Thursday, October 31, 2013

Create a Personal Challenge for yourself

As winter approaches I always seem to struggle.  All of my commitment to diet and exercise has started to wane, as it seems to every year at this time.  I think I'm using this blog to pump myself up and get myself back to 'me.'

Last month, I completed my first half marathon. I felt I needed to do this to continue to challenge myself and because God has given me a body that is able to - so why not?!   Think you can't do this?  I can assure you - you CAN!!!  I simply followed a 3 times per week training plan and started from step #1.  My goal was simply to finish and I did.  It was tough, but doable.  I never plan to run a marathon, but I do plan to do the 13.1 distance again. What I learned through this challenge is that pushing through the barriers in your mind can truly set you free.  Our minds truly can limit what we do and change how we are feeling.  Running, because every step is hard for me, helps me to get inside my mind and challenge my beliefs and what is possible.  It is parallel to challenges you face in life and how you choose to perceive them.  It also reminded me how people in your life make all the difference.  I had an AWESOME cheering section of friends and family that popped up all along the route.  The encouragement and love they shared, especially near the end when it got really tough for me, was phenomenal.  What a difference they made - I can say if they weren't there my perception of that run would have changed 100%.  Just like in life, it is the people you surround yourself with and the love that gets you through.  Remember, just one word or one act of kindness can entirely change someone's journey.

The Tough Warrior Princesses are also trying to promote the lifestyle approach to doing what is in your control to prevent cancer.  We are working to partner with business in fitness and health.  We are currently working with the YWCA of Newburyport to plan a triathlon.  The difference with this triathlon is that it will be doable for all -- you swim in the pool at the YWCA at your pace -- you swim for a time limit - not a distance.  You swim your distance - your way.  Some might make a 1/2 mile or more -- I know I will dog paddle my way across the pool.  Same with the bike - we will use stationary bikes.  Then we will use the Newburyport Rail Trail for the run/walk portion.  Start thinking about challenging yourself to do this.  More details to follow in the coming months.  TRY our TRI!!!

Please, please vote!!!!  The Anna Jacques hospital is opening the Gerrish Breast Center and in promoting the new endeavor, they have entered a national video contest.  If they win the video contest, The Tough Warrior Princesses will be awarded the $25,000 prize to further our mission of helping women with cancer.  Please go to and watch and VOTE Now.  Share with your friends and vote every day until November 8th.

TWP have a lot going on.  If you haven't seen our newsletter with event highlights.  Please click here!  We need you to join the army.  One small act that you take can really help us.  Whether it is hitting share on Facebook, liking our Tough Warrior Princess page, driving a patient to treatment, delivering a meal or sending a card.  We post our needs on our Facebook page, please join us there.  Upcoming events include a craft fair with wine, Dining for Dollars at the Longhorn Steakhouse and Emma's Pen Pal Adventure. The newsletter contains all of the details.

So, now I ask you.  What is your next Personal Challenge?  Is it to spend more time on yourself, take a walk every day, eat better, run a 5k. etc.   I need my next challenge.  Anyone have any ideas?



Friday, August 30, 2013

Honoring our loved ones

HONORING EMMA, Bridget, Mo and Mom forever - Who are you honoring?

I am so blessed!  I am healthy and forging onward.  I wish I could say the same for the four warriors who have shaped my life in ways unimaginable. Emma Journeay, Maurine Turcotte, Bridget Spence and my awesome MOM.  I could write for hours and hours about each of these incredible warriors.  All taken way too early to cancer.  NO words will ever do justice to what each of them experienced and how they each lived through it with courage and taught those around them to live.  For these three, and for my mom, who taught me courage, giving back,  a positive attitude and a belief beyond what we see, are critical to living a happy life and helping those around us who may not be. I am also honoring my friend Peter Devereaux.  See his blog .  Peter is living with metastatic breast cancer.  His story and the cause of his cancer is alarming.  He recently had a setback and I think of him every day.   

Take a moment to think of people in your life past and present and what they have taught you.  Honor them.  Take a moment to comment here on the blog and write about the people you honor.  It is healing and gives us all a way for them to live on.  

