Monday, October 11, 2010

Life-Changing Experience

Last November, I took a leap of faith and registered for the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Washington, DC in 2010. Perhaps you gave a donation to help me reach the required $2300 fundraising goal. Perhaps you took a walk on the trail with me to help me get physically ready to take on those 60 miles. Perhaps you gave me a word of encourgement or clicked the "like" button on my various posts about the 3-Day. No matter what you did to help me in preparation for this journey, I want to say THANK YOU, and please give yourself a HUGE hug from me :) It was truly an awesome experience which I'm going to share with you now. The weekend began Friday morning at the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium which is where the opening ceremony began. When I arrived at the stadium, I couldn't believe I was actually there!!! I was excited, yet nervous about walking 60+ miles in 3-Days. YES, we walked a little more than 60 miles! I learned a "Komen mile" is not the standard 5,280ft mile!! There may have only been 1 mile until the next pit stop, but it was more like 2! HAHA!! It was all worth it, though! Of course, not everyone can walk all 60 miles. "Sweep vans" are provided for individuals who cannot make it all the way to the end of the day, and there were walkers who needed them. I'm not going to lie-there were times it was tempting. I kept telling myself that last summer, I felt like my chest was in a vice for 2 weeks, and I SURVIVED!!! With that in mind, I kept going! I even fell flat on my face ending up with scraped knees & hands and a scratch on my upper lip! I got back up, though and kept going!!!!! NOTHING HOLDS THIS GIRL DOWN!!! I just kept remembering all of the encouragement I received from everybody from the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer until the moment I crossed the finish line yesterday! Along the walk, I met so many awesome and amazing people. I was a single walker, but I certainly wasn't alone. I am a social butterfly, and as my dear friend Lisa put it when she commented on one of my statuses this weekend, "you're like me-you could talk to a fence":) I heard a lot of inspiring stories. I read a lot of inspiring t-shirts. I came up with ideas for my next 3-Day journey. YES, there is going to be another one!!! Last year, I decided to take my experience and reach out to other women who have been affected by breast cancer, and I'm not giving up until there is a 100% survival rate! With that in mind, fundraising ideas are going through my head, and this week, as I recover, I'm making phone calls to see how to go about putting something awesome together!!!! I also met people from West Virginia. As I crossed at an intersection in DC, a guy at a cheering station saw my WV hat and chanted, "Let's GOOOOOO Mountaineers!" I met a WVU fan from Buffalo-a guy named Scott whose sister is a 3 yr survivor. He noticed my hat at a pit-stop on Day 1 and I saw he had a WV hat on as well. We got a pic together that day, and at the finish line. I told him I was going to friend request him on FB so I can see our pics. I found him today and I sent the request, so hopefully, I'll hear from him soon. He's probably recovering, too! LOL! I walked with a girl who is a WVU alum and her friend on Saturday. I also met up with a WV native who, everytime she saw me, she'd say-"it's a great day to be a Mountaineer wherever you may be!" My tentmate was OK. I definitely need a partner for next year, though. While I'm on the tent subject, let me tell y'all that I've only ever went camping once and I didn't sleep outdoors in a tent! HA!! I forgot to go to Cabela's to grab some "necessities"(mini miner's light; mag light, etc). We were limited to one piece of luggage and a sleeping bag. YEAH-OK! I take 4 bags to my mom's when I go for 2 days, and I was supposed to take 1 BAG for 3 days? HA! I managed, though! ;) So I know now what to do for next year as far as the whole camping and packing part of the experience goes! :) While out on the walk, I came across some reminders of other friends. I heard "Build Me Up Buttercup" & "Boogie Shoes"-2 songs Rick K sings! :) We also did the "Y-M-C-A" at the dance party Saturday night! Day 2 was the lonnnnnnnnnngest day of the 3 days. I took advantage of the free foot massages that night!!! Oh, was it awesome!!! Internet access and cell phone chargers were available for free so we could keep in touch with the outside world. Y'all know I would've been lost without my Blackberry!! HA!HA! Day 3 went pretty fast. I have to admit, I felt a little lonely knowing my family wasn't able to come to see me at the finish line. Once I got there, I was greeted by lots of people cheering us on. I received lots of hugs as I cried tears of joy for finishing all 60 miles. After the last walker made it to the finish line, we lined up for the closing ceremony at the Washington Monument. Crew members wearing gray 3-Day t-shirts were first, followed by walkers in white t-shirts, and last, but certainly not least-us survivors in pink t-shirts. We were in our own little circle surrounded by crew, fellow walkers, and family & friends. We walked to our circle arm in arm as our fellow walkers & crew raised their sneakers to us. It was AWESOME!!! The walk concluded with 8 specially selected survivors raising the "A World Without Breast Cancer" flag, and country singer Candy Coburn singing "Pink Warrior", which was the song that kept me motivated during my fundraising and training for the last year. We danced, sang, and hugged each other. It was such an awesome feeling, and with everyone telling me via comments over the weekend that I rocked, I truly felt like a rockstar for the first time in my life knowing that I reached out to help other women affected by this disease. After Candy was through singing, the 3-Day had officially ended and on the way out, we got cupcakes from TLC's "DC Cupcakes". They were taping for an upcoming episode. I realllllly hope I don't end up on TV! HAHA!! I will say, those cupcakes are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They're pricey, but like they say, ya get what ya pay for! After I ate my cupcake, I grabbed my gear and headed to the shuttle bus which took us back over to the Nationals' Stadium where we parked on Friday. As I headed back down to my nephew's house for the night, I was still in amazement that I finished all 60 miles. When I saw my 2 little great-nieces, I gave them big hugs and I cried tears of joy in hopes that they will live in a world without breast cancer one day. My mission for 2010 has been accomplished. Thoughts and ideas for 2011 are brewing. Look for "Mountain Mamas 4 Ta-tas"........coming soon! :) THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL OF THE LOVE, SUPPORT, AND ENCOURAGEMENT! I COULD NOT HAVE WALKED 60 MILES WITHOUT IT!!!!!!!!!! I love you guys!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, September 2, 2010


