Saturday, June 9, 2012

For Good

A friend of mine who knows how important this event is to me mentioned the lyrics of a song to me some time ago. I'm not much of a show tunes girl, so I hadn't paid attention to the lyrics before. After she told me, I listened to "For Good" from Wicked.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me 
Is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

So, race day is tomorrow and while tomorrow will be an uplifting, wonderful, meaningful day for so many of us, it is with a heavy heart that I post this last blog. Three very important, wonderful people who were the catalyst for tomorrow are going to be watching over us and we wanted to honor them by updating everyone about their families and letting everyone know how they continue to inspire us. Though these entries are difficult to read, please forge ahead. Because, while these women aren't with us right now, it's absolutely AMAZING how they touched so many people in their lives and continue to do so. If it weren't for these women, 600+ people wouldn't be showing up tomorrow at the 3rd annual F.A.B. 5k. What would they say if they knew they did that? I can imagine the smile on their faces. When you run or walk tomorrow, remember these women in addition to the people you are honoring by walking. If you are a woman with breast cancer, know how much you are needed, loved, and honored.  See you on race day!

Barb's Update

Today would have been my mom's 75th birthday.  So I want to start out by saying Happy Birthday Mom. 
When the four of us decided that we would give updates on our inspirations, I thought that it was a great idea.  Then I realized that it might be hard for those of us who have lost our inspirations, but really it's a good thing to get to talk about them.  Even though my mom is gone from this earth, she is with me in everything that I do, still inspiring me and all of us to keep doing what we are doing, for those that can't be here to  fight this battle called breast cancer.
There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about my mom, even though I know she is with me every day.  I wish I could talk to her, but know what she would tell me.  If there is one thing my mom taught me and anyone else who knew her, it was that her family was the most important thing in her life.  We didn't have a lot growing up with six kids, but we had more love in our house than anyone could ask for.  The most important thing for my mom was that all of us six of us got along.  She would have been devastated had it been any other way.  The thing is, it isn't just an act, the six of us truly love one another and want to be together.  She did that, she showed us how to love and what love can do.  We were actually all together last weekend, all six of us (and many more), for my nephew's graduation.  My mom was definitely with us, in all of us.  In two weeks my brother is getting married, we will all be there, she will be deeply missed, but we all know she will be watching.  
My mom not only loved us, but she loved everyone.  My neighbor who I grew up with sent me an email on mother's day.  She said that while in church they mentioned mom's who aren't your actual mom, but who loved and treated you like you were one of their own and she said that was mom my to a "T".  It made me feel so good that two years after my mom passed away other people still think about her and appreciate the love she shared.  
I recently started reading a blog and she always says that LOVE WINS, my mom felt the same way.  

Don’t cry because it’s over; Smile because it happened! - Dr. Seuss

I came across a picture of my mom, myself and Charmaine crossing the finish line at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2008.   She looks as proud of me as my own mother.  It was one of many “finish lines” we crossed together in her lifetime and I guess in away doing the F.A.B. 5k is just another way of me getting to cross a “finish line” with her.  

The Dr. Seuss saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over; Smile because it HAPPENED!” is so fitting for Charmaine.  I was very lucky because her last two years she moved closer to her doctors, which meant closer to me.  I was able to swing by and make her lunch, check in on her, occassionally take her to the doctor.  I was able to give my girls some great memories with her.  I am grateful that “happened”.  Charmaine is the reason I am who I am today and not just her disease but the person she was.  She was a positive loving and caring person.  No matter who she talked to she always made them feel special and I smile because that “happened.”  As a family we can’t believe we go on but we do.  And when we remember her, we smile through our misty eyes because she “happened” to us!

The Gift Of Watching Your Kids Grow Up

Sarah would have turned 41 the day after this year's F.A.B.5k if we hadn't lost her 1.5 years ago after her long struggle with breast cancer.  Although Ben, Sam and I have learned to let life carry us forward again, do you know when grief still often overcomes me?  It's when I see how much the boys have grown and matured since Sarah was last with us.  I'm so proud of them, and so amazed at how they are developing in character as well as in size.  One of the most difficult things that Sarah faced in that last month was the heartbreak of not being able to see our boys grow up and be a part of their lives.  That fear was the first one she gave voice to after hearing the cancer diagnosis 5 years earlier, and I think it was one of the hardest things to accept in our difficult journey together.  Now, when I look at how big Ben and Sam are getting, I am reminded of what Sarah has already missed in seeing them grow up, and what the boys are missing in having to grow up without their mother, and what I miss in being able to share that parent's pride and amazement with the only other person who could truly share it back.  I'm still amazed at the courage Sarah showed during the toughest times of her struggle - despite facing this loss, she poured all the love she could into our boys even when they couldn't fully understand how precious that love, and the time we had left, was.  With a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I'm remembering how she said to Ben and Sam in her "last video" that she would always love them.  Her love greeted them as they entered the world, it shaped and nurtured them in their early years, and I hope in some way she can still send her love to sustain the boys as they grow up...
Cancer took Sarah from us, and it does the same for so many other moms who have to face leaving their children behind.  If this terrible disease can be beat, if a cure can be found... then we have to help in any way we can!  Let's support the F.A.B. 5k and raise money for breast cancer research.  Join us on 10 June for the F.A.B. 5k race! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Seize the Day

