Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snow Insurance

I must have been a good girl this year as Santa brought me everything I asked for.  (Well, except for world peace, food for all those who are hungry, and the eradication of cancer...maybe next year!)  All in all it was a  wonderful holiday, albeit exhausting, but wonderful none the less. Greg (aka Santa) and I did our normal running around but this year I just could not hit all the gatherings we had been invited to as my broken hand and school left me woefully behind on holiday cheer.  In fact I was so far behind, my nephew Aaron even helped me wrap presents.  I love that kid!  So my apologies to anyone who did not receive a holiday card from us - that was one thing that fell by the wayside.

Anyhow the photo above is of my fave present, the limited edition pink snowshoes made by Tubbs.  I have now guaranteed we will not have snow this year!  Seriously, it has been weirdly warm here; ( not that I am not complaining!) but I am hoping for snow by January 21st 2012.  On that day, I will once again join the Romp to Stomp here in NJ.  This is a great event held at Mountain Creek - a 5K snowshoes race to benefit the Komen Foundation.  Why not join us?  You can register here or even sponsor me: Romp to StompI participated in the race last year as part of a  team started by a former coworker of mine who lost his wife to breast cancer.  My niece Hayden, my sister-in-law Christine and my friend Jess all "stomped" too.  It was a most awesome day and I look forward to having another wonderful day again!

I finished Biology of Disease with a hard earned "A", giving me a pretty perfect first year at B.U.  I'll walk in May for graduation and actually finish up classes in the early summer.  To say I am looking forward to completing this degree would be an understatement.  I have met many wonderful people and do look forward to corresponding with them again come January but have to admit, having the evenings free to read whatever I want, catch up housework, etc. is quite nice!

As I head into another new year, I look back at 2011 with mixed emotions.  We had many great times with family and friends and even gained a new member of our family:  our black lab, Neo. I finally got to go to Coachella. We were lucky enough to visit Alaska.  Greg landed a new gig with the film department at MSU.  I participated in many races, had another great Komen NYC walk and was selected to be in their Survivor Portrait gallery.  However, we also were faced with the loss of Greg's sister Laura, the breast cancer diagnosis of two close family friends, the career limbo I face daily in the wake of the ESI/Medco merger announcement, and the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  A crazy year indeed.  

2012 will bring me to the 4 year mark in survivorship.  (I am planning one major blowout party in 2013 to celebrate 5 years, stay tuned!)  I'll kick off the year on New Year's Day with a five mile run followed by a dunk. Yes, that means a swim.  Yes, on New Year's Day.  In the ocean.  No, I am not crazy. I have done the Tough Mudder... 'nough said.  I'll get through my final four classes.  I'll complete the BAE Half Marathon trilogy, do a tri here and there and maybe even run the NYC marathon again if I get in via lottery. The job thing - I'll wait and see.  We hope to spend many days with friends and family.  My annual round of doctor visits starts January 10th with labwork.  My resolution for 2012?  Hmm, that is a tough one.  I think I just might leave it at getting through school without pulling my hair out (since it took me long enough to get it back!) and to be sure to take the time to stop and appreciate this gift of life and all the joys it brings.    Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Somehow seven weeks snuck by without much notice by me.  Thankfully I am finished with classes for the year and have a few weeks to catch up on life again.  So, my apologies to those who have not yet received Christmas cards or a phone call in a while.  I am hopeful the big man in the red suit will deliver the gifts my loved ones want or I am in big trouble having not yet hit the shops...

I should be honest and admit to a few stolen moments such as the 2011 Reindeer Run I participated in with my niece Hayden.  We dressed alike without knowing it and enjoyed the scenic 5K route through some beautiful neighborhoods in Franklin Lakes, NJ.  I had a wonderful birthday dinner with friends at Ninety Acres.  Yes, another birthday celebrated for which I am thankful.  Seems my big health issue of 2011 would be my currently broken hand, a running injury if you can believe it! ( I tripped and caught my fingers in a fence fracturing my knuckles - OUCH!!!)

I had breakfast with my 88 year old grandfather who is back from sunny Florida to celebrate the holidays.  I am thankful each and every time we get to spend time together.  I continue to run when I can, play as much as possible with our now 7 month old "puppy", and try not to worry about what 2012 may bring other than my graduation in May, my brother Nick's wedding in August and the 4 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. 

This year has been a tough one with many friends battling the beast that is breast cancer.  I wish for them nothing more than the gift of hope this Christmas and the return of good health in 2012.  Me, well, all I really want for Christmas is the same - good health and good times with my family and friends.  Oh, and some pink snowshoes too please...

