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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why I am walking week - Day 7 the wrap up...

Well I would like to thank those of you who shared you experiences, thoughts, and feelings for my blog project this week.  I would also like to thank those who shared by reading it.  It was meaningful for me to share with everyone the reasons I am walking again this year.

I am going to finish off the week with another chance for those of you who haven't donated yet to do so for this wonderful foundation that isn't just about finding a cure but making life better for those with breast cancer as well!

As many of you know, last year I walked 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, for the 1st time.  Many of you helped me on my journey by donating, and I was able to raise over $2,800 towards finding a cure for breast cancer. Those who have seen my slideshow, heard me talk about it, or read my blog know how much this experience meant to me.  How I believe it changed me, and how I loved being a part of something bigger than myself.  But is that it?  Am I done my part now?  Was that enough?

I don't know.  Have they found a cure for breast cancer yet? 

I learned a lot from researching breast cancer, from listening to stories from inspiring women with this disease.  I learned that 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed in their lifetime.  I learned that the biggest risk factors are being a woman and getting older.  But I think the hardest fact to swallow is the one stated in the picture below; a picture I took on my 60 mile walk, a picture that gives me goose bumps every time I read it.

Every 3 minutes in this country, another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.  

That means that in the time it took to microwave 2 hot pockets for my kids, a family’s whole life dramatically changed.  In the 6 minutes it took me to get a load of laundry together and throw it in the wash, 2 women receive the news that they were praying with all their souls that they wouldn’t have to hear from their doctor after their biopsy was performed.  In the 10 minutes it took waiting for my morning coffee to brew: a single mom wonders who will care for her kids while she’s getting treatments and how is she going to pay her bills while she’s out of work, another woman cries trying to figure out how to tell her husband that her cancer is back again, and a 3rd  woman takes a deep breath, lifts her chin, and asks the doctor what she needs to do next.

How could I not continue the fight against breast cancer?  So again in  Sept. 2011, I will be leading a new team of women who share my passion for making this a world without breast cancer.  And how long after we find a cure will it be till we end ALL cancer, forever?

Walking at full speed, it would take me about 950 minutes to walk 60 miles.  The 60 miles of the 3 Day will actually take a lot longer than that because I need to stop and stretch, refill my water bottles, eat snacks and visit those beautiful porta-potties.  So, it will take me around 1500 minutes of walking.  And in those 1500 minutes, 500 more people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in this country.  But in those same 1500 minutes, the money that my feet helped to raise will help to change the face of this disease. 

I am trying to raise $2,300, so each minute that I will walk is worth 1 ½ more dollars towards this cause.  1 ½ dollars might not sound like much, but those dollars really do add up.  Each minute that I walk, I will be walking with thousands of other people, so my dollars are matched by all those other dollars.

My minutes, multiplied by the thousands of 3 Day walkers and crew in Washington DC in September and in 15 cities this year, will lead the fight to change the statistics. It will be a celebration of hope, and a celebration of all the survivors, like my wonderful Mom, who lived through being part of that dreaded statistic.  A celebration of the wonderful memories we have of loved ones like my dear friend Tanya, who have lost their battle.  Please help me change these statistics by making a donation to the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the cure on my behalf.

Every 3 minutes another reason to walk.  That may be true, but it is also true that there are also thousands of us all across the country walking towards a different future.  We all get to decide which minutes of our lives count.  Make your minutes count.

I fully understand that each of us have our own commitments, so if you find yourself unable to support me with a donation, please support me with your thoughts and prayers. Please share this letter and help make your friends and family's minutes count too.  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for your support.  

