So grateful!

Today marks 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I am so grateful. I know it seems like we all know someone who has had breast cancer (thankfully there are so many survivors), but to a 34-year old woman who found a scary-feeling lump in her breast, hearing that the lump is malignant is a huge blow. Reading great survival statistics doesn’t mean much when the “breast cancer friends” you’ve made become crippled and suffer incredible pain before leaving this world and their small children behind.

I’m grateful to a friend who welcomed me onto her 3-day team back in 2007. I had no knowledge of the breast cancer growing inside of me when I walked in 2007, and no knowledge that I was carrying the BRCA1 mutation. When I found the lump a few months later, I was not afraid to make an appointment quickly to have it checked…and I had my own breast cancer network thanks to my first 3-Day walk. Early diagnosis is key for survival, and I thank my lucky stars that my cancer was found at Stage 1.

I’m grateful the women who have walked and fundraised before me. Their work led to better treatments, better awareness, and better detection. I'm grateful for all the memories made with family and friends in this event over the years (Julie and Joann, Wendy, Sherri, Kathy, Therese, Sakura, Laurie, Becky, Cindy, Tammy.) Training through chemo for my 2nd 60 miles was a great way to direct my mind to postive things.

I'm grateful for my first, very positive, phone conversation with a survivor (Ellyn).  I thought she was crazy, she was so positive and enthusiastic about treatment and recovery, but she was right. I'm thankful for friendships made during chemo. Missy brings a light wherever she goes, and that plain and bland chemo room was never so bright as when she was there.

I am grateful to the people who have donated to our cause. Together they've helped me raise over $40,000 since 2007. My teams have collected over half a million dollars since we have started walking! Every year I wonder if we can do it, and every year these partners say YES! It's very fulfilling to now be raising up a whole new generation of warriors with the 3-Day Youth Corps. I'm excited to shepherd them through 3 days of inspiration and service.

I'm most grateful for family. I have the best sisters, loving and supportive aunts and uncles and cousins. I'm grateful for my sweet nieces and nephews - many who entered this world in the midst of the craziest time for our family and brought us such joy in the middle of a bunch of turmoil. I have a calm brother-in-law who read my results and went over them with me, a brother-in-law who moved across the country to raise his family closer to mine, two beautiful and loving sisters-in-laws and their families…I am blessed.

It's been a blessing to share these 5 years with my children. My silly 2nd grader – who became so serious so quickly – has morphed into a beautiful, hard-working, conscientious, confident, and yet again silly 7th grader who can run like the wind. My spunky kindergartener is turning into a gorgeous and gifted 11 year old. My baby, who was just 2 years old when this all started – is now a big and strong 7 year old…just as sweet, and loving and kind as he is physical and all boy.

My husband loved me bald, menopausal, and with a deformed chest, and menopausal, and held our whole family so close that we came out the other side even better than before. Everyone should be so lucky to have a husband who stays up all night long emailing researchers and becoming an honorary oncologist with all of his inquiries! Your mother is smiling down on you, my love.

No long epistle is complete without a request to take action…and again my friends, here I am, joining that 3-day pink ribbon. This year I will be again leading the Youth Corps into 3+ days of service during the Michigan 3-day…hoping that they will be inspired to serve and to see that even if cancer touches your life, you can still spread hope and have great joy. My husband will continue to walk and raise money in the hope that if any of his children have inherited my bum BRCA1 gene, we will have made a difference in breast cancer detection and treatment that will benefit them. As always, our gratefulness and thanks to you for standing with us for 5 straight years!


a spot for garden musings...

You can find me here, writing about my garden, my chickens, and my rambling thoughts.


Taking a break

I love this blog. It saved my sanity at a time when I had a LOT to work out. It connected me with strangers who became my friends, it made friends out of my acquaintances, and it even brought me closer to my closer set of friends and family members. I could never have dreamed up the advantages that blogging provided me with during my chemo year (and beyond).

However, when I set up this blog as a way to talk about my breast cancer and disseminate information, I chose to have the title be my name. I couldn't think up anything snappy (still can't), but also saw the value in making it simple. If people wanted to know what was going on with our family in the middle of the cancer year, they could look it up pretty easily. Try a few variations of Pam Lucken and blogger, and you could find me! It was a great tool for me when I was sharing information that was good to share.

