Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Version of Mom's Story

As I mentioned in one of my first blogs, my sister and I - Team Rose Buds got our inspiration for participating in the 3-day walk to honor our mom, Rose, who was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 12 years ago. Looking back at mom’s battle she was truly a “Pink Warrior” because she did as most moms do and didn’t want to worry her children. 

In November of 1998 mom’s insurance was about to run out, and she decided before it ran out she needed to get a mammogram that was a few months overdue.  I really think she had a guardian angel pushing her in that direction knowing what the outcome would be. Because things happened so quickly, I don’t think it really sunk in when mom called and told us the news-she had breast cancer.
Mom’s cancer was detected early because of her screening mammogram.  She had a pencil-eraser size lump, and the biopsy that followed confirmed it. Mom’s doctor’s moved quickly to get her treated. Within a couple of weeks mom had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal as recommended by her physician.

The day of her surgery was a blur-I remember praying before her surgery, and no matter how strong Michele and I tried to be for mom that is when we lost it. Of course, mom straightened us out real quick and said it was going to be alright. Then I remember sitting in the waiting room with lots of other people until we got the word she was out of surgery.  After that Michele and I went to the cafeteria to pick at eat lunch and call our brothers and aunts and uncles to let them know the surgery went as well as expected. We then visited with mom for a little before letting her get much needed rest.

Originally, the doctor’s discussed doing out-patient surgery but because of mom’s diabetes they kept her overnight.  We took her home the next day, and mom being mom sent us back to our homes, which were about 90 miles away, to be with our families. I went and visited with my mom the next weekend. Mom was a real trooper- within two weeks of her surgery she had to attend a wedding that she was expected to do way more than she should have been doing, but mom being a good step-mother did what she had to.

A few weeks later mom began radiation. Mom being mom, of course, would not let on to us how tough things were for her.  Mom did have the support of a friend Helen who was also a breast cancer survivor. But mom doesn’t like to impose on others and later we found out many times mom would drive herself to and from radiation, and she now retells of story about finishing radiation treatments up and had to take her shoes off to walk to the car because she was so weak and exhausted she didn’t have the energy to lift a shoed foot off the ground.  My heart aches at what mom endured.

 As I have grown, matured, and I am no longer a prisoner of my life, I realize mom truly did battle this alone, and I am very grateful she had the attitude that “I have cancer; it doesn’t have me.”  Her attitude makes her the perfect picture of a PINK WARRIOR, even if pink isn’t one of her favorite colors; we are working on that, aren't we Michele?  :)

It is now Michele's and my opportunity to do something for our mom, but we know what Team Rose Buds will endure in the 3-day 60 mile walk is nothing compared to what mom has done for us! Thank you, Mom, for fighting "the fight." We are so blessed to still have weekly phone chats, and since we are older and wiser we know the difference between alright and ALRIGHT. Michele said she is happy  and grateful  your grandchildren have the opportunity to know and love their GRANNY!

We love you, MOM! 
 Mom with Lulu - the youngest grandchild.

Hugs and blessings,

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Heidi's Training Walk

This morning many fellow walkers are attending 3-Day Training Walk Kick-offs. My sister/teammate Michele attended the one in Tampa,and since Atlanta's is in two weeks, I thought I would chronicle my morning walk.

I live on the summit of a small mountain in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeast Georgia, so my training walks may differ from many fellow 3-day walkers, including my sister who often walks near the Gulf Coast Beaches.

This morning I donned the pink 3-Day t-shirt and bright pink hat, gooed up my feet with Vaseline, laced up the shoes, strapped on the lumbar pack, loaded the water, grabbed the camera and pepper spray, and away I went. The first 0.3 of a mile is all down hill-pun intended.

At the bottom of the hill, I then turn left and walk for 0.6 of a mile.

This part of my walk is on a gravel road with many small ups and downs, sprinkling of houses, yippie dogs, fields, and pastures. I was disappointed this morning when the pastures were empty-I think the owners have moved the livestock since the county is currently working on paving the road, and it is a dusty mess.

Once I reach the state road, I turn around and head back. About halfway back, I venture up a paved road, and when I reach the top, I turn around and enjoy the view, let my heartbeat settle, and enjoy the beauty of God's work.

I walk another 0.2 of a mile, and then make the journey back down and continue on the gravel road. By now people are beginning to enjoy this beautiful morning and the peacefulness of the county is muffled intermittently by leaf blowers and lawn mowers; however, it doesn't take long and the road ventures back into a peaceful state.

Continuing past the paved road I originally descended, I continue on for another 0.4 of a mile. This part of the walk is very enjoyable since it is full of the country homes, livestock pastures, cool spring morning breezes ...

Then I come to the dust monsters....

That is when the realization hits that I may have to give into to doing laps around the school track for several weeks until they get the road completed because it is a dusty mess and hard on the sinuses, but with patience and a few short weeks this too shall pass. Back to the present and venturing up heartattack hill.

On the walk up I have become acquainted with an unusual friend...