Enjoy the holidays, whatever it is you may celebrate.  Embrace those you love and tell them that you do. Many thanks to all who continue to support me in this thing called life - you are the greatest gift of all.  ENJOY!!! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Whoa - where did that six weeks go?

Today is Saturday, November 19th and I am in major denial that this coming Thursday brings Thanksgiving and the official kick-off to the 2011 holiday season.  How the heck did that happen?

I guess I know - between my ethics and biology classes; the Halloween blizzard the resulted in us financing my tree guys winter vacation and a much sunnier yard; training my incredibly energetic now six month old black lab puppy; dancing with a NJ Housewife (Caroline, at a gala fundraiser for the Ramapo Bergen Animal Rescue); eating mud and diving into a dumpster full of ice water on a brisk November day in NJ (Tough Mudder 2011!); acting as co-race director for the inaugural Butler Turkey Trot 5K to be held Thanksgiving morning; and of course allowing for morning runs, kickboxing, a Pixies show, a Lykke Li show, helping to coordinate my department at work's holiday food drive and my company's overall holiday gift drive for children leaves me surprised it isn't January already!!!

Much breaking news in the world of breast cancer research this month too.  you may have heard the FDA revoked the approval of Avastin for treatment.  If you recall, I was involved in a study for this drug and received the placebo.  Yes, I am happy about that.  They have discovered how to overcome resistance to tamoxifen (Scientists-discover-mechanism-tamoxifen-resistance) and it looks like the smart folks at John Hopkins have discovered a pathway that could prove the beginning of the end for this disease.(breast-cancer-breakthrough-seen)  All things to be thankful for this 2011.

Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!  I hope to post photos from race Thursday!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Well, I am not quite sure where September went...  we kicked off the month in Alaska and ended it in Maine.  In between we tried to make sense of the loss of Laura, one of Greg's older sisters; dealt with the mess Irene left behind at my grandfather's house in Pompton Plains; tried to give our quickly growing puppy the attention he so craves; of course there is work and things around the house to be done... oh, and did I mention my ethics class with the requirement of a paper a week?  I guess that explains how I can sit here and flip my calendar to October first.

October is breast cancer awareness month.  As I write this, one friend has just started chemo; another is awaiting the results from her biopsy.  Yet another has been told her cancer has moved to her spine.  While I am not a fan of products just jumping on the bandwagon, the fact that at least something is being done to try to rid this world of the disease impacting so many, I ask you to consider buying that fruit or chips or duct tape (yes, even duct tape!) bearing the pink ribbon.  On my Facebook page, I'll be posting my "31 days of pinkified items".  I hope one day that pink ribbon represents the memory of something we no longer have to fight and those who lost the battle throughout the years.  Myself, I am three years out and doing well.  I'll wear pink this month even if it is not my best color. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Puppy Love

August 1st already.  Where oh where is the summer going to?  Well, as far I can tell it has been creeping by silently as I spend my days smitten with a new man... yes, I have a new love and his name is Neo. No, I am not fantasizing about Keanu Reeve's character from the Matrix (although I would not turn him away...); no, my Neo is the adorable black lab pup you see in the photo above.  Greg and I brought him home on July 6th and since them, well, life has not been the same.  Perhaps it is the lack of sleep, the constant sound of "No Bite!" reverberating across the house, or maybe it is the way he snuggles up against one of us and falls asleep but we have fallen and fallen hard.  He has us wrapped around his puppy tail and knows it.

I am not complaining, we knew raising a puppy would be a lot of work. Throw in summer classes, some vacations, the normal daily routine of jobs and PRESTO!  It is August 1st and I am in denial that fall is just around the corner.  I best keep this brief - I have homework to do....  enjoy the rest of your summer!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Celebrating Freedom

Yes it is already July and everywhere towns are celebrating our country's independence by hosting elaborate firework displays.  The photo attached here is from Pequannock Township's 2011 show which I attended lat night.  Myself, I am also celebrating freedom - I just finished my third class for my MS program and have off until July 5th!  (Thankfully I got the A I worked through the weekends for!)

Greg and I will also be saying goodbye to the freedom we currently enjoy due to having no commitments at home - i.e. a pet.  On Tuesday July 5th we will bring home Neo, our 8 week old black lab puppy.  We are excited and nervous and already arguing over who will be walking him... more to come once we actually have him here!

