My next door neighbor started a lung cancer support group…wow!
I then learned in 2012 that Mary had breast cancer.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 52.  Breast cancer makes one appreciate life more each day.   Although I had never met Mary, we were now bonded in a way that is hard to describe unless you’ve been there.  At the time I wrote Doug Moe and asked him to let Mary know I was praying for her.  I ended my email with these words:  “Mary is an inspiration – thank you for your story.  You connected me to a woman I have never met, and it made a difference in my life.”
That changed in August, 2012, when I went to the Firefly Coffeehouse in Oregon to meet Mary for lunch.  I knew the minute I saw this beautiful woman (with chemo curl -been there) getting out of her car that it was Mary.  We hugged in the parking lot.  We talked nonstop over delicious sandwiches as if we had met years before.  I updated Doug Moe about our lunch date and thanked him again for connecting Mary and me through his story.   
Mary and I only touched base a few times through email for almost two years after that day, yet I still thought about her frequently.  On July 6, 2014, I received an email from Mary who stated “because we have a connection, I wanted you to know that my cancer is now back in my hip and arm bone.”   It was a punch in the stomach, and I wept with frustration and sorrow.  I have had too many close relatives and friends diagnosed with metastatic cancer, and I was mad as hell that Mary’s cancer was back.  For cancer patients, mad and scared go hand in hand.  Cancer sucks.
We met for coffee at Panera on July 28, 2014.  (Actually, I had toxic coffee and Mary, the health conscious one, had a smoothie.)  I didn’t tell Mary how emotional this meeting was for me because I was trying to be strong for her.  I was so blown away by her humanness…she talked about her fears, her pain and her sadness.  She also told me she was going to fight hard to beat the beast and outlive all medical predictions.  Go Mary, go!  She is doing just that with a huge network of friends cheering her on.

7777+ Days is amazing…several of Mary’s friends have commented about her gift of connecting people.  That is an understatement.  Doug Moe introduced me to Mary through his story, but Mary’s willingness to meet a total stranger for lunch is something I will be forever thankful for.   Although I have never met Mary’s family or friends, I am amazed how close I feel to her.  I have only had two face-to-face meetings with Mary…I actually looked through my last four years of calendars to confirm this fact because I have a hard time believing it myself!  She is such a loveable, courageous, brilliant, feisty, motivated and talented woman.  I pray for Mary every day, and I carry her in my heart at all times.  I am so looking forward to seeing her again when she returns to Wisconsin.  I love Mary dearly, and I tell her that every chance I get.  She is a precious gift to everyone she touches.  Although this is likely to make her cringe, it is truly an honor to know her.  I love you, Mary Gooze!    

Thanks for reading # 151 of 7777.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

#150 "Learning Expands Great Souls"

Students learning about Malaria from David

I love these African quotes.  It's a read and learn day.

African Quotes on Learning

  • Learning expands great souls. ~ Namibian proverb
  • To get lost is to learn the way. ~ African proverb
  • By crawling a child learns to stand. ~ African proverb
  • If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents. ~ African proverb
  • He who learns, teaches. ~ Ethiopian proverb
  • Wealth, if you use it, comes to an end; learning, if you use it, increases. ~ Swahili proverb
  • By trying often, the monkey learns to jump from the tree. ~ Buganda proverb
  • You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win. ~ African proverb
  • You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb
  • The wise create proverbs for fools to learn, not to repeat. ~ African proverb
Thanks for reading # 150 of 7777.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

# 149 It Just Isn't Right

Picture the scene of us cruising down the grocery aisle when, between the yogurt and the orange juice, an older man stopped Rob and asked him if he had been in Africa--Rob had a shirt with Africa/Peace Corps/ elephants blaring from his chest.  After we exchanged pleasantries, this gentleman explained he had been to Africa on charity missions for thirty years and then began a three minute tirade about how the pharmaceutical companies are not allowing the African countries access to the cheapest and best drugs to combat Aids.  He shared statistics and was clearly passionate about this injustice.  Three minutes is a long exchange in a grocery store with a complete stranger which started me thinking about it a day later and I couldn't get this wiggle out of my brain.  The question that kept repeating itself was:  What right does a company have to refrain from providing generic medication to prevent massive numbers of people from dying?

A little research on the internet opened my eyes to a shocking revelation.  Why are we not screaming from the highest rafters that this is not acceptable?   Not only is it unfair but morally and ethically it seems outrageous.  The article below gives a summary on what is happening with our drug companies in America. Something is wrong here and I'm not sure what the solution is but it appears that the decisions the large companies make has more to do with the almighty dollar than with saving people's lives.  When did their moral compass go awry to allow this to happen?

