Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

December 24th, 2009:

Everyone on the list purchased for? Check

Run a few more extra miles to make up for the glasses of egg nog I hope to have? (Yes, with rum in it!) Check

Good bottle of wine purchased to share with my husband in front of a roaring fire while we exchange Christmas gifts? Check

Still to do:

Wrap gifts
Eat cookies
Attend holiday mass
Eat more cookies (and drink afore mentioned egg nog!)
Sleep in on Christmas morn'
Spend time with friends and family

And last - wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS full of love, laughter and good health!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The glass is half full...

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Winston Churchill

Everyday the fine folks at Runners World e-mail me a quote of the day designed to inspire me to continue my running, to understand why "we" runners run, to learn pearls of wisdom from great racers and marathoners and also some times, like today, great leaders, who may not be runners but who epitomize the mindset needed to be one. Today's quote was one of those and I felt the need to share it - being a "the glass is half full" kind of girl!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Archer

Here is my horoscope for this fine Tuesday morning:

While you are out and about in the world, you will encounter many people and ideas. Today, your mind will open in a way that enables illuminating insights to enter. Listen and gather up these gems as you continue on your journey.

I read the above and thought to myself that I hope I do that every day; each new experience being a "gem" whether good or bad. This time of year there is much good! Recently I was able to spend a day baking cookies, we attended the Trans Siberian Orchestra holiday show - now a Hildebrandt family tradition - and we have a beautiful tree sitting in our living room just waiting for adornment.

As 2009 winds down with just over two weeks to go I am trying to decide what my resolution for 2010 will be. Will be having the patience to grow out my hair? (For the time being I have decided to have it stay short!) Will I train and complete my first triathalon? Will I see those friends who live far away? So many options!!! I am sure I'll think of something! Meanwhile I have a tree to decorate, holiday parties and family gatherings to attend, and Nubbin riddles to solve as well as looking forward to December 22nd - the day after the longest day of darkness of the year (the winter solstice) for December 22nd marks the day that the sun begins its return to longer hours!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

42 is the new 24...

Many thanks to Amanda for the sentiment above - 2010 is the year I come to surf with you girlfriend!

So, today I celebrate 42. 42 years in this beautiful world. 15330 new starts, new beginnings - clean slates, new dawns. As I stop to reflect, after a visit to my oncologist which was all good, I am so thankful to be celebrating a birthday - healthy, with hair :-), and the receiver of so many well wishes! Thank you to my friends, my family, my doctors, dragonboat team members, running partners, etc.; I thank you and will forever celebrate you every birthday as if not for you, I would never be as happy/fit/thrilled to be alive as I am today!!!

42 years... yikes! How can that be? So much more to do in this lifetime - I hope I have time to squeeze it all in!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Get Your Groove On!

Kandinsky, Wine, and a DJ - what's not to love?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

10 more things I am thankful for....

1. A wonderful Thanksgiving Day!
2. 60 degree weather on November 25th - in NJ
3. Friends - our friend Greg has run the Sparta Turkey Trot since its inaugural year in 2007; it is a great way to start the day!
4. Family - my aunt Lorna cooked and my mom brought along a card game which we played. It was almost a bit too Waltonish.
5. Black Friday Sales - yes, I am heading out at 10:15pm to hit the stores. Call me crazy...
6. The Pixies - the show was soooo good last night, I have been singing their songs all day!
7. Good health
8. Pumpkin anything
9. Great neighbors
10. The now arrived holiday season!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Things to be thankful for...

I start the holiday season with a few photos of some of the things I am most thankful for... my list this year is very long!

I am thankful for my family - my parents, all five of my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my in-laws, grandfather, aunts and uncles, cousins and most of all my husband. The photos here are from my niece Maia's 1st birthday party held on Cape Cod. So many things I am thankful for all in one shot! Family, Cape Cod, a beautiful day on the beach and hair for the wind to blow through... yes, it is the little things that matter most!

I am kicking off the holiday season with the Pixies - celebrating the 20 year anniversary of Doolittle. I have been playing their music all morning!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Magical Days

My brother Chris and his bride Irina

November is speeding by so quickly it seems that little run I did in NYC was eons ago...perhaps it is the fact the days are now so short; I leave the Medco parking lot in darkness now. Or perhaps it is the fact the big build up to the holidays is upon us, things appear to become more frenzied as the masses get ready for celebrations galore. What happened to the tranquility of Mirival?