Melanie Finkner

To donate, visit our team page and goto one of my teammates who have worked so hard and are getting close to meeting their minimum.  I wish to walk arm in arm with them across the 60 mile finish line to closing ceremonies!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Why I am walking week" - Day 6 - My mother, the survivor

As most of you know, one of my reasons for walking is for my Mom.  She is a 7 year breast cancer survivor.  Yay Mom!!!  At the time she was going through this, I was not a super daughter, and not the most supportive to my eternal regret.  My mother was very private about her ordeal and really never complained about all she had to go through.  So I left it at that and pretty much stuck my head in the sand and left it there for quite a while.  I didn’t do it because I didn’t care (I love my Mom dearly and always have), just that it was hard for me to deal with, and at that time in my life I was not “grown up” enough to deal with hard things I guess…  I am ashamed of being so selfish as to not reach out to the woman who loved me and cared for me from birth, but as we all know we can’t go back and change the past, we can only go forward.  So that is one of my reasons for walking now.  I love you Mom, I am so sorry for not seeming to care about what you were going through.  But I am doing all I can to make up for it, including this blog and walking 60 miles yet again. 

Now I’ve asked my Mom to tell me all the things I didn’t know she was going through years ago.  I needed to know what I missed.  I learned that my Mom is even more amazing than I already knew…

My wonderful Dad and Mom
My Mom’s cancer was actually discovered (though not yet diagnosed) in August of 2003.  It was right before my parent’s semi - annual trip to Germany (my Mom was born and grew up in Germany, and all of her family still lives there), at her mammogram.  Her doctor called her and told her she needed to get another one done because of something abnormal, but she told the doctor that she was about to go to Germany and was told to enjoy her trip and get a repeat mammogram when she returned the next month.  And she told me she was able to put it completely out of her mind and totally enjoy her trip, not concerned at all. 

When she returned and received her 2nd mammogram, the doctor told her she had found a calcification and at the end of September the surgeon performed a needle biopsy and found that it was cancer.  After testing she was told it was caused by the HER 2 gene, which while luckily for me and my family is not a hereditary gene, can be a very aggressive form of cancer. 

At the end of October her surgeon performed an extended surgery to remove the cancer.  But it turned out that the surgery wasn’t a total success, in that the doctors could not get a “clean margin.”  So on Nov. 19th, 2003, my Mom went through her surgery to remove her breast.  This surgery was considered a success, in that they now had their clean margin.  They also removed some lymph nodes, and thank God found no sign of the cancer there.  She told me that she did all that the doctors had told her to do after her surgery, and it wasn’t too hard on her.  See, didn’t I tell you she was amazing?

My mom with her youngest grandson   
My Mom’s doctors told her that because of the clean margins, she did not need any radiation treatments, but they were recommending chemotherapy for her.  She told me that this was what she didn’t want the most.  This was the thing that she fought against.  She told me that with surgery she wanted it because she wanted the cancer out of her; to be gone.  But chemo…  My brother called her at this time and I am really grateful that he did not have his head up his…  I mean in the sand like I did, but came through for my Mom.  He told her that he knew someone with the same type of cancer and since they didn’t catch it all it spread to the lymph nodes…  So she went with the doctors recommendations, and decided to do the chemo treatments as soon as she was recovered from her more invasive surgery.

In Jan. 2004 the doctor’s did what they call a mirror biopsy to check the other breast, and luckily it came out fine.  They also did a CT scan, and MRI, and a MUGA test (a heart test).  The CT scan showed 2 cysts on her liver, so they then had to do an ultrasound.  The ultrasound showed that the cysts were not cancerous.  Whew!  And would you believe my mother is probably the only living soul that actually didn’t mind and almost liked the MRI?!?!  LOL!  She told me it reminded her of (for all you trekkies out there like my Mom and I) the “Jeffrey tubes” on the original Star Trek show!   So with all her tests giving a green light, they surgically put in a port for my mother to be able to start her chemo.

As for how she felt about all this…  She told me that she didn’t stop and think about it much in the beginning, just went with whatever came next and didn’t feel much about it.  “It’s just a part of me, so I dealt with it,” she said.   She just did what she had to do to get well again.  But the chemo was something she really didn’t want, so that made it harder for her.  She told me that she thought about all the kids who go through cancer and are so inspiring and “If they could do it, who am I to complain??” 

