Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comfy Cupboard

I took the day off from yesterday so I could attend a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Bone Marrow transplant unit at Children's Hospital.

When I ran the Denver marathon last fall, I had dedicated one of my miles to baby Melina, who died from Leukemia when she was ten months old. Ten months. Out of all the stories I have heard since I started with Team in Training 10 years ago, that is one of the most heart wrenching stories I have heard.

The Comfy Cupboard supplies items to families who have forgotten to bring something along on their hospital stay. It will have toothpaste, deoderant, cameras, journals, games, etc. The money that was raised at Melina's golf tournament was used to fund this project.

Melina's Mom cut the ribbon at the ceremony yesterday. It was a really special moment to see the spirit of Angel Melina at work.

Afterwards I was able to go visit Mighty Mason who happened to be at Children's Hospital. He had to go to hospital last weekend due to a fever. Mason was the team hero for the fall season. I had a nice visit with Mason's parents and enjoyed seeing Mason set his parents straight on a few issues. Mason is 6 years old.

Someday I hope the Comfy Cupboard has no use.

Until that day comes, this will provide comfort to a family that didn't have the time to pack everything as they rushed to the hospital with their child.

Angel Melina at work :)

Take that, Cancer!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

All LLS, all the time

I started my day off attending a LLS bi-monthly executive board meeting before going to work and attended a TNT information meeting after work.

That is my idea of a productive way to spend time before and after work.

There were probably about 35-40 people at the meeting tonight, which is one of the best turnouts I have seen at an information meeting in quite some time.

I got to talk with one of my cycling teammates that I rode with last summer. I was really happy to see Daniel. Daniel's wife is a Lymphoma survivor and he shared some of Leanne's story during the mission moment. No matter how long I have been doing this or how many different stories I hear, every one is unique, compelling. . .

I had been looking forward to tonight for the last two weeks. I had signed up to help at this meeting when I saw Daniel was going to present the mission moment.

It looked like a very productive meeting and quite a few people signed up tonight. Take that, blood cancer!

Unfortunately blood cancer continues on it far too productive and torrid pace. My friend, Shayna is preparing herself for the possibility of losing another person she loves to Leukemia.

When and where will this all end? I don't know.

I do know that Daniel, Shayna and I will keep talking and writing about this, raising awareness, recruiting more people to this cause.

All LLS, all the time. 30 new people. Take that, blood cancer.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mixed bag

I just realized that last Saturday was the first time since Kelly died that I didn't focus, didn't obsess about another month passing. I still thought about her on Saturday as there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her, but for once I didn't spend the entire day or the week leading up to it feeling sad. Saturday marked 10 months. I never dotted the I or crossed the T. That was the first time. A new milestone in this process.

When I realized that, I felt guilty. Was I being disloyal?

I don't want to let go of those feelings. I don't want to forget.

I think I have moved into a different stage of grieving right now. I think I am spending more time in the anger and bargaining stage. There is no clear progression to grief. I can feel angry and then immediately have feelings of emptiness, despair.

I went to church on Sunday and I couldn't pray. I felt angry and overwhelmed. My heart feels as if it is closing.

Kelly, Laiken, Patti, Dante.

I prayed for all of them, I know so many others had as well. I don't pretend to understand this, I can't.

Up and down, back and forth, confused, angry, hurt, sad, hopeful, grateful.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Celebrating with Brittany

Today Brittany Ross is celebrating 8 years of being in remission!

Brittany was diagnosed shortly before her sweet 16 birthday. It was a miracle she lived to see that birthday.

She was told she wouldn't graduate from high school, would never be able to attend college.

I think Brittany reacted to this challenge the same way Han Solo did in the Empire Strikes Back when told that the odds against successfully navigating an asteroid field were approximately 3,720 to 1.

"Never tell me the odds". Who does she remind me of?

So today, I celebrate along with Brittany.

I celebrate her friendship, the unconditional support she has given me. Brittany has been such an important part of my healing process this year.