Yes, Mirival. A beautiful place to escape to in Tuscon Arizona. My running partner Jess and I spent the weekend there after the marathon at the "Escape with More" magazine crowd. What a wonderful place! We hiked in the desert hills in the morning, challenged our fears by jumping off a 35 feet tall pole (which we 1st climbed up!) as well as working with horses. We spent time by the pool and enjoyed spa treatments. We met incredible women from all walks of life, ate incredible meals, laughed and cried as we listened to stories around the evening bonfire. It was like being at an extremely high end sleep away camp and I would definitely go again!

Returning to NJ was difficult but Greg and I have so much to look forward to as 2009 winds down: a visit from my "sister" Patrice, the 1st birthday celebration of my niece Maia, the Pixies show at the Hammerstein, the BU vs Cornell hockey game at the Garden, the 2009 TSO show, as well as time with friends and family. (Hopefully we will get to see my newly married brother Chris and his wife Irina!) And oh, let me not forget - training will begin for the 1/2 marathon I am planning to run in February!

Monday, November 2, 2009

11-01-09: 26.2 miles - 4 hours and 34 minutes!!!

It is Monday morning and I can actually walk! Thanks to everyone who came out to cheer me on, what a day!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween: Last year, chemo girl; this year, marathon runner!

My Favorite Candy, Monster and Technological Advancement!

Last year on Halloween I was rockin' a hot strawberry blonde wig. No, I wasn't dressed as one of my favorite superheros or cartoon characters - I was bald. I needed a wig so no one would stare at me with that look of pity in their eyes; I wore that wig so no one would know I was sick. I had just finished chemo and was about to embark on daily trips to NYC for radiation treatment. All I can say is it is amazing what 365 days can do for a person. 365 chances to start anew and enjoy life. 365 mornings to embrace and evenings to enjoy. For me it has been 365 days of getting ready for tomorrow, November 1st.

"Why 11-1?" you may ask; no, it is not because of the hour we gain when we set our clocks back - although it is a nice trade for the fact it will be dark when I depart from work when the day is over. It is not the fact the holiday season "frenzy" kicks into high gear even though I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. No, for me it is about getting up at an ungodly hour and making the trek to Staten Island. It is about joining 41,999 other runners facing 26.2 miles. It is about crossing the finish line no matter how long it takes (although 4 1/2 hours would be sweet!) It is about finally feeling like I beat this cancer thing. It is my return to normal life.

No one tells you how to live life AFTER having cancer. I think I have figured out why: you just need to live. For me that means finding my limits and enjoying the exploration. For me it means with every footstep through the five boroughs I will be thankful that I am here and healthy and able to run. I'll be the one in pink, the runner with a huge smile on her face and more than likely some tears - not from pain, but from victory. My bib # is 46378 - watch out NYC, here I come!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Sundays

I am procrastinating, big time! I need to get in a 15 mile run and I awoke to a cold, gray, rainy Sunday morning. I would much rather stay in my fluffy bathrobe sipping coffee in front of the roaring fire that Greg has built in our new wood stove.

Why would I wait until Sunday to do my long run? Well, I have been suffering pain in two of my toes on my right foot. A trip to the podiatrist on Friday resulted in me receiving a needle full of cortisone between the two said toes. Not fun. Doc advised I needed to take Saturday off but that I should be fine for the marathon - which is now two (2!!!) week away!

Friday, October 16th was National Mammogram Day - have you had yours yet?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall 2009

The leaves are turning glorious shades of burgundy and gold. The air smells like campfire as the evenings grow cool and our neighbors stoke their fireplaces. Pumpkins and mums are everywhere - yes, fall has arrived to Northern NJ.

The past few weeks have been packed full of great events but the beauty of the season dimmed recently when the world lost another 41 year old woman to the beast that is breast cancer. Kate was a pharmacist who worked with me. I never had the privilege to meet her personally, but met so many folks who did; each of whom smiled when they spoke of her, I felt I knew her. Kate was diagnosed late in the game, stage 4. She fought a good fight and leaves behind a husband, two children and a cadre of co-workers who will never be the same.

