Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

New Year's thoughts.. thought I might learn to cook in 2012.... No, just kidding. Not where my efforts belong and it sounds like torture. I have had the last week of the year off and due to Mike's recent ACL surgery on his knee there is no skiing for us, so we have been home. Most of the week I haven't felt great. The stomach bug has ripped through everyone I know, but I seem to have escaped the extreme of it. I just felt off for days on end. I spent those days cleaning closets and organizing in hopes of feeling more in control and organized in my life. I have had some time to be still and ponder and reflect and think about how to energize for 2012. I wish I could say I came up with something amazing, but really haven't. We think of the new year as a new start and it is and I'm looking forward to a new year ... but every day is a new start and a new opportunity.

For 2012, I plan to keep myself surrounded by those who enrich my life. The people and thoughts you surround yourself with, in my opinion, make a huge difference in your life. What are your plans for 2012? Put it out there - so we can all hold each other up!

The Tough Warrior Princesses have been on a break and need to re-focus and energize. It is definitely a cycle and knowing what to do next is a challenge. The line between the passion and the amount of work that it takes and knowing when to get out of people's faces is always in the thought process. There has been so much happiness and sadness this year for our group. Above all we have built a support system like none other. I look forward to our 2012 experience and doing all the things we need to walk 60 miles again as well as growing the Tough Warrior Princess non-profit and helping and supporting those in need.

Thank you for reading and supporting me! The connections I have made from this blog are astounding and I appreciate each and every one.

I wish you all the best 2012!!! Where hopefully we all take small steps to embrace our experiences and work to improve our lives and the lives of everyone around us.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This time of year starts to get crazy for all of us. Thanksgiving is in the air and Christmas around the corner. The calendars fill up with events - both ones that we are happy and not so happy about. The to-do lists grow longer. I know this time of year is always more stressful for me.

We all know what stress can do to our immune system. The studies conflict, but stress is linked to cancer and tumor growth. Being a stressed Type A person by nature I am in constant battle with the stress reaction as it is very real in how it affects my body. I believe that stress is a huge cause of inflammation in the body and that causes many, many physical ailments.

I had considered myself doing quite well with my stress response, and keeping things in perspective. Lately, not so much. The house has been torn up as we try to put new floors in 3 rooms upstairs, work is busy, family is busy, there is worry about health and circumstances of family and friends and it goes on and on. So I am trying to reel it all in and get things back in perspective and focus on the moment and not worry about the details of later or tomorrow.

Well, that is easier said than done!!! Here are my top stress relievers:

Exercise Always - I exercise consistently whether walking, running or doing bootcamp. I know, however, that this time of year is when it is easier to skip workouts because of the calendar, the cold, the dark, etc.... I am trying to keep this to a minimum this year. Every time I exercise, I am thankful that I CAN exercise. My body is healthy and strong and knowing that gets me through the toughest workouts. I try to remember the days when I couldn't exercise or thought I never would again and that puts me in the grateful mode. I feel GREAT afterwards and the stress levels are definitely down as a result.

Breathe Deeply - I have stopped a few times lately just to breathe. I notice that I barely breathe. I am consciously trying to take a few deep breaths throughout the day. A large inhale, hold it for a bit and then exhale it all out slowly. It is an instant calmer.

Keep Perspective - on the big picture, on the little things - on everything.. Enough said!

Connections - I try to stay connected consistently to the people who enhance my life. It's easy to let life take over, but there is never an excuse! Venting to a friend, sharing a story, just saying hello - it always helps. I also try to make a small difference is someone else's life as often as possible. A smile, a kind word, showing some empathy. I am also always focused on new connections and how those connections can change your life.

I am interested in some feedback here. What do YOU do to minimize stress? My latest attempt is a stab at testing to see if reducing/eliminating white sugar and flour changes my stress levels -- amongst other benefits I am looking for. It's been a couple of weeks and the results are not in. I will keep you posted.

Here's to a less stressed holiday season for us all!




Monday, October 17, 2011

An October Update....

In my last blog post(a long time ago), I talked about the inspiration and beauty of the 3 Day walk and what it's like to be surrounded by people all fighting for the same cause. Magical.

A few weeks ago me and 3 other Tough Warrior Princesses, Cheryl, Sherri and Jody all traveled to Washington D.C. to volunteer to work the 3-Day walk there. We volunteered for traffic control. We flew into D.C. early Thursday morning in order to be there the day before the walk started so that we could attend "crew" meetings that instructed us what we would be responsible for over the coming 3 days. Our Traffic Control duties seemed like they shouldn't be too difficult and we were hoping to get the opportunity to cheer on walkers. Well.... our duties as traffic control were a bit harder than imagined. To say that we were soaked, muddy, tired beyond anything I have experienced would be an understatement.

The weekend was wrought with emotion as Jody experienced a loss in her family while we were away. Our teammate Maurine was facing new treatment for her advancing breast cancer that Monday, and our thoughts never went far from another teammate and her beautiful young daughter, who are experiencing some extremely tough times.

