Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reflections of 2013

M.C. Escher
December has been a whirlwind of activity; all of it good. As a result, I did not write much, but it has been on my heart and mind. So today I thought I’d reflect on the past year and share some thoughts. Usually at the end of the year we have an inclination that with the New Year comes new beginnings. Many people make New Year’s resolutions. My husband and I don’t. We set goals.

At the beginning of 2013 I set some goals. One was to write weekly. I did not write weekly, but looking back on my archive I actually wrote more than 52 entries for this blog. I must have had some active writing weeks to make it that far before the end of 2013!
Another goal was to lose another 20 pounds and reach a healthy weight. I didn’t reach that goal.
My third goal was to walk a marathon (26.2 miles) in the Avon Walk in San Francisco. Not only did I reach that goal, I actually bested my mileage by walking 31.4 miles. I hope that doesn’t set me up for failure when we walk in Chicago in 2014.
A goal that I achieved that I hadn’t realized I set was to not pass up an opportunity. Upon reflection I realize that I said “yes” to opportunities because I could. Unless it is a medical appointment there is nothing in my life that cannot (or should not) be rescheduled. And so I went on last minute visits; I went on hikes; I saw a friend share at a Christian women’s gathering; I got to see my brother even though it was only for a couple of hours.
Over this year I have had some amazing experiences. I have made some new friends. I have reconnected with dear friends from high school. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge with extraordinary friends. I hung out in Texas with close friends. I have been blessed with being the part of some exceptional lives. And I have the opportunity to do what I love.
For 2014 my goals are pretty much the same:
1.     Write weekly for my blog.

2.     Exercise, eat well, and get to that healthy BMI weight.

3.     Walk a marathon (or more) in the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer – destination city: Chicago

4.     Say “yes” to opportunities.
Stay tuned for my first post of January 2014 when I share my “Gratitude Jar” with you.
If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. Now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I’ve never really believed in coincidences. I used to explain the phenomenon as fate or “meant to be.” Then I learned of Albert Einstein’s statement that “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous” and I thought, “That’s it!” But the truth is that God isn’t very anonymous when He performs the miracle that is a coincidence.

I’ve written about my friend Shelle before and how we connected in 2009 when it seemed impossible that I would see her. I have also wondered how my two worlds, my professional life and my personal story, could possibly connect. And then I meet Robyn.

I was away at a professional conference the week after Thanksgiving. It is held the same time every year so I simply put it in my calendar. This year the timing seemed inconvenient; only two and a half weeks until Christmas when I got back. Professionally, it’s a perfect time of year for the conference. Personally, it cuts into the Christmas season and adds some additional stress. However, I knew I’d get to see Shelle and that made it worthwhile. (Yes, we spent a couple of evenings together in Vegas, and that’s all I’m going to say). The conference was great, and seeing friends from around the country was wonderful.

One of the nice things about being at a professional conference is getting to see friends in the industry that I’ve worked with over the years but we are now at different colleges. We don’t get to see each other unless it is at a conference. And while Facebook is a great place to stay in touch, it just isn’t the same thing. One of my lunch dates was with a former colleague and dear friend, Rebeccah. Rebeccah brought her co-worker Robyn with her.

We chatted about people who were still at Rebeccah’s institution; catching up on various changes. I asked about a mutual friend who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. My question was posed in such a way that I realized it would be out of context for Robyn. So I turned to Robyn and said, “I’m a breast cancer survivor, just so you know where this is coming from.” Our exchange then took a different route.

Robyn had recently lost a very close friend to breast cancer and she wanted to know about mine. We shared our stories and our knowledge. I disclosed how Rebeccah was part of my story. Rebeccah told of her experience with me. In the end we talked non-stop for over an hour.

Again, my two worlds collide. Coincidence? I think not.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. Now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

For my American friends, today is Thanksgiving. To all, may your lives be filled with blessings, joy, and much thanksgiving.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. Now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

For Bryan

What is the point of my life?

