Archive for May, 2013

We live in a genuinely good world. People want to help each other. They care. I truly believe this. What, you don’t agree? Just look around!

I’ve spent the last hour watching the stories of Oklahoma. The caring, courage and strength shown by everyone from those teachers who did all they could to protect the students huddled with them in the bathrooms to the strangers rushing to the sites just to help anyone they could is awe-inspiring. Then The Voice opened with a somber message for Oklahoma, followed by a special tribute performance by Blake Shelton (who is from Oklahoma) and Miranda Lambert, with the words “To help disaster victims, please donate at redcross.org or call 1-800 HELP NOW” across the bottom of the screen.


I have loved ones in Oklahoma, family and friends I immediately worried about as soon as I heard what was happening, so I posted a message on Facebook. Now the site is flooded with pictures, status updates and prayers for all those in Oklahoma – and I know many of those who posted don’t personally know a soul in the state of Oklahoma. But they care.

On my way home tonight I got a call from my oldest Goddaughter. She was bursting with excitement over her day. She is a sophomore in high school and is involved with Best Buddies, a program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They participated in the Special Olympics today and, as if that wasn’t excitement enough, the Franklin Police Department gave them a formal escort back to the school (“Just like celebrities!” she gushed) and then practically the entire school was outside to welcome them back and congratulate the Best Buddies. That’s just nice.

And people don’t just support each other verbally – they open their wallets, too. More than $30 million has been raised so far for One Fund Boston, to help the families of those killed and most seriously injured in the bombings at the Boston Marathon, barely a month ago. $30 million. That’s amazing.

But money can’t buy everything. Dana-Farber recently interviewed me for one of their publications. (This is the blog written based on the full article.) They wanted to know why I agreed to donate tissue. For me, it was a no brainer. Why in the world would I say no? Working for Genzyme, I know the importance of research and clinical trials. I was going to be in surgery anyway, so why not let them take a little more, so hopefully it will lead to improved treatments or even a cure. It won’t hurt me and could help others. Take extra tissue, extra blood, whatever can help!

None of this is unusual. This is every day life. People are genuinely good. They want to help. Don’t let the bad overshadow the good. See the sun through the clouds. Be the change you want to see in the world – lead the way and lend a helping hand (or tissue) when you can. You never know whose life it could someday save: yours, your son’s or your future grandchild’s …


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When I’m tired, I am indecisive. And I can’t stand it when people are indecisive – definitely one of my pet peeves. This has been a very long week – lots of early mornings and late nights. And lots of eating during those early mornings and late nights, and no time for exercise (except walking to and from work yesterday). That adds up to being tired and feeling fat. Not a great combination.

So last night I was supposed to go for drinks for my friend Andrew’s birthday – at 9 p.m. Ordinarily that would’ve been perfect, but not after this week. The feeling fat and stressed was winning out so I texted Andrew my apologies and said I was going to yoga. At least with the walk home and to and from yoga and the stretching with yoga I’d feel like I was moving in the right direction.

What I didn’t count on was being delayed leaving work, then getting home too late to get changed and walk to yoga. So I went to plan B – go for a brief run. I was really dragging, but at least I’d get some exercise in, which is always better than none. I got into
my running clothes, laced up my sneakers, found my gym boss and … I made the HUGE mistake of sitting down on my bed to reply to some texts that had just come in. And then I leaned back. Before you knew it, there I was, head to toe in running gear, fast asleep.

I woke up around 11 pm to a text from Nick. I responded, took my sneakers off and crawled back into bed. Clearly I needed sleep!

Third time’s the charm, right? And for me, it was. I hopped out of bed this morning, ready for a good run! The sun was shining, and hey – I was already dressed for a run! I threw my sneakers back on, grabbed my phone and headphones, and out the door I went.

And then I was pleasantly surprised by one of my neighbors. I stopped by my car to grab my sunglasses and as I closed the door, he walked toward me. We exchanged hellos and then he said he was glad to hear I was sticking around. A bit confused how he knew I was moving at all, I simply said thank you and started to point to my new apartment when he said the number. Heck, he probably knew I had the place before I did! I was surprised because I didn’t think I was noticed here, and then he really shocked me:

“You always inspire me,” he said.

“Huh?” I responded (eloquent, I know).

“Whenever my back is aching and I don’t want to move, I think of you and how you keep going, and know I can, too.”

“Thank you – I’m so glad,” I bumbled, amazed he even knew anything about me. But I guess the fact that I moved in with long brown hair, then it was cut, then shaved, then wigs, then bald, and now short brown hair – I guess maybe some of my neighbors noticed. Hard to miss at some points.

So we smiled, wished each other good days and headed on our separate ways. And that brief encounter made my day. It reminded me that whether people acknowledge you or not, there’s always someone watching – and sometimes appreciating – what you do. And today it made me thankful that I fell asleep last night and ended up with plan C.

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Friday night I attended the Birds and All That Jazz fundraiser at Tara’s Mass Audubon Sanctuary, Oak Knoll, in Attleboro. It was a relaxing evening of music and mingling (and food and wine), all in the name of charity. (What girl doesn’t love a reason to get dressed up – especially when there’s wine and chocolate involved? See pictures below. ) And luckily, it was a beautiful night, with a warm breeze and what I now know were tree frogs (not birds, as I originally thought), providing a natural soundtrack to the event. I was talking with a few people who commented how much of a better turnout the event had this year, when it occurred to me that I didn’t attend in 2012. I looked quizzically at Kevin and asked “Why wasn’t I here last year?” and he gave me one of those knowing, smiling, “Duh, Amy” looks. Oh yea. Because I got cancer. I looked at the woman next to me, shook my head and simply said “It doesn’t matter. But I certainly would’ve rather been here.”

I missed last spring. Completely. I really don’t remember it. In my mind, it jumped from cold February to warm July. My spring was finding the lump, diagnosis, breast cancer 101, Dana-Farber, surgery at Brigham and Women’s, the start of treatment and my grandfather passing away. It was a gut-wrenching, often medicated, blur.

It makes this spring that much more special. I have always loved spring – it’s the time when things come alive and can begin again. And I am so ready to begin again! I had my first official check-up at Dana-Farber with my oncologist and all seems well. It’s a little anticlimactic, as they don’t really do any tests – it’s just making sure you’re not having any symptoms, and if not, assuming all is fine. (Yes, a big leap of faith – something where you really just need to take deep breaths, remain calm and positive, and pray.)

And all is basically fine. I am having a flair-up of lymphedema, and will call to make an appointment with my physical therapist, but in the meantime have been doing the exercises and wearing the glove and sleeve (even though I can’t stand them) most of the time. Otherwise, all seems ok. The side effects of the Tamoxifin have subsided – not many hot flashes any more – and while the chemo side effects of tingling in my hands and feet continue, I’m now trying a B-complex vitamin to see if it will help. And of course I’m tired – but I can hardly blame the cancer or treatment on that, at least not completely. Nothing is limiting my work or other activities and I am very thankful for that!

My hair is growing, and normal life is resuming. I know that I am blessed. And I am going to cherish this spring and take advantage of beginning again…462395_500062926715477_494659541_o 302907_10201073312822099_616309187_n girls birds

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