Saturday, November 13, 2010

Define yourself through Stregth and Perseverance - not your difficulties!

We drove to N. Oxford, MA last night to drop Katie off at the Clara Barton diabetes camp, which has become an annual event for us. This is her 3rd year going there on a fall weekend they call, Wacky Weekend. This is a camp for children with Juvenille Diabetes to get together and relax, play, learn more about their disease and also to learn that they are not the only ones suffering from it. I think that remembering that you are not the only child is the best part of camp - a camp where having an insulin pump is almost required and where everyone needs to test their blood sugars every few hours. Where they can take a time out for a low or high blood sugar and not feel isolated, as each camper there knows what those things feel like and you aren't considered to be interrupting the activity at hand.

I know this weekend each year has helped me a lot. As it also reminds me that we aren't isolated in what we deal with as a family. A weekend, where as a mother, I get a break from diabetes..... and if you don't deal with it --- I can assure you that it is a 24/7 battle. A weekend off, I must admit, although I worry about her, it feels like a mini vacation.

Then I realize she doesn't get that vacation.... ever. It is 24/7. It makes me so sad.

That being said - we are grateful. Juvenile diabetes is manageable. Yes, there are long term complications, but we manage daily and Katie is HEALTHY! There are much worse things than that. I look to Katie as an example. She is the definition of strength and resiliency. She has never let her struggles impact her - her grades at school never slipped and if your blood sugar is high, it is impossible to concentrate or take a test. But somehow she does. She wears her pump and doesn't hide it - she is who she is. She never looks for an exception or a break. She has never backed off physical activities that can make the blood sugar go low. She just ran her first 5k and is currently playing on a travel basketball team. Watching Katie train for the 5k was the most inspiring thing I have ever witnessed. Now... I am not saying that she didn't complain, because she did --- BUT who doesn't complain when they are running?! I know I do constantly. As Katie trained almost every single training run involved a low or an asthma attack or both. Yet she would treat, wait and then GO! I know a lot of runs, I think most of us would have used that as an excuse to not complete the distance planned. Katie completed every training run!

Katie is the example of not letting a struggle define you and it has certainly made her a much stronger person. I think she will be a better person for having this disease and I think we should all look to not let our struggles define us and learn how to rise above. I guess that old saying what doesn't kill you makes you STRONGER!!!

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. ~William James

Blessings!
Patty

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taking a moment to be grateful and an update on 2011 Tough Warrior Priness Team

TEAM TOUGH WARRRIOR PRINCESS 2011 is Forming! We had our first 2011 team meeting to begin preparing for fundraising and being ready for the 60 miles. It was very touching. We have 17 registered members thus far, and more that are very interested in joining. It is stunning to me the good that comes out of each person we add to the team. We also have people volunteering who just want to work behind the scenes to help us fundraise or help us with ideas and networking. It is humbling. It seems like absolute magic in action some days. Each person brings something new and teaches the group something different. We are working on lots of fundraising ideas and also a website. There is lots to do!

I would also like to take a moment to mention a wonderful event if you are local to the Amesbury area. It is the 2nd Annual "A Charitable Christmas"
Get your Christmas shopping started while supporting many different charities. 100% of all proceeds are donated and there are some wonderful crafters and vendors attending. There will also be raffles, music and h'ors d'oeuvres! The event is being held on Saturday, November 20th at 3 Palis Drive in Salisbury from Noon to 7 p.m hosted by Danielle Dahn. Please come check it out if you can!

In preparation for Thanksgiving I am spending some time reflecting on what I am grateful for and my gratitude always comes back to the people in my life - not just the obvious people such as my family and closest friends, but ALL of the people who touch my life.

There are certain people that come into our lives that really make an impact. Sometimes one interaction can alter the course of your life or change your belief systems and have you going in a whole new direction. It is interesting, too, the way people seem to pop into and out of our lives. I truly believe that each interaction serves a purpose and everyone around you is there for a reason.

When you touch someone's life, you may never know the impact or the chain reaction of impacts that it may have.

I challenge you to try to touch someone's life today in a positive way. You may be having the worst day or have a lot of problems in front of you, but know that you can make a difference to someone else - there is a lot of power in that. Once you have taken on the challenge and touched someone however small - please leave a comment here and see how collectively we are changing the world!

Blessings!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Staying Strong and looking Ahead... and holding on to Memories....

As most of you know, our family is going through a difficult time with the passing of Mike's mom, Roberta Mellon on September 15th. Thank you to everyone for the love and support. Cancer SUCKS! That is all I can say. We love you and will miss you, Bobbie.

Since my last post...

Went for my first follow up checkup with my oncologist at Dana Farber since ending treatment earlier this year. It was strange being back as someone just being followed, but not being treated. Scary thoughts tried to come up, but I reassured and rationalized with myself. I am healthy and cancer free. There is no evidence to the contrary.

I looked around at all of the other women young and old that were in the midst of it all. You could tell the ones that were there for initial consults by the paperwork they were filling out and the one's going for scans and the ones there to meet with their oncologist and go for treatment. I looked around at the support systems they brought... - the husbands, the friends, the family - each dealing with it in their own way. So many people go through that center in one day - just on the breast cancer floor -- it is unbelievable.