My mom swinging with her granddaughter
So in Feb 2004, my Mom started chemotherapy.  She had 3 sessions, 21 days apart.  She told me that the first time, she had to grip the arms of the chair to keep herself from jumping up and running out of there, but she managed to sit still and do it.  And since her treatments were in the morning and she didn’t start to feel sick till a few hours after her treatments were over, my Dad would go out and pick up something light for her to eat from Bob Evans, before the nausea would rear its ugly head.  She said she didn’t have any stories of suffering for me (like I would want that!?!?!).  Besides the nausea, was she was extremely tired like most people that go through chemo, but unlike most… she couldn’t sleep.  Ugh!  We all know how awful that is; I can’t imagine how bad it must be when you are exhausted chemo patient!  She did lose quite a bit of weight that is still off to this day from not being able to eat; she said “eating became a chore, I had to eat and I forced myself to but didn’t want to.”  And she did lose her hair, and her eyelashes (which still have not grown back sadly to this day!).  But since it was in Feb. through early spring, almost no one knew that my Mom was going through all of this.  She wasn’t spending time outside in the winter, and didn’t have too many places to go.  So it wasn’t till summer when a neighbor saw her in her wig (the wig that I have now and got the same compliments on!) and told her that she liked her new hairdo that she actually told someone.  That thought of her going through this so alone brings me to tears…

Well she had her last chemo treatment on April 8th, 2004, and is now a 7 year survivor!!!  Woohoo Mom!!!  For the first 5 years she needed a mammogram, bloodwork, and a yearly oncologist appointment.  Now it’s just a visit and a mammogram!  Hopefully, that’s all she will ever need to visit an oncologist for!  She told me it changed her eating habits for good (that and her stomach issues, but that’s a whole different blog!! LOL!), and she eats less carbs and more veggies.  I am proud of my courageous Mom.  I love you Mom.  One more time I’m so sorry, even though we were so far apart I should have been there for you.  I can’t go back to change it now, but I will do my best to make it up to you.  And I CAN and WILL walk 60 miles again for you!

This is why I walk.  

Me with the for my mother flag on the 3 day event!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 5 - A woman that continues her battle, and has kept her faith...

This is a woman that I met through her daughter many years ago in my EMT and firefighter classes.  She watched my children for me when I needed daycare.  She also showed me what a family brought up in faith could be like...

Gina inspires me in that she is not yelling, "WHY ME LORD?" and shaking her fists and turning her back on God.  Instead she is still faithful and turns to the Lord for strength.  I believe whole-heartedly in the power of prayer; please keep Gina in your prayers as she fights her battle.

This is her story in her words...

Last January I was scheduled for weight loss surgery and was very excited since I have struggled with my weight my entire life. Even as I was prepped for surgery I knew in my heart it wasn't going to happen. As I came to I heard my Dr. tell the nurse to let her know as soon as I was fully awake as she needed to tell me she couldnt do the surgery. I kept going to the verse about the Lord's ways not being our ways. The Dr told me she couldn't do the surgery because she found tissue in the way and called in a gyn to consult and take biopsies. It was only a few days later she called to tell that I had cancer and that she had arranged for me to see a ogyn oncologist before he left town to talk to me about all that was going on. In less than two weeks of finding out that I had cancer I had an hysterectomy and was scheduled to have a port put in and all out and if it would fall out. I decided to not be bothered with it and take control. I had my husband shave my head. It was very freeing and gave me control and not my cancer or the chemo.

I have many people praying for me and have been very blessed in that I have had very few of the worst side effects. I still continue my battle and am on the third type of chemo drug trying to find one that will work. I have really been able to remain strong and relying on God. I am very blessed that I do have a large support group and the oncologist I see and the nurses are wonderful to me.

I am thankful for every day God gives me here on earth and try not to take anything for granted. I have started doing things on my bucket list now instead of later. I try to enjoy each day and make sure I stay in contact with friends and family. I have been able to mend a few fences in my family.