Greg and I have been so fortunate: we spent Saturday night with friends and family at Giants Stadium seeing The Boss. Sunday was our 6th anniversary. We had a wonderful lunch outside at Vento in NYC, walked the Highline, and capped the evening having champagne with friends.

Last weekend we were in Vancouver, an incredible city. We did the zip lines down Grouse Mountain, drove out to Whistler and took the Peak 2 Peak gondola ride. Oh yeah, we also spent two days on the set of this little film - "Eclipse". Yes, THAT Eclipse, the 3rd in the Twilight series. Film making is an interesting thing, I think I found watching security flush out the paparazzi from the trees more entertaining than take after take of the same scene. I will admit those vampires are quite pretty....

We returned to NJ in time for the opening night reception of "The Faces of Breast Cancer" exhibit at the Morris Museum. It was somewhat surreal to see two photos of me hanging there; the show itself is wonderful and literally took me breath away. As I looked at the photos of so many survivors, I was reminded of how I felt a mere year ago as I approached the end of my chemo treatment, of how I looked (bald) and how thankful I was to be alive.

In this vein, fall also brings a plethora of pink as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Have you had your mammogram yet?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Faces of Breast Cancer

Please join me at the Morris Museum on 9-30-09 between 5 and 7pm for the opening night reception of Pete Byron's photography exhibit: "The Faces of Breast Cancer". The exhibit will run the month of October. I'll be the one in the pink wig!

Below is the promo postcard created by the museum for the show.

NYC Race for the Cure 2009

Starting Line
My Message
Survivors Photo
Sunday 9-13 was a beautiful day; sunny and not too hot. Central Park West was awash in pink: pink wigs, pink shirts, pink signs, pink balloons; you name it - it was there fashionably attired in pink. Yes, it was theh 2009 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

I once again walked with Team Medco, joined by my husband, friends Chris, Jill, Denise, Jen, Lauren, Janine and many more. I admit walking under the balloon arch at the start was quite emotional for me and I was happy to have had my new MJ shades. I was instantly transported back to one year ago when I did the same, also surrounded by friends and family but bald, sporting a chemo port and feeling not exactly myself as I neared completion of my treatment of the exact disease which I walked "against".

Thank you to all who supported me and to those who also walked - I can only hope that one day such gatherings (there were close to 30,000 people there!) will be only something we did "..way back when..." Until that time we walk on!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day of Service and Remembrance

It is 9-11-09. Eight years have passed since that horrible day. Life has continued but I can't help but think we were all changed that day - those of us who could see the smoke plumes from our workplace/home even more so. Who knew something so bad could happen so close?

It is funny, I have had similiar thoughts each time I have learned of newly diagnosed breast cancer patient now battling for her life. You are never prepared for the bad but you can learn from it and live a better life. I am trying...

Friday, August 28, 2009


Enough said! No more doctor's visits until 2010 - woohoo!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Winds Down

Another August weekend over. One more to go before summer 2009 comes to end and yellow school buses once again fill the morning roadways. Time flies by so quickly, even more so when you spend it in the company of good friends.

Greg and I spent two sun filled days in Deighton, MA with Dean Robinson, his wife Beth and their three beautiful girls, Marissa, Izzy and Dana. Dean is the creator of "The Realm of the Rodent" - yes, the same realm on which Greg's book is based. The Robinson home is simply wonderful with a gorgeous backyard and pool. After a 6 mile morning run Saturday, the rest of the day we spent poolside. Dean's partner Jason joined us for dinner along with his wife Lisa and two more beautiful girls - Hayley and Ella. Thank fully Sunday is an "off day" for me from running so I spent another day lounging poolside as Greg went "turtleling" with Dean and Dana.
It was very relaxing - so much so I could forget about my upcoming scans, the fact that I face a very unpleasant day at work tomorrow (Long story - I am accountable for an issue impacting one of our clients and it makes me feel ill even to think about it...)

One highlight I must mention was Tacoma's attempt at swimming - yes, we brought Tacoma with us. Dean and Beth have two labs, Butter (yellow) and Raven (black) so welcomed our dog into their home. As we were enjoying artisanal cheeses and wine, Tacoma decided she needed to have some as well. Unfortunately we were all standing in the pool. She took a step towards us and next thing you know she was under water. Greg jumped in and pulled her out, needless to say she was a bit shocked as we all were!