I lived, and for that I am eternally grateful. I know that God has a purpose for my life, and a purpose because I lived. I struggle with trying to define that purpose, but I know that God will show me if I just let Him. Right now, for today, I will pay it forward because I can. And I think that is the best that I can do with my life in order to say “thank you.”

One day you will see a need, be called to a task that you can fulfill. It might even be something that you never dreamed you would or could do. But you find yourself saying “yes.” And as you know, saying “yes” is scary for me. Yet God has brought me to today, to this moment.

We are all given resources to say “yes.” Sometimes those resources are simple, like a spare bed or time. We aren’t always called to say “yes” when confronted with a need. Sometimes our response is to pray or make a connection so that the need is met. But when the answer before me is so clearly “yes” I find that I can no longer say “no.”

May you live in the moment and be blessed with the ability to say “yes” when you can.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. Now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Being 49

I remember when my mother turned 49 she spent the whole year saying “I’m going to be 50.” We laugh about it now, but the sad part of this is that she missed being 49. I turned 49 in July. At 49 I am discovering that this is a year of observation. My first observation is that I wonder how I got here. To 49. You see, I was just 47.

As I think about becoming 49 I realize I was never 48. Instead I spent the year being five. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. So as I hit 48, I also became five. Every month it was “five years since…”
Being five was not a bad thing. It marked a milestone. Most cancers have a high five year survival rate, which means you are still alive after five years. However, it doesn’t mean you are cancer free or that your cancer hasn’t recurred. It just means you are still alive after five years. But reaching the five year mark with no evidence of disease is huge. I told my oncologist I feel as if I am back into the general population. (She smiled).
Another observation is an awareness of the breast cancer community. I follow a couple of blogs. I read the news. And I paid attention during Pink October. By paying attention I learned a few things. The most important thing I learned has to do with metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer. If you read my posts during October you know that 30% of early stage breast cancer will recur and metastasize. Yes, it means that 70% have no recurrence and die of something else. Hopefully old age. But this statistic is not discussed as part of treatment. And 30% seems awfully high for a disease that is supposed to have such good prognosis.
What shocked me was to read about a real life person whose cancer came back 20 years later only to metastasize a few years after that. That is correct – 25 years after initial diagnosis! So it doesn’t end after five years. This is why I am taking care of myself; eating healthy, working at being a healthy weight, and exercising. (I encourage this for everyone).
I am also observing how my life is progressing. I sometimes wonder how my professional life as a lawyer and compliance specialist fits with my personal life as a breast cancer survivor and blogger. I know there’s a connection, and lately I’ve been watching as these two worlds come together. Right now it’s difficult to explain, but I’m sure there will be posts generated once I find the words. For now I’m going to observe, and see how God unfolds this new year. A year of being 49.
If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor and now on Twitter @relucsurvivor.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Today is Thursday, October 31. That means it is Throwback Thursday on Facebook. A day where you post pictures from the archives that are reminiscent of days gone by. It is also Halloween. A day where even the adults get to be children once again. Halloween also marks the last day in October, making it the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Though women and men should continue to pay attention to changes in their body and overall health, no matter what month it is). So, in honor of all three occasions, I bring you this photo from February 2008.

During treatment I had chosen not to wear a wig, so as a joke my husband bought me this wig. My skin was jaundiced from the poison that is chemotherapy and I’m a bit bloated from being hopped up on steroids. As a throwback this is a reminder of where I was and a celebration of how far I’ve come. For Halloween – well, it’s Elvira. And while the wig is not pink, it is a statement for Breast Cancer Awareness and education.
Be well.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rabbit Hill Inn

Rabbit Hill Inn is one of our favorite places in New England. We discovered it years ago when looking for a weekend get-away at a Distinctive Inn. While we don’t get to Vermont every year we go quite often. And over the years we’ve become friends with the Inn Keepers. What started as a weekend get-away for rest and relaxation has turned into our choice of destinations for birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations.

It is also the place we went to heal.