I sat there looking out the window of the 9th floor of the building with all of these thoughts running through my head. I was looking at the new Dana Farber building that they have been in the midst of building since I started going there. I have watched that building be built from it's foundation. Each appointment I had, some new phase of the building project was being started. I saw all of the inner beams of the building as the cranes lifted them and put them in place. On the main beams in neon paint are names painted big enough that you can see them from a ways away. I believe they are the names of children affected by and being treated at the Dana. I had the opportunity one day last winter to sign a beam in memory of my mother. The beams are all but covered up now. Now you can see the workers inside the building working in the stairwells and all over the building. I believe the building is slated to open in 2011. The Longwood Medical area in Boston seems to be thriving - it is so sad - the construction of new wings and new buildings to accommodate growing numbers of patients. Cancer patients. It is hard to believe how far that building has come in what seems like such a short time -- I feel the same way about myself and my journey. I am now more put together than I have ever been, I am strong, I have a bigger capacity to give of myself and I see a bright future ahead.

Are you wondering what is up with the Tough Warrior Princesses? We are having a reunion tomorrow (Sept. 19th) at Vicky's house. Although some of us see each other all of the time, there are others I haven't seen since our walk. I can't wait to feel the magic of what happens with the 10 of us get together. Good times!

We are working on the Oct. 1st "Pink Carpet Premiere" party to be held at the Lafayette Club at 7:00 p.m. in Amesbury. We have learned that our documentary is now complete and has been sent off to New Balance. There is a 10 minute film which will be posted on YouTube (will post the link once we have it) and used at Komen events for which New Balance is a sponsor. There is also a 90 second teaser film for New Balance Retail Stores and a 30 second spot in the works as well. They will be released on Oct. 1st and the Tough Warrior Princesses will be seeing it for the first time at the party! We hope that you are able to come join in the celebration of a beautiful journey with us. Please bring your friends. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door, as we are already fundraising for our 2011 60 Mile / 3 Day walk. We are hearing that our friends from the advertising agency, Marketing Drive will be there along with representatives from New Balance, YouTube and possibly Element Productions. The people that created this are truly spectacular and we hope to remain friends for a long time.

We are running a 5k as the Tough Warrior Prinesses on Sept. 25th in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Boston. We have all been training and have a lot of first time runners. It has been so much fun watching friends and family that had never run before take on this challenge and I can't wait to witness them conquer it. I have a new respect and love for each of you. Determination and a goal - you can do anything! If anyone is interested in joining the team and running or walking with us that day, please let me know. The more the merrier!!

The next day, Sept. 26th is Katie's walk for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Katie has raised over $1,000 towards her cause this year and we are so proud of her!!! If you ever want to see someone with strength and determination look no further than Katie. She is my HERO. Since the day she was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes 2 1/2 years ago, she has been dedicated to the cause. So far in these 2 1/2 years she has raised $8,500. She deals with constant blood sugar checks, highs, lows - nurses, doctors and parents who sometimes suffocate her. She handles it all with grace and rarely complains.

I will post another blog update soon letting you know how we fared at our Reunion, the 5k Race and the Juvenile Diabetes walk. And... to remind you again on the Pink Carpet Premiere.

Thank you for all the love and support!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

 

The Last 20 Miles and Beyond.....

Waking up Day #3, I opened my eyes and thought - wow - I really slept good. It felt good to finally be rested and what a difference it made. I also slowly did inventory to see if each of my body parts could move and how sore they might be -- nothing hurt! Even my feet, upon standing, felt fine. We all got up early ate a quick breakfast and packed our bags, packed up our tents and headed out. The team was all feeling pretty good and up to the last 20 miles! The film crew was back and we were so happy to see them and have them along for our last day.

Walking that last day was bittersweet - I truly didn't want it to end, but it was hot and we all wanted to get to the finish line.

The most awesome moment of the last day was arriving at one of the cheering stations and seeing all of our supporters and signs. It was so good to see friends who had come in to stand in the heat and cheer for us. It was very emotional. It gave us the energy to keep on trucking. At the last mile, Alexa and Dylan, our Youth Corp. members got released and were told they could walk with us to the finish line.

As we arrived near the finish line Alexa and Dylan held our Tough Warrior Princess banner that had been signed by hundreds of our family and friends. As we got to the end and I saw people who had come in to support us, it was awesome. We had done 60 miles - 10 of us - together. But it was about so much more than 60 miles and really about so much more than breast cancer. I dare say it was a learning experience like none of us could have even imagined. We crossed the finish line and went into the gymnasium of UMass Boston and.... you guessed it.... DANCED!!!! The music was great and we just felt as though we had accomplished so much and really needed a release. Yes, the Tough Warrior Princesses all jumped on the stage and started a dance party. It was hot and we were tired, but you never would have known it.

Our last interview with the film crew as a team was sad. I think the question for each one of us was something like what have you learned through this experience. We each stood there as a team and gave our answers. It was our last moment together as the 2010 Tough Warrior Princess team. We also got a picture taken as a team with some of the crew members from Element Productions and Marketing Drive. Follow this link to see the press release and picture from Element Productions. http://elementproductions.com/blog/paul-canney-walks-with-susan-g-komen/
It was an honor and a pleasure to get to know each of these people and have them on the journey with us. Look for the short film release in October. You can be sure I will post an update with a link to it.   There is even talk of a premiere party....  How funny!

As soon as that was over we were divided up for the walk's closing ceremonies. Survivors and walkers walk in seperately during the closing. Sherri was back to her duties of carrying the flag and the other team members went to file in as walkers. Tina, Maurine and I got to be together as Survivors. We were held backstage, as a few of the survivors got to enter into the ceremonies from over the main stage. What a honor to be standing amongst a group of survivors. It was the perfect ending to 3 Days. Special thanks to my family members and my friends who were there - it truly means the world to me. Saying goodbye to everyone at the end of the walk was really hard.

I am slowly learning that life can be difficult, but you have to make do with what you have been dealt be grateful for it and do something positive with it.

