Thursday, September 30, 2010

Picking up the girls....

Picking up Katie in an hour or so. Allison arrive this evening. It is a great thing as a parent to have you children want to walk with you in something as monumental as the 3 day. I don't think I ever understood just how important children were to parents, until I was one.

I remember when I was in High School at our senior grad night there was a palm reader. When I sat down and extended my hand to her, she scrutinized it carefully and declared, you will have two children. To you, you family is the center of your life. "Yup" I said to myself "dribble, everyone has 2 children."

Then later as a graduation present a neighbor who had gotten into astrology BIG time did my chart for me. She declared, you will have two children. For you the family is the most important thing. While they are little you will get along with them well. When they are teenagers there will be some real challenges. "Yup, "I said "dribble, everyone has 2 children and every teenager is a challenge." And off I went on my merry little life.

And sure enough it all came true.

Now here they are coming to walk with me in the 3 day, because they know how much the event means to me. But what they may no be aware of is how important our family is to me. How much I love each of them. How I miss the days when we would snuggle in my bed, or how I watched them play on windy hill. How I miss those days.

Tomorrow we will all walk off together on the walk. All those things we are walking for mean a lot to me. I am filled with gratitude and love that they want to walk it with me.

Each of us are unique individuals but we will always be family.

NEXT time you will hear from me it will be post walk. SO please, if you are on facebook, check it once in awhile I will post a picture or two along the way.

THANKS again for your support. Hope to see you during the walk cheering those people in pink.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Late at night....

My eyes pop open and I hear the drone of the ceiling fan as it spins the warm air over my head and down over my body. The dogs are breathing as if they have been in a race with a rabbit. Everything outside is in a languid still life, like life on pause.

I know I am excited about the walk. Before I went to bed I read again how excited I was last year. I can't sleep. Unlike the first 14 years of my survival from Breast Cancer, I now want to remember every detail I tried so hard to forget. I want to have that in my mind when my feet hit the road on Friday morning. I want to feel the fear.

Tonight, when sleep won't come, I listen to my heart. I search my soul to feel the feeling of being told you have Breast Cancer. I remember.

After the phone call and the visit with the surgeon, I was scheduled for a lumptecomy at Marin General. I would spend the night after it was complete, and then return home. I would hear from the Doctor after the results of the pathology had returned. My Father flew in to be by my side. To pray for my recovery. To be afraid. After all he had lost his wife to Cancer at the age of 49. My Mother.

My husband then had to cover three duties, stand by my side, be there for my Dad and be there for our two daughters. I don't think he or I had all that much time then to be afraid, we had other people to take care of.

I remember being rolled into the operating room and I chatted with the surgeon until I was under from the anesthesia. I wasn't afraid. I was determined and there wasn't one ounce of me that believed I would be the woman who would die from this disease, not one ounce.

I woke up and was taken to my room. There was a huge ace bandage wrapped around my body. I could tell I still had both breasts and I felt pretty fine all in all. I had my visitors that night and spent a sleepless hospital night wondering what I might look like under that bandage.

We all went home.

I was in my bed at home when the doctor called. She said I would have to come back in and talk with her. I started to feel anxious. I put my head down and my game face on and moved forward. Sitting in her office she told me I would need a mastectomy. I didn't really question this, but I did ask about radiation. The doctor jumped up and had the Radiologist speak with me. "You have no other options, you need a mastectomy," he said. There was urgency in his voice. My heart beat faster, my resolve grew deeper to push through whatever it would be. The surgeon said "You don't understand, I saw this dividing in the microscope."

At that moment, I know I must have realized I could die from this. I realized this was BAD. My reaction though was to be even more stoic, focusing only on the step in front of me in a mad feat of concentration.

The next day I was taken to day surgery. People have said they thought this was odd that they weren't going to allow me to spend the night after what would be a more significant surgery. Me, I thought "Good. I want to be home."

As they prepped me for surgery, my heart was beating a mile a minute. But I was smiling and joking with the nurse and was even joking all the way in the hallway with the surgeon, until I saw the operating room door. At the sight of the door, I felt all the wind come out of my body. My eyes popped open and I had a realization that hadn't allowed in before this (or frankly after the following 14 years). NOTHING would be the same. They were going to take a part of me and throw it away. I would be permanently damaged. I would be deformed. I was going to have one breast. All in the same moment I thought, what does this mean for Glenn and me, what does this mean for my daughters, what if I die. I sobbed hysterically struggling to catch my breath.

