More reasons

My friend, Ellyn, had the same feelings that I did, and as soon as she got back on her blog from the walk, urged people to keep on fighting for a cure, and to be advocates for our own health.

Read it! She mentions two people she encountered during her Michigan 3-day experience, and their stories alone are enough to make me walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, and walk...I hope you will join me in 2009. I can promise lots of dance parties and laughter!

Reasons to do your self breast exam today

I wrote this back in March, as a reminder to people to do their breast self-exams. I'm just sending out another friendly reminder to the people I love. Be clever, people! (Did I ever mention that a radiologist at U of M told me that I was "very clever" to have found my own breast cancer by doing a self-exam? That's why I say, "be clever, people!")

So here are the reasons I have for you to do your self-exam today. Also use these as reasons to schedule your mammogram, or to follow up on one that showed something unusual 6 months ago:
  • On the morning my breast surgeon did my bilateral mastectomy, she had already performed a mastectomy on a 20-year old. Breast cancer affects young people, too! Yes, I have a defect in my BRCA-1 gene, but only 5% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a defect in their BRCA 1 or 2 genes. I have met quite a few women in their 20s and 30s who were diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Do it to get familiar with yourself. Do it monthly to check for changes.
  • Do not be too intimidated by what you might find to even do your exam. Yes, I'm going to say this, breast cancer is NOT scarier than life is good. Use me as an example - yes, was afraid to be bald, to do chemo, to look at my scars - but I'm no wizard, angel, knight or magician and I have made it through quite happily so far!
  • You should have seen the adorable survivors on the walk this weekend - glowing, and very spunky with their short haircuts!
So, be clever, people!

Do you think this dog is spoiled?

I'm not sure...


My amazing mother-in-law, Sybil, walked the entire 60 miles this weekend. Take that, cancer!


Where do I start?

What a weekend! I'm still overwhelmed by the whirlwind that it was, and I can't figure out where to begin talking about it. Plus I'm just a teeny bit tired (can't imagine why), and that doesn't help me pull out thoughts in a lucid manner. So I'm just going to start rattling off the memories/thoughts, before I lose them all with this chemo brain of mine. But here goes!
  • Everyone should do the 3-day walk. It's a beautiful event and a great cause (1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, but the research done for breast cancer has also been applied to other cancers). There is a palpable feeling that you are putting kindness out into the world, and you are receiving it back almost ten-fold.
  • If you think you love your friends, walk the 3-day with them and you will find you can't live without them! To Therese, Sakura, Laurie, and Nicole - I will never forget our weekend and how hard we laughed! Wendy - I'm sorry I kept my darling tentmate up late talking about everything under the sun! Everyone else on Nancy's Naughty Nockers, I hope you know how much I adore you, too...and hope for more 3-day dance parties and conversations to come! I am missing the team like they were amputated from me.
  • The walk was easier this year. I think everything is easier this year, after having gone through chemo! I had a small internal problem each time people asked me if I was able to make it, though. OF COURSE I WAS ABLE TO MAKE IT! Don't you know that I am a breast cancer survivor? After all I've been through this year, walking 20 miles a day was seriously like a walk in the park. I could have probably walked 40 miles a day if there was enough time. But I can't take the sympathy so well, apparently!
  • I had two "moments" over the weekend. One happened when I walked into the shower truck and saw some fellow walkers partially naked. I had this thought, "Whoa! I don't have those boobs anymore, I can't just be in here with these people!" Let's just say that the liquid running down my face in the shower was NOT just the shower water.
  • The second moment happened when I had to pick up my pink shirt. I thought I would be so proud to put that on, but instead I was angry! I told Laurie (as more liquid ran down my face) "I don't want the pink shirt!" and Laurie, bless her soul (with tears running down her face too) said, "You don't have to have the pink shirt if you don't want it! Go get a white shirt! You can do whatever you want!" As I explained to her, I am used to my bald-baseball-hat look, which is one of my cancer-patient identifiers (though the pictures in the paper freaked me out a bit) , but I wasn't used to the pink shirt. Aunt Joann told me it was better than the alternative "No shirt at all", and of course I agree. I put it on and walked with the survivors, but to be honest, I wish I could have walked with the team members who fundraised with me all spring and summer, walked with me all weekend, and slept on the ground and used outhouses, bleary-eyed, in the middle of the night, or joined me in impromptu dance parties at pit stops. I had amazing Ellyn next to me, and Aunt Joann (who flew in from Kansas and walked with oozing blisters next to me for that last survivor walk), and I knew I had Nancy Mc behind me (as she has been for the past 7 months)...but still. And now that I write this, I am embarassed, because I know that I was walking with people who had done that, so I guess I have to take it all back. If only you could walk RIGHT next to thousands of people all at the same time.
  • I can't tell you the thrill it was to meet other survivors and their families, and to see how much people LOVE each other...just how far they would go to prove their love for someone. I'll write about some of these people soon in another post!
Mostly, it is so touching to see how far (literally and figuratively) people will go to make a difference in this world.