I recently started up a running program following the Couch to 5K plan. Most of the Princesses and lots of others have committed to running the Race for the Cure 5k in Boston in September. We have brand new runners and runners just looking to get a workout and increase their 5k speeds. It's a great group! Lots of our children have also started running as a result and that is AWESOME! We run at 6:00 on Tuesdays at the Amesbury High School track and all are welcome.

Enjoy the last days of summer and thanks for following my journey. More to come! I have signed up for the 2011 walk and plan to keep on blogging. Please feel free to share this blog and comment!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME!!!

60Miles Can be Fun -- When you are with the right people for the right cause!




I really feel the need to share so much of this weekend with each and every person willing to read this blog. I want you to feel the love and the magic that was created, that I am not going to let go of - we can only work to build more from here. I truly understand what it means to be a TEAM and what a TEAM can accomplish goes beyond anything I could have ever dreamed of.

This is about the Tough Warrior Princess TEAM and the Komen 3-Day / 60 Mile walk in Boston and the individual perspective that I had during the process.

DAY #1

It's 2 a.m. on July 23rd and the alarm goes off. Mike is getting up to take Alexa and Dylan Turcotte (my teammate Maurine's son) to Framingham for a 4:00 a.m. arrival time - so that they are there and ready to cheer on the walkers as they arrive, pick up their luggage for them and make a positive connection or impact on each and every walker they encounter. They are a part of a group of 20 kids called Youth Corp.

It's 3:30 a.m. and I am at Sherri's house (team captain and BC survivor) picking up her and another teammate Kaitlyn to head over to Cheryl's house to catch the Party Bus. We decided that it would be so much easier to go in all together and not have a bunch of cars parked in Framingham. What a great decision that was. We bonded on the bus. Fueled our bodies with some breakfast and talked about what we were anticipating. The New Balance film crew (which included people from Element - the Production company and people from Marketing Drive, the advertising agency) was there and filming each and every moment. Now the average person would think that you would freeze up a little and not be genuine because the camera's are rolling and the sound is on, however, this was so not the case. Because we had already met these people at the pool party and also in the interview process, we were all very comfortable. These special people had fast become our friends and we felt like they were part of the journey with us. (More about them later) So we partied on the party bus and had a great time.

Arriving in Framingham was breathtaking. It was dawn and you could see the staging and the big pink Komen signs surrounding the area. My first encounter with tears started as I walked in to check in and get my credentials as a walker. There were ribbons to write the name of loved ones you had lost to Breast Cancer. I wrote my mothers name down very slowly and fell apart. It was a lot of pent up emotion... already. Of course the TWP's were all there beside me, wiping tears and experiencing the pain with me, as only they seem to know how to do. See, there is magic in the way the 10 of us gelled together. Maurine was right there, with her hip pack so full of stuff -- offering up tissues!

Opening ceremonies were so beyond anything that I had expected. A women telling her story, the Komen spokesperson, who has the most soothing voice talking about what it means to be there and be walking for a cure. But nothing compares to the moment the few survivors who were chosen to carry flags came out onto the stage and into the survivor circle. Watching Sherri walk by with the flag for LOVE was fantastic. The team all cheered her on as we cried watching her in that circle and seeing all her raw emotion. Being chosen for this was something that was so important to Sherri. She made us sooo proud!! She is the very definition of Breast Cancer Survivor if you look it up in the dictionary - I'm sure of it. The other thing that really hit me during opening ceremonies was the pink ribbon made out of a pool noodle with big TWP letters on it bouncing around way over on the sidelines. It was strange, as it was nothing that we had made or knew about. It was exciting to see and we all decided it must be Sherri's friend Tracy - who did the walk with Sherri last year.

The walk began and there was just so much excitement. We all looked good in our New Balance shirts with the Tough Warrior Princess team logo on the front and the big pink NB on the backs. We all had TWP pins that Sherri made and all had New Balance shorts and sneakers. We were looking pretty unified. And we were in all ways. Even our luggage all had tags made by Tina that had our Logo and team name. No detail overlooked.

The first day of the walk was hot and humid! By the end of the day we had rain - but our spirits were intact. We had family at cheering stations that kept us going. At the end of Day 1 we made up our team cheer and went into camp arm in arm chanting our cheer and feeling the sense of great accomplishment. We all made it!!

The Camp experience is so cool. Tent city sporting hundreds of pink tents on a football field is something you need to see. Unfortunately, it was POURING buckets when we got into camp on day 1 and needed to set up our tents in the rain. Yes we were all soaked and so wasn't our luggage - but it didn't matter. At dinner they announced that the last walker was arriving in to camp - every one stood up and started cheering and clapping as the last walker came in. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing - everyone stops everything to cheer on that last walker. It's electric.

That night, the highlight for me was receiving mail in camp. I didn't really know about it and didn't think I would have a piece of mail -- but I did and it was so great. I know you are thinking big deal you got some letters from people - but when you are going through an emotionally taxing and physically taxing journey, there is something incredible about the support and love from the letters.

Bank of America had a tent where you could sit in foot/back massage chairs a n d.... use a computer for about 5 minutes. That is when I realized I really do have an addiction to Facebook. Enough said.

DAY #2

This was a different experience than Day 1. On day 1 we had the film crew following us and stopping us for different interviews, etc. (which was sooo much fun.) But day 2 - it was just the 10 of us - alone. The first thing we realized was that now that we were not all dressed in our official team gear - it was much harder to spot each other and stay in a cohesive group. If felt scattered, as we were always looking for each other - and everyone on the entire course is wearing some combination of pink. Day 2 was so much tougher than Day 1 - first it was much more hot and humid. The sun was beating down and the course is uphill most of the entire day. Since our teammate, Maurine, with Metastatic breast cancer is again in active treatment, we were encouraging her to get on the sweep van that will bring you to the next pit stop as often as we could. Maurine is strong and determined.... but doesn't always use her head and listen to her body. So, Maurine was swept and waiting at the next pit stop for us. The team arrives and we are filling our waters, etc. and I happen to look over at the commotion at the medical tent where an ambulance has arrived -- and there is Maurine -- helping out the ambulance crew! She never ceases to amaze all of us. It was so hot at that point and there were people passing out and we were all concerned for one another. Blisters started and feet were really hurting. The medical tent couldn't keep up. This was a low point for me in the walk.

