Category Archives: kids

Five years as a breast cancer survivor!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since one phone call changed my life in such a profound way. It was 9:30 on Thursday night, August 2, 2007 when I got the call. The tiny lump that had been removed 3 days earlier was breast cancer.

Five years later, I look back on that moment. I had no idea what the next day or the next year would bring. I just knew I had a fight in front of me, and I was going to do whatever it took to win.  Exactly nine months later, the crazy whirlwind of regular trips to the hospital and the Rose Cancer Center was behind me. I was done with five surgeries and six chemo treatments. My hair started growing back and life returned to normal. But life was different. My outlook was brighter.  I’d emerged triumphantly from cancer but I knew there were far too many women who didn’t. My focus shifted from my own fight to theirs. I decided I had to continue to fight on their behalf—to honor their memories. I had to continue to fight so that no other woman had to experience the pain and suffering of saying goodbye to their families. Our fight is far from over.

I don’t ever regret my experience with cancer. It’s a rotten disease—the surgeries were painful, the treatments were tiring. At times, I had to let go of my primary role as a mother because I just wanted to sleep. Losing that sense of control was hard, but it taught me so much. It shaped me as a person, as a mother, as a managing partner at my agency, as a cancer fundraiser, as a mentor to newly diagnosed women. It changed the way I view life, the way I view my family, the way I manage my team and my priorities. It made me realize that there is nothing more important than smiling, laughing and having fun. It made me realize the value of making other people smile, of making other people happy, of lending a helping hand. Yes, I’m different than I was five years ago. My experience with breast cancer shaped me into the person I am today, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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Wicked is coming to Detroit!

My favorite yearly fundraiser is approaching. Grab some friends or your kids (older than 8 recommended) and join us for a performance of Wicked–winner of 35 major awards. It’s December 20, 2011 at the Detroit Opera House. We have 3 different price points for seats and a portion of your ticket cost supports Ta Ta Breast Cancer in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. An added bonus–no ticketmaster fees and no mark-up on tickets. We pay group rate and you pay face value–a win, win for all.

Hope to see you there. Stay tuned for more information on Shrek coming to Detroit in Spring of 2012.

Another successful Ta Ta Breast Cancer fundraiser!

Last week we had our 4th annual family rooftop party at 24 Seconds. The weather was iffy making the rooftop party an indoor party.  Nevertheless, it was was a huge success–our biggest yet with $1,400 raised for our 3-Day team. A big huge shout out to many businesses that helped with great raffle prizes:

Shirtbox

24 Seconds

Dr. Paul Darmon

Bordines

The Pink Fund

Ecology

Ace Hardware

The Tiger Foundation

Jazzercise Royal Oak

Priss Salon

Hagopian

Accupuncture Healthcare Associates of Michigan

Jeans Gone Green

Mark Cohen Photography

The Zap Zone

And another big shout out to the members of Ta Ta Breast Cancer (and the kids) who helped sell raffle tickets, collect great raffle items and helped promote this event.

We are quickly approaching $95,000. $15,000 to go to reach our big giant goal of $400,000 in 4 years. Please help us get there for all the women still fighting, the women we’ve lost, our daughters, our mothers and our friends. We need your help to say goodbye to breast cancer forever.

Reflecting on 2010. Looking forward to 2011.

My blog posts are coming less and less frequently. But as 2010 comes to a close, I thought it would be nice  to do a little recap on the year. 2010 had plenty of highlights:

  • We had our biggest 3-Day team yet and a multitude of great fundraisers.
  • The Cancer thrivers planned a wonderful event to raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in the community, and I got to model some really cute jeans.
  • I was promoted to Managing Partner of Brogan & Partners and I’m loving my new role.
  • We had lots of family vacations including a ski trip, family camp and multiple trips to Northern Michigan.
  • I finished my 3 year clinical trial on Zometa which included quarterly visits to my Oncologist with a quick infusion.
  • The completion of my clinical trial meant I got my chemo port removed and I even got to keep it as a souvenir.
  • Congress passed a National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week–a huge step in educating women about their risks.

