Hockey and Dates

Today I was gifted four tickets to a University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey game. As a huge hockey fan, I cannot even begin to explain my delight at this. I have never been to a college level hockey game. Unfortunately, my boys cannot join me so I am taking friends.

While I was at the grocery store with my youngest son after school today we were joking about me looking for a date. He even asked a friend of ours and our checkout guy if they would be my date. He did not seem to care that our friend is married and the checkout guy has a girlfriend. Too funny.

At one point we were standing by a store employee who was giving out free brownie sundaes and he was still trying to convince me I needed a date, and he would find me one. He even asked the guy at the meat counter…he declined as it is his mother’s birthday tomorrow.

The lady said to him, “Aww, he just is worried about his Mama and wants her to be happy.”

I responded that he worried enough when I was sick, he should never have to worry about his Mama ever again.

Then he caught my eye…

A look of terror and dread and anguish flashed through his whole body. It rocked me to the core.

“Ya, I worried enough, I never want to worry like that again” was his reply as he moved closer and put his head against my arm and looked up at me.

“That’s legit buddy; I’m sorry.” I wrapped my free arm around him as we walked away, his head still leaned against me. What else was I supposed to say, what could I say? We walked like that in silence for a few minutes through the store, eventually easing back into conversation.

For a minute though, I saw it. I saw cancer in my young son’s eyes. I could see it written on his heart. He is nine years old. In a split second, I watched him age a hundred years. I watched him become a man, with a little boy’s broken heart.

Cancer will be a part of who my boys become as young men, as partners, as fathers, as leaders. I am so glad I get to guide them and raise them up!

Lord,

That fear I saw tonight…it was the first time I’ve seen it in a long time. I am so grateful that he had that moment with me, so he could be validated and comforted.
As we move further away from cancer and as I raise these young men up into Godly men; give me the patience, the strength, and the integrity to do it right.

Amen

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Please Don’t Pink for Me

Before breast cancer, I hated the color pink. Honestly…hated. I grew up as a tomboy and anything even resembling femininity was a no-go for me. Jeans, t-shirts, and ball caps.

I have no idea why, but when the pink ribbons came about I thought they were stupid and useless. To me it seemed like people were making a point to make it look like they actually cared…but only in October.

Then I got sick.

In October.

Now, every year as my cancerversary comes up, I am attacked with pink ribbons EVERYWHERE on EVERYBODY. For those who have dealt with a cancer diagnosis, you may understand the anxiety laden time or the PTSD symptoms that pop up around the time of year you were diagnosed. The last thing you want to be reminded of is just how sick you were and that everybody and their dog is now (for 31 days) supporting some pink ribbon campaign somewhere.

Before cancer, pink was my oldest sons favorite color. He only has one shirt now that has any pink on it and he made it at Cancer Camp…otherwise, he stopped wearing pink three years ago. Overnight. He refused to wear his favorite sweatshirt, his favorite shirt. He was done.

I have gone the other way. My mostly black shoes have pink stitching…it has become a badge of honor for me. I have a t-shirt with a huge pink ribbon that says “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL.”

I guess for me it is about the other 11 months of the year. I wear my pink year-round because breast cancer does not just happen in October. People become more aware than they ever wanted to every day of the year. I thought I was aware.

I had no idea.

I had no idea how much I did not know.

About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.About 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.

About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. 

For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2017, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.

As of March 2017, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.

About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). 

http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

Did you read that?? A QUARTER OF A MILLION women will hear the words, “You have cancer” in ONE YEAR. Now think of her family. Spouse or parter, kids, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents…the list goes on and on. Millions of people have this disease just burst into their lives one day and are forever changed.

If you would like to pink in a manner that is meaningful to me, here are some suggestions with links to organizations that I support:

Pink for my cancer sisters who are stage IV which is a terminal diagnosis.

Pink for research.

Pink for my daughter who has a 50% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Pink for my sons who endured a hell I cannot even imagine as they watched their mom get sicker and sicker.

I have both pink ribbons and pink bracelets that are available and the funds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Contact me if you are interested. I have taken a permanent marker to mine and written on my children’s names, because I pink for them.

If you want to pink for me:

Pink in April when it is my birthday and I am here to celebrate another year.

Pink in December when I get to spend another holiday celebrating with my family.

But Please; in October.

Don’t Pink For Me.

What To Say

Another warrior discovered her cancer had metastasized to her bones a few weeks ago.  Her doctor ordered a brain MRI and she received the results today that she has three lesions on her brain.

I do not even know what to say. I am sorry sounds like a death sentence. When I think of what I would want to hear, I cannot even imagine.

I think the most logical, honest, heartfelt response for me would be, “Oh Fuck, now what?”