Onward we pushed and got through the day. We met so many women along the way and heard their stories. Sherri's friend Tracy had posted many, many beautiful and inspiring signs all along the route that day that made us laugh and lifted us up. Our families and friends showed up at the pit stops with signs and all kinds of fruit and lots of love. Sherri's husband Andy, who has done this the past 3 years really knew exactly what we needed and when. My dad was the one who had me most in awe. My dad, for those of you who don't know, is about to turn 80. He was at every stop along the way, cheering and taking pictures -- well you knew if he was around he would be taking pictures - that is what he does best... that and being proud of his family. My dear, dear friend's Danielle and Leslie showed up to cheer and also sat with us for lunch. I dare say we had the biggest cheering sections on the whole route. It really helps you get through the day when someone you love shows up! Ben, a producer on the crew, also showed up that day with his beautiful young daughter. He had to bring us a new Flip video camera as we were having trouble with ours - but his presence was more of support and concern for our team.  It was great having him be a small part of day 2.  The love that flows along the route of this walk is something like you will never experience. We are all there for our own personal reasons and when you bring together all of the stories and the pain and the hope -- something very special happens. The downfall of Day 2 was the huge blisters that developed on the bottom of Cheryl's feet. She walked in pain for so long and then couldn't anymore and had to forgo the rest of day 2. That was painful for me, as without doubt, Cheryl trained more than any of us for this walk. It isn't fair that a blister can bring down months of training. We were all so sad for her.

During the walk, I spent a lot of conscious time focusing on the person I want to be and the people in my life that are important. I honored my mother and spent a lot of time thinking about my youngest inspiration - Kelsey. If you forget about Kelsey's story - go back and read my prior blogs. Every time I think of Kelsey's story and her dedication to a cause outside of herself it puts it all back into perspective for me. (Hi Kelsey - You GO girl!!!) I had the breast cancer ribbon necklace with me that I got at Kelsey's birthday party. Other pieces of inspiration I brought on the walk with me were a pink survivor bracelet that I had gotten the year before from a woman who had just walked the 3 days and I met by chance and told her I was signing up for next year. She had just worn the bracelet the 3 days of her walk. I also wore a bracelet given to me by a friend/acquaintance when I was first diagnosed. On the bracelet is inscribed "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." This bracelet got me through some of my darkest hours and long tests and unknowing waiting periods.

Camp Night 2 was electric. We ate dinner and waited for each member of Youth Corp. to deliver their short speech about why they are part of Youth Corp. This was the most I cried during the whole experience. Alexa and Dylan both spoke, but it was when one young girl spoke about her mom being diagnosed when she was 4 and losing her when she was 8. This girl just radiated poise and kindness and I just couldn't take it and the stories went on.... Alexa and Dylan were so composed and did such a great job. We are so proud! 
video

Let the dance party begin. Dance, you say? After walking 2 days and 40 miles, with another 20 to go tomorrow - are you crazy? YUP! If you know any of the other team members of TWP you know we all love to dance and dance we did.  (Sorry Sherri I have to tell the story to illustrate a point...)   At one point Sherri and I were getting down and dancing to a song called Low by Flo rida.  Well we got low on our tired legs and all of a sudden Sherri just fell.  I can't explain how funny it was when she did, but it became even funnier when I realized that teammate, Susan, had caught it all on Video, because the crew had given us Flip cameras and we were supposed to be videoing our journey for them when they weren't around.  Eventually I helped poor Sherri up (who was also laughing hysterically) and even thought to ask her if she was okay.  Together we re-played the video and laughed some more -- Sherri is awesome.  Such a good sport, she had opportunity to delete that video, but she didn't!  

Speaking of Special - Youth Corp!!!! Youth Corp. is 20 kids who are chosen to volunteer for the 3 days of the walk. They work their butts off cheering for us, helping us along the route, giving us a drink, saying something nice -- these are very special kids -- and Alexa and Dylan Turcotte (Maurine's son) were no exception. Seeing them brought me to tears almost every time. Youth Corp. is an experience like you can't get anywhere else. Alexa has been touched like I can't believe and has new friends for life. She also has a new appreciation of how small gestures really do make a difference in people's lives. She had so much fun and made lifetime friends.

Next Blog update in the next few days ---  Day 3 and Closing Ceremonies as well as total raised and the Tough Warrior Princesses plans for the future. 
Thanks for sharing this journey with me.  Your donations to this cause are so much appreciated!!

Blessings -
Patty

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pool Party - TAKE 1 -- What a hoot!!!

I truly could talk for days about our most recent experiences, but I'll try to keep it somewhat succinct.

When Sherri and I and the Tough Warrior Princess team got chosen for the New Balance documentary film, we had no idea what was involved. We didn't even realize we should be nervous. We were focused on the great team of women that we have and the cause... and for that we have passion, which makes it easy. I did start to get nervous when the film crew showed up for the shoot at the pool party for the team at my house. There were trucks and equipment and people everywhere. What?! My biggest fear was that we all might lose our unique personalities and more importantly our TEAM personality in front of cameras. When I found out we were being interviewed as a team all at once, I worried that we would lose our natural flow and humor -- we didn't!! We all support and admire each other so much and have such a good time together and I think that was more than apparent during filming. I think you can even see it in the pictures.