Arriving home, I don't think I have ever been so happy. Seeing Mike standing in the terminal waiting as we arrived from our flight was the highlight of my weekend for sure!

It was a long weekend spent for a cause so near and dear to my heart. I was challenged physically and emotionally. The three women I shared the experience with were my rocks. I'm honored to have done this with them. I'm very glad to have had the experience. Thank you and congratulations to all the D.C. walkers! $7 Million raised!!! I will tell you it is much easier, in my opinion, to walk 60 miles then Crew the event. I think I'd even walk 120 Miles!

The next day, I had the opportunity to take Maurine (fellow Tough Warrior Princess) into Dana Farber to start a Phase I trial treatment. Maurine has been in trial treatment before, but not Phase I. We arrived at 7:45 in the morning and stayed until 8:15 that evening. To say that Maurine is a guinea pig would be an understatement. We spent the day on the research floor - Maurine had tests run in the a.m. and then, once cleared had her first treatment of this new trial. After each weekly treatment that Maurine will now receive, she then has to spend 8 hours in the research lab having heart and blood tests. She is one of 16 women in the entire world enrolled to this trial. It was an eye opening experience... scary, exciting and interesting. Side effects? Drug interactions? Well some are known, but lots aren't. She is the research! Despite what the circumstances were, Maurine and I had a great day. (at least I think she had a great day - I know I did - but I wasn't the guinea pig.) We laughed a lot, because if you know Maurine, she can make any circumstance comical. It wasn't all laughter, as we talked a lot about life and how unfair it can be. But if you put your situation in perspective, it usually isn't all that bad. Maurine bounced around the Dana Farber building entertaining her chemo nurses from the prior trial and even entertaining her oncologist. She opined about her thoughts on the cure. Of course, she always has a new idea brewing!!

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, I must say this. In watching Maurine deal with the side effects of the trial, about getting bad news of another friend with late stage metastatic breast cancer, in remembering it is the month I lost my young mother to breast cancer 17 years ago on her 25th Wedding anniversary...

It seems to me that we often make a breast cancer diagnosis look easy. Look at the images on TV, all the talk of survivors, all the pretty pink.... I know that I have always been vocal about the bright side of my experience and always say in some strange way it has changed me for the better. It has and I am grateful and I live differently now. But, going through it was Hell for me and my family and friends. There is nothing uplifting or pretty about it, as with any and all cancers. It is not a feel good experience. Yes, there are better treatments than their were 17 years ago when I lost my mom... but there is NO CURE. That is what needs to be focused on not just in October and not just breast cancer.

Having got that off my chest....

We have also spent our time recently in the Mellon family raising funds for Juvenile Diabetes for the walk that Katie and her 'Krew' did in Boston on October 2nd. The following weekend we continued our fundrasisisng efforts as we hosted the Roberta Mellon Memorial Tournment at the Amesbury Golf & Country Club. The tournament was a great success and we are blessed with some great friends and family. Looks like about $4,000 was raised after expenses. Most of the money will go to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and a portion will also go to the Amesbury High School Golf team. It was great to have some members of the golf team present and playing in the tournament. The local business community of support was fantastic!

Our Tough Warrior Princess Team training continues for the upcoming October 30th Komen 5k Race for the Cure. 9 weeks ago, we started a Couch to 5k running program and the turnout was amazing. We have runners and walkers at all levels and since we are training at the track, we can all run our different paces while motivating one another to continue. We will continue training and will be running as Team Tough Warrior Princess on October 30th in Boston. If you are interested in running, sign up and become a Princess. The more the merrier!

The Princesses got together this past weekend for a night out. I was so nice connecting with some that I don't get to see as often as I would like. It seems that everyone on this team somehow plays off one another and each person is a better person as a result. Going into the 2011 walk, I was worried that a team of 32 people really couldn't share the close bonds like a team of 10 did -- How wrong I was!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Finding the Right Words.....

It is such a dilemna trying to find words fitting to describe to you what my experience at the 3-Day was like. There really aren't words to do it justice and I had forgotten just how breathtaking the whole experience is. I did not think my feeling about the 3-Day would ever compare to last year, after all, we had the extra excitement of a film crew following us everywhere last year - how could the excitement be the same? It was!!! There is something magical about 2,000 people all getting together and doing something extraordinary for a cause that is so near and dear to us.

Since the inception of starting the Tough Warrior Princesses there truly has been nothing but magic in everything. So many things have happened and you scratch your head and wonder..... Coincidence? I think NOT!!

Walking this year, Day 1 was one HOT experience, so hot, that they had to close the route down after mile 10 and bus us back to camp. A logistical nightmare if you think about the number of walkers that suddenly needed transportation. I would have liked to continue to walk, but I think it was very smart for Komen to close the route. Many people were hospitalized from heat exhaustion. So we spent the afternoon in the AC of a room in Gann Academy. It was nice to be able to cool down a bit. Most of us used this time to read the mail we had received at camp. I am at a loss to describe the number of tears shed from the letters I received. Thank you to those who sent them - it may seem silly, but when you are in the situation, it is incredible to receive the love and positive support.

