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Posts Tagged ‘Gove the Gift of Music’

Today was week 10 of Taxol. And it went very smoothly. Only two infusions: pepcid and Taxol, since I did well last week without any Benedryl or steroids. It makes it a quicker visit and I’m able to stay completely alert for the infusion. The port is working out well, although I was hoping it could come out right after the last infusion but it’s recommended I keep it in until after surgery in January. At least it’s not as tender any more so I can handle it bumping up against my boobs of steel until then…

There was another recommendation today, too: talk to the radiation team. I had decided not to do radiation for a number of reasons, but I never did meet with them after surgery. They never called and I didn’t call them. I know that’s pretty weak, and now that my doctor has pushed it, I will call and listen. It doesn’t mean I will definitely do it – I really, really don’t want to – but I will consider it. So while there are only two weeks to go with the Taxol, it may not be the end of treatment.

Nashville was a fabulous distraction. Tina has made it her mission to keep me distracted throughout this entire process and she certainly pulled off the ultimate distraction by winning this fabulous trip! We had such a good time, with so much packed into just a few days. It really was a once in a lifetime experience, thanks to Tina sharing our story, Give the Gift of Music and the Country Music Association.

Music has always been healing for me. Certain songs are like therapy. And for a country music fan, being back in Music City brought a rush of emotions. In part it felt kind of like I was back on the road trip, and brought me back to where I was in my life two years ago, thinking about the road I’ve taken (literally and figuratively) and how much things have changed, for better or worse. If I’d chosen to settle in xxxx, how would this story have gone? One thing I know for sure, I am so thankful I’m in Boston, for the incredible support network of friends and family, to be working at Genzyme and because of Dana-Farber. I know that some of the other parts of the country I considered moving to do not have anything that (at least in my mind) compares to the support and the care I am so lucky to have here.

Tina was a great balance of watching over me (reminding me to wear a mask on the plane so I didn’t get sick and going with a slower pace, including daily naps) and finding us fun things to do.  I was excited to go to a few places I didn’t get to see on my road trip, like the Loveless Cafe, The Country Music Hall of Fame and the inside of The Ryman. And then there were the shows…

The CMAs were simply awesome. We had great seats and you could feel the excitement vibrating throughout the arena. From the moment the lights dimmed and the live show began, it was more like a concert with a few awards sprinkled in than a typical awards show. We couldn’t have asked for a better show to see in person!

We returned to the arena two nights later to see another show: the taping of the CMA Country Christmas show, which will air on TV in late December. Many of the same artists performed, with a few new ones sprinkled in like John Legend and Colbie Caillett. What was really interesting was because this isn’t live, there was a ton of stop and starts, and some retakes, even of songs. So what will be a one hour show took about three hours to tape. We enjoyed every second!

And while this was a great distraction, there was no completely getting away from things. Nearly every place we went, someone would ask me if I was still in treatment or what it is that I have. You guessed it – I went bald (well, I have a bit of baby hair now, but basically bald) the whole time, so was a little hard to miss. Had I worn a wig, I highly doubt I would’ve had any of those interactions. And I would have missed out on talking to so many kind, caring people who have had cancer or a close loved one with it. Honestly, making those connections are the best part of this nightmare experience.

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Do you remember my August 28th entry, Friends are the Good Stuff? Well, that awesome letter Tina wrote has won us tickets to the 46th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville on November 1! (Luckily, I can travel with the port, now have the compression sleeve for traveling, and it fits in between chemo sessions. And we are going to just pray that the side effects don’t worsen too much, too fast, in the next few weeks….) As Tina put it, she’s taking her job of distracting me from all this cancer stuff to the next level! Here’s how she did it…

While Tina was visiting family in Oregon, she saw this contest:

NARM and RIAA — the creators of Give The Gift Of Music — have teamed up with CMA on a mission to find out how this year’s CMA Award nominees have inspired music lovers across the country. Each of these talented performers have been given a wonderful gift — the ability to put feelings and emotions into words to inspire others. They share these gifts willingly and now it is your turn to let these artists know how they have touched your lives.

Honestly, do you think there could be a more perfect contest for the letter Tina wrote? The entry was due at 11:59 p.m. the day she arrived home from Oregon. As soon as the girls were settled, she went to work and spent all night working on the submission, which she finally finished moments before the deadline. She didn’t say anything to me as she didn’t want to get my hopes up – who ever wins these things anyway?

