Monday, May 7, 2012

On the fundraising front . . .

This weekend turned out to great weekend for me on the fundraising side of things. I wearily started out Saturday morning before the sun came up to join the GTCC yard sale in Jamestown. It turned out to be a great investment. After spending a full week gathering items from multiple households, cleaning and pricing things with much help (thanks Cindy and Mom!) - I headed off with a trailer and carload full of treasures to unload onto someone else. After much ado to get across town with coffee in hand and a friend eagerly awaiting my arrival (note the sarcasm font), we unloaded and had things selling before they barely made it out of the car! It was a great morning that turned out a profit of $215! Jenn you're a rockstar for getting up so early and entertaining me!
After that great adventure on Saturday (and a nap on the couch), I quickly shifted gears to cleaning and setting up for a relaxing spa fundraiser. Thanks to consultant Deborah Hunt for her expertise in BeautiControl. We had a small gathering of family and friends to check out the new margarita products. They smelled so good you just wanted to imagine yourself on the beach soaking up the sun. After all the pampering was finished, Deborah made a $50 donation from all the sales. I can't share enough thank yous to those who continue to support and encourage me. I continue to be blessed by so many surrounding me and uplifting my efforts. Thank you as we all continue to fight to find a cure! Happy stepping! Valerie

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring 2012 Training

It's been awhile since I joined back in the blogging fun. Jules took off for Seattle, we met up in Atlanta and somewhere in between we continued meeting some more amazing Pink People!! So we are back at it again for a new city and an old favorite. This year we hope Chicago will welcome us with good weather to walk in August and Atlanta will keep us humble as we crew and work all hours in October.

I am continuously honored by my survivors through their unconditional generosity and support. I have to share one with you. She smiles at me daily down the hall and supports me with her words telling me how amazing it is that I walk such distances. This has been another rebuilding year of sorts for her (literally and she looks fabulous!!!) She isn't made of money. She has a family to help support and yet she just gave me a gift card to help with getting a new pair of shoes for training. Now of course I'm all weepy, happily weepy no doubt.

My point being, I worry about the fundraising and the training and staying healthy and traveling and I constantly have my pink peeps on my mind - survivors, angels, fellow walkers, fellow crew, friends and family who help out. I never know how it will turn out until all the money is counted and my bags are packed, zipped and labeled with my name and tent number. I worry until glimpses of hope walk through my door and lift me up to say, take this, walk for me because I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

Julie, I'm borrowing your words: I am pro-cure. I walk for a future without breast cancer. I walk because I am able. I walk to support women and men like this who offer all they are in return for a healthy life.

Here's to a healthy 2012 training season!
Val

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What all 3-Day walkers know & what I wish potential donors understood

My boss shared an article with my fellow employees and I recently. It's a copy of an opinion piece titled Use wealth to make a difference in another person's life by S. Truett Cathy, published in the July 15, 2011 edition of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Here's the link to the article, though you have to be a paid subscriber to read the entire thing.  http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2011/07/15/use-wealth-to-make-a-difference-in.html In case you don't know who S. Truett Cathy is, he's the guy who founded this little eatery we in Atlanta like to call Chick-fil-a. (Home to funny cows, delicious chicken, and the seasonal miracle-in-a-cup called the Peach Milkshake. yum) He's also, in my opinion, a philanthropist of the highest order. He and his company and foundations give millions of dollars annually to charities and scholarships. I've heard his son, Dan, speak. In my opinion, they are a humble and decent family...they're good people. Anyway, it's a good piece, and it's not-so-subtly used to plug his new book Wealth: Is It Worth It. (here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Wealth-Worth-S-Truett-Cathy/dp/1929619405/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311695171&sr=1-1 )

Here are the bits I highlighted:

"If I were allowed only one answer to the question "wealth, is it worth it?" it would be this: "Yes, if you give it generously." Don't wait until you can afford it to start giving. Start right now enjoying that wonderful feeling we have experienced when we share our resources."

"The lesson I took away from my conversation with Warren Buffett was another reminder to me that for wealth to be worth it, you have to give it away. Warren and I talked over the phone a good bit. During our conversation Warren said to me that "wealth is having enough. When you've got enough, you ought to start seeing that other people have enough."" 

Now Truett Cathy and Warren Buffett have a little bit more money than I do. And that's ok. We can't all be successful entrepreneurs. I'm quite happy with being a good mom and a 3-day walker, even though I have an empty-ish wallet. Because I believe what Truett says in the article is true, "Material wealth cannot buy honor or happiness, and a title based on the size of my assets is the last thing I desire."  And the take-away from Warren Buffett's comment is that wealth doesn't mean billions or even millions in the bank...it just means what's left over when you've got the bases covered. Under that definition, even I'm wealthy! 

So my plea is this: Please! People of all wealth, share your good fortune with others. You don't have to be rich to give. You just have to have something worth giving! Give your time, give your blood, give your clothes or give your money. Please. Just Give!

I'll leave you with one last quote from Mr. Cathy's article: "Wealth in the hands of people who are filled with the right virtues can make a powerful, positive difference in the world." 

So, my virtuous readers. What will your difference be?