Seriously…because for women who have breast cancer that metastasizes, it means life-long treatment. It means facing the unknown and every fear you have faced since your initial diagnosis has been realized.

One lady said she feels such peace now. She had spent years wondering if and when it would show up again; now she knows and can make a treatment plan and move forward.

I would like to think I would also feel that way; but I am not that strong. Oh, I would look that strong on the outside, of that I am sure. On the inside, and at my Mommy’s house though, I would be a mess. A puddle of mush.

And when it was time to get to work, I would get to work. Maybe I would be like that. I am glad I do not have to find out.

Being healed has brought me a peace I had before I ever heard that ugly word; Cancer. I am different though. I no longer am able to be naive about my mortality. I am no longer willing to let simple symptoms go for more than a couple of weeks.

What if I had gone to the doctor when I first felt pain in my left breast? Would that have changed my treatment plan or outcome? I never want to be that close to death ever again. So from now on, if I have a pain, a twinge, a feeling something is not right, I will get it looked at sooner rather than later.

I may be healed yet I still take medications on a daily basis. My body tried to kill me once, I will do everything in my power, to not let that happen again. As I still have one natural breast left; I am still at risk.

My risk for a new primary cancer in my right breast is pretty slim; I get that. I also get that it was pretty much a fluke of nature (if I believed in such a thing) that I had it in the first place.

So difficult to put yourself in the shoes of somebody receiving such devastating news; I am blessed that I can though. I am thankful I know her well enough to ask what now and have her know she can share the details with me, they will not scare me away and I will not tell her to eat more carrots.

To my stage IV warriors, my friends; this sucks, and I’m coming along for the ride. Hang in there and you do you.

Lord,

I pray for all the metavivors out there, those I know and the ones I don’t. I pray for their medical team to be the best, I pray that the treatment decisions are sound and successful. I ask for relief from any pain or anxiety as they live their new life.
I ask for a miracle, for radical healing as only You can do.
Lord give me strength and courage to continue to grow these friendships and not back away. To not fade.
I praise You for my healing, God. For giving my another shot at life. For allowing me to serve you with grace and wisdom.
Amen

Always Training for Something

My dating life has been pretty much non-existent for over a year, maybe even longer than that! There was a guy who gave me his number this summer and we hung out quite a bit when the boys were in Canada but it was definitely a no-go as far as trying to make it into a relationship.

I used to joke with my friends about my very short deal breaker list; (he has to be a practicing Christian, over 30, have a stable job, and not live with his mother), it seemed to me that at my age finding those four things would be pretty simple. Then you just go out and do life and God brings you together and you work your butts off to live happily ever after. Right?

Yesterday my mood was sad and lonely. My kids are doing some real awesome things and I want a partner to share those things with. My baby started flag football, my oldest is knocking his social life out of the park at his new school. When I lay in bed at night, in those moments before I fall asleep, and when my eyes first open in the morning, I want somebody there with me, just as proud of them as I am.

Because this is hard.

We are still figuring out the new school and schedules and now sports is involved so there is the extra spinning in circles. Having back up on scene would sure help. Thankfully I have great back-up that I can call for transportation and other needs.

I whined yesterday that even crappy girls have boyfriends and I had no idea what I am doing wrong. I know they usually have crappy boyfriends and I know that when my life partner shows up all this belly-aching will seem ridiculous; but right now it is difficult.

I am working on treating this as no different that training for my marathon. Until Katie wrote about all my physical ailments, I had forgot about most of them. My knee I ended up getting a cortisone shot in August because the pain was unbearable, my busted finger healed, and prayer took care of my hip. Oh those bad hip days hurt so much…and my poor knee. If anybody else was telling the tale I would immediately claim I could not do all that.

But I did. I already skated with a bum knee and a broken finger and a hip that thought skating was stupid.

And I kept skating. Over and over again when I wanted to take the easy way out and use any one of my issues as an excuse to not skate…I kept going.

And I will keep living my life. I have no idea when this man God has planned for me will show up. I just believe that he will. I just know that I know he is worth the wait. And waiting is hard.

As we figure out life here with schedules, football, hockey, bowling, archery, homework, and life in general, I will walk close to Jesus as He holds my hand. I will do my best to spend each day joyful that I am even alive to have these concerns. When the time comes for a man to take my hand, he will also be walking hand in hand with God and we will all join hands together and keep walking.

I used to get a lot of backlash, although always lovingly, about wanting a boyfriend. I have been told I need to not want it, and that is not fair. Some people are okay with being single and staying that way. I am perfectly fine with being single; I just have no intention of staying that way.

