Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another diagnosis

So without going into too much detail, my biological aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has already gone in to take care of it and hopefully the reports will come back with no metastasis.

I found out in the freezer section of the grocery store. Sometimes email at your fingers tips isn't a great idea.

I leaned on a freezer for support... I felt like the wind was knocked out of me.

I was completely stunned.

I had my son with me so I was jolted back to reality. He's 2 and demands to be heard.

I forwarded the email to my husband and tried to go on with my list.

I walked about 10 feet before it sunk in.

Family history.

One thing the doctors always focus on is family history of breast cancer and now I have more of it. Not just a mom but an aunt too.

I think this was the first time I felt like breast cancer might be a reality.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Husband

First and foremost: he kept the boy safe, fed, bathed and entertained all weekend long! A 3 day weekend at that!

He kept up with the dishes.

He hung the new shower curtain.

He kept the living room clean (I did NOT walk into a house with toys littered everywhere... oh happy day!)

He changed the sheets on our bed.

He started the laundry.

Took the recycling to the dumpster (yes we live that far out in the country... they don't pick it up for us). And that task is generally monumental... we put it off until literally no more recycling will fit in the Jeep.

He had flowers and a balloon waiting for me when I got home.

In reality this is what I do everyday (well not every day but at least weekly) but this is my chosen career. I chose to be a stay at home mommy/wife so these are all in my job description.

Adam's chosen career is law. He did not choose to be a stay at home dad (and even if money were no object, I doubt he would ;~). So for him to step into my career and do it well and with my thoughts and feelings in mind... well it just reminds me how lucky I am to have him.

Lord knows I wouldn't want to spend a weekend in the law office!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 3

I have to say Day 3 wasn't that bad. I was definitely tired but the mileage didn't seem insurmountable.

The hardest part were the last few miles through downtown DC. I think they pulled a couple more '3day miles' on us.

But we did it... we walked into the waiting lawn of the finish line. And promptly collapsed.

Yes, we are hardcore... we just walked 60 miles!

After everyone was present and accounted for, we made our way to closing ceremonies. All of the people walking that don't or didn't have breast cancer walked first. Then the survivors walked into (wearing pink) together. It's really quite a powerful thing... and I think it hit me harder than I expected. Last time I did this my mom walked in with them. Unfortunately she didn't win her battle but these women and the 1 in 8 that will be diagnosised are the reason we keep walking and fighting.

As the survivors walk in, the rest of the walkers raise a shoe in honor of them. It's a great tradition that I hope always continues... I think it's a very visual reminder that they are why we have the shoes on in the first place. The best thing about this part of the ceremony was I remember doing this with my dad when mom walked in... very cool memory.

BTW, that's my shoe on the right!

Like I have mentioned before, I have some wonderful in-laws... I mean seriously blessed with these people. They (along with hubby and above picture son) came out to support me at closing ceremonies. It felt really great to walk into a family that missed me and was proud of me.

I love this picture.

My awesome supportive husband and the best son in the world. The husband will get his own post soon...

Team "I Walk For Her"... aka "Hooray for Boobies"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My List...

of must haves for the 3Day walk.

As my friend Jen pointed out, the first thing is duct tape to securely fasten your camera tether to your wrist. Amen.

Secondly... a proper sized tarp. Now this is coming from a DC walker so it may vary by region (Jen, I am looking at you). We had a tarp that came up a little short... a couple feet and where it didn't cover, the tent was damp. Not a big deal but something I would do differently.

A change of socks for mid day. I didn't do this last time but thought 'what the heck, I'll try and see if makes a difference'. Boy did it! If only to refresh your feet from the 12 miles of stink you put on your socks before lunch!

Handmade t-shirts. Again, I didn't do this the first time around and I really wish I had. I wish I had worn t-shirts in HONOR of my mom before I had to wear them in MEMORY. Hindsight is 20/20. I made t-shirts this time around and had lots of fun. I felt great putting my moms picture out there for everyone to see... it makes the journey so much more personal for you and everyone walking with you. A face to cancer goes a long way. I also had fun making other shirts as well... I will do a post on those shortly.

Glow sticks... my tent mate brought the necklace glow sticks with connectors which made perfect zipper tags. Not only could we spot the tent down the row of pink tents, we could easily spot the zipper! No fumbling for us!

Headlamp... the ones you strap on your forehead. Dumbest looking things but OH SO HELPFUL when you are in a pitch black port a john trying to simultaneously squat, aim and keep your pants off the floor all with a flashlight in hand.

