Archive for September, 2012

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Yes, today was the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. And while for the past several weeks, we’ve been fundraising as much as possible (thank you, thank you, thank you to EVERYONE who donated!!!!), the walk is not just about money. It’s about people. Dana-Farber and The Jimmy Fund know that – that’s why they had patient and doctor quotes all over the place, from start to finish. And they highlighted a patient at every mile marker. Our team, Amy’s Victorious Secret (Heather named it – and had the shirts made), wanted to highlight people, too. We did that by decorating (thanks to Heather’s mom, Diane, and her love of craft materials) the backs of those very pink shirts with names.

So many names came to mind. Diane, Heather, Amanda, Jennene and I sat around Diane’s dining room table (after eating a fabulous feast for which we also had Diane to thank) trying the fabric markers, arranging stickers and trying not to smudge the fabric paint as we shared the names we were adding to our shirts. And for some, the people and stories behind the letters on the shirts.

For me, it started with donations: some friends who donated were honoring loved ones by donating, and I wanted to recognize that, and honor them, too. Then there are those who, like me, are fighting right now (or recently) and I wanted them to know they are in my heart, mind and prayers, and that I am rooting for them. There are also names of people who fought their fights and won – and have shared their words of wisdom and been sources of inspiration for me. This was one more way I could say thank you. Finally, some of the names are family members or friends who have passed away and I wanted to remember them.

This was also about the people around me today: new friends like Amanda and Jennene; old friends like Kevin, Jeremy and Diane; and especially about Heather, who has been one of my dearest friends since we were in the fifth grade and wanted to be Solid Gold Dancers. Let me tell you about Heather…

Heather has been a source of inspiration for me since we were 10-years-old and she refused to listen to other kids on the playground when they told her I wasn’t cool and she shouldn’t play with me. She has always been true to herself, never caring what anyone else thinks. And because she has such an incredibly lovable and optimistic personality, everyone wants to be her friend. Heather has faced more physical trials than most people I know. We joked last night that not only shouldn’t we keep everyone up with our talking and giggling all night (we slept over Heather’s parents’ house, just like the old days), but we also shouldn’t have any late-night hospital visits! I’m afraid Heather used to have such bad asthma attacks, it wasn’t unusual for us to have to make a road trip in the middle of the night to make sure she was ok. During the day at school, we had to watch everything she ate – because as much as she loved food (and somehow never put on an ounce of weight), she was allergic to practically everything!

Then Heather was diagnosed with severe scoliosis. Not only did she have to wear a large plastic brace through much of high school, she also had to have multiple surgeries to have rods placed in her back (and fixed when they broke). I’ll never forget our conversations (often with our other best friend Nicole) about the future, and questioning if Heather would ever be able to have children or be able to dance again…

Well, not only did she have children, she married her high school sweetheart Jeremy (who I got her together with at a dance – he’s the tall one in the pictures), had four incredible children (including twin boys who are just starting college – and her two youngest are in the decorating photos above) and we spent our last birthdays dancing the nights away. No, she did not become a Solid Gold dancer: she became one of the best nurses in the industry. In fact, she is even teaching her first college course this year, sharing her knowledge with others.

Just about two years ago, we had a huge scare: Heather was in a bad car accident and broke her back. Amazingly, you would never know it today. In fact, last year she walked the full 26.2 mile Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk with Amanda. And this year, right after I was diagnosed, Heather asked if she could start a team for this year’s walk in my honor. How could I, why would I, say no? (Of course the picture she posted on the team site was another thing… 😉 )

Heather’s unstoppable energy, resilience and determination have been an inspiration to me the majority of my life. And no matter how much time goes by that we don’t talk, how busy our lives get, I know that she is always there for me – always has my back – and that when we get together, it won’t seem like a moment has passed.

Thank you for today, Heath, and for always being one of my angels on earth – love you!

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I’m watching – as I hope many of you are (or did, by the time you read this) – Stand Up 2 Cancer. I am in awe of all of the people featured. Their stories touch my soul – how could they not? I remember watching this last time it was on. And crying listening to the stories, as I am now. Of course, this year it hits home more than ever. But this is not about me. I am beating cancer RIGHT NOW. I will eventually be fine and live a long, happy life. This is about everyone with later stage cancers, about those who are just starting their fight, about those who will be diagnosed in the future. Possibly your mother, brother, aunt, son, best friend – you. I pray no, with all my heart, but if I’ve learned one thing in all of this, it’s that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. So please do what you can. Every penny really does count. And whether you donate to www.standup2cancer.org , to our team doing the Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk this weekend, to Tara running for Dana-Farber in October, to the American Cancer Society or to any cancer charity, you can know that you are helping to change the future, eliminate cancer forever and make it so no one has to lose a loved one to cancer ever again. Please join me and Stand up 2 Cancer!!! Thank you… xoxo

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This is going to sound so stupid. I feel so stupid…

I just got home after a very long day (I went out for a bit after work), and the first thing I mindlessly did was pull off my wig and toss it on the couch. I rubbed my head a million times, all over, as it was hot under all that hair! I then went about my business, flipping through the mail, checking my e-mail, glancing at facebook, grabbing some leftovers from the fridge.

My hunger subsided, I grabbed my book and headed to my bedroom. (Yes, welcome to my exciting life.) I threw the book on my bed, reached up to take my necklace off and turned to my bureau. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and froze for a minute before breaking down in tears. I forgot. I simply forgot I was bald.

All day long when I saw myself in a mirror, I had shoulder-length brown hair. As I walked tonight in Harvard Square and caught my reflection in the storefront windows, I saw myself with hair. All day it was annoying me, getting in my eyes and making me sweat in the humidity. I couldn’t wait to get home and tear it off my head. And even when I got home and did take it off, it still didn’t register in my mind what it actually meant until I saw myself in my bedroom mirror.

It’s been two months now. I shaved my head (because my hair was falling out so fast) on June 30. And I don’t think I will ever get used to it or actually like it. But sometimes I think it’s actually better for me just to be bald most of the time – to make myself get used to it. To force myself to face my reality. To remind myself that I actually am sick and I shouldn’t always push myself so hard, so I don’t overdo it. But I long to be normal so much that I can’t help but put on one of the wigs to play dress up and trick myself into thinking I am a regular thirty-something girl who just blends in with the crowd – not one who people stare at because they’re not used to seeing a bald woman.

I guess there is a time for both. A time for remembering and a time for forgetting. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much each time I’m jarred back from my fantasyland…

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