Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Fork in the Road

Wow, it's been a crazy summer and I have been neglectful of this blog.  There is so much going on with TWP, I would like to share some bits and pieces. 

First and most importantly I want to send out love to Tina Journeay and her family.  Tina is the Treasurer of TWP and her 9 year old beautiful daughter just lost her fight with Neuroblastoma.  No words can ever express to Tina how much she is loved and how we wish we could take away her pain.  Emma was the youngest Tough Warrior Princess and she was also the strongest.  

To honor Emma, many TWP members are joining a team called EVERY STEP FOR EMMA.  This team will walk for The Dana Farber Jimmy Fund Walk on September 9th.  Please consider joining our team or making a donation to one of the team members.  I have hit my goal, but Alexa and Katie have both signed up and need to reach goal, as many other teammates do.  This link goes to Alexa's fundraising page.  She needs to raise $300. This link goes to Katie's fundraising page, she needs to raise $100. To donate to another member of our team you can go to the TEAM page from either of these links.  We all wonder what we can do and feel HELPLESS.  This is what we know how to do.  We know how to fundraise and we know how to walk.  We need to END CANCER! Every Step for Emma.

At the end of July Alexa and I, along with my wonderful team of TWP's, embarked upon another 60 Mile journey for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.  It was so bittersweet this year, as Tina was unable to be with us except for the opening and closing ceremonies.  The heartache in the air was thick, but so was the magic.  Thank you to every Princess who took the journey. Most especially, thank you to my beautiful daughter Alexa.  I am grateful for the experience I shared with her and so proud of her incredible fundraising efforts and spunk and positivity for the entire 60 mile walk.   Let's put an end to breast cancer.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every person who donated to this cause.  The team was able to raise almost $70,000 this year.

                                        As always, Dad and Tucky are there to support us!

From Left to Right - The TWP Cancer Survivors - Me, Tina Journeay, Sherri Ziomek, Sandy Schneider, Dana Fagerquist, Maurine Turcotte and Allison Jaloszynski
                                                               The 2012 Walk Team 

                                                                My daughter Alexa

Tough Warrior Princess as an organization is growing and changing rapidly and I feel passion for our purpose like never before.  I am starting to see more and more direct impact from our efforts.  

We have been able to help some phenomenal women, men and families lately and it is more than an honor for us to do so.  The appreciation of small things that we can do is amazing.   The needs keep rolling in and the needs keep getting larger.  When a woman is dealing with cancer and can't afford basic essentials for her children it is heart wrenching.  Being forced back to work, while coping with debilitating side effects and trying to hold it all together with all the stress is unimaginable.  If we can lighten anyone's load in any way, we do it.  

Our survivor baskets have been a huge hit, thanks to a grant from the The Institution for SavingsThe first contact with any person we help is the Survivor Basket.  These are filled with helpful items someone might need when faced with surgeries, chemo and radiation.  The baskets are customized to the type of cancer and the individual's family situation and needs. 

Our fundraising efforts for TWP continue.  We had a Flatbread fundraiser night that brought in over $700.  Many, many thanks go out to Flatbread, as they have supported us for 3 years now.  They have also offered to put Flatbread gift cards in our survivor baskets.  Things like this really go a long way.  

There is a sunset river cruise on Sept. 2nd and proceeds will be donated to us.  What an honor - a fundraiser planned for us!  Doesn't get much better.  Sorry all, the boat is already sold out!!  

We are working on a calendar - The Men of Amesbury support Cancer Awareness.  Each month of the calendar will represent a different type of cancer and feature that cancer's associated color.  We have many groups participating including our esteemed Mayor Thatcher Kezer, the Amesbury Police Dept, many local youth sports teams, our Veteran's, etc.  The calendars will be sold in participating shops down town starting in October.  

October brings breast cancer awareness month.  We are planning to light Amesbury Pink.  Pink light bulbs will be available at Amesbury Industrial Supply.  Stay tuned for more details.  Each year, we hope to light the town a different color one month of the year.  

We also have our annual Princess Tea Party in October!  Last year was AMAZING and this year is looking to be bigger and better.  

We have just partnered with a company called Op4G.  This company out of Portsmouth, NH is a market research community benefiting Non-Profits through paid survey activities taken by members.  Please consider becoming a member of Op4G today and choosing The Tough Warrior Princesses as your charity of choice.  When surveys become available to members, you receive an email telling you what the survey is and how much $ it will generate for your charity.  We would be honored if you took this action on our behalf.  Go to www.op4g.com today and choose Join Us!

All funds from these fundraisers go directly to Tough Warrior Princesses.  We are 100% volunteer based and have no overhead.  Your money goes directly to LOCAL women and their families impacted by cancer. Not just breast cancer... ANY type of cancer. 