Bag to carry down to the showers and sinks. Not only the toiletry bag but one to put clean/dirty clothes in... it makes for less fumbling. Plus if you decide to go straight to dinner (or straight from dinner to showers) it's much easier!

Battery pack for my iPhone... sue me, I am addicted. I was so concerned about running out of juice that I conserved like a champ... but that meant not a lot of surfing time.

And if I do this again (which let's face it, I probably will), I will be bringing an air mattress. There is no way I am attempting a sleeping bag on a yoga mat again.

Towel service... never has $12 been more worth it. Trust me.

Mylar blankets... again, this is coming from a DC walker so take it with a grain of salt. You wouldn't think that balloon material could keep you so warm but it really does! They are cheap so throw in a few!

So that's all I have so far. If I think of anything else, I will be sure to add it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

No camera = no sleep

I have a hard time putting into words why pictures mean so much to me. For most of my life it was just my mom and I... which means she knew all the stories and memories about me. When she died, I felt like I lost my history. I felt like I just materialized out of thin air. Pictures to me are a way to combat that. They are a tangible piece of my history... and more than that, my sons history. They record moments that I may (and probably will) forget about. They bring up the emotion (happy, sad or angry) that I may have forgotten. To this day I wish I had someone take pictures and video at my moms funeral. I can't remember who was there or what was said.

Pictures are everything to me.

In a fire, the pecking order goes 1. {husband, child, dog}, 2. hard drives. We just invested in a hard drive to serve as second back up which will be housed in our fire proof box. I have even toyed with backing up again and leaving that at the in-laws.

Obsessive... yes, I am aware.

All that to say that the loss of my camera kept me up most of Saturday night. Thoughts about the specific pictures I had taken. Self portraits of Laura and I... each of us in front of the Washington Monument... awesome handmade shirts people had made for the walk... the crew members and motor crew... and on and on.

Everytime I thought of another specific picture, I cried. Which stuffed me up... which with laying on my side with no elevation made it even harder to breathe.

So I would will myself to stop and forget it.

Then my mind would drift back.... and the cycle starts over.

Somewhere in there I remembered the pictures I had taken on Thursday. My son and his friend at the park playing in the leaves... and the videos of them running and jumping in the piles... and the laughter.

Yeah, I lost it.

Finally after all the tossing and turning, crying and sniffling one person can do, I fell asleep. I estimate another 4 hours of highly interrupted sleep.

My bed never looked so good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 2... aka 'introduction of the 3day mile vs an actual mile'

Day 2 started off well enough... even with the lack of good sleep. Breakfast was good and I was set for a long day of walking.

The first few miles were through neighborhoods that I thought only existed in TV shows and movies. Gorgeously stunning houses with stone fronts, Land Rovers in the driveway and perfectly manicured lawns. So basically the first few miles were spent walking wide eyed and drooling while trying not to trip and look like a complete idiot.

Then mile 6 hit.

I am not sure what it was about mile 6 but I'll be perfectly honest with you... I didn't think we would make it. Well, I at least thought I wouldn't make it.

I absolutely, without a doubt, thought I would be taking the sweeper van by lunch. Not that there is anything wrong with taking the sweeper van... I just so desperately wanted to walk all 60 miles.

But somewhere between miles 6 - 12 I thought I would have to give up that dream.

I believe this is where we were introduced to the '3day mile'. Up until this point if the signs said 1 mile to pit stop/lunch/grab and go, I believed them... I trusted them. But miles 6 through 12 ruined for all the rest. I can't be sure but I could swear that one of the '3day miles' was actually 2.6 miles... uphill.

Then we came to the stop before the lunch break. For some reason that stop energized us and we picked up some steam. Before we knew it... lunch!

Lunch was uneventful until a half a mile after we started walking again... when I discovered I didn't have my camera on me. Almost instantly I knew what happened.

We made a pit stop at the port a johns on the way out and usually I leave all my belongings in a pile right outside (as does everyone). When I got in I realized I still had my camera in my very loose pocket. If I left it, I risked losing the camera to the great port a john abyss... no way I would be going after that. Or I could open the door, toss it out and grab it when I was done. Or I could hang it on the hook of the port a john and think to myself, even if I don't remember it, I'll hear it clunk on the door on my way out.

Any guesses?

You got it. Dummy me left it on the hook and there was no clunk that reminded me to grab it. So there I left it.

I hightailed it back to lunch hoping that it was still in the same spot... or at the very least an honest 3dayer picked it up and turned it in.

No luck at the port a johns... and I checked all that were around the one I was in, just to be sure. At this point I am frantic. My camera and my pictures mean the world to me. I ask someone through held back tears if they had anyone turn in a camera. No luck.

