Ladies, Schedule Your Mammograms

Breast Cancer is a heartless bitch. This morning at work we were given the news that one of our coworkers will most likely not be returning to work as she again goes to battle with this disease. This is the second woman who has left this workplace to spend more time with her family as she fights since I started only 20 months ago.  It’s not right.  It’s not fair.

Last year, as I prepared for the Breast Cancer 3-Day both of these fine ladies shared their stories with me. One had battled breast cancer before and knew in her gut that it had relapsed.  She had to push her doctors to get additional testing.  By the time they discovered the new lump the cancer had had metastasized and spread to her liver, lungs and bones. I watched her fight tooth and nail on a daily basis. I cried with the news that the cancer was gone after several months of radical and exhausting treatment only to cry again when she found that it was back, only a few short months later.

The other woman – the one for whom the announcement was made today – is so young.  She was first diagnosed after the birth of her first child in her early twenties. She fought hard and triumphed. She had a second child and shortly thereafter found a lump.  But all her doctors diagnosed that lump as hardened tissue due to breastfeeding and her recent pregnancy. Besides, she was still in her late twenties – lightening doesn’t strike twice! But it did and by the time they figured it out the cancer had spread to her bones. She’s been fighting an epic battle ever since and is only a few years older then me. With two young girls to take care of she has been in treatment – trying to buy every single day she could – for over three years.  For her there was no hope of a cure, just an endless fight to keep the cancer from spreading. This morning we learned that her cancer metastasized and spread to her liver and lungs and her doctors recommended she seek Hospice care. Not yet ready to give up and leave her family she instead has opted to undergo an extremely aggressive schedule of care.

Last year, as they both independently shared their stories with me they kept saying get checked early and often. And if there is a family history run, do not walk, to your doctor’s office and get a mammogram, and while you are there go ahead and schedule your appointment for next year.  Ask your doctor for an MRI and then get tested for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. And guys aren’t immune – they also need to do these things if there is a family history of breast cancer.

Someone dies of breast cancer every 68 seconds.

One in seven women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

This year 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. alone.  1,910 men will also be diagnosed.

Know your risk factors

Get screened

Make a donation (I’m not walking the 3-Day this year, but she is)

Get involved

Because while we may have fun dressing this disease up in pink boas while chanting “save the boobies!” the cold truth is that breast cancer is not a laughing matter. And those two precious little girls should not have to see their mommy go through this.

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Ewww!

You know what happens to blisters after they drain and dry out?  The top layer of skin eventually peels off. And when those blisters are UNDER thick callouses then a huge, thick layer of skin peels off exposing tender new flesh underneath.  

Great times, people.  Great times.

An Amzing Failure

Here’s the play-by-play of my 3-Day weekend for all interested.  It’s very long…

Day 1:  At the opening ceremonies I managed to run into my training-walk buddy, Anne and her walking partner, Lisa.  As they herded us to the stage for the speeches and kick-off we somehow ended up in the front of the holding area.  This meant that we were some of the first walkers on the course around 7 AM.  We walked and chatted throughout and got to know Michelle, another single walker from Upstate New York we had met during the opening ceremony.  The walk was beautiful through the Eastern Suburbs.  It was very hot (about 89 degrees) but there was a good breeze blowing.  Pit-stops consisting of toilets, snacks, water/Gatorade fill-ups and medical tents were every 3-4 miles along the route and I drank a full 32 oz. of liquid between each one.  I alternated between Gatorade and water, hoping to ward off dehydration and hyponatremia which we had been sternly warned about.  I didn’t eat much as the combination of eating, the heat and walking left me feeling sick.  The day passed quickly and despite feeling blisters growing on my heels the walk went smoothly and I finished around 2:30 PM, apparently I was one of the first 200 off the course.  I had no intention of walking that fast but just walked and chatted with my group.