P.S. ( in my "rock star" yell, with rock star motions like Sherri, Kathy, or Shannon): I LOVE YOU, NANCY'S NAUGHTY NOCKERS 2008!


Sunday's Free Press

Hello to all my darling readers/friends out there...
Patty called me and told me I will be in this Sunday's Free Press, in the Life section. I'm a little nervous because of the way I tend to blather on about things and I probably did that in our interviews! Who knows what I might have said! But Patty was a nice person to speak with on the phone, and the photographer was also a wonderful person to spend an hour or two with yesterday.

Also who knows what the photo might be - I might be with someone in my menagerie (advertising "crazy pet lady" to the world), playing baseball with my darling boy (advertising that I have the worst baseball form in the world, though I'm sure it will improve with all of our practice every day as he is obsessed), or bald (advertising baldness, ha ha!).

BUT, I will be walking in the 3-day and won't be picking up a paper/too busy to worry about it!!!!!!!!!!! I CANNOT wait for the glory of the 3-day - 3 days of kindness and good will - wrapped up in a sea of pink!


3-day walk cheering stations

My fantastic tentmate and fellow internet sleuth, Wendy, found this online...a list of cheering stations WITH mile markers for the event. This is wonderful because we can better estimate what time we would be at a cheering station. So here it is!

If you want more information about what to do at a cheering station, who will be there (husbands and children), email me! I'm not sending this EXPECTING people out there cheering me or our team on (I am so thankful for the support I've already received!)...this is just such an efficient means of communicating it to people who might be reading! If you are looking to see this wonderful event, though, this information should help:

Day 1

Heartland Marketplace Shopping Plaza
"North East corner of Farmington Road and 12 Mile Road,
Farmington Hills"
4.5 mile
8am-10am (Would imagine NNN to be there earlier rather than later - 8:30-9ish?)

North Ridge Commons Shopping Plaza
8 Mile between Farmington Road and Gill Road, Livonia
15.9 miles
12pm- 5:30pm

Day 2

Downtown Plymouth
Penniman and Main Streets, Plymouth
10:00am - 3:00 pm

Frank's Nursery Lot
36630 5 Mile Rd. (for Frank's Nursery and CVS Pharmacy), Livonia
17.8 miles
1:00 PM - 6:00 PM (expecting a group for NNN here - we'll be there earlier rather than later - between 1:30-2:30pm)

Day 3

Mid 5 Center
South West corner of 5 Mile Road and Middlebelt Road, Livonia
2.5 miles
7:30 AM - 10:00 AM


I am a special interest piece

In other news, I've had a call or two from a reporter from the Detroit Free Press who wanted to interview me about the way I have blogged myself through surgeries and treatments - a special interest piece in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a little humbling when she and the photographer asked me "What is your profession?" or "What do you do during the day?" Or "when do you blog?" UMMMM....I have no profession, and what I do during most days is so mind-numbingly boring it would put you to sleep! Oh, and I'm not even a dedicated blogger - I just blog when I feel like it. How is that for interesting?

Well, let's see...what do I do? I wake up a kid, feed her, pack her, send her (complaining) out the door to the bus, wave to the bus when it drives by, wake up another kid, feed her, pack her, write her a love note, take her (not complaining) to her bus, take the other kid home, play baseball, clean the kitchen, clean up toys, clean up pet poo, drop something off at someone's school (invariably something has been forgotten or I have myself signed up to do something at a school), go shopping for groceries, feed kid, clean the kitchen again, fold laundry, check my email, read books to 3 year old, change a diaper, play more baseball (I sneak in some weeding in between pitches), get ready to pick up kids, pick up one kid, drive to second school, pick up second kid, feed snacks in car on way to soccer practice, let two other kids play at playstructure, come home, make dinner, supervise homework, fold laundry, exercise, go to bed.

