Thursday, August 09, 2007

I'd love to get a letter

From the 3-Day website:
Note to Supporters: Send a letter expressing your love and support to your walker, which we’ll deliver to them on the event at the 3-Day Camp Post Office. Envelopes only, please. No boxes or large packages. Mail must be postmarked no later than August 24 in order to ensure delivery at the 3-Day Camp Post Office. Any mail that is not retrieved by the walker by September 24 will be destroyed.Please send letters to:3-Day Camp Post Office1752 NW Market St. #531Seattle, WA 98107-5224

Last year several people sent letters, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated it. I won't expect anything, but I'm very open to surprises! :-)

Also, you can send a letter to anyone on my team, of course. Everyone loves mail!

Let's get political

Whatever side of the political fence you're on, I have a request.

Take a look at this:
and sign the LiveSTRONG petition to make fighting cancer part of the national priority. Democrat or Republican or Independent, cancer impacts us all.

Don't do it for me, or even for Kristin, but do it for yourself. Do it for your children (whether you have them yet or not....and if you won't have children, then do it for Tessa, your nieces, your nephews, the kids at the neighborhood school....just do it!). Cancer is everywhere, and we all know that, and it's going to take some amazing research and funding to find the answers we need and bring about cures. Sign the petition, and let the world know that it's important to you. Let's end cancer NOW!

I'm sick of this disease. We must make change.

Not for a minute

I will continue to write on my blog about the minutae of my life; I will continue to rant, to tell Tessa stories, to wonder about my own condition. It is what I do. However, I want to say something, just for the record.

In the back of my mind is a constant prayer going up for Kristin. The pores of my body sing out a plea to the universe to make her well, to give her a long life. I plead for her the way I plead for myself....with every inch of my being. I long for her wellness the way I long for my own wellness. I fear for her, as I fear for myself, but more, because of what she faces.

So I will smile, and laugh, and play, and work, and be busy. But please know that I am not forgetting, and that my body hums with the work of pleading prayer.

Kristin's latest email includes these thoughts. I think that I will memorize them for my own use, and as a reminder of what REAL strength looks like:

"Just know that I won't let this beat me down or stand in my way. My babies are my babies and I will raise them. When I was first diagnosed I said to myself "Everyday I must believe with a magnitude so deep that my belief becomes a reality"- I can't stop believing now- I know I'll make it."

Her life is her own, not mine to broadcast the details, so I'll leave it at that. But Kristin, I believe your words. You WILL make it. And I'm praying, wishing, hoping, and breathing it.

more poetry

Caley brought up Mary Oliver's poetry, and I mistakenly thought I knew her work. I had to look it up on Google, and discovered that any familiarity I had once had with it had been almost completely lost, so I'm discovering it like it's for the first time. Beautiful! Thank you, Caley, for sharing.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - - -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Caley and I were talking about poetry for a while - what a delightful change of pace! There is clearly not enough poetry in my life, but I drank up her words and references like water on a hot day.

I have been thinking about this poem all day, as Tessa and I picked blackberries together today and we're going to make blackberry jam (after picking more blackberries) this weekend.
Blackberry Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
-- Seamus Heaney

And life rolls on

Despite my high emotions over Kristin's recurrence, life goes on. Some days, it seems like the whole world should stop turning ("Stop the clocks") but, like it or not, it keeps spinning.

Today has been impossibily full - playdates and favors for friends and cooking and cleaning etc. We managed to spend time with Jenny, Zoe, Liam, Susie, Nina, Adam, Kathleen, Elena, and Beth, and then at the end of the day Caley came for dinner.

(I adore Caley. I am forever in her debt that she came to our aid when I was first diagnosed, and there is a bond there that is simply unshakable. I see a younger version of myself in her, but perhaps that is vanity on my part, because Caley is far more together than I was. Whatever the connection, I adore her and admire her.)

Now I'm wound up but in need of sleep. Tomorrow is certain to be another busy day, and now it looks like Ryan's coming down with "my" cold. Hopefully whatever he's feeling tonight will be gone by the morning.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Well this will make for an interesting day!

6:05am, it's light outside, and I've been awake since 3:30am. I fell asleep after 11. These days, I'm tired on 10 hours of sleep, so we'll see how the rest of the day goes. Wish me patience with Tessa when she's raring to go and I'm dragging....

At least I cleaned out my email....!

Tossing and turning

I can't sleep. Strange, awful dreams float through my brain while I'm attempting sleep, but mostly I'm tossing and turning and my brain keeps forming the question "Why?" and missing the answer.

I have made peace with many things in the past two years. I will make peace with this, too, but I don't know how.

The 3-Day is coming up, and I'm not at all ready. I haven't been training like I ought to be, and it's so hard to find the time! I will do the event, though, and I will be okay, one way or another...

I have been asked by WARM 106.9 to do another radio interview....stay tuned for details. Kate Daniels, the interviewer, really liked my interview just prior to the Race for the Cure, and thought it would be great to promote the 3-Day with another interview. Fabulous!

