Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Here We Go!

We leave in the morning... travel to Atlanta... spend the night there and then wake up bright and early Friday morning and start walking.  Roughly 20 miles a day for 3 days.  It will be exhausting, it will be exhilerating, it will be overwhelming, it will be empowering.  It will be nothing but pink for miles and miles and miles.

Please "like" our Facebook page and follow our journey --

We couldn't have gotten this far without all of your support, kindness, and generosity.

And we can't get through the next 60 miles without your thoughts, prayers, and cheerleading.

Here we go!

Kendall, Debbie, Joyce, Mandi, Lauren & Marie

Monday, October 3, 2011

That Damn Pink Ribbon

This is adapted from part of a blog I wrote for Team15Percent that I can't bring myself to publish there.  I thought maybe putting it somewhere would help.

I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my friend Taylor on April 1st. It was 2 days before her 23rd birthday. At that point, she'd been in the hospital 2 solid months after a surgery she was given a 15% chance of surviving. I remember where I was sitting, and how scared I was to call. I had been told it was bad news, and that I needed to hear it from her. At this point, Taylor was at the lowest of low points, with no hope she was getting out any time soon. I don’t remember the details of exactly what they had found where or why they suddenly realized they needed to do this biopsy, and to this day I don’t know how they had missed it up until this point. But the results that came back weren’t exactly a surprise, yet somehow couldn’t have been more shocking: Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer. The rarest, most deadly type of breast cancer.

I was with Taylor the night her grandmother died of IBC, a year ago last month. I knew how close they were… I knew how Taylor had been the one to go with her to treatments, how she’d fly across the country to be with her. How her grandma would come to Oklahoma and Taylor would drive her to Houston for treatment. She’d written me a beautiful letter last October during my Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk about her grandmother and aunt’s journey, the clinical trials and medical advancements that had extended their lives. Anyone who knows Taylor knows that she’s crazy smart and educates herself about every detail, every statistic, every treatment option.

There’s part of this conversation that just haunts me to this day. She was talking about her grandma and her aunt. How she’d gone to so many doctor’s appointments with them, how she’d seen how this disease works. Taylor herself had two other types of Stage 4 cancer... she of all people should have been desensitized to the shock of it all by now. And I will never forget hearing her say “The minute that doctor told me, it was as if I had never heard of breast cancer before in my life.” Of all diseases… of all cancers… why THIS one? Shortly after that it was “I’m not wearing some damn pink ribbon.”

I can’t begin to imagine the overwhelming rush of emotions Taylor was going through that day… how to even wrap your head around surviving 2 cancers and being told you have a third, and it’s one that has already taken 2 members of your family. At various points in the conversation she was calm at others she was in hysterics. The emotion I remember most was her anger. She was SO mad.

“It’s completely ridiculous that it’s 2011 and people are still dying from this disease.” She’s SO right. Billions of dollars invested in research, the smartest people in the world are working on it, and yet still, cancer is winning.

There’s so much more I could say about the extreme highs and lows of the past few months. The details aren’t pretty. The things she has endured are gross and disgusting, they are humiliating and they are debilitating. My Facebook friends have learned more than they ever wanted to know about this disease through Taylor’s posts to my wall. Sometimes she’d get in a mood to talk, usually in the early hours of the morning, and she’d share the anguish of her day, which was always sprinkled with this insane snarky humor.

More than anything as we’d talk through how to tell her friends about her diagnosis, she’d say “I need to find a way to tell people what is going on. I want people to know how shitty this disease is. I want them to know that I survived anaplastic carcinoma and I survived lymphoma, but breast cancer is going to kill me. And people need to get off their asses and do something about it.”

Inflammatory Breast Cancer is rare.  To the point where she called our Nashville Komen affilliate to ask if there were any doctors in the area who specialized in it and it was like she was asking directions to the moon. The best they could offer her was "Ooooh, that's the really bad kind, right?  No one survives that."  M.D. Anderson has the only IBC clinic in the country, and she called them to consult on her case.  Even there they made her repeat her birthday back... and couldn't believe how young she was.  There's much more to this story - and anger, the frustration, her desperate will to live.

For now – I’ll share this perspective: Towards the end of April, she was given 10 weeks to live. She was suffering SO badly as the IBC spread rapidly throughout her body. I remember at the time telling her I thought 10 weeks sounded like an incredibly cruel amount of time to have to continue suffering as much as she was. One Thursday night in May, at 9 o’clock at night, she called to tell me goodbye. They had called in hospice, and she thought the end was coming soon. In July, she watched her 10th week go by on the calendar. And Saturday marked SIX MONTHS since her diagnosis.