On Day 2 the most memorable moments were at the cheering station set up by the Tough Warrior Princesses' family and friends. Thank you to McCue Garden Center in Woburn for letting us use your parking lot and providing watermelons for us to give out to walkers on the route! Day 2 was tough for me in the a.m. as we walked through downpours and thunderstorms - I do not like thunderstorms and was a bit nervous - but survived! The end of day 2 culminated with my friend and teammate, Maurine Turcotte delivering a speech to the 2,000 walkers and crew in attendance. It was both funny, as Maurine always is, and extremely emotional, as Maurine delivered a most memorable talk standing with her two young sons. She ended with... "When someone asks you what you did this weekend, you tell them you gave a mother from Amesbury a little more time with her children and husband." Maurine is in treatment for the rest of her life, as her cancer is metastatic. She is on weekly trial treatments now and these trials are funded in part by what we do. We don't have time, we need the research and the answers NOW.

Another huge part of the 3Day experience is visiting the Remembrance Tent. Alexa and I and many from our team all went together. In the tent are pictures of those walkers we have lost (so many - sooo young) and a tent and where you write messages. I need only say that the somberness and connectedness of these moments is utterly life changing. I watched Maurine's youngest son write a message and Alexa write a message to my mom, whom she never got to meet. These children as so wise beyond their years.

Day 3 started off with.... more Rain! But it quickly turned into a beautiful day. I spent the day walking primarily with my family teammates, Bob, Cheryl and Sue. It meant so much to me to be with them all day and share the experience. We walked pretty fast and got to our lunch stop early so that we could spend a lot of time with our families. Mike brought in Katie and Bob and Cheryl's boys and my brother, Ashley, came in with Olivia. And of course, my Dad! Dad, once again, was at every cheering station and lunch stop possible. He was everywhere! I don't know how he does it.

Leaving from lunch was with the entire team of 32! We had 3 miles to the finish line to walk together as a complete team. More magic. As we walked with our Tough Warrior Princess sign with our survivors holding the sign. A stunning moment came when Jeff Hollett, fellow walker and Iraq soldier, who walks in memory of his sister, asked our team to form a circle of trust around him. With our backs facing inward, he changed into his pink fatigues and our team broke out into singing God Bless America. God Bless you, Jeff, for defending our country and defending the memory of your sister. Boston would not have been the same without you this year.

Next came walking past an area where all the Pink Angels and Cup Crusaders, the 2 largest teams in Boston, were gathered waiting for their teammates. As the Tough Warrior Princesses approached, they all stood up and started clapping and cheering us on. What an honor that was. So many of us have formed forever friendships with these incredible teams and the love, respect and energy was breathtaking! We honor you and thank you!

On into the finish line we marched with tears of sadness and joy. Standing next to the 5 other survivors on our team holding our banner was so incredible. Seeing Mike, Katie and my dad waiting there along with all other teammates family and friends was so fantastic... but the best part was that as we walked in they were "coincidentally" playing the Tough Warrior Princess theme song "I Gotta Feelin'"!!!

I also got another 1 minute of fame as I was interviewed by Fox News. Kind of wishing I didn't look like I had just walked 60 miles - but, hey, "it's all good!" My dad also appeared being interviewed on NECN, but we have been unable to find the footage posted anywhere, although people did see it on the news.

Closing ceremonies were so much fun. Katie and I got to be on stage as I held the My Daughter Flag. The great thing was that the TWP team came in first to closing so they were right in front of the stage. It was so cool to watch them all with the fun, the dancing and the somber emotion as the ceremonies unfolded and we all watched Maurine walk into the Survivor cirle on center stage. My favorite picture from the walk is of Katie and I on stage - the only flag that is in the picture is the My Mother flag. It is stunning to look at that picture of Katie and I and have "My Mother" right behind us. I'll take that as my sign that she was with us and always will be.

Thank you 2011 TEAM TWP!!! The 32 of us were magic! $108,000 and counting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have special memories of each and every person on the team. The struggles, the pain and the complete and utter fun. I am all signed up for the 2012 already! Alexa will also be walking with our team in 2012 and needs to raise her own $2,300. I am so proud of her commitment to this cause and stepping out to take on such a huge challenge! Click here to see Alexa's story and donation page.

As for the upcoming months, the Mellon Family is switching gears. We will walk in October for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. We have a golf tournament coming up to honor Roberta Mellon, who we lost almost one year ago to pancreatic cancer. Proceeds from the tournament will go to Juvenile Diabetes. If you are interested in playing in the tournament on October 7th or joining 'Katie's Krew' and participating in her 3 mile walk in Boston on October 2nd, please let me know. We would love to have a huge team to honor Katie and raise some more money and awareness for this cause.

Thank you for all your love and support!!