The doctor saw the fear on my face and she quickly had the anesthesiologist put me under.

When I woke. I had a bandage around my body and I knew I had no breast. I looked at Glenn and told him I was ok. And I started walking away from the fear, away from that moment seeking to bury it deep so it could ever hurt me again.

Last year, I dug it all up. I relived some of this fear through my friend's diagnosis. I looked at my Cancer and realized, it still had power over me. I realized I had to not only put it out there for me to see, but I needed to tame it and use it to create a world where no one else even has to feel that fear.

So last night as I was laying in bed, I invited the fear back in. I looked it in the eye and let it know... I am the one who is winning this war. I will defeat you. Cancer didn't end me, I will end Cancer. And on Friday I will continue the battle to finish what I started 15 years ago - ending Cancer.


This is the last day donations count toward this years totals. If you haven't donated and would like to PLEASE do every dollar counts.

Monday, September 27, 2010

OMG 4 days until the 3 day!

I just read about a woman who raised the survivor flag at the Seattle 3 day. She is in between her 3rd and 4th round of chemo. Apparently she is a tiny thing. I got tears in my eyes when I envisioned her mighty soul lifting that big flag. That would have been something to see.

In these last few days before the walk, I am trying to take a step back to think about how far we have already come. My team, each and every one, has done a remarkable job training, raising money and more importantly getting the word out about Breast Cancer. Dana even has adopted a new aerodynamic look for the walk shaving his beard and trimming his hair! We are in the last stages of packing. The socks are lined up, the shirts, the blister bandages and every little thing, right down to my new "When Pigs Fly" wind sculpture which we will proudly display by our tents.

Allison and I found this cute little wind machine on Pier 39 (or near it). I thought it was the perfect symbol of my walk.

2 years ago, the idea of me walking 2 miles, much less 60, was as likely as when pigs fly. Well, my friends pigs must indeed fly since I have walked hundred of miles in training and am ready to once again walk my 60 Oct 1-3.

I hope some of this helps teach you to NEVER give up. Not on others, not on yourself and definitely NOT on a world without Breast Cancer!

PLEASE come to cheer the 1300 men and women on this weekend. We need that support. And it is not too late to DONATE. I am trying to maintain my #2 spot in the SF fundraising. So HELP!

I am not sure when the next time I will be writing is, it may be after the walk. But check facebook, I am hoping I can post a picture or two with a little update.

LOVE all you guys for being in my corner.

Friday, September 24, 2010

One week to go...

I woke up this morning, put on the coffee, got my walking clothes on, did some work, then took off for the day ahead. the air was still and warm. The trees stood like statues without flinching. I knew as I walk they were waiting. Waiting for things to come. Waiting like me. Taking a time out until the world starts spinning at breakneck speed....

For the neighborhood, its a break between the fog and wind of summer and the rain and wind of winter. For me... it is the week before the 3 day when our coaches advise us to have shorter, easier walks to let our bodies repair themselves for the challenge of 60 miles in 3 days starting in just a week.

As I write this now in the comfort of my air conditioned office, I am debating whether to call Patti to bring me up the hill back home. I know the coaches would advise me to do that. But right now, I am sitting in the chair ignoring the dried residue from my sweaty walk to lunch. Just glad I am not meeting clients in person today. If the phone had smell-i-vision they would certainly change the channel.

We all are quite excited. I have pulled out my BIG rolling duffel bag. I have my list of what to pack. I sterilized one of my Camelback backpacks for Katie to use. I am breaking in my 3rd pair of shoes to be ready for next week. I am about as ready as I could be.

All this training, all this planning and still I am nervous about being ready. WHY. Because I know it is a challenge. I remember how difficult that 3rd day was and I am praying my strategies this year will help me through better than before. I am nervous that everyone on our team will do alright and be glad the walked. I am nervous that there will not be very many people cheering. I am nervous that Glenn may be bored running here and there when I know him being there is part of the reason I can do this at all. I have more thoughts in my head than bytes in a super computer. I am overwhelmed with feelings. I am ready.