Have a great day! Happy walking and blessings to you all!
Love- Julie

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pink Pic Monday

This Pink Pic Monday is dedicated to all the 3-Day walkers who have recently begun training for their walks and—with the arrival of Spring and sunshine—are planning for some nice, long, outside training walks. Take a lesson from me and don't forget your sunscreen!! 

Case in point:

In the words of Niblette: Owie.
...someone please pass the aloe!!

Yesterday I went to a Braves baseball game with @kscincotta and her hubs, and their friend JT. As we all piled into the car to head to the ballpark for a pre-game tailgate we were talking about our sunscreen. Everyone except me had already liberally applied their high-SPF sunscreen, and I had mine packed to put on. And I did...on my face, my arms, my legs and even feet (no silly shoe tan lines for me!). But as you can tell, I missed my neck. I thought I was doing so good until Kristen pointed out my bright pink neck. Then when I got home last night I noticed that a few of the folks in my Twitter feed had also imbibed in a little too much Vitamin D exposure and were lamenting their pain and overly pink skin tones.

So what does my ballpark burn and my Twitter feed have to do with my fellow 3-day walkers? Just this: There is more than one type of cancer my fellow Pink People! ...and when I say "Pink People" I mean Komen for the Cure Pink, *not* sunburn pink.

As 3-Day'ers we work hard every day to walk, fundraise, and raise awareness for breast cancer. But as our training season begins, in addition to our breast cancer statistics, please also remember this one: According to the CDC, Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. In 2007, more than 58,000 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, and 8,461 people died. Please remember those numbers and then liberally apply sunscreen and don't forget to reapply as needed.

In other words, be Pink!...not pink. (ow)

Happy walking Pink People!!
Love & Blessings-
Julie

Skin Cancer Prevention Tips from the CDC:
(source: www.CDC.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/prevention.html)
• Use sunscreen w/SPF 15 or higher and both UVA & UVB protection
   - Reapply if out in the sun more than 2 hours or you're swimming or sweating (hello walkers!!) 
   - Sunscreen expires & looses effectiveness when exposed to high temps. Check your bottles, and if in doubt, just buy new. 
• wear clothing to protect exposed skin
• wear a hat made from tightly woven fabric w/a brim all the way around to shade your neck. If you opt for a baseball cap, be sure to protect your ears and neck w/clothing or good slather of sunscreen. 
• wear sunglasses that wrap around & block as close to 100% of both UVA & UVB rays as possible 
• seek shade, especially during midday hours 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pink Pic Friday

Yeah, so I hope I can get better at this regular blog post thing...especially the Pink Pic Fridays because they're just so darn fun! :-)

Today's entry: the fresh new design for Team Twitter Seattle. My teammate Nicole and I have come to the decision that the official Team food is ice cream. So I wanted to honor this most awesome bit of deliciousness in our team "logo". I hope you like!
Learn more about Team Twitter Seattle (or register to join the team!) at the3day.org/goto/teamtwitterseattle .

I need to extend some special thanks to some of the 3-Day Tweeps who graciously offered advice along the design process. Thanks to Nicole, Abby, Abbie, Laura, Pam, Kristen, Allie, and Paula. You girls rock!

If anyone can walk and talk ~ it's you Jules!

Jules~ once again well written and ditto! I don't mean to steal your words but yes, me too thus, I share this letter from another Girl Scout friend of mine. She is surviving making every day a new day. She is a retired teacher, a mom, a wife, a beautiful spirit and most importantly a SURVIVOR!! Walk with this story in your heart and fight on sister!
Val

Hello to Everyone,
Today was a CELEBRATION DAY! I have finished thirty-five radiation treatments. The last seven treatments were “booster” treatments to the scar area to zap any cancer cells left. (I don’t see how anything could be left.) Those of you who have had radiation know what it is like. My skin on my back, chest and under my arm is very red. Think of your worst sunburn ever and that pretty well tells you what my skin is like. Some skin has peeled and burned again and then peeled and burned again. I have a rash sort of like sun poisoning. It itches and burn cream helps that. (Thank goodness for Biafine.) There will be about 9-12 weeks total of burning. Dr. Sears told me today I will get a little more redder on my collar bone and chest before my skin starts to heal. The healing process should start in the next few weeks.

It will take a while before my energy level returns to “normal”. I do pretty well in the morning but I get very tired in the afternoons. Most days a short nap will perk me up and some days it takes a longer nap. I didn’t realize that some dizzy spells I have had can be caused by the radiation. The muscles at the back of my neck are sore also. I’m sure that is because of the burning. The nerve endings in my scar area will take quite a while to heal, up to a year. I hope not that long, because it feels like an electrical shock each time it happens. I know the effects of the chemotherapy may take up to a year to completely go away. Most of the terrible metallic is gone. Hopefully my hearing will return in my right ear. Right now, it is muffled. I am no longer wearing a wig. My hair is about an inch and a half long. Thank goodness for spring and warmer temperatures. I may be finished with chemo and radiation but the healing continues on.