Forever grateful and forever changed,



Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's time to Walk the Walk!

The 3-Day is next weekend!! I have trained well and am so ready. Can't wait to share this time with 30 others on our team that have made such a huge commitment. It is very impressive! All have met their minimums and are ready to go. Committing to raise $2,300 and walk 60 miles is not as easy as it may sound. The hours of training and the fundraising work is no small feat. Once again, Kudos to each and every one of you on the Tough Warrior Princess team. My sole sisters! We had a goal at the beginning of our fundraising of $100,000. We are so close to the goal!!!! Thank you to everyone for the amazing support!!! I am just amazed at the dedication!

Want to attend an event that will most certainly motivate and move you?! Come cheer us on at our private TWP cheering station at McCue the Florist parking lot on Saturday July 23 from 10am–2:15pm. It is located at 200 Cambridge Street, Woburn on the corner of Rte 3 and Lexington St next to the 99 Restaurant. Or consider coming to closing ceremonies on Sunday. The closing of this event is beautiful and we would love to see all of our friends and family there. The ceremonies are held at UMASS Boston in Dorchester. More details to follow as they become available.

I mostly can't wait to share this time with my daughter, Alexa. Alexa is part of the walk again this year, as she once again has the opportunity to be part of the Komen Youth Corp. She has raised $1,500 and will spend the 3 days working the event. Working the event is harder than walking the event. These kids are up before the walkers and work not just during the walk but before and after. They do so many different chores and also do a lot of cheering and kind things for the walkers. Alexa is perfect at the cheering part. My favorite part of the day is when I get to see her at a rest station or cheering station. Her smile and constant enthusiasm just melt me. I am so happy she partakes in this event with me. The best part of the entire 3 Day for me is when each of the Youth Corp kids get up on stage and talk about why they are there - it is extremely moving. This should be Alexa's last year of participating in the Youth Corp, as next year she will be 16 and will be old enough to be a walker.

I have been given the honor of carrying the My Daughter flag into the opening and closing ceremonies this year!! How proudly will I carry that flag?!! Because Alexa will be working the event, she won't get to walk with me as I carry the flag, but Katie will!! This is so significant for me, as I know my mother would be proud of us, her daughter and granddaughters for what we are doing. I will be so happy to have Katie by my side. Katie, who is the very example of strength and determination and facing a tough situation with grace. Katie just "celebrated" her 3 year anniversary of being diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. And yes, we did celebrate because Katie is well and is able to do everything she wants to! I never want my daughters to have to face a breast cancer diagnosis like me and my mom had to. Every step with that flag stands for the determination that I have to keep going until there is a cure.

My brother, Bob, is also walking the event this year and that too means so much to me. He is such a trooper. Being on a team and training with 30 women as the sole Prince can't be easy. We are all pretty strong, opinionated women and he has to put up with a lot. The work he has done for us is over the top. He handles all of our technical fundraising needs, just check out our website for a sample of his work. The fact that he is walking in this event to honor his mother and his sister is just awesome. There aren't many men on the route and I am so glad he will be one of them!

And lastly, but certainly not least. MY DAD!!! My dad is my biggest fan. Many of you reading this know that - because you have to listen to him gush about me - but I love that he is so proud. My dad goes nowhere without my business cards and the Video flyers. Heck, he was sick in the hospital passing them out to every nurse and doctor or person that would listen. He is also the biggest fan (well, next to Sherri's husband and family - the Ziomeks) along the route. For the entire 3 days that I walked my dad showed up at every cheering station and was there the entire way. My dad is 80 years young and the heat last year was so extreme - but that certainly didn't stop him. Last year he also had custom designed silver necklaces made for each team member with the princess logo engraved. Having lost a wife to breast cancer and then watching your daughter go through it all cannot be an easy thing. Thanks for always being there for me dad!! I love you!



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Facing Challenges and Fears -

The walk is getting close and training is in high gear. This past weekend was the back to back 18 mile / 15 mile training walk weekend. Although, due to most of us doing or volunteering at the Warrior Dash all day Saturday, there are some of us who did not get both walks in. This is the best time, the fundraising is wrapping up and the focus goes to training for and getting excited for our 3 Day walk. What I enjoyed most last year and am again this year is watching those that have never walked such high miles use their strength and determination to go the distance. Pushing through pain, making the time to do it and just going for it. I love watching the transformation. My vote for Warriors of the week for walking go to Barbara and Melanie. The two women have inspired me to challenge myself further. Love the heart you two have! Our training walks have been a blast and it is just fun getting the miles in and getting to know new teammates. We really have a great team!