So basically I do nothing. What is there to photograph here? How is this even a special interest story? It's not. I just have some lovely and wonderful supporter out there who liked what I wrote and passed on my information.

I've decided to not be intimidated, though, by my uninteresting life, or the fact that they have to take a photograph of it, too. If this actually becomes an article and one extra person reads my blog and isn't so afraid of breast cancer, then that is worth it to me.

NOW I'm ready

My mastectomy sports bras came in the mail today (you just can't find these things anywhere, you know), so I guess I'm ready to go! In my training walks, my most troublesome blister was from chafing of that particular undergarment, so I figured my wardrobe needed some ramping up in that department. Thank you Metro Medical Supplies. I felt a little young to be a shopper of Metro Medical Supplies, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do!

And I have to say, if the customer service at other fine establishments was as good as the customer service at Metro Medical Supplies, I would maybe shop for clothing for myself more often. Oh wait, nevermind, I wouldn't. I don't have a hard time shopping because of the people, I have a hard time shopping for myself because 1) I am clueless as to what to wear and 2)I can't ever make up my mind. That is off topic, though. The topic is: I think Metro Medical Supplies is great and I am pleased with my latest mastectomy-related purchase.



I am getting so excited for the 3-day walk...it was such a wonderful time last year and I know this year will be even better as I will be joined by so many people that are special to me.

I am SO GRATEFUL for all of the donations I have received...I am so blessed to have had such an outpouring of support. Did you know I have received 112 individual donations? (Well, maybe 5 of those were Bill donating various amounts at various times to keep me on the record board, silly husband, but still...over 100 individual donations!) I am thankful for each and every one of them, and my family is so thankful for them as well.

On top of that, I am so thankful to my friends and family members who raised their $2200 to walk with me starting Friday. Our team has raised over $80,000!

So, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. *And if you still want to donate, there is still time!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hummingbird in the garden!

These pictures of this adorable hummingbird were harder to get than you would think! It only hangs around for a few seconds before it flies away, and I can totally understand why, when I see those wings at work. Whew, that's hard work!

Another funny baldness moment

Yesterday I was "swim mom" at Emma's school, a task which I heartily enjoyed as I love to boss around little girls. Just kidding. Actually, I love hanging around with little kids in groups, especially if they don't all share my DNA, because if they share my DNA, they seem to expect me to perform magic tricks and clean up for them all the time. If I perform magic tricks (metaphor) and clean up after OTHER people's kids, then they just love me and think I'm so nice. Anyway, the swim mom's job is to tell the 3rd and 4th grade girls to not take too long in the shower and to not run around in the dressing room (boss them around, I do love it).

Emma knew I was coming and told one of the girls in her class that I was the swim mom that day. Her friend said, "Well, what does she look like? What color is her hair?"

And Emma said, "Well, she doesn't really have any hair right now, so she should be pretty easy to pick out."

Wow, never would have thought this...

Yesterday I took a moment to offer my support to someone whose sister-in-law recently started treatment for breast cancer. Emma was standing by, ready to head home with me, and when we left she asked why the other lady was looking so sad.

I told her about the breast cancer and she said, "but you weren't that sad when you found out..."

And I thought to myself, "Holy Cow, did I pull that off well or what!!!!" because I sure remember myself as having been pretty sad when I was first diagnosed! (But I didn't want to freak out everyone so was trying to SEEM positive...)


Oh, the felinity!

Today marks 14 years of life with my wonderful calico, Madeline (Maddie/Pretty Girl). I remember wishing for years that she would curl up into my lap, but that was really not her way. She's gotten used to me over all these years though, and it was quite a nice anniversary present she gave me this evening when she was quite insistently cozy-ing up with me.

Pretty Girl, I know you are just a cat, but I'm crazy about you. Thanks for the years of quietly monitoring the situation (honestly, you were there for every middle-of-the-night feeding of all three babies, much better than having been a lap cat from the get-go). Remember, I asked for 21 years out of you, so we have lots more to go!