Last evening, I accomplished what I thought was impossible. I reached the $2300 required fundraising minimum to participate in the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure. With a few more donation promises on their way, I will go above that minimum. I still have 5 weeks until the walk, so I'm going to do all I can until then. It's not about just getting by. It's about doing all I can to help win the fight against this disease. I am very blessed to have caught this disease early. I am a one-year survivor so far. I decided to take my situation and use it for good. After my surgery last year, I went through a couple of days where I was depressed and I thought my family and friends forgot about me. I was told by Dr Hazard(the awesome surgeon who played a major role in saving my life!) that it was normal to feel down after going through what I had gone through as long as it didn't consume my life. It was then that I decided that I wanted to make a difference and reach out to help this cause. When my sister submitted her donation, making it official for me to go to DC, I was ecstatic! I know I've been going on and on about this for the last 9 months, but this is as important to me as a wedding or a pregnancy! After all, it took 9 months to reach the goal, and there is a lot of preparation involved for the "big event". I have no significant other. My son is 17 and self-sufficient. I guess one would say this is what I live for now-fighting to help put an end to breast cancer. While there are women out there who were blessed to have survived stage 4 breast cancer, there are still women who die from it everyday. There are millions of women who can't afford mammograms. Chemo and radiation can get rather expensive. PET scans cost approx $4,000. This isn't about ME-it's about those who have won the fight. It's about those who continue to fight. It's about those who lost the fight too soon. Most importantly, it's about making sure future generations(such as my beautiful niece Erica and my 3 beautiful great-nieces Penelope Layne, Marlena Verity, & Isabelle Grace) don't have to go through what my sister and I went through. I have 5 weeks of intense training ahead of me! A BIG THANK YOU to those who have supported me in this journey!!! It means more to me than y'all will ever know!! I will keep everyone updated on my progress!! God Bless!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow

Originally done by Fleetwood Mac in the 1980's, it was the first song I heard Rick K perform 5 years ago in Knoebels. It was at a time when I was "almost" healed from my badly broken heart. Yeah, it took THAT long for my heart to heal after my last heartbreak. I remember that particular summer, I kept praying and asking God to heal my heart completely. Looking back, I feel there was a "hidden message" in that song that afternoon. Think about it-"yesterday's gone......." Indeed, "yesterday" was most certainly gone. As I sit here this evening thinking about how my plans changed so quickly, I have to keep telling myself, "don't stop thinking about tomorrow"! Yesterday is gone, and while I have some control over this situation, I know God is ultimately in control. I know what I need to do in order to achieve my goal, and in the meantime, I am going to keep my head up and keep a positive attitude over this situation. We all have the ability to choose our attitude over the situations we encounter in life. I have to keep telling myself, I did not fail. I made it into the National Honor Society last year, and I've kept that status since. A's & B's dominated my transcript. I have things to be proud of despite everything I went through. Someone told me not too long ago, I have endured some of the top stressors in life-moving to another state, starting a new career, starting a new school, and having had cancer. I've managed to survive it all, and I became a stronger and better person through it all. Perhaps God saw I was becoming too stressed with this crazy-busy life I lead and decided He needed to give me a break for a little while. I am keeping my hope and faith that He has something AMAZING in store for me!!! I won't stop thinking about tomorrow because yesterday IS gone!

God Will Always Make a Way!!

I've been faced with another setback in pursuit of my Bachelor's degree in Nursing. Everything in life has limits, including financial aid. I obviously don't have the cash right now to pay my tuition, so I've decided to take a year off, save my money, and go back next year. I've been down before. My heart was badly broken 8 years ago. I had cancer just last year. God gave me everything I needed to get through those situations and every other situation in my life. I am not going to let this get me down. I did cry for a minute or two, but instead of throwing a self-pity party, I chose determination over despair. Last year, breast cancer set me back in this goal, but I was determined to finish. I'm still determined to finish. God put this dream in my heart 4 and a half years ago after my first visit here, and He will bring it to pass in His PERFECT timing. If it's not His will for me to finish next year, then I don't want it to happen then. So often we want things when we want them and we become impatient. I believe when God puts dreams in our hearts, He will bring them to pass, which is why I am not giving up on my dream of finding my Prince Charming. I am going to keep my head up high and expect to have a great year off filled with many, many blessings!!! I know God has an awesome plan for my life, and I will praise Him each and every day!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sunshine After the Rain

As I sit here in my recliner looking out the window, I can see the sun trying to peak through the clouds. There are still raindrops on the window from the massive storm earlier. These images take me back to my most recent Facebook status. "We all have to take a turn under the black cloud and keep in mind that there is sunshine after the rain." How true! We are all going to have bad days. There are times in our lives when we may feel that it seems as though those bad days will never end. I feel it's OK to cry and let it all out, and then pick ourselves up again. I can't complain about my life. I have it good where I'm at. I have an awesome son who is healthy, intelligent, and extremely talented. I have a career I love despite the craziness that comes along with it. I am coming up on one year cancer-free this week. I have things to look forward to this month. I'm getting ready to participate in one of the biggest events in breast cancer research. Life will never be perfect. Not everyone is going to like us. There are going to be people who no matter how kind you are to them, they just won't be as kind to you as you are to them. We're going to get a flat tire at least once in our lives. Things like this happen to everyone. Is it frustrating? YES. Will it last forever? NO. We are told to praise God in times of trouble. Some may ask why should we do this? We have to look at our inconveniences as blessings in disguise. God may use these inconveniences to protect us from something worse. I have to admit, having wrote my feelings down, I feel better. God will take care of me. I am very blessed despite those horrible days at work and the little inconveniences.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Butterflies All Around Me

As I was walking on the Mon River Trail, I noticed how at some points, I was surrounded by butterflies. It made me think of Mama Weeze(Louise). She loved butterflies. I thought about how much I wish she were still here with us. Her passing came so unexpectedly this past February. She was like a second Mama to me. While I'm sure a lot of people would find this a little strange given the circumstances surrounding the break-up between me and her son, she and I were so blessed to be able to keep our relationship. Jesus tells us we need to forgive each other in order to be forgiven. I was able to forgive her for the simple fact that she was only looking out for her son as any mother would've done in that particular situation. Besides, her son had a mind of his own, but he made his decision and the rest is history. She was such a blessing to me and Johnathan. I sometimes go to pick up the phone to call her to share the latest news, and when I have to stop myself, I cry. I know she is looking down on me from Heaven cheering me on as I get closer to reaching my goal to walk in the 3-Day. I know if she were here, she would tell me, "you can do it!" She was one of my biggest supporters through Nursing school and when I went through breast cancer last year. She was a uterine cancer survivor and her example of a strong faith in God helped me in my situation. It's still emotional to go to church and to breakfast when I'm up visiting in PA. She once told me, "sometimes a person leaves footprints on our hearts that we just can't erase". I can honestly say, Louise left footprints on my heart that I could never erase. Miss ya Mama Weez!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It May Be Dreary Outside........