Well, this time we know! Yesterday afternoon, Tina received the call: the judges unanimously selected her entry!!! Tina and I will be going to the CMA Awards on Nov. 1 – Yee haw!!!! I was in shock when I heard – think I still am. But I am incredibly thankful. I am always telling Tina she gave me the most incredible gift in the world by having my three beautiful Goddaughters, but she never thinks it’s enough. I do, but I agree this is a pretty awesome gift, too!!!

So what exactly did she spend all those hours on? An abbreviated version of our story, the part that ties to country music, and specifically Kenny and Tim:

Without hesitation, I would like to share a story about The Brothers Of The Sun Tour with artists Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw.  As Kenny Chesney is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, Music Video of the year and both Kenny and Tim are nominated for Musical Event of the Year, I feel that this is a good place to share the story about my best friend, Amy, and me. 
We are huge country music fans and have attended many concerts, however, none more so than that of Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw.  We have made it to every Kenny Chesney concert at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA, (the full five in a row) and to all of Tim McGraw’s concerts held at what is now called the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. This year, when it was announced that the artists would be touring together, we knew that this would be an event to remember and no matter what, we would be in that audience!  We had the tickets bought and were looking forward to August. 
Not long after the tickets were purchased, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been fighting it ever since.  Luckily, through a self-check she caught it fairly early and it is not the type of cancer where she would be facing death.  However, hearing the word ‘cancer’ feels like death and in my life it has meant death. I have lost an uncle as well as a close family friend to cancer.   Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed by her diagnosis.  Amy actually seemed to take the news better than I did and she even sent me a card two weeks after her diagnosis that sits on my desk and reads “Faith means not needing to see where you’re going to know you’ll get there safely.  You’re doing a great job at a very hard time in our lives. Even though you can’t see what lies ahead, please believe that we are safe and trust that everything WILL work out.” It struck me funny that here I am trying to be the strong one for her and here she is seeing my worry and found it important to encourage me and my strength. Simply put, she is an incredible and amazing woman.
We have been best friends, actually more like sisters, for twenty years.  We have raised each other up during our lows and have celebrated together all of our highs.  Although, Amy has a wonderful and supportive family, there have been many moments through her cancer journey that I have felt at a complete loss… What can I do to help? How can I be most supportive right now? Amy never complains, always puts a positive spin on everything and has used her cancer experience to share her journey with others candidly and honestly through her blog athttp://www.amysamerica.com/.  I had difficulty defining my own role in her journey at first, but concluded that it has seemed to be one of entertainment, distraction and just by being there for her.  I was able to be at the hospital during her double mastectomy and have been able to attend all but one of her chemo treatments thus far.
Although, the biggest distraction between March and August was the concert we were waiting for so eagerly. Amy had informed me that no matter how badly she was feeling, even if I had to carry her, she was going to make it to our concert of the year!  I bought her Kenny Chesney’s new album as soon as it came out and was able to give it to her during her wig fitting party. Music has always been a really big deal for us as it has helped us get through so many difficult times and this year is no different.  I think Kenny Chesney’s “Reality” has been our song of the year as we keep acknowledging the reality but constantly want to escape from it. So, I really latched on to the music and concert distraction.  In fact, I wrote two letters to her using the song titles of Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw to keep the distraction going:
Letter #1
MY OLD FRIEND,
                HEY NOW, as I sit here looking at a BLANK SHEET OF PAPER, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about ME AND YOU. This concert is seriously happening NOT A MOMENT TO SOON!  Unfortunately, MY LITTLE GIRLs are not nearly as excited about this concert, since they’re not going, but I just can’t wait for you to COME OVER!!!
               
The past few months I feel like I’ve been LIVING IN FAST FORWARD and have been feeling kinda ANGRY ALL THE TIME.  Last week, I was actually thinking, well, THERE GOES MY LIFE.  The silver-lining (as usual) is heading SOMEWHERE WITH YOU.  I love SUMMERTIME and our concerts.  Life seems to, once again, be THE ROAD AND THE RADIO and it appears that every FLIP FLOP SUMMER, YOU SAVE ME.
I know the past five months GOT A LITTLE CRAZY (to say the least) and has seriously been a WILD RIDE. I feel confidant telling you that I truly feel like I know HOW FOREVER FEELS, but yet, TIME FLIES. Your breast cancer diagnosis really did SCARE ME and I hope to NEVER FEEL THAT WAY AGAIN.  I am glad that you GIVE IT TO ME STRAIT as I WOULDN’T WANT IT ANY OTHER WAY, but everyone knows that you’re ONLY HUMAN and that you are clearly doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to tell that horrid cancer that you WILL NOT FALL DOWN.  I have my SUSPICIONS, although, I can’t imagine how difficult the moments are when you’re alone and you allow yourself to be honest with you.  I know there’s so much you don’t allow others to see.  To be honest, there have been moments where I know I DON’T BLINK as I have felt helpless in helping you… but…then you speak, and I am completely reassured that you are ALWAYS GONNA BE YOU, cancer or no cancer, YOU JUST GET BETTER ALL THE TIME!  I can’t wait for the end of this whole run of doctors and treatments to be over for you… and to celebrate your attitude, your being THE ONE to beat cancer (which is NO SMALL MIRACLE) and to shout out at the top of our lungs TOUCHDOWN JESUS!!!!
               