An Update on The Tough Warrior Princesses:

On August 17th and 18th, some of our Tough Warrior Princesses participated in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event.  My favorite part of the event was the remembrance tent that we set up.  Anyone at the event could come to our tent and hang a name or a message for a loved one lost or battling cancer.  We were also taking requests by Facebook.  It was such an honor to be able to write down other's loved ones names and take a moment to honor them.  Listening to all of the names of people lost to cancer being announced at the relay was somber.   I heard so many names of past friends, acquaintances and loved ones.  It was humbling and scary to think how many are lost to this dreaded disease.  

Hopefully, by being at this event, people in the community are more aware of the resources we provide to those fighting.  Thank you to all who supported us and to Cheryl Woodsom, who organized everything.  

Last month, we had 15 princesses take part in the Komen 3-Day / 60 Mile event.  I did not walk this year, as I wanted my fundraising efforts to focus on Tough Warrior Princess non-profit and our local mission.  The team this year had heavy hearts, but they turned that into love and joy.  They walked for so many - but especially Maurine, Emma and Bridget.   They took what they learned from Maurine and treasured and enjoyed every moment of the journey. It was inspiring to watch them.  The young team members Alexa and Dylan were just awesome to watch, each raising over $2,300 for the cause.   Then we had Maddie, Mia and Tyler serving on the Youth Corp. team.  What an absolute inspiration these young kids are.  I got to stand on the sidelines these three days with a great group of cheerleaders for our team.  We followed them everywhere with our "In Memory of Mo" signs.  So many women and men came up to us and told us stories of Maurine and how they had met her on previous walks.  We even had a team member this year from western MA.  Melissa - she joined our team because she had the honor of walking a few miles with Maurine last year and was forever impacted.  When she joined our team, she didn't realize that Mo had passed. She thought she would walk beside her - in spirit, she did.   I got to cheer beside Maurine's husband, Jim. He honored every single walker as the came in to camp and wouldn't leave until the last walker arrived in.  He so sincerely thanked each person for walking and was overwhelmed with Maurine memories and stories from the participants.  I can't imagine the range of emotions that Tyler and Dylan went through these three days.  They certainly know how one person can have a HUGE impact.  They learned from the very best.  

On June 27th, the Tough Warrior Princess organization had the great opportunity to help the Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center with their annual Cancer Survivor Celebration.  This event is a beautiful night for cancer survivors and their all-important caregivers.  It was held at the Newburyport Firehouse Theatre.  Interlocks was there offering 'Look Your Best' makeup sessions and a great spread of food was done by 17 State Street Cafe. Survivors had the opportunity to describe what Hope meant to them and the stories were read on stage.  Denise Desimone, a stage 4 cancer survivor and a talented speaker and musician inspired us with her words and astounded us with her beautiful voice, despite the fact that her cancer was throat and neck. She is proof that sometimes what seems impossible can be overcome.  Alexa also had the opportunity to perform her dance solo at the event.  She danced to "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" by Martina McBride.  It is quite an emotional display and it is a dedication to Maurine Turcotte.  Many, many thanks for the Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center for funding such an event and including us in it.  

We have a great opportunity with a contest that Anna Jacques Hospital is involved with in the upcoming opening of the Gerrish Breast Care Center.   They are participating in the 2013 Medline Pink Glove Dance competition.  This is a national music video competition where hospitals compete for a chance to win a $25,000 towards the charity of their choice.  AJH has selected The Tough Warrior Princesses to be the recipient of that $25,000 award in the event that they win!!  We are now looking for anyone that wants to represent us in the video's grand finale scene.  It will be a large crowd that will participate in a 30-second dance sequence. Please join us outside at the Main Entrance of the Hospital, wearing a TWP or pink t-shirt and jeans - at 5:30 p.m. on September 12th.  (Rain Date September 16th).  No dance experience required, just enthusiasm.  No RSVP is needed.  

What's next?  We continue to get referrals to those newly diagnosed.  Our survivor baskets are in demand and we are working on ways to fund more in the future.  We are looking for businesses to get involved to donate goods and services to those newly diagnosed.  Our Outreach committee is working on creating a wider list of resources and contacts for survivors.  

There are many of us that are participating in the Dana-Farber Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund walk on September 8th.  We do this to raise funds to honor Emma Journeay and support research on neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer of the nerve tissues.  Follow this link and join our team!  Make sure you join the team 'Every Step for Emma.'  

