Monday, December 25, 2017

Holiday Blessings

First United Methodist Choir, Geneseo.
It has been a great holiday! I went to Church on Christmas Eve morning to see mom sing in the choir (she is first row third from right; in between the Kisers) and then she came over to our house for our usual afternoon supper and then opened gifts.

If 2017 could be known for something, it was quilts. Mom made each boy a Christmas quilt and then made a quilt for each girlfriend! AND she made Tom and I a quilt for our 20 year anniversary in October. She also made a quilt for my nephew Ben and his new wife on their wedding day last September. I'm sure she made more and I don't know who all she made one for this year.

The most amazing thing about 2017 was that mom made it through the year without any chemo! Her CA125 count has been hovering around an average of 4 this entire year, and that alone is amazing.

These are the times when we are thankful for the simple things.... like just getting up in the morning and staying healthy. Mom is feeling good and not having any other symptoms. Her arthritis is bothering her (typical this time of year) and her winter cough has reared up.

We are blessed!

Christmas morning!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon last Sunday was a success! I completed the 26.2 mile course in 4 hours and 38 minutes. It was a rather hot day for October, but I was able to make it through just fine.

Unfortunately, I didn't hit my goal of $1,000 for the American Cancer Society - but I came close. Overall, our Team DetermiNation has raised $200,000 for the ACS since they formed, and to me that is a pretty big deal! The amount of time and dedication people have put into the venture is very commendable, and I am a firm believer that we can accomplish a lot and speak volumes when we pool our money and resources together.

And I am thankful that I have a lot of friends and family who supported me on this venture. The training was a lot of work, but I was prepared and confident to go the distance.

I feel blessed that I can run and that I am healthy. I am thankful that mom's oncologist report last week showed that her CA125 count WENT DOWN even more and is now at 4 - ! That is truly a blessing! I want to always remember to be thankful and not take health for granted, because in turn we have to be strong for those who are struggling.

Cancer is tough, and I admire each and every person who has to have a battle with cancer, and that's what I kept thinking as I was running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday - if my mom and cousin Heather and cousin Demara (and many friends) can go through chemo, then I can run 26.2 miles.

Andrea, Kristin and myself.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Big 7-9!

Mom celebrated her 79th birthday this month! We went out to celebrate last Friday - a little late as her actual bday is on Sept. 15 - and had a nice dinner with dessert. The week before she had several lunch and dinner engagements so I did not worry about her not having people to celebrate with! She has many friends and I feel thankful for that.

This has been a good year overall and the chemo break has been good for her. She feels look and looks good and her hair has grown in very nice - again!

We aren't sure what the next round of chemo will bring - her counts have been good and Dr. Porubcin is very happy with her health right now.

I asked mom what she wanted to do next year for the BIG 80 and she just let out a sigh and said that all she is thankful for is each and every day... because she did not expect to make it this far. It has been 8 years since her diagnosis of Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer in March of 2009, and she has been thankful for all of those days and is looking forward to more!

(Part of) The McCann clan at a summer lunch gathering in Ottawa, Summer '17

Thursday, July 6, 2017

And for my next trick...

East Moline Firecracker 10K
I love running and I especially love running for causes (as you can see by the Race for the Cure and the #TeamTeal National Ovarian Cancer Coalition) - so this year I have signed up for the Chicago Marathon (Oct. 8) and am running with a team for the American Cancer Society.

Did I mention it is a MARATHON?

This is the first time I will tackle a marathon. - so the challenge is twofold: raise $1,000 for the American Cancer Society and run 26.2 miles through beautiful Chicago. For me it is a win-win!

My strategy is simple - I know I KNOW 100 people - and if I can get those 100 people to give me $10 apiece that will add up to $1,000. For those of you who would like to help me out with this cause, go to my American Cancer Society page to donate >> 

Mom's experience with our local American Cancer Society was a good one, which helps me feel confident that I'm doing this for a good cause. The ACS has a lot of support offerings and a good connection with the Unity Point Trinity Cancer Center (where mom receives her chemo treatments), and they are always coming in with some really cute hats and wigs. I see a lot of other cancer patients taking advantage of those FREE things and it's amazing to me that something as simple as a cute hat can put a smile on someones face and make the feel good when they are getting their chemo treatment. The cancer patients are the real winners.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Peoria Race for the Cure 2017

Mom and I went to Peoria last Saturday for the Komen Race for the Cure to walk with cousin Laurie (breast cancer survivor) along with other friends and family members. It was a beautiful morning! I wore my #SlaySquad shirt in honor of Lindsay and the rest of the Slay Squad team as we will be doing the QC Race for the Cure in June.

If you want to throw a little cash toward the #SlaySquad Team please do so! My friend Diane (Lindsay's mom) wants to raise $5K this year! Go to my page >>

Its been three years since Laurie was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Her prognosis/outlook is good - but she still worries. The fear is still with her. She still talks about that first month when she found her lump and going through pre-diagnosis. The uncertainty and the disbelief that it could really be happening to her.

Mom is doing really well - as you can see from the photo below she has grown a lot of her hair back and is not wearing a wig! She looks great and feels great (aside from general aches and pains etc). She still sees Dr. Porubcin and checks in every few weeks for a port flush and blood work.

Hopefully we will get through 2017 without even thinking about chemo treatments. That would be quite a blessing. Every day is a gift.

Laurie (middle) with friend Kim (left) and Vicki (right). 

Laurie and me.

Mom and me.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A life lost to cancer...

Mom has been doing well this winter and we had a great holiday together. We went to my cousin Heather's grandson's birthday party (Jan. 21) and mom got her fill of baby-holding thanks to cousin Travis who brought both of his boys - Rayland and baby Able! Mom was able to cuddle Abel as long as possible. He was a great baby the entire time and didn't fuss much. The birthday boy, Ryder, had some partying to do and it was hard to keep him on your lap for even .02 seconds. It was fun to see Ryder having so much fun and mom enjoyed the afternoon. We were only there for about two hours and were exhausted after that so I don't know how these people keep up with all of these little ones.

Lindsay Thul
I feel blessed that mom is here and doing well, especially after this week.

This week, my best friend Diane lost her daughter Lindsay to breast cancer after a brief 9 month battle. Lindsay was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) on April 18, 2016 and she passed early Wednesday morning, Feb. 1, 2017. She was only 29.

Lindsay fought hard, but as big as her fight was, her body couldn't handle this rapid, form of breast cancer.

I had not heard of IBC until Lindsay. It was a shock when she was diagnosed, because Diane's family (nor Lindsay's fathers side) did not have a history of the disease.

Last year at about this time, Diane was concerned about Lindsay's health because she had a swollen lymph node in her armpit/right breast area and it was painful. They (doctors) thought it was infected, and there were some other theories, so Lindsay went through some antibiotics and other courses of treatment. To me, that time was wasted, as we know now the cancer was invading her body. The diagnosis in April was too late.

Because Lindsay is a fighter, she went through numerous chemo "cocktails," radiation, surgery (mastectomy), etc etc. Slowly, it was determined that radiation was not helping as the cancer was spreading too fast, and then in January, it was decided to stop doing chemo as that was not working either. I don't know how Diane kept it together in these last couple of months, as she moved in with Lindsay to care for her, but she did it with grace and strength. Diane slept by her daughter's side every night, and then held Lindsay as she took her last breaths the other day.

It is a sad story to share, but worth sharing because Lindsay was adamant about sharing information and awareness about IBC so that others could be informed. Hopefully it will save a life.

A late diagnosis is too late.

Lindsay's Journey

Lindsay's IBC Facebook Group

The IBC Network Foundation