Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Night in New York, Cassandra Rocking Cancer

May 19, 2012 was the grand finale of the Leukemia and Lymphoma's Society Man and Woman of the Year event.

Getting ready to rock blood cancers

It was wonderful evening, filled with hope and inspiration. 

The fourteen men and women who took on this challenge to make a difference in the fight against blood cancers, raised over $280,000.

Marc Paolicelli,, 2nd from left, Kelly Barr-Orr,3rd from right, Man & Woman of the Year

The boy and girl of the year stole the show as the candidates walked across the stage to receive a hand made gift made by Jack and Taylor.

I thought Cassandra looked absolutely stunning in her dress.  She told me she was nervous, but it never showed.

I am so proud of this young woman, for who she is in the world.

I am so grateful that she came into my life, that we are friends.

I don't know what the ripple effect will be of Cassandra's efforts.  Who else will be inspired by what she is doing?

Who else will see this as a call to action, to get involved, to make a difference?

Cassandra met the son of a current board member at the Man and Woman of the Year Kickoff event. Michael(16 years old) is a confirmed candidate for next years campaign. Ripple #1.

Cassandra, Ralph and Michael

I introduced Cassandra to Rick Peterson who was sitting at our table.  Rick, a former president of our chapter board of trustees was blown away by Cassandra.  His mouth dropped when I told him she was fifteen and a freshmen in high school.

Rick's daughter is a cancer survivor.  Allison was a girl of the year for our chapter.  She has graduated from high school and is now attending nursing school.

Rick told me he now wants Allison to run as a woman of the year candidate for the Rocky Mountain Chapter.after she finishes college. He had never thought about that as a possibility before for Allison.  Ripple #2.

What ripple effect will Cassandra have in the lives of Taylor and Jack?

What will it mean for my friend Brittany to have Cassandra in her life?
Cassandra and Brittany(11  year AML survivor)
I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to recognize two people who contributed greatly to the richness of this journey for both Cassandra and myself.  Two incredibly compassionate and loving women.  The world needs your art.

Thanks to Kim Mailhot(A.K.A the Rock Fairy) for donating her time and talent and spreading love into a world that so needs her message.  "Love is the answer to every question."~Kim Mailhot

Thanks to Laurie Maves for donating her time and talent in creating a beautiful painting she made for Cassandra that was auctioned off at the gala.

Friends sharing a special moment

Ralph,  Cassandra, Laurie and Dustin
For me one of the things that I hoped would come out of this campaign would be in planting seeds of inspiration.     That other young people could see what was possible when you say yes to a challenge, when you say yes to your own life.

I hope that message is heard and understood by everyone.  Everyone can serve, everyone can make a difference.  You just have to take that first step.  Follow your heart.

I knew Cassandra already was living a life of service before I asked her to run as a woman of the year candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Cassie, thanks so much for believing that we can create a world without cancer, for standing in that space of creation and possibility.  Thanks for your courage, your compassion, your kindness. The world needs this. The world needs you to be you!

 A heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.  How does it get any better than that?

"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."~Martin Luther King

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Color Run

I ran the 5K Color Run yesterday at City Park,the happiest 5K on the planet!
Beautiful City Park Skyline

Yes. This was the most fun I have ever had waiting for a race to start.  The energy at the starting line was incredible. 

Adults dancing, laughing, celebrating.  It was like being at a rock concert.  We did the wave from start to back of the corrals, thousands of runners.   

I lined up near the front.  I went off in the first wave of runners.  There were still thousands of people waiting to cross the start line when I finished.  It probably took 45 minutes or longer to get everyone across the start line. 

Once the running started, it felt pretty much like any other road race with one exception.  There were 4 color zones on the course and as we ran through the color zones, we were sprayed with different colors, red, blue, yellow and green. 

The last color zone was green and that seemed to be the dominant color on my once white shirt.  I felt like I had been greenified like the wicked witch of the west, Elpheba. 

At the finish line festival every 10 minutes there would be a color throw.  Each runner had been given their own color packet to throw in the air.  

A rainbow of colors filled the air. Some four legged friends got in on the fun. 

What happened to my paws?

Color Run Warriors!
Pretty cool, 10 thousand people, playing like kids. 

Children have it figured out. What would be possible for us in our lives if we played full out all the time?  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Who is your light saber?

Do you have a Jedi knight in your life?  

Who carries a light saber for you? 