Happily, my life isn't really about my own breast cancer story anymore. I don't have news to share with a bunch of people at one time. Unhappily, though...I feel like I have some bigger issues than my Stage I Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (not to encourage it to come back bigger and more deadly...I'm hoping it will stay a non-issue!). I'm doing just fine...but the cancers that have affected my life that are NOT my own have been harder for me to deal with than my own was. It's hard currently for me to think about my breast cancer year without guilt and sadness. My dad's pancreatic cancer struggle and my mother-in-law's lung cancer have really put things into perspective for me.

I hope I will keep writing, or that if I stop, that I will one day start again. Thanks for reading
and let's hope for good days ahead!



I love having chickens. I never expected them to be so affectionate, so funny, have so much personality. Best $3.50 I ever spent.

They are a bit of work...but there are some big payoffs - like the way they snuggle and fall asleep in my lap, or the sight of them waddling over to me in the garden.

Also, Bill is making the most outstanding chicken coop. I'm so proud of him.

Busy busy days

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Easter Sunday with family living and deceased

The Lucken children were spoiled this Easter! They were included in an Easter Egg hunt in my sister's neighborhood, which was fun. The Easter Bunny left them baskets and a multi-step scavenger hunt leading to a few extra presents. (The Easter bunny is a gifted poet! Her iambic pentameter is flawless!) Grandma Sybil, Aunt Julie, and Aunt Perry brought over the cutest things, and now our house is trashed with Easter presents, candy wrappers, and plastic eggs.

In my first attempt at (co) hosting Easter, we had two Easter Egg hunts - one for big kids and one for small kids. Total number of hidden eggs = 160

Today, I definitely feel like I overdid Easter, but I think that is understandable. It was both our first Easter without my Dad, and our first Easter with the Gibbs in town. Added to the crazy Easter festivities was Katie's family birthday party on Friday night, and I am tired! I went all out for my little family - I can't imagine how the Easter Bunny must feel!

All 5 of us went to Mass on Easter Sunday. More than anything, following family traditions like egg hunts and Easter Sunday Mass made me feel like my parents were right there with me, celebrating Easter with my family.

My Catholic upbringing gives me a soundtrack for these holy days, and I loved that the opening song was one that I had been serenading my kids with as we looked over our Easter Baskets earlier that morning. The kids looked at me like I was magic when they heard it in church. The offertory hymn was "Morning Has Broken" - the hymn I chose as the opening hymn for my Dad's funeral. Emma remembered it, and was sad, but I explained that it's meaning was perfect for my Dad then, the way it was perfect for Jesus now - the suffering was over, it was a new and beautiful day.

I looked at my little family, and the tears rolled down my face as I whispered to them - "I am sad your grandparents are missing this [being with my kids as they grow up], but I am so happy because I feel like they are HERE."


A very good life

I'm reflecting on something my husband said yesterday. He said that we are doing everything we can to surround ourselves with life, and it's true. We have a very alive Red Dog; we have an enormously fluffy and playful black kitten; we have 8 baby-adolescent chicks. I'm growing about 100 plants in my house because it is too cold to put any of them out in the garden. Everywhere we look, it is life, Life, LIFE!

All of that life and liveliness starts to get to a person, and you just can't help feel the enthusiasm. Hope romps around the yard for hours like that old green toy is the best thing she's ever seen. Our black kitten writhes with affectionlike she never believed she could be so happy! And the chicks - they are always stretching their little necks to see "what's that? where are we?"

How fun it is to do geometry with Emma...we are finally doing some problem solving and teaching at home that doesn't put a mommy to sleep. She got a bigger bike, and now she looks little again. Katie turns 8 on Friday, and we are starting a new adventure together in girl scouts. And, Nathan! In about 1 day, he learned how to ride Emma's now-outgrown bike. I didn't even have time to teach him, to get sore running around the neighborhood hunched over and holding a bike, time to cajole him into trying again...I "helped" him once and I couldn't even keep up! He was going around the circle into the driveway, off into the street, riding like he was born doing it.

It is very liberating to do whatever you need to do to surround yourself with life, love, and your hobbies. Sometimes I feel so non-traditional, but what a very good life.