They did reassure me that more than likely some crew member had it in their pocket and that they would turn it in at base camp. After asking many more people and fretting about my camera, I turned to leave.

I still had a lot more ground to cover and I just cost myself some extremely valuable time. So I left. Completely and utterly defeated... and pretty sure I had seen the last of my camera.

Laura and I finally made it into camp... around 5:30 or 6. Not too bad for 21.5 miles!

We snapped this picture with the iphone and then I went straight to lost and found.

They did have a camera but it wasn't mine. I cried. I willed myself not to but my tears overrode the willpower. The people in the command center (where all valuable lost and found item go) were so nice and they reassured me that someone would turn it in.

I left and called my husband. I bawled on the phone to him... and he got just as upset as I was (without the tears though). I love him for that. I just needed someone to commiserate with me.

I got off the phone and cried some more. Some nice crew member sat down and when I explained to him that I lost the camera, he said someone was sure to turn it in. I just muttered 'if life where that rosey then we wouldn't have to do this walk'... *sigh* I suck. To that guy, I am really sorry that my cynicism won out. You were very nice and I should have just accepted that.

I checked in with command center several more times that night... and once there was even another canon... but it wasn't mine.

Completely heartbroken and defeated, I went to bed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Impersonation

of the Breast Cancer Ribbon...

Not too shabby...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 1... the night edition.

Let's just put this all together and see if we can't paint you a pretty picture. Gail force winds blowing so much that several people were worried that their tent... occupants, gear and all... might actually blow away. Winds which are clearly telling us that rain is on the way so be sure to have your tarps on... and we all oblige. These wonderful 'keep your stuff dry' tarps conveniently block the vent at the top of the tent. You know, that little piece of heaven meant to let air in... you know, so you can breathe?

With me still? Good.

Then the wind stops... for about 3 minutes before the rain starts. If you were lucky or had really good timing, you would have fallen asleep in that 3 minute window. I have neither so awake I stayed.

Try as I might I just could not get comfortable. I was on my sleeping bag (on... not in) which for me is huge. I cannot sleep without something covering me... and covering almost every inch... head included. But I was trying... no air so no blanket. At the same time I was attempting to use my breast cancer fleece blanket as a pillow (along with my worthless travel pillow) but neither putting it under my head nor putting it over was allowing me sleep. I was hotter than Hades in our little pink haven.

I went so far as to turn my head around to the opening of the tent, crack it ever so slightly... just to get a gasp of fresh air. Rain be damned... I had to breathe!

Needless to say I woke up when the rain started... if nothing else, just to zipper the tent back up.

I think all told... the entire night... I got about 4 hours of sleep. Non consecutive... just 4 hours over the whole night.

Oh did I forget to mention that I got about 3-4 the night before? Thursday night...

Yeah, I spent the night at Laura's and had what can only be described as the most horrendous case of nerves... I was up thinking and peeing all night long. TMI? Sorry.

So 2 nights of sleep disaster... I really wondered what Day 2 held for me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Christmas Spirit...

Santa hates Breast Cancer too!

and he did something about it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day One Con't

Didn't think there was more to add did you? You underestimate my ability to talk ;~)

Once we got back to camp we set up our tent... which I had pictures of... which I lost along with my camera... yep, still don't want to talk about it.

We rolled out our mats and our sleeping bags, situated our gear and headed down for some well deserved food.

Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, veggies, garlic bread and a brownie for dessert... and I ate every bit of it. I don't generally eat that much food at once but it's amazing what walking 20 miles will do for an appetite ;~)

Then we headed to the showers.

Shocked? Yeah, I was too. They have mobile showers. Think tractor trailer with 8 or so curtained off stalls. Pretty amazing what's out there that you might never think of.

So we showered and let our hair dry in the beautiful weather.

Oh did I forget to mention how gorgeous Friday was? The weather was awesome. So beautiful to walk in during the day and even better to putter around camp in at night!

Once all the primping and cleaning was done... it was off to tend to the feet and knees. Well my feet and her knee!

I got one blister 'taken care of' and that is all I will say about that out of respect for my easy to queasy readers! I bandaged the others and was done. I think I counted 4-5 blisters in all... not too shabby! My SmartWool socks held up well!

Laura sat on the yoga mats stretching while icing her knee for a good 20 minutes.

All in all... not a bad medical tent trip. There were women and men far worse off then us, that's for sure!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Motivational Safety Crew

Part of the real fun and energy comes from the safety crew... our Breast Cancer 3Day motorcycle gang. They start in the early morning with us making sure we cross the larger intersections safely. They start where we do and then ping pong ahead of us so we end up seeing each person at least a few times a day!

