Sunday, September 30, 2012

A special walk and a little of the unexpected.

Its the morning after a 13 miles walk in Healdsburg. Let me tell you about Patti.

Patti is one of my best friends but she has always been more than that to me. We have been through a lot together, this girl and I. We went to UOP together and that is where we first met. We joined the same sorority and consequentially we speak the same language. Many of our friends are the people we knew from way back when.

Patti lives in Marin. That has helped keep us closer. Through the years she has been there through it all. Through pregnancies, through births, through days of floating and sailing on foreign seas, to days of sadness over life's unexpected turns. She and I have laughed and cried over a lot of things. But when she called me telling me she had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, we shared something else. We shared fear.

Of the many blessings I have been given in my life, one of the most precious is Patti. She is the God mother of our daughters, my dear friend and the reason I was able to move past being a Cancer victim to a Cancer survivor. Walking in the 3 day these past 4 years with Patti is a gift I treasure. And now... now we are beginning in earnest the training for the San Diego 3 day - Cathy and Patti style, in Healdsburg - and yes wine and icy beer were involved. So our 13 miles felt a little longer, a little slower and oh so much fun. 

We started with shopping.

On to sight seeing as the grapes are minutes away from harvest.

And fall has officially arrived.

A winery stop at Lambert Bridge

Past artful displays at places I wish I could call home.

By iconic landscape

Grapes of the day
Redwood trees
Day of the dead on the way...
Sharing a burger and Parmesan Truffle fries with icy beer

I cherish these walks, partly because I know she and I have been blessed with beating Cancer. We have been given the chance to live life large and long. When you survive Cancer it isn't as if everything suddenly becomes perfect and you magically have the answers. But when you survive Cancer and do it with your best friend there is a deepness that is hard to find anywhere else, that you enjoy each and every time you see them. Thanks Patti ... I truly hope we will ALWAYS walk. ALWAYS have the chance to laugh at each other ... enjoy our attitude adjustment over an icy beer at the end of the day.

LIFE isn't always fair. LIFE doesn't always give a survivor as much time as they deserve. This wonderful woman Kat recently passed away, not from the Breast Cancer that she survived but from a blood clot she suffered after the birth of her 4th child. She was a warrior and a vital part of the Young Survivors Coalition. She helped screen grant requests for funds to fight this disease that she conquered. Her death was unexpected and is felt far and wide. When you lose a light like Kat the world will always feel a little darker... but there is always a glow that is left behind.

Kat LaJacono Werner

I have clients who are researchers at UCSF. Jerone and his wife Merone do research into T-Cells and have done some incredible things. But one thing Jeroen did this week surprised me. He had seen my speech and he said,
"Seeing this, it is not difficult for Merone and for me to do the hard things at work."
Read a little about his research. THEY are the true heroes.
Jeroen -

AND KNOW when you donate to Susan G Komen you help pay for the research of people like Jeroen. YOUR dollar could be THE dollar that finds the cure. TO DONATE click here...

Monday, September 24, 2012

On the road to SD with a stop at ATT

Down for the past 2 and a half weeks with one of the worse viruses I have had in recent memory, I was beginning to doubt I would ever get back to the road. I started to be concerned I would get totally out of shape and set my training back a year for the San Diego walk.

All my plans have been thrown on their ears lately. It started with our favorite band offering to throw us a party to celebrate the finish of the San Francisco walk. How do you say no?! It wasn't easy not to when I knew I would have to give away my Giants tickets when it seemed very likely that particular game might be a BIG one, as in Western Division big. But I still wasn't feeling 100% and so the idea of giving those seats to a middle school boy and his father seemed just right. The sting was made better when I was asked by dear friends Jackie and Shawn whether or not I wanted to go to the Giants game on the following day. One of those games was going to be THE game where we clinch the Western Division. That night while listening to Go Kat Go I secretly wished for a downpour out of clear skies so the evening game would be postponed. BUT TJ and his father Rob were blessed with not only a great game, but the win that cinched it all.

When I accepted the invitation to go to the game the next day I thought in doing so I would be making my scheduled walk with Patti impossible. But she was disappointed since she had hoped to get in some real miles . So we decided to get a very early start so I could walk to ATT in time to meet the Gormans by 12:45.

We met at the Sausalito Yacht Club at 7:30 and started walking.
The minute I got into my walking clothes I knew I would be ok. Each step that I took I felt stronger and stronger and felt as if I was walking further and further away from that virus. It was frankly exhilarating and very reassuring.