When I signed up for my 2nd 3-Day, I really didn't think Taylor would still be here on earth by the time the event rolled around. On our longest training walk days, she'd text me encouragement, making funny jokes about doing laps around her hospital floor.  Several weeks ago, when things were on an upswing, she told me she planned to be in Atlanta to cheer for me, and had recruited her family members that live in the area to come out too. Instead, she's now fighting for her life in a hospital far away, enduring around the clock intravenous chemo that is kicking her ass, and robbing her of any quality of life for whatever days she has left.  She's so alone... just one lone trooper in an army of pink warriors.

For her, and for so many like her, we walk.  So that some day, NO ONE will ever again have to wear that damn pink ribbon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Longest Saturday Ever.

We're walking 15 miles on Saturday beginning at 6am.  If you are in the area, please come out and cheer and holler as you drive by the pack of women in pink!  Then we're grabbing a shower, so we can be at church at Noon to set up for our 2nd Annual Crop for The Cure.  Scrapbookers, card makers, and otherwise crafty people will be arriving at 2pm.  So we'll be hanging out on a gym floor until midnight.  Then clean up.  In bed by 2am.

Pray for us?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I spent some time tonight looking over our ribbon boa. This is something that we started last year, on my first 3-Day walk. So many stories we heard throughout our training and fundraising... so many people whose worlds have been turned upside down by breast cancer.

We wanted to carry those people with us on our 60 mile trek, so we created this piece. It hung on our tent the first 2 days, and I wore it on Day 3. This year, it will travel all 60 miles with us, carried proudly by the members of Music City Spirit.

You'll notice there are 3 colors of ribbons:

- Pink Ribbons are for survivors.
- White Ribbons are for the angels we've lost.
- Yellow Ribbons are for the future. The important people in our lives whom we pray will never have to have any other ribbon.

I was looking over our boa tonight... studying the names. So many are people I don't even know. I wonder how their fight is going. I wonder who they left behind. I wonder if there are any pink ribbons that now, a year later, need to be replaced with white ones.

Then there are the names that I know. The white, the pink, the yellow. Especially the yellow. That's where my daughter's name is. And my daughter-in-law. And our four nieces.

And then there's a pink ribbon that I can't even believe is still there. It's on the boa intertwined with two white ones ~ one for her grandmother and one for her aunt.  It's the name of my friend, who was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, just days before her 23rd birthday.  She was given a diagnosis of ten weeks to live... 17 weeks ago.  She's hit brick wall after brick wall trying to find someone who knows something that will help her fight off this rare, aggressive form of breast cancer.  I've said goodbye to her more than once over the past 6 months as they've told us she was nearing the end.  

I've thought several times about how hard it was going to be to change out that ribbon.  I've thought about what a basket case I was going to be in Atlanta, crossing that finish line holding her white ribbon even though I know she'll have organized all the angels in Heaven into a gigantic cheering squad for us. 

But as we sit here, just 8 1/2 weeks away from our walk, her white counts are good.  Her tumors are somewhat stabilized.  And I truly believe that when I walk that last mile on October 23rd, she will be cheering me on so loudly on this side of Heaven that I'll be able to hear her all the way from Nashville. 

And I'll probably be crying... but I'll also be smiling as I look at her pink ribbon.  Miss Amazing redefines "Survivor."  I can't cure her cancer, bring back her loved ones, or erase her surgical scars.  But walk 60 miles?

I can do that.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Scoopin' For The Cure

Thanks to EVERYONE who came out and joined the fight against breast cancer at our Scoopin' For The Cure event today.  It was announced on our Facebook page that our custom Music City Spirit flavor is chocolate covered amaretto cherry.  And it is Y-U-M-M-Y!

Among our guests we had a 7 year survivor, a 2 year survivor, and a woman currently in the fight who had lost her hair.  The cut of her dress showed her battle wounds.  We got her name to add it to the ribbon boa we carry with us on the walk.