I’m thankful you have so much support and that you know that you’re not IN THIS BOAT ALONE. ALL I NEED TO KNOW is you believe me when I say that I WILL STAND by you no matter what and would do anything TO GET TO YOU if you needed me, after all, THAT’S WHY I’M HERE!  I know all of this will be much BETTER AS A MEMORY and that there’s more to come DOWN THE ROAD and I know that you will deal with that with the same BE AS YOU ARE outlook but JUST NOT TODAY…
               
…TODAY, we once again get to SET THIS CIRCUS DOWN, be STILL, feel a little FREEDOM from all the I’M WORKIN’, SHIFTWORK.  LET THE LAST DOLLAR FLY AWAY and break free from REALITY… I NEED YOU to LET IT GO…ALL of it, and truly break free from the past few months. So, instead of sitting WHERE THE GREEN GRASS GROWS, we WILL STAND, SOMEWHERE IN THE SUN, in front of an OLD BLUE CHAIR with an awesome view of your ISLAND BOY (who I’m sure you begged to PLEASE COME TO BOSTON), Kenny, as he sings about GUITARS AND TIKI BARS with my INDIAN OUTLAW and REAL GOOD MAN, Tim, FOR A LITTLE WHILE. Ohhh, he definitely brings out THE COWBOY IN ME or SOMETHING LIKE THAT but that’s just BETWEEN THE RIVER AND ME! 😉
               
You are one of the world’s most BEAUTIUL PEOPLE and are certainly the SPIRIT OF THE STORM.  Your FRENCH KISSIN’ LIFE and LIVE A LITTLE, always SMILING, attitude is contagious.   You’re optimism makes me believe that no matter what life throws at us we can ask, DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT?      
THIS IS OUR MOMENT with the Brothers Of The Sun!  So, tonight I want you to know that WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN, WHEN THE STARS GO BLUE and the MAGIC of the concert begins we will LIVE THOSE SONGS in BOSTON while pretending we’re going COASTAL, we’ll FEEL LIKE A ROCK STAR while singing, I LIKE IT, I LOVE IT, in our most SOUTHERN VOICES and I’m absolutely certain that we’ll SING ‘EM GOOD MY FRIEND.  IT DOESN’T GET ANY COUNTRIER THAN THIS and I am looking forward JUST TO SEE YOU SMILE. This is definitely THE GOOD STUFF and I can honestly say for a moment like this, with MY BEST FRIEND, I NEVER WANTED NOTHIN’ MORE!!!!!!!!
So, are we gonna have a good time?  Well, TRUCK YEAH!!!!
I love you BFF, Tina
Letter #2:
Dear fellow member of No Shoes Nation,
WELCOME TO THE CLUB which, as you know, is a very special honor as part of our WELCOME TO THE FISHBOWL!  IF YOU’RE READING THIS than you are well aware that we went OUT LAST NIGHT!
               
I’m happy to report that I’M ALIVE and well and LIFE IS GOOD today, but I am already looking forward to SLEEP TONIGHT. After finding A PLACE IN THE SUN, I was happy to let the music just TAKE ME AWAY.  It was nice to feel like we were ON THE COAST OF SOMEWHERE BEAUTIFUL and if you’re anything LIKE ME, a part of you still feels like you AIN’T BACK YET.
               
I couldn’t have imagined In MY WILDEST DREAMS seeing Tim and Kenny perform together!  I was as giddy and excited as if I were SEVENTEEN again but it was so much better than any of the DREAMS!!  I was ecstatic to see Faith come on stage to sing with Tim, AIN’T THAT LOVE!?  There was so much fantastic music all in one place that even I felt like a BIG STAR.
               