Today, I'm finally able to relax. While I need to be out hitting the trails HARD because of all of the ice cream, pizza, and funnel cake I consumed in Knoebels last week, I am having a hard time dragging my bumm outside!! Last week was amazing. It may have been hot, but I had an awesome time!!! Lots of fun and lots of laughs were shared among amazing people. God has truly blessed me with such great friends.

I made a comment the other day about how I'm "back to reality". I thought about how we have a tendency to say that when we come home from a vacation or other good time. It sounds so negative sometimes. Like "reality" is a bad thing. Can't we have amazing days without being on vacation or out having a good time? I find I can have an amazing day even if I'm just out hitting the trails enjoying the beauty of God's creation. I can be at home relaxing and it can be an amazing day. And YES, I can even have an amazing day at work if I choose the right attitude!

Of course we are going to have days where things go wrong. Take for instance my car getting stuck in the ditch. I was frustrated at first, but then I thought about it and said to Johnathan and Sha, "It's not cancer! We'll get my car out of this ditch somehow!" I chose my attitude, and in the end, we got my car out of the ditch!

I've decided to chose the right attitude in the situations I encounter. I am going to stay positive and avoid the negative when I can. I am happy, and I'm not going to be co-dependent and feel guilty for being happy about the things in my life when others are miserable. Everyone deserves to be happy, and we need not feel guilty about being happy. I am going to keep believing that the dreams God has placed in my heart which I tucked away at one time will come to pass in His perfect timing. I'd rather wait 10 years for God's best and only have 10 years enjoying it, than spend 20 years on something that was not God's best for me.

So while it may be dreary outside.......I'm beaming on the inside :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts From the Trail....

Preparing to walk 60 miles in 3 days is not easy. It will all be worth it in the end, though. I'm really enjoying the training process. In my previous blog, I mentioned how I enjoy walking on different trails. Tonight, I ventured down to the Mon River Trail. Like most trails, it's peaceful. I saw Bambi and her crew looking down on me when I looked up at the trees as I was walking. I was never that close to deer, and I will admit, I was a little nervous! LOL! I took and uploaded what I thought were some pretty scenery shots. When you grow up in the city, scenery is just that-scenery. I never really thought twice about it. Probably because I wasn't around it too often. When I look at the pictures I took, I'm amazed at the beauty created by God's very own hands. Every tree, every flower, every piece of foliage is different. The same way each one of us is different. God has given us all different gifts and talents. We all contribute to the world in different ways. As I walked along the trail, I thought about how each day when I wake up, I ask God to show me how I can be a blessing to someone else. Blessings don't have to be big. I believe it's the little things we can do for others that really count. If I leave this world only having touched 1 life, that is all that matters. Until next time............

Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome to my Blogger!!

I love to write and I came across this Blogger tool a few times. So, I decided to give it a whirl. Most people already know a lot about me, so I won't bore anyone with details about me. I'm sitting here trying to stay awake as long as I can. Having volunteered for overtime on nightshift tomorrow night, I need to get as much sleep as I can today. Last week, I discovered a new walking trail which I found to be so pretty. I was city-born and raised, but even growing up, I always wanted to live in the country. I've been living in West Virginia for almost 2 years now, and I've come to discover I'm truly a down-home country girl at heart. Every time I walk on one of the beautiful trails down here, I take in the beauty of God's creation, and I think about how blessed I am. A lot of thoughts go through my mind as I walk. I have a lot of things to look forward to in the next few months. Visits with family and friends; fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure; and walking in the 3-Day event in October. I'm very excited to be part of such an awesome event. It's always bittersweet to participate in events to help raise money for certain causes. However, when what you are raising money for and getting in shape for is something you've experienced first-hand, it takes on a whole new meaning. I have to admit, pink was never one of my favorite colors. In the last year, it has made its way into my wardrobe among all of the WVU gold and blue! When I get to Washington DC in October, and I see the sea of pink among all of the 3-Day participants and crew members, all of the hard work between training and raising money will all be worth it! I'm going to close this first post now. Talk to ya'll later!