Tuesday, November 5, 2013

January won't be the same.

*** This Post has little to do with cancer, but more to do with me, and someone very special to me -my Papa- who passed away peacefully this past Sunday night.   I happened across this... below... as a Happy Birthday - as he turned 90 last year.   The writing assignment was " Here we Go Again..."

Here WE go again.

I didn’t have a twin.  But I always shared my birthday.   As far back as I can recall.  And I was always happy to share it.  Truly.   Maybe it is because I share it with my Grandpa, or Papa as I call him.   I am Jan. 10th, and he is Jan. 11th.    It was fun to see how many candles we could get on the cake.   I suppose it was sometime in my teenage years I realized I wouldn’t always be sharing my birthday.   I put that thought away.   It became a little more special every year after that. 

This Friday we celebrate my Papa’s 90th Birthday.   He is the Papa who built me a doll house when I was 5 yrs old.  We are not talking just any old dollhouse.  It has a wrap around porch with a swing.  It has hard wood floors and wall paper.  Real drapes, and little framed pictures on the walls.  The front door has a stain glass window.  Every detail down to the toilet paper on the toilet paper roll. .  It is my dream house.  It will always be my dream house.     All done by hand.  His hands.  With love, for me.    I watch my daughter play with it, and even my son.  They are transformed as I was. 

As soon as I could ride a bike we would go for rides.  Papa rode his red bike with a big horn that he would gladly blow at anyone in our way.  We rode down what now is a huge four lane highway, and I wonder how in the world he was brave enough to take a wild child like me with him.  We would ride 4 miles.  That was a lot.  And now I get it.  He was trying to tire me out!  We would arrive home to a home cooked meal and table set by my nanny.  It was always good. 

It was the teenage years I recall receiving  the beginnings of his many newspaper clippings.  I will never forget the one he sent me on teenage driving and speeding.  I still think about that article.  It was the first time I actually thought- “maybe I don’t know everything, maybe my brain is impulsive”   These were pretty deep thoughts in a time when all I could think about was driving my parents car, and that included driving fast.  And being stupid.    For a longtime-  I thought about that article everytime I put on my seatbelt.   He made me think.  When I wasn’t doing much thinking.  

He wrote me letters while I was in college.  Real letters.  Through the mail.  He wrote them in cursive.  Catholic  School cursive, and I keep every last one.  He wrote me one when I graduated that I still can’t read without tears about how proud he was of me.  He isn’t a sap my Papa.  But he loves me a lot.

He loves me enough to say a Hail Mary every night while I was going through chemotherapy.  I am not sure if I said a word when he would call me to see how I was doing during those months.  I would listen. He was wise.  Calming.   He told me he hasn’t said that many Hail Marys since The War.  Now he was thinking ‘who would he share his birthday with.’  No, he never said it.  But I knew. 

This Friday WE will celebrate our birthdays.  Again.  It never does get old, even if we do.

Happy 90th Birthday Papa.  I love you.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Cleaning out my desk today - I came across my Velvetonia Speech (I gave this June).   It was fitting to read it in my office only to look out our front windows and see the many October Breast Cancer flags in the neighborhood....And on the eve of Pelotonia's last day for donations.... I find it more fitting to share- so here you go:

Everyone who has been diagnosed with  cancer… has “a date”… the day when you heard those words…..

Mine was Friday May 13,2011.  

I was 35.  Healthy.  Happy.  A wife.  A mom.   And just a day before I didn’t know I had a stage 3 tumor growing in my left breast. 

But that’s cancer.  It’s sneaky.  It’s unpredictable.   And it was in MY body.

My bi-lateral mastectomy was scheduled two wks later.   I woke up early that morning in anticipation.  It was the last day of school for our son.  He was a first grader.   As I walked him to the bus – we saw a pink balloon tied to our mailbox.  Deep breath I thought.  No tears.  Keep it together.     I did.  Keep  it together that is.. until the bus pulled away.   What a simple balloon can do.  Knowing it was tied there with love  and support.    It wasn’t until my husband Ben and I drove out of our neighborhood that we saw the hundreds of balloons… Pink balloons… tied to street signs, trees… all the way down the street.   As we made our turn onto the main road into town… There it was…a sign that simply read: “ IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO CURE CANCER”   This support is Granville.  It is why people stay here.  It is why they come back.  It is community.  And to me on that morning it was the reason I had a smile on my face and a strong sense that all would be ok.  Because, I had a village behind me- with me.   


Another sign - downtown Granville  read  “HEY CANCER – YOU PICKED THE WRONG CHIC”  It did!  That was the sign I was talking about when they wheeled me into the operating room.  Though my voice was shaking as I spoke from uncontrollable nervousness- I still recall telling Chase the transfer nurse about my morning.  About my family.  My friends.  My town.  And how WE were going  to fight  this cancer.  Together.   I don’t know… it might have been the drugs, but I am sure he was ready to join “our team” and as he rolled me to OR room # 24- I might have convinced him that we were in a looker room gearing up for the biggest game of our lives.  Our opponent though was almost undefeated., and didn’t play by the rules.  Still looking in his eyes as he was the last one I recall seeing before my deep sleep- I could tell he believed we could win. 

That is the thing for those of us( newly diagnosed, in treatment, in remission…) for those of us that have “a date”… we hold on to the HOPE we can win.    It is given in so many ways.  Cards, meals, playdates for the kids.  Countless phone calls. Anonymous  Flowers left by my doorstep.  All delivering hope, and inspiring us in a way that makes curing cancer seem closer rather than  the distant future. 

