Kissing Skates

I’ve had the idea for t-shirts for some time. We all know this. Katie and I had one each made for us for our marathon in Duluth but no other shirts.

Today I actually took a step towards doing something about getting it done as a fundraiser. I contacted a local clothing store than offers custom printing and apparel with no set up fees and no minimums!

I explained my story and that I am looking at fundraising for next summer’s inline marathon season.

They asked if they could get back to me after the holidays with some ideas and I said definitely as there are still 193 days until the first marathon (not that I’m counting).

There will be t-shirts, hoodies, maybe even sweatpants. A portion of each sale will go towards which ever cancer charity we choose. Currently we are considering several charities and looking forward to narrowing it down to one or two. If we do two, it’s most likely we will include a local charity that gives a yearly cash grant to all local cancer patients.

So, in my head it is a “Cancer can kiss my skates” with either inline skates or ice skates for a graphic. Down the leg of my pants (either sweats or race pants) it can just say KISS MY SKATES.

I’ve already had one woman tell me to hit her up when we start our fundraising next year and she will gladly sponsor our shenanigans. I’m pretty sure I know of at least one other business that will be interested in furthering our fundraising efforts.

It is time…my frustrations and anger at cancer are real and I’m taking my life back.

Five days a week I am on the ice for an hour skating laps, doing power turn drills, squats between the blue lines, hard charging the corners, skating on one foot between the blue lines, deep cross-overs all the way around the rink…all in an effort to increase my balance, my core strength, my cardiovascular health, and my speed.

I’m taking my life back, one push at a time. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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I Don’t Wanna

I don’t wanna write today that Beth Caldwell passed away last night. I don’t want to write that her husband held her as she died. I don’t want to write that her children were with her as she took her last breath.

But it happened and my heart sank.

I had a feeling yesterday was going to be the day. I even stopped at Katie’s and said I wanted to find out from her…she has been following Beth’s story as well. Really though, I didn’t want to hear it from anybody. I didn’t want to face it.

I think back to something I wrote on my CaringBridge while I was sick…it was about my own mortality. I was writing about the dreams I have for my kids and all I wish for them to know, and be, and accomplish. I wrote that for them to be the people they are meant to be may actually mean I have to not be here and how hard of a reality that was.

That is Beth’s family’s reality. That her death is a part of God’s plan for who her children become. Will they also be advocates for the unheard and unseen? Will they champion her cause…their cause.

As I fell asleep last night, I prayed for The Hubs, The Boy, and The Girl; the nicknames she used on her blog for her family. I prayed for their peace; for God’s grace and mercy to cover them.

And then I cried; for me.

Today, my heart hurts; and I’m just going to let it. I’m going to let it be hurt and heal…it seems to know the routine. Today I am also going to just be held…by God.

This weekend it’s just me and the little one home. Big Brother is going deer hunting with Dad and won’t be home until Sunday evening. I have a feeling it will be a lot of open hockey and chilling. His birthday is in a few weeks and we have to make a plan for that. My “non-viable pregnancy” (when I first got pregnant), my “Inevitable abortion” (at 12 weeks 2 days gestation with I had a partial abruption with ruptured membranes), my preemie…he’s gonna be ten this year.

Lord,

I am so grateful that my baby’s story is a yearly reminder that You perform miracles all around us and people love to hear his story. We love to share it. I am so thankful for all you have provided.
As I get through today and the weekend with Beth’s family on my heart, I ask for comfort for them. I ask that you give them the space, time, and opportunity to feel Your love.
And God, thank you for holding my close and keeping me secure.

Amen

Can You Just Not…

I found out this morning that a person I know is back at Mayo for a work up…might be a recurrence of he brain cancer he had like 10 years ago (maybe not that many but enough to get passed the ‘all clear’ date that some cancers actually get).

I have the absolute heaviness over my entire body. Not just an aching heart; my body feels overwhelmingly heavy…like a weighted blanket, over my entire being. A fist around my heart, holding it hostage…or securely; I can’t tell. I know when I was sick and one of my hockey families gifted me with a weighted blanket, it was the most amazing gift EVER!

Maybe this is just God covering me…protecting me…forcing me to slow down, to not panic. All I know is that I hate cancer…and I am angry that his cancer might be back. I am angry and sad and frustrated.

The reality of ‘after cancer’ is that every diagnosis I hear about, every recurrence for a friend of acquaintance is devastating, numbing, and oh so hard.

God,

I know You work everything for your good for those who believe, but what about those who don’t? How are they supposed to see your good works when a man of God has a recurrence of cancer that for all intents and purposes he had already beat once?
How do I explain not being afraid of cancer anymore because the damage in my life has already been done so anything after this is chicken feed?