This is my friend Rocky. I can always count on Rocky to be there for me in the same spot, and although Rocky never makes a sound, Rocky always provides me with the support and encouragement I need to finish my walk up the hill to my home. Okay, I sit my out-of-shape rumpus on this rock to drink some water, catch my breath, and let my heart feel like it doesn't need to beat out of my chest, and after a minute or two I am ready to finish the climb up the hill.

 A couple more turns and home is in sight.

At this point I have two options: walk through the woods which would probably be quicker or continue on the drive. I usually opt for the drive, so I enjoy more of nature's beauty.

And the neighbor's purple irises.

 At last, I am almost there...

Once I reach the humble abode, I take my shoes off -realizing the Vaseline and dusty road created quite the mess of my socks.

Leaving the socks behind, I grab a bottle of water, and head to the back deck, enjoy the view, rehydrate, and give thanks for another great walk. Until the next time...

Hugs and blessing,

Monday, April 12, 2010

My 3-Day Teammate

 Michele and Heidi

An integral part of this life changing journey is sharing the experience with my sister Michele. For the last several years I had inquired about participating in the 3-Day. Michele and I had discussed it from time to time on our weekly phone chats. This year we both knew it was the year and a great way to celebrate Michele’s 50th birthday while doing something bold for all the women who have battled breast cancer, including our mom-Rose. So, Michele attended a Getting Started Meeting in Palm Harbor, FL, and a few days later I attended a phone interview since I live in the sticks Cleveland, GA. Registration fees were paid, and we are set to participate in the Tampa Bay 3-Day.

As I was walking on my training walk yesterday, I was thinking about "the cause" and that led me to think how I am blessed to have a very supportive sister, who has been there for me through many of life’s challenges and blessings. From a very young age, my sister had to share a room with me, and when I wanted a glass of water late at night, she was there to get it for me, and after she got it for me, I threw it on her. Why I did that-I don’t know, but I have never forgotten it. As we grew and she matured, her side of the room had Peter Frampton posters and mine had Holly Hobby. Although we were/are very different individuals, I don't remember having any major disagreements even though there is a six year age difference. Maybe she was so cruel to me that I blocked that part of my life out. That's right-I am the one who threw water on her.

Life went on, Michele moved out, our parents divorced, but we would still get together on the weekends, and often had girl’s day out filled with shopping and lunch. We were each other’s maid or matron of honors in our weddings. Then our families began to grow, but we still remained to be very close. In fact, I babysat Michele’s girls and she attended a Lamaze class or two with me, and when I gave birth to my first son Josh, she was there to wipe my brow, feed me ice chips, and cut the cord, and then Jake came along three years later, I could still count on her constant support, and again she was there with Mom to walk the halls with me, wipe my brow, and give me coaching. I truly don’t know how I would have done it without her love and support.

Life’s road had many twist and turns for me over the next ten years, including Mom’s successful battle against breast cancer. Often when others didn’t get me, Michele did. She never lectured me for making mistakes but only gave me unconditional love. In fact, I need to give her a lot of credit for the blessed life I live today. So, when I blogged the other day about Sacrifices and Support, I didn’t mention my biggest supporter and cheerleader.

My sister is truly my friend, and biggest supporter in life, and I am extremely grateful to be taking this life changing journey with her in the fight against breast cancer. Although we are 600 miles apart, we talk weekly, share creative ideas for the walk, and do happy dances as we get closer to our fundraising goals for Team Rose Buds.

Hope all the other 3-Day walkers will be sharing their journeys with a great supporter like my sis.

Hugs and Blessings,

PS. Okay, Sis, I will give you a piggyback ride for part of the walk as payback for throwing water on you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sacrifices and Support