As with most concerts, I still enjoyed the people watching. Most looked they started on their KEG IN THE CLOSET or their HEMINGWAY’S WHISKEY before they arrived.  Hopefully, they put their KEY’S IN THE CONCH SHELL on the way in and had NOWHERE TO GO, NOWHERE TO BE after the concert.  I’m glad we’re GOOD GIRLS and don’t need to worry about things like that even though I’VE GOT FRIENDS THAT DO.  Although, I think if you ended up in a bad situation (like several of the individuals seated around us) you would quickly FIND OUT WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE.
               
When I THINK ABOUT LEAVING, I get a little choked up and feel like TEARS IN THE RAIN but AIN’T THAT THE WAY IT ALWAYS ENDS!? IT’S NEVER EASY TO SAY GOODBYE. I’m sure this concert will be the focus of my thoughts for at least the next SEVEN DAYS, maybe even 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS, but I suspect that I’ll likely remember it for at least MY NEXT THIRTY YEARS. 
               
When I CLOSE MY EYES, I GO BACK and I can still see Kenny, that LUCKY OLD SUN, singing SHE’S FROM BOSTON and Tim singing, FELT GOOD ON MY LIPS, but no matter what part of the concert comes to mind, I smile at the thought, but THAT’S JUST ME.
               
I know ONE OF THESE DAYS, when we’re no longer this YOUNG and we’re DOWN ON THE FARM, we’ll eagerly take a walk down MEMORY LANE and I’ll be able to say, “I REMEMBER, BACK WHEN we went to see The Brothers Of The Sun Tour just like I remember PARIS/TENNESSEE and EVERYWHERE we’ve been together.”  Luckily, memory is something YOU CAN TAKE WITH YOU, although, we’ll probably remember A LOT OF THINGS DIFFERENT.  However, when I start rambling about BACK WHERE I COME FROM I can’t promise that those memories won’t sound more like REFRIED DREAMS. 😉
               
I’m glad we got A CHANCE to catch up even if we did spend BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND DAYLIGHT sitting in the parking lot.  COMIN’HOME, the concert was all I could think about, so I was really glad that the radio station played Tim and Kenny music long enough to have them SING ME HOME.
               
Well, time is TICKIN’ AWAY and I am HOME so I should probably get busy and not WATCH THE WIND BLOW BY any longer.  I have to figure out WHAT I NEED TO DO next and get OUTTA HERE, but as usual, I wanted you to know that IT’S BEEN A BUSINESS DOING PLEASURE WITH YOU! Perhaps we should get ONE STEP UP on next years’ concert or MAYBE WE JUST SLEEP ON IT for now!?!
I hope you have a great week and thanks for letting me be your SHOTGUN RIDER, I always appreciate THE RIDE!
Xoxo, Tina
Since the concert I have continued keeping Amy smiling and distracted, but I would love to give her something even bigger and quite frankly, something for her to be excited about. I wish I could do so much more for her as a thank you for all the ways she continues, even thru cancer, to think about me and making sure that my girls and I are okay. I’m not one to enter contests, but when I saw the CMA Facebook post about this, I knew this was one contest I needed to enter, if for no other reason than the possibility of giving something back to Amy, giving her something else to look forward to and to give her a much greater “Thank you!” for being the amazing person that she is not just to me, but to everyone that has crossed her path.
Amy and I have talked repeatedly about one day making it to the actual CMA’s in person and not just watch them on television, but that has always seemed out of reach. This contest is an excellent opportunity to make our dream a possible REALITY and submit an entry to attend an event that Amy and I have only spoken of and dreamt about… after all, something like this, JUST DON’T HAPPEN TWICE!
I greatly appreciate your time and consideration to my submission.
Thank you, 
Tina Robinson

Unbelievable, huh? This has all led to my epiphany that Tina needs to start writing for a living – one of the many things we need to talk about. But not now, now we need to book our flights, hotel and figure out what the heck we’re going to wear! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Tina: THIS IS OUR MOMENT! BE AS YOU ARE, LET IT GO, forget REALITY and let’s go see my ISLAND BOY and your INDIAN OUTLAW! It will be MAGIC and we will FEEL LIKE A ROCK STAR! Thank you for always keeping me SMILING – with all your love and support, I know I’m NOT IN THIS BOAT ALONE and I WILL NOT FALL DOWN! Thank you for making one of MY WILDEST DREAMS come true! Love you!!!!

‘Like’ The Country Music Association on Facebook here and Give the Gift of Music here – maybe you can win a similar contest!

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