I have agreed to be the captain for my company's Komen NYC Race for the Cure 2011.  Join us on September 18th!  The more the merrier!  I received the great news that I will no longer need Zometa; clinical studies just have not panned out.  I also received the great news that I have been selected to have my portrait photographed by a well known professional photographer to be placed in of Komen NYC's Survivor Series. I have decided to be photographed with a mammography machine.  Sounds weird right?  I was allowed to pick absolutely any setting and since I just think it is so important to get the message out there that women not need be afraid of the machine - hell, I love that thing, it saved my life - it just seemed like the pose to do! (I will not be having a mammogram - don't worry mom - no topless shots!) A mammogram also caught a very early cancer in a dear friend so again I am thankful to that big hunk of metal.  If I get a copy I can share, I'll post the result!

Like I said, it is July - already....  with my 4th class, two triathlons on my calendar,and a new puppy I am sure this month will fly by as quickly as June did.  I am doing my best to be mindful of the beautiful days and get out to row as often as I can.  Happy Birthday America - I'll be donning red, white and blue in your honor this weekend!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spring Cleaning

It is pouring outside as I type this entry. The sound of rain against the window is now more annoying than lulling. Sure, my gardens are lush and green, but I have not been able to get out there and weed due to the weather... I do not complain too loudly as I think of the photos being shown today of Joplin, Missouri.  I'll take the rain happily.

It has been a few weeks since my last post.  I have traveled to California for the Coachella Music Festival and Walt Disney World for Medco's 2011 Drug Trend Symposium.  I have finished my 2nd class and started my 3rd.  I ran the Cape Cod Relay with 11 other wacky and wonderful women, and our awesome drivers.  Greg and I received word that our puppy has been born and we should bring him home in early July. (A black lab, he will be named Neo.) I have returned to my rowing team but the weather has cancelled many practice sessions. I have celebrated the arrival of two beautiful babies to couples I adore and the engagement of my youngest brother. I guess you could say I have been busy.

Sadly, during the past few weeks I have learned of women starting their battle with the beast and even more so, about some who have lost the fight. Not sure if it is the weather that depresses me so or hearing these stories. More than likely a bit of both. I try to summon my "the glass is half full" attitude and think about what lies ahead.  I look forward to summer and to complaining about the heat.  I am fortunate to have many wonderful plans: the Spring Lake Five, James Taylor at Tanglewood, a trip to Nantucket as well as the Cape, class number four, and puppy training.   Right now the thunder and lightning just make me sleepy.  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Three years goes by fast

So yesterday came and went like any other normal Thursday.  It did not hit me until I was trying to go to sleep last night and found myself unable, that to that I realized that April 7, 2011 marked the three year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis.  It was a milestone of a day that changed my life forever and I did not even register it until I was comparing my current sleepless state to that I experienced while going through treatment due to the various effects my medications were having on me as well as all the variations of emotions I would experience on a daily basis such as anger, sadness, despair, and their polar opposites, hope, happiness, etc. I take it as a good sign that I just went about my day without focusing on the past.

However, there is still much to be done in the fight against breast cancer.  I have attached the link to a documentary that speaks quite eloquently to the cause.  Every 69 seconds somewhere in the world a woman will die of breast cancer.  Think about that - every sixty nine seconds...

1 a minute

P.S. To Joan who posted a comment to my blog a while back - yes, KM is the same KM you went to college with!  She asked if you could contact her via Facebook or send me your e-mail address as I cannot see it from your post!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Whoa! What happened to that month???!!!

I am in denial that it is already April 4th. How the heck did that happen? I swear I just posted my happiness over completing my 1st class and being able to breathe. So where did those 30 days go to?

Well, for starters, my 2nd class, Nutrition, started. Back to the Friday and Saturday evenings spent in from of my computer. I finally (after only 20 years) made it out to St. Louis to visit my friend Patrice and see her lovely home, meet her dogs, spend time with her and her husband. It was a great trip but over far too soon! Throw in a few days of business travel, some final snow days, and planning for my upcoming Coachella trip not to mention the fact that triathlon training season has officially begun and dragon boat practice starts next week... I guess I am once again a bit under water.

Thankfully, I can say that I made it through March without a major health issue! Woohoo! I am just shy of the three year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. Amazing - some days it seems like yesterday, others like another lifetime all together. I have one more Zometa infusion to go which that will be in July. I am already planning my "Made it to 5 years" celebration - it will be quite the blow-out, as everyone knows there is nothing I enjoy more than to host a great party! (It will be December 2013 if you would like to mark your calendar!)