The hard part of that is being intentional. I do not just want any man, I want the right man. So I can whine and cry over being single, or I can know in my heart that I am not settling for less than I deserve. Some days, I can do both. Because single is lonely.

Lord,
I have no idea what Your plan is for me; I’m not even asking to know. I would like to pray for this period of singleness to come to an end…but I’m not going to tell You how to do Your job.
Father, as you prepare myself and my partner for each other, can you please calm our weary hearts. Fill them with Your presence when we begin to question our worthiness.
Remind us that this is actually the easy part and the real work starts when we are together. Whisper in our ears that we don’t want to wish this time away because there is meaning in it as well.
I lift up the homework situation in our home to You; help me help him and fill his love tank as he struggles.

Amen

Matching Shirts

Part two from my very first guest blogger, Katie. She sent both of these writings Sunday as I was getting ready for church. I have since read them over and over again.
 
Last night it hit me; we were only 27 minutes slower than Katie’s BEST time at NSIM. Here is our exchange:
 

Me:I keep rereading that we were 27 minutes slower than your best time…
Dang…I really killed it, didn’t I??

Katie:Heck yeah you did. You so did. And honestly, I kinda feel like a crappy friend cause I don’t think I’ve truly given you the credit you earned for this. I thought I did. But until Friday and Saturday, I didn’t understand how hard you actually worked to do what you did. Like I saw you put in the effort and I knew you did it, but I didn’t understand it. I didn’t feel it. And what I felt and understand now is still probably nothing compared to what you did.

M:You did more than enough…and I had actually forgot that more than half my training was injured…lol

K:Still, I have a different understanding now.

And it was a stick. There was a stick in my skate, I couldn’t see it until I took the wheel off. It wore almost all the writing off the side of my wheel.

Debbie: 😖

Part 2
Between June 19th and NSIM, I didn’t go more than 3 days without skating. Friday (yesterday) was my first day back on skates since the marathon. It was a 5 day stretch with out. It’s gonna be a long winter. 
Luke got home on Friday in time for me to skate, so I texted Debbie to let her know I was heading out and aiming for 10 miles in under an hour. I didn’t expect her to be able to join me, but it feels weird at this point to go for a skate and not at least let her know I’m going. Between a nasty sinus cold thing and my timing being just as kids were getting home from school, I just figured it wasn’t gonna work for her to join me. I was wrong. She responded with so much enthusiasm about going, I half expected her to beat me there. We made it one lap around Greenwood before we found ourselves doing hills of course. But after two consecutive laps of hills and a second lap around Greenwood, Debbie’s cold caught up with her and she was done. She left, disappointed like she gets when her body doesn’t do what her head says it should be able to do.
I stayed and reset my runkeeper so I could smash my 10 miles in under an hour. I was so ready for it! I got going and I wasn’t 2 miles in before my legs were on fire. Everything in my legs hurt. Muscles I didn’t even know were things hurt. I tried to stop for water at 3 miles and didn’t have the strength or functionality to brake (when the heck was the last time I needed water at mile three?? Like for real. How stupid is this?!) I slammed into my mirror and spun half way around the front of my van before I could hobble back for water. My skates felt like lead weights with every stride, but I managed to finish in 58:32. My 15th fastest. 
Saturday. I had high hopes of redeeming myself today. I got back on the pavement and it was deja vu. Only this time, it was my lower back that was throwing a fit and it was screaming. I stopped at mile three again (at least I could brake this time) for water and ibuprofen with dismal hope that maybe it would do something. Of course it didn’t. My feet were like led weights again and it took all of my concentration to make a decent stride. On mile 5 as I rounded the corner from the woodsy area into the wind, I was done.
 “Forget this, I’m done. This is stupid and I’m going home. I can be satisfied with 5 miles.” I said, out loud.  
“Once you quit once, then quitting always becomes an option…” Came the reply in my head.
Crap. I couldn’t quit. Well, actually I could. I, mean I wanted to. So bad. Who was there to stop me? Who would have really known the difference? And Luke would be happy to have me home earlier than planned.
“Debbie went from 0 to marathon in 88 days. Half them on skates with crappy wheels and shamefully awful bearings. And with a crappy knee. And a busted finger. And hip pain that made her count strides to keep going. A marathon in skates that hadn’t fit right from the beginning and she never complained about that until after the race…” My thoughts continued to argue me, some of them out loud.
“Nope. You don’t get to quit today. Not for this. You don’t get to make podium goals one day and then quit later just because your back hurts. Shut-up and skate.” So I didn’t quit. It sucked. But I finished my 10 miles and I did it in 57:55. My 12th fastest.
The me that used to skate by myself would have quit today. I would have quit and I would have missed the opportunity to shave almost a minute off my time from yesterday. I would have missed gaining the strength that comes from pushing myself. I would have missed learning I can still do it, even when it hurts like hell. That is why a friend with a matching finisher shirt isn’t a small thing for me. That is what I get from finishing in 2:52:30 together. 