What to do?  The power of letter writing may make a difference so if you are inclined, send a letter stating your concern to your Representative.

Big pharma's excuses for the monopolies on medicine won't wash

Several years ago, I began to learn about what I would come to regard as one of the great crimes in human history, whereby millions of people in Africa and elsewhere were cynically allowed to die of Aids, while western governments and pharmaceutical companies blocked access to available low-cost medication. The outrage I felt as I discovered the details of this story was exceeded only by a deep sense of betrayal mixed with shame for not having known more about it in the first place. 

Why does society accept this? The narrative the industry has been immensely successful in selling is that it spends vast sums of money on research and development, that this R&D is very high risk, and that monopolies and high prices are a "necessary evil" needed to finance innovation of new medicines. These arguments do not hold up under scrutiny. 84% of worldwide funding for drug discovery research comes from government and public sources, against just 12% from pharma companies, which on average spend 19 times more on marketing than they do on basic research (paywalled link). When we screened our film at the Sundance festival last month, audiences were dismayed to learn how much of their tax money goes to discover medicines which are then sold back to them at monopoly prices nearly half of all Americans surveyed say they have trouble affording.

In developing countries, where people typically pay for medicines out of pocket, the situation is far worse. Pharmaceutical company representatives have told me that in (relatively prosperous) South Africa, they price their products for the top 5% of the market, while in India their customer base might be just the top 1.5%. The rest of the population is of no interest. At the same time, drug companies are working tooth-and-nail to cut off supplies of lower-cost generic drugs originating in countries such as India, Brazil and Thailand, to make sure that they don't miss out on a single customer who could possibly pay their sky-high prices.

This year may well be a tipping point. Relentless pressure is being applied to poor countries by western governments determined to strangle supplies of lower-cost medication relied upon by the vast majority of the world's people who will never be able to afford branded drugs, and the outlook for access to medicine in the global south grows bleaker by the day. As unthinkable as it may seem, the horror that saw millions of people die unnecessarily of HIV/Aids while being denied safe and effective generic medicines produced at a fraction of the prices brand-name companies were charging, could be a mere taste of things to come.

To read more about this travesty, go to http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/17/us-safrica-pharma-idUSBREA0G0N720140117

Thanks for reading # 149 of 7777.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

# 148 Nature Heals

“The earth has music for those who listen.” 

Our backyard view
And listening is what I have been doing. Reading through numerous cancer educational articles I discovered scientists have found the connection between the powers of nature and healing--blood pressure, general health, obesity, mental health--to name a few.  After a week in the Tucson area, I can attest to the calming affect garnered from evenings gazing at the mountain views right from our comfy living room chairs.

Hiking the last few days has also brought nature right to our feet and seeing things from the scampering lizards to the blossoming Ocotillo trees are all similar to huge boosts of vitamin NSS (nature super strength).


Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew best the power received from surrounding oneself within Mother Earth's beauty. He humbly stated:

"Nature cures--not the physician."  Hippocrates

Wise words to heed.

Thanks for reading # 148 of 7777.

Monday, March 9, 2015

# 147 Mets Monday

 Today is Monday and that means "Mets Monday".  If you are unaware of what this day means, read the following article.  Don't ignore Stage 4! If you have heard it all before, skip down to her suggestions on what you can do to help.

From nancy'spoint.com blog:

Six Things You Can Do Any “Mets Monday”

