Monday, January 16, 2012

The dream of being cancer free

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't mention breast cancer in his famous speech decades ago but I have no doubt that treating "all men equal" meant providing them health care and finding a cure.  I've heard cancer called the "equalizer".  It doesn't discriminate.   So why should finding a cure? 

I don't normally get on a political rant, at least not on this blog, so today you'll need to excuse me if it offends you.  Living the dream and seeing the Promise Land means having the same ability to get treatment and care for cancer as the person next door with better insurance and a bigger savings account.  This is America after all.  We are to treat all as equals here.  Finding a cure through treatment or drugs or genetic testing shouldn't be limited to one group of people who can afford it.  Their lives are no more valuable then anyone elses.  This must be available for all people if we're going to live out the Dream Dr. King spoke of. 

This is why I walk.  This is why I believe in Komen.  Komen sees everyone the same.  At the 3day, I never find myself thinking about anyone else's money or whether they deserve more than someone else.  We're all in it together.  Kindness really does rock.  I've heard it called the "pink bubble", but maybe it's time we bring our entire worlds into the bubble instead of letting it burst when we leave.  How do we do that?  We keep walking, keep giving, keep voting for leaders that will fight for all of us to have that dream, for all of us who "deserve a lifetime".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Learning to accept help

One of the greatest lesson I learned during my first 3Day was to accept help.  It's fair to say I'm bad at asking for help and even worse at accepting help from others whether I've asked for it or not.  I've known this about myself most of my adult life and have just come to accept it.  Until the Tampa 3Day that is.  The story below is one I tell and type with tears in my eyes.  It changed my life and for that I'm forever thankful. 

My feet didn't hold up so well during the 3Day.  What I'd do different for my feet will be covered in future blog posts.  Suffice to say, I was in a lot of pain.  So much so that I would walk a while and then take one of the sweep vans (a topic also to be covered in future blog posts) to the rest stop then walk a while longer.  It was a very long journey to the finish line.

In true Komen style, the finish line was nothing short of amazing.  Near Tampa's amazing bay and lined with people and ribbons and cheering fans I started the journey to the finish line.  I was exhausted and every step felt like I could just scream.  My feet had moved from pain to numb back to horrible pain.  But I was determined.  I was going to cross that finish line if it killed me.  After all, it was the moment I'd played in my head throughout my training.

As I entered the tunnel of people and cheering supporters I was trying not to look at anyone.  Tears were pouring down my cheeks and I was honestly embarrassed to be in such bad shape (Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds).  As I limped along, a woman I'd never seen in my life came along my left side, wrapped her arm around me and said, "Lean on me.  I got this.  We'll get there together".  With her help I walked about a third of the tunnel of people.  Then another woman came to my right side, wrapped her arm around me and said to the woman on my left, "I got her.  I'll take it from here." and she walked me another third of the way.  Then there was a third woman who got me through the tunnel of people doing yet the same thing.  It felt like I was in a made for TV movie or something.  Simply one of the finest moments of my life.

What a great lesson on accepting help from others.  I'm a prideful person, I'll admit that.  Ironically, I'm not a judgmental person and am very generous.  Basically I believed, "It's ok for me to give you help or for you to accept help from others, its just not ok for me.  I must be stronger.  I must be tough.  I must not bother anyone else with my needs"  I realize now how far back this attitude held me.  Even through my success personally and professionally I felt like I was taking the hard road.  Of course I was! I was going it alone! 

Now I see that others are in your life for a reason and that reason is to bring both lessons and laughter.  We've heard Oprah say it over and over again that God speaks to you with a whisper and if you don't listen he gets louder and louder until the lesson you need to learn just hits you.  Clearly, I didn't listen to the whispers of accepting help so God finally had to turn to my blistered broken down feet for me to see what was so important.

Today, I am more patient with myself and I'm even more generous with my giving to others because I understand the importance of accepting others' generosity.  One more way the Komen 3Day changed me forever.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Team work

When I brought up the idea of completing a 2nd Komen 3Day, my husband quickly reminded me that I said I would never do it again.  Ironically, he was in full support of me doing another 3Day but was honoring the promise he made to me after the Tampa event to "never let me commit to that again".  Certainly a tough spot for someone who wants to support me in everything I do.

As we began to talk through it, the idea of starting a team was born.  I was fortunate enough to be a part of "Thanks for the Mammories" in Tampa because a coworker of my walking partner, Sylvia, was on that team.  They took us in and helped us through the entire race.  Being part of a team was a great experience and one I'm thankful for.  So we started a Fort Wayne team. 

Team "Fort Cure" will participate in the Chicago 3Day this August (the team is open so anyone can join us).  Any walker knows that the steps you take are yours and yours alone.  Only you can cross that finish line.  Much like fighting cancer, the journey is one that only you can complete.  However, being a part of something bigger than your own struggles makes the journey worth it.  Having a friend to lean on and cheer you on and encourage you to take that next step in the walk or your treatment makes all of the difference. 

My hope for "Fort Cure" is that we build each other up through training and fundraising.  We encourage one another, listen to one another, give advice, and even a little push from time to time.  We'll all finish at our own pace and we'll all have our own stories to tell.  If those memories include my amazing team mates than it will be a good year. 

