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Zumba for my Best

A couple months back I got my license to be a zumba instructor. I’m super excited to say I’ll be instructing a class this fall 2 days a week. In the meantime, I’m participating in a fundraiser for local families dealing with cancer. I lost my best childhood friend to cancer a few years back. I miss her everyday and am so glad I can be a part of this fundraiser. My cool down song I chose with her in the very front of my mind.
Every time I dance Lace, I think of you and today I will close my eyes and let you surround me and wish for the day you could “beam me up” for just a minute.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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No sleep, eating, walking and eating some more

This weekend I participated in Relay for Life.  It is a cause very close to my heart since I lost my lifelong best friend to cancer when we were 21.  I can think of no better cause to spend a sleepless night for, with blisters on my feet, aching muscles and exhaustion for.  It is worth every second and every step.  I carry Lacy with me everyday, but I never feel her as strongly as I do on the track at Relay for Life.

It was a super hot weekend to be walking on a track.  It was in the 90’s and the sun was shining.  It was gorgeous!  Even at night it was pretty warm.  It got really damp from the humidity, but it was a beautiful night with the stars, the peepers and the candles burning in honor of and remembrance of so many who have faced cancer.

After a few miles of walking the track, I did an hour of zumba (they do a fundraiser at relay).  I’m fairly certain is was the longest hour of my life but it was great to see my kids and husband behind the stage, walking, dancing and laughing.  I swear, no event brings people together in such an amazing way.

After that I walked a couple laps with my kids and my hubby before they headed home for the night.  It was the first night since my youngest was born (9 months ago) that I have spent a night away from him.  From the time they left, I probably walked the track for at least 2 straight hours, breaked for some food, then went back to it.  My longest break was probably around 2:30 when I tried to nap with no luck, before heading back on to the track.  Around 10, they shut off all the lights on the track, with only the lights from the luminarias lighting the way.

We listened to a local woman talk about the loss of her husband.  He died after a fierce battle with colon cancer on Christmas Eve.  He was also the speaker at last year’s relay.  Her words were beautiful, inspiring and heart wrenching.  Her story was followed by a lap of silence.  I held it together fairly well until the music started.  When Sarah Mclachlan’s voice echoed in the darkness with “I will remember you…” the tears started to flow.  I walked arm in arm with a fellow team member as we sniffled and sang along.  As a senior in high school a bunch of us took a dance class together.  One of our ballet songs was “I will remember you”.  Lace and I stood next to each other, and when I closed my eyes Friday night, I could see her smiling, dancing.  She was so beautiful.

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Another song played was “You Raise me Up.”  That song was played at Lace’s memorial.  I remember sitting on the porch at her memorial, feeling the breeze in my hair with tears streaming down my checks.  I feel it just like it was yesterday.  When that song played on the track, the breeze picked up, and as the tears flowed down my face, Lacy with with me, and it was the most beautiful feeling I have experienced since my children were born.

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In total I walked 15 miles and was awake from 7:00 in the morning on Friday until 8:30 Saturday night (got a nap in from 8-9 Saturday morning!), I cried countless tears, shared tons of laughs with my amazing team mates and traded stories with people I had never met and may never meet again.  I got deliriously tired, laughed at things that were likely not funny, held hands and cried with my cousin, a cancer survivor.  I saw children walking the track in shirts with “Survivor” on the front and the words, “I am Hope” on the back.  I went way over my weight watchers points for the day (Saturday I had 2 bagels and a donut before 8 a.m.  Oops…lol) but I would do it all again in an instant.

I know it is a lot of hard work, it’s a big commitment.  It’s exhausting and stressful, but it is nothing compared to what those who face cancer deal with on a regular basis.  It may not bring back my best friend, but I know every year, she relays with me, and that is worth more than I can ever express.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Staying Active

The trainer that does my WOD class suggested that I keep an activity journal.  I decided this is probably not such a bad idea.  I keep track of my food and I keep track of the number of activity points I’ve earned, but there are days that I don’t track my activity and I feel like I haven’t done anything when in reality, I have.  I’ve gotten so used to my squat challenge so when I do it, I don’t even really think about it, but I’m still getting my butt up off the couch.

I have to say that today I’m not at all worried about being active.  Today is Relay for Life!  I’m so excited!  Today I will laugh with survivors, cry for those who have been lost way too soon and remember the most amazing woman I have ever known who lost her battle with cancer at the age of 21.