I know I’m not strong enough to deal with all these emotions, and am so thankful for Your grace. Guide me through this period of waiting for news from the man I know and from Beth’s family. (Beth’s husband posted on October 31 that it is only a matter of days for her).

Lord, this disease has so many faces and so many outcomes. I ask for every person hearing those words for the first time not turn away from You; that they come to find strength and peace in You.

Amen

Every Time

A few weeks ago, I had found a lump on the edge of my reconstructed breast. It feels like a cooked grain of rice. Naturally my first thought was swollen lymph node. They aren’t common in that area; but not unheard of.

Within a few days I went to my Nurse Practitioner and he ordered an ultrasound. I love that he gets every concern is worth his time…he never makes me feel like I shouldn’t be wasting his time. Ever. That’s important to me.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for my annual screening mammogram on my favorite breast (you know, the one that HASN’T tried killing me). Unfortunately, I’m hearing a lot of, “Well, you should have just let them take both, I would have.”

Well…here’s the thing.

When it’s your turn, you go ahead and choose that. I didn’t, for my own reasons. And I’m gracious with saying, “Well, after talking with several specialists at the time, this was the best course for me.” Because I get it.

When I first heard I had cancer. I thought I would just chop them both off and be on my merry way. What I didn’t even know I didn’t know was (and still is) astounding.

It’s hard enough for women who feel like they have to give up their womanhood when they loose their breasts, but for others whom have not had the experience to make judgement on their decisions is a slap in the face.

I didn’t give up my womanhood…although many women struggle with their physical body after all that cancer puts them through; I’m quite fond of mine. I love that I have a scar that runs from hip to hip. I think it’s neat that I have my same bellybutton but in a new location. I’ve come to adore the flap on my left breast as a unique part of me. I truly enjoyed being bald and often wonder if I should go back to that because it was so awesome. As I consider that I am currently out of conditioner and using the shampoo one of the boys picked out…bald sounds pretty good.

But I digress…(as usual)

The day before my scheduled mammogram, I start bleeding. Now, at 43 this is normal for most women. For somebody who has been in menopause for the previous 2.5 years…not so much.

I called my friend as I was emailing my Mayo Clinic Doctors.

Then we began to discuss how busy satan has been throughout October in my life. Every time I think everything is fine, something pops up that makes me wonder. First, I switched jobs and that made me wonder about my role in both locations. Then I found the lump, which turned out to be nothing, and now this. Like COME.ON.ALREADY.

When I discussed the lump though, I wasn’t afraid. I said I had already heard, “You have cancer” once. Thankfully those words can never be heard again for the first time. I already know what to do if I ever hear them again.

Being treated with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted therapy and then  healed by God, I still must remember that 1 in 8 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. I may still be 1 in 8 at another point. I no longer consider myself at a higher risk of cancer as a survivor; just back in the pool with everybody else…I’m just lucky enough to have some preventative meds in my toolbox. So maybe I’m not 1 in 8 anymore. Maybe I’m 1 in 25.

So this light bleeding, extremely out of left field today and oddly…not overly concerning after the initial shock. I’ve emailed my doctors and will figure out the next step when they contact me tomorrow. Between now and then, it’s not my concern. It is all in God’s hands.

So as busy as satan has been this month, it’s nearly comical. He has no authority in my life and sees the good works I do. He puts thoughts in my head and pulls triggers that I thought had been deactivated years ago.

Sometimes, I just need that reminder, that satan has ZERO authority over my life and every piece of it is in God’s care and control. He works everything for good…so whatever attack brought upon me by the enemy…I’m ok. It will be used to deepen my faith and trust in God, not to question Him.

Lord,

I am fully expecting a clear scan tomorrow so I can continue to serve the children I work around and the other staff members I encounter on a daily basis. I know You are the designer of all things; I also know that you want your children to ask for their deepest desires. I ask you for a clean bill of health.
I pray that you bring a mate that will bless our lives in ways we cannot even imagine. I pray that he comes soon so we can start our forever together. I pray for a long, healthy life with him and my children.
Thank you Father for giving me an opportunity to shout Your Grace and Mercy from the rooftops through this journey and for giving me the patience and understanding to make the most of everyday here on earth.
Lord, I ask that You cover my city with love, that You bring healing to my hometown, and that people open their hearts to Your goodness.
I pray all of this in Your Son’s Holy Name;

Amen

Crazy Good

Yesterday I did something I didn’t even know was possible. I went inline skating. Yes, I know I took up this sport in June. Yesterday though, there was snow lining the trail. There was ice on the bridge. It was barely above freezing.