I celebrate her health and her future as she begins a new and exciting part of her life.

I celebrate the hope that she gives me, to all of this who are in this fight to find a cure.

Keep celebrating Brittany, forever and always.

Friday, January 9, 2009

To Kelly on her birthday

Dear Kelly,

I was feeling kind of down this morning, missing you. I looked up and got a glimpse of an amazing sunrise. I stopped and took a picture although I know the little camera on my cell phone won't do justice to what I saw with my eye.

Your birthday has become one of my favorite days of the year, something I cherished. I went to a TNT info meeting the day before you turned 12, cried before a room of strangers as I wasn't sure if there would be another birthday.

I spent the afternoon at Henderson Elementary helping out at a Pennies for Patients assembly for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I was so glad they had an assembly planned on your birthday. I needed something to hold on to today. Something to make me feel hopeful, to honor you on this day.

The kids got a 5 minute lesson on blood cancer. The role of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

The kids brainstormed ideas about how to raise money. There was one girl that had such a sweet joyful smile. It was a smile that lifted my heart for a moment. Her smile wasn't as amazing as yours. There was a brief moment of healing.

I have so many special birthday memories. It is so hard to believe that fours years ago, Sue and I were in Arizona for the PF Chang Rock and Roll marathon.

Sue was so excited and happy to be doing her first marathon to honor you on your 16th birthday. I was running my 9th marathon for you on the 9th of January. It was a day to honor and celebrate your life.

I feel sad about some things we never got to do together, things I looked forward to.

I dreamed of dancing with you when you got married. I was so sure we would do that together.

I dreamed of our trip to New York we had hoped to take together last fall. I had planned on renting a tuxedo, picking you up at your hotel and taking you on a carriage ride in Central Park, taking you to a play on Broadway. We had a date.

I was sure there would be many more times we would see each other.

There are things that I am sure of, things that I trust.

I will always be your runner, even when I am no longer able to run.

You will be my hero, always and forever.

I will always be grateful for what you taught me, all you gave to me by being you.

I have so many rich memories to treasure because I knew you.

The trip to Disneyland in 2001. So many truly magical memories. One of my favorite memories is the last night when we had dinner at Milly's diner, just talking about our favorite part of the trip. We both had apple pie and ice cream for desert. I don't know why that sticks out. It just seemed like we had been friends forever sharing a quiet moment.

Being able to hug you at the end of the Calgary marathon. If I was smart I would have stopped running marathons that day. Nothing will ever top that moment for me.

Seeing you and Adam walk arm in arm on prom night during your junior year. I will always treasure that memory of the two of you together.

Seeing you graduate from high school.

All the trips to Seattle, being able to share in the experience of seeing you meet Emily.

Sitting next to you on your bed at the Ronald McDonald house as you showed me your scrap booking. Talking about the things you wanted to do in New York.

Hugging you goodbye for the last time and being able to tell you that I loved you.

This is a short part from the finale in Les Miserables. This always makes me think of you.

"And remember the truth that once was spoken, to love another person is to see the face of God".

I am forever thankful for that truth. I love you.

You are my hero!



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First learn balance then....

Ever wondered what it is like to be absolutely at peace with yourself and experience life’s simple pleasures with an open heart and quiet appreciation? If you can do this then you have found your balance.

In the movie the Karate Kid, Mr Miyagi stresses the importance of learning balance to Daniel.

This movie in an understated feel good way teaches one of the most important lessons in life.

First learn balance, then learn....

Balance is everything.

Athletic injuries are usually rooted in balance or really the lack of balance. If you have an imbalance one muscle compensates for a weaker muscle and boom, here comes an injury. I have strong hamstrings and weak glute muscles. Boom, now I have a hamstring injury.

I once lost my balance on my bike while at a complete stop, fell while clipped into my pedals and ended up with a frozen shoulder and a year of misery.