They interviewed Sherri and I together and that was great - it made me feel very at ease in discussing the team and answering the many questions that were thrown our way.  Mike and Sherri's husband, Andy were both interviewed. I missed seeing both of those interviews, but would love to see the footage. Yes, Mike and Andy are available to sign autographs!

The reason for the pool party was for all of our children and husbands that didn't know each other to get better acquainted. I think that happened. The kids made posters and crowns that will be brought with them along the route to cheer us on. They all swam and we all played volleyball. For the most part I think we all forgot about the camera's that were following us around and just had a great time. It was surreal. I am so grateful for such a unique experience.

We are down to the wire - the bus picks us up at 3:45 a.m. on Friday morning to head to Framingham for the start of the walk. (Alexa and Dylan the Youth Corp. volunteers have to arrive in Framingham at 4:00 a.m. so they can't even be on the team bus.) It will be the 10 Princesses and the film crew. Luckily, the film crew is fun! We are looking forward to having them along for our walking journey. We have made some new friends and two beautiful young women from the companies' involved in the filming process have decided to create a team and do the walk next year!!!

There is nothing better than knowing you may have made a difference. I intend to do this walk every year - until a cure is found. If I had been diagnosed with the agressive type of cancer that I have - HER2 breast cancer - 10 years ago, before a drug called herceptin was developed, I would have a much lesser chance at survival. I personally know how important funding is to keep progress moving. My mom didn't have that chance. I want my daughters to have the best chance. I see the progress being made in the trial drugs being offered - which our teammate, Maurine's, life depends on.

Thank you for taking the time to follow my journey and for all the incredible support!

If you are interested in coming in to a cheering station or for closing ceremonies - follow this link for information.  http://www.the3day.org/site/PageServer?pagename=BO_Spectator

The film crew intends to film at two specific stations during the event and will be looking for our families and friends:

FRIDAY - 
 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  (Can't pinpoint exact time)
St. Paul's Church
502 Washington St.
Wellesley MA 02482

SUNDAY -

8:15 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139

Closing Ceremonies -
Sunday, July 25


5:00 p.m.
University of Massachusetts
100 William T Morrissey Blvd.
Dorchester, MA 02125

Friday, July 9, 2010

It really does just keep getting better!!

It was on a whim that I replied to an email from Komen/New Balance asking why I walk and who I walk in honor of.  It's not something I would typically stop to do; but that day I did.  That email led to another asking for a phone interview to be considered for a short film featuring New Balance and Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure.  Sherri, my beautiful friend and our team captain also replied to the email and was selected to be interviewed as well.  The folks at the advertising agency soon realized our seperate submissions unknowingly told an entire story - a story about each other and about our team - The Tough Warrior Princesses. 
 
We made it to the final selection process with New Balance and their advertising team and this week Sherri and I went in for on camera interviews.  It was a bit scary,as we were interviewed by two gentlemen as the camera rolled and the mic's were on.  Behind a curtain sat a bunch of other ad executives watching us on a TV and taking notes.  Sherri and I seemed to fall into a groove and forget the camera as we started talking about each of our teammates and the reasons that we walk as well as what has been involved with fundraising and training. 
 
We have just learned that we have been selected to be featured in an upcoming New Balance and Komen 3-Day short film!  They will follow our training, will come to our team pool party and will follow us on the 3 days of the walk. We will be  getting outfitted in New Balance from head to toe!
 
We are all so excited for the opportunity to make a difference and hopefully to inspire other women as to what you can accomplish with a goal in mind and friends by your side.  We are 10 women and each one of us has a unique story and unique talents, but when you put us all together as a team, we become so much more powerful and interesting.  This team has become a very close group.  We have raised a lot of money and we have had a lot of fun together.  We have raised awareness and all have a very special reason for walking.  I think we have done a good job at bringing community together and inspiring others.
 
This journey and my walk is in honor of the most beautiful woman I ever knew - Beverly Ann Woodsom.  My Mom.  I know she would be proud to see what we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish!  Breast cancer affects and takes the lives of so many women.  Breast cancer has shattered my world - losing a mother and fighting the disease myself- and at the same time built me as the person I am today.  More faithful, stonger and hopefully making a difference so that my daughters won't have to face the same things.


Quick Fundraising Update - We had our Flatbread fundraiser this week and it was spectacular!  It was a steamy hot, and I mean HOT, evening and the turnout was awesome.  It was so great to see so many Amesbury friends and others get out to support the cause and eat some great pizza.  Thanks to Flatbread for giving us the opportunity! 
 
I have reached my personal goal of raising $10,000!!! I could not have done it without each and every one of you - my beautiful friends and family.  I am so blessed to have this support.  My team now has surpassed it's goal of $40,000 total and we are still going!  
 
I often say I am happier and more grounded and a better person now, since my diagnosis and since Katie's Juvenile Diabetes diagnosis, and I think people don't always understand how that could be possible.  I think I just focus more now on the blessings in my life and what each person in my life brings to it and the gift of every single day.  To put it into focus, my friend, Brian Dahn, is currently on a mission trip with a group at his church to Haiti.  It is so amazing to me the way people can step outside of themselves and help others.  Seeing his blog and knowing what those people in Haiti are living like and facing every day is just stunning.  (http://oslc2010haiti.blogspot.com/)  Makes me want to be a better person.

