Friday, January 29, 2010

Dragon Boats and the 2010 Olympics!

Many thanks to Coach Ellen for passing this news along! (Most of you know I paddle with Team SOS here in Northern NJ)

As you know the 2010 Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver on February 12th and after crossing Canada, the last two Olympic Torch relays will be completed in Vancouver in dragon boats!

At about 1:00pm (Pacific Standard Time), a flotilla of six dragon boats and two outriggers, will escort two lead boats carrying the Olympic torch on the waters of False Creek to its final destination prior to the Opening Ceremonies.

One of the dragon boats will be crewed by Abreast In A Boat - 20 paddlers, a steers and a drummer while Dr Don McKenzie will have a seat in one of the lead boats. It was on these very waters of False Creek in 1996 that the first breast cancer survivor dragon boat paddled for the very first time with Dr McKenzie at the helm. Four of those original paddlers will be in the crew on Feb 12th.

This is such an affirmation of Dr McKenzie's work re exercise and chronic disease and all he's done over the years for all of us. It's also an incredible opportunity and inspiration for everyone - those in the boat, on the shore and the millions who will be watching.

Do pass this on to other breast cancer crews who may be interested and remember to watch the games!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Mermaid and the Whale

Thank you to my sister-in-law Mary for the below "fable" - we should all learn to be whales!!!

Recently, in a large city in Australia , a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym.

It said, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern,

Whales are always surrounded by friends, dolphins, sea lions, curious humans. They have an active sex life,get pregnant and have adorable baby whales.

They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp.

They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia ,the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia .

Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs.
They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans.

They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist.

If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human?

They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them .... where is IT?

Therefore, they don't have kids either.
Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me:
I want to be a whale.

P..S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends.

With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies.

So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.

Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, ¨Good grief, look how smart I am!¨

Answer re: Port Pain Question

This post is a response to the question from Anonymous in regard to port pain. Basically my port seemed to always bother me. Mine was in my right chest wall, just below my collarbone. It healed nicely and worked very well as I never had to worry about having issue with my veins while undergoing chemo. I had one friend who ended up receiving treatment through her feet as her veins were so shot from the medications.

Know that pinching a bit is normal. I had one episode where I convinced myself the wire had disconnected from the port it seemed to pinch so often, that I ran to my doctor and demanded an X-ray. Thankfully they believed in better safe than sorry and I was rewarded with the peace of mind knowing my port did not move at all. You know your body better than anyone. If it feels consistently uncomfortable, mention it to your doctor. I focused on the fact that my port was a weapon in the arsenal I was using to attack my cancer. I did not like it, it was summer and every nice tank I wore displayed it prominently. My bra straps rubbed against it. I could not lay on that side at night when trying to sleep. However, when my port was removed it left me with a scar that allows my to conjure the greatest stories about its origin to tell those who do not know my history.

Stay positive, stay strong, and focus on the good things - this bad stuff is just a way of reminding you how tough you really are. And if this comment was from my friend who shares a birthday month with me - I have been keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Breathing Lessons

Winter on Cape Cod - I have yet to figure out how to best handle my blog updates on Facebook. Any insight from anyone out there? Please let me know!

2010 has certainly started off in an interesting way. The events unfolding in my personal life as well as across the world (A Republican elected in Massachusetts???!!!) have made me sit back and make sure my seat belt is fastened - I think 2010 may be one hell of a ride!

I have started to swim in the morning at my gym's pool. It is very "zen" experience as most times it is only me and the life guard and only the pool lights are on. I can have any lane I want and splash to my heart's content. It has made me very cognizant of my breath and how I need to do learn to breathe in a way that will aid me in my quest to stay afloat. Sure, I can swim not to drown, but to really swim, as you most likely know, you need to figure out a way to propel yourself forward while in the water completely and turn to grab a mouthful of air. I cringe when I think of how I must look when attempting this. I have even been scouring the internet for pointers on doing breathing exercises.

Funny isn't it that one might need to practice the one thing we all do upon entering this world? I am carrying it forward to other areas of my life - upon hearing test results did not come back exactly as I had hoped - deep breath, count to 10 , exhale... while running - breathe, breathe, breathe and soon this hill will be behind me!, as well as facing those things that cause me stress - losing a loved one, something not going as planned at my place of employment - breathe, inhale, exhale, go in the bathroom if you need to cry...

So many things to look forward to this year: parties, birthdays, graduations, travel, family gatherings, as well as races (both running and rowing) galore. I figure I'll be okay as long as I can remember to breathe.