Today as Patti and I walked into Sausalito for lunch we were stopped by a man who wished us well. As I returned from the office a woman stopped me to thank me for walking. Someone yelled at me from their bikes, "Good for you!" I am ready. Are you?

If you do not live in SF or nearby, please look up and find a location close to you. Make a sign. Wear some pink. Make a difference. Be the reason someone can finish this walk. Come to cheer. And if you are in the Mill Valley neighborhood on Oct 2nd, come cheer with Alain Pinel - near Kevin's Pumpkin Patch and Terra Teak and 100 Shoreline Hwy. We are working to get press there and lots and lots of crazy happy cheering people. BE ONE.

A Heron, waiting for the change in the wind or the 3 day....


Monday, September 20, 2010

THE weekend

Right now I am in the middle of negotiating over a short sale and believe me I would rather be walking. So while I am waiting for the bank holding the first to respond to the bank holding the second I will fill you in on the weekend. Feast Frivolity and Friends.....

After a lovely evening celebrating Patti's Birthday we met up with Dana, Stephanie and Cathy Shea in Alameda for some East Bay wanderings.

The skies were cloudy as a light drizzle fell. We stretched and prepared for a 18 mile day. Not lost on Patti and me was the difficulty of walking distances after staying up late, and drinking wine. But off we went toward the Bay...

The sights and sound along the way carry with them the moodiness that drizzly days bring.

Cathy Shea hasn't had the same opportunity to train as the rest of us, but she jumped right in and did a good job as we walked the perimeter of the island.

People think of Alameda as a Naval Station. In fact Glenn's Dad was even sent there to meet up with a boat he served on in WWII. But Alameda is more than that. In fact prior to 1902 Alameda was not an island at all. But a channel dug between San Leandro Bay and the Oakland Harbor created the estuary that made Alameda a major shipping port. The Naval Air station was created just in time for WWII and was closed in 1997. But there still are old military buildings and some ships that serve as Museums, Including the USS Hornet.

The first Pan American Clippers flew out of Alameda in 1935, with their operations moving to Treasure Island after that.

Now businesses are using some of the old buildings including Hangar 1 Vodka and St George Distillery.

The container ships come into the estuary to be loaded and unloaded. Dana said there were 6 into port just the day before. Now... all gone with just the Cranes standing wait.

After walking past where the Ferry picks up commuters we came to the end of one of the Bay paths and had a view of the ship yard.

There are new housing developments on the island as well including this one. The houses were stacked like sardines in a row. This house looked like there were some CCRs violations with two TV dishes on the front.

Throughout the walk we saw dozens of ground squirrels running and hiding as we came along.

We met Chuck (Stephanie's husband) at a German Restaurant and ate wurst and sauerkraut while I had ein klienen bier.

As the day progressed and we walked in the afternoon hours the skies partially cleared revealing the SF skyline.

More ground squirrels...

WE finished our tour of Alameda and headed to Bay Farm Island which is adjacent to Alameda and started our final 6 miles there.

Cathy Shea had parted company with us in Alameda so the rest of the day was the four musketeers.... Here are three of them in a makeshift hull on the edge of the Bay.

Inside a compass... which way to the 3 day?

We walked along the waterside where there were many fishermen. One told us they were fishing for Sturgeon. He said the come there every 7 years to spawn.

We walked through office complexes and passed by the Raiders headquarters.

Until finally we were done...
I think we all were tired (even though Stephanie straighten up when the camera came out!)
I had planned a dinner party for Patti's birthday and went home to done the finally prep. In an effort to simulate Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern menu we had Grilled Pozzi Leg of Lamb on a bean ragout, with roasted potatoes, fig, prosciutto and maiche salad with a pepper citrus vinaigrette and Chocolate Mousse on a Coconut cloud. Oh, and some wine....
So when Sunday came our plan was to walk to Cavallo for a 10 mile walk. Glenn decided to come along with us... off we went, a little slower than we might have without yet another Birthday celebration.

This cat seems like he was enjoying the morning.

Glenn and me.