Written by: Jenny Parr

I am happy and fortunate to report that my mom, Sandy Parr, is approaching the 2 ½ year mark of remission! Although Sandy’s battle with breast cancer was the most difficult time in both her and her family’s lives, she has triumphed with a newfound “seize-the day” attitude. So much so, that this past year Sandy has been fortunate enough to pursue her dreams of traveling to New Zealand, driving to Colorado, going hot air ballooning, and even has planned to complete her first “mini” triathlon in mid June! Sandy is truly an incredible woman, mother, wife, and friend.

Although I am blessed to speak so positively of Sandy’s health, I have been reminded very much of how suddenly cancer can spread its poison. This past year, my best friend’s mom, as well as my dad’s aunt, have been affected by breast cancer. Both women have consequently had to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and double mastectomies.  While we are constantly reminded of the hardships cancer plagues on women, we must never forget to seize the day with strength, confidence, and courage. I <3 You Mom

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Oh The Places Noreen Goes...

2012’s F.AB. 5k finds my good friend Noreen still in the battle.  However, this has not stopped her.  I have called or texted her this year to find her traveling to San Diego with her family, off on a cruise, hiking in the forest, or heading into the city for treatment, yet again. She is active in her son’s classroom when she can.  In other word’s, she is balancing.  Balancing the world of motherhood with the world of chemotherapy.  Noreen writes in her CaringBridge page that despite her setbacks this year she feels "stronger than ever":
“Funny thing though. I have never felt stronger.
Despite all the bad news, chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments and procedures, I am standing and I am fighting. It is truly amazing to me that while I surely cannot leap tall buildings, I am able to endure the punches from such a formidable foe.”
Noreen continues to fight and continues to live life.   She will be at the 2012 F.A.B. 5k with her family. Noreen is an inspiration to me everyday and everyday I am proud to say she is my friend!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

52 5k's for a Cure!

All it takes is one person to ignite inspiration….and Melissa Preston has done that for me in the last week.  The F.A.B. 5k received an email from Gordon Carter, Melissa’s boyfriend, a week ago.  Gordon introduced us to Melissa and her quest of raising money for the American Cancer Society.  In late 2011, Melissa devised a plan to run 52 5k’s in 2012.  As Melissa pledged to run these 5k’s, she matched the entry fee as a donation to the American Cancer Society and has encouraged her family and friends to do the same.  As of June 1st, she has run 23 5k’s across the U.S. and even abroad.  Melissa has almost reached her initial goal of raising $10,000 and because of this, she has decided to up the ante for the races on the back half of the year and go for $20,000 in 2012!  We are thrilled she has decided to join us for her 25th 5k at the F.A.B. 5k on June 10th!

I was able to speak with Melissa for few minutes and get the back story....

Melissa had a chance encounter to start up her running career in 2011.  While she was walking with a friend, they walked into a 5k in progress.  Thinking why not join in the fun, they joined the race for a bit and enjoyed the experience.  Melissa picked up running shortly after that and dove in head first into the 52 5k’s plan.  What inspired Melissa to do this was her experience of a number of friends being directly impacted by cancer:  “It starts to hit home in your thirties when virtually all of your friends have been touched by cancer in one way or another in their lives – it’s exhausting.  And I was determined to find a way to make a bigger impact instead of small donations here and there”.

Melissa lives in Reston, Virginia and she travels frequently for work, so she is fitting these races in wherever she geographically can.  Each 5k is run in someone’s honor and you will find Melissa posing with her friends and family post race for a photograph with a poster that states the race number and who she has run it for.  And an Irish pub is usually sought out for post race refreshments.  The F.A.B. 5k team recommended Peggy Kinnane’s  for this one ;)!