Camp was impressive.   There were food tents, an enormous dining tent (with seats for the nearly 1600 walkers and crew), a “main street” which had sponsor tens, about 4 dozen porta-potties, shower trucks and medical tents.  I got my gear and a crew member helped me locate my tent spot and set up my tent.  This is when I realize that the tents were SMALL and hot.  I was a lone walker who had a stranger as a tent mate.  This meant I would be sleeping in a 6×6 area with a stranger.  To make matters worse, my tent location was a good 100 yards from the nearest bank of porta-potties.  I was not feeling positive about the night ahead.  I showered and re-connected with Anne and Lisa in the Pepperidge Farm tent on cushy chairs and couches.  I knew Michele had opted out of the tent option and was stating in a local hotel and I started to think that was a good choice.  By the time I was done with dinner I was over the camp experience and got the hotel number from Michelle and booked a room – best choice ever!  I came to find out about 120 walkers were staying in this hotel, so I was far from the only one.  I was a much happier person to have my own bathroom and air conditioning.

Day 2 started shaky after a bout of stomach issues that arose around 3 AM. I was sooooo grateful to have my hotel room at that point.  By 6 I was feeling better and had a few bites of breakfast before the walk started at 6:45.  It was a chilly morning but I was sweating – not a good sign.  I was drinking 32+ oz of water each hour to ward off dehydration.  By the first pit stop (3.7 miles) I felt better and had 32 oz of Gatorade before refilling my bottle with water.  During the next leg of about 3.2 miles I could feel the blister on my left heel pop.  I stopped and re-taped and powered though to lunch (10.9 miles in) and ate a few bites but quickly became nauseas.  I re-taped my feet again and downed more Gatorade.  My pace was much slower and as I was trying to protect my heels from the pain of the blisters I apparently changed my stride because my knee started to ache and I realized I was walking on the balls of my feet.  About half-way between lunch and the next pit stop I felt the other blister pop.  A few blocks later I had to admit defeat and flag down a “sweep” van – it was full!  Guess I wasn’t the only one struggling on day 2. 

I waited for another van and rode to the 13-mile stop where the medical tent checked out my feet and found two gigantic blisters that are the size of my palm. To make matters worse the new blisters were on top of old blisters that had formed underneath calluses on day one. They “red carded” me and I was medically sidelined – not allowed to continue.  I hung out in the medical area for a while, icing my sore knee and letting my blisters air out.  I was grateful I wasn’t one of the dehydrated walkers hooked up to IVs or the woman who was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  Having blisters ground me seemed wimpy but my health wasn’t in danger.  Eventually I got on the bus to take me to camp; it was also full by the time we left – 60 seats of those unable to continue; the walking wounded.

After getting back to camp I found Anne and Lisa again and hung around for a bit.   I had called Mark to come get me to save on cab-fare to the hotel.  I was great to see him and Maggie after such a long and painful day.  We went to the hotel and decided it was dumb for me to spend another night there so we gathered my things and went home.  There I was able to just sit with my feet up and keep them clean (walking around camp and even the hotel barefoot was pretty gross with open sores on my feet!).  I slept very well except for when the sheet hit my poor sore heels.

I was really disappointed and angry at myself for not finishing but the pain when I walked was no joke… I honestly can say that un-medicated childbirth hurt less. A nurse at my final pit stop reminded me that the walk is to raise money and awareness about saving the tatas and not just to walk 60 miles.  Every step made me wince and I had already walked 32 miles – that is nothing to scoff at.  She told me it wasn’t worth hurting myself in the long run to try to go a few more miles.

On day 3 I walked/hobbled the final mile in flip-flops and took part in the amazing closing ceremony which made it all worth it.  They moved it into the convention center due to the threat of rain. It was pretty cool to walk in as 100s of others cheer you on.  After assembling and getting our victory shirts we lined up and walked into the main hall, greeted by cheering family and friends.  The crew of 275 volunteers came in followed by the 150 survivors who walked. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  It was pretty amazing.   This walk raised $3.1 million for Komen for the Cure and is added to the over $300 million previous walks have raised. 

Thank you to all of my donors to helped me along my journey.  I will be doing this again with the mission to complete all 60 miles …and maybe they’ll find a cure along the way.