Don't get me wrong I have days where I feel sorry for myself and days where I am depressed. I just am thankful that with God's help they are few and far between.

Last minute addition - Gina wrote me saying this:
Melanie just wanted to share with you that this 3rd type of chemo is now working. I got the results of my PET scan today and the fluid around my lung, the cancer in my peritoneum are less and what is still there is not showing as brightly on the PET scan. Praise God.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why I am walking - Day 4 - An old friend shares his experiences with cancer...

This is written by a friend from high school, who just recently experienced his battle with cancer.  He is willing to share his journey with everyone, and it touched my heart that he is so open.  You don't find many people like him, especially being a man!  Thank you Donnie, and know that I will keep you in my thoughts as I walk 60 miles, you are one of the people that will get me through when the going gets rough.  You are an inspiration!!!
Raising my shoe in tribute to the survivors!

Hi.  My name is Donnie Smith. I am 38 years old and I am a testicular cancer survivor

   My journey began in late August 2010 with a swollen and tender left testicle.  At first I thought it to be a work related injury as I am a carpenter and strains and pains tend to go with the job.  I waited until late September before I took action.  My 2 kids were back in school and my wife had just started a new fulltime job.  So with things settled a bit I decided it was time to get checked out.  Little did I know what was about to unfold.  I made an appointment with my regular doctor on a Tuesday afternoon.  She examined me and ordered an ultrasound for the next morning.  Wednesday morning was an ultrasound appointment and I went back to work.  My doctor called by about 11:30 and said I needed to see my urologist immediately.  The ultrasound showed signs of "nodes".  Not good.  I got a ride to a 2:30 appointment and my wife met me there.  The urologist examined me, gave me the hard squeeze and excused himself to review my ultrasound films.  He was back in the room in less than a minute, sat down and calmly explained that he had an opening in tomorrows surgery schedule and would be removing Old Lefty at that time.  Uh....what?  He continued to say that there was more tumor than testicle and it needed to come out asap.  My wife and I drove home in shock.  I called the people that needed to know and when we got home I sat the kids down and explained it to them.  None of us knew what to think or how to feel.  So Thursday morning at 10:30 they wheeled me in, knocked me out, and removed the offending item.  I was sent home later that same day. Keep in mind that all this took place within a 48 hour period.  It all happened so fast that we didn't really have time to react.  It was a blessing at first because we didn't have the freak out phase before it all came down.  The next week was a lesson in post traumatic stress syndrome.  A few weeks went by and my post surgery bloodwork showed that the cancer tumor marker levels had returned to normal. 