And to Bill, thanks for being the guy to help a 21 year old girl adopt her first cat. Oh, yeah, and for all the other things that 14 years of cat ownership has entailed!


I love my iPhone...

and I did not think I would enjoy my iPhone nearly as much as I do. Bill bought it for me for my birthday when I had been asking for a wood splitter, so it didn't fall into the hands of a person who is usually infatuated with new technologies. It is wonderful though...a highly appreciated gift (except I think I have injured my thumb from texting/emailing/checking weather/facebook/playing suduko/taking photos/flipping through itunes overuse)!

This is a first

Listen to this sass!

Me: "Nathan! Get out of this room and stop bothering your sister!"
Nathan: "No, Mom! No!"
Me: "Yes. You are not the boss."
Nathan: "Yes I ammmmm."
Me: "No, you are not."
Nathan, mumbling: "Yes I am the boss..."

Then I ran out to document the sass. He did just come down to hug me and said "I'm sorry, Mom." We are in for a world of hurts, as we all think he is so funny even when he is being difficult that he almost always gets what he wants in the end. I'm going to have to work on reestablishing mom-dominance this week!


A note to any readers out there...

Don't worry how you might have come across my blog. I don't think it is creepy to have unknown readers out there. I knew what I was getting into when I started the blog...and then sent it to every person I knew.

Much good has come about through my writing about my experience, and I would be/always am happy to know if it's helped anyone else, too. I wasn't expecting that extra gift, but I take my duties as a survivor very seriously and want to make myself and my experience open for anyone else who has to walk down this path. So here is your blanket permission to send this blog on, or my contact information, or any part of my experience, to whomever might need it next.

Blondes don't have more fun...

when their hair is growing back from chemotherapy! You can't even tell I have a single hair popping through this head of mine. Maybe I should buy those baby bows for my head...just to emphasize the hairs I do have (ha ha).

A few months of living with baldness have changed me, though. I was so unhappy about losing my hair, and now I'm only mildly bothered by my baldness and mostly that is because I'm so fashion-lazy. I don't love thinking about what hat goes with what outfit (so I only wear the white baseball hat - lazy). I also don't like the wig, because I'm tired of attaching items onto me to make me look like a girl (so sick of the mastectomy bra and "breast form"). BUT, fundamentally I am pretty darn ok with my appearance, even bald. This is such a departure from my pre-cancer days, it's not even funny! I was never happy with the way anything looked before I had larger issues to deal with...

Also, it's exciting to note that I feel great 6 weeks post-chemo...like it was just a bad dream. I might feel a little tired and bone-sore after this next infusion of Zometa on Friday (maybe the old rib injury will act up and then go away again), but that's ok. To only have one or two side effects to an infusion is a dream! Plus, I am armed with the information that my body can really pop right back from something so full of yuckiness, like chemo, so a little infusion of Zometa is like nothing.

NOW I know what Ellyn has been telling me since I talked to her right after my diagnosis in February...she was so optimistic and even sunshiney about chemotherapy! I know why Nancy made chemo seem like something that would just pass, not the train wreck it could feel like at times. Now I can see why they were able to look at chemo in such an understated way. It's THRILLING to be on this side of chemo, even if I have surgeries and infusions ahead of me. Actually, it's thrilling to have everything ahead of me...even the bad stuff.

There were days when cancer seemed like a black cloud that had descended upon me, changing everything, and I was so upset about it. Now I see that cancer did descend upon me like a cloud, and I did change - but in many ways, the change was so for the better. Cancer was sort of like Extreme Makeover - Pam Edition - blowing into town, leaving something much different and sort of improved where that other house was. The homeowner might miss her personal belongings once in a while but mostly she just feels lucky to have been given so much in place of what she had before!

A conversation about our party

"Hey Mom?"
"Yes, Cubby?"
"I 'member Scott played with my choo-choos. And Tommy. And everyone was bein' nice. And everyone came to our party. The last day."
"Yes. And it was fun."