Oh, wait, other Warriors from our team -- Cheryl, Bob, Julie, Marion, Sandy S, Sandy G, all the ladies from Synergy Fitness and ME! We did the Warrior Dash, a crazy mud filled 3 mile obstacle course through hilly woods, on Saturday. Not only did we finish, but at the end there is a very high roped wall you need to climb up and come over. It was the scariest thing I have ever done and near the top I knew I had completely lost my mind. But I came to do the race to face some fears and this was the biggest fear -- (well the whole mud everywhere thing was scary too) Sitting at the top trying to decide if I should just back down the way I had gotten up or take the leap and step over it and turn around and come down, I really had to struggle. I was shaking like crazy, looking down with my mud soaked body and sneakers and hands, and thought what if I slip? Then came the surge .... I CAN do this!! It was awesome!!! I got to the bottom and watched Cheryl conquer the same fears and were so proud of how far the 2 of us have come in the last two years! It was great... But I am still trying to get the dirt out from under my toenails. Yuck!!!

The TWP team had committed to providing 50 volunteers to staff the Warrior Dash and I just feel honored at the people who turned out to help us. These crazy women showed up at 6 in the morning in the downpours and thunderstorms. Amazing!!! I think the people who ran the race had it easier than these volunteers who were completely soaked and spent their day working hard. Thank you so much to my friends who did this! There are no words for how I felt when I saw the sheer numbers of you and felt the positive energy! Another $2,000 raised for Team Tough Warrior Princess!!

Alexa is once again on the Youth Corp. for the 3 Day walk. This means she is one of 20 children who will be working very hard those 3 Days at any task that needs doing. Cheering on participants and spreading love. I think this is harder than the walking 60 mile thing. I am so proud of her for raising the money, sharing the experience with me and taking on this challenge again. We also have Dylan and Tyler Turcotte on Youth Corp. and I know they will rock it!

Team TWP is almost at $90,000 so far this year and that doesn't count what our Youth Corp. has raised as well as other funds that are going towards the mission of the TWP. We are well on our way to our $100,000 2011 Goal and our official Non-Profit status.

My challenge for you this week - pick one fear and face it in some way. Leave a comment -- what is your fear and how will you take a step to face it. It really is empowering!


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Story of Heroes!

There are heroes everywhere, but I have found some truly outstanding ones. In my blog last year, I wrote the story of Kelsey, a young girl who had been severly abused until she was 3, when she was adopted by two Heroes - Heidi and Peter. Heidi and Peter have helped mold Kelsey into one of the most amazing young ladies I have ever met. I met Kelsey for the first time last year when Kelsey had a birthday party and donated all of her gifts to my 2010 Komen walk. $1,000! This year, Kelsey and Heidi endured the most unimaginable loss - Peter passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. This man was the picture of health. He was in great physical shape. He was a true hero -- not just to Heidi and Kelsey, but to so many others. After making a huge donation to my walk last year, Peter turned to my daughter, Katie and handed her a large donation to her upcoming Juvenile Diabetes walk. Peter had previously lost his brother to Juvenile Diabetes. He was so compassionate, kind and understanding.

This year, after just losing her father, Peter, I was shocked to learn that Kelsey was again going to do a birthday party and donate the proceeds to my 2011 Komen walk. Kelsey just turned 11.... and suffered the worst year. Yet she still wants to do something outside herself in an effort to cure breast cancer. Kelsey was impacted by a teacher in her school who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Kelsey started planning her party and that's where more heroes come into the story. Asha, a friend of Kelsey's with a birthday at the same time asked if she could join in. Kelsey and Asha combined their parties and asked that all gifts be made to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. WOW. Asha is just turning 10 and already is learning what is important. I'm so grateful to Asha for joining in and making the event even bigger. Then, there are Asha's parents. Chris and Mahdu - obviously heroes - they are raising a great girl. I remember meeting Mahdu at last year's party - she is a special woman.

At the party, everyone wore the same TShirts, breast cancer headbands and beads. It was a stunning event with tons of kids. It was held at CoCo Key Water Resort. Asha and Kelsey had made a gift bag for me with breast cancer items inside. My favorite item is my pink rubber survivor bracelet, which I now wear every day. It reminds me of what it means to be a survivor. Being a survivor means never giving up, making the most of whatever is dealt to you and turning it into the best example you can possibly make it. Heidi and Kelsey are not only heroes, they are true survivors.

Thank you to my heroes - Kelsey and Asha, Chris and Mahdu and dear Heidi and of course, Peter, who I will never forget.

The money is still coming in from the Birthday party.... but the total raised so far by these young ladies is.... $2,160. Now, if 2 young girls can raise that much money in 1 day, what can we all do if we put our minds to it?

Thank you Kelsey and Asha. You are in my heart forever!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tales of an Aging Princess.... Growing Better!

Another trip around the sun... it doesn't seem possible. So I just celebrated my 43rd bday, only the funny thing is, for some reason I thought I was 43 all last year, so this feels like a bonus!

Birthdays can be like a cancer diagnosis ~ you face your mortality and at the same time people come out of the woodwork to wish you well and although you may be thinking how old you are you remember the gifts in your life. The people. You reflect on the good and the bad. Some of us choose to look at the bright side and others only see the dark. What I have learned since cancer and facing yet another birthday -- LIVE life. So many people don't ever start living because they are too afraid or will do it tomorrow. I have decided that any time I want to do something, yet some little reason holds me back -- just DO IT!! Take your fear that is holding you from your good and STOMP on it. Now, I haven't done anything crazy, but I make many conscious decisions every day to push ahead with something even when my old self is telling me to hide or back away.