   Given my particular level of cancer involvement I was given two choices,  surgery or chemotherapy.  The surgery was called "retro peritoneal lymph node dissection".  The doctor would cut me open from sternum to belt line,  put my guts aside on a tray, and remove the lymphatic tissue from the left side of my abdomen.  The tissues would then be examined for cancer cells.  If none were found I was free and clear.  If they were found I was off to chemo.  I didn't want to have the surgery and certainly didn't want to have both surgery and chemo.  All my doctors recommended the surgery due to my blood levels being normal.  Even the oncologist thought it was the right thing to do and he's the one selling chemo!  So against my gut I signed up for the surgery.  This was mid October and by this time I was able to button up some loose ends work wise and began making preparations for the pending surgery.  My date was set for Dec. 13 2010 and I was having a hard time accepting it.  Being cut open like that was going to change thing forever.  I'm an active person and use my body to work every day.  This haunted me.  I had a pre-op exam on Dec. 1and by the Thursday before the surgery I had made my peace with it and was focused and determined.  The family had come through with dinners made and in the freezer, schedules changed to accommodate my recovery, and many prayers said by everyone I knew.  I went through the 36 hour bowel prep and was ready the morning of.  It was a grey and dreary morning that day.  I was admitted to the hospital and was waiting for things to get started.  They had me in a pre-op room in my gown and it seemed to be taking a while.  They hadn't even hooked up an IV yet.  My Mom was waiting with me because my wife had to go to work.  Her new job was at the hospital so she was in the building anyway.  From my bed I noticed that the skies had cleared and the sun was out.  This gave me a feeling that everything would be OK.  After a bit more time my doctor came in to review the process.  He sat next to me and explained that there would be no surgery for me that day.  Apparently my pre-op bloodwork results were no available to him until that very morning.  My tumor markers had risen again showing a presence of cancer cells.  Since the purpose of the surgery was to determine whether there was any disease remaining, there was no need to move forward.  That's great for me!  No surgery!  I didn't want it anyway!  I'm gonna go get something to eat!  My wife on the other hand realized what this meant right away and was very upset.  I still had cancer.  It wasn't gone.  Now I must go through chemo.  My son had a winter band concert at school that night and I was able to attend.  Needless to say there were quite a few shocked friends and family members at that event when I walked in.  As that week played out I went through another round of post traumatic stress syndrome and had to accept my situation again.  The emotional roller coaster was taking its toll.  Still I was thankful to have not been cut open and my family and I were able to relax a bit and enjoy Christmas and New Years. 
   Chemotherapy.  My oncologist warned me that it was no walk in the park and had its own batch of side effects.  I had a port installed on Jan. 6 2011 and began chemo on Jan. 10.  I was slated for 4 cycles of chemo.  Every day for 1 week then 2 weeks off to recover and repeat.  What a ride.  The first week of chemo was a learning experience.  Not only the way my body reacts but also the chemo room itself.  I gained a tremendous amount of perspective and humility seeing what others were going through.  I was amazed at how people in such a dire situation were capable of such courage and strength.  It affected my attitude immensely.  Throughout my treatments I was able to maintain a positive outlook, a sense of humor, and a determination to get through it and beat cancer. I tried to drive myself on Mondays and Tuesdays. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and helped keep my head right.  By Wednesday though I needed a ride.  Mom, Dad, and my sister took turns taking me with my sister putting in the most time.  I claimed my own chair in the chemo room.  It was on the other end of the room near the bathroom and facing the windows instead of the TVs so it was usually empty.  I'd much rather look outside than stare at a TV all day. Towards the end of my treatment the nurses would save it for me and even put a reserved sign on it.  I played cards and computer solitaire to pass the time.  Some days I would just chat with my family or the people around me.  I got about 2500ml of fluids each day.  Some with drugs and some without.  By the end of each day I had visited the bathroom 5 or 6 times and felt like I was floating.  My poor wife had to work the whole time and never got to take me for treatments.  Without her income and insurance we would have been ruined by this.  She had the unfortunate job of caring for me at home.  I wasn't always able to convey the information needed for my care.  The nurses would tell me during the day but chemobrain is real and I wouldn't always remember at night so she just had to wing it alot.  I forced myself to eat 3 meals a day no matter how small and luckily I didn't lose any weight along the way, just muscle tone.  The weekend after treatment was always terrible.  I would only get out of bed long enough to eat.  By Monday after I would start to come around and by Wednesday I would be feeling pretty good.  By the end of the 2 week break in between I was eating well and could even stomach a Guinness or two.  Then it would start all over again. Some good news came at the office visit between round 2 and 3.  Apparently the blood tests taken just after round 2 showed that my tumor markers had returned to normal levels.  This meant I was responding well to treatment and now I just had to finish the medicine. Good news to be sure.  My last week of treatment was very rough.  The symptoms after each round were progressively more intense and by the end of my last week I was wiped out.  It felt great to be done but there was nothing to really enjoy except for that one fact.  The week to follow was very down and out but as usual I started to come back around. 