Friday, January 6, 2012


Luckily, the Chicago 3Day is still 8 months away.  This gives me time to build some endurance before the walking actually begins.  Since I originally said I was never doing that again, 2011's workouts weren't as strong as 2010's to say the least.  So now I'm building back up. 

Building endurance has reminded me of the importance of building internal endurance daily as well.  We seem to believe that when something stressful or difficult or horrible strikes in our lives (like breast cancer) we should just be able to handle it.  That how we handle it shows strength of character and if we handle it badly it must mean we're weak.  Even as I type that I realize how nuts that sounds and yet I've been guilty of that regularly.

Inner strength and character isn't something we're born with.  It's something we build upon.  It's something we prepare for by taking care of ourselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  By building ourselves up daily we prepare ourselves for the tough stuff & equip ourselves to enjoy the good stuff more.  It still doesn't mean we'll handle that bad stuff exactly as we would hope but we're better equipited to find hope and courage when we've built ourselves up one step at a time.  So join me in building yourself up regardless of what others say or do or think.  I, for one, believe in both of us.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Just take one more step

I give my fair share of speeches and presentations to various groups.  My favorite presentation to give is titled "What 3 Days and 60 miles taught me".  It's simply about what completing the 3Day taught me about myself.  So I thought I'd share some of these lessons here on the blog. 

As we fight the winter blahs here in the Midwest and return to work after our holiday breaks, the lesson that comes to mind is, "Just take one more step."  My feet blistered horribly during my first 3Day teaching me another lesson about socks, but we'll get to that later.  I'll admit there were moments where I was talking myself into taking the next step.  My feet hurt!  But I took one step, then another, then another and it all came together. 

I'm reminded of that this morning as we're headed back to work (no one in my house is overjoyed by this) and realize that sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other.  I don't have to have it all figured out.  I've created my plan, I've put the plan in place and now I'm taking one step at a time to execute it.  Often we get so concerned about crossing the finish line that we forget about the individual steps we take. 

Training for my first 3Day I would often visualize crossing the finish line & what it would feel like to complete this monumental task in my life.  Don't get me wrong, that moment was incredible.  Surprisingly, it wasn't my favorite part.   My favorite moment probably came when I walked with a woman I didn't know who was struggling on Day 3 as bad as I was.  We began walking together and talking and taking our minds off of the pain.  Every time one of us would wince, the other would say "just one more step.  just take one more step".  Funny that I don't even know her name and barely remember her face.  What I know is that a year and half later, I recall that mile we walk together with tears in my eyes.  On a bad day or a day where I lack motivation, I think of her and take just one more step.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Making training a priority

A lot has changed since I did the 2010 3 Day. With a new job, new family, and new commitments in my community I'm realizing that training is going to have to be a scheduled priority in my life. It's one more way the 3day helps us feel (even if at a minimal level) what it's like to go through cancer treatment. Life does have to change and you do have to make taking care of yourself a priority. Oh how different life would be if I could remember that all of the time!

So I'm working at scheduling in my workouts and juggling all of the other priorities that come wth training and leading a team. This year I'm sticking close to the Komen 3 Day training program which means I'll start that program Feb. 26. Until then I'm building my cardio strength and have added strength training to my workout routine. Last year I also changed how I ate going to mostly organic foods and giving up my beloved Diet Coke. I don't miss the processed foods but there are days when I really miss Diet Coke. Most days I'm fine but there are those days.

So until Feb 26, I'll be strength training with a small amount of cardio on Monday and Friday with all cardio Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. My hope is to build my endurance for 3 days at a time and build muscle on the other days. Fingers crossed!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Time for round 2

Never say never. If I learned anything in 2011 that was it. Never say never.

When I stepped off the plane from the Tampa 3Day, I said the 3Day was a "bucket list" (I hate that term) type of event for me and I'd never do it again. Well, never has arrived. In August, I will complete my 2nd Komen 3 Day for the Cure. The Chicago 3 Day to be exact. This time, with a team of rockstars.

Part of me says I can't believe I'm doing it while another part of me says I can't believe I didn't do it last year. I can say I honestly missed training, blogging, and focusing on the goal. It was good to take a year off and rest. Now I know for sure that it's what I really want to do. I'm stronger mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically when I train for an event like this. My focus is bette and my committment to myself stays priority #1.

Plus, I've learned a few lessons with a 3day under my belt. #1 Keep track of your socks. I lost mine in a move shortly before the race and my feet really paid the price. #2 Walk in a similar climate you train in. Because my long training walks were in Indiana and the walk was in Tampa, I really felt the effects of the heat on my feet. #3 Train with someone at least part of the time. It was good to have some alone time on my walks but I'm to social to train for the entire thing on my own. That's why I'm forming a team this year.

"Fort Cure" as we're calling it is open for anyone to join. I'm encouraging everyone to start building their cardio strength and then we'll start of the 6 month training program Komen gives us. (I LOVE all of the tools they provide for us!) I'll be blogging again about our experiences as a team and about this new Pink Goal as well.

And for those of you wondering what I was doing this past year. Well, I married that incredible man I met while training for the 2010 3Day and we're settling into our lives in Indiana. I'm now a "momish" to an amazing 14 year old boy from my husband's first marriage and have been speaking to various groups on motivation and what I learned from my first 3day experience. For more on our lives as urbanites living in the country's biggest small town you can check out our blog at: