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?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Follow Us to Pied Piper Creamery!

We are SOOOO excited to announce that our team is getting its very own ICE CREAM FLAVOR! 

Yes, it's true, starting Sunday there is going to be a Music City Spirit flavor of ice cream, available exclusively at Pied Piper Creamery.  How COOL is that?  We think it's crazy cool. Here's the SCOOP:

Our team will be at the Berry Hill location of Pied Piper this Sunday, July 10th, from 1-5pm.  We'll be scooping ice cream, taking donations, and having all kinds of PINK fun.  We hope you will bring your friends, family, neighbors and random strangers to Pied Piper at 2815 Bransford Avenue

What exactly does the spirit of Music City taste like?  That's a good question, and one we're anxious to find the answer to.  The Ice Cream Queen herself, Miss Jenny Piper, is hard at work whipping up our special flavor.  We've given her some suggestions, but the only thing we know for sure is this:  it will be PINK!

There's a whole lot of goodness that's wrapped up in this announcement, and we're not just talking yumminess!  For starters, a portion of sales from all ice cream sold Sunday at that location goes to our team.  That means if you'd prefer a dish of Trailer Trash, a cone of C is for Cookie or whatever yummy flavors they have on Sunday, you're still going to be joining the fight against breast cancer. 

Then a portion from each scoop of Music City Spirit that's sold from that day forward will also go to the cause.  It's only available for a limited time, so make plans to get there soon if you can't make it on Sunday! 

And the cherry on top of all of this is that we LOVE supporting local businesses.  Take a minute to cruise on over to the Pied Piper website and read about how Jenny's dream became a reality!  (Go ahead and like their Facebook page while you're at it, ok?)

So, we hope you will come out and see us this Sunday in Berry Hill.  Real close to 100 Oaks but in a much cuter neighborhood.  You could come after lunch, but we recommend skipping the midday meal so you have more room for ice cream.  1-5pm.  2815 Bransford Avenue, in Berry Hill.  All the cool kids will be there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Walker Wednesday: Meet Joyce

Team Captain Joyce Rizer is a veteran of the 3-Day.  She did her first event last year in Washington D.C. and is proud to say she walked ALL 60+ miles!  The story of how she came to do her first 3-Day is posted here.

The story of how she came to do her 2nd 3-Day is sprinkled throughout this blog.  She's the team blogger.  And she hates writing in 3rd person, so that's gonna stop right now.

Last year, I shaved my head and raised pretty much all of the money I needed to meet my minimum fundraising requirement.  This year, it's going a lot slower.  But I'll get there!

When I look back over my story for last year's event one particular line makes me sad:  "Unlike so many who do the 3-Day, I haven't been personally affected by this disease."

I now have a dear friend who's currently in the fight.  She was diagnosed in April with IBC - Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  The most aggressive kind.   She's counting her time left on earth in days now.  The cancer is winning, and I know my friend will have lost her battle by the time we get to Atlanta.

At some point I hope to be able to blog more about the conversations we've had about breast cancer.  But for now I'll share something she said that keeps playing over and over in my head:  "This is 2011.  It's completely ridiculous that people are dying from this disease."  For all the research that's been done, the advances that have been made, there is still SO much work left to do. 

Sorry... I got off on a little tangent.  (Anything to stop talking about me!)  But here we go:  I'm a native of Central Illinois, a graduate of Illinois State, an employee of Sirius XM Radio, a life-long Methodist, a lover of country music, a really lousy gardener, a wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, niece, mentor, friend, neighbor, and 3-Day walker.

And this year, I'm a Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Ambassador! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

24 Weeks To Go!

Today starts our 24 Week Training Program!  No more "Pre-Training" -- it's time to get SERIOUS about this walk.  How serious?

We walk 4 days a week.  We cross-train 2.  And we rest 1.

Our first week we will walk 12 miles.  Our last week we will walk 65.  Before you begin training, you need to be able to walk 3 miles in an hour.  I think we all can do that.  SO -- here's what our first week looks like:  (We don't add the second day of cross-training until Week #5)

Mon:   REST
Tues:   3 miles
Wed:   REST
Thurs:  3 Miles
Fri:      30 min XTrain Easy
Sat:      3 Miles
Sun:     3 Miles

Here we go!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bald for the Cure ~ 1 Year Later

I can't shave my head again, but walk 60 miles in 3 days?
I can do that. But I need your help!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Walker Wednesday: Meet Lauren

Lauren Rickels is very excited about doing her first 3-Day this year! She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Tennessee. She and Ryan have been married for 7 years and are parents to 2 boys, Zach (3) and Austin (11 months). 

Lauren is currently staying home with her boys and loving it! She has a double stroller that allows her to take the boys on training walks. Zach even gets out and runs beside her sometimes!  Austin just took his first step - he'll be walking with Mommy in no time. She is a Pampered Chef Consultant and loves scuba diving, traveling and sports.  

Lauren did The Race for the Cure a few years ago. She and Joyce play bunco together, and when she first heard about the 3 Day last year she thought it was an amazing thing to do. It has been in the back of her mind that she would love to do something like that, so when Joyce told her that Music City Spirit was walking in Atlanta she decided to go for it! 

Lauren is a Georgia native, and she's counting on her friends and family to come out and cheer her through those 60 miles!  She knows what an impact breast cancer can have on families and is happy to be part of the 3 Day to help find a cure.  Visit Lauren's 3-Day page by clicking here!

Lauren is also sponsoring the Pampered Chef Fundraiser going on now for Music City Spirit.  Please browse the catalog online and enter Sarah Holton as the hostess when placing an order.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This might sound crazy, but doing a 3-Day walk is really SIMPLE.  Not easy, by any means.  But simple.  Because Komen has this all figured out for you.  They do 15 walks each year, they know what we walkers need.  And first and foremost, we need instructions!

When you register for a 3-Day you have access to your own Participant Center.  The PC is like your own little library, full of resources on everything from packing to fundraising to training.  There's form letters, email addresses, and most importantly -- a training schedule.

Clearly, you can't walk 60 miles in 3 days without some training.  Serious training.  Komen gives you 2 options for training -- a 16 week training schedule or a 24 week training schedule.  Seriously, 16 weeks?  No thank you, we'll take 24 -- and then some!

Our 24 week training schedule starts Monday.  At that point we have a schedule laid out in pink and white with 4 days of walking, 2 days of cross-training, and one day of rest.  (Oh how we will learn to love Mondays!)  Before starting on the official training schedule, we need to be able to walk 3 miles in an hour, comfortably.  Check!

We've been getting together once a week since February and walking for an hour.  Just getting out and getting moving is SO important.  And possibly even more important than the movement itself is getting in the habit of getting moving.  Knowing that you're going to get up early (or come home from work, or sneak out after the kids go to bed) and lace up your sneakers, and get those miles in starts a good habit that is going to be SO needed over the next 24 weeks!

Pre-training is as much for the walker's family as it is for the walker.  They need to warm up to the idea that you're going to be gone more than usual, you're going to be tired when you get home, and you're going to want to talk about fundraising for hours at a time.  Pre-training is the pre-game warm up, it's the time to start shopping, and it's the mental preparation you need to take off running (err, walking fast!) as you start the countdown on Week #24 Day 1.

Here we go!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Walker Wednesday: Meet Kendall

Kendall Crosslin is doing her first 3-Day this year! She has a bachelor's degree from Western Kentucky University and Master's from Middle Tennessee State University.  She is currently working as a substitute teacher in the Franklin Special School district. Kendall also teaches 2nd & 3rd grade Sunday School at Hillcrest United Methodist Church, and loves football and Zumba. Next week Kendall will run her 3rd Country Music Half Marathon, and her 4th Half Marathon overall!

Kendall has completed 2 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events. For more about why she decided to do the 3-Day, visit her 3-Day page and read her 3 Reasons for Walking!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coffee For The Cure!

Need to kick start your week? 
Our newest sponsor can take care of that! 
Welcome Mama's Java Coffee in Nolensville, TN! 
They are donating 10% of all coffee sales 1st and 3rd Monday of the month to Music City Spirit!

FINALLY - a reason to look forward to Mondays!

We'll have a more detailed sponsor profile coming soon, but in the meantime, check out their website and be sure to like them on Facebook.  You can find them through our Facebook page. 

Mama's Java is located at 7177 Nolensville Road, Nolensville, TN (in the same shopping plaza as Salon2Dye4 and Oscar's Taco.)  Stop by and tell them thanks for supporting Music City Spirit -- anjd get a BIG cup of Java goodness while you're there!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Now Available ~ Raspberry Fig Spirit Soaps!

We are so excited to have Harmony Soapworks on board as a sponsor of Music City Spirit!  They have custom created these YUMMY smelling bars of Raspberry Fig soap for us.  Their soaps are known for being long lasting, and use all natural ingredients and eco-friendly practices. 
Talk to Diana if you're looking for a fundraiser!
These make wonderful Mother's Day, thank you, and teacher gifts!

Individual Bars ~ $6
Gift Sets ~ $10

Available from any Music City Spirit Member 
~ OR ~
Come see us at the Harding Place Walmart
Saturday April 16th or Saturday April 23rd
11am - 2pm

Limited Quantities ~ Available While Supplies Last!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Miracles. Happen.

In God's Time
You'll finally get the chance
to hold your baby girl

And all a sudden everything makes sense
In this crazy world
In God's Time

Oh but no one knows
Not you or me
It might be tomorrow
or it might never be
 But don't lose faith
Put it in His hands
'Cause it might be that
He might have a bigger plan
Than you had in mind

Miracles Happen
In God's Time
- "In God's Time" (Randy Houser)

I had been planning all weekend to sit down and write a blog about "Pre-Training." However, you're just going to have to wait until next blog to hear about that, because I just had to share THIS story with you.

This comes from another blog I run... a friend of mine is terminally ill with a rare form of cancer... she's battling crazy odds - and winning, and is inspiring people - including complete strangers - from coast to coast.  She got this amazing message on her guestbook from a couple who are about to become first time parents, after five long, heartbreaking years of fertility treatments.  Elizabeth - the author of this note - is a breast cancer survivor and Dallas 3-Day alumni.  She gave me permission to share the message she left for my friend with you.

From one cancer survivor to another, I just want to tell you that it does get better.  I've been in that chair in the doctors office and heard the words "You have cancer". I felt my world crumble around me. I lost friends. Relationships were strained. My hair fell out. The steroids made me gain 30 pounds. The double mastectomy left me looking and feeling completely disfigured. I was told the chemo would leave me infertile. It felt like cancer took EVERYTHING from me.

Yet, slowly, but surely, things got better. I went into remission. My hair started growing back. The steroid weight started coming off. I had reconstructive surgery. I dared to wear low cut shirts again. I started going out with friends again. I got on with my life.

And now, thanks to the amazing capabilities of fertility treatment, I am about to become a mom! Cancer will always be a part of me, but it doesn't define me anymore. The word doesn't come up multiple times in a conversation. Doctors don't dictate my life. I don't have to organize my schedule around chemo, or ration my energy just so that I can make it through the day. I have a LIFE again and my gosh, life without cancer is SO AMAZING!

It's hard to even describe how amazing it is! All I can say is that you have SOOOOO much to look forward to and SOOO much to be excited about! Being a cancer survivor totally rocks. Not everybody gets the chance to start over. Not everybody gets to see the world the way we see the world. We're really lucky to be part of such an exclusive club.

THIS is why we walk. Because EVERYONE Deserves A Lifetime.  Especially babies who haven't had the chance to be born yet. 
Little baby Taylor is scheduled to arrive on April 3rd.  Please keep Mommy Elizabeth and Daddy Jon in your prayers, and give thanks for the lifesaving research and treatment options that helped bring Baby Taylor into the world.
-- Joyce
My 3-Day Page

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Team Meeting #1

Soon you will be introduced to the members of Music City Spirit individually, but for now, here's a look at the Tennessee 8.  We had our first team meeting this week, so that everyone could get a chance to know each other.

Need a visual for the 1 in 8 statistic?
8 women = 6 spouses, 19 children and 8 grandchildren.
When I first thought about doing an introductory team meeting, I was originally thinking we'd go out for dinner somewhere.  The problem with that was it would be loud, and a long dinner table in the middle of a crowded restaurant really isn't condusive to mixing and mingling.  So I decided to do it at my house.

Then I went to my hubby, who works in food service, and asked him about menu ideas.  My plan was to do a potluck of some sort.  I'm all about keeping things low key and low stress.  It was his idea to do a salad bar.  So I just sent out an email, with a few of the basics (lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, meat, dressing) and let everyone fill in what they'd like to see on their salad.  This became our first team building excercise.  Eventually we'd have pitch tents, shower in trucks, and walk 60 miles together.  But we were at ground zero -- could we even make dinner?

First of all, I can't tell you how exciting it was that all 8 of us here in Nashville had RSVP'd "yes."  I was thinking if we got 5 of us in one place at one time, we'd be doing good.  100% participation?  That's amazing!

So Wednesday night I kept things real simple as a starting point.  I put 8 chairs around the dining room table, and cleared off the breakfast bar.  I put out dinnerware and salad dressing, and left everything else up to us to put together as a team.  The tricky part about this excercise was that if one person wound up not being able to make it... our dinner could be in jeopardy!  Especially if that person was bringing lettuce! 

As people started arriving, I started putting them to work... washing veggies, chopping, opening jars.  The kitchen is always the heart of a home, and having everyone gathered around the breakfast bar working together was a great mixer.  As our salad bar came together we had the basics covered, (lettuce, tomato, cheese) some bonus items  (eggs, cucumbers) and some really creative extras (2 kinds of olives!)  We had bread and dessert and enough food to feed a whole bunch more team members.  Everyone was able to create a salad to their liking, and the best part was -- it was DELICIOUS!

Now I'm thinking back over all the church potlucks and things I've been to in my life and wondering why we never did one salad bar style.

As we sat around the table and talked, we covered topics ranging from kids to favorite places to walk.  Since I'm the only person on the team who's done the 3-Day before I answered a lot of questions.  I love that everyone contributed to the discussion of training walks and fundraising, and that as different as we all are, everyone got along so well.

Of course, one of the most important things we did was discuss ways to tackle our biggest challenge:  How we, as a team, are going to raise $23,000. 

Woah.  10 members times the fundraising minimum of $2300 equals $23 grand.  That's a pretty amazing amount of money.  So how are we going to do it?

That's a topic for another blog post.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our First Sponsor for 2011!

Please raise your pink pom-pons and give 3 cheers for our friends at Harmony Soapworks! 

Diana and her team are custom creating some gorgeous pink soaps for Music City Spirit.  I've had the good fortune of being given some of their soaps before, and I'm amazed at how good they smell, and how long they last!  We're going to use these soaps in gift packs we'll be creating as a fundraiser in April.

So don't worry about those Mother's Day and end of the school year teacher gifts -- you'll want one of our beautiful pink gift packs.  We'll update the blog with pictures once our soaps are done!

In the meantime, visit Harmony Soapworks' website to check out their product line, and be sure to "Like" them on Facebook.

-- Joyce

Monday, February 21, 2011

Watch Out Atlanta -- here we come!

We made the decision -- ATLANTA 2011!

As much everyone I talked to LOVED the idea of San Diego, it just seemed to make better sense for us to do Atlanta, where we could have more family support for all the first timers, and less travel expense.  I think it's also going to allow us to build a bigger team, which makes me really excited.  Spreading that Music City Spirit!

The discount code SAVE25 is good until Friday, so read my blog entry below about what exactly the 3-Day entails.  There is a team password to join Music City Spirit, but only so I can make sure everyone understands my fundraising philosophy before they commit.

My 2-Step Fundraising Philosophy, quite simply is this:

1.  We're a TEAM.  Everyone is going to help everyone else.  There won't be any prizes or competition for who raises the most money, because we're all going to be focused on helping each other meet their minimums.  Last year, I was able to channel several hundred dollars in donations to teammates so that we ALL had met our minimum before the walk.  It all goes to the same place!

2.  In order to share in any particular fundraiser's proceeds, you need to participate in that fundraiser.  Obviously people will do their own individual fundraising (like, for instance, some crazy people shave their heads to raise money.)  But here are some of the group fundraising activities I'm looking into.  Proceeds will be distributed to those who participate in each fundraiser.  Obviously, the earlier you join the team, the more group fundraising opportunities you'll be able to participate in!

- Mother's Day custom soap gift packages  (taking orders in April)
- Pampered Chef Fundraiser (in May when they have PINK products!)
- Crop for the Cure 2
- Booths at Lennox Village Farmer's Markets
- T-shirt sale
- Pied Piper Creamery event
- WalMart booth

What else?  I'm open to ideas -- especially ones that allow us to reach people outside of our circle of friends, like booths that don't cost money.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coming To Your City. Ummm... where do you live?

I live in Nashville, TN -- the Healthcare Capital of America. (Believe it or not, the music industry doesn't even come close to healthcare as an industry in Music City.) You'd think, we'd have a 3-Day Walk here. But nope! I need to get on my friends at the NCVB about that.

Last year, we did Washington, D.C. Why there? Well the dates worked, 2 of my teammates had never been, it was a manageable distance, and it sounded like fun. Because, if you're going to walk for 3 days, you want it to be somewhere with some scenery. Obviously, Atlanta is closer. But I know that on more than one occasion I uttered something along the lines of "Who wants to walk around Atlanta for 3 days?"

Well this year, the two cities we're looking at are San Diego... and Atlanta. And about every 10 minutes, I change my mind. I was having this conversation (via email) with my friend Taylor (Who is an AMAZING cancer survivor herself.)ME: I'm trying to make a decision on where to do my 3-Day this year. There's a strong battle between Atlanta and San Diego.

TAYLOR: Ooooooo exciting stuff! I feel like the last time I heard you talk about it, you were still iffy about whether or not you were actually gonna do it for sure. When's the Atlanta one?? Wouldn't that be like...extraordinarily more convenient than San Diego, haha? Too bad Atlanta is ugly. And hot. And smoggy. And San Diego is gorgeous. And had consistently spectacular weather. And an ocean.

My friend Jenny has been bugging me to go out to San Diego to do it with her.

ME: Yes to all of the above. I was waffling... I wasn't sure I wanted to make the commitment to all that training again... it really kills your weekends. So I was thinking maybe I'd just crew Atlanta. Then I had a little epiphany that that was taking the easy way out... so unless they find a Cure in the next 6 months, I need to get my butt out there and walk.

In addition to the scenery and the weather... here's what I'm working with:

Atlanta (October 21-23) 

PROS: Location... Lower travel costs = more money towards the cause....Could get a bigger team together... Lots more people to train with locally on the same schedule... Our families could come down and cheer for us which is HUGE. People that needed to could drive back Sun night and be at work on Monday. Happens DURING Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is cool. The whole world turns pink.

CONS: Who wants to walk around Atlanta for 3 days? And a lot of the additional people I could recruit as teammates would come from my same fundraising base.  (Although in hindsight... I don't know that that's necessarily true.)
San Diego (November 18-20)

Yes that's my husband.  The picture was taken at a D.C.cheering
station. But he was a San Diego sailor.  Maybe they knew that?
PROS: Scenery. The weather. The Ocean. My friend Rosemary would join a team for this location, and do it with her sister, who lives out there. The Ocean. You and Jenny. Have I mentioned that I LOVE the ocean? And my dad and husband were both San Diego sailors and I've never been. Pretty much none of these except the people are good Pros. But my husband is Mr. San Diego! Surely that's a sign that I need to see the ocean? Plus it's later in the year, so it's longer to train and fundraise -- including ALL of October. And on post-walk Monday, the ocean could massage our aching feet.

CONS: Cost. We're looking at AT LEAST an additional $500 in travel costs. Less people would be able to join our team, AND none of our families would be there. Just Rosemary's family, and probably my incredibly loyal yet crazy friend Sandi.

TAYLOR: As I sat here reading and pondering your email, I too had an epiphany (I have lots of those in case you haven't noticed). At the end of the day, isn't this about finding a cure? And raising the absolute largest amount of money that you can possibly raise, so that there CAN be a cure? Aaaaaand maybe not so much about scenery, weather, convenience, cheerleaders, etc? While I totally and completely understand the importance of ALL of those things, looking at the bigger picture and the fundamental purpose of the walk, kinda makes all of those factors seem a little obsolete. It doesn't matter if you're walking through an ugly city, alongside the beach, or even around in circles in a 5 x 5 ft're still walking for the same purpose: a cure. As for convenience and cheerleaders...there ain't nothinnnn convenient about cancer and if I've learned anything over the last 3 weeks, it's that even if you don't have a room full of cheerleaders, they are still there with you in spirit and truuuuuust me, you most definitely can still hear and feel their cheers and support...even if it's coming from a billion miles away.

So at the end of the day, I think you need to pick whichever place will allow you to raise the MOST amount of money...whether that's Atlanta with it's lower travel costs, a bigger team and the fact that it's during breast cancer awareness month OR San Diego where you have more time to raise $$ and less people cutting into your fundraising base. I'm also a big proponent of following your gut...even if what you're gut is telling you isn't necessarily what you OR what other people want to do.

Regardless of what you choose, I'm REEEEALLY glad you're doing it again!

My husband pointed out that while all of that is true… getting the BEST possible experience out of the event (whatever that is, whether it’s scenery or cheerleaders or weather) is what is going to make people come back year after year, and raise more money over the long haul.

All of which means, I’m more confuzzled than ever. My gut says Atlanta. My heart says San Diego. My head says there’s not a WRONG choice. But I want to make sure we pick the MOST RIGHT choice.  And, that I don't let anyone down.  Which probably isn't possible.

The $25 registration discount expires at the end of the month… so I plan to make a decision in the next week.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So You Think You Wanna Do A 3-Day, eh?

Over the past few weeks I've been talking to a lot of people who are contemplating doing the SGK Breast Cancer 3-Day this year.  So I thought I'd create a little rundown of what you need to know if you're thinking of joining my (or anyone else's) team.  So here we go:

1.  It will change your life.  Being a part of something THAT big and THAT amazing is an incredible experience.

2.  It takes time.  That to me was the hardest part.  You don't walk 60 miles without training for it.  And training for it means you have to be willing to give up some family time.   It also means getting up early.  Here are the key things I learned about training:

- Make sure your family is supportive.  If you have a spouse, make sure they are on board and willing to pitch in with the things you're going to be too tired to do.  If you have kids, make sure they can be covered, and will be ok with you being around a little less for a while.  My husband and daughter were AMAZING.  But a 13 year old definitely requres less maintenance than a 3 year old does.

- Stick to the training schedule.  SGK lays out a 16 week or 24 week training schedule.  (I do the 24)  You have to BLOCK that time out on your calendar.  There's some flexibility on what days you do things, but plan for short walks 3 days during the week and long walks on Saturdays and Sundays.  Short Walks start at 45min-1hour (3 miles) and get longer as the event gets closer.  Long walks start around 2 hours and by the end take up the better part of your Saturday.  Saturday walks are longer than Sunday.  Click here to see the 24 week training schedule and make sure it's something that fits into your life.

- Proper shoes and clothes aren't negotiable.  More on that in a minute.

Now... if you miss a day, is it the end of the world?  Absolutely not.  But if your intentions are good and you are focused, you're going to be on schedule more than you're going to be off.  And you'll be fine.  And I'll be first to admit I did pretty much ZERO cross training on the schedule.  But I did at least 80% of those long weekend walks.  And I walked ALL 60 miles.

3.  It takes money. 

- There's a $90 registration fee (currently a $25 discount good through the end of the month, so let's make up our minds already!)

- There is a $2300 fundraising minimum.  This is a BIG, BOLD event.  It's meant for those who are dedicated to the belief that "Everyone Deserves A Lifetime."  Don't let the fundraising scare you.  Especially considering that you're thinking about this in February.  Plenty of time!  I'm looking at a late fall walk, so if you break it down it's less than $300 a month to raise.  Trust me, we're going to get it done.  EVERYONE on my team will meet their minimum and then some.

- In addition to the money raised for the cause, you'll need 2 pairs of good shoes, at least 6 pairs of athletic socks, 3 pairs of athletic pants, and a waist pack.  We'll do team shirts to walk in.  After you sign up, you're going to be telling everyone you know that you're doing this, and hopefully everyone you know is going to get you gift cards to Fleet Feet for your birthday / mother's day, etc.

*I have seed money for t-shirts.  We'll also sell t-shirts as a fundraiser this year.*

- Unfortunately, there's not a walk in Nashville.  (Yet?)  So there are also travel costs involved depending on where we decide to walk.

That's the 3 biggies.  I have learned a LOT from my first 3-Day last year, in Washington D.C.  And I can't wait to do it again!  The benefits far outweigh the downsides (like that 5:30am alarm on Saturday), and I LOVE that my daughter gets to see her mom doing something THIS cool. 

One other key thing I took in from last year's experience:  You have to be big and bold about TELLING people you're doing this.  If you don't tell them, they don't know, and they won't donate to you.  They may even donate to someone else.  I raised the majority of my money through Facebook.  No lie.  And then once I met my minumum (and then some!) I was able to donate my share of team fundraising activities to help my teammates meet theirs.  And the earlier you start with the fundraising, the sooner you'll meet your minium and be able to focus on the training part.  And that is a HUGE blessing.

Music City Spirit will be traveling to either Atlanta (October 21-23) or San Diego (November 18-20) this year.  The requirements to join the team are pretty simple:  You have to participate in team fundraisers in order to benefit from them, you have to represent Music City with pride, and you have to get along with me.  :-)

So... who's in?  And where are we going to go?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cowboy, The Bucket List & The Believers

It's been brought to my attention that I never fully blogged about my 3-Day experience. It's not for a lack of trying. It's just OVERWHELMING when you think about trying to put this incredibly amazing experience into words. So I've kind of let the pictures on our Facebook wall do the talking. But I *will* tackle it at some point.  Maybe.

In the meantime, I'm going to bog about another cancer related experience I had that was also incredibly amazing. And, I should point out, somewhat related because it involves two of the people who first made me aware of this whole 3-Day experience to begin with.

It was December 16th, 2010. Opening night of Garth Brooks’s 9 show run at the Bridgestone Arena, which is home to the SIRIUS XM studios where I work. I was super excited about the night. Not just because I’m a big Garth fan – which I am. But because my intern, Taylor, was going to her first Garth show.

Taylor’s from Oklahoma. She – and half of her family - graduated from Oklahoma State – Garth’s alma mater. The first time her mom left her with a babysitter was so she could go see Garth in concert. Taylor choreographed gymnastics routines to Garth songs. Her grandparents live down the street from the G-man, and she’d run into him in Walmart. But she’d never spoken to him. She’d CERTAINLY never seen him in concert. And you know… in order to see Garth these days, you gotta go to Vegas.

That was… until Garth announced he was doing a flood relief show in the very building Taylor was interning in. But even then, as all the GarthNutts know… getting a ticket was pretty much impossible the day they went on sale. We both failed. For a couple of days we were really bummed. Then three cheers for my wonderful friend Kendel, who managed to grab two lower bowl tickets and needed someone to go with. I snagged her extra ticket, so Taylor could go see Garth in concert. Because seeing Garth in concert was the #1 item on Taylor’s Bucket List.

In case you just blew by that last line, let me repeat it:  Seeing Garth in concert was the #1 item on Taylor’s Bucket List.

It's easy to dismiss a 22 year old with a Bucket List. So I should tell you that Taylor has cancer. Two types of cancer, actually. The doctors had given her a few weeks to live… three and a half years ago. I could write for days about how much I’ve learned from this fiercly stubborn, ridiculously snarky, incredibly faithful, beautiful young lady that God placed into my life. But I know most of you are here because you heard I have a good Garth story to share. And boy do I ever!

About a week before the show I’d sent a note to everyone I knew remotely connected to Garth telling them about Taylor. About how her grandmother took her to the Opry when she was five years old, and she announced then that she was going to move to Nashville. You just know that I played the OSU card. At the press conference announcing the Nashville show, Garth made a statement about how if this was a bucket list item for someone, now was the time. I wanted him to meet someone who truly had him at the top of her bucket list. There was a press conference the day of the show, and all I was asking for was a couple of minutes for her to get to meet him. Because I knew it would be pretty special for him too.

So I sent the note. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And I heard nothing. Now Taylor had NO idea I’d sent the note, and she was just excited as all get out to be seeing Garth. Then, a couple of days before the show, she got a fever. A bad one. And she wound up in the hospital. That wasn’t fun. She was… shall we say… less than pleased with this turn of events. But she had people all across the country praying for her. (Shout out to the amazing cheering section she had on my Facebook page!) Taylor NEEDED to be out of the hospital by the 16th! Fortunately, her doctor was a Garth fan. In fact, he had tickets to the Friday night show. So Thursday morning he sprung her loose, with instructions that she had to take her temperature every hour, and come back if it hit a certain point. YAY for the power of prayer!

Meanwhile... I’d heard nothing back from my request. So Taylor and I went to the press conference. And I made her ask Garth a question. Which I’d tried to get her to do at half a dozen previous press conferences for other artists, and she wouldn’t do it. But she did for Garth. And as I sat there in the press conference looking around at all the people I’d put my request in to, I started getting mad that no one had even bothered to tell me “no.” I was only asking for a couple of minutes! So when it was over I left her with my co-worker Storme Warren, who was doing a TV interview with GB. So even if she didn’t get a chance to talk to him privately or get a picture taken, maybe she could meet him.

Sharing the Garth joy!
And she did. And she was thrilled. And we put her on the radio talking about it. Which would give this story a happy ending if it ended right there. EXCEPT… there’s more. You should know with the Garth Angels around, there’s always more!

It’s about 6 o’clock that night, and my phone rings, a number I don’t know. I step out of the studio and take the call, and the person on the other end says:

“Hi Joyce, it’s Tracy Greenwood, Garth’s assistant. Garth wanted to see if you wanted to come backstage tonight before the show. And will you have Taylor with you?”

Yes and yes? Yes! Now Taylor and I weren’t sitting together at the show, I was going to the show with my friend Sandi, and Taylor was sitting with Kendel on the other side of the arena. So we all meet up, exchange tickets, and I tell everyone we’ll meet at the seats, I have somewhere I need to take Taylor. Yeah… I didn’t tell her where we were going until we got there. Then the fun of watching her freaking out began.

There are about 8 of us I guess, taken backstage to a meeting room that’s being set up for a Teammates for Kids event that evening. Because apparently two full benefit concerts on one night wasn’t amazing enough for Garth to be doing. We wait there. I whisper to Taylor that we’ll let everyone else go first so we could talk to him in private. Turned out to not be necessary. After a few minutes Tracy comes and gets us, leaving everyone else behind, and takes Taylor and I to Garth & Trisha’s dressing room.

I’m not sure I can adequately put into words what the next 15 minutes or so were like. But I want to try. Garth, remembering his quick meeting with Taylor earlier in the day, introduced her to Trisha, even mentioning her hometown and OSU. He asked her if she was interning with Storme, to which she said no, she was working with me. Garth says “Ohhh…. So how’s THAT going.” (I may or may not have given him a little shoulder ram while protesting “heyyyyy!”) He TOTALLY put her at ease, and was even heckling Trisha about what she was wearing. (“You’re not wearing that on stage are you?” She didn’t.)

I told Garth about how Taylor had been in the hospital right up until that morning. And she was able to tell him about her doctor asking what was so important that she had to get out, and her answer was that she was going to see Garth!  She got to tell him that he was the #1 item on her bucket list. He was so cute… he asked Tracy if they knew where she was sitting so someone could keep an eye on her. Taylor was like “I’m FINE!” (Her favorite 2 words in the English language.) He said to her – “You’ve never been to one of these. It gets hot and we get LOUD.”

Garth also asked her if she had a favorite song. Hers was “Cowboys & Angels.” Garth was noticeably impressed that she’d picked an album cut. She proceeded to tell him how she had this whole video in her head about using that song in her wedding, because she just knew she was going to marry a cowboy someday. He told her it wasn’t in the setlist that night, but he sung the opening few lines, and talked about the songwriters, in particular how that song had Kent Blazy all over it.

Oh! We also had a conversation about fake hair. I don’t remember exactly how it got started, but Garth and Trisha knew that I’d shaved my head, and I think Trisha made a comment about my wig that I was wearing… and somehow Taylor must have said something about hers, because Trisha admitted that some of her hair was fake too.  (She looked amazing, BTW.)   And then Garth took off his hat and said “yeah, mine’s not real either.” Which, if you’ve saw him take off his hat during those shows, you saw that he’s coloring it. We all laughed. (Personally Garth, I think the grey looks good.)

So we took pictures, and gave hugs all around, and then we left so they could go meet with the other folks. And you could have powered the arena with the electricity in Taylor’s smile when we left.

As I have reflected back on that experience over and over, I am always, always, always amazed at how incredible they were with her. How lighthearted and fun they kept it, and how they put her at ease. How they didn’t rush her through, sign something, snap a picture, next! I’ve seen pictures from other people’s backstage meet & greets and they were from the public room. It truly was a very special one-of-a kind experience. And that wound up being invaluable in the days ahead.

The very next day Taylor wound back up in the hospital. Her fever was back (or quite honestly, it probably never went away.) Everyone that came into contact with her had to wear blue moon man suits and take a bath in Purell. And EVERYONE that came in contact with her knew she’d met Garth. All the doctors, the nurses. I can just imagine them coming in and looking over her chart… asking “How are you feeling today Miss Taylor?” And her reply (of course) would be “I’m fine.” Followed by “Did you know I met Garth Thursday night?” Or “ Miss Taylor, does this hurt?” “Really, I’m fine. Let's talk about Garth.  Did you get to go to a show?” Pretty soon, the staff was coming in and starting off the conversation with “So, I hear you met Garth!”

At one point, Taylor was told the mortality rate for someone in her condition with sepsis was 80%. I’m 100% convinced that the adrenaline flowing through her veins and the joy in her heart tipped the scales in her favor. And lest you think I’m exaggerating, I offer up her Facebook status from after the show that night:

Sorry future husband/children/grandchildren/great grandchildren/etc. Today was and will always be the BEST day of my life.

How's THAT for a look at cancer?
Or the one from chemo the next morning, complete with the picture:
Still too over the moon happy from last night to care even the sliiiiightest bit that a nurse in a HazMat suit (where's mine?) is pumping toxic chemicals (capable of producing 3rd degree burns if exposed to the skin) into my veins (which have already seen more than the full lifetime quota I was told my body could safely receive of the drug) OR that in several hours I will be a shivering, puking, pathetic puddle on the bathroom floor. Nope, don't matta'. I saw Garth.

Which brings me to today, and why I’m FINALLLLLY, some 6 weeks later, getting around to blogging about all this. I believe that the gift that Garth &Trisha gave to Taylor had a lot to do with saving her life. I believe in the power of music and I believe in the power of prayer.

Tomorrow Taylor is going in for some pretty risky surgery. The odds they’ve given her aren’t even as good as those crappy sepsis numbers. So I’m rounding up the believers and focusing everyone in one common goal:

Taylor needs a miracle. Miracles happen every day. To quote my friend Amy “Why not Nashville on a Friday?”

If you BELIEVE that miracles can happen… if you BELIEVE that prayer works… if you BELIEVE that Taylor can once again defy the doctors, then share, post, email and tweet this… and
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (New King James Version)