The ride home was not the best but going south on Route 95 through Connecticut and Sunday in the summer is always bound to be painful. We hit a brief downpour but finished the ride under pink and purple skies.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pink Honor Roll

Flight Deck
2008 Pink Honor Roll

Maurice DuBois

Dr. Richardson-Heron

On the evening of Wednesday, August 12th, Greg and I were invited to attend a celebration upon the Intrepid held by the NY affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We were invited as I was one of the top 125 fundraisers from the 2008 Race for the Cure and therefore would be added to the "Pink Honor Roll". (I was #81!)

It was a beautiful night and we had not been to the Intrepid since its return to NYC. The ship was very cool - I highly recommend it to those of you who have kids as a "thing to do"! The evening was beautiful, the food and drink plentiful, and the cause one I hold very near and dear. I met the president of the NY chapter, Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron ( a 12-year breast cancer survivor) and the host of the evening Chanel 2's Maurice DuBois. Doing my best to get invited next year - the Race this year is September 13th!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Little Scare

Not sure if any "scare" should be classified as little, but for now that is how I need to think about the latest in my seemingly never-ending saga of dealing with breast cancer.

I had a visit with my surgeon, Dr. Shapiro this week. For the past two weeks, I have been experiencing pain and discomfort in the side of my chest that I had my cancer in. So much so that sometimes it interrupts my sleep if I happen to roll onto my left side. I originally chalked it up to my weight training plus amped up running mileage; (Marathon training has begun!) but it started to freak me out. Plus, I could swear I felt something there - something other than the scar tissue created from my lumpectomy. So off to NYC and the NYU Cancer Center Greg and I went.

Dr. Shapiro examined me and did admit I felt "lumpy" - how's that to start a girl's day? He did say he did not think it was a "horrible lumpy" but maybe just cystic tissue. He asked about my exercise regime and advised me to scheduled time with him once my sonogram and mammogram are completed on the 26th.

So I left somewhat conflicted: Should I be upset and worry until the 26th OR do I place my faith, as I have in past, on my surgeon and realize that if he thought there was something bad going on he would have had me scanned immediately? What to do, what to do. I am trying to go with the latter and keep on trucking through life until I can no longer. Some days it easy, others - not so much. Once again I thank my friends and family for rallying around me and checking in, my mom for the beautiful flowers and my husband for his unending patience and positive outlook. I have said it a million times and will probably say it another billion times more but, "this too shall pass."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back to Reality

The Five Burts
Doesn't the Background Look Fake?
Bill and Ethan on "PRACTICE" - lovingly handcrafted by Bill and his kids
Artisan Works
John and Allie
Summer has truly arrived - heavy,hot,humid with an almost daily thunder shower expected, I have no problem grasping that August begins later this week. Me, I am still trying to get back into the routine of daily life after returning from a wonderful week of fun, family, and friends.

Greg and I started our journey a week ago Friday with a drive back to upstate NY ("boy, that farm looks awfully familiar doesn't it?") to attend the wedding of friends John and Allie in Rochester. Having never visited Rochester before, Greg and I had something to do between the lovely church ceremony and evening reception and toured the city and its surrounding neighborhoods. The reception was a grand affair, held at a place called "Artisan Works" (see photos). We greatly enjoyed the art, the music, the food and the company.

Sunday morning we hit the road bound for Maine. It was a beautiful day that turned into a great night at my brother's summer home in Gray. We had a blast swimming, boating and hanging with the five Burts: Bill, Ethan, Aaron, Christine and Hayden or as I now call them - B.E.A.C.H. We had a great Maine lobster dinner while there and of course visited LL Bean.

Greg flew out of Portland on Wednesday bound for the 2009 Comicon in San Diego. I met Jess in Beantown and we proceed down to the Cape with a stop for a great lunch in Plymouth where we sat outside along the water and enjoyed the sun. Our time on the Cape was great. We had wonderful dinners courtesy of my Dad and his wife Linda, did our required training runs, participated in Truro Winery's tasting, roamed the streets of P-Town, and relaxed. Good thing as the drive home Saturday was somewhat brutal although we were rewarded with an evening soiree at Lauren and James' cabin on Cupsaw Lake so all was not lost.