To be an efficient swimmer it is essential to find balance in the water. Struggle with balance in a pool and you waste a lot of energy just trying not to sink. I know this all too well. I excel at sinking. Next time you get a chance watch a good swimmer notice how their hips ride high in the water and they are able to swim with effortless power because they have found balance.

One of my goals this year is to learn balance. I need to learn balance so I can do the activities I enjoy. I want to run for the rest of my life. I want to live the rest of my life.

First learn balance then live life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Trooper Dante

Sigh. I started following Dante's cancer journey a couple of months ago.
Dante has a form of cancer called Nueroblastoma. His nickname at the hospital was Trooper and that is what everyone called him. Trooper Dante.
Dante is just a couple of months older than our great nephew Keegan. This morning Dante earned his angel wings.
Please keep Jo and Tony(Dante's parents) in your prayers.
If there is a daycare in heaven, Kelly has a neat little boy to take care of.

2002 Disneyworld marathon memories

7 years ago today I ran my 7th marathon for Kelly.

This marathon was run 3 days before Kelly's 13th birthday. A birthday she was not expected to live to see.

This was a marathon I should have stopped at the one mile mark, but I am not very smart.

What I lack in smarts, I make up for with stubborness and of course I had to somehow finish for Kelly. She didn't give up when the doctors said there was nothing to be done. When you run to honor someone like that, quitting is not an option.

I remember it starting to drizzle around the 12 mile mark. Running right by the finish of the 1/2 marathon and knowing there is still 13.1 miles to go. Not a fun feeling when you are having a bad day.

The drizzle turns into a downpour for 6 or 7 miles. It is raining so hard cars are pulling over as the winshield wipers can't keep up. The runners run on. That is what runners do.

The advil I am carrying in my shorts is totally dissolved by the torrential downpour. Looking back I realize how little I knew about marathon running. Taking ibprofen during the race is taboo.

Somewhere after the 20 mile mark, I remember thinking for the first time that I might be able to finish.

I am so happy to be able to stop running. My running shorts feel like they weigh 40 pounds. My socks are soaking wet. Amazingly I didn't get a blister.

I was so cold riding the bus back to the hotel.

I went shopping later that day to buy some birthday presents for Kelly at the Disney store. I don't remember what I bought. I am sure it was some Eeyore stuff. That was her favorite Disney character.

I remember writing a much more detailed recap 7 years ago for Kelly on her birthday. The tears I wept the year before were now tears of joy.

I sent her flowers that year for her birthday. She was so excited about that.

I always felt such a closeness to Kelly when I ran.

When I was in Seattle a couple of months later I gave her the marathon medal she had earned that day. She hung it on her IV pole at the hospital.

She's my hero forever and always!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Role Reversal

I am swimming. I can't run. I have swum the last two nights. Laura is jealous of me swimming. I think that is the first time someone has been envious of my swimming. Well it is not envy of my swimming ability.

Laura is running. She can't swim. Laura ran somewhere in California yesterday.

I think this is the first time we switched sports like this.

When will things return to normal? Of course Laura hasn't made a resolution not to swim. I must stick to my noituloser. I don't want to break one this early.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I have an interesting resolution to start the new year. It is the reverse of how one would normally set a resolution.

My resolution to start the year is to stop running.

Most of the time we wait for the new year to start to begin new things. It could be starting a diet, working out, taking a yoga class.

So in a sense this is a new thing for me. I waited for the old year to end so I could start by stopping.

For the first time since I started running I am actually looking forward to stopping for a while.

I can do some things I never do. Maybe I can even sleep in on a Saturday morning. What a concept that would be.

I can go to a Yoga class on Saturday mornings if I want to.

I can enjoy a snowstorm, if we ever get one and not worry about how that will impact my running.

For the last 10 years running on the weekends has been a way of life for me. Now I have to stop so I can start again.

It will be interesting see how long I can keep my noituloser this year.

Any suggestions as to how pronounce noituloser?

No it u loser
Noi tulo ser
Noit uloser
Noit ulo ser