And since we don't have that much going on (and there is a bridge I can get you a really good deal on...), Greg and I are considering once again opening our hearts to a dog. While I know that no puppy can replace our Tacoma, I do miss having a dog. So, the search is on... stay tuned! Happy Spring everyone - take time to notice the glorious changes going on around you: trees are beginning to bud, crocus, hyacinths, and daffodils are surfacing here in NJ and of course - the bears are back!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coming Up for Air

As spring slowly approaches here in Northern NJ, I am happy to report that as the last of the snow melts away and reveals the grass in my yard again, I too am becoming unburied, at least temporarily.  Last night I happily submitted my final project for the my first class towards my M.S. in Health Communications courtesy of Boston U.  My first class was Media Relations and I can honestly say I learned  A LOT!  For instance, I learned how different participating in a class online is from a traditional brick and mortar setting; I learned how much discipline it takes to sit home in front of my computer on a Friday evening reading lectures; I learned that my writing skills need more than a bit of polishing; and I learned that I am actually excited to move onto my next class as it means I am one step closer to the completion of my degree!

On a health front I am doing well.  I feel good, I have no immediate physician appointments to fret about, and I am doing that crazy running thing as often as possible - weather permitting! I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon this past weekend along with my fellow crazy runner Jess and my cousin Kristen.  Jess and I stayed at my Dad's.  My dad hosted a great pre-race dinner attended by my brothers Chris and Phil along with their families and my Uncle Frank, cousins Kenna and Kristen and some of their friends too.  It was great to see family; I was able to meet my new nephew Gavin, who I can say is incredibly adorable - not that I am biased or anything...
I am looking forward to rowing season starting; our first team meeting is next week.  I also will be beginning my Ironman training.  Greg and I are trying to take life day by day as it tends to speed by increasingly faster with each passing year.  For now, I get to take some deep breaths and stretch before diving back into total immersion and it feels pretty good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunshine Causes Procrastination

I should be placing the final touches on my Week 4 assignment for school, but I am not.  I should be getting my wardrobe for the week together, but I am not.  I should be folding laundry, going grocery shopping, making sure I have a Valentine's Day card for my husband, reviewing my work calendar to see what the upcoming week will bring, but I am not.

Of course I am sitting in front of the computer.  I caught myself doing a lot of staring out the window at the glorious sunshine and thought I should try typing away my inability to focus.  So far, it is not working.

Ah stress - what havoc it can cause...I have developed a twitch under my eye - a sure sign for me.  I think last time I had it I was told I had cancer.  Before that it was when I was applying for a mortgage.  This time around I think it is the cumulative effect of realizing how much work school truly is; fearing my upcoming 1/2 marathon for which I am feeling woefully under trained; hearing of a fellow BCS paddler dealing with a recurrence; trying to figure out just what the heck we are going to do with my mother-in-law; and, oh yeah - did I mention I have a full time job and husband who every once in a while would like my attention?

Ever the optimist I plod forward - the race, I'll finish it; that will be my goal.  School?  Only 3 more weeks of this class and then onto "Nutrition" which I am very much looking forward to!  My mother-in-law... not an easy fix but Greg and I are searching for options and will hopefully find one soon.  For my friend Amy Z., I am praying - A LOT!  Here I sit and the sunshine is streaming through the window, warming the room and my heart.   Winter will soon be over and I'll get to paddle and run in the warm sunshine.  In between working and studying of course.  Speaking of which I should really finish my homework...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dreaming of the Beach

It is the first of February and a Tuesday which must mean, yes, more snow.  How are the three related?  Well to be honest, only February should have any connection to snow and I suppose February in NJ would be even more a clear connection but how does Tuesday figure in?  It doesn't, but so far for winter 2011 it just doesn't matter.  The Northeast US is once again under the onslaught of the "perfect winter storm" - this one bringing not only snow but ice - the lovely dangerous, tree-snapping, roof collapsing stuff.  My back aches just thinking about clearing the driveway today.  On a positive note, it will count towards my workout since this weather is seriously hampering my ability to run outside and I really dislike running on a treadmill.

The past week was an interesting one.  Both my mother and my father joined the world of Facebook.  Whoa.  That fact alone is fodder for an entirely seperate post.(No offense Mom and Dad!)  I had a great visit with my radiologist who advised the study I was part of will be releasing its first results sometime in Feb/March and they are very promising.  Greg and I saw 127 Hours fulfilling my wish to see all of the 10 films up for Best Piciture on 2-27.  (I do still need to see Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine and Biutiful)  We went snow tubing with my brother and his family at Mountain Creek and had wonderful time - so much fun embracing my inner child.  We visited Greg's dad and Jean who recently returned from the Barret Jackson auction in Arizona.  We celebrated Greg's 41st birthday by having dinner at the former estate of the King of Morrocco in Somerset, NJ - 90 Acres at Natirar.  Quite swank it was and quite delicious. (As are the chocolate chip cookies my mom made Greg for his birthday - he is not too keen on sharing them!)