In the Star Wars trilogy there is much talk about the power of the force, especially the dark side.  

What does the light saber symbolize?   

To me it represents power.   Light side Jedi knights use their power to help others.   The light saber is used to defend, not to attack.  It is only used for good.

“You can’t win, Darth. Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”~ Obi Wan Kenobi

This is my favorite line from any of the Star Wars movies.  I replace the word Darth, with cancer. That is my message to cancer, from Kelly.  Cancer never wins.  Kelly's life is so powerful....

In an epic battle between good and evil, a lightsaber climax ensues between Darth Vader, and his former teacher.  Obi Wan understood the power of the force and  illustrates the inherent weakness of the dark side of the force, that in using it for evil, they fail to see its true power.

When I first talked to Cassandra about running as a woman of the year candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I gave her a blood cancer freedom fighter rock that was left over from when Laura and I ran the Paris marathon for Kelly. 

The word on the back of the rock was "powerful".  I asked Cassie to pick up her light saber, to be a global voice for a world without blood cancers.  I knew she would be a powerful advocate for this cause. 

Inspiring messages from the Rock Fairy
I have no doubt that Cassandra would use her light saber to protect and defend Taylor and Jack, the girl and boy of the year for  the Rocky Mountain chapter. 

Taylor, Cassandra, and Jack at the grand finale. 
And for the last ten weeks of her campaign and in the weeks leading up to it that is exactly what she has done.  She has stood for the possibility of a world without blood cancers, a world for Taylor and Jack to live in. 

She has used her light saber to defend Taylor and Jack against the evil and unrelenting nature of cancer. 

The dark side of of cancer will attempt to discourage those that take up the fight. 

I think this would be Cassandra's message to cancer as she begins a new chapter in her life as a blood cancer freedom fighter.  

"Never. I'll never turn to the dark side.  I'll never give up. You've failed.  I am a Jedi, like the freedom fighters before me.

2011 Woman of the Year candidate, Catherine(16,far left) with Cassandra

Never Ever Give Up!
My message to Cassandra is one of heartfelt gratitude for honoring the possibility that we can live in a world without blood cancer, that we can all make a difference for one another. 

Thank you for being my  light saber, for becoming a powerful ally in the fight against blood cancers. 

Thank you for your friendship, for your support, for being a stand for my life. 

For me, you will forever be the 2012 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year.
My Woman of the Year!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thank Heaven for my little girl

Dear Laura,

Twenty five years ago today, you came into our lives.

A day much like today.  Blue skies.

I played 9 holes of golf with my Dad that morning.

Today I went for a run not far from where I played golf that morning.

Your mommy and I were at the medical center this morning where you were born.  Strange, somewhat similar and so much has changed.

We live in the same house that we did when you were born.

Mommy and I lived with there with our dog Erin and our cat Shasta.  She was a friendly kitty.  Imagine that.

Today we had lunch at East Cafe, a birthday cake at home with 25 candles.

You blew them all out with ease.

23 years ago, we lit the candles over and over again and sang Happy Birthday to you.  You would blow out the candles, clap your hand and say "Do again."

So we did.

Many times.

Memories of that moment, etched into my mind forever.

Adam graduated from high school when you turned 21.

Reenacting the FAU Tipsy Table :)

You actually ran a 5K on your birthday when you were 23.  Yes, you did!  I looked it up.

Thank goodness, Vicki tricked you into running your first Bolder Boulder the year before.

Two years later we ran a marathon in Paris together.

I have lost track of all of the 5K's we have run together and each one is a special memory.

Swim meets beginning at the Aurora YMCA.  Who knew what that that first summer of swimming would bring to your life?

So many high school and MACS swim meets.  Hours spent at the pool to watch you compete for 1 to 2 minutes.

Holding my breath watching you race against the clock to get your sectional qualifying times.

I can't swim 15 yards of butterfly.  You could slice through the water, looking so fluid and powerful.  Wow, what a pair of shoulders you had.

I remember riding our bikes all the way past the Paul Beck Center when you were a little girl.  We rode over 20 miles that day.  You always were a distance athlete.

Now I can't keep up with you on the bike.

Do you remember your first Bronco game?   I think it was in 1994 or 1995 against the Atlanta Falcons. Would anyone be surprised to know you wore a pink coat to the game?

We have gone to Yoga classes together.

We watched Kelly graduate from high school together.