A fun party

Saturday began with some very wet soccer games (Bill took Emma to hers, I took Katie and Nathan to Katie's game)...followed by another porch surprise from kind and thoughtful Laura. There's nothing like a bunch of pink balloons, a bagful of pink candy, some pink mums and pink cut flowers to get a girl and her family ready to host a party for my 3-day team - despite the downpour!

Bill and Sybil quickly cleaned our gigantic garages to provide some extra room for the party (Bill even brought out a TV in the garage to watch the Michigan game, David and Sybil had a friend who donated use of his tables and chairs), I came home from Costco and Party City with food and some pink tablecloths. Guests started arriving, laden with dishes to share and children in tow. It was all quite nice and fun...and then the power went out!

Apparently the torrential downpour was too much on a tree in a neighborhood near ours...the tree fell on a power line and the power line ended up in the Rouge River! Luckily we had the use of a generator (Michigan game stayed on for the party) and plenty of candles and daylight left...and such great friends/families that our party didn't suffer too much.

I can't wait for the walk in 2 weeks with these wonderful people!


Apparently it's not ALL my job

Tonight Katie wanted to stay up and straighten the house. When I thanked her, she said, "I want to help for the party. 3-day walkers can't do everything..."

That's your job, Mom

I'm having our 3-day team and families over on Saturday (pray that the thunderstorms forecasted don't become a reality) and was discussing the matter, full of enthusiasm, with Emma last weekend. This was of course when it was still in the planning stages and not in the reality stages! (My house is a disaster, and also, let's be quite clear - I am no Martha Stewart of entertaining and home decor. I'd like to be, but it's becoming more and more clear that my gifts do not lie in that direction*. What was I thinking?)

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing all of these families in one place so I am going to get over my disastrous house and work on having only fun. But last weekend when I was thinking of this I was enthusing and Emma said to me "How can you even think about that party! It's so far away!" and I said, "But that's only next week! There's lots of stuff to do before then - get the house in order, get some food, get this, get that...." and she said, "Well, that's all your job, Mom. My job is to go to school and wait." (And apparently that is a harder job, the waiting.)

*And, now that I think about it, I don't care if I don't have that gift. The only thing I want to be really good at right now is beating breast cancer.

Bottled Up!

I've decided to stay off the erg/other exercises that might involve my torso for a while, and lo and behold, my rib is feeling better. My emotions are feeling crazier, though, of course! I really enjoy that mindless-exercise-time...it is my best way of unwinding. I could use some unwinding after a busy first week+ of getting-into-the-school groove!

I did want to remember two things, though, before my life moves away too quickly and I forget again, so I'm going to write them here.

Nathan had a harder 2nd day of preschool, and was holding on to my hand so tightly, not joining up with the other kids, etc. (as if I would leave him if he didn't hold me tight enough, which is what I ended up doing, so he was right). Apparently this is normal - the first day is so interesting and on the second they know they are being left and it isn't so novel anymore! There was no crying, but he wasn't happy and it took a while before I was able to leave him.

At school Nathan reverts to the almost-3 year old, quieter boy, but at home he is an almost-3-year old boy with vocabulary and influences from the 6-9 year old girl crowd. He has this phrase which he uses all the time, and it is so perfect for how he was when I was dropping him off: "Oh, FINE. But I'm not happy 'bout it."

2) Last night, my father-in-law left us a message...and he always ends his messages with "Take Care..." I love that phrase...it never seems to get old for me, it always seems earnest no matter who says it or under what circumstance (I know that's probably not always the case, it could be just a stock phrase, but it is one that hasn't lost it's luster with me.) Yesterday, though, my father-in-law left another saying, "Be Happy" and that made me stop. What a nice thing to say, and really, why not try our hardest to do that?

Happiness isn't something that always just comes - and I can see that this week a lot with Emma starting at a new school, and Katie being a big first grader now, and Nathan starting preschool, and Bill being super-busy at work, and me juggling lots of comings and goings and trying to squeeze other responsibilities in the 1 hour here and 1/2 hour there before we need to come or go again. NOT TO MENTION the whole world of breast cancer and worries that come along when that part of the world opens up (sort of how when a person is pregnant, they start seeing the world of parenthood which was there all along but suddenly it exists for that person...the cancer world is here all along but it doesn't always really exist for you until you experience it closely - through yourself or through a loved one's cancer).