We, Not I

Guest Post by Katie. She sent this to me this morning in two parts and it needs to be shared. 

Reading it brought me to tears as we have pushed each other harder than anybody has ever pushed us. 

Part 1
A week ago, we skated the marathon. We did it. 
Skating marathons is not new to me. I’ve done 4 of them officially, and one unofficially,  timed on my own at Greenwood Trails. NSIM 2017 was marathon number 5 for me and the third time on this course. But this was the first one I didn’t skate alone. Finally, I can say I have a friend with a matching finisher shirt. It’s a little thing, but sometimes little things can actually kinda be big things. And that is a big thing to me. 
The skate itself last weekend was- if I’m honest- not super challenging for me. The pavement was wet, so that added a little challenge, but not what it once was for me. This summer, we skated in rain and even through mud. Whatever fear I had of skating in the rain, that disappeared of this summer. I almost feel like we could skate through anything. I may have used my brake once or twice on a hill, but literally once or twice. Significantly less than I expected to, so that’s a win.
Our time was 2:52:30. We finished together. I’ve never shared a finish with anyone. But 2:52:30 is 27 minutes slower than my best time for NSIM. If I’m honest again, a little part of me was a bit disappointed in my time. I was surprised I felt that way, but to say I didn’t would be a lie. I know I could have gone faster. After all the skating I’ve done this summer, part of me wanted to know if I could have beaten my old time and by how much. It really kills me to admit that, even though it’s true. But we were there to do this skate together. If together meant 4 hours and crawling up every hill on our hands and knees, then so be it. Sign. Me. Up. Because finishing this together is what actually mattered. And that’s what we did. I don’t see 2:52:30 as “my” time or Debbie’s time. It’s our finish time.

Work To Do

Well, now that I have made it Facebook Official it is time to let you in on my plan. I have two major inline skating goals for next year.

  1. Complete three full marathons
  2. Stand on the podium

The first will be Apostle Islands Inline Marathon in Wisconsin on June 16, 2018. Apparently this is an easier one than the NorthShore Inline Marathon. There are less entries at this event, making it more likely to get up on the podium. In my age category last year, only two of the entries finished the race; so if things are the same next year, all I have to do it finish. I can do that.

This will also be the most expensive of the three. It is the farthest from home and will require at least one night, preferably two nights in a hotel, plus meals.

The second one will be in Grand Forks, ND. This will be the least expensive as we will only pay race fees and can travel there and back on race day as well as pack a lunch. I am most looking forward to this one I think because we have friends there who can cheer us on. Podium or not; it is going to be a fun one.

The third, and the one I would have to work extra hard at to be on the podium, is back to the NorthShore Inline Marathon. I was told after the race that for a beginner, this would not be the ideal introduction to inline skating marathons. Well…go big or go home I guess. Just increases my likelihood of  becoming a successful skater. Finishing 279/293 in overall women and 25/27 in my age category, I have a lot of work to do.

My first focus will be staying in shape through the winter months. I need to significantly increase my leg strength and flexibility.

My skates are almost two sizes two big and although they work, they are not ideal. I am giving this one to God. To get new quality skates, I am looking at a few hundred dollars. My priorities are far from new skates at this point in my life. They are noting more than a Big Ask prayer.

We will continue to raise funds for charities as we skate. There will be fundraisers next year instead of just word of mouth and social media shoutouts six weeks prior to the race. Things moved very fast this year; next year we will be more prepared.

It is also our hope to increase in the number of people skating with us. This would cut down on transportation costs as we could travel together and share the cost.

As we continue on this amazing journey, we are thinking about looking for local sponsors to help with costs. In return, they would get a spot to place their names on our shirts as well as social media and press release shout-outs. I know we are just two women…but we are blessed to live in a community that loves to get behind grass-roots causes.

Our costs for the season (for the three planned races) is going to be about $600 each. This would include race fees, travel, and maintenance. Then, me getting skates that fit will be an additional  $200 – 400 depending on the deal we can find.

If God wants this to happen, it will happen.

Lord,

I have no idea if I sound like a raging lunatic thinking we can get some sponsors for our cause but I do know you hear our thoughts and we ask your assistance putting those plans into reality. As we work to bring You praise and glory throughout this process; give us the peace to allow You to work at Your pace…and to always remember that everything works to Your good.

Lord I ask doors to open for us as we walk through the unknowns that we are approaching. Give us the confidence to go boldly forward.

Amen