In November 2007 I had surgery for triple-negative breast cancer. I am one of the lucky ones; my cancer was caught early and was Stage I. Because triple-negative is an aggressive, fast-growing cancer it is most often diagnosed at a later stage with poorer outcomes.

In December 2007 we retreated to Rabbit Hill Inn. I was still recovering from surgery, had just finished law school, and was facing chemotherapy. My hair was still long because I refused to face the reality that I would lose my hair in another month. It was right before Christmas and the Inn was decorated for the holidays. It was an occasion for quiet time together. We spent time in our suite, sitting before the fire, reading. Dinner was a five-star feast at the Inn with wine and candlelight.

It was June 2009 before we returned. This time it was another time of recovery, but with better news. In May I had undergone a surgical biopsy on the same breast for a possible new cancer. (A new cancer is not a recurrence of the original cancer. It is a different cancer, with a different pathological diagnosis). Fortunately, the tumor was benign. And my hair had grown out enough that it just looked like I’d had a haircut.
We never told Brian and Leslie what had happened. There have been times at our various stays that I considered it, but the timing never seemed right. There was a recent visit where we wondered if everything was alright with Leslie, but we dismissed it as her being tired. Now we know. And they know.

Brian and Leslie have always been two very special people in our lives. They have welcomed us into their Inn with warmth and love. And during our time of need they provided us with a haven; a home away from home where we could escape, love and be loved, and heal.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gone L.O.C.O.

Last year I wrote about my girlfriends and how much they mean to me. This year I’d like to highlight one very special group. The LOCOs. (Ladies of Commander Owners).

My husband and I recently returned home from our annual get-together. This year’s destination was Fredericksburg, TX and the Hangar Hotel.
September 2008

This particular fly-in was especially meaningful for me. You see, we were in Fredericksburg five years ago. Just after I had finished my cancer treatments. And my hair had just started to grow back. Now here we were five years later, celebrating friendship and life.

These ladies are my sisters. We add to our numbers and connect over shopping, early morning coffee and afternoon tea. We come and go as we please, gathering together for a cocktail or soda at the end of the day before dinner. At any time I can find a group of these friends; we can sit and share stories or go off on some adventure together. Depending on who is around, the group is always different. Yet it is the same.

Our commonality is our husbands and their planes, but we have found that we share so much more. We have a similar sense of humor. Nicknames have been given. This year we started an impromptu dance party. We even get in trouble. (Sometimes I think we create more fun than the guys). And this year we were recognized at the Awards Banquet. Yes, even the pilots recognize our unique bond.   

We are each other’s support system and playmates. We are sisters and friends. And because we mean it, we never forget to say “I love you.”

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Keep Your Bra On

October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. It is not “No Bra Day.” It is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

I do not object to the Pink Ribbon campaign. I even like the silly team names at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. What I do not like is trivializing someone’s pain and suffering. Here are some things you need to know about metastasized (Stage IV) breast cancer:
  • Metastasis occurs when cancer cells spread to a vital organ.
  • Breast cancer metastasizes to the bones, liver, lungs, and brain most often, but can spread to any region of the body.
  • An estimated 155,000 Americans are living with metastatic breast cancer and approximately 40,000 people will die this year from metastatic breast cancer.
  • Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control of the spread of the disease and quality of life.
  • Approximately 6% to 10% of breast cancer diagnoses are Stage IV right from the beginning.
  • Metastatic breast cancer can occur up to 15-20 years after the initial diagnosis.
  • Of those diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, 20% -30% will develop metastatic breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is not just a disease of post-menopausal women. Young people and men can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
  • There are different types of metastatic breast cancer. Treatment choices are determined by the type of breast cancer, location and extent of the metastasis, and previous treatments.
  • While metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence, most people will ultimately die of their disease.

