Tag Archives: Breast cancer

A Healthier Life…

There was a time in my life that I ate 2 – 3 meals a day at fast food restaurants and smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes a day. I had high cholesterol, that I was convinced couldn’t be controlled without medication, because I just knew it was genetic. If that wasn’t enough my doctor had started testing me for type II diabetes. I was certainly on a path of destruction and I didn’t even realize I could do anything different.

10 years ago this past March I quit smoking. I had smoked for over 30 years. When I laid the cigarettes down for the last time I began to eat everything in the house. Not only did I eat junk food and fattening foods, I ate till I was so stuffed it hurt to breathe.

I finally decided this simply was not going to work. And the journey began…

I started walking. Just a few months earlier I was afraid to do the one mile fun walk at the Susan G Komen 5k for fear I couldn’t make it. But I started slow….1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1 mile. Every morning I got up before the sun, went to the local park and walked my pup Freckles. My plan was, if I get him into the habit of walking he won’t let me sleep in…and it worked.

Eventually I started changing my eating habits. I was feeling so good I decided I wanted to treat myself better. I quit eating red meat. I started reading a book called The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. I learned how to eat foods and cook foods that were good for me. I learned to eat spinach!

I soon got bored with walking, it just wasn’t challenging enough. I started participating in boot camps and I started running. When I started running (despite being an athlete in school I always hated running) I couldn’t complete a 1/4 mile without stopping to walk. But eventually I started running more and more. I set a goal to run a 5k the next year at the Susan G Komen. I would run in memory of my Aunt Kathleen who I had recently lost to breast cancer.

That entire year, the thought of my aunt’s struggle to fight cancer, got me through the pain of training. If she could fight so hard and be so tough fighting against such a horrible disease, then something as minor as sore legs should not deter me.

I ran that 5k with a sign, honoring my aunt, on the back of my shirt. As I climbed the final hill, headed toward the finish line, exhausted and emotional, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Kathleen would be so proud.” I cried the rest of the way to the finish line. Tears of pain, emotion, love, excitement, memories of Kathleen all drained from my eyes. I had met my goal of running 3.1 miles and knew my life was changing for the better.

A lot has changed since I smoked that last cigarette. Over the next couple days I hope to share the rest of my journey to a healthier life. I hope you will stop back by to read the rest of the story.

My Fight…Nothing Compared to Her’s

As many of you know I began participating in the Susan G Komen 3 Day as a walker. And I did this in memory of my favorite Aunt…Kathleen Coffman. I walked for 3 years.
Sadly due to knees that could no longer handle the miles of training I had to stop…I thought my time of actively participating in this awesome event was over.
However, last year someone suggested I sign up for “Crew” as a member of Route Safety. I could ride my bike, and be involved. I followed that suggestion and this past weekend I (once again) felt like I was part of the solution.img_7070
This past weekend I had the opportunity to help others, make new friends, laugh, cry and sleep in a pink tent…As a member of the route safety team I got to be an important cog in the wheel of the 60 miles in 3 days

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Route Safety…some of the crew

I captured many memories…but one moment stands out.
Day 3, after lunch, less than 4 miles to the finish, in pouring rain. I stood at the intersection of Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas…working with Chuck Kelley….helping walkers navigate an extremely busy intersection.
As I stood there in the shadow (metaphorically speaking) of the Texas School Book Depository and steps away from the site where President John F. Kennedy was shot, I thought of my Aunt Kathleen. The woman I loved so much…and still miss everyday. The first time she visited me in Texas, a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum was at the top of her to do list.
I stood there, cold, soaking wet, tired, and dreading the next several hours I would spend in wet clothes….when I remembered the fight my aunt waged against breast cancer, never giving up and always remaining positive…and I thought….this moment of discomfort will pass, my soreness will fade away and my feet will dry. But the fight so many women (and men) face, after being diagnosed with breast cancer…well that is serious and that is important…for them I need to stand in the rain, keep smiling and appreciate my opportunity to serve.

The Meaning of An Owl

It was a few years ago, we had just finished a training walk for the Susan G Komen 3 Day, the walk leader passed out stickers of owls (yes, owls). She asked us to keep one of the walkers in mind. The walker she referred to I did not know but I learned she was battling breast cancer (again), and she liked owls.

As I left that training walk I stuck the owl sticker on one of the air vents in my Jeep. Every now and then I would look at it and think of this person I didn’t know, fighting a fight I had been fortunate not to fight (at this point in my life).IMG_2371

The summer went on and I still didn’t meet this mystery person but I continued to look at the owl sticker in my car and think about this person out there in the world fighting breast cancer.

When the 3 Day rolled around we all loaded in the bus and headed toward opening ceremonies. Through all the chatter in the bus I overheard something that made me realize the “owl woman” was on the bus. I asked the woman I suspected and learned I was right. I told her about the owl sticker and that I still had it in my car. We talked, we laughed, we hit it off.

Walking 60 miles in 3 days is a huge challenge. I learned that JoAnne had just finished chemo and would be walking the 60 miles. I was impressed by her determination and courage.

3 day with Joanne

(L to R) Anastasia, me and Stan, JoAnne 

She liked the sock monkey (Stan) I was carrying during the walk.