Thank you!
C.TRAC information solutions
Michael Martin/Printing Concepts, Inc.
John & Annette Gaeth
Mike Gaeth
Dick & Mary Lou Sanders
The Sopa Family-John, Sue, Elyse & Alaina
Lindsay Bessick
Linda Diechert
Chris And Gretchen Landes
Bill & Bonnie Gaeth
The Gajewski/Doering Families
Greg Moore
The Hughes Family
Kathleen Bannister
Tony & Erin Gajewski
Kathleen, Craig & Caroline Niess
Vin & Vinnie Karnik
Debbie Stambaugh
Jan Reinsel
Tom Menchhofer
Karyn Jones
Ray Hoffman
Amy Wuest
Patricia Komarek
Heritage Elementary School Staff, Lima OH

On the Flip Side

The 3-Day is over.  It was amazing and awful at the same time.  

I learned a few things:

I don’t do tents

Blisters can bring you to your knees.  

Michelle, Anne, Lisa and especially Virginia are my heros.

My husband rocks (I already knew that, but he made my weekend great).

A full story is coming very soon…

Stay Tuned

I have so much to chat about but not enough time lately.  The 3-day is looming large at the end of this week.  I spent some time last weekend and Monday with my mom who is recovering from surgery.  I have to figure out what to pack and how I’m getting to the start of the walk at 5 AM on Friday.  M is starting to use the potty on a regular basis.  I need to get birthday invitations out. 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…

Stay tuned.  I will write more next week.

Ready, Set, 18!

Today I walked in (and completed) an 18-mile training walk. I walked in my Chaco’s with my feet taped up like the walking wounded and they worked out okay. I still have a few blisters so I’m not sold that these will be my shoes for the walk. Walking 6-7 miles is extremely different from walking 18+.  In the next two weeks I’ll have to make some serious decisions about what shoes to wear on the 3-day. Either way I’m sure I’ll use a lot of tape and band-aids!

I had a bit of a surreal day as I had TWO blogger sightings; this morning about 3 miles into the training walk two runners went by our group of about 20 and were wishing us luck – as they went by me I realized that one of them was Erika. It happened too fast for me to say anything but I wanted to say – “That’s Diabetic Running Mama!” but I knew people would look at me like I was crazy.  Then this evening after a few hours running around the Great Lakes Science Center we headed to the fabulous Bar Cento since I’ve been craving those pomme frites for weeks.  Maggie was being sweet but hyper and running all over the place and just about ran into Chef’s Widow’s chef, Jonathan Sawyer – you know, the culinary rock star that has been in the news a bit lately?  Mark said hi and the Chef was sweet enough to bend down to say hello to our little golden-haired wild child.  All in all it was a great “Cleveland day” and we remarked on the drive home how happy we are with our new city.

Now I’m off to soak my achy feet and get to bed – most likely before it’s dark out.  I’m beat.

Sandals (not boots) are Made for Walkin’

Last weekend I attended an 18-mile training walk in preparation for the upcoming Breast Cancer 3-Day walk.  And I failed…failed miserably.  The day was perfect, the route was fine but by about mile 10 I had a hot-spot on my heal.  I stopped to lube it up with Body Glide which helped for another mile or so.  Then it started irritating me again.  By the time we got to about mile 12 I was visibly limping and the wonderful woman who I was chatting with urged my to drop out.  I powered through a bit more but was slowing down and holding my partner back.  I felt like a fool when around mile 13 I had stop at at Wal-Greens to put a call in to Mark to come pick me up on the route.

When I took my shoe off I had a deep blister about 2 inches long and a thumb-width wide on the side of my heal – a place I have never gotten a blister before.  By the time I got home it had filled with blood.  It was a beauty.

I wore flip-flops the rest of the weekend to keep the pressure off the blister. Luckily I found that my trusty Chaco ZX/2 sandals don’t bother it and was able to get in a couple of 5-7 mile walks this week after bedtime.  The only problem is that my sandals give me a couple of new hot-spots so now I tape up my feet before I walk.  It looks a bit silly but it works.  Since the blister is still healing I haven’t gone back to my walking shoes yet.  These sandals may turn out to be my main shoes for the walk.   They are incredibly comfortable and keep my feet cool.

Next weekend I’m signed up for another 18-mile training walk – I hope I will make it all the way this time.  Only 21 days (and $560 left to raise) before the start of the 3-Day!