If you are interested in learning more about Melissa’s adventure, check out her fundraising page: 
Or her facebook community page –’52 5k’s for a Cure’

We look forward to meeting you on race day, Melissa!  Congratulation on your efforts to date and we wish you the best of luck for the rest of 2012!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Inspiration Updates - Part 2

Julie’s Update: Julie’s story is a happy one.  Julie has always been the one prepared but being prepared for her own breast cancer diagnosis was not something she even saw coming.   However, when she detected a lump she was prepared, having been to the surgeons and the oncologists with Charmaine all of these years.  Nothing was beyond the realm of possibilities.  After chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction, I am happy to say that Julie is approaching the 4 year mark of remission.  She continues to work, visit her boys at school, and enjoy life and travel with my brother-in-law Tom.  

Julie continues to be my inspiration everyday and its mostly because of the small things she does:  challenging herself to drive on expressways, being there for my daughters’ recitals, running a 5k (2011 F.A.B. 5k) and continuing to help Charmaine’s kids by being their aunt, friend and advisor when they need it most.  Julie is a one-of-a-kind sister and I am extremely proud to say she is one of mine.

Janet has celebrated 8 years of remission from breast cancer! She celebrated her remission and 70th birthday by cheering Melanie and me on at the 26.2 with Donna Breast Cancer Half Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida.  She stood on the side of the course, proudly wearing her survivor bib as participants cheered her on as they ran past. She has enjoyed watching the F.A.B. 5k and basking in the feelings of love and support for her and others who are fighting breast cancer. It was her first 5k ever and enjoyed every minute of it! She remains vigilant about her mammograms and periodic check ups, but doesn't dwell on what  might happen. She enjoys working as a tour guide at a plantation outside New Orleans, spending time with friends and my dad, and enjoys her "grand babies" as much as time and distance will allow. She has always been a source of inspiration for me and I have learned the true definition of perseverance from her. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Inspiration Updates – Part 1

Because the energy of the F.A.B. 5k is driven by all of our inspirations both past and present, we wanted to provide some quick updates on these wonderful women.  Read on!

Tiffany Majors
I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago around my 29th birthday. The last two years have been a somewhat of a blur, with 4 surgeries, various embryo banking/IVF procedures, 5 months of chemo and 33 radiation treatments. As tough as the last two years were though, I somehow feel extremely lucky. I feel lucky that I was able to overcome such a difficult time. I feel lucky that I got (and still get) to see the absolute best come out in all of my friends, family, colleagues and other supporters. And most of all, I feel lucky that I was able to realize what’s really important in life. I’m happier today than I have ever been and plan to continue smiling for many years to come.  Thank you ALL for your support, especially my wonderful friend, Heather!
From Heather Albright, Tiffany's friend:  I cannot comprehend everything Tiffany has gone through over the past two years and is still going through, but as a friend it is so wonderful to see how she has been able to put the experience behind her and move on with her life.  Tiffany has always been someone who lights up the room when she enters it and who people gravitate towards, and it is such a relief to see that breast cancer did not change that one bit! Love you Tiff!
Christine Campbell
My Mom is a three time breast cancer survivor over the course of now 20 years, with her last treatment for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma completed in Spring 2010. Since that time, Mom has been on the road back to health – ramping up her walking routine, joining the local gym, growing out her beautiful blonde locks, tending to her vegetable and perennial gardens and enjoying the early years of semi-retirement with my Dad.   I know Mom is so happy to feel healthy again, but I realize for her there is always a slight undercurrent of ‘could this happen again?’  I can tell that Mom does not let this thought bother her, though, because she lives her life full steam ahead! 
I do have a great story to share.  Since her last treatment two years ago, Mom and Dad have been able to fit in three awesome cruise vacations.  One of which was to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on a 10 night European Cruise.   On one of their shore excursions, Mom and Dad were walking in some of the village towns on the coast of Italy.  The sidewalks and paths are not too smooth and as a result Mom took pretty brutal fall – enough to have the bone break through skin on her hand.  A rather ugly injury for a vacation in a foreign country.  Mom and Dad made their way back to the Cruise ship hospital.  Once the doctor examined it there, he was surprised they did not try to find onshore hospital because of the extent of the injury.  Mom and Dad did not want to miss a minute of their vacation and besides, what is a little hand injury compared to cancer – Nothing.  Mom was raring to go see the Vatican the next day – there was nothing that would stop her from seeing that.  A part of me has to think that her experience with Breast Cancer has given my Mom more of a ‘can-do’ attitude – which is awesome and I admire that.

Mom will be joining us again the 3rd annual F.A.B. 5k – taking her 7th grandchild for a 5k stroller ride. Here’s to many more beautiful cruises, Mom….I love you!