Friday, September 7, 2012

Get Your Rear In Gear!

Our team is participating in the 2012 Saratoga Springs Get Your Rear In Gear 5K Run/Walk, a event to benefit the Colon Cancer Coalition. We want to make a difference for the thousands of people in our community touched by colon cancer. The funds we raise will stay right here, helping with prevention, early detection and treatment for this disease.

We are very appreciative to have this oppurtunity to help spread awareness for colon cancer.    Please support our efforts to build hope and beat colon cancer! Thank you in advance for your help.

The race is September 22, 2012 at 8 AM.  Visit our team page to sponsor us today!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The "Gifts" of Cancer

This is not for those with a lack of humor!

Since my diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer (cancer said in a whisper), in February of 2012, my life has been flipped upside down.  From surgeries, port implants, anesthesia induced marriage proposals (story for a later date), chemotherapy, hair loss, colostomy 101 and numerous other rocks in my path, I can truly say that cancer has been in more ways than not, a gift given to me.  I mean this in the most positive way.  Since my diagnosis the following has been realized:

  • I can truly appreciate every minute of every day and live in the moment.
  • My appreciation for life has increased ten-fold!  I can no longer even squash an ant for that matter, my sister Jen can account for that as I had one come with me to treatment one day and we let him go in the room, only to name him Charlie (our Chemo room pet) HA!
  • I could care less about money and while most wish they could win the lottery, I fear that will happen to me. If I won the lottery, I would be “expected” to quit my job and then wouldn't have the insurance to pay for the millions of dollars that my cancer fighting arsenal runs!
  • My physical health, although truly being tested by chemo, is the best it’s ever been due to changes in my lifestyle and diet.  Also, when I want to splurge….I could care less, after all, how much worse could it be…I have cancer right!
  • My pride-out the window.  This means I get a lot of help in a lot of ways and without any prideful guilt that I don’t deserve it.  Not many of you get your laundry done, bills paid for you, house cleaned and meals cooked for you on a weekly basis….I do. :) This one I will take advantage of while I can because I know that WHEN I become clear of this beast (NED in cancer terms), that will probably go away!
  • I have learned that this disease is, most of the time, harder on all of you (my family and friends) than it is on me….Sorry!  This, I consider a gift, because not sure how I would handle it if it were not me…I am such a control freak!
  • Fear is no longer in my vocabulary-as Melanie so wisely said “I will not fear cancer, it simply means Yes I Can Sir”!
  • I can actually FEEL all of the prayers and positive energy directed at me, mostly in the wee hours of the night.
Did I mention the never-ending stack of “cancer cards” I now have in my possession?  This is like MasterCard would say, “priceless” although my boss’s at work are starting to catch on and I cannot utilize them at work as freely as I used to because they like to tell me, ”you used to have cancer, not anymore”. :) I love their attitude and they treat me as they would their own family.

While nobody wants or deserves cancer, the experience has changed me in amazing ways.  I am realizing more and more the "gifts" every day and one could only be as lucky as me to get CANCER (shouting now).

Love Y’all!

P.S.  And I am pretty sure if I asked, my dad would buy me a pink pony and an island in the Bahamas... 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why The Elephant You Ask?

Since discovering a "concerning mass" in my colon in mid-February, I had been trying to avoid detailed discussion of news in front of my oldest son Marcus who is 10 but had been a bit more lax in front of my 4 year old daughter Sophia.

It was the night before my surgery to remove the mass and I was on the phone with one of my dearest friends Kelly Ann.  We were discussing all of the things this could possibly be besides cancer (it is amazing how creative you can get in times like these).  My daughter Sophia was in and out of the room so it is unclear between this conversation and others before how much she had overheard.

Later that night, Sophia asked me to draw her a picture of our family for her to color. So I did, but please don't judge me for my drawing capabilities, for some reason or another, my dear mother didn't care to pass down her art skills to me, thanks Ma!

When Sophia was done coloring she brought the drawing to me and my breath caught when I saw how she had colored me all in red.  Our conversation then went like this:

Me: Sophia, why is mommy covered in red dots?
Sophia: Cause mommy.....the killers killed you!
Me (with heart stopped): What?!? The killers killed me...why?
Sophia: Because Ma, they wanted to show you a present in the woods but you wouldn't see it?
Me: Oh mommy is dead, that makes me sad.
Sophia: No silly mommy...then a big white elephant came along and sprayed you down with his trunk and you were all better!

Phew, right....thankfully there was a happy ending to the story, at least that's how I will choose to see it.   Children amaze me.   It very easy to confuse a child's limited vocabulary with a limited comprehension, but clearly Sophia knew something was going on.  And I know some people believe that kids at that age have an “ability” to see things where adults do not and I tend to agree!

~ Michelle 

An even more poignant twist to this story is while recovering from her surgery in the hospital, one of the nurses taking care of Michelle had an elephant tattooed on her arm!

So as we started planning the benefit for her, the image of an elephant was so perfect as a t-shirt design. An elephant's behind is even more fitting to represent colon cancer.

The vision was for the elephant to "spray" blue ribbons. But Michelle did not want the focus to be solely on colon cancer, as one of her pet peeves is how segregated cancer awareness can be.  The attention to breast cancer has risen dramatically with the pink ribbon campaign and has made great strides, however colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.  The fight to end cancer should be a universal fight to end all cancer.  And so our final design shows an elephant spraying multi-colored ribbons to raise awareness for all cancer.  Because all cancers, no matter what kind, have the same earth shattering impact on the diagnosed, their family and their friends.

~ Sandra