We were fortunate to have some wonderful coverage from our local television stations.  Here is the piece our ABC affiliate did today.
I have a friend who is currently in the hospital, on the loosing end of Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  (This is not a battle anyone wins.)  She was laying in her hospital bed today, half asleep when she heard my voice in her room... coming through the TV speakers.  She called me tonight, and thanked me for raising "a boatload of money" through our team, because "most people just sit on their ass and don't do anything.  But thanks to people like you, someone some day isn't going to be stuck here in the hospital because of this stupid damn disease." 

If you would like to join the fight to rid the world of "this stupid damn disease" please take a moment to donate to a team member. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

We're An Ice Cream!

Pied Piper Creamery Unveils Ice Cream Flavor To Support Susan G. Komen For The Cure

“Music City Spirit” Named After Local Team Walking 60 Miles For Breast Cancer

(Nashville, TN) Pied Piper Creamery, a locally owned ice cream shop, will unveil its newest flavor, “Music City Spirit” on Sunday. The pink treat is dedicated to a local team of women walking 60 miles this October in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Team members will be on hand from 1-5pm at the Berry Hill location (2815 Bransford Avenue) to scoop ice cream, take donations, and generate awareness for breast cancer research. Several family friendly activites are planned for the afternoon.

Pied Piper owner and resident Ice Cream Queen Jenny Piper is concocting the special flavor for the team. Although team members made suggestions, the final flavor is a surprise even to them. A portion of sales from each scoop sold goes to the team’s fundraising.

Music City Spirit is a ten member team of women committed to walk the Atlanta 3-Day October 21-23. Team members are currently walking more than 20 miles a week as they train for their 60 mile trek. Team captain Joyce Rizer points out that after a long training walk, they deserve a treat! “The only thing better after walking 13 miles than a big scoop of Pied Piper’s homemade ice cream is a big scoop of their PINK ice cream with our name on it!”

In order to participate each team member has to raise a minimum of $2,300 for Susan G. Komen For The Cure. Net proceeds from the 3-Day for the Cure fund innovative global breast cancer research and local community programs supporting education, screening and treatment. Virtually every major advance in the fight against breast cancer in the last 28 years has been impacted by a Komen for the Cure grant.

Make a Donation to a Teammate of Your Choosing By Clicking Here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's GOOD to be Selfish

I had a lousy day at the office today.  A fairly common occurrance lately.  It would have been REALLY temping to come home, grab a glass of wine, and sulk on the couch. 
That really wasn't an option though, because there was laundry to do from our weekend trip, bills that need to be paid, and floors that needed to be mopped.  On top of that, our daughter was spending the night at a friend's house, so the hubby and I could have had a nice romantic dinner for two. 

However, I didn't pay bills.  I didn't do laundry.  I didn't eat dinner with my husband, (although I did kiss him for mowing the yard.) I was home about 2 minutes when that pink chart hanging from the refrigerator glared at me.  (Can a piece of paper glare?)  3 miles to be done.  Today.

Today was NOT going to be a good day to put in miles.  I was grouchy.  Tired.  Hungry.  My to-do list was ridiculously long, and it was already almost 7pm when I walked in the door.

It was about 7:10 when I walked out the door, gym bag in hand.  I had made a decision -- I was going to be selfish.  The laundry could pile up, and the cat could lick the floor clean if she wanted.  I was headed to the nearest YMCA.

Over the next 2 hours I put in 20 minutes cross training on the Nautilus equipment.  I did three miles on the treadmill in pretty short order, walking at least a 4mph pace and even running for a bit.  I took out some of my frustrations on the moving belt, and enjoyed a rare chance to watch tv.

Then, I spent 15 minutes in the whirlpool tub, letting the jets massage my legs, back, and feet.  Ahhhh.... MUCH BETTER.  It was dark when I left, but I even stopped by the grocery store on my way home.  By the time I got home, my hubby had already gone to bed, so he didn't get to witness my much improved mood from when I walked in the door earlier.

The hardest part about doing a 3-Day is finding the time to do the training.  There's ALWAYS going to be something pulling at your schedule - everyone is busy!  But I know for me, if I miss more than a day of walking, I get down on myself for not making the time. 

Getting the training miles in requires you to be selfish.  To say "these things can wait, my training is important."  To carve out the time for YOURSELF, your goals, your dreams of making it those 60 miles.  Having a hot tub waiting at the end of the walk definitely is a perk, but some days, I just walk around my neighborhood.  Other days I go to the park.  The important part is giving yourself permission to take the time to do your training.

Wouldn't you rather walk than fold towels anyway?