But really, I know from those who came before me that it doesn't get any easier (and I know that from my life, lately!), so I'm going to keep that phrase in my head if I can, and try my best to just "be happy". It is a choice we make, and it is a great thing to hold as a goal.


Supporting one of my biggest supporters

The Lucken family is excited to be participating in the 2008 Buddy Walk, hosted by the Down Syndrome Guild (DSG) of Southeast Michigan. It's a one-mile walk in Kensington Park, held on October 4th, 2008.

Any readers of this blog will have heard me mention Laura, a friend who supported me wholeheartedly throughout all of my treatments this summer. My children have come to think of her as our family angel! We will be walking to support her family and her little angel, her daughter Annie.

If you would like to contribute to our walk, here is the link! Or for more fun, join us. We are registered with Annie's Buddies.

Random notes

If only chocolate chips could prevent cancer recurrence...I would be so all set! I have a chocolate chip eating problem. I can give up all sorts of things but the chocolate chips are just not budging from my diet (yet). I will continue to wage this battle, though.

Why is it that I finally get my minivan back, and then promptly use it as a method of destruction? Today I backed into a the bumper of a lovely pregnant woman's BRAND NEW Volvo Cross Country. Scratch! I can't tell you how stupid and horrible I felt. I was at the vet office, and that parking lot drives me crazy...all these pets and people coming in and out and I was all distracted and used to driving my Volvo Cross Country (which must be smaller) because there I went and ruined the car she just picked up from the dealer. She was so sad. I gave her all my information and then promptly went to the store where I bought her some flowers and a card in which I wrote "It wasn't so long ago that I was driving my new Volvo, with room for my baby-on-the-way and the dog-in-the-back" and "I'm so sorry I damaged your beautiful new car" and "Please, don't hesitate to contact me for the repair of the scratch, it's the least I can do and the least of our worries as a family right now." She called me and told me not to worry, it's just a car, but still. What a giant idiot.


The best day ever!

I have become a huge fan of SpongeBob SquarePants this summer, as we played a dvd of some past episodes over and over again in our minivan (before it was rear-ended about 2.5 weeks ago...it is still being repaired). As I write the title of this post, I am singing the SpongeBob song ("It's the best day ever!") over in my head. Nathan loves SpongeBob, too...as you can see from this picture:

(We saw him on an impromptu trip to Niagara Falls, on 8/23/08, note the picture's date. We skipped a bigger trip we had planned to Whistler/Vancouver to take care of some important family things before school started, and wanted to get out of town for a couple of days.)

But our "best day ever" didn't occur in Niagara Falls...it happened the day of the 3 mile run/walk
which my aunt, uncle and cousins put together on Labor Day, on Harsens' Island.

The race is a race which has occurred on Labor Day on Harsens' Island for a while, usually as a fundraiser for the Fire Department. My Aunt Donna had the idea to turn it into a fundraiser for breast cancer research and enlisted the help of the Cross Country team at De La Salle Collegiate High School, of which my cousin Sean is a member. To play a sport at De La Salle, the boys need to do a service project, so this was one they could do - help at the walk, and recruit 2 runners and 2 walkers. (This was fun for me as I ran Cross Country at Regina High School, which is a "sister school" to De La Salle...so all of my years running in the Catholic League came back as I watched the team warm up and run this race.)

I didn't know what to expect on this day...we just loaded up the double jogger into the station wagon (minivan still in shop) and thought we would figure it out when we got there. As soon as we got there, Emma decided she wanted to run this 3 mile race. I tried my hardest to convince her not to run, as 1) she has never run a race 2) she's never run 3 miles non-stop 3) she had played her first 3 travel soccer games on Saturday (2) and Sunday (1) and 4) I didn't know if I could run this race with her, having only finished chemo 4 weeks before. Once she found out there were only 2 girls running in her age group (13 and under girls) and knew she could get earn a medal by finishing, she was definitely not going to be convinced to walk instead though (She's walked this far with me, so I knew she could do that). Plus I wanted to see what would happen, even if one or both of us were going to crash and burn.

So we signed up to run, Bill signed up to walk with Katie and Nathan in the jogger. We did a little warm-up, and got to the back of the starting area where we wouldn't be in anyone's way.