The morning of my birthday we were doing a team training walk. The girls arrive and I'm showered with well wishes, gifts and of course, a tiara. It was a beautiful sunny morning and as we are walking up a hill everyone seems to stop and tell me to look -- I was busy fiddling with my phone and paying no attention. I look up and in the woods is a sign with my picture on it! Sherri had made TONS of signs, as I was soon to find out and they were all posted strategically around our walk route. Each sign had our Princess logo, a pictue of me and words of wisdom or wit. Sherri and Cheryl had spent the morning posting each sign - Crazy girls!!! Of course, Jody came equipped with her camera and the fun we had! I confirmed what I already knew about myself... I don't always pay attention to small details. There was not one sign along the route that I noticed first, w/out someone slowing down or stopping so that I would. And these signs were not small or bland.... Big and colorful and awesome, just like our team. Thanks ladies!!! Best bday gift ever!

Some of us from our team went out and did the 20 Mile Walk for Hunger in Boston this weekend. It was a fantastic day and a great training walk. We also celebrated another team member and young survivor's birthday along the walk - Tina Journeay. Happy Birthday Tina and thanks for spending it with us! The Boston walk was a nice change of scenery from walking the streets of Amesbury.

Our training walks are ramping up and any given weekend if you drive around Amesbury, Merrimac or Newburport you are likely to spot a group of very dedicated walkers in training.

Dance Like a Princess Silent Auction is planned and coming together. We have over 130 auction items -- please don't miss this!! We have everything from spa's to sporting events, family photos to airline tickets, restaurants to boat cruises. We have many Boston and other North Shore items this year as well. I could go on and on. The items are AMAZING! Come out and show your support. We have spent a lot of time putting this together. It means so much when you see a friend walk through the door. The support is what makes it possible. To get your tickets you can contact me or go to and purchase them right on line. Please don't wait!!! We want to see your smiling face at this event.

Tough Warrior Princesses are well on their way to being a NonProfit. Our official mission statement is: "The Tough Warrior Princessses are committed to raising funds for breast cancer research, educating and enlightening the public on the need to find a cure, and providing support to local women and their families impacted by cancer."

(We are trying to get the word out to find an attorney to help. If you know of anyone capable and willing to donate some time to a great cause, let me know)

This weekend I have two amazing young girls, Kelsey and her friend Asha, who are having their birthday parties and donating all of the proceeds to my walk. The party is at CoCo Key Water Resort. Many of you will recall my blog post from a year ago highlighting Kelsey's unique and stunning story. This year, it means even more, as she has recently lost her father. I am so excited to be able to spend this day with them! I'll be sure to update soon to let you know how it goes.

Last, but not least, Congratulations to Sherri Ziomek, Breast Cancer Survivor, TWP Captain and Great Friend. She celebrated 5 Years Cancer Free! She is a shining example of hope. Here's to many more years of those types of anniversaries!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Service Above Self.... Thank you Haverhill Rotary!

On March 10th, Sherri and I had the honor of speaking at the Haverhill Rotary Club. What a welcoming group! Thank you to Chuck Traver and the Haverhill Rotary for the opportunity. We are most grateful.

As the Rotary went through their business meeting before we spoke, one of the members stood up and announced she was happy to be back after some months away from the group. She explained that she had been battling breast cancer. She proudly announced her move into survivorship and the group welcomed her back with great applause.

When Sherri and I got up to speak, I was so overcome with emotion... I was looking at the survivor in the group and was just overwhelmed with it all. Thoughts of my mom, our teammate Maurine (with metastatic bc), my other YOUNG survivor teammates and this new survivor just bowled me over. I know I am immersed in the bc world, but it seems epidemic to me. I am so happy, though, that a group like the Rotary is so open to hearing what we have to say.

Sherri and I talked, not about our disease, but about HOPE and the ability to make a difference. We were able to play our video Walk Like a Princess for the group and it definitely had the impact I thought it may. I noticed some tears in the audience. Of course, Rotarians know firsthand the ability to make a difference. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self. Enough said.

Team update - We are now 30 members strong! If you haven't checked out the updated website, please do!

On the website you can purchase your tickets to the May 14th Dance Like a Princess event.

We also have a new section on the website for Upcoming Events and Other Ways to Help. We have interesting ways in which you can help outside of the traditional donation. We are looking for event volunteers for the Warrior Dash on 6/25 (you can sign up online) and we have an Avon event from the 18th to the 28th of March, where we will be making 50% of everything purchased.

I just went out for my first official training run of the spring. Gotta get this body in shape for the Warrior Dash!

Happy Spring!


Friday, March 4, 2011

The people in our lives help shape our lives ....