I rarely get riled up about an issue, but I had a colleague die from metastatic breast cancer. I have a friend who is currently living with and being treated for metastatic breast cancer. I don't see how going braless shows support; especially on this particular day. So do me a favor and KEEP YOUR BRA ON.
If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's Not About Pink Ribbons

On October 11 I posted the following status update on Facebook:

Six years ago today I had my annual physical where my doctor found a lump that she did not like. And so my story began.

As I wrote those words I realized I had so much more to “say” but there were too many words for a status update. (Status updates should be short and sweet so people actually read them). My thoughts went from Breast Cancer Awareness month to Pink October to what does it mean to me to what is it that I really want to communicate. You see, in the breast cancer community there is a rebellion against the pinking of October. Survivors object to the commercialization, the fact that many companies slap a pink ribbon on their product to make money but do not actually donate money to research, if at all, and that some companies give their money to foundations that do not support research.
I understand that sentiment. It is one of the reasons I support both the American Cancer Society and the Avon Foundation. Their money goes to research to find a cure for cancer. A victory for one type of cancer is a victory for all.
How do I feel about the pink ribbon campaign and Breast Cancer Awareness month? Awareness is a very good thing. But awareness is not about silly slogans, hearts on social media sites or going braless on Metastatic Breast Cancer Day. Awareness is about education. I wear a pink bracelet every day during the month of October. It was made for me by one of my friends. It reminds me of her love, as well as all the love and support I received (and still receive). It is also an opportunity for people to ask. And when there is an opportunity, I share. I share my knowledge as well as my story.
Part of my story is the fact that my doctor, my primary care physician, felt something she did not like during my annual physical. You see, not all breast cancer is found by having a mammogram.

[Having said that, if you are a woman over the age of 40, go get your annual mammogram!]

Breast cancer is found by doctors, by woman and men who notice a change in their breast, from mammograms, and from education. You need to know that not all breast cancer is the same. It is not a one-size-fits all disease.
The most common types of breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. Some less common types are inflammatory breast cancer (there is no actual lump), triple-negative breast cancer (which is a diagnosis), Paget disease of the nipple, Phyllodes tumor (found in the connective tissue of the breast), and angiosarcoma (the cancer starts in the blood vessels or lymph nodes). Source: American Cancer Society.

There are risk factors associated with breast cancer. Some you can change. Some you cannot. Your age is a big factor. Only one in eight invasive breast cancers occur in women under the age of 45. We’ve all read about the gene mutation factor. Other risk factors you cannot change are a family history of breast cancer, your own personal history, your race or ethnicity (white women are more likely to develop breast cancer while African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer), having dense breast tissue, and certain benign breast conditions. My friend Leslie wrote about dense breast tissue and her message is a very important one if you have dense breast tissue.

There are also lifestyle-related factors like having children, birth control, hormone replacement therapy and breast feeding. Now, I do not recommend having children just to avoid breast cancer because there is no guarantee, but if you want children you should know that studies have shown that women who have had no children or who had their first child after the age of 30 have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. Other factors that you can control are alcohol intake, being overweight and your amount of physical activity.
As for the pinking of October I wrote about my feelings on the subject earlier this year in Think Pink. I do not object to the pink ribbon pins, but remember that Pink October is about getting the word out. It’s about education.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Outside My Comfort Zone

I have friends who like to post inspirational and motivational quotes. I have one friend who believes you should strive to work outside your comfort zone. In fact, his advice is to do one thing a year that is outside your comfort zone. Well, the San Francisco Avon Walk weekend certainly was outside my comfort zone.