While my family and I experienced lots of joy, I was reminded all to often of the true fragility of life.

  • The funeral of a true cancer warrior who’s infectious smile and personality will be missed and always remembered by all who were lucky to know her.
  • A breast cancer recurrence in a remarkable woman who I think and pray for daily.
  • A pancreatic recurrence in another young woman–an old family friend. I can only hope and pray that her chemo treatments are demolishing cancer cells daily.
  • And far too many others to mention in this short blog post.

As I write this, I have high hopes for 2011. I hope that 2011 brings new treatments for all types of cancers. I hope that 2011 brings improved health for too many people suffering with metastatic disease. I hope that those newly diagnosed with cancer in 2011 have an early diagnosis and the strength and support to kick cancer to the curb. Finally, I hope that all of you have good health, prosperity and lots of happiness in 2011.

One more little request

With Representative Wasserman Schultz

This is my second post in one week.  Pretty certain you’re reading this and running in the other direction wondering what I want you to do now.  I know, every time I post, I’m asking for you to do something but this one is really important (OK they are all really important).   But this one is really really important and can seriously impact lives.  Representative Deborah Wasserman Schultz introduced #HR1522 legislation into Congress which will establish Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer awareness week and make Wednesday of that week National Previvor Day.  We need 100 co-sponsors in the house by August 2 and right now we have 20. 

Please take action quickly for my good friend Sue Friedman–who left a career as a vet to start FORCE over a decade ago.  Take action for so many of my friends who’ve learned they have a BRCA mutation and have taken preventative measures before they’ve gotten a cancer diagnosis.   Take action for way too many women who are battling metastatic disease because they found their cancer too late or had a recurrence.  Take action for all the young women diagnosed with cancer because BRCA strikes younger women and is much more aggressive.  Take action for the young girls in our lives who need to know about hereditary cancer so they can live long, healthy cancer-free lives.  Take action now because August 2nd is quickly approaching.

Two Proud Mommas

My daughter and her good friend have a lot in common. They share their long brown hair, their love of soccer, their energetic spirits, their love of the “The Biggest Loser” TV show and the same birthday month.

The girls have been friends since before they were 2 years old and for the past 3 years, they’ve planned their joint birthday parties together. For their ninth birthday, they decided they didn’t need a lot of gifts but they had a long list of friends they wanted to include in their celebration. Enter Echoage, a relatively new organization that helps parents plan birthday parties that are good for the environment and give back at the same time. The online invite suggest a donation instead of a gift. Guests choose the amount they want to give and the girls get 50% of the total. The other half is donated to a charity that the girls select from the list of charities tied to Echoage. They chose Nourish America, an organization that feeds hungry children and through their selflessness, the organization received over $300.

The girls right after their second birthday

The girls at preschool just after their 2nd birthdays

Planning for their February birthdays typically starts months in advance.  After much discussion, the girls decided on a biggest birthday challenge, adapted from their favorite show “The Biggest Loser“.  As guests arrived at the party, they were randomly assigned a team color and given their team t-shirt (designed by the two girls).  They next learned the rules and were on to the first challenge, a basketball shoot-out.  Following the shoot-out, the girls had an endurance challenge and a relay race.  In the true spirit of “The Biggest Loser”, the girls asked their guests to bring cans of food instead of gifts.  All of the guests had a ton of fun and left with their prizes–a pack of Extra Sugar Free gum–the official gum of “The Biggest Loser.”

Standing with their collection of Food

The girls stand with all the food donations

The whole group

Today, my friend Stacy (the other mom) and I took the girls to Gleaners Food Bank to deliver the food.  We had a short tour of the facility while they weighed our donation.  It was a great moment watching the girls learn they had donated 124 pounds of food–the equivalent of 124 meals.  We can only imagine what they’ll pull out of their sleeves for next year.