Patti is a 4 year survivor and if you listened to my speech she is that "best friend" whose Cancer was a wake up call for me. Walking in the SF 3 day without her was not the same. It was great and meaningful but it was different. Patti and I have always been friends, but this walk has definitely caused us to be even closer than we were in the past and I cherish that.

When we got to Pier 39 we came across one of those pink firetrucks that have been traveling the country. We stopped to add our names to the hundred if not thousands of survivors who have signed the shiny engine. And we posed for a photograph.

I need to visit their website and you should too to learn about what these guys are doing for Breast Cancer awareness.

When we got to the Ferry building Patti was just in time to make the noon ferry back to Sausalito. I snuck into the bathroom and switched my tee shirt to a Giants shirt.

I knew already the game would be a relaxed one. Surely the Giants had been partying all night. When you saw the line-up you saw a number of names I had never seen before with .000 batting averages. A pitcher who had never pitched for the Giants. We saw Peguro first major league hit (he had one later as well). The entire game was like a split roster Spring training game.

But by the time we hit the ninth inning Bouchy brought in the 1st string player. They loaded the bases with 1 out, Buster Posey came to bat. The unlikely seemed likely we might just have that walk off homer that would allow us to win the game despite the 3 run deficit. But alas, a fielder choice hit scored one but made it 2 outs. Theriot came to bat (and he had played the entire evening a little "foggy"). He hit a soft fly ball and that was that.

I left the game and walked back to the ferry building making the walk for the day about 15 miles. Not bad for a girl who a couple of days ago found it hard to get out of bed!
That left me convinced I would be able to do the San Diego walk with no question. I would be able to visit Allison and Chris and walker stalk in DC in a few weeks.

You know the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. While I was walking to ATT for a Giants game, Chris and Allison were celebrating their 5th anniversary in Philly watching Phillie and Atlanta play. They got seats WAY UP THERE! For a baseball fan.... being there is half the fun. Remind me of that when I try and buy playoff tickets!

Want to do something good today? Read this article about the research funded by Susan G Komen. Realize although many advances have been made there is much that remains to be done. the LAST thing we can do is to ease up. NOW is the time to increase funding this research and others so we can wake up to a day with out Breast Cancer. I humbly suggest you donate to my walk. Because 75% of the money raised WILL go (as it has in the past) to finding the CURES.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A BUFFER than needs Bufferin

I haven't written much since the SF 3 day. There are a few reasons. Instead of being silent on the matter let me fill you in. One is I have a killer cold. I mean the kind of cold that knocks you down and stomps on your head kind of cold. It is a cold meant to be shared. Yup my daughter (or my teammate Patty) were kind enough to share this with me, and I in return have shared it with Glenn. But in my humble opinion Glenn and Allison both have/are weathering this a bit better. Why? Well, I walked 60 miles and I have been juggling quite a bit.

There's my Dad who was in ICU for 30 days, released, and then sent back to the hospital then transferred to a nursing home an hour an a half away from his home. This is that kind of helpless situation for me that has me spending lots of time on the Internet researching and hoping to find magic answers if not for his health at least for his care. He is married to a woman who has taken very good care of him, but who works 6 days a week.  There are no answers anytime soon that aren't exhaustively expensive.

Secondly as always I have my mind on our children who are flung in opposite sides of the country. Once again the distance makes things difficult. How can you be there, without being there.

But perhaps the biggest reason this cold hit me so hard was the hangover that hits after a 3 day. That empty feeling of what's next. You would think that since I am walking in the 3 day in San Diego I would be energized and ready to move on. But I think my body and mind has been stuck in those magic 3 days walking the Bay Area with my dear team mates. The tears and laughter, the missed sleep and the sunrises. All those emotions added to a physical toll made me the prime candidate for a virus. No matter how much "Wellness formula" I swallowed, it hit.

I have used the time at home "laid up" to live on the 3 day boards, publish my speech, finish my recap, read other peoples blogs. I want to continue to feel that feeling we call the 3 day, and hope at some moment, perhaps at the very same moment as the last of the cold leaves my head, I will be ready to attack the San Diego 3 day, work and life.

There was a thread on Facebook about whether or not you are addicted to the 3 day. I would say that is an easy question to answer. ABSOLUTELY I am addicted. I am addicted to being a part of an army of pink whose mission is to end Breast Cancer and are willing, with blisters, with tweaked IL bands, with tears of mourning melting with the smiles of empowerment hit the streets and walk the talk. How can I not be. What the 3 day has given me is stronger than any drug - Empowerment, Love, Strength, Self belief, Belief in a Cure .... Those are pretty amazing and intoxicating things.