The generosity of others is overwhelming. With every donation, my sister and I share happy dances proceeded by a flood of tears. The tears come from hope in finding a cure, faith the good Lord continues to give blessings , and love of others for their sacrifices and support.
Of course, the sacrifices are different for all of us. For my monetary contributors, I gratefully appreciate your donations, and as I have said over and over, without your generosity none of this would be possible. With the economy being the way it is I know every penny matters, so I appreciate the sacrifices you are making in order to support me in finding a cure for breast cancer.
In my job, I interact with college students, and as many realize students are on limited budgets. Thanks to my sister’s great idea of sweet treats, students and co-workers often stop by to purchase a bag of sweet treats for $1. I feel that this is a win-win situation. For one, the sweet treats are often needed pick-me-up snack. Second, it is a fairly easy way to make about $5 a day, and have been pleasantly surprised many days by having an extra dollar, two, or five in my jar. But the best reward for me is when someone sacrifices a few minutes out of their busy day to ask me about the fundraising, details about the walk, or shares a story about breast cancer. This often leads into my discussing how others can help in the fight against breast cancer without having to meet a fundraising goal by crewing or volunteering, and it is these discussions that really warm my heart and inspire along this journey.
As I proceed on this life-changing journey, I have come to realize how it is not only affecting me but the other members of my household. Many nights they have to smell the sweet treats baking. I will offer a tiny morsel taste of what I have cooked and tell them if they want more they have to buy them. It is mean teaches responsibility, but it works because on a couple occasions I have found $1 on the counter in the morning.  They also contribute by putting spare change in jar on the counter,  and I love it when the washer or dryer spits out some magic money for the jar-thanks to my son Josh for not checking the washer after he got done using it- I collected 52 cents today.
Josh has also taken a jar to work to place on the counter of Domino’s today, and upon a conversation with him yesterday, I discovered that he is sacrificing his tips for the cause by putting them in the jar.  My youngest son Jake’s sacrificing will come as my training gets more intense since I will have him join me on some of my walks, but I know he will be glad to since he suggested to Mark, my husband,  that I get some pepper spray to carry with me when I walk alone. Nice to know he is worried about his mom.  Of course a few days later, Mark had researched pepper spray and insisted that I ordered some.
As you may have figured out, Mark is  the kind of man that if I say I want or need something he makes it happen by making sacrifices. The sacrifices Mark has already made is overwhelming and our Already our discussions about boobies has changed from what it once was.  But, on a serious note, he also understands the difficulties of losing someone you love to cancer since he lost his mom to a long hard battle with ovarian cancer, and when I had a scare a few years ago, I think he realized then the importance of this cause to me and would be willing to do whatever is possible to find a cure for a breast cancer.
Finding a cure is what the 3-Day is all about because "everyone deserves a lifetime, " and I thank you for your support whether it is monetarily, with prayers, useful tips, or by reading my blog.  I can assure you that your sacrifices and support will NOT be taken for granted since they inspire me EVERY step of this incredible life changing journey.
Hugs and blessings,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trudy Runnels - A Single Mom, Sister, Grandma, and Courageous Fighter

When Michele and I first started discussing our3-Day walk, we were extremely grateful that all of the special women we know who have fought the battle are survivors. Unfortunately, a very short time later, we discovered that Terry T. Pinkham’s sister, Trudy, lost her battle against this horrific disease. The story below came from information from Terry. I can't thank Terry enough for sharing details of Trudy's story.

About Trudy
Trudy Runnels, a 45-year-old single mom of four children, with two still at home, and a new grandmother to an adorable grandson lost her battle on January 10, 2010.

Trudy was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 at the age of 29. It was a shock and it was devastating news, but with chemotherapy, radiation, a mastectomy, a fighting spirit and a positive attitude she fought it hard, overcame it and beat it. At the time, she was a single mother who had 4 children under the age of 11 to look after. In November 2008, she went to the doctor to see about a wheeze and a cough that wasn't going away with over the counter treatments. The doctor informed her of a dark mass in her left lung. With further tests and x-rays, they found that she had a grapefruit sized tumor in her left lung and a smaller one in her right lung. She immediately contacted the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and started traveling to the center in Tulsa, Oklahoma from her home in Dallas, Texas. Looking further and with more tests, it was revealed that she had stage 4 breast cancer that had metastasized to her lungs, thyroid gland, bronchial passages (left and right) and her brain. Even when battling the disease, Terry said Trudy was ALWAYS smiling and ready to laugh.

Trudy’s great sense of humor and fighting spirit was written about in this article dated April 2009:

Unfortunately, in August of 2009 that smile began to fade and the laughter that helped her along in fight also was gone. Terry said it was understandably so since Trudy was receiving daily treatments of chemotherapy and/or radiation, and was finding it hard to even get out of bed. Due Needless to say, Trudy couldn’t work and Trudy's oldest son Cody has quit his job to help care for his mother.

Terry, being the older sister by 11 months, felt the need to help look after her little sister. Terry held fundraisers to help Trudy and her family with the mounting medical expenses. Terry said it was very difficult for her watch helplessly “as the monster and the treatments necessary to combat it ravaged her beautiful sister's body and mind.” Trudy Runnels, sadly, lost her battle on January 10, 2010.

Terry is still coming to grips with the loss of her sister. When I asked Terry if we could walk in memory of Trudy, she responded so eloquently stating, “I am very moved just at the thought of you even remembering my sister. She fought so hard and had such a great spirit and I miss her so much. It is an ache in my heart that is at times almost unbearable.

It makes me smile, and brings tears of joy when I hear of anyone who has fought cancer and is a survivor. Those of us who've lived through any experience with that horrible disease, well...we live in a different reality...a reality that is an ever-present reminder that at any time, our lives can be turned upside down again and every day, hour, every moment that we have as living, breathing humans, is TRULY a gift. I am very happy to hear that you still have your mom after being visited by that most unwelcome entity...cancer.

Trudy's children will also be very grateful and happy that you will include their mom in your hearts along with your mom, when you devote that weekend and especially her 3 daughters will be especially grateful knowing the above mentioned sacrifices that you are willingly planning to endure :-) !!!”

It is truly stories like Trudy's that give me the motivation and determination to do something bold in the fight against breast cancer.