In addition to keeping us safe (their # 1 goal I suspect) they go above and beyond in the cheerleading department. They dress the part and have music blaring on their motorcycles... always a great pick me up when the walk starts to get overwhelming.

Like I have said in previous posts... I had tons of pictures to show but then I lost my camera... still don't want to talk about it ;~(

Here are the pictures I managed to snap with the iPhone (thank God for the iPhone ;~)

This guy was SO awesome... and I swear he is a cuter version of Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

This guy is off the hook awesome. I learned from another walker that his wife is a survivor and usually they do this together every year. When regular walkers saw him and not her, there was some very real fear that something bad happened. Fortunately she was just out of town for this event and she is still in good health!

Same guy, just on day 3.

I mean clearly this guy has a heart for the cause. If you think the clothing was loud, you should have seen his spirit... didn't even compare.

I don't have pictures of one of the other safety guys that I loved... a big, burly, bald with a long goatee biker dude who wore pink sparkly chucks (one of a kind as far as he knows!) and outfits to match. He is one of those guys that looks like they could snap you in half but as soon as he smiles, you see the teddy bear inside. I am not sure what his connection to the cause was but man is he dedicated!

Hopefully I will get my hands on some more pictures so you can see more of this awesome crew!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where to begin... the beginning is a good place!

Laura and I at opening ceremonies! All pumped up and ready to start walking!

I have to say here... in case anyone isn't aware... I lost my camera on Day 2 at lunch so I have very few pictures from Day 1 and the first half of Day 2. I wasn't taking many iPhone pictures because I was using the camera... which I no longer have... which I am still deeply depressed about. I don't want to talk about it right now.

Day 1 is always fun... your pumped up and excited... there is a bounce in your step and a wave in your arms.

'wave in your arms' you say??? why would there be a wave in your arms???

Glad you asked! When there are 2000 people walking through dressed primarily from head to toe in pink, people take notice. Cars honk, people shout, fame is ours!

Anytime someone shouts or honks all the walkers close in proximity hoot, holler and wave back... it's fun! (well for us and the cars... the neighbors might disagree ;~)

We saw some great sights... the Washington Monument and the Capital... which we had great pictures of... but I lost the camera. Yep, still don't want to talk about it.

Here is our schedule for the day:

Pit Stop 1 - 3.1 Miles
Pit Stop 2 - 5.8 Miles
Cheering Station - 6.9 miles
Pit Stop 3 - 8.0 miles
Grab and Go - 10.2 miles
Lunch - 12.5 miles
Grab and Go - 15.7 miles
Cheering Station - 16.2 miles
Pit Stop 4 - 17.5 miles
Pit Stop 5 - 20.0 miles
From Pit Stop 5 they bussed us back to camp.

So really it's not a 20 mile walk... it's about 10 '2 mile' walks. At least that is what I told myself each step of the way! Small victories mean more confidence ;~)

Laura and I estimated we started walking around 8 (was that right Laura? Already I can't remember ;) and we got to Pit 5 at 5:10. 9 hour and 10 minutes of walking... I'm tired all over again just thinking about it!

But here we are... Day 1 done!

Camera hanging from my arm... *sigh* Still hurts.

Stay tuned for more about the walk!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting ready con't...

Some necessities...

In a sea of pink tents... one can quickly lose spatial reasoning and end up squatting in some one else's tent... purely by accident of course!

In order to combat this, they (the infamous 'they') suggest decorating your tent so it stands out to you.

Here is my contribution...

Some lovely pink and white flowers to put out in front of our tent... in theory we should see them as we scan down and know that we are in the right place. We'll see how that pans out. Laura is also bringing glow sticks which should help us pinpoint our tent! Oh and the lone yellow rose... my all time favorite flower is the yellow rose... mom used to call me the yellow rose of TX (birth state ;~)

I spoke with Laura 2 nights ago and then we texted this morning. Can I just say that having a partner in this makes it SO much more exciting? If I didn't have her I would literally be scared out of my mind... probably seriously contemplating faking an injury. But having her to do this with... having her to get excited with... having her to travel with... it makes it SO much better! Thanks again Laura for joining up to walk!

Another essential... coffee. And GOOD coffee at that. I am one of those people that will get a severe (mind-numbingly severe) headache if I don't have coffee in the morning. And apparently it has to be fairly strong coffee... the weak stuff doesn't even register with me.

Luckily Starbucks heard my call and came up with instant coffee!

