Monday, April 29, 2013

Changes because of cancer


  I had a reputation. I was a well known chocoholic and could put a bag of candy away like very few others could. I was often teased about the bags of candy that I brought in to work to munch on during the day. Usually by day's end, most of that bag was gone. It was the same with coffee. Whether I was at work or home, I had that ever present cup of coffee near at hand.
 I will never be a world class chef, or even live up to my own mother's cooking. There for a while I relied heavily on those micro-meals. They were okay as far as mystery meat goes, but I wasn't reading the ingredients. Easy does not necessarily mean healthy. On top of all that, I had become rather sedentary.

All ingredients for disaster.

Being diagnosed with cancer has a way of making one look closely at oneself.  Maybe not right away. The first thing you have in mind is getting healthy. You do what ever it is you need to do, you go through the tests, the questions, and the surgeries. Then, there are the treatments. It may be radiation, chemotherapy of both. For me it was radiation. It didn't take very many treatments before my energy levels began to fall. I found out that my beloved coffee and the processed sugars in the mounds of junk food that I ate made it worse. Sugar is said to give one an energy rush, but there was also the crash. I never got the rush, I only got the crash. Coffee began to taste metallic. I sat the coffee cup down and turned away from chocolate. To satisfy that sweet tooth that haunted me I began to eat fruit. Lots of fruit. And it worked.

After the radiation treatments ended it took a while before my energy level began to return. Ever so slowly I went from feeling like the walking dead to returning to life. As my strength returned I began to study. I was determined to learn what I could to prevent the cancer from returning. I learned that some of the stuff that I was calling conspiracy scare tactics.. weren't. All of the many chemicals that were being pumped into so called food, was a potential carcinogenic. Too much sodium, too much sugar (of any type), too much additives that only added to the danger. I began to shop for the ingredients that went into real food. Raw vegetables and fruit or frozen without sauces. I completely quit buying the micro-meals. I'm still evolving from micro-mom to a more down home cook, but its a slow process for me. I still eat the fruit and not so much candy or junk food. I scour the information pages seeking out which fruits and vegetables are best and which ones are best for what health aspect.

I also got up out of the chair. I began to take longer  walks. Trying to get more active. To live life and not just sit on the sidelines and watch it pass me by.

 I also became a part of Relay for Life. I learned of the many things that Relay has to offer. Not just the fighter, not just the caregiver, but also those who simply want to know so they too can help in the fight. Thinking of getting involved? Jump on in- find an event, find a team and join up. Can't join up for various reasons? Find a way to help anyway..provide a service to Relay, provide a hand, support through donations. Don't just think about that change of mind, of heart, of attitude- just do it. Cancer never sleeps- cancer doesn't care who you are, what you are, whether you're young, old, rich, poor. Cancer, is an equal opportunity destroyer. It is the American Cancer Society's desire to rid the world of cancer. It is their hope to create more birthdays, more survivors through willing the battle against cancer.

I went from no involvement in Relay to it becoming a full blown lifestyle. Changes, we all make them. Lets all change for the better, for the healthier and for the determination to end cancer. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Expressions of cancer

     One of the reasons (among many) that I Participate so strongly in Relay for Life is that look. The look of fear, the look of sadness. The look, of confusion, the look of loss.

 When I was diagnosed I had to task of telling my family. My husband was on a buss headed for a hoped for new job. I had no way of seeing his expression, but I could hear the concern in his voice. Has asked if he should just come back home. No, there was nothing going on at that moment, try for the job. My mother took it well. You could see her pain, her fear and concern but she hid them as best she could, as only a mother ready to fight for her child's health could.  When I faced one of my brothers, the expression on his face was a combination of all emotions. The expression of one facing mortality. That expression ...that look will forever haunt me. That look of pain on my brother's face hurt worse that the actual  diagnoses and following treatments. When I went in to work and word got around there was the confusion. How do you talk to someone with cancer? What do you say? How do you act? That look in their eyes where they are at such a loss. I watched as they stood quietly, I watched as they walked in a wide arch to avoid conversation.

During my battle I lost an aunt to cancer. Her family, her friends all who knew and loved her mourned her loss.

Since my personal battle I have watched friends fight. I have met so many other survivors and learned of their battles.

I know of a young man who fought valiantly and lost. Leaving a family to grieve and then to work hard toward what ever they could to keep their son alive in action and memory.

I know  a young man who is currently fighting cancer for the second time.