I believe certain people are in our lives for a reason. I also believe that the people we choose to surround ourselves with help determine who we are and how we behave and view adversities. We can look at adversity and face it head on and overcome it in the best way possible or we can let those situations overcome us.

This past week I spent some time with two true Tough Warrior Princesses. I have neatly labeled myself a Tough Warrior Princess and to me, I am so much tougher than I ever thought I could possibly be, however, in most area's of my life, I truly have Princess status. I am married to the MOST wonderful man in the world. He lets me be a Princess and knows there are so many ways I am not tough and barely know what a warrior is. When my car breaks down, the windshield washer fluid gets low, a light goes out in the house, the cat pukes, an appliance breaks - not a worry - Mike will take care of it. I am helpless! I can't imagine taking care of a home on my own. And he is a great cook too!!

My friends Lisa and Sue - they are Tough! Both are single mom's with teenage children. Yes, I knew they were both intelligent, accomplished and strong; but I did not know the extent of it. Mike and I rented a house with them up in Stowe to ski during February vacation week. I watched these two women all week and they showed me what it means to be tough. Sue's car transmission blew right before the trip and she had to deal with not only how to get it fixed while she was away, but to figure out how to pay for such a huge unexpected expense. Yet, she skied and her kids skied and they dealt with it; and she was a blast to be around. I got a glimpse into Sue's life and I am in awe of what a great mother she is and how extremely hard she works. She has to deal with stuff that I would never know how to deal with on my own. Then there is Lisa, who I have known a lot longer. Lisa took care of Alexa for me since Alexa was very young. I always knew how strong and independent she was. I am so happy that Lisa has had such a huge influence on Alexa's life, what a great example! Lisa always finds a way to make things happen. She never sits back and always has a plan. I watch her work two jobs and raise 3 amazing children and own her own home. Her children, unknowingly still, are so blessed. That she finds ways to afford to always take them on the special trips that will define their childhood memories and be a great role model.

I'm speaking for Lisa and Sue here, but life hasn't gone exactly as planned for either of them, yet they are stunning examples of strength and positive action and certainly show me how to be better.

The official definition of 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.

I want part of the mission of the Tough Warrior Princesses to be to show women who are in tough situations that they can rise above. You can sit back and have the pity party and let life swallow you or you can decide to be the change by making it happen. Sometimes simply taking the focus off of yourself is the beginning of true change.

Sherri and I went to our oncology appointments together recently at Dana Farber. We have the same oncologist and coincidentally had appointments the same day. We were talking with our oncologist about the fact that New Balance had done the video and how we had recently set up the Tough Warrior Princesses as an organization and would be filing for non-profit status. This gives us room to direct funds we raise in other directions, besides just our Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walks. Our oncologist told us stories of the needs of women she sees every single day. She sees a lot of younger women who are either single or divorced with small support systems. Every day that they come in for treatment is a day out of work with no pay - which cannot be afforded. These younger women have trouble finding rides to treatment, as their circle of friends typically all are working as well and also cannot afford to take a day out. I remember how lucky I felt that I had not only a HUGE support system, but the luxury of taking time out of work and two layers of disability policies from which to draw. And, still, how hard it was to stay strong and face each of the steps of treatment and unknown outcomes. I surrounded myself with people who certainly let me have my down moments and pity parties, but each and every time they pulled me up by an example of strength and wisdom. (Call Cheryl if you want to know what an Un-Tough Warrior I was at moments of my journey)

I want to help women who don't have the support systems, who don't have the luxury of disability or the luxury of friends waiting in line to take them to chemo. Who have to deal with getting children to and from school or day care, when they can't. I'm sure some of these women have never had examples of what a Tough woman can do when she sets her mind to it and never had the luxury of being a princess.

I wish I could describe to you (I'm sure I will in another post) each of the women and my wonderful token male brother we have on the Tough Warrior Princess team this year. We are truly defining Tough Warrior Princess. Each person brings a whole new dimension to our team and I know that as a group we have the power to make a HUGE difference.

Lastly - but certainly not least -- please mark your calendars - Saturday, May 14th for the 2nd Annual Dance Like A Princess Silent Auction!!! Plans are well under way and tickets will soon be available for purchase directly from our website. It will be held from 7-12 in Amesbury at the Holy Family Parish Hall.

Thank you so much for your support!



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2 Years - Cancer Free! Celebrating Life!

It's amazing what can change in two years. Two years ago today, February 9th, I was in major surgery and facing the fight of my life. Knowing that once I was healed from the surgery, the chemo and a year of Herceptin treatments would begin. All that and Katie had also just been diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes. What a scary feeling and completely dark days those were. However, whenever we go through any tough times in our lives, that's when we first find inner strength and whatever we are lacking in inner strength and wisdom --- well, that's where our friends and family pick up the slack.