This weekend was our debut with the YWCA!  We have partnered with the YWCA of Newburyport and their Encore program.  The motto between our organizations is "Embracing the Possibilies."   The YWCA Encore program is a free session based program designed specifically for those who have experienced breast cancer at any time in their lives. Incorporating gentle exercises, relaxation techniques, information and peer group support, it is safe, fun and therapeutic. The land exercise program is specially designed to target areas that have been affected by breast cancer surgery and treatment. Gentle, but effective exercises improve strength, mobility and flexibility while the warm water aquatic program relieves affected muscles. The peer group support sessions provide an opportunity for people to share their experiences in a safe and supportive environment.  Participation is free and no membership is required.  The families of the TWP joined together with women participating in the Encore program and had a pool and garden party celebrating the partnership.  It was fantastic.  We are so very lucky to have partnered with this wonderful organization.  A huge thank you goes out to Charlene Dolan and Danielle Holmes of Dolan Financial Services in Amesbury, MA.  They  provided the food and supplies for the pool party and were the people who got us in touch with the YWCA in the first place.  They have been invaluable to us in so many aspects and TWP wouldn't be where they are today or what we will be in the future without them.  
                                                                                    The joint logo - I love this!!

Lastly, I invite you to come join the fun.  On Wednesday, September 19th, TWP is having it's first open, general meeting.  Anyone is invited.  We are looking to brainstorm and plan for our future.  We will be meeting at the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank at 43 Main Street in Amesbury, MA at 7:00 p.m.  We need you!!

 Meetings not for you?  You can become a member for $10.00 and support us just by that fee or select other volunteer opportunities.  Go to www.toughwarriorprincess.com to join. 

Or, simply Share or forward this blog.  It may touch someone to join Every Step for Emma or come out to a meeting.  Every little thing counts!

I am hoping everyone had a wonderful summer.  I know I am looking forward to getting back to some structure and cooler days.  Thank you for taking the time to let me share the TWP story and as always, thank you for the support!  I hope you take a moment here to say a prayer for the Journeay family.  




Saturday, June 2, 2012


It's a rainy Saturday morning and I am blessed to be quietly reflecting and drinking my warm coffee.  I am thinking about friends and acquaintances and people who are heroes to me and why. 

Let's start with Kelsey - my young 11 year old friend who holds her birthday party each year and asks her friends to donate to my annual walk.  She has officially raised over $5,000 for my walk in the 3 years she has done this.  Her personal life story and her struggles makes most people's pale in comparison.  Her journey is tough, but she is tougher!  Check out the new addition to the Tough Warrior Princess website - Kelsey's Corner.  http://www.toughwarriorprincess.com/kelseys_corner.html

Then, there is a young girl who is turning 9 this weekend.   My friend Emma.  Her mom and grandmother are breast cancer survivors.  Emma is battling stage IV Neuroblastoma.  This has been going on for almost a year and Emma has faced beyond grueling treatments and is about to be admitted for another month of stem cell transplants.  The horror of what she has faced and is going through now is so far beyond words.  This girl is STRONG.  This girl is a hero.  Check out the article about her in the Newburyport news.  http://www.newburyportnews.com/lifestyle/x1647291855/A-world-of-friends
Consider becoming part of Emma's Penpal Adventure Around the World on Facebook.

Then, we have Emma's mom, Tina.  Talk about amazing beyond words...  A breast cancer survivor and Treasurer of the Tough Warrior Princess organization.  Tina teaches Emma how to fight and how to appreciate life and not let it get you down.  Tina continues to stay connected to her friends for love and support.  She attends Tough Warrior Princess meetings, contributes as if there is nothing else going on in her life, and continues to go on training walks with our team as life permits.  She also helps her mom fight a battle with breast cancer at the same time.  She is a constant ray of sunshine as she teaches us how to appreciate our lives in a quiet way. 

I am also watching a few of my dear friend's children graduate this year.  It is so strange to look back and know I have watched these kids since they were little.  I have watched their parents influence on their lives and am proud to call these parents my friends.  I have learned a lot watching them and hope to be as successful in my parenting.  I have had some great examples to follow. 

The Tough Warrior Princess organization continues to grow.  We got some coverage in our local paper and that has been a blessing in connecting us and our cause to our community.  http://www.newburyportnews.com/lifestyle/x234161534/Local-nonprofit-helps-families-fighting-cancer   We had our annual 'Dance Like a Princess' silent auction event this past month and are blessed with the success and support.  With even more expenses this year, our event raised a net of $17,000.  This $17,000 goes to two places - the Tough Warrior Princess portion of the funds goes to our mission of helping women and their families impacted by cancer of any type.  The other portion of the funds goes to the other part of our mission in raising funds for breast cancer research in hopes of finding a cure.  The funds are divided between the walkers on our team that are walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure. 