To borrow a phrase from a song and my friend, Danielle, GO LIGHT YOUR WORLD!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The days are flying by and the walk is almost here!!!  The big news is that Alexa was one of 20 kids between the ages of 10 - 15 chosen to participate in the Youth Corp. that supports the Komen walk!!!  She completed 5 essays and an interview to be selected.  She now has a goal of raising $1,500 in the next month.  Go Alexa.  She is on her way.  I am so happy that she will be part of this journey with me and my teammates.  She won't be walking, but will be supporting the walk in all different ways - cooking, cleaning, lending a helping hand wherever they need her.  What a great experience for her.  Check out her site at www.the3day.org/goto/alexamellon     GO ALEXA!!!!

Training is going well.  I have stayed on track with the training program pretty closely, which has us walking a lot of miles.  Last weekend was 17 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday.  Well, I only did 11 on Sunday - it was raining and I had been out the night before dancing and I figured I probably danced another 5 miles worth - at least!  The training is not hard, it just takes a lot of time on the weekends - which at this time of year is a bit difficult.  The good company on the walks makes it fun!

Thoughts and prayers go out to teammate, Maurine Turcotte - who recently started chemo again and is on a trial with 27 other women in the entire country.  Maurine also lost her mom this past week.  Marcia Lund is also about to start her chemo.   Cheryl Woodsom's step mom is also fighting a recurrence and is starting chemo.  These are just some of the reasons I walk.  No one should have to face this and so many of us do. 

So now for the good news -- 

Katie has officially graduated from the 4th Grade and is off to Amesbury Middle School next year.  So proud of what she has accomplished!  Her insulin pump start was 2 weeks ago and I am happy to report that things are going well and she has so much more freedom than she used to.  Actually, we all have more freedom than we used to. 

Alexa graduates tonight from the 8th grade and will be delivering a graduation speech -- which I have not read.  I can't believe she is off to high school next year. 

Summer is here and I wish you all a great summer.  Enjoy every minute of it.  I will keep you posted as the walk grows closer!

Lastly - Mark your calendars - Tuesday, July 6th is our Flatbread Amesbury Fundraiser. Who wants to cook in July?  You'll be recovering from the 4th - so if you are in town and can make it - come enjoy some great pizza with the Tough Warrior Princesses. 

Blessings
Patty
 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2 Great Parties!!!

Our May 8th fundraiser was a complete success.  I am so overwhelmed and stunned at the generosity and spirit of the friends and family who came out and supported our Tough Warrior Princess Silent Auction and dance. Thank you to those who nudged us to do it and those who donated items for the auction and those who came out and celebrated with us. I have to say this team of 10 women is pretty amazing and our support system is even more amazing. A ton of fun was had by all. And another $8,000 was raised for our team!!!

Happy 10th Birthday Kelsey!!  See picture to the right.  A couple of blogs back, I wrote about an amazing girl named Kelsey. (See prior blog for her story) Kelsey is a girl I never met until this weekend at her birthday party. Kelsey just turned 10. Kelsey, for the second year in a row, asked all gifts to be in the form of donations to Susan G. Komen. This year, for my walk. The party was at Coco Key and it is safe to say that Kelsey has a lot of friends! She also has pretty incredible parents!!! I can't put into words the kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity of this family. I have never been so touched. Meeting Kelsey was a great opportunity and she is truly a miracle. She has a great smile, is warm and friendly and you would never guess the challenge she has faced in her lifetime. It seems she and her family have an understanding most of us never have. Kelsey's party raised over $1,000 for the cause!!!! I am forever grateful and changed by this experience.

Under the topic of training - I continue walking and running. Last weekend I got about 16 miles in. This weekend the plan is 24 miles. The time goes by fast when walking, as I'm always walking with good people. It is social hour or in this case, hours.

My thoughts and prayers are constantly with my friends Maurine Turcotte and Marcia Lund as they deal with the next steps in their journey with breast cancer.

Further fundraisers:

AVON!!!  Need skincare items, make-up, jewelry or even clothes? My oldest (not in age) and dearest friend Danielle Dahn, has set up that 50% of the proceeds ordered through her to be donated to my walk. All products ordered between now and the 28th of May are eligible.

To have your purchase qualify, go to: www.youravon.com/ddahn

Once you are there, select online events and follow directions from there.

Please be sure to let me know if you have any questions or would like an Avon catalog. Danielle is a fabulous Avon representative and I am loving the products I have tried. And the best part..... they don't break the bank!

Also, don't forget the Flatbread Pizza Fundraiser evening on Tuesday, July 6th. Come eat pizza at Flatbread in Amesbury and they donate part of the proceeds to our team. It should be a nice family night out.

Thanks for reading!  I'll update again soon -- the walk is 10 weeks away!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Team Member for the Tough Warrior Princesses!!

Hi Friends - Lots has happened since I last wrote. It's been so busy! We had added our tenth team member!! Maurine Turcotte. Maurine is a breast cancer survivor, who is facing the battle once again. Maurine is such a great, positive strength to add to our team. She IS the reason we are walking. She is the reminder that this is always there, whether active or lingering in our mind. I don't ever want to forget. Maurine, we are all fighting with you and for you.

Also, another young friend of mine was just diagnosed. Many of you Amesburyites know Marcia Lund. She is a great mom and friend to so many in the community. We are walking for you too, Marcia!  My thoughts and prayers are constantly with both Maurine and Marcia as they go through this.

I am so amazed at what this team of 10 women has been able to accomplish so far. We have collectively raised almost $25,000! As each team member hits their minimum goal, we are assured of at a minimum we will have raised over $30,000! It is the dedication and the reasons that each person is walking that inspires me the most.