I ended the week by attending a bus trip to see the Lion King in NYC with my niece and nephews as well as my mom (Thanks mom!) We had fun in Times Square where we people watched, had lunch, and shopped in the M&M store: did you know they are making coconut M&M's? they are very tasty! The show was wonderful, everyone enjoyed it. The day was long and I came home to an unpacked suitcase, dirty laundry, etc. As I settled down to watch True Blood I thought of the week ahead and realized I needed a vacation from my vacation!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Here are some photos from my trip to Ithaca to prove it was not a complete waste; we had journeyed north to attend the Ithaca dragonboat festival, however upon awaking Saturday morning I was aching everywhere - thank you Zometa! We watched the morning races and then spent the afternoon touring around Cayuga Lake and its 16 wineries...

Sunday morning I felt a little better so we visited Ithaca's famous farmer's market and hiked up and down Buttermilk Falls. I tried to convey to Greg how different the city is while school is in session and thousands of Cornell and Ithaca College students flood the streets (My sister Gwen attended Cornell and I had visited her there to experience it). All in all it was a nice weekend but I was happy to get home and to start feeling normal again!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Zometa - Round 2

Zometa Infusion 7-9-09
Just returned from a trip to NYC where I received my 2nd round of Zometa. (Not a huge fan of the attached photo but you can see I am back in the chemo suite - not quite so freaky this time around.) Met with Dr. Oratz who reviewed my last round of labs and said everything looks good. Just need to have my bi-annual mammo/sonogram and I should be "cancer related" doctor free for the remainder of 2009! Woo hoo!

Feel okay right now - was extremely tired after the infusion, probably more from stress than anything else but a quick nap fixed that.

Came home to learn that the photos I had taken for a local photographer's breast cancer project will be in a show at the Morristown Museum opening September 30th! More details to follow!

Was looking back at my posts from 2008 to see where I was a year ago - boy that wasn't very much fun was it?

Monday, July 6, 2009

July Already

Maia and Jess
Hair June 2009
Amazing how fast time is flying by this year. It could be due in part to the fact that summer did not seem to quite fully arrive until this past weekend. Greg and I were fortunate enough to spend the holiday weekend on the Cape where the weather was simply perfect and we did a whole bunch of nothing! (by nothing I mean I usual - long walks on the beach, browsing at the flea market, visiting family, eating and drinking, and I did manage to do my "rave run" - a 5 mile loop that starts at the National Seashore Visitor Center, and passes both Coast Guard and Nauset Light Beaches.

It was our second trip up to the Cape in two weeks - our last visit was a quick overnight to be part of my sister's nuptials; we have been quite lucky as the weather that night was spectacular as well! The ride home is never fun and this July 5th was no exception: 8 hours in the car. Need to get to work on that transporter...

I face my 2nd Zometa infusion later this week. I remain positive that the experience will not leave me as unsettled as the last, however returning to the chemo suite is not all that much fun. I am prepared this time and will work from home in case I suffer the same side effects. Good thing I know what to expect or I might think I was coming down with swine flu!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Arrives!!!

Summer arrived today along with Father's Day. However the summer solstice has been trumped this year by gray skies, cold temps, and so much rain that the waterfall behind my house as gone from a steady drone to mighty roar. We have not had a "HOT" day yet, everything is damp, and running outside is not all that much fun soaking wet.(Someone remind me of that when I am doing my 18 mile morning training runs in 90 degree weather and complaining about it!)

But - enough with the whining, there is much to be happy about these days. I am feeling great, my next mammogram is in July along with my next Zometa infusion. (Not looking forward to that so much). Based on my last round of bloodwork I am confident my mammo will be clear. I have Greg joining me in the chemo suite while I get my Zometa so at least I will be distracted and this time I know what to expect.

My garden is flourishing in this weather - you can see photos above. My cousin Kristen graduated as co-valedictorian of her high school, Pequannock Township High Class of 2009. She will be off to BU in September, another reason to visit Boston! We have three weddings this summer - all of which should be a lot of fun plus we will be spending time with my brother and his family at their vacation home along with making a few visits to my Dad's. With my dragonboat racing and running it looks to be a busy summer indeed; I tell everyone I am making up for the time I lost last year!