I know I’ll be getting in at least (probably a lot more) solid hours of walking, I plan on doing Zumba during relay (they do a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society during relay), then another (AT LEAST) 3 hours of walking tomorrow morning.  I’m pretty sure my Weight Watchers points will go out the window tonight.  I’m tracking during the day today, but I’m not worrying too much about what I eat for snacks at relay since I’ll be walking them off.  As long as I stay away from the fried dough and candy bars, I should be fine.

I figured it out last night and between walking and zumba (3 hours of one and 1 hour of the other), I will earn about 22 activity points.  I get 30 points in a day, so I’ll earn almost a whole nother day’s worth of points.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Getting Ready to Relay

2 weeks from today I’ll be lacing up my shoes for Relay for Life.  All the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society, and I can’t think of a better cause to donate to.

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I have seen first hand the horrible things that cancer can do.  I have sat through a funeral service, while a 4 year old girl sobbed as photos of her mother, who lost her battle to a brain tumor in her twenties, I have sat in the sun, feeling the breeze, while tears streaked down my cheeks while remembering my best friend, I have seen clumps of hair on her pillow, I have held tightly to a woman who is saying goodbye to the baby girl she brought into the world, and then I have seen miracles. 

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I have seen a woman battle leukemia with both fists swinging.  I remember visiting her at the hospital when I was maybe 8 years old, and now 20 years later, she’s pushing 80.  I have seen my aunt and cousin come out on top of thyroid cancer.  I have spoken with people who have had tumors disappear, without any explanation.

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I have hope that some day there will be a cure; a cure that doesn’t require pumping the body full of poison.  I pray every night that my boys will stay healthy and that one day, cancer will not be something my children lose a best friend to.  I relay in honor and in memory of those who have heard the words “you have cancer.”  In a couple of weeks, when I line up at Relay, I will be surrounded by people who have won their battle, and people who have lost someone to it.  I will feel the wind on my face, and know that those I have lost are always with me.  I will hope for a day when the world is free of this disease and I will pray that my boys will learn from the strength of the people walking the track with us.

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If you would like to donate to help me reach my fundraising goal, every little bit helps!

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A Day to Celebrate

7 years ago, I spent this day celebrating my best friends 21st birthday.  A bunch of us gathered around a table in the corner of a restaurant for some food, drinks and laughter.  It was not only a celebration of a beautiful woman’s birth, but also a celebration of the brave battle she had fought against cancer. 

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Those 3 years had held a lot of ups and downs for her.  She had endured countless hours in a hospital room hooked up to an IV while her body was pumped full of poison that would hopefully save her life.  Her beautiful brown hair had fallen out in clumps on her pillow and in her shower while she cried tears of fear, sadness and change.  She had waited through body scans and blood tests, anti-nausea meds and so much more.  But more than that, she had finally found the man of her dreams, she had risen above the pain and continued to dance, she had inspired so many, and she had survived.  We had no idea her fight was only just beginning.

Looking back now, had I known that was the last birthday I would celebrate with my friend, I would have stayed all night long.  I would have toasted to the memories and made more.  I would have held on a little tighter, savored the every moment.  She had come through so much and was so strong, I never thought CANCER could take her from us only 5 months later.

Today I look back, 7 years later.  She would have been celebrating 28.  To this day I still find myself picking up the phone to call her, I look at my babies and wonder what hers would look like and if they would play together as we did so many times at their age.  I think of her when the wind blows and when I see butterflies.  Because of her, I still smile when I hear a Blink 182 song or see Elton Brown on the food network.  I wish she could meet my husband and had been there to stand next to me at my wedding, and when I welcomed my babies into the world.  Everyday she is my inspiration.  The pain of her absence is as strong as it was the day she took her last breath.  So many things we would have shared together, so many more memories to make.

Cancer may have taken her life, but it could never take her spirit.  It never took her smile or the spark in her eyes.  It never came close to her courage, her laughter or her ability to make others laugh.  It took her from my life, but never from my heart.  Love you Lace!  Dance strong!  MIZPAH!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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I Miss my Friend

The other night, as we pulled into the parking lot on the way to Zumba, I recognized the license plate of the car parked next to us.  I hurried into the locker room, hoping to catch someone I haven’t seen in years.  I got changed and as I was about to leave the locker room I saw my best friend’s mother.