Preparations for our Dance/Silent Auction on May 8th are coming along nicely. For anyone that may have missed the details on this, 7:00 p.m. at the Lafayette Club in Amesbury. $10 per person. You can pay in advance to reserve your spot - or pay the night of the event. Would love to see you and have your support that evening!! We have so many great silent auction items.... Red Sox, spas, restaurants, sail boat ride, Bucket of Happiness (booze), Silpada jewelry, Lia Sophia jewelry, a week's worth of meals..... the list goes on and on. Thanks to everyone's generosity.

Alexa is busy working on an application and essay questions for Youth Corp. for the 3 day event. Only 20 kids are chosen for Youth Corp and must raise a min. of $500. Youth Corp. attendees spend the 3 days - not walking - but working ... in whatever capacity they are needed to support the event. We hope Alexa is chosen, but know the odds are slim. She really wants to be a part of the event to inspire the women who are walking.

Training is in full swing to prepare for the 60 mile adventure. I am walking lots and running too!! Spring has sprung and it feels great. It's nice to have so many friends that want to walk - as I get pretty bored walking alone. The hours of walking on the weekends, especially as the event draws closer is quite the time commitment.

We have a Flatbread fundraiser coming up on Tuesday, July 6th.

Alexa and I are off to New York for the weekend to celebrate her 14th birthday with her best friend and her mom! So looking forward to the weekend adventure and we hope to catch a matinee of Wicked while we are there!!!!

Blessings,

Patty

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One AMAZING young Girl! Beyond Words to me.....

This one is a tear-jerker! I'm learning that fundraising is rewarding, because you really get to see the good side of people. Well, in this case, it's even better ..... a very special 9 year old girl - that I haven't had the pleasure of even meeting yet..... The story starts with a generous donation I received  from a business associate, who I haven't really even seen in a long time. (A touching story in and of itself) This man and his wife did the walk last year and this special young lady that they knew did a birthday party to raise donations for this couple's walk. Her name is Kelsey. This year, Kelsey was looking to donate again, but since this couple isn't walking this year, they referred her on to me. How lucky am I?!  In May Kelsey will be turning 10 and all birthday gifts raised, will be donated towards the Komen walk through me!!!! I feel honored to be invited to this birthday party - I can't imagine a better one. But the story gets better. I have been corresponding with Kelsey's mom, who has given me a glimpse into what Kelsey is like and I am just amazed and think we could all take a lesson or two from Kelsey.

Kelsey is recently adopted by this wonderful family, but she started out at the age of 4 with them as a foster child. When she came to them she could not even speak - nothing - no words. She was left in the dark in a broken crib. Can you imagine? She had been so neglected. This family has taught her everything she knows. What I have learned so far about Kelsey is that she is very enthusiastic about life and does not care so much about "things" as she does about living and enjoying life and doing good things for others. I can only imagine what a tough road it was in the early years for Kelsey and her family - getting through the challenges or learning to speak and catching up, but catch up she has! Her mom tells me she wakes up smiling and goes to bed smiling. She knows how to love and how to give. She has a German Shephard named Duke that means the world to her. She has been given the gift of a beautiful voice and now sings and has had the honor of singing in the children's choir at the Boston Conservatory of Music! Kelsey is beautiful and her smile is so bright -- I've seen the pictures and I cannot wait to meet this talented, giving and very special girl and the parents that taught her so well.

I will keep you all posted on this journey with Kelsey. I can't wait to be able to meet her and have my girls meet her. They have read all the emails about her and know she is something special.

Kudos to Kelsey!!  What an inspiration. 

On the training front - training has begun. What am I doing to train to walk 60 miles.... Walking!! Lots of walking. There is a training schedule of a building number of miles each week, which will take a lot of time to keep up with. Luckily there are lots of us looking to walk, so it shouldn't be hard to find someone to walk with. I get bored walking alone. Then there is Connie - my neighbor who walks almost daily at 4 a.m. -- yes, you read it right - 4 a.m.! I love going out to get in my morning walks with her - but once or twice a week at that time is about all I can seem to handle. She has kept me going all winter. Yes... she is crazy, and she is bringing me with her! You do get a lot accomplished when you get up that early. I'm also starting to run (okay jog... slowly) again. It feels great. I am doing the Couch to 5K program. And yes, some days I do have to drag myself off the couch. Hopefully I can kick the couch habit to the side and get this body into record shape!!

If you haven't already, please become a fan of our team on Facebook. Tough Warrior Princesses! We want to be the strongest team from Boston and we are well on our way!! We are working on our fundraisers now. We have some great silent auction items, and are looking for fundraising ideas and ways to promote our auction items.

Thanks for all your support!!! The donations, the kind words -- it is just amazing!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And it just keeps getting better!

Well -- Good news and lots of it!!!  I went to Dana Farber last Wednesday during the snow storm that wasn't for a full "spa" day.  I had a MUGA scan, which is something I have been doing every three months - due to the treatment I am on potentially causing heart damage.  I once again passed with flying colors!!  Wahoo!  Next I went to see my oncologist who Congratulated me.... and I didn't understand why.  It was my LAST treatment!!!  I didn't even know.  I thought I had one more coming up in March.  It was a strange feeling.  Bittersweet.  Excited that I'm at the end of treatment, but scared that I'm not actively doing what felt like my safety net all year.  It just made me feel safe and now I feel a bit vulnerable.  I am now taking Tamoxifen for the next 5 years and that's it.  Next Chapter!!!  I'm moving on!!

So our team "The Tough Warrior Princesses" met this week.  We are now a team of 10!!  I got to meet 2 new team members, Gretchen and Theresa.  I am grateful they are on the team and they were awesome!!  The best news for me is that my other Sister-in-law, Sue has now joined our team!!!  Well, I know I have voiced how awed I am that SIL, Cheryl would be walking beside me - now to have Sue as well just makes it so incredible.  These two women have become my sisters.  (which is good because I always wanted a sister - no offense 2 my brothers)  The three of us can walk side by side in honor of my mom, Beverly, which we have so often talked of doing in the past.  Sue will also be walking for the future of her girls - if you don't know Sue - here is what makes her journey special.  She has a two year old daughter and also has 3 1/2 month old twin girls.  She is busy and training commitments will be tough, but she can do it!   