We are thankful for the support.  The businesses in our local communities and the support of friends and family far and wide make it possible. 

Stay tuned as we explore new opportunities to expand our mission of helping women with cancer. 
We are working on our first official newsletter and welcoming new members who want to help suppport our mission.  To learn more go to www.toughwarriorprincess.com

Back to Heroes -- Take a moment this weekend to quietly honor the heroes in your life.  I bet there are many!!


Patty Mellon

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Magic when you need it most!

There are times I must admit that I wonder if we did the right thing in starting the Tough Warrior Princess non-profit organization. Some days it seems daunting. The auction items for our May silent auction fundraiser are coming in much slower this year, as are donations and it gets stressful.  We want to pull off the best fundraising event possible. It's the Type A personality in me and in a lot of our committed teammates. I am realizing more and more that there just is not time to fit it all in and be able to do everything you want to do.

We had a TWP board meeting this week and our worries were dicussed. After the board meeting, I felt better, as we accomplished a lot. One of the topics were that we didn't know how we would get a cake donated for our event this year. Another topic was wondering if we were going to get the grant we had applied for to start doing survivor baskets. Another worry that I had this week is my own fundraising for my Komen walk.

We have always said the there is something called TWP magic. It often happens when we are all together, but there are so many serendipitous events that have led us to where we are it is almost a magical journey. Well, in true style and just when we needed the boost, TWP magic struck again!!! The morning after our TWP board meeting, we get a new membership form submitted on our website -- it is a woman who had been to our event last year and was wanting to be able to help. Guess what she offered?!.... To donate a cake for our event!!! 

Today, we received word that we got the grant from the Institution for Savings!!! Our very first grant!!! This grant will be used to make Survivor Gift Baskets. These baskets will contain various items one needs when going through a cancer dianosis and treatment. We want to really show our support for women with a cancer diagnosis and help her through it. The basket will be the first symbol of our commitment and caring.

Then, I was contacted by my very favorite people -- Kelsey and her mom. Kelsey is the young girl who, for the last 2 years, has held her birthday party and asks that her gifts be in the form of donations to Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure to help support my walk! They let me know that once again, Kelsey has chosen to do yet another birthday party without gifts for her, but gifts that she hope will help others. Kelsey's personal story is one of strength, determination, power and love like I have never seen. I have written about her in my past blogs. Her story is more than magic.

Another exciting thing on the horizon is the connection we have made with a company called The b Positive Project. I ran into the company when running in a 5k last year and bought a great tshirt with their logo.  Their message.. b Inspired b Motivated b Positive. The purchase of this TShirt helped fund the charity that had sponsored this particular 5k. b Positive, in their line of business, helps charities succeed and espouses a fantastic message. We are now in talks with them to get a line of clothing with our Princess on the front, but also the b Positive logo! Sales of these shirts will further help fund our cause and help us get word out about The Tough Warrior Princesses.   (If you go to their website and buy anything, please use TWP code so 20% of proceeds come back to us!)

So, wrapping up the week, my attitude has shifted back to that of power and hope. I am back to being inspired, motivated and positive!! That is where my attitude belongs.
Please, please mark your calendars for May 19th. Our 3rd Annual Dance Like a Princess Silent Auction will be held at the Holy Family Parish Hall in Amesbury. Tickets can be purchased online at www.toughwarriorprincess.com.

Thank you all for your support!!



Thursday, March 1, 2012


After being diagnosed in 2008 and having my treatment plan after my initial surgery, which found more cancer, completely blow up into more surgery and more treatment, I got really scared.  We made the plans for my next surgery, which would be a double mastectomy with reconstruction.... I was beyond frightened but resolved in what the next steps had to be.  I looked at my young children and realized before the next round of surgery we needed to get away.   Surgery was planned and the trip was planned.  We took the kids to Disney and had the time of our lives.  I truly enjoyed that vacation and it helped put my mind in the right place. 

I just returned from a trip to Florida with my family - not Disney this time, but just a warm, sunny relaxing trip with my beautiful family.  It was our first trip - other than skiing - since that time.  It put me back in the same space in a lot of aspects and helped me to appreciate the small stuff -- which is not really the small stuff .... It is the stuff that matters most.

Please remember in your daily lives, what if tomorrow it were all to change?  What would you cherish about today?  I cherish YOU - my friends and my family.