The race started....the cross country runners took off. Emma was giddy, and excited. I told her we were going to take it easy and just go at a nice pace, and not to waste her energy, just have fun and see the sights. It was a 1.5 mile out-and-back course.

The fun began almost instantly, as we turned the corner and saw the South Channel. My family has had a cottage on Harsens' Island since 1911 and my sisters and I spent many, many happy summer childhood days there. Soon after, the leaders were coming back (winner ran the first mile in 4:40), and after that, we saw my cousin Sean and my cousin Kevin on their way back. My Dad was calling out times at the 1 mile/2 mile mark!

We ran a pretty good first mile, kept the pace through the 1.5 mile turn/water stop (Emma dumped water on her head like a pro), saw my dad again at the 2 mile mark. At about 2.25 miles, we saw the walkers coming down the course - we passed Bill, Katie and Nathan who were walking with my Uncle Jim. Then we passed Nancy (my stepmother, the highly favored Grandma Nance!) walking with Uncle Mark and her dog Rocky. (They were the only 2 people + dog to go swimming in the middle of the walk...crazy fun family!) Aunt Donna's dad was manning the water stop at the 2.5 mile mark. Right before that I had noticed Emma's shoe (which had been untied for a while) was actually coming off her foot and made her stop for a second after the water stop to tie it ("NO! I DO NOT WANT TO STOP!").

We kept going until the 2.75 mile mark, and we kept the pace until I told her "OK...now, you can go if you want to." "I can't go anywhere!" "OK, then let's just stay like this, this is perfect."

At the finish line, Aunt Donna, Uncle Kevin, and Molly the dog were waiting! She sprinted to finish ahead of me - 27:50. Not bad for an 8.5 year old! She won her age group (the 10 year old running finished in 44:00). Bill had tears in his eyes when she walked up to get her medal! Not bad for me, either - I don't know when the last time I ran 3 miles non-stop was...maybe before my diagnosis in February?

The rest of the day was blissfully fun also. We stopped at the cottage (Uncle Mark and Uncle Bob use it most, Aunt Donna's parents live across the canal so Uncle Kevin and family stay there and we grew up swimming back and forth between the two). The kids loved seeing this cottage again, I loved seeing them jump into the canal like we did. Uncle Jim drove his boat down from his place at the Old Club. After a while, we all loaded up and drove the boats to Horseshoe Bay - my Dad and Nancy drove home from the race and drove their boat across Lake St. Clair from Grosse Pointe Farms to meet us!

The family swam and hung out together in Horseshoe Bay - my 3 uncles, my aunt, my 2 cousins, my dad and Nancy, and my little family - swimming between boats, playing frisbee, fighting for floats - like we did growing up. Emma went tubing for the first time with Bill (from Uncle Jim's boat) while Nathan, Katie and I hung out on Dad and Nancy's boat and soaked up the sunshine. Nathan fell asleep in the cabin on the way back to the cottage.

It was almost magical to share all of these things with my children - my great family and my memories. We drove home just in time to put our things out for the big first day of school...just a teeny bit of red on the cheeks and our minds full of this day of both so many firsts and so many memories.

Where have I been?

Worried about a pain in my ribs. As far as I can tell, it could be one of the following things:

  1. A broken rib healing. I fell onto the metal edge of a barrel (I think my rib hit this) filled with wrapping paper rolls (breast hit this) in early January. I found my breast cancer when feeling around to see how my breast was healing. But why would my rib be healing now? Chemo probably delays healing, but what about January-April when I started chemo, wouldn't it have healed by this time? Bone scan says it could be a healing rib, but "cannot rule out metastatic breast cancer. Further radiographic imaging recommended." But my bone scans will always say this, because I am a breast cancer survivor...my oncologist says it is probably the broken rib healing.
  2. Could I have re-injured my rib by wrestling with children or rowing? Maybe...
  3. Am I getting feeling back in that area after my mastectomy and just noticing the pain now?
  4. Is this bone pain associated with the bone drug I'm taking as part of the clinical trial?
  5. Is it something else?
But of course, I'm worried about metastatic breast cancer, and I don't think I should get on my rowing machine to get out my anxiety, so I am just anxious. Oh, and busy trying to get the kids situated during this first week (2 of them start at new schools this year).