In between all of the above I completed my 2nd week of online class, shoveled snow, booked a trip to Coachella with Jess and also had my annual DEXA bone scan along with a visit to my ob/gyn. (You may recall last year's annual visit resulted in my June surgery; I am optimistic this visit will not result in anything!)  Yes, a very full week. 

So again I sit, at home - my car is pretty horrible in the snow - I stare out the window at the white fluffy flakes raining down, listen to Pandora radio, and dream of Coast Guard Beach on a hot July afternoon.  I can almost smell my coconut sunscreen...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It is a cold/icy/snowy/grey Tuesday in January and I am sad.  Oh sure I laugh and joke about needing an ultraviolet light in my house with which I could to bask in front; I might even casually mention that perhaps a quick jaunt to Florida will knock the blues from my being and the chills from my spine.  However, I am sad and it is not something that the sun can quickly remedy.

I am sad because while it is only Tuesday it has already proven to be a horrible week.  Two people I know fighting the good fight against the beast lost the war and left this world.  Two people much too young to have to had suffer through surgical procedure after surgical procedure as well as treatments that made them feel terrible and weak, and forced them to face their own mortality.   Two lives that were cut short due to that d*mn "C" word - yes, you know it,  - cancer.

Writing it, saying it, seeing it makes my stomach ache and my hands tremble.  I yell (to no one in particular) "This is the 21st century!  We were supposed to have hover cars and to have cured this thing... what the heck happened???!!!  Sure I have the distraction of school, of my job, and of course of snow removal.  I have many days ahead with great events scheduled, shows to see, and folks to spend time with; yet I am restless, angry at "the big plan" that we have no control over. I need a plan of attack, I need to do something - anything - to try to make this funk go away.  So I sit here and I type.  I will remember to call my family and tell them I love them.  I will enjoy time with my friends.  I will enjoy the snow by changing it into something to be conquered when I don snowshoes this Saturday.  I will once again be sure to embrace all that this life has given me - good and bad - and be thankful.  I will this life to the fullest I possibly can and hope that my example will inspire others to do the same.

So yes, I am sad but it is okay.  Being sad reminds me of how good it feels to be happy.  Being sad reminds me that I know love and loss.  Being sad is part of life and like I said, I 'll take it all - the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. 

Rest in Peace CL and MC. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Welcome 2011!!!

One week into the new year and I still do not think I have decided what my resolutions will be... well, I guess that is not entirely true.   It has really come down to deciding which I think I might just keep. I do have quite a few so below is my top ten:
  1. Return to school - that is covered, my MS of Health Communication program starts January 18th at my alma mater , Boston University.  Trying the online route, we will see how it goes!
  2. Complete my 1st Ironman 70.3 - I am registered and have 9 months to train for this one.
  3. Be more aware of the foods I eat - a wise friend said "if it can go bad, it is good for you" - referring to fruits, vegetables, fresh foods etc.  Thankfully a wonderful new market opened up walking distance from my house: The Art of Healthy Living.  Never thought I would hear myself saying, "boy, that blueberry hemp "iScream" is to die for"  but I have.
  4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  This is a tough one.  I am really referring to the material things in my life of which I have many and really do not need.  I have started paring down, donating many items to the local church thrift shop, the Lupus Foundation,  and Goodwill.  I admit I feel better with more open space.
  5. Go electronic.  By go electronic I mean lose the day planner.  I have a blackberry, an iPhone and thanks to Santa, an iPad.  I am determined to transfer my hard copy calendar to my iPhone and so far have gotten through March...  more typing to go!
  6. Stretch more.
  7. Take time to do nothing.  Another tough one, but I am learning it is okay to just stay home.
  8. See all the films nominated for best picture BEFORE the Oscars - working on this one having seen The Fighter and Black Swan so far...
  9. Try one new thing a month.  (I have to have some fun!)  In January I will be trying snowshoeing for the first time as I join "Hey Snow Sister" for the 2011 Romp to Stomp 5K.  My friend Jess will be joining me as we snowshoe in the breast cancer awareness fundraiser.  I look forward to joining my friend Jim and his daughter - Jim is team captain - they know first hand why this disease needs to be wiped from the planet.
  10. Procrastinate less.  Another tough one as I said to myself..."hmm, have not blogged in awhile - putting the holiday decorations in the attic can wait a bit....)  I really mean "Carpe diem!" with this one for if not now, when?
Happy New Year all - I hope 2011 is a year filled with love and good health and for me, another 358 days ( I had mentioned a week has already flown by?!!!) to appreciate this thing called life.