Our belief is that we can create an army of volunteers who simply stand ready to help when possible.  Please be sure you are on our newsletter and email list.  If you haven't already liked the Tough Warrior Princess page on FB, please do.  By having everyone interested connected, one post or email stating that we need help to give a ride, prepare a meal, etc. can be met easily.  

Lastly, consider playing in the Roberta Mellon Memorial golf tournament.  This year is our 3rd Annual at the Amesbury Golf and Country Club.  This tournament was founded to raise funds for Juvenile Diabetes and funds go to Katie Mellon's walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The tournament also raises a portion of the proceeds for the Amesbury High School golf team.  The event is to be held on Friday, October 11th this year. Please contact me for more information.  


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Change is Hard

“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” 
― Eckhart Tolle

Change is Hard

After 3 years of walking in the Komen 3Day, I am hanging up my sneakers.  At least for this year.  It is such a tough, emotional decision.  I have met the MOST INSPIRING and AWESOME group of people participating in the 3 Day.  It is, without doubt, part of who I am.  It  is painful to make the decision not to walk.  However, I am feeling overwhelmed and need to make some choices.

Without doubt, the Susan G. Komen organization has helped in developing drugs and trials that have helped me personally and are literally keeping friends of mine alive through their funding of research.  I feel my efforts in fundraising over the last 3 years have contributed a lot and I am proud.  I will continue to support Komen and volunteer for them in any way I can.  I will be at the 3 Day, whether Crewing for them or cheering for the walkers.  Nothing will keep me away.  The thought of not walking with my team TWP, this year, is heartbreaking.   I so enjoy the walk and the good it brings out in everyone.  But I know in my heart I am focused on the right things for me right now.  

YOU, my friends, my family and business friends have supported me like no other support system and I don't want to wear out my welcome. Thank you all who have supported me financially or in words and encouragement.  I am truly blessed and so thankful!!  

 I now feel the need to focus on a couple of things that are near and dear to my heart - They are the Tough Warrior Princess organization and Juvenile Diabetes Research.

Tough Warrior Princess - This year our Non Profit has helped so many local women and families suffering with cancer.  Small ways and big ways.  I feel so proud of what we have accomplished and need to focus efforts to keep us growing.  It is difficult when it is an all volunteer effort.  So much needs to be done and so little time to accomplish.  I love seeing exactly where the money we have raised goes and how it impacts each person.  We have such a great base of volunteers and supporters and we need to work keep it all together and improve.  I want to focus on that and not be sidetracked.  There are good things ahead for this group and I'm excited to be a part of it.  I feel the need to send out our message, that TWP is not a breast cancer walking group and it is not about only breast cancer - we support women in our local community with any type of cancer.  Cancer sucks and those who have to endure the journey deserve some love and support and TWP is all about showing support.

Juvenile Diabetes Research  -  I can't even begin to tell you how Juvenile Diabetes Sucks!!  It is a life long condition and there is no cure.  Juvenile Diabetes or Type 1, unlike Type 2 Diabetes, is an autoimmune disease caused when the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas and kills off the cells that produce insulin.  It is not known what causes this to happen.  Insulin is a hormone that enables the body to get energy from food.  Type 1 diabetics need insulin continuously to live.  Type 1 diabetics are constantly monitoring blood sugars to do what their body can no longer do.  If your blood sugar is too high, you can develop ketoacidosis- a life threatening condition.  If you are too low, no sugar is getting to your brain for you to function.  A life threatening condition that can happen very quickly.   Watching my daughter, Katie manage and live with this is hard and stressful.  Long term outcomes are scary.  Short term common illnesses are scary, because they interfere with blood sugars.  I feel like there is a cure within reach and need to make sure I do all I can to be a part of fundraising to support the research and new technologies that are being developed to make a diabetic's life easier.   Money we raise goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is a charity that is doing amazing work and has improved the life of diabetes immensely through their research.   

Lastly, on September 8th I will be walking 26.2 miles in the Jimmy Fund walk in Boston to show support for my friend and inspiration, Tina, who lost her 9 year old daughter, Emma, to neuroblastoma.  I think of Emma every day and so many children who have had to endure cancer.  We need to find a way to a world without cancer.

Stress causes your body's immune system to be weakened.  After cancer, I promised myself to not be the stressed out, crazy person I used to be.  This year I have felt myself slipping back into old habits and this is my way of taking steps to be sure I stay healthy.

Thank you all for your love and support.


“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” 
― Wayne W. Dyer