We do use Starbucks regularly for our morning coffee... granted it's in the french press which ensures that it's strong enough to grow chest hair. So this isn't a 100% sure bet but it's a start! I figure I can use a pack and a half if need be. And I packed some Excedrin in case it isn't enough.

Fingers crossed!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Getting ready

So in preparation for the walk, I am making some personalized t-shirts. You know, I can't train but crafty t-shirts... that I can do ;~)

So I made 1 pink t-shirt with black lettering and 1 white t-shirt with pink lettering... then I made this...

Those letters are so expensive so instead of caving to the man, I figured out my own method and now I have 3 "I walk for her" t-shirts.

Now to print some pictures of mom and get them on the front! More to come!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last picture

This was taken days, maybe hours, before my mom died.

She was admitted on a Saturday and I stayed in denial until Tuesday morning. The doctors called my dad and I in to a small conference room and told us there was nothing more they could do. I don't remember much after that. I remember sobbing uncontrollably. I think I remember a doctor patting my back. I remember them asking how far we wanted to go to keep mom alive. The only thing I remember vividly is sobbing... 'doubled over, from the gut' crying.

In prior months my mom tried a couple times to tell me that she wasn't going to be here much longer. I didn't believe her... either out of stupidity or self preservation.

So from Tuesday on we waited for her to take her final breath. She was heavily sedated... I guess because the pain would have been too much to bear. She looked as if she was sleeping at first but as the week went on she looked as if she was further and further away. She was slipping away and what remained was a broken empty shell.

She waited until everyone had gone home on Friday and at 1:40 am (Saturday morning) she took her final breath. My dad, Adam and I around her crying, she let go and went home to be with the Lord. I've never been so full of despair as I was at that moment.

A short time later, I removed her wedding band and engagement ring from her finger and placed them on mine.

I think I will always wear them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A gift from the heart

This was my birthday present from my in-laws this year. I can't even begin to describe the wonderful feeling of opening this up and seeing something so deeply personal. My MIL designed it with the help of the jeweler and picked out the "Love Iris" phrase. I may not have my mom but God has certainly blessed me with a wonderful MIL and FIL. No matter what I have lost, I consider myself truly blessed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dear 3Day,

I am very sorry I didn't train correctly. I realize the error of my ways now that I am a week out from the walk. I started off with such good intentions... but my follow through was non-existent.

Still, if you could find it in your heart not to destroy me, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks, Jessica

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Laura's Goal

Email I sent out:

My friend, Laura, and I have taken on an incredible challenge. On October 9-11, we will be walking 60 miles over the course of three days, camping out at night with thousands of other women and men taking this journey with us.

It's for an event called the Breast Cancer 3-Day, which benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. Every advancement in breast cancer research, treatment, education and prevention in the last 25 years has been touched by a Komen for the Cure grant. They are working hard to build a future without breast cancer, and Laura and I plan on raising $4,600 to help bring us closer to that goal.

Please consider making a donation to Laura's walk.  I have fulfilled my $2,300 goal and really want to see Laura fulfill hers as well. Please be sure to donate on Laura's page as an overfill on my goal does not spill into her goal.  Please also ask your employer if they will double your donation with a matching gift.

As many of you are probably aware, I lost my mom to this disease (after a darn good fight ;~)  I follow Fat Cyclist's blog and he just lost his wife.  The list could go on and on... everyone we know has been affected or afflicted.  Please help me in trying to stop this.  I truly believe that with enough research and enough caring, we can stop cancer.

Without a cure, one in eight women in the U.S. will continue to be diagnosed with breast cancer. That's why I'm walking in the 3-Day. Because everyone deserves a lifetime.

Please visit Laura's page HERE to make a donation. If this link doesn't work, you can search for her (Laura Kukich) on the main page or just email me and I will be sure to get you in touch with her.  If you don't want to donate online, please download and print a donation form and mail it to the address on the form. Or you can call 800.996.3DAY to donate over the phone. I would like to see Laura reach her fundraising goal as soon as possible, so please don't delay!

Thank you for taking the time to read this email, and thank you for your support.

P.S. Don't wait - donate today!
Please consider donating to Laura's walk (not mine, please!)  I am so grateful that she stepped up to do this walk with me and for Breast Cancer... please help me show her how great I think she is!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Donation Goal Accomplished!

I have officially hit my $2,300 goal for the 3day walk!

That is such an awesome feeling... to know that I have wonderful friends and family who give selflessly to a cause that means so much to me.

I plan on doing something to thank all the donors... maybe write their names on one of my tshirts for the walk. I wouldn't be able to do this without their generosity and support!