Last year about this time I decided to start a small campaign called Mets Monday. I know the name isn’t that great, but I thought something simple and easy to remember was the best way to go – well, for me anyway. And of course, Monday is not the only day I (or others) think about metastatic disease. And obviously if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mets, it’s a topic on your mind 24/7.
I did worry about Mets Monday sounding a little too trite or even patronizing. No one has mentioned such a reaction to me though and I did actually ask a few blogging buddies who live with mets about this very thing, and they assured me they had no problem with the name, so I guess it’s okay with most. I hope so.
As far as I’m concerned any kind of breast cancer advocacy isn’t really advocacy at all without including mets advocacy and of course, as I mentioned,  it’s not really about one day. But setting aside one day each week to really focus on mets advocacy is something that matters to me and hopefully to you.
Thankfully, there finally seems to be lots more talk and lots more sharing about metastatic disease going on these days and it’s about time! Maybe at least the fear or hesitancy to talk about it has lessened.
Sure, early detection is vital, as are any actions a woman can take to lower her risk of mets or breast cancer in the first place. But the reality is that every year in the US roughly 40,000 women and men are still dying from metastatic breast cancer. This amounts to one death (in the US) every 13 minutes. We still don’t know how to prevent metastasis or know which cases will or won’t metastasize. We still don’t know how to halt it once it happens. Slowing it down isn’t so easy either. And it seems unless you’re diagnosed at stage IV at the time of initial diagnosis, no one is even keeping close track of how many new cases of metastatic breast cancer recurrences there are in any given year. Hard to believe I know.
This is why we must keep metastatic breast cancer research off the back burner and instead set it right up there front and center with the research dial set on high. Let’s turn up the heat!
Of course there are many ways to help out and many marvelous advocates are doing many marvelous things, but…
What could be easier than joining me in my Mets Monday campaign?
You might be asking, what can can I do?
If you have mets, I wouldn’t even try to suggest to you what to do; but I hope if you’re also a blogger or reader of blogs, you’ll keep on writing, reading, sharing and commenting when you can. I learn so much every time I visit a mets blogger’s site.
If you do not have mets, some easy things to do might be:
1.  If you’re a blog writer or reader (you’re reading this one, so I guess you are one or the other or both!), every Mets Monday why not visit a metser blog (or two or three) to learn more about what living with the disease is like. My Mets page has a starting point list for you. I know there are many more mbc bloggers out there. And by the way, if you do happen to be a mets blogger, send me a message and will add you to my list if you’d like.
2.  Every Mets Monday, visit one of the informative sites that specifically are geared to mets advocacy. Again, I have a list here. More sites to suggest? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
3.  If you have a Facebook page, why not share a post written by a metser on your page every (or any) Monday, or share any mets-related article at all on your page, on Twitter, Google+, or where ever you share stuff these days. Using the hashtags #MetsMonday or #MBCaware will bring more views.
4.  Share this post.
5.  Write a post yourself about mets and share it. Tell me about it and I’ll share it! Don’t blog? Just make a mets-related statement somewhere, anywhere! Help spread awareness that includes the full spectrum of this disease. Share a fact about mets each Monday.
6.  Ask your relative, friend, neighbor or co-worker if they’ve ever heard the term metastatic breast cancer and if they haven’t, explain to them what it means if they’re interested. You’d be astonished at how many people know nothing about it or have not even heard the word metastatic before. Don’t believe me? Ask some people.
If you have more ideas, please share them with a comment below. If you’re a mets blogger, leave a favorite post link of yours if you’d like. If you’ve read a great article about anything mets related, share that as well.
Sure I was hoping for that giant wave effect when I started Mets Monday last year, like that silly wave thing one sometimes experiences in a stadium full of cheering fans. I was hoping to start a Mets Monday Facebook/Twitter tidal-wave-type movement.
That didn’t exactly happen. But that’s okay.
Little ‘ripples’ can make an impact.
This is why I’m asking you to jump in too.
Join me on this or any Mets Monday!
Help create a bigger splash, higher waves and more ripples!
Because as always, what you do matters, what I do matters, what we all do together matters even more.
Be a #fearlessfriend. Be a #fearlessadvocate.

What will you do on Mets Monday (or any day) to raise genuine awareness about metastatic breast cancer?

Thanks for reading # 147 of 7777.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

# 146 Thoughts From a Water Bottle

After drinking this down in one gulp on one of our hotter days in India, I read the label on the back and was intrigued by the saying.  A thought for today from a bottle.

"I look back on life--it's funny how things turn out.  You, the creator of beeping sirens and honking cars, yearn for the solitude of the mountains.You, a connoisseur of fast foods, now gaze at water that took years to gather natural minerals as it trickled down from the Himalayas to within your reach.  And I, some of the purest water in the world, stand here, trapped in a bottle.  Come, enjoy the irony."
Thanks for reading # 146 of 7777.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

# 145 I Had a Kid When I was a Kid

Now that I have your attention, it was actually Billy the Kid--an adorable white fluffy goat who lived for a brief time in our fenced backyard with our dog.

Why a goat you may ask?  Not the usual pet that a ten or eleven year old would be interested in cuddling up to on a cold night.  Digging through the family folk lore it seems I must have read a book about Abe Lincoln and discovered that his two sons had a goat in the White House. Whatever possessed me to think that this would be a good idea?  I mean, really, a goat? Possibly the only connection I can see is that we did live in a white house but it was in the center of a small town--far from Washington DC.

What I do recall is that the adventure was, well, an adventure at first.  Picture a sweet young kid with me carefully giving him a bottle I lovingly prepared.  Oh, the bliss of goat ownership! I was in love with this precious animal. Visions of me running through our house chasing after this bundle of joy had me IN the White House sans Abe and his family.