Another grey day and the view down Raccoon Straits

My honey at Cavallo

Patti.... Birthday is all done.
Later int he day we headed over to Glenn's Dad's house and Chuck and Stephanie came to cook for us. Anytime they cook for you, you are truly lucky. And George was made to feel very special. Chuck and Stephanie are some of our oldest friends (as in how long we have known them not their age!) I feel so fortunate to be sharing yet another chapter with them.
I love it that Stephanie will be walking with me in the 3 day and that Chuck will be joining Glenn and John cheering us along the way.
THE walk is just 11 days away. Still time to donate.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Healdsburg redux

Patti heard about my walk in Healdsburg when we had our training walk yesterday in Larkspur. It sounded so nice to her, she and I decided that would be where we would go today.

I started the day at the office meeting in Greenbrae where the excitement is building about the Alain Pinel Cheering Tent for October 2 nd 9:30-12:30 on the Mill Valley / Sausalito Bike path. I explained how important it is to show support of the 1300 people who will be walking to end Cancer. Since the tent will be just steps away from our Shoreline Office at 100 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley, I hope we will see all of APR there to cheer us on.

But today was for training with 2 weeks to go.

Off to Healdsburg.

This idyllic town is quite something. I could easily and happily relocate here. I don't think a move is in the cards, but as we headed away from the square I took pictures of some homes along the way. Many have cottages set back from them and I thought how wonderful it would be to have a place for family or friends to come and stay.

Eventually the scenery changed from urban to country and then to rural as we walked along S. Fitch Mountain Road.

This direction didn't have as many vineyards, but one home did have its own with some grapes left on the vine.

Now that is nice....

I love older homes. this one had a cellar and you can see the entry on the right side. Like the kind you are supposed to hide in during a tornado.

The shoulder disappeared as we began climbing.

The homes began to take the look on of summer retreats. The road follows the rivers bends.

Some of the homes have nice river views. I wondered how high the water rises in the winter.

I would like a summer retreat. Heck I'd take a winter retreat!

The road kept on....

This one would do...

This little fawn agrees.

We took a turn to go to the Villa Chanticleer which seems to be a wonderful meeting location, or better a wedding venue!

Finally after a lot of climbing, we were able to head down hill....

But at no more than 15 MPH on the curve

Now we were walking on North Fitch Mountain Road with its views of the Alexander Valley

Patti and I had gotten pretty hot so when we were at Villa Chanticleer we dipped our bandannas in the cool water and tied them on our heads... I think they call this look...doo rag?

I don't know if it was the doo rags or the wine tasting that we did at Toad Hollow that made it all so funny, but we were in rare moods.

But I have to say in every way possible this was a great day. Maybe for me the best part of it all happened when we were visiting Toad Hollow. There were two men pouring wine there. One saw our shirts and asked us about them. When we told him that we were walking in the Breast Cancer 3 day he brought out the other man to talk with us. His wife had Cancer and died from it a few years back. He had walked one day of the walk with his daughter in 2008. He said it moved him a lot and mentioned the young 11 year old boy who stood on the street with a sign saying, "Thank you for walking for my Mom."

Yes, this is why we are walking. We are walking for that little boy's Mom and for this kind man's wife. Then a nice young couple came in and began tasting wine. They said they were from DC. I struck up a conversation with them, and they too asked about the shirt. Then the girl mentioned her Mother has Breast Cancer. I asked how she was doing and she said, "Oh ok. She was doing great but it came back and now it is in her bones."

We are walking for her Mom.

I told her we would be walking in DC maybe next year and we should walk together. She said she would like that, and maybe her Mom could walk too. Yes.... we are walking for everyone whose lives have been shaken by Cancer.

I told her we should make a BIG team, call it Team: Are We There Yet? SF/DC

I hope she will look us up because I really really would like to do that.

Another couple of people said they would like walk. We encouraged them. This struggle is not over until there is a day where there is no more Cancer. Until then we will walk.

A side note: Toad Hollow will be donating 10% of all proceeds in October to Susan G Komen for the purchase of anything PINK. Rose, hats, shirts etc....

A side side note: The girl's husband (or special guy I never asked) just accepted a job at the National Institute of Health. I told him that I had a client last year who did the same thing. "I and sure you haven't met him but you will remember his name when you do, his name is Electron." "Oh," he said "I do know him. I interviewed with him and I will be working with him" So tell me.... do you think I was supposed to walk into that tasting room?