It has been seven years since you graduated from high school.  Almost seven years since sob fest of 2005.

Seven years since you ran a 5K in San Francisco in the only flat spot in the city and couldn't walk the next day.

We watched this movie the night before you left for your freshman year in college. We used to joke about this line from the movie, "you have a daughter?"  Well we thought it was funny.  I think you would roll your eyes.

Thank heaven for little girls
Thank heaven for them all
No matter where
No matter who
Without them
What would  little boys  their daddy's do?

I am so proud of the person you are and have always been.  I am blessed that you are my daughter as well as my friend.

I love you.

Happy Birthday on your special day.  Now no jumping from moving objects this year :)  K?  K!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blood Cancer Freedom Fighter Wars

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

Blood Cancer Freedom Fighter Wars

Episode IV
A New Hope

It is a time of new hope in the fight against cancer. 
Blood Cancer Freedom Fighters
striking from their hidden base,
have won their first victory against the evil Galactic cancer empire. 
During the battle, freedom fighters managed to steal secret plans that could
destroy the evil Empire.  
Pursued by the Empire's sinister cancer agents, Lady Nitro
races home aboard her starship, 
custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people 
and restore freedom to the galaxy
A world without cancer awaits....

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Graduation day

I attended my great nephew's graduation ceremony from preschool yesterday.

Keegan and Kristin
It was really inspiring to see these young boys and girls as they completed preschool, ending one chapter, beginning another.

The lyrics from Teach me Tonight  kept running through my head the rest of the day.

So here is to the preschool class of 2012.

Go out in your lives and be the amazing people you were born to be.  The world needs you!

"The sky's a blackboard high above you
And if a shooting star goes by
I'll use that star to write "I love you"
A thousand times across the sky." ~Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn-Teach me Tonight

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One foot in front of the other

I saw a dear friend at a coffee shop on Saturday.   Someone I have know mainly through running.  I don't know her real well and yet I care about her deeply.  She has been a big part of my life, a big part of the Denver running community.

I walked right past her the first time, did a double take.  She looked different.  I turned around and went back to the table where she was sitting.  It was her.

She stood up and we hugged.  I was so happy to see her.  I wasn't sure if I would get to see her again.  I wondered how she was doing.

I found out a couple of months ago there was a serious medical challenge to face.  I found out over the following  weeks that the challenge was cancer.  There was no other information, cancer...

She told me that her prognosis is not good.  Stage 4, small intestine cancer.  30% chance of survival.

There was a  60th birthday to celebrate on April 23.  Her doctors had told her she wouldn't make it to that day.

"My doctor's have written me off.  I will not let them put the punctuation mark on my life. That is up to God" she told me.

25 pounds lost since starting chemo treatments.

An Aurora police captain takes her to the chemo treatments. Takes the day off from work and stays with her the entire time, takes her back home.

She told me she still tries to walk 5 miles a day.  She doesn't care how long it takes her to do that.

She told a young man sitting with her how important it is in life to keep putting one foot in front of another.  So simple, so powerful.

She was going to participate in Cherry Creek Sneak on Sunday.  She knew she could walk a 5K.  She choose the 5 mile event instead.

"I am worried that I might fall tomorrow and I know that if I fall, someone will help me get back up."

She was serene in that knowing.  Someone will pick me up, someone has my back.  If I fall, someone will help me.

I felt tears welling in my eyes as we talked.  I loved her faith, her strength, her courage.

She asked about my family, she always does.

We hugged each other goodbye.  We said I love you to one another.

I felt sad.  Another person touched be such a cruel, heartless disease.

I felt so blessed that I had the chance to see her again.  Tell her how much she touched my life, she matters to me.

She is planning her next 5K event, End of Watch as a race director in late September.   She is moving forward, one foot in front of another...End of Watch 5K benefits police and fireman who are killed at the end of their watch.

I felt incredibly inspired!  Doctor's simply can't measure a person's heart.  Her conviction that only God could place the punctuation mark on her life was so strong.  Trusting she might fall and someone would pick her up.

I was watching one of my favorite movies yesterday(Saint Ralph) and loved these questions from Father George Hibbert.   If you have never seen the movie, fast forward to 3:30 of the video.

"Did you ever put it on the line?  Did you ever not know know and still jump?  Did you ever close your eyes and let go?"

Here is to not knowing and jumping, trusting someone will be there to pick us up if we fall.