At Gleaners delivering 124 pounds of food

A fun Breast Cancer 3-Day video–Plymouth, Michigan style.

If you are considering walking with us next year, check out this video for some inspiration. I found it on YouTube. I love that they caught the Ta Ta Breast Cancer cheering section pretty close to the beginning(notice the little guy in the Tie-Dye and the man in the pink shirt on the phone) I also love that they caught my reunion with my daughter who was at overnight camp for four weeks before the walk. Enjoy the video–it’s just a little taste of what the Breast Cancer 3-Day is all about.

The 2009 Michigan Breast Cancer 3-Day is over. The memories will last forever.

 Just settled in with a cup of coffee and an hour to gather my thoughts about the past weekend—my 2nd Breast Cancer 3-Day. It’s hard to put into words the thoughts and emotions of the past weekend. It’s so much more than 60 miles. It’s about celebrating survivorship and remembering the women and men we’ve lost to breast cancer. It’s about raising awareness of the harshness and the reality of this disease. It’s about raising money so we can continue to crush breast cancer. It’s all that and more. Lifechanging may be the only way to describe the experience.
 
I walked with 24 other amazing women of Ta Ta Breast Cancer—I met 5 of them for the first time on Friday morning.DSC_3213

 

Others, I met during training walks. Some were acquaintances prior to the walk. And some others are the people nearest and dearest to me—my mom, my aunt, my sister-in-law and some of my best and oldest friends. Sharing this experience together takes all of these relationships to a much deeper level.

If you have ever thought of walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day (now called the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the cure) but just didn’t think you could do it, trust me, you can. If you live in Michigan, join us next year. If you are in another state, grab some friends and don’t wait another day to sign up. If you can’t walk, crew or volunteer. You will thank me later.

We have to do this for so many reasons. But I think 5-year old Samantha Dubin summed it up so well when she returned from a cheering section and said to her brother Josh.

 “The women are walking now, so they will save my boobs later.”

Talking cancer with my 7 year old

Last night, I was lying in bed with my 7 year old and remembering a very similar night almost 2 years ago—the night I was diagnosed.  It prompted a discussion about my experience.  I’ve wanted to talk to him for awhile to make sure he is not afraid—I’ve had little indications that he still thinks a lot about my experience.   It’s not entirely surprising since we certainly didn’t sweep my experience under the rug.  It’s become a big part of who I am and the activities we do as a family—fundraisers, walks, cheering at the 3-Day.  Right now he is making an art book to sell to raise money for cancer. 

The conversation was so interesting and his questions were so insightful.  I almost forgot I was talking to a 7 year old.  And I was reminded that he doesn’t forget anything.  He wanted to know why there was one survivor at the 3-Day in a wheelchair and what happened to her.  I explained that they didn’t find her cancer early enough and it had spread to other parts of her body.  I also talked about how important it is to find new and better medicines to treat cancer when it’s spread.  I told him that’s a big reason why we work to raise money.  ry=400From there, he wanted to know how you find cancer.  Can they see it in your pee he asked? So I talked a bit about my lump and how I initially felt the lump.  He also asked how they knew it was cancer and I was able to tell him how they looked at the cells very carefully.  I was amazed at his comprehension and interest in the little details.  I know he loves science and he seemed fascinated by everything.  I even explained why I went to Dallas last week and learned how to look at proposals for research.  He said, “You mean the research that doctors and scientists do?” He totally gets it, and he didn’t seem afraid. 

I’m more confident that he talks about cancer because he is interested and not because he is scared.  I hope he sees cancer the way I do as something we need to conquer and not something we need to fear.  I’ve learned that fear is not helpful but action is, and I hope in little ways this cancer experience has taught my children the same lesson.

Heart Warming Cancer TV Spot

I had to share this one…

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