Please take a moment to hit this link to my friend and teammate, Sherri's blog.  Sherri eloquently explains why we continue to support Komen and outlines why we are working to grow THE TOUGH WARRIOR PRINCESS organization.  Our mission is to help women fighting any type of cancer.  Cancer is cancer.  Doesn't matter the origination - WE NEED A CURE.... NOW!

Sherri's Blog:  http://sherris3day.blogspot.com/

Without Sherri, there would be no Tough Warrior Princesses!  For those of you that don't know Sherri, she is also a survivor.  She is my age and went through her diagnoses and treatment just before me.  I remember being so scared for her then. Watching her and her family of 3 young children cope with it all.    Then, when it happened to me, she became my source and my family's sources for understanding, comfort and simple friendship.  We have been through so much together and together will  MAKE A DIFFERENCE. 



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You never know what kids are thinking at any age. Remember back to your childhood about some of the perceptions that you had? I didn't realize that my 15 year old daughter, Alexa, had any fears about cancer until recently. Of course, when I was first diagnosed there was a lot of fear, but then we got through the tough times and healed and life seems mostly normal again. This winter Alexa had an extremely sore throat like she had never experienced before. She was feeling her neck and felt swollen lymph nodes. She confessed to me that she was extremely worried -- upon inquiry why, I learned that she feared she had cancer. I told her it was most certainly not cancer and asked her why she would think that. She said, "mom, it is everywhere. Your mom, you, so many of our friends and even Emma. Why wouldn't I be afraid it could be me too?" Emma, for those of you who don't know is the daughter of the Treasurer of the Tough Warrior Princesses. Emma is 8 years old and fighting Neuroblastoma. I was so shocked that Alexa saw things as she did - yes, I understand why she does, but she always seems oblivious and happy and I never would have guessed her fears. The good news in this story is that we brought her to the pediatrician who declared .... Strep Throat!! Alexa was so happy she bounced out of the Dr.s office.

I have mentioned before on this blog that Alexa is planning to do the Komen 3-Day walk with our team this year. She will be 16 this summer and officially old enough to participate in the walk! She is officially a Tough Warrior Princess! I can vouch for the part where she is a Princess, I will have to provide updates on whether she really is a Tough Warrior... You do have to be tough and committed to raise the minimum $2,300 and do the training! Sure, she is in great shape, but walking 60 miles if your body is not used to walking long distance can be painful. A lot of walking is required just to harden off your feet so you are less suseptible to blisters. We'll see if she can handle the early morning training walks....
What she has impressed me with thus far are her fundraising efforts. Last week she painted the Amesbury High School Pink!!! She and a group of friends in the Peer Leaders group organized and did a bake sale, sold bracelets and candy. She is also selling pink ribbons to write an honor or/memory of name on them. She will walk the 60 miles with all of those ribbons. I am so proud of the work and commitment she has shown to this cause. She doesn't have final totals but it looks like $600 was raised after expenses. I know she will get to her $2,300 goal and easily surpass it!! Go ALEXA!!! 

The Tough Warrior Princesses have been very busy! The Komen firestorm has been troubling. I just don't want to see decisions made politically. I personally didn't care either way that a small amount of funding wasn't being sent to Planned Parenthood - only because they don't do mammograms anyways. I just want to see the money going to research. I have personally experienced as have so many of my friends the life saving trials and benefits of research. But we need so much more. For that reason, I will continue to walk for Komen each year. When you have Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, every bit of research counts.

But, that leads me up to the importance of our non-profit organization - The Tough Warrior Princesses. I'm not sure how many actually realize that we are an official non-profit. Our mission is not to fund research -- as obviously we don't have the means for such huge endeavors at this point. We just want to make a difference locally in the life of women and their families battling any type of cancer. Whether it is financial help for those in need, funding treatments or emotional help. Small things can make a huge difference in the life of someone battling cancer.
The Princesses have also been meeting to plan our fundraising efforts for the year.
Please mark your calendars for our 3rd Annual Dance Like a Princess Silent Auction on May 19th at the St. Joseph's hall in Amesbury. If you have or know of anyone that could donate items for the auction, it would be greatly appreciated! Businesses willing to make a contribution will be highlighted in our brochure for the evening, on our website and on our Facebook page.  
Lastly, check out www.toughwarriorprincess.com. We are now selling Tough Warrior Princess memberships. Becoming a member can be nothing more than a show of support.  It is your choice. You can use your talents to help make someone's journey easier -- cooking meals, rides to chemo, fundraising, etc.  We want to build a network of funds and people to really make a difference.  

And for me the best news of all -- Tomorrow I am celebrating 3 Years Cancer Free!!!    It is a gift that I don't take for granted.  

Determined to keep moving on!