After this experience, I do believe that in our darkest times, we truly begin to learn how blessed we really are. You start to think of all the things you took for granted before and vow never, ever to take anything for granted again. One day everything is fine, yet you are stressed about some meaningless things and the next day you wish you could just go back to the absolute perfection of yesterday. It is a complete change of perspective in a major way.

I have read a couple of things lately that have made me sad, but also reflective. It's about the happy face survivors put on and the flowery world within which some live, when instead of spreading such a message, the reality is that cancer sucks. The articles basically said it is all a world of pretend and survivors needing to escape reality. I first took offense to that and then I started to think about why so many survivors do seem to be truly happier and feel more blessed than they were before. There is certainly truth to the fact that as survivors, we do need to escape reality. We can't live our lives looking at statistics and thinking about what might happen. But in my experience, I am truly happier and realize my blessings more than I ever did before. I have stopped worrying about a lot of the meaningless stuff I used to worry about, I thank God for my life each and every day, I feel much more connected to my friends and family and am much more willing to reach out of my circle and help someone else. I feel others pain and struggles so much more deeply now. I am much more open to live and experience life and take risks and challenges that I would not have taken before.

After feeling the love of my friends and family that truly have held my hand, washed my hair, watched me lose my hair, counseled, consoled, put up with rages and tears and just been there every step of the way, I will never, ever be the same. How can one not feel blessed? How can one not be ready to give back? Flowery? maybe.... but I feel like the moment I forget this experience or let it dull in my mind, that I could go back to being insensitive, stresssed and simply not aware and lacking the Hope that I now have.

I am two years cancer free and one year out of treatments!!! How can I not be filled with happiness and be forever grateful. I'm here. And since I am here - well, I am going to make a difference. Sunshine? Sure!!! Bring it on!!!

TEAM Update: Tough Warrior Princesses now have 24 team members ready to raise $2,300 each and walk 3 Days and 60 Miles. We had a team meeting the other night and what a great group of strong, motivated women. Planning is underway for a number of fundraisers, including our dance and silent auction that will hopefully be held May 14th. (We just need to confirm a venue) I was blessed enough to be able to volunteer at a Komen Get Started Meeting in Beverly and what a great experience. Many of the new Princesses came to this meeting and they were just awesome. I am truly surrounded by a team of women that are strong, faithful, loving, kind and READY to KICK SOME CANCER BUTT!!!

No one should have to go through what me and my family have been through. No one should have to go through what so many of my friends and acquaintances fighting this disease are going through. The realilty is that this disease, whether breast, prostate, lung, ovarian, pancreatic on and on and on is dreadful. It takes lives and ruins lives. We all need to take a stand and try to stop it.

Be MORE and Count your Blessings!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Year, A New You!

A New year.... it feels like a blank slate. It feels good, yet uncomfortable in some ways. I am proud of what I accomplished in 2010 and although it was not an easy year by any means, I feel good about the person I have come to be.

I have never really set New Year's resolutions before and I'm not sure I want to call my 2011 thoughts resolutions, but I guess if I don't I'm not commited to them and the list is long. Most of my resolutions are around just being a better person and paying it forward. I want to live more in the moment and have faith that everything is for a reason. I want to challenge myself with new things.

Last year I kept a log of my walking, running and general exercise. I tracked hours and miles. It was fun and challenging to be sure there weren't to many days that went by where I did nothing. It really helped keep me motivated the entire year - which is definitely a first! This year I have also created a log and simply want to surpass what I did in 2010. I have read so many articles about exercise and the evidence showing that it lowers your chance of a recurrence for breast cancer. I want to be sure I am always doing everything in my power to prevent this disease from ever returning to my body. I'm building my armour - by diet and exercise and thoughts.... and also by doing what my doctor tells me and taking the med they tell me to take.

I am so looking forward to this year's 3 Day walk. We have 18 Princesses officially signed up and a few more that have committed, but just not signed up yet. It is AWESOME!!! These women are beyond fantastic. It is a great group with a lot of heart and spirit and we are ready to take on the world. We are looking for effective ways to fundraise - as that is the important piece of this whole thing. It is difficult hitting family and friends - especially year after year. I am hoping to find ways to get businesses involved in our cause and find a win-win scenario. I have been blessed already by the support of many businesses for my 2011 walk and am so thankful. Any ideas and thoughts that anyone has would be so welcomed!! We also have a few people that have volunteered their time and talents to help our fundraising efforts. They don't want to walk, but want to be involved in the cause and we are so grateful. Our first task is to find a hall to hold our May 2011 Silent Auction and Dance. I think we have outgrown the Lafayette Club, unfortunately. They were so kind to donate the hall to us, it made for an effective fundraiser.

My teammate Sherri Ziomek and I will both be involved in a few of the Get Started meetings for Komen. If you are thinking of doing the walk this year, attending one of these meetings is a great way to learn about the event and what is involved if you decide to sign up. If you would like more information, please let me know. The meetings are in January and February.

What are your resolutions this year? Take a step and be more than you thought you could ever be and then take a moment to Pay it Forward.
Wishing you well in 2011!!!