The team is amazing!  We have now planned a dance/silent auction for May 8th and we are also working on planning a clambake and a Flatbread Pizza fundraiser.   Oh, and did I mention we are now the TOP #1 team in the country for fundraising total so far?  Now, we know we won't stay there for long.  There are many teams that have lot's of women and raise huge totals every year, but we are trying our best and we are very proud of ourselves!  To find a cure for breast cancer / cancer would just be amazing and I want to contribute as much as possible to the goal. 

We are heading off skiing this weekend!  Looking forward to it.  Last year, I didn't get to ski and this year I'm grateful to be able to ski and feel good doing it!!!

Blessings to you all - Thank you so much for all the love and support.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cancer Free and Loving it!!!

I can now officially say that I am ONE YEAR cancer free as of Feb. 9th!!!! What a great milestone!!! It's an anniversary that I hope to be celebrating for a long, long time!!! No more dreading birthdays and getting older -- I embrace it!! A wrinkle here, fat roll there, gray hairs.... it's all okay. I am healthy and feeling fantastic. Age really does come with wisdom, compassion, insight and a new openness.

I am finally at the tail end of my treatments!!!! Diagnosed in November of 2008 -- it has been a long road. 3 surgeries and chemo/herceptin treatments which all started January 2009. At first treatments were weekly and then eventually progressed to every three weeks. I am happy to say I have my second to last treatment this week and am looking forward to my last treatment at the beginning of March!!! It will be great to have this final phase behind me.

A lot has happened to team Tough Warrior Princesses since my last post -- Most importantly, our team has added three additional members!! We are now 7 strong and hopefully will add more! Welcome to Tina (a fellow breast cancer survivor) Gretchen and Theresa. Our team now consists of 3 young survivors. We had our first team meeting and have some fundraising ideas to help us all reach our committed goals. We are a fun-loving group and I expect we will have a lot of fun while raising awareness and cash for our cause.

Last week Cheryl and I attended a Komen Getting Started meeting. Sherri was there too, as a meeting facilitator. So, I guess you could say this was the meeting that was informing us exactly what we had gotten ourselves into.... We have to raise WHAT? And walk how FAR?? And sleep in a tiny TENT? It's all good. The meeting was informational and uplifting. Yes, Cheryl cried... but if you know Cheryl, you knew that. (She cries at commercials!) Kidding aside, it was amazing. There was a young girl (in her twenties) at the meeting who had recently lost her mother to breast cancer, and I so felt her pain and saw myself in her. Yet here she was already, determined to make a difference. There were about 10 women there and we all had our own personal reasons for being there - and I don't think anyone didn't shed a tear or two. We walked out of there determined to not only raise our minimum $2,300 each, but more.

We have scheduled an evening at the Polish Club on May 8th. There will be music, fun, friends and even silent auctions. More details to follow.

We are looking to add team members, so if you think you could be interested in getting in shape and having some fun and raising $$$, inquire within!!!  It is a big commitment, but it's for your mothers, sister's, daughters, wives (yes, men welcome) aunts and grandmothers.  This disease hits 1 in 8.  You don't think it can happen to you...... until it does.


Blessings!
Patty

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The First Step is the Hardest! January 2010

I have always wanted to do the Susan Komen 3 Day for the Cure to honor my mother's courageous fight with breast cancer 17 years ago. Every year I would debate doing it and ultimately was afraid to try to raise the money you are required to raise. Well, this year.... after my own fight with breast cancer and along with the inspiration of my beautiful and strong breast cancer survivor friend, Sherri, here I go. 3 Days and 60 miles - a minimum commitment of $2,300 and a personal goal of raising $5,000.  Sherri tells me the hard part is not raising money, it's all the training that goes in to getting your body ready to do 60 miles in 3 days...... I'm more worried about the fundraising - but I'm ready!!!



The moment I committed to the walk, my sister-in-law, Cheryl immediately also committed - without me even begging or coercing (which I'm pretty good at). I'm so floored and grateful that she would take this walk beside me, it goes beyond words. She has been beside me every single moment since my diagnosis, and I'm so glad to know we can take this uplifting, meaningful and challenging journey together. Can't imagine doing this without Cheryl beside me to remind me that the glass is not just 1/2 full -- it's at least 3/4 full!!




And then there is my friend Vicky. Every exercise goal I have ever had involves Vicky. She is the best workout buddy and friend anyone could wish for. I just never thought she would do this challenge with me, because, like me - she is most afraid of fundraising. The day she called me to say she was stepping outside her comfort zone in my honor was truly incredible. Yes, tears. I'm so happy to know I don't have to do 60 miles without my drill sargent beside me.




So, it's the 4 of us (unless of course we recruit any more crazies) and we are calling our team  "The Tough Warrior Princesses." Why? A Tough Warrior Princess is a strong female personality, determined in the pursuit of her goals and often eager to do take on a typical 'man's work' like fighting wars or performing manual labor to accomplish those goals -- when of a royal backround, a woman warrior may be called a warrior princess.    Well, we may not be from royal backgrounds, and we may not really be eager to take on lots of physical work -- but we are ready to take on the war of fighting breast cancer and are ready to accomplish any goal.

I'm proud of us already!


Please consider donating to our cause by clicking on the 3-Day icon above and stay tuned for updates on our progress!