   Recovery from chemo isn't without its challenges either.  My last day of chemo was March 25 and that's been about 6 weeks ago.  The oncologist assured me that since it took him 3 months to do this to me, it will take 3 months to get myself back.  The nurses claim is that by Thanksgiving I'll truly feel like myself again.  At this point its frustrating that I can't go out and do all the things I want.  I still can't work on a regular basis.  It seems that I'll be OK for a few days then fatigue sets in and I have to rest.  I'm struggling to find an even pace between activity and rest.  It is now mid-May and although I feel pretty good I'm certainly not there yet.  The oncologist visit yesterday revealed that my recent CT scans are normal and my bloodwork is normal.  So my official current status is "in remission" which is a great feeling.  He will see me again in 3 months for another checkup but for now I'm good to go. 

   In all I am very lucky.  My disease was minimal, localized, and caught in a timely manner.  I've made it through treatment and am well on my way in recovery.  The whole event has given me a different perspective on what is important in my life.  It has brought my family much closer together.  I've spent more time with my kids lately than in years past and that is a great thing.  I'm trying desperately to be patient with myself and allow time for the strength to come back.  I'm told it will.  For now I'll be content playing Mr. Mom and doing whatever I can to help out.  I get to put my son on the bus every day and spend time with my daughter and wife like never before and it won't always be like that.  I feel very blessed that my battle with cancer came down like it did and am grateful for all that I have, more so than ever before.

   Thanks to all the doctors, nurses, volunteers, friends and family members who cared for me and supported me through this time.  It would have been a terrible thing to go through alone.  I can only hope that anyone faced with cancer or any disease has the support they need to make it through as I did.

Donnie Smith
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Donnie. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why I am walking week... - Day 3 - My teammate's reasons for walking

As you know, I am not going on this journey alone.  I have a team of wonderful women that are with me every step of the way.  They have their own reasons for raising tons of money and walking 60 miles.  Today I am giving you their own words in answer to the question "Why are you walking?"

Pam Leaberry, RN  To donate to Pam or visit her page goto - Pam's 3 Day page

Here are ten reasons that I am walking. 

1. I am walking for my Aunt who loss her battle to breast cancer in 2009.
2. SGK foundation helps women who otherwise would not be able to afford the medical care.
3. I am a nurse surrounded my women who are diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and want to help.
4. I like helping people.
5. I am looking forward to sleeping in pink tents in Washington D.C.
6. I like the thought of getting into shape at the same time as helping others.
7. I like my boobs.
8. I really like my boobs.
9. I like pink
10. I really like the enthusiasm and excitement it has brought me to help raise money for this foundation. It feels great to give.

I am walking for my family friends and patients!


Pam Naumann, RN To donate to Pam N or visit her page goto - Pam N 3 Day page

I decided to walk this year for my mother in law who I saw pass from colon cancer that did not have a lot of resources that the Susan G Komen fund offers.  This is a wonderful fund to help those cancer survivors feel special, LIVE to the fullest and help with research.  I also see a lot of patients pass away at the Dove House, an inpatient hospice facility.  When you take care of these people, you just want to be able to something,  The 3 day walk is something I can do for them!  3 days 60 miles, I can do that!

Lauren Fair, LPN  To donate to Lauren or visit her page goto - Lauren's 3 Day page

Many people ask, why are you walking?  We all walk for different reasons.  For me cancer has always been personal.  Many of my family members have lost their battle with lung and kidney cancer.  I am fortunate that I have not lost a loved one to breast cancer.  I have, however, seen the pain and devastation that comes along with a breast cancer diagnosis.  Working as a nurse in a small but ever growing community hospital, I am surrounded with patients with many different illnesses.  Yet, it is all to common to have patients with a past or current diagnosis of breast cancer.  So, when asked who am I walking for?  The answer is everyone.  I walk for my family, my friends, my patients, and you.  I am so proud to be walking this year in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk in Washington, D.C. amongst so many survivors.  Doesn't everyone deserve a chance at a lifetime? 
Pam Leaberry, Lauren, Melanie, and Pam Naumann