Pelotonia was that hope for my husband.   Ben may have had the toughest job on that day in May of 2011.   Hearing your highschool sweetheart, your wife and the mother of your children has cancer is inconceivable.  But Ben did as Ben always does—He fired up – and took action. The  Irony was, he was already signed up for Pelotonia.  He had riden in Pelotonia in 2010 as an individual rider.  But now – well now – it was personal.  What can you do when your wife is in chemo?  Train for Pelotonia.  Talk to your friends about Pelotonia.  Raise awareness.  In 2011- in a couple short months Ben organized our first Peloton: Brett Jump’s Bicycle Brigade  The support was overwhelming and we grew fast.   Totaling 28 riders for our first year, and raising over 46,000 dollars.   I had shaved my head a week before Pelotonia that summer.  And had chemo the Thursday before the ride.  I promised myself that morning- I will ride in 2012.  And I will ride every year until we find a cure.

It was a gorgeous morning in 2012 when I rode my first Pelotonia- 50 miles to New Albany. We renamed the Peloton Team Granville.       That year,  our Peloton had grown to 43 riders and we raised over 78,000.  `100% of the funds directly used for cancer research@ The James.  Hope.  I have never known hope like I did that day.  It was empowering  to see so many so passionate for ONE GOAL.  And it was moving to ride along side so many that carried me though one of the toughest years of my life.

So – tonight I stand up before you and Thank you for supporting Team Granville- WE ARE Peloton of 80 members strong.  That’s right.  80.  That’s HOPE.  I can’t wait to ride again this August –  hearing the cheers of people holding signs that read  “you are my hero.  You saved my life”  

Thank you for riding.  Thank you for being part of the journey.  For joining the fight.  Gearing up for the game and being passionate about our ONE GOAL.

That's it... and that was June... two months later we rode through Granville.... through the best town in the world.  There were cheerleaders, church bells, and people at every corner.  I do believe I cried from the moment I hit Broadway until stopping at Hugh Prices' office..  Greeted by my family, my friends, and my amazing husband that continued to Kenyon that day.   It was a day I will never forget and one that words can not describe.  I rode the entire way with my daddy- it was - a gift.  

This year-Team Granville has raised $116,092.07 as of this afternoon.   That is this year alone.  But we won't stop.  We can't stop.  This cancer has continued to invade our lives, or families and our friends.  And we are fighting back.  WE are strong and WE will find a cure.  ONE GOAL.  END CANCER.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear Me,

All right all right... no news is good news... good news indeed.   I am updating my blog, doing as I am told so to speak.  I hear about it a lot- you see... and it is .. well.. very flattering to know so many of you care.  Thank you.

It is the eve of my last treatment.  My very last.  Sounds like we have done this before... oh yes we have.  I thought Nov. 17th 2011 was my last chemo... and it was until the wonderful Cleveland Clinic re-ran my pathology last March and found I was HER2 positive.  So, now I am writing after nearly 2 years from feeling that little bump in my breast.  After a bilateral mastectomy.  After 5 months of Chemo. And 37 radiation treatments.  Then an additional year of Herceptin via IV.  I am writing this blog post.  With tears.  Such happy tears.  Because- tomorrow is my last, very last IV treatment for Breast Cancer.  The fight is over.  And I have won.  But not just the battle.  So, so much more.

I found the picture of me from my second blog post- You know the one-  There I am in that crop top of a gown at the Plastic's Office.  So many things run through my head as I look at that girl in the photo.  Blondie with her thumbs up.  Has she any idea what the next few years would have in store?  No.   She didn't.  So much so I am dedicating this blog to her.
Dear me......
I know you are scared.  But it will all be ok.  
I know you think you have it all under control.  You don't.  You never did.  It's ok.  God will take it from here.  You can trust him.  He is better at the control thing than you.  Really.
You can't hide your pain - so don't try.  I know you will.  And what a terrible actress you will realize you are.  It's ok to have bad days.  It's OK to let your kids know you are having bad days. 
That man behind the camera, ya, you know the one you met in high school and fell madly in love with.  Well, you haven't felt anything yet.  It gets better.  You have no idea what kind of love you two share as ride the roller coaster cancer ride.  It is like nothing I could ever explain in words. 
Your friends and family will embrace you continually.  Meaning - it never stops.  They love you with food, flowers, books, pictures, letters, cards, and phone calls.  They lift you up in ways you had no idea human kindness could.  It is powerful.  It is overwhelming.  And at times it is the only reason you get out of bed. 
Your body is healthy.  I know I can't convince you now because you are still angry at your body for letting this cancer grow.  But - you will soon see that your body is healthy.  The surgery is the single hardest physical (and emotional) thing you have ever gone through.  But you get through it.  And your body is healthy. 
Losing your hair to Chemo is not as hard as double taking when you catch a glimpse of your bald head in the mirror in the morning.  Looking sick- is harder for you than being sick. 
OH, and get this- when your hair comes back-- it is dark... I mean we all know you're not a "real" blond, but even your own mother is surprised at these dark locks.
You will ride in Pelotoina- 50 miles you will bike.  It is more than meaningful.  And you know those little voices you hear in your head that tell you -" you can't do this... you can't bike all that way"  well, they are gone.  All I can hear is " you can , and you will!"
You will learn more about your drive and will than you can ever imagine now.
And most of all - You will LIVE IN THE MOMENT... each and every single day.  Find yourself "freeze- framing" moments with your kids.  Enjoying their laugh.  Listening to them talk to each other.  Simple joys, otherwise passed by. 
Each Season will be your new favorite... until the next one comes along to take it's place.
And soon, very soon you will have a close friend call you about her lump, her pathology, her chemo, her wig and her sadness.  Her deep sadness. 
So, me... I see you sitting there with your two thumbs up.... but I know your sadness...
I am here to tell you.  Your sadness turns into an appreciation for living.
And you win.  And continue to win each day you take more from cancer than it took from you.