If you are still interested in donating... please donate to Laura's walk. She is my partner in crime for this walk and while she is kicking butt at the training, she is still a little short on the donations!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


So my training has been going well nonexistent. I wish I had better news to report but sadly I don't.

I haven't kept up with the training schedule at all. I tried very hard for the first few weeks. I got the right shoes, I got a jogging stroller, I planned times to go... it was perfect. For a week or 2.

Walking for an hour or more with an active 18 month old in a stroller... well I would rather walk to hell and back.... which coincidentally is what it felt like.

Not that I can fault the kid... it's got to be pretty boring up there. And he is clearly to young to appreciate being pushed around all the while being plied with goldfish and water. If I could switch places and still call it training, I would in a heartbeat.

So I thought I should go without the kid. Yeah, I said 'I thought'... I didn't say I acted on it. It's a great idea to go without him but the logistics and feasibility of that are frustrating to say the least.

The thing is... I have to figure out something. I really don't want to be lapped by women who are more than twice my age and have been battling this horrid disease for years... which is what happened last time when my mom clearly kicked my a$$. Seriously, my whole motivation for completing the walk (and not getting picked up by a sweeper van) was to prove that I could do something a 50 year old cancer patient could do. Well I did it but not better than her. She barely broke a sweat, had no blisters and enjoyed every moment of the walk. I on the other hand panted like a dog without water, had blisters on my blisters and blissfully enjoyed tolerated every step.

She was an animal.

And I had her example to follow.

Now I am on my own and that scares the crap outta me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Training Started!

The breast cancer 3day helps you out by sending weekly guides for training. It's a 24 week process and since we are 24 weeks out from the event *gulp*, the training has begun!

Tuesday was the first day... 3 miles of moderate walking.

I made it 2.17 miles.

In my defense it was hot and I was bored. Chase (oh and I was pushing a big ole honkin stroller) doesn't talk back to me, ya know, being 18 months old and all, so it was pretty much me talking the entire time. If you don't know a lot about kids, talking to an 18 month old pretty much consists of identifying what they are grunting and pointing at... airplanes being my sons favorite. Not stimulating conversation at all.

Luckily my MIL was able to go today... we walked 2.11 miles. Oh did I mention it was supposed to be 3 miles of moderate walking again? Hmmmm, I am off to a rousing start!

Whatever, I give myself credit for just getting out there and trying. That really is the biggest battle.

I did learn 2 things.

1. I really really need to follow this training program or I might truly die on the walk


2. I really really want a jogging stroller!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Sticker!!!

Joined/Started a Team

Ok... truth be told, I didn't think I would ever get this sticker.

I really didn't expect anyone to want to do this walk. It's 60 miles in 3 days and you have to (at a minimum) raise $2,300. If you don't raise the money, you are on the hook for it (they have their reasons ;~)

So 60 miles and $2,300... that's enough to turn anyone away.

I figured I would do all the prep work alone and then hopefully meet new friends on the route. I remember how much camaraderie there was last time... and I was just hoping to find that along the way.

Well, I am still hoping to find it but I will have a friend at my side! Everyone (all 4 loyal readers) meet Laura... my teammate!

This is Laura in 'Aunt Laura' mode (it was her niece's 1st birthday) but don't be fooled.... she looks nice and sweet but she is hardcore. When she tries something new, she goes all out! I am really lucky to have her on my team!

Once I meet my goal, I will be campaigning for Laura to be sure she meets hers. Another person making a bold statement that we won't let cancer win... we will find the cure!

P.S. we are always up for more teammates! If anyone else is interested, please let me know! We will get you signed up and on our team!

Monday, March 16, 2009

No movement

Unfortunately I haven't really started training for the walk yet. I want to but the weather has been just too cold to go for neighborhood walks. There is always the mall but considering you can cover the entire mall in less than 10 minutes, I would have to walk it at least 10 times to get any real practice in and that would be mind numbingly boring. Not to mention I have a 1 year old who wouldn't appreciate my brisk pace while sitting in his stroller. For now I just have to wait until the weather breaks.

In other news, I am 65% of the way to my donation goal! I can't believe how generous and supportive people have been, it really warms my heart. I can't wait to make them proud and complete this journey.

I am thinking of ways to honor the people that have donated to my cause. So far I have writing their names on one of the t-shirts I will wear on the walk but other than that... I have nothing. Does anyone have any better ideas?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Sticker!


I visited the Breast Cancer 3Day message boards... another sticker to my badge.