Friday, January 8, 2010


On January 7th, on Cape Cod's Route 6 in Wellfleet, MA, the world lost an amazing woman due to an auto accident. She was 75, she was a mother, a grandmother; she was a part of a family who I believe is still trying to wrap their brains around this tragedy.

Why do I write this? I write because it is my family who is numb, who is angry, who just doesn't understand the good Lord's bigger plan; it my family who has lost a mother, a grandmother, a source of much love and much laughter.

I arrived home on the evening on the 7th planning to quickly walk back out the door and join my in-laws for dinner. The phone rang - I saw the NY exchange and recognized my brother Bill's phone number. He asked if I had spoken with my father and by the sound of his voice I knew all was not right. I had not talked to my Dad so my brother was the one to inform me about the passing of Martha Baumgaertel, matriarch extraordinaire, in circumstances that are just so wrong.

Many of you may say, wait - Baumgaertel? Wasn't your maiden name Burt? And isn't your grandfather alive and spending the winter down in Florida? Who is Martha?

Martha was a woman who reached inside her heart and embraced my brother and I when her daughter and my father married. She never forgot us at Christmas and signed each and every card she ever gave us "Love, Grandma Marty" - such a honor. She was a woman who always looked for the good in people and was always quick to give someone a good hug. She enjoyed meeting the customers who would wander into the Asparagus Shed, and always had a good story to tell about her discussions from the day. She was a wonderful cook so when she offered to make a wedding cake for Greg and I after learning of our plans to be married on Cape Cod, I quickly said yes. To this day I still think about that cake, not because it was my wedding cake, not because the room was so warm and causing the icing to melt (I did not even notice); no, I still think about that cake because it was so delicious.

I began to replay in my mind all the wonderful times we have spent with my Dad, Linda, my brothers, sister and all significant others - whether it be in NJ or on the Cape - if Marty was there, I realized that she was always smiling. Always laughing. In fact my favorite memory of her is one from not so long ago, the setting may have been my brother Nick's college graduation party. It was a warm early summer night on the Cape. We were celebrating Nick's success pond side in my father's beautiful backyard, listening to ABBA, eating, drinking, and laughing. Sounds corny, right? It wasn't; in fact, it was almost magical. Someone brought sparklers, which were lit and handed out to all, illuminating the yard. Everyone began to dance, including Marty. We danced until the music ended. It is this image of her that I will hold in my heart: singing along to ABBA, laughing and keeping the beat on a perfect Cape Cod summer night surrounded by those who loved her and will miss her terribly.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year! (Better Late Than Never!)

I have been trying to decide how I would write my first post of 2010 - would it be one of great thanks: "I am thankful to be alive to see another year", or "I am
thankful that another year of being cancer free has passed" or "I am thankful that 2009 was a very good year - I ran a marathon, traveled to Europe to see friends and family, celebrated weddings, births, and my very own 42nd birthday" OR would my post be one of nostalgia, recalling my younger days and how every new year only meant a party and a few crazy weeks at work. Would it be one of new beginnings, new resolutions since I now know I can keep them?

I have landed on a combo of all of the above - first my resolution for 2010: I will start to swim at the gym with the hope of being able to one day complete a true
triathlon. Today I bought my own goggles - the suit and bathing cap I already had although I did also purchase a new cap - one with the flag of the good ol' USA on it. I bought it because it reminded me of the Beijing Olympics and Dara Torres, one of my personal heroes. Dara showed the world that women over 40 can be strong and beautiful - even with short hair! Tomorrow I hit the pool. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Two: my thanks. I am very thankful to be alive to see another year, to have spent a wonderful holiday season with friends and family: Christmas Eve at the Pisani's, Christmas Day with my family and Christmas evening with Greg's. I must have been a very good girl in 2009 for Santa brought me many nice things! We got to see my Dad and Linda for a quick lunch as they traveled south to see my sister in WV. New Year's Eve brought us to Cape May where we spent a long weekend with Jess, Denise and Joel, James and Lauren at the Miss Cape May, a lovely old home on New Jersey Avenue - 1 block from the beach. We had a wonderful time hanging out, eating, drinking wine, having our own dance parties in the evening, eating, shopping, running in the morning along the beach, oh - did I mention eating?

Three: my memories. NYE has new significance to me. I now pause and take the time to recollect my experiences of the past year, to see what I have learned from all that life has to throw at me good and bad. I silently thank everyone who has touched my life and vow to do the same publicly more often. I remember those we lost and say a prayer that they are in places filled with love, light and laughter.

So 2010, I am ready for another year, another 360 days (since I am writing this on January 5th) of new mornings, new experiences, and new challenges; 2010 - bring it!!!