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I am walking week... Day 2 - My personal breast cancer scare

My story…

Just 1 short year after I lost a dear friend to breast cancer, a friend who was at the time my mother in law, I found a lump in my breast.  I was 23 years old.  I cannot describe that fear, so soon after watching a beautiful woman who was so full of life waste away and lose her battle with breast cancer.  After a few weeks of absolute denial, I decided to finally get it checked out.  But where could I turn?  I had no health insurance and no way to pay cash for a doctor’s office visit.  My husband and I both worked, but we didn’t make enough to afford coverage at that time for ourselves. So even though I knew it was not the appropriate place to get this checked out, I went to the ER.  I must give kudos to the doctor who saw me that day.  I apologized, and told him why I was there.  I cried, because I was so embarrassed to have to come to the ER for that, and because I was so scared.  He assured me it was ok and he understood.  He checked out the lump, and told me that of course I would need further testing, but that it felt to him like a benign type of cyst. He also kindly pointed me in the right direction – to the local health department – to get started down the right road.  I don’t remember his name or what he looked like, but wherever you are I thank you for your compassion for a scared girl that day.

I then was directed to a gynecologist, who also felt the lump and told me he thought it would probably turn out to be nothing.  I was directed to Sinai hospital then for my first mammogram.  Now THAT was fun…  The doctor/ tech there said it was to hard to read, since I was so young and my breast tissue was still so dense they couldn’t really tell much from it.  So I was then directed to a surgeon.

The surgeon explained once again that it was most likely a benign cyst, but…  I still needed a needle biopsy to tell for sure.  So that’s what he did.  The worst part was that I still had to wait a whole week for the results.  That was a VERY long week.  Luckily, my cyst was benign and small enough that the surgeon said I didn’t need any other treatment; I could just go on my merry way.  But I did need to cut back a little on the caffeine since that may or may not have caused the cyst…

So how was I able to get the care I needed without insurance and without a single medical bill??  I was able to due to grants from foundations like the Susan G. Komen foundation.  I want others who are in the same position I was to have the same care I was given.  I can’t pay for another woman’s medical treatment.  But I do have a voice.  And I do have 2 legs.  I CAN walk 60 miles again to help another woman get treatment, or to do my part to help find a cure so no one needs this kind of treatment… EVER. 

This is why I walk!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why I am walking week, the introduction... Day 1

Welcome to why I am walking week!!
I am dedicating my blog this week to the people who have been affected by cancer in some way and have touched my life. 

This week I am going to write about why I am really going to raise another $2,300, and why I am going to once again walk 60 miles in the biggest and boldest event for breast cancer that exists.  Why I felt I needed to do more for cancer than the average activist for a cure.  Why I feel the need to train and raise money for months out of the year.  There are just way too many people that have touched my life that have cancer.  And not just breast cancer either.  I figure, if we can find a cure for breast cancer, how far away are we from curing ALL cancers?  This is my goal.  To raise money, to raise awareness, and to walk until we reach it:  a world without cancer.

So this week I want to celebrate survivors, remember those who have lost the fight, and send prayers and strength to those who are fighting their battle with cancer right now. 

For today, I am going to list those I plan on making this amazing journey for.  You are the people that have given me the courage, the strength, and the will to undertake this huge event again this year.  Thank you for your inspiration.

My Mother – Edelgard Coen – Celebrating her 7th year as a survivor!  Yay!
My Aunt -  Cathy Curcio – who is now supporting me from heaven
Tanya Cheche – lost her battle but continues to inspire me
My father-in-law Ron Finkner - celebrating being a 9 year survivor from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Gina Woolfson – a friend who’s currently fighting her battle and I wish to support any way that I can
Donnie Smith – an old friend from High School that has just went through his battle, and is newly in remission!  Woohoo!
Bridget – an inspiring woman who has been fighting her battle for many years, who spoke at the 3 Day Event last year and shared her story with us.  – Diagnosed at 21 with stage 4, and is still with us and fighting today!!!  And walking in the 3 Day yet again!
Taylor – a young woman fighting for her life right now, and only 23 yrs old with 3 different types of cancer.  She has spent most of this year in the hospital having chemo and many surgeries, and without even trying she has touched hundreds of lives across the country.  Just go to the link from my page on blogs I follow and look up Team 15%!  You will learn to believe!