I could have easily told my teammates “not this year.” I was not planning to walk in San Francisco so early in our quest to walk in each city where an Avon Walk is held. I figured if we saved San Francisco for last I’d be in good enough shape to do it. But the team wanted to walk in San Francisco. We had agreed that it would be a California walk and the San Francisco dates worked best for everyone. So I trained and tried not to think about the hills or the Golden Gate Bridge.
Well, it turned out that the weekend was filled with experiences that were outside my comfort zone. Friday evening two of my teammates and I ended up at a Japanese restaurant for dinner. They both wanted sushi and the first place we tried was out of fish entrees. (How can a restaurant that is rated “high” for their fish be out of fish in San Francisco?). Anyway, we walked down the street a couple of blocks and waited for a table at a small, genuine Japanese restaurant. I’ve have had California rolls before, but not the raw fish that is sushi. Also, I am not a fan of raw (rare) tuna. But here I was with my friends, and since I’m willing to try anything once I said “teach me.”
I ordered a sampler meal that included three types of raw fish over rice balls, three California rolls, and some tempura shrimp with vegetables. Sarah taught me how to use chop sticks. While it was quite amusing, I managed well enough to eat my meal. Susan taught me about the dipping sauces. They both filled me in on what is appropriate for eating both sushi and tempura. They assured me that making it finger food was perfectly acceptable (which is how I ended up eating my tempura).
Saturday the three walkers in our team (one was a crew member giving massages at the Wellness Village) headed out for the first part of our San Francisco Walk. I found that I could keep a good pace and not get winded; unlike the first two Walks in Houston and D.C. The hills were the hills of San Francisco and I did ok. There was only one place where I had to stop to catch my breath before continuing on.
I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge! The lunch stop was after the Bridge at the 13.1 mile marker. The halfway point is usually where I stop, but the route layout for San Francisco day one is shorter than 26.2 miles and day two is 15.5 miles (2.4 miles longer than usual). And lunch is usually at mile 11. Since I’m used to continuing the Walk after lunch, and I knew I had 15 miles on Sunday I decided to keep walking after lunch. I made it to the next rest stop at mile 15.9. A personal best.
Sunday we got to walk back across the Golden Gate Bridge. This time I walked with my teammates and we stopped for some pictures to “prove” we were actually on the Bridge. The truth is, it wasn’t so bad as long as I stayed focused and didn’t look down. I did look across the Bay; it is a spectacular view.

This year the Avon Walk was outside my comfort zone. But there was more than just the famous hills. I ate raw tuna, used chop sticks, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge (twice) and walked 31.4 miles. My comfort zone has just expanded.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Romans 8:28 Revisited

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” ~ Albert Einstein

It was Friday, September 27, 2013 and I was up early to catch a flight to San Francisco to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. As I poured my first cup of coffee my husband asked, “Did you see Leslie’s post?” I immediately logged into Facebook and went to the Rabbit Hill Inn page to read Leslie’s blog post. As I started to read tears came to my eyes. I started crying about half way through the post. I couldn’t believe what I was reading about my dear friend. And today of all days!

I like to arrive at the airport early; it cuts down on my anxiety. I’d rather wait at the gate for an hour than worry that I might miss my flight. We left earlier than we had to but my husband also needed to get to work. I figured I would get through security and go have breakfast. We pulled out of the driveway at 7:25 a.m. I was through security and at my assigned gate by 8:33 a.m. There was another San Francisco flight posted at that gate leaving at 8:55 a.m. I overheard a man asking at the counter if there were seats available; he had a later flight. The attendants said “yes” so I wandered up and mentioned that I was also on a later flight. The attendant looked me in the eyes and said, “No you’re not. You’re on this flight,” as he took my boarding pass and rebooked me for the 8:55. As he cancelled my original itinerary he mentioned that it was a good thing I was on this flight because my flight was showing a three hour delay.
I ended up with an aisle seat (which I like) and boarded the plane. I had enough time to send a quick text to my teammates and husband that I was on an earlier flight. How awesome was that?!?! The flight was uneventful and I was well attended to by one flight attendants. I arrived in San Francisco to a beautiful day of sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s. I made my way to the hotel and met up with my friend, roommate and teammate, Susan.
As the weekend unfolded I learned that the San Francisco Walk is usually held in July, but just this year, for one time only, it was rescheduled to September 28 & 29. Really? It just “happened” to be rescheduled? You know I don’t believe in coincidence. I took Leslie, and all the others I know, with me in my heart as I walked this past weekend.
And if I ever had any doubt about my purpose in walking, my flight experience certainly confirmed that I was meant to be in San Francisco this past weekend.
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Avon Walk - San Francisco

Tomorrow I leave for San Francisco to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I’m both anxious and excited. I know I’ve shared my anxiety over the Golden Gate Bridge, but I did a Google search and discovered it’s really not that bad. The walkway is a wide sidewalk. In fact, reading about the bridge made it sound like a public park. I looked at pictures of walkers and bicyclists and thought “I can do that.”