Unfortunately, the experience of home living was short lived for this creature and it was over before the running of the house was even an issue. It began when sweet little Billy's horns reached a point that aligned with my backside.  One ram too many as I bent over to fill his grain bucket sent me screaming to the house to announce that it was time for this mangy mean devil to find a new home---much to the relief of my parents. By the way, what were they thinking?  Saints--they must have been saints (dog included).

End of a goat herders story.  Wish I could post a picture of this episode of my life but alas, I'm sure good old Billy ate every last one...when he wasn't butting into my you know what.

Thanks for reading # 145 of 7777.

Friday, March 6, 2015

# 144 Lucky of the Unlucky

So the celebration on my "hip hip hurrah" bone scan continues and I am enjoying this reprieve from the dire news of a cancer diagnosis that hit me last June.  Several people have kindly noted that it assuredly must be due to either my: 1. positive attitude 2. can-do attitude 3. fighting spirit attitude, etc. etc. etc.  You get the idea.  I must have done something to stop the cancer growing cells in my body--what a woman I am.

In reality, it probably wasn't a darn thing that I did.  Cancer cells work on their own schedule and timeframe and at the moment mine seem to be very intimidated by my medication and have shut down for now.  Joy of joys!

There have been too many people who have died from this dreaded disease and I'm sure they all had upbeat, going to beat this attitudes, so why have I--so far-- escaped the growing demons in my body.  No one knows--not even my skilled oncologist.  Right now I feel like the lucky one of the unlucky members in this club.

Cancer is a bit like walking on eggshells as the next bone scan looms in the distant future.  Can I be the recipient of good news again?  I'll approach it with a wait and see stance and won't panic over any new ache or pain in my body.  In the meantime I will continue with this perpetual smile on my face (it is genuine now), my daily meditation and any other positive "cancer fighting" techniques that might have made a difference (or not).  If this is all for naught, at least I will be much more pleasant person to be around.  My loving husband is reading this over my shoulder shaking his head in the affirmative--pleasant, pleasant at last!

Thanks for reading # 144 of 7777.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

# 143 INDIA and What it Really Means

It has now been ten days since our return from India and I'm still trying to process what we experienced as jet lag has had me walking with my head going one way and my body running in the opposite direction.  The rule of thumb is anticipate one day for every hour of the time change before  feeling like a normal human being instead of like an alien visiting from who knows where.  Let's see, eleven and a half hours ahead in India means that tomorrow will be the day I will mentally be back in the US.  In the meantime, we traveled across country to California--another two hour change--so maybe two more days and I will have both head and body going in the same direction.

India--where to even begin? I am thankful we were able to go but right now I'm not ready to venture on another grueling trip (could be the jet lag talking).   As our guide would caution us on every new adventure--"Remember, I.N.D.I.A. means I'll Never Do It Again." There were numerous occasions this didn't hold true, but then again, a couple of times I recall shouting this as we maneuvered one too many times through the perilous streets of the cities.

Picture by David Sandgrund--our pics on other computer
The, oh yeah, I'm loving it here
Tigers--a definite yes to witness these magnificent animals in their natural settings.  Two cubs, the mother and a nearby father with his kill were remarkable to see and we were fortunate our guide knew where and when to find this grouping.  The afternoon safari led us to two eighteen month old male cubs on an adventure without their mother.  They both walked right in front of our Kantor (truck) and ignored the cameras whirring in the background.

Taj Mahal--another affirmative--I actually had goosebumps when we walked through the gate to see this white shimmering structure in the distance.  Pictures do not do it justice.  It is a masterpiece.

The soul of India--the countryside--this is life in India and how 1.2 billion people live.  Incredible and indescribable.  You have to see this to believe it from the centuries old water system to the woman scooping up the water buffalo droppings to use for fuel for a fire; the sights and sounds never seized to amaze and overload our sensory experience.

and maybe love is too strong of a word...
The rickshaw rides through the cities--glad I did it but it is on my "I.N.D.I.A. list. Between all the cars, trucks, motorbikes, tuk tuks to the cows milling about, the traffic was horrific and being pulled on a rickety rickshaw by a young man half our weight put me over the edge of comfort.

The continued chaos that exists in this country makes one wonder how it all works but it does to some extent.  Despite it all, there is a certain calmness with the people--no yelling or screaming--just a tranquil feeling overriding the massive turmoil on the streets.  Is it their religion, meditation practices or the reality that this is what life is-- so just live it.

With all this said, and I have only included a few of the adventures, there are many more positives and countless stories to tell that would proclaim it an overall amazing adventure.  Prime bucket list trip if you dare.

Thanks for reading # 143 of 7777.