I have been debating whether I wanted to continue with my plan to have surgery in October to do the final steps - nipples. My weird Barbie-boobs are so fake that I wondered if it was worth it to put my body through another surgery to make them look more real, knowing that they'd never be real. Well, yesterday the question was answered for me. Tessa, in a completely out-of the-blue statement, said, "Mommy, do you remember when you had nipples? Why don't you have them any more? I wish you would have them again." Suddenly, it was as simple as that. Tessa reminded me of their symbolism, and her request filled me with peace over the decision to get them. I am scheduled for surgery on October 5th. It's day surgery, with a couple weeks of recovery...I should be good to go for my Genentech engagement in North Carolina on October 22.

Camping this weekend was fantastic. It was all I'd hoped for and more....all four of us (including Shep) had a wonderful time. On Sunday, we went for a family hike of an hour or an hour and a half, and I was filled with joy to see Tessa's excitement over huckleberries and salmonberries, wildflowers, a millipede, and the rest. She can now tell the difference between bracken and swordfern, and we've promised to bring out the books on flower names for next time.

The Hissongs and the Hisatomis were with us for this trip, and it was incredible to share in their friendship and to relax with them. On Saturday night, Heather, Natasha and I sat around the campfire after the guys and kids were all in bed, and it was relaxing to laugh and talk with them. These are the important moments in life! Ryan and I have a few more camping trips on the docket between now and the end of September....we've got momentum and we don't want to lose it. I would like Tessa to remember her childhood as a camping childhood, and once or twice a year isn't enough. I think we're going to go to Newhalem (up highway 20, part of the North Cascades National Park) for Labor Day weekend.

I am somehow gearing up for fall. I've been making lists of things to do, as I always do in fall, because I love nesting in the fall. I was discussing this with Heather, and we agreed that it was the teacher in each of us that made fall feel like the "real" new year. I'm looking forward to taking care of the house, getting ready for more time indoors. I'm not ready to send out the summer yet, but I feel that I'm enjoying the summer immensely and yet still able to look ahead to the cooler fall days.

I don't really have anything to say, but here I am. Sleepless, restless, weary.

I'll try to go back to bed. Maybe sleep will find me.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Today I learned that one of my Warrior Women team members has advanced to stage IV breast cancer.

That's a clinical sentence....let me try it again.

Today I found out that Kristin, an amazing, spirited, incredibly positive (truly, I look like a whiner next to her) warrior, has just learned that the breast cancer she's been fighting for less than a year has come back, and it's in her lungs.

Many of you have heard me mention Kristin's story, but let me retell a little of it. She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 6 weeks pregnant. At 8 weeks pregnant, she had a mastectomy. She did AC through her second trimester, and then delivered her baby - a gorgeous baby girl, Ellie...healthy and strong, with more hair than her mama had! - in April. In May, Kristin came and helped out at the yard sale....she's fighting for a cure for everyone, not just herself.

While pregnant, and in chemo, Kristin worked 20 hours a week, taught aerobics (that one blows my mind!), and was a caring mother to daughter Luci and loving wife to Craig. Kristin's kick-ass attitude was to take no prisoners: she is fighting this disease with everything she's got, and she's determined to find a cure by the time our daughters are old enough to worry. I am honored to walk with her as a Warrior Woman.

Kristin is still in chemo - one Taxol left. I do not know what the new treatment plan will look like.

There is nobody fighting breast cancer harder than Kristin; there is nobody with a more positive attitude. The word inspiration is completley overused in the case of cancer survivorship, but really, she's off the charts. Kristin inspires me.

The news that she has another, even harder, battle to fight, feels like a punch in the face. My reaction is physical - when I found out, I thought for a moment I might throw up, and then I burst into real tears. Not little leaking at the eyes tears.....sobbing, wrenching weeping.

I feel outrage, agony, terror, pain, disbelief, shock, fear. I weep for Kristin, and I weep for myself because her path may be my path, too. (Please do not reply to this with platitudes. Sympathy towards these feelings is welcome, of course, but I can not bear to hear "this won't happen to you" right now. Nobody knows what will happen. We hope for the best, but I also fear the worst, and yes, I have a good attitude, but we all know that doesn't necessarily help.)

Today, I weep.

In my Genentech "story" I say that the moment I became a survivor was the moment when, after collapsing to the floor of the grocery store upon hearing the words "you have cancer," I stood up. I said that it is the act of standing up that makes one a survivor. I say, "First, you weep. Then, you stand up."

Today, I'm weeping. Maybe tomorrow I will stand up.

Kristin, I can only imagine what you are feeling right now. I imagine that weeping is part of it. I am certain that you will also stand. Holding your daughters' hands, staring into your husband's eyes, you will find the strength you need. Your strength is deep, and it is there for you. There are many hands reaching out to hold you up when you do not feel strong, but I am certain that there is a well of strength in you that has not yet been tapped. I am so, so sorry that you must seek the depths of that strength.

I am prepared to fight at Kristin's side. She is not a close friend, as we've only met a handful of times, but I am deeply touched by her strength, conviction, and desire to addition to her humor and warmth. She is a Warrior Woman, and I will be a warrior at her side. I will fight for the cure for both of us. I will be there for Kristin and her beautiful family.

My pain is real today, but it's nothing compared to Kristin's. Please think, pray, send karma, or whatever you do in her direction.

I hate cancer. I hate ****'n cancer.


PS After today's news, I do not have the desire just now to write about my wonderful camping trip this weekend. I still have much to celebrate, but today all of my thoughts are with Kristin.