I am also anxious about traveling. It’s not a post 9/11 anxiety about flying. In fact, it has nothing to do with the trip itself. It’s a “I don’t want to miss my flight” anxiety. But one of the things that I’ve learned about travel is that it’s not a big deal. I’ve missed flight connections and still got to where I was going. I’ve had flights canceled, was able to rebook my hotel room, and rescheduled my flight for the next day. Beyond that, the trip isn’t vital to anything. Except maybe seeing my friends. The truth is: I’m fine once I’m sitting at the gate waiting to board.

The other thing I’ve learned about travel is that it’s fairly easy to get around. I’ve done enough business travel that I know how to navigate to the taxi queue, grab a cab, and get to my hotel. In this electronic age I’ve already received confirmation emails, reminder phone calls, and been able to print out everything 24 hours in advance. I’m good to go. Tomorrow just has to arrive.

However, I think more than anything I’m excited. I’m excited to see my friends (teammates). I’m excited to be walking again. I’m happily (instead of anxiously) anticipating the physical challenge ahead. And I’m excited that our efforts have meaning. The money raised goes to research, education, detection, support, and treatment. As little as $150 means an uninsured woman gets a mammogram. Additionally, the money raised helps a newly diagnosed woman (or man) get the x-rays and lab work that is needed to determine treatment. An average of 80% of funds raised stay in the area where the event takes place. The remaining 20% goes to care programs in all 50 states, as well as national research programs, to help ensure adequate funding for the fight against breast cancer. Source: It is exciting to help fund the Avon Foundation and the fight against breast cancer.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Let's Move Together

Sunday I walked in the 17th annual Arthritis Foundation Walk in Boston. My Goddaughter, Kate, is Captain of a team – Katie’s Knights. Kate was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis when she was in the seventh grade.
According to the Arthritis Foundation arthritis is “a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues.” There are 50 million Americans with arthritis, and two-thirds of them are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis. Other forms of arthritis include fibromyalgia, gout, Lyme disease, and tendinitis.

Arthritis is a more frequent cause of activity limitations than heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. There is strong evidence that exercise provides benefits for people with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation hosts walks all over the United States to raise money for research and education. Their slogan is “Let’s Move Together.” The event takes place over the course of a day. We started with registration and warm-up dance. The Boston walk is a three mile loop along the Charles River near MIT, Harvard and Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. We walked along the river, across a bridge to the other side, and then back across another bridge to end where we started. Afterwards there was lunch, prizes, acknowledgements for top fundraisers, and more dancing.

This was the first time I had participated in this walk. I am very proud of Kate and her leadership of her team. However, my participation has always been limited to a financial donation. Last year I actually thought about walking with her team, but had a conflicting commitment. This year I did not. I also thought it would be a good training walk for my upcoming Avon Walk.
I found the event fun. The weather was perfect. The team is delightful. The three miles seemed to go by quickly. In the end it was an easy walk and I think I want to participate in other 5K walks. Something inside me has changed.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Childhood Cancer

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (among many others) here in the U.S. An independent film maker shared this video with me to help bring awareness to this terrible childhood disease. I wanted to share it with you. May his work be blessed, and may we find a cure for all cancer.

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

New Beginnings

September. A month of new beginnings. Today is Rosh Hashanah; the Jewish New Year. Yesterday was the first day of classes for many college students. When I was a kid it would have been the first day of school. Back then, public schools did not start until the Wednesday after Labor Day. (A holiday here in North America – both the United State and Canada). In so many ways, September marks the beginning of the year.