I don't need a cure for the 3 day, I need a cure for Cancer and my cold.

Sunday may be the cure for the latter since I am going to be doing a training walk with Patti, starting in earnest our training for San Diego. I am ready for that....

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lessons learned in the 2012 SF walk

I have been blogging about my journey with the 3 day since I signed up and started this blog in March of 2009. Having just finished my fourth walk there are a lot of words I have used to describe the indescribable. How has this journey changed me? Its hard to write with enough emotion for you to understand. I think it must be easier to see than read. I am a different person than the one who began this journey 455 posts ago.

As anyone who has watched my metamorphose will attest, I live life large. I am not afraid. I am bold and brave and I believe in life. I have, in the past three years, fully embraced the miracle that was my survival, and I am armed and ready to fight this fight until Cancer in no longer stealing moments and lives.


This past 3 day - the 2012 SF 3 day was particularly special to me. It began with a promise I made in DC to walk. When Leslie signed up the day that Olivia had her last chemo session, I knew then, the stars had aligned to make this a walk of consequence.

Last year when I walked the 2011 3 day in Washington DC I was carrying a button with Olivia's name on it.  As is understandable her family fought this with her. Their vocabulary included things like stem cells and little girl broviac ports and things that should never be in the same sentence with anything to do with a 3 year old little girl. When Leslie signed up for the 3 day it was a step beyond CANCER and a step toward healing. I was blessed throughout training to walk with the kids Olivia, Jack and Joe and watch them thrive. Many days had them all running the entire length of the walk. I was blessed to get to know Jack and Joe (who understandably had taken a back seat to their sister). But I was also blessed beyond belief to watch Olivia bright and engaging. An old soul in a young child's body - living life large.

When the whole fiasco that hit Susan G Komen happened in February I was a little unsure of what to do. But watching these children and knowing the truth of the 3 day I was committed to not only walk, but do everything I could to get the conversation back to where it should be, ending Cancer. Our commitment was borne out of a deep understanding of how important these funds are. Leslie and I were firmly committed to walk on.

Leslie was incredible both during and before the walk. She is someone who sort of expects she can do it all, and usually she does. Our training most times included 3 kids, a stroller and a dog. Her walk and the training was not always easy to balance, but she did it. As a Mom I know how hard that is to do. But all you have to do is look at these kids and see them embracing and actually enjoying the walk to know it was good for everyone especially Leslie. She tenaciously held onto her commitment flag and was visably not happy when they didn't have it for her to carry on Day 2. She is one tough cookie.

Oh and how cute are Rob and Leslie together? TOO DARN CUTE.

It was a wonderful day when Patty announced she would be joining us in the 3 day this year. Last year she walker stalked in DC and saw first hand how powerful this event can be. For many reasons, she took a leap of faith that she would be able to move beyond the limitations she believed she had and walk 60 miles. When she walked 17.5 that day to SF you could see that freedom from fear wash across her face. She came to KNOW she could and would walk all 60 miles. AND she did!

The last time I saw Judi before  Pinkinti and Popcorn was the last day of the DC 3 day. She was emotional and disappeared before I could properly say goodbye. The gift of Judi has been one of those unexpected things that the 3 day brings to people. Judi and I went to High School together but really didn't hang with each other. She read on Facebook that I was doing the walk in 2010 and I saw she was doing Atlanta's walk. I was thrilled she signed up with our team for DC and even more so when she signed up for this years walk. (I did promise I would return the favor and walk Atlanta next year). Judi is generous and kind, emotional and caring. She is an amazing person and we all consider ourselves lucky to call her a friend. Look what the 3 day can do!

Allison.... what can I say about Allison. My daughter. My walking partner. Here she comes all the way from Washington DC. She wouldn't miss it. I think she and I know it may not always be that way, her work and her life will inadvertently get in the way. I feel so blessed that she has been able to prioritize in a way that has allowed her to walk in all 4 of my walks. Just as I felt like something was missing not to have Patti Bott walking this year, I will feel Allison's absence from our San Diego walk. We are tent mates (with or without a cold). She is tenacious. She is fierce. It's been amazing to be with her while I follow my passion, because I think she shares that passion.

Then in this walk there was an extended crew of walker stalkers. Chris, Claire, Rob, Joe, Jack, Olivia, Arlene, Joe, Mike, Dana, Pam and of course Glenn. I KNOW the rest of the 3 day walkers were pea green jealous of our attentive stalkers. The coffee, the frosties, the cheers the love were all over the top. But on a personal note.... what can you say about Glenn that I haven't already said. He is an amazing support to me both during the 3 day and every other day. But it is when I see that smile during the 3 day from that boa clad boy's face that I fall further and further in love with my stunningly wonderful husband. It is because he shares this passion. He shares this quest with me and that is what makes the journey so rewarding.