Our greeting was complete with big hugs and shrieks of happiness catching most of the people in the locker rooms attention.

She looked great.  She looked happy!  And yet I still had to try hard to fight back tears.  She had been like a mother to me, I spent so many hours in her home in high school, it was like I lived there.  It had been about 6 years.  When I got engaged, my hubby and and we spent about 2 hours sitting on her porch in the sunshine talking and laughing.  I’m angry at myself for letting that much time go by, but then sometimes, it hurts to see her without Lacy.

Lacy was my best friend from as far back as I can remember.  We spent countless hours talking about boys, eating veggies and dip, dancing in the living room, cruising around (like teenagers tend to do in a small town where things rarely happen) and sharing secrets.  Her smile could light up a room and when she laughed it was infectious.  She was beautiful, in all senses of the word.  In our high school yearbook she listed me as one of her heroes and now I count her as mine.

Lace was diagnosed with a rare form of adolescent bone cancer (Ewings Sarcoma) when she was 18 years old.  She went through very intense treatments that made her so sick, she had to be hospitalized every time she had chemo.  Her beautiful dark hair fell out in clumps.  She was afraid to wash her hair.  I remember the tears of sadness, hurt and of fear as she fought her mother not to wash it, in fear more would fall out.

Those moments where you saw her struggle with what she was going through were very few and far between.  She forged a fight like I had never seen before.  She cracked jokes about her illness (“The good thing about chemo is you never have to shave your legs,”) she kept smiling that smile and she kept dancing.  Lace loved to dance, and she never let the pain stop her.

After a bout of sandwich chemo (chemo for 2 weeks, then radiation, then back to chemo) for several months, Lace was in remission.  No words ever sounded so sweet!

The celebration was short lived.  We found out right around her 21st birthday that the cancer had spread to her lungs.  I remember some of us girls were supposed to get together and Lace called me and told me she wasn’t feeling up to it.  I remember how the tears flowed as she told me the news.  I had been hopeful and this was the last thing we were hoping for.  But she remained hopeful, still smiling that smile.  She started going to get experimental treatments that worked for a while before the cancer started to grow again.

I was at work one night when we got the news that Lace had experienced a brain bleed while on her way to her treatments.  She had lost a lot of mobility and the cancer had spread to her brain.

With all that bad news, her hospital room was still always filled with laughter.  That was the room the nurses wanted to go in.  We would spend hours talking and laughing and all just being together.

They started radiation on her brain and she eventually made it home.  She stayed in a hospital bed in her living room since she was unable to take the stairs to get to her room.

She was doing so well, or seemed to be.  But then, Lace always smiling and laughing, always seemed to be ok.

On September 25th 2006, I got the news I had never wanted or expected to hear.  In an instant my world would never be the same.  Lace was gone. The best friend and the best woman I have ever known was gone.

Her mom took every minute she had to be with Lace.  She took leave from work and took her to every treatment, every doctor’s appointment and shared every quiet moment that the rest of us were shielded from.  When I see her face, I see Lacy and so many memories, smiles, and tears.  Seeing her reminds me of a place I will never be again, with my friend.  I guess that’s why I haven’t tried as hard as I could to see her more often.

Right before Zumba started, she walked up to be and pointed to my Livestrong bracelet. (Lace got me one the Christmas after she was first diagnosed, and while I’ve had to buy new ones since then, I have not gone a day without wearing it since)  She tapped my wrist and smiled, that beautiful smile (I know that’s where Lace got it from) and said “She’s always with you isn’t she?”

Yes, she certainly is.

Seeing her mom the other night reminded me how very much I miss my friend.  There never has or ever will be anyone like her ever again in this world.  Seeing her also made me realize I shouldn’t be avoiding her mom because I miss Lace, but I should be spending more time with her.  I see so much of Lace in her.  I see perseverance and determination.  I see that smile and hear that laugh and I’m taken back to the many hours I spent with Lacy.

I feel guilty for not keeping better touch with her, but I’m going to do my best to change that.  Not only is my best friend gone, but so is her daughter.  I think maybe she needs me as much as I need her.

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I’m gearing up for my second year participating in Relay for Life.  I relay for Lace and all the other best friends.  I still pick up the phone to call her sometimes.  I wonder what her life would be like now.  I wish she could meet my husband and my babies.  I wish we could turn up the radio, and dance until our breath was gone.  Someday…. someday

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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