In just over three weeks I will fly to San Francisco to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer with a team that was formed three years ago. We walk in memory of a dear friend, school mate, and student leader. I find myself being both sad and excited. I’m a little apprehensive about the Golden Gate Bridge, but I know the experience will be magnificent.
I am sad because I miss Jan. I pulled my “Jan hat” off the closet shelf the other day. It’s a hat we had made for the first walk. I’ll wear it again this year. I will wear it every year we walk. I like to think that Jan is proud of what we are doing. I like to think it’s something she would have organized.
I am also looking forward to seeing my teammates again. We have a special bond. We came together because of Jan, but we had known each other before our first walk. It’s an annual reunion. Throughout the rest of the year we keep in touch via email and social media. We have discovered we have more in common than just Jan and law school.
The Walk is also a new beginning. The Avon Foundation provides grants to area hospitals and research facilities with the money we raise. They also provide grants for support services, education, and screenings for under-insured and uninsured women and men. We are helping to give someone, somewhere a new year; a new start.
I know my last sentence may seem Polly Ana-ish given the realities of breast cancer. But funding research has resulted in new and better treatments. More lives are being saved. Lives are being extended. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of work to be done. We need to find a way to prevent recurrence. We need to find a way to stop the spread of metastasized breast cancer; halt its progression and give patients a better quality of life. We need to find a cure for ALL cancer.
So as I start September and look forward to the Avon Walk in three and half weeks, I will think of it as the start of something good. And I wish you all a Happy New Year!
You can make a donation to my fundraising efforts at

If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


I have never made New Year resolutions because I know they are never kept. However, I like the idea of setting goals. This year I find myself setting goals throughout the year. In January I set the goal to walk one mile a day, six days a week on my treadmill as part of my “training” for the Avon Walk. I also set the goal to write one blog post a week. Last year I had set a goal to lose weight, which I did. So I set another weight loss goal. I also set the goal to keep track of the books I read this year.

What is interesting about setting those goals is that later on in the year I found myself setting other goals. I set the goal to read a Psalm a day.

So how have I done? Well, in the short-term perspective I have failed. And failed miserably. But today I took inventory and this is what I found.

In January I walked a mile (or more) a day on my treadmill; six days a week. I accomplished my goal, but at a price. I developed plantar faciitis and have had to modify my “workout” routine so that I do not reinjure my heel. In the short-term I have failed. However, upon reflection I now easily walk two miles at a time so I’ve been increasing my cardio level. Rather than going for longer distance I’ve increased the pace or incline. As a result, when I recently took a hike with some friends I found that I did not tire or get winded as I have in the past. I was able to thoroughly enjoy our walk, while chatting about various things in our lives and observations along the path.

I have also continued to lose weight, which gives me more energy. I have worked in some yoga routines, which have improved both my flexibility and my core strength. No, I’m not walking a marathon every weekend. And I’m not following the Avon training guide. But I know that I am physically more fit this year than I was last or the year before. In fact, my fitness level is better than it was when I was first diagnosed with cancer.

I haven’t posted every week, but sometimes I’ve written two or three posts in one week because I have something to say. As it turns out, I’m right on track for writing 52 posts (or more) this year.

I’ve been keeping track of the books I’ve read this year on Goodreads. I’m a slow reader, but so far I’ve read 13 books this year; I’m almost finished with #14. I’ve read some fantastic books. And I’ve read through the Book of Psalms. I will confess that I didn’t always read one a day. Sometimes I had to make up for a missed day or weekend by reading two a day. I kind of lost track, but I stuck with it and now I’m reading Proverbs a chapter a day.

I’ve learned that setting goals is a good thing. It helps keep me on track. But I’ve also learned that I should not be hard on myself if I don’t reach my goals in exactly the way I set out to accomplish them. The truth is: I will get there. So set some goals, and don’t be afraid to fail. After all, courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” [Mary Anne Radmacher].