Today, I’m waiting for my phone to charge. It’s 44 degrees outside; much warmer than yesterday. I’m going again. I can’t skate the greenwood trail because there is too much snow on the small bridge, I can do the Hartz Park loop though. That bridge has some ice, but not enough to stop me. I may only get a few laps…but at this point every single lap counts. Every mile counts, every stride counts. The wind today is 16mph…which sucks…but it’s better than not skating.

I’m certain there were strange glances yesterday as I skated down the hill, taking strides to build speed at the top of the hill, bent at the waist, hands behind my back…the guy running up the hill seemed happy that he wasn’t the only nut case out there on a Saturday afternoon.

Although I was welcomed to return to coaching youth hockey again this year, I just cannot cover the costs to become insured and certified. It makes me feel horribly sad and like a failure…like I’m failing these kids who don’t even know I should be helping their coaches. Like I am failing the parents who don’t even know I should be out there teaching their kids how to fall down and get back up.

But that’s Satan…he’s so good at his job…making me feel so horrible.

Do I miss skating with those young kids? Of course I do. Do I miss playing Ring Around the Rosie? Probably more than I should. Do I miss skating circles around the kids who are finally able to get up an ounce of speed just so they can giggle and fall down? Of course I do.

There was never anything more rewarding on the ice than seeing a kid progress. Whether it was progressing from 5 minutes on the ice to 30; or a kid going from a duck walk to an actual stride…there was such joy in every victory.

Those small victories gave me something to focus on when Dorothy showed up. I sometimes (but not often) wonder how we would have managed cancer, if not for hockey.

We didn’t have to social support we have now, we didn’t have much of anything…except hockey.

So I know that God will get us through anything…I have no doubt. Even this disappointment.

And now…as there is even snow on the ground, I am going inline skating…because I can. Because God is Good.

Father,

Forever I am grateful. Forever I am Yours.

Amen

Truth

Of all the things I have ever posted, this may be the most vulnerable I have ever been.

Please know I want no recognition of this awful day. This feels like a war memorial of sorts. A somber occasion.

I posted the following on a breast cancer group I belong to. This is what cancer looks like to me tonight…

So tomorrow (Saturday) is my cancerversary. Three years ago I went to the doctor because I thought I had pulled a muscle being back on the ice after 20 years of not skating…and volunteering to help coach my son’s hockey team. Doctor felt nothing, thought nothing…but offered a mammogram just based on the fact that I had just turned 40 and “we should get a baseline”

As I walked out of the imaging department, the technician informed me that the radiologist was already writing his report and that my doctor would be calling me and, “…I’m not going to lie, it’s not good.”

October has been so full of triggers and PTSD and just trying to survive in one piece already. I feel this swallowing me whole…encompassing my entire being…and it hurts…physically hurts my soul.

My boys are no longer 6 and 9, they are now 9 and 12. I am cancer free. I am healthy.
Tonight though as I crawl into bed…I am not strong enough. I am a crying mess.

THANKFULLY…we are at my parents in Northern Canada…and I am safe here…Oh God it’s killing me…but I’m alive…I LIVED…I MADE IT…why is this swallowing me whole???

Tomorrow I will wake up…with my young son snoring at my side (he shares a bed with me here). I will wear the t-shirt I EARNED finishing the NorthShore Inline Marathon in September…and I will SURVIVE…and I will continue to survive.

I will live my life filled with love, courage, and never ever stop.

Home Sweet Home

The boys and I are back up in Canada at my parents’ home. I cannot ever put in to words just how amazing it is for me to come home. This trip though…even more important.

On Saturday it will be my canserversary. Three years from the date of my diagnosis. As difficult as this October has been, there is truly no place I would rather be than right here, right now.

Three years ago, our world…all of us…had our world turned upside down. On that same day…my mother was elected to city counsel. Maybe turned upside down isn’t correct, it was just shaken up a bit.

I need to be home with my family for this milestone. To allow the day to pass quietly (not noise level quiet, just fan fare quiet).

My niece and nephew are here as well and they are the same ages as the boys.

The first thing my niece and I did when we got back to the house after breakfast was to build a fire out of all grandma’s paper and cardboard garbage. Then I helped my brother do some cleaning and now here I am, with you.

I will be posting live videos throughout the weekend and am already not looking forward to returning to the USA. I need to not think that far ahead yet though. I need to be here and enjoy here. I have no idea how many more trips my vehicle can make. It’s over 600 miles one way and my vehicle has over 230k miles on it. It won’t last forever.

Auntie Awesome is going to make a list of chores for the kids and Uncle Shawn to accomplish today…I’ll supervise…it’s what I’m good at!

Love to all.

Lord,

I am so thankful to be home…home. 20 years and it’s still home and always will be home. Thank you for Your traveling mercies yesterday and the wonderful weather.
Bless our time here with family and give us opportunities to show and be love all weekend long.

When we leave, I ask again for traveling mercies to return home.

Amen