In my heart of hearts, I am still a 12 year old girl collecting stickers in my sticker book ;~)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Permanent Ink

My mom hated needles... and when I say 'hated', I really mean abhorred them. She wouldn't even get her ears pierced. Couldn't stomach the thought of getting the fleshiest part of your body poked with a small needle yet she was poked, prodded and stabbed nearly half her life with needles.

Ironic, no?

Forget her ears... she wouldn't even pierce mine! When I was a very new baby we lived in Spain. Well in Spain the parents pierce the ears of little girls so people can tell they are girls... no piercings, then you are a little boy. See where I am going with this? Oh yeah, no piercings for me... so she dressed me like a little boy so she didn't have to explain. Thanks mom... I'll bring that up in therapy ;~)

When I was 5 I had it set in my head and heart that I needed pierced ears. I absolutely could not live without them so my mom took me to the mall. To her credit, she stood and watched as they pierced my ears. I am sure she flinched but she watched.

The I got 2 more holes... and then one in the cartilage. I think she was running thin on patience at this point. I think she was also scared... this was about the time that nose rings and eyebrow rings were all the rage. Now I wasn't a particularly rebellious kid but this was just at the level that I might do and she knew that ;~) I think she prayed a lot during those years.

When I got my belly button pierced I thought she might disown me. She wasn't happy but she was just glad she didn't have to see it day in and day out. Had I actually gotten the nose or eyebrow done... well things might have gone in a different direction for us. As it was, she rolled her eyes and moved on.

Then I came home with a tattoo.

Pause * Oh the heartache we put parents through. If I could say I was sorry, I so would right now. Not that I regret my decision but man, it must be tough to be a parent. At least this was the extent of my rebellion. Here that Chase, this is as far as it went ;~) * Unpause

I walked in and told her what I did. I showed her the finished product and she didn't say anything... she just watched my reactions. She read my face and then asked if I was happy with it. I wasn't. I told her it was the design I wanted but the execution and placement weren't what I thought they would be. I cried about how disappointed I was because I wanted it to be so perfect but I screwed up with something so permanent. If I could have melted into the floor, I would have.

You would think this is where she says "I told you so" and lectures me about doing something so stupid without research or a good firm mind (all of which would have been TOTALLY legitimate).


She looks me square in the eye and says "Get it done again. Get it done the way you want and where you want it and when you have the money, get the wrong one removed."

This is why I loved this woman so much.

So I did. Here is my tattoo.

It's on the left side of my hip, right around my pants line. It's a breast cancer ribbon with a preemie purple heart in the middle. My first goddaughter Emilee Faith died at 30 days after being born 3 months too early. After she died I bought her mother and I both a preemie purple heart necklace. It's been years and I have since lost the necklace but I carry the purple heart with me thanks to my tattoo.

I am sure my mom was less than thrilled with my tattoo... just the thought of that needle probably gave her the willies for weeks. But she knew what it meant... she knew it was important to me. No matter the cost to her, she wanted me to be happy... needles and all.

And no, I am not showing the wrong one. So don't even ask ;~)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Project Complete!

So I really thought this would take me much longer to finish... not so much. I actually had it done within a few days of buying the supplies.

I used an ordinary mechanical pencil to create the lines to follow... truth be told, the markings were there but they were pretty faint so I was making up portions of the line as I went.

Every so often I looked at my project carefully and thought 'the stitches aren't straight', 'this isn't even', 'none of the stitches are the same length', ect. I kept wanting to either stop and abandon the project or pull out all the thread and start over. I pushed through those feelings and just kept plugging away. I am glad I did.

Is it perfect? No.

Do I love it and am I proud? Yep!

One of my character flaws is starting projects and not finishing them... actually another flaw is being a perfectionist and this project helped me address both of those issues. I persevered and made the image I had in my head... made with my own 2 hands. I also pushed through feelings of being inadequate and produced a product I am happy with. Now I just hope that the black string doesn't run when I inevitably have to wash this jacket ;~) Did I mention thinking things through isn't a strong suit either ;~)

It's my own Mondrian.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I bought a white running jacket for the walk (and subsequent training) and thought wouldn't it be cool to embroider a breast cancer ribbon the back?

Then I thought and I could add 'I walk for her' across the bottom.

Then I thought I come up with too many projects... but it was too late to talk myself out of it. I had the thought in my head and now I have to see it through.

Here is my jacket (bear with me, I am still learning how to use my new DSLR)

And here are my supplies for said embroidery.

Now I am not devoid of knowledge about stitching but I, by no means, know what I am doing. I am making this up as I go along and just hoping that it comes out halfway decent.

In my mind it will be crisp and clean like a Mondrian...

In reality I fear it will look something like this...