Of the many moments that will stand out for me of this 3 day I will narrow down to 6. Each walk seems to have moments that define it and set it apart. Here are the ones I will remember.

1. I will remember the morning of the walk and a special mother daughter conversation that I will always treasure. That's all I am saying since it was between Allison and me. But it reaffirmed how much I love my life and my family and how grateful I am for both.

2. During the practice for the survivor circle (which I found out last minute I would participate in) I stood next to those survivors on the right side of the stage. One of them (a young woman) said "I think we should carry the flags about how we really feel about Cancer." Now this made everyone laugh. She said "Bitter!" Leslie said "Skeptical" the other survivor said "Lopsided" and I said nothing. So they decided I was "Stressed and Worried." The next day Leslie brought handkerchiefs with those words on them and handed them out to us. I carried mine throughout the walk. But all along I thought about those words and how I couldn't come up with a flag I would rather carry than my "Belief." You see in the past 3 years I have left all those negative words about my Cancer on the pavement. To me when I think of my Cancer and how it makes me feel now, it is courageous, hopeful, committed, optimistic, loving, healed, positively powerful, more patient with myself and others and full of belief. I carry no bitterness and not one ounce of skepticism. I am lopsided... and I am stressed but not about Cancer. Those handkerchiefs truly represented for me how far I have come.

3. There was a woman on the 2nd day who carried a sign that said 42 year survivor. To me this may have been the most poignant of moments in this 3 day. Leslie got emotional and went over to tell her how much that meant to her. She said to her in a quiet voice filled with emotion. "I just want my daughter to hold that sign one day." It made visible how Leslie worries every minute of everyday about Olivia. To me, I hoped this moment may help her to see Olivia holding that sign, because I believe she will.

4. When Patty finished the walk she had tears in her eyes. I know it was not easy. I know what a struggle it has been. During this walk she came to understand how important it is to be proactive in your own health. She has been (as Judi put it) blessed with an Angel moment where she has gotten the courage to fight to be heard at Kaiser about her difficulty sleeping and how that impacts her life. Patty may have walked 60 miles and that is great, but I believe it will be finding answers that will be her biggest gift.

5. The speech. I was asked if I would be willing to speak at Camp about a month ago I think it was. Alot has happened since then. I discovered there were a couple of people they were considering. But I certainly was willing because I knew exactly what I wanted to say and who I wanted to say it to. But I was very tested. First through the interview process and the help in fine tuning the speech and then continuing to reading the "fine tuned" speech in the parking lot of the hospital while my father was in ICU. Frankly I thought it was a sign that there must be someone who would get the message across better. Someone who would make a larger impact. I almost withdrew my name for consideration because it just felt like... well it might not be something I was meant to do. So when they told me I was the one they wanted to speak I was more nervous than I had been originally. It took me awhile to refocus on why I wanted to speak in the first place.

I wanted to speak because I didn't want Leslie, or people like her, to spend 14 years not accepting the fact they had survived. I knew how much more powerful I have become and how much better able I am to help others since I finally accepted my survival. I thought in sharing my story it could help.

I practiced while walking. People probably thought I was some crazy woman talking to myself... When I stood on the stage I was emotional but not nervous. Here was this sea of faces who would understand what I would say. They were ready to hear what I had to say. To me it was an incredible moment. When Sheri said "I was raised in the church and this had me almost saying "Get your Bibles out", what she really was saying was I was speaking the truth. That, that was very special indeed.

6. Finally, my precious moment was Leslie and I in the survivor circle hidden from almost every one's view. She gave me a hug and said "Thank you. I love you. And I hate you. But mostly I love you." Then she added "I needed this."

We all need that moment when we celebrate our survival. Celebrate our life. That moment where our focus is on the days we are living instead of worrying about how many we may have left. We need the moment when we shout to the skies in a defiant declaration "WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP!" We need the moment when we walk on and live our life, past disappointments, past negativity and on to empowerment.

Each and everyone of us were given the gift of life. It is up to us to live it large. Thank you Susan G Komen for giving me the road to follow, the flag to carry and the belief that one person can make a difference but together we can change the world.

I'll get back to training soon because it is 9 weeks away!

DONATE if you can to my 2013 walks in SF and Atlanta