Please help us by donating on our behalf.  I have my minimum to walk already, but I would love for you to still donate to my team mates who need their minimums to participate.  You can donate by clicking on the following:
Lauren's 3 Day donation page
Pam's 3 Day donation page

Monday, May 2, 2011

The month of 5 fundraisers... Whew!!!

What an exhausting month it has been for me, and for some of my team mates.  We somehow were able to do 5 fundraisers in 1 month.  It has taken a lot of late nights working and preparing, but it has gotten us closer to our goal!
Actually, when I think about it, it's more like 51/2 fundraisers...  We had to do the Joe Corbi pizza deliveries too!!  So here's how the whirlwind month of April went for us!

1)  The mall - well I've already written about our experience doing the treadmill fundraiser in the mall.  So if you missed that one you can always go back to my last blog to read the details on this one.  It was quite an experience!  This one took a lot of preparation work, but it was really fun!

Next is my 2nd 1/2 of a fundraiser)  We had sold Joe Corbi pizzas to our friends and families, and it was definitely a hit.  You should have SEEN the stacks of pizzas delivered in my living room!  It took a while but we got them all delivered.  And... drum roll please...  we EACH got a $100 toward our fundraising accounts, just from selling pizza!  I will absolutely do this one again!  

2)Walmart Day - Well I managed to do it again, somehow I bring bad weather each and every time that I set up in front of Walmart.  So as not to break tradition, it was once again 50 degrees and rainy that morning...  So we did not sell a lot of our handmade items (who wants to check out what we have for sale in the rain?) though we did sell a few, but again the generous donations of the patrons of Walmart did not disappoint us.  

Pam L  and Lauren at our table
3) Texas Roadhouse Dine-out Nite - What a HUGE success!!!  We haven't even gotten the total from the restaurant to see how much the 10% of sales raised, but just the table we were allowed to set up on a busy Thursday night in the restaurant did an amazing amount of sales, our best yet!!!  We couldn't be more pleased with how this fundraiser went, and with the staff of Texas Roadhouse that worked that night and showed up in their pink shirts!  Except for the work printing and handing out flyers and making our wares to sell, this fundraiser did not require a lot of effort, and raised a very decent amount of donation money.  Not only WOULD we do this fundraiser again, but I believe we are doing it again this year!  Thank you Texas Roadhouse!!!!
Me at Texas Roadhouse

4) Next was our bake sale table in front of Smokey's restaurant.  We did it on a Friday night, so as to get as many people as we could, even though 2 of our team members couldn't make it.  We saw a lot of people and sold a decent amount of baked goods, but I don't think we really made enough to make it worthwhile, since it takes a lot of effort to bake all those different things and package them in pink cellophane topped in pink ribbons...  So I believe we've agreed to do 1 more bake sale for 2 of the team members that really wanted to do another one, then we are done with the bake sales.  It's fun and raises awareness, but in the end just doesn't raise enough money when you need to raise $11,500 for your team!

Pam and Lauren at the Four Seasons table
5) Four Seasons Yard Sale Day - Our last fundraiser of the month was at a gym/ fitness/ family complex, where they sell tables/spaces on their huge "front lawn" for people to use as a  yard sale or vendor space.  We were disappointed because we thought with the beautiful weather and all the other yard sales going on in the area that we would have a phenomenal turn out.  Sadly,  that was not the case.  But we chalk it up to experience, and now we know.  Yard sale days are not the best venues for us...

Well some more lessons learned and lot more money raised, we are looking to our big events in the next few months to finish off our fundraising...  hopefully...