After the walk we played Words With Friends, we chatted occasionally on Facebook and at Christmas she sent me a new sock monkey…but we didn’t have time to really become friends. What I knew of Joanne I admired. She fought to the end, she had strength and a beautiful inner spirit that I was only able to get a short glimpse at.

I believe everyone comes into our lives for a reason and I believe Joanne came into my life to remind me to fight gracefully, take care of the vessel I have been given and to laugh.

I still have the owl sticker in my car and Stan (my monkey) and Cassidy (the monkey JoAnne gave me) ride along in my jeep everyday.IMG_2366

Though it makes me sad that I did not get an opportunity to know her better, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know the lady behind the owl.

NaBloPoMo – Shoe

Today the participants of the Susan G Komen 3 Day walk completed their 60 miles. Even though everyone walks 60 miles, there are two types of walkers.

One, is the walker that is doing it in memory of someone, or to help others, or simply to be part of the solution.

Two, is the survivor. This is the woman (or man) that has been diagnosed with breast cancer, fought breast cancer and kicked breast cancer’s butt.

Group one admires group two a great deal. So when group two walks into the closing ceremony, group one salutes group two by taking off one shoe and holding it up in the air. Its a salute, a sign of admiration and a moment that will bring tears to the eyes of the most callous person. shoe salute

It sounds like an odd tribute but it truly isn’t. Good shoes mean the world to a person that walks 60 miles in 3 days. The perfect shoe that each walker has found for their foot…is absolutely treasured. So to take that shoe off and hold it proudly in the air to salute another walker means the world. shoe salute

We all know that someday it could be us that hears the dreaded words, “you have cancer.” We also know the women that have gone before us and fought the good fight and won each battle cancer threw at them…will be the sign of courage, the sign of strength and the sign of success that we will look for on those darkest days.

So raise your shoe and salute the survivors that walk through this world knowing they have kicked cancer’s butt.shoe salute

W = Walk

I walk in memory of my Aunt Kathleen. I walk to honor those that continue to fight.

walk

I’ve walked hundreds of miles….training.

training

I walk to find a cure.

find cure

I walk 60 miles in 3 days. 

3 days

Training will start next month. This will be my 4th year to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk for breast cancer. Between May and November I will walk hundreds of miles with my teammates and friends. We will laugh, cry, doctor blisters, stretch sore muscles and buy new shoes. We each walk for a different reason. Some of us are survivors, some of us walk in memory of loved ones, some of us walk to honor people fighting breast cancer….all of us walk to raise money for a cure.

2 feet

It only takes 2 feet and the willingness to walk. When my 2 feet join thousands of other feet…we walk and we make a difference!

The A – Z Challenge will run through April. Each day is a different letter and a different photo…I hope you all enjoy!

The Walk

I walked every mile.

Distracted by the chatter surrounding me. At times hyper focused on the pounding of each step. One foot in front of the other, walking through the pain, this is nothing compared to chemo.

There are 1150 of us. Mostly women, mostly touched personally by breast cancer. Maybe it was a daughter they lost, maybe a mom, maybe a friend. For me it was my favorite aunt.

They say it isn’t a race. But we walk fast. It is hard to walk 20 miles in one day, wake up the next morning and walk another 20 miles then wake up one more day and walk another 20. So we walk fast. We try to spend the shortest time possible in our walking shoes. We stop for snacks, refill liquids and take our turn in the port-a-pot….then we walk on. If you stop too long the body will revolt. The body will stiffen up and refuse to keep moving.

We keep moving.

The miles are long, the emotions are raw, tears flow easily and laughter is spontaneous.

Total strangers cheer us up the next hill. Little children hand us candy, elderly adults sit along the route and clap their hands, dogs wear pink tutus….we, the people forming blisters on our feet, feel gratitude and kindness from every person cheering along the route. They too have lost someone, or maybe they fear losing someone, or maybe they fought the same fight….they thank us for walking we thank them for cheering.

Our family members surprise us along the route….a big hug, pat on the back and the same love that has supported all of our training up to this moment. The family members that watch us crawl out of bed each Satuday morning before sunrise so we can complete a training walk in July before the temperatures become unbarable. We must train. This is not a 5k. We can’t just show up and start walking….we must train.

We are fragile.

People post photos of their loved ones beside the walkway. Photos of the loved ones they have lost. Their signs tell us a daughter misses her mom, a husband misses his wife, a boy misses his grandma. They tell us how much our walk means to them. We are tired, even exhausted, we are fragile….we cry.

But in the end it is all worth it. We are making a difference, we are part of the solution, we are raising money to find a cure. The blisters will heal, our eyes will dry….a cure is what we need, so we walk…through the pain and toward a future without breast cancer we walk.

the walk

The Walk finish

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

“What’s the big deal? I’ve been walking all my life?”  This quote was shared during one of our recent training walks. We all laughed. Because all of us thought the same way before we actually trained for a 3 Day.

The endurance required to walk 60 miles in 3 days is different than the endurance needed to run. Its not easier and its not harder….its just different. The number of hours required to remain on your feet and propel your body forward are many!!

The two pictures I am posting were taken last year. One at mile 59 and the second at mile 60!

mile 59

mile 60

Our team will conquer the 60 miles once again in November. We do this not only because we are a bit crazy…but also to raise money and awareness for breast cancer.

To see more photos on endurance follow this link