A friend has told me there was a “ME” before cancer. There was another “ME” during treatments. And now there is still a “ME” for after treatments. The old “normal” is not the new “normal”. My body has gone through several big changes with the surgeries, chemo, and radiation. I will have to find out what a new “normal” feels like because the old normal is gone. For each cancer patient, that normal is not the same, nor does it happen in the same amount of time.

I am certainly not the same person I was before cancer. Cancer has a way of making you realize what is important and who is important in your life. Before cancer, a day was just another day. Now every day is a blessing. I am thankful for each sunrise because that means I get to live and love for another day. My birthday in February was very special. Last June when I got my diagnosis, I was not sure I would see another birthday. I may not have the most productive day every day, but I am aware of how special that day is. You can’t take your health for granted. Your health can change in a blink of an eye.Please get those mammograms and other needed tests as well as doing self exams. Who would have ever thought I would have breast cancer? I certainly didn’t.
From May 25th until today is almost ten months. What a war I have fought! It has not been just one battle, but many, many battles. Cancer is not something I would ever wish on my very worst enemy. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to have fought this fight. I have met some absolutely amazing men and women during this ten month time. They face cancer of all types and all stages with a smile and a determination to do whatever it takes to fight and win. I have heard young women and mothers with little kids and older women share their stories in the Locker Room as we get ready for our treatments. One thing we all have in common other than cancer is faith… faith in ourselves, faith in our doctors, faith in the technicians, and most importantly faith in God. I have been so fortunate to have had such remarkable and amazing doctors, nurses, technicians, schedulers, nurse navigators (who constantly checked on me), the supportive people at Cancer Services and the Susan G. Komen NC Triad affiliate. I have shared tears, words of encouragement, and glorious hugs with all of them. There is strength in numbers.
What has happened has happened. I can not change the past. I can only look forward to the future. WE don’t know what the future will bring. I have made the right decisions for me. I will have regular checkups every three months. April 13th is my next one. Hopefully if cancer rears its ugly head again, we can catch it in an early stage.
I can’t begin to thank family and friends for their support during this trying time. Steve and the girls have been wonderful. Steve didn’t miss a chemo or radiation treatment. He has spent so much time waiting for me to finish a doctor’s visit, a treatment, or just waiting for me to wake up from a nap. He has been so patient and kind. What else would you expect from “SUPER STEVE”!!! Becky and Julie, my sisters the nurses, went with me to doctors’ visits to take notes. The doctor talked but sometimes Steve and I didn’t hear what they were saying so it helped to have someone tell us later what we needed to know. Thanks for your phone calls, emails, and cards. They meant the world to us. To know you are thought of is a great soul warmer. The prayers you said helped in my cancer survival. For that I can never, ever thank you enough.
Barbara

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I walk the Walk, but can I talk the talk?

I have a confession to make. I know very little about breast cancer.

First, this especially pitiful considering I took an entire class in college that focused strictly on breast cancer.

Tangent: Let me take this moment to apologize to my professor…who is a survivor. I am a horrible student of biology (a horrible student in general really, but let’s not go there), I have a terrible memory (probably why I’m a bad student?), and she deserved better than my forgetful butt in her class. But taking her class was one of my very early steps along my road to the 3-Day, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Second, as a 3-Day walker, I think that I should know better. And know more. I’m honestly embarrassed to admit that I don’t know anything beyond the “1 in 8 women will be diagnosed” statistic.

Here’s what’s been happening to make me go down this path. I work with a wonderful woman, Nancy, who has donated to my walks each and every year. On Monday, Nancy stopped at my desk and said, “Thank you for walking. One of my good friends just learned that she has breast cancer and I know that the work you do will save her life.” And then Nancy and I talked a bit about her friend…and this is where I think I may have failed Nancy. Because as she started talking about her friend’s diagnosis and what she was going through, I found myself faking my way through the conversation. Not because I didn’t want to have it, but because I didn’t understand the terms that Nancy was using.

Nancy said, “She is between stages 2 and 3.”  
And I thought, “Well is it 2 or 3? Can it be both? What do the stages really mean, anyway?”

Nancy said, “She saw the surgeon, and she’s going to have 18 weeks of chemotherapy, then the surgery, and then probably radiation. Why are they doing it in that order?”
I thought, “I have no idea.”

Nancy is literally coming to me for answers and I don’t have any. She knows I’m not a doctor…she’s not expecting me to spew information on research and facts and drugs. But she knows I’m a Walker, and so she expects that I should be able to talk to her about these basic things. And I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation.

Thankfully I have some very knowledgeable friends on twitter who were able to come to my rescue (thanks @kscincotta!) and now Nancy is feeling better. But I’m feeling pretty darn bad. I want to know more!

So, here's what I propose to do. I am going to try my hand at being a student again. I'm not going to register for any classes, but when I hear a story on the radio I'm going to go online and read more about it. When I get the Komen newsletters, I'm going to read all the stories. If I don't understand a word, I'll Google it, or I'll call on my Twitter friends to help me out again. And then I'll share with you what I learn.

I'm done being ashamed because I don't know it all. And I am going to stop knowing nothing. In this fight against breast cancer, knowledge is power. It's time to be powerful.
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