With any luck I will fall somewhere in the middle.

I am posting about this project here for 2 reasons... 1. it has something to do with the walk and well, the walk is what this blog is about so you do the math. 2. I want to follow through with my plan. I have the ability to think big and execute small and I don't want to do that here. If I think my readers (all 2 of you) are counting on seeing progress and a finished product, well, that just might keep me working on it!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My reason

One reason I started this blog was to share my personal story... to put a face on breast cancer. This is the face of breast cancer to me.

This is my mom on the day I met her face to face.

I didn't make it easy on her. I came into the world backwards so she had to have an emergency c-section... alone... at a military hospital... not pleasant at all. Once we met though... love at first sight. It was her and I from then on out... we were a team.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Purchase #1

When I did this walk in May 2002 I had every intention of training. My mom and I were going to plan out or training and hold each other to it. Unfortunately I was still young and self absorbed. I didn't follow through with the training which to this day saddens me. Not because the walk was hard but because the training was something my mom was looking forward to doing with me. I think she thought of it as time we could spend together bonding. I look back and it saddens me that I squandered that time... I couldn't even tell you what I replaced it with.

I made it through the walk ok. I had blisters like you wouldn't believe but I managed to take every step from the first to the last... some of those steps may have been more of a hobble but it counts!

This time, I plan on preparing. I am not in my early 20's anymore... ugh, I am not anywhere in my 20's. I am 30 and while I realize that is still young... it isn't as young as 23. Preparation needs to happen.

For this reason, I have bought the Omron Pedometer. It will go with me everywhere as I start the journey of preparation!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

You Did It!!

I have to start by saying that I love stickers. I always have and probably always will. In fact, throughout my childhood, stickers were usually a staple in my Christmas stockings, adorned birthday presents and were given as 'for no reason' gifts... my mom knew me well ;~)

Someone at the Breast Cancer 3Day must feel the same way. They give you a badge with a plastic sleeve and lanyard. You fill in your name and place the number (a sticker) of 3Day walks you have completed. On the other side of the badge are all the places you can add stickers for completing certain milestones.

So far I have "Set up my personal page", "Attended a Get Started Meeting" and "Got my first donation" (Thanks Jess H!). I get giddy every time I complete a milestone and am able to put a new sticker on.. seriously, ask Adam!

Today I realized I get to put another sticker on my badge!! "Raised my first $500!" Thanks to you all for getting me so far so quick! I am so very thankful to all my friends who put me over my first hurdle! I literally could not have done it without you!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm Committed

or at least I should be committed!

I have officially signed up for the Breast Cancer 3Day!

I went to the start up meeting on Thursday night with the sole purpose of getting information... I signed up for the walk that night. I have wanted to do something for a while now... something for a cause and something to get out of my own self centered focus. Every time an opportunity was presented, I had an excuse why I couldn't commit. Now, I am out of excuses and really, I need this event. I may need it more than it needs me. This is my chance to have something of my own... it's my chance to be part of something much bigger than me... it's my chance to do something for someone else instead of focusing on what the world should be doing for me.

The 'her' in my blog name is my mom Susan. She fought breast cancer for 19 years before it finally won. She passed away in Nov 2004.

I was extremely fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with her. She was diagnosed in 1985, when I was 7 years old... this was also the time her and my birth father were divorcing. She was cancer free for 7 years... then it came back 5 years later... then not even 2 years later and from that time on, it was an almost constant battle. For the first 10 years of her battle it was her and I on our own. By God's grace we made it through. Friends helped us out immensely... I can remember staying weeks at different families homes while my mom was sick. I don't even know how she was able to continue working... or even if she did. I have no idea how that worked... just one of the many things I would like to ask her now.

In 1995 my mom met a wonderful guy who became her husband 2 years later. His name is Paul but I call him dad. We are still very close and I am so grateful God placed him in my (our) lives.

All 3 of us did this walk 7 years ago... these are my parents somewhere between Baltimore and DC. The one thing I remember most about the walk is pushing myself to keep walking because my mom showed no signs of quitting... I mean she was like a train. She was paced, consistent and had boundless energy. She amazed me and I wanted to walk every step with her.

Unfortunately I will be walking by myself this year... unless I can convince anyone out there to do it with me? I already have a team name picked out thanks to Rob! My mom will be with me in memories only and my dad is living on the west coast, participating in his own fight against cancer. I am not worried though... I know without a shadow of doubt that I can do this. I can do the training, I can raise the money and I can walk 60 miles. I can do it for her.

I am extremely excited about this event. Thanks for checking in... I hope my excitement is contagious!