Loss to a disease is not just the loss of a person. We lose a treasured friend, we lose a loved family member, we lose possibilities. What could their life have brought to us? What grand adventures, what great creations and enterprises, what great love have we lost?

I participate in Relay because I learn so much. I learn the love of friends, the caring of others and ways to fight. I've learned the foods that are good for you, the activities that help the body and the mind. I have learned the things that can and does help the spirit, the mind and emotions.

I discuss Relay (as if you didn't know that), I do invite others to join in the battle and I do fund raise. But the most important thing, is trying to bring it to mind and keep it in mind that we are all touched by cancer. It is up to us to fight, to work toward a cure and a prevention for cancer. Won't you join us? Won't you help us?  It isn't all about money, we need people, we need creative talent, we need hearts determined, we need those who can provide a service or a piece of equipment, advertising, signs, music.. etc.. many of the small things that are important to the over all things. Its Relay, its all night and its every day.. because for now, cancer doesn't sleep.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Differences in Handling what we are handed

  Time does not dull everything. It does not take away all memories. There are those that we wish that it would..and some it does. Or at least eases the pain in such a way that you can stand back at a distance and see the events as if you were watching a movie or reading a book about someone else and their life. I believe that is what is helping me. As time has passed I have reached a point where I can stand and review what went on during my cancer battle with a more objective eye.  It has also given me a much better understanding of the battle of others. Of course I can not fully understand their fight and feelings as we are each different and handle our battles in our own ways.

 I went through a time of wondering. Can they really be telling me its possible? What is on that image that has them suspecting? But no one in my family has ever had breast cancer to my knowledge--can you have breast cancer if no one else in the family has? (silly question maybe but it did cross my mind.) Yes, no and maybe was a constant mantra running through my head. Could I really? If I do what will happen? If I don't..and I probably don't but if I don't will I feel silly for all this internal babbling?  But, if I do...on and on and on while I waited for everything to fall into place as far as getting an appointment for  the doctor to see me and begin the actual finding out process. What was showing up on that mammogram.

There were the nerves on edge. I am terrible with directions as I have no sense of direction. Send me somewhere for the first time and there is a great likelihood that I will end up on the opposite side of town if not the county. I was driving back from Tennessee one time and only had one turn to take. One. and I missed it. I was making good time too until I came to this town that hadn't been there the day before. I know that buildings can go up quicker now, but not that quick. So I was worried about finding the doctor's office being that there are several roads that lead off of the main road by the hospital. I didn't disappoint myself either as I chose the wrong road the first time.
 There was that moment of nerves when she came at me with that enormous needle to do the first biopsy. Well deserved because that hurt. And then there was the waiting, the results and the realization..

How does one act when they know something? There hasn't been any verification, no precise response but you know that you know. The verification and official word, that's just confirmation but you already knew. When the needle biopsy came back with the cells present that often meant there was cancer.. not a definite but good possibility and that I needed a surgical biopsy but I knew. Let them cut, but I already knew.

There were all of those moments of annoyance. All of the ten and a half million questions. All of the tests and people and appointments. So many moments when I just wanted to say forget it all. But I endured.

There was the confirmation and then more tests, more questions and more appointments right up until the day of the surgery. I wasn't really afraid, I was relieved that we were getting this taken care of and it would soon be in the treatment stages.  Treatments..thankfully I didn't need chemotherapy but I did have to undergo radiation treatments. The one time that I felt fear was while sitting in that little waiting area for my turn. Sitting there all alone, I was trying to read a magazine but I gave up and sat and trembled and was on the verge of tears when they finally called my name. The treatments were not really bad. I burned a little but not so much that it hurt, even though I did get lectured by the doctor that I needed to put more lotion on the burns.

I worked the entire time. I missed one day for the surgical biopsy and I missed two days for the actual surgery. During my radiation treatments I went in fifteen minutes early so I could leave fifteen minutes early to go for treatments. There were days that I wondered how on earth was I going to put one foot in front of the other. My feet would get heavier and heavier during the day until it was all I could do to take a step. I slept at night, I just had no energy.
My diet changed. Sweets, junk food of any type and caffeine made the exhaustion worse. I took to eating at every break and eating healthy. Fruit and lots of it became the norm that is still true to this day. I decided that in the hopes of keeping the cancer from returning I would need to make some changes, the diet being one of them. Then it was none, now its less coffee, only one soda a week (and I don't drink all of it), lots and lots of fruit and veggies and I pay close attention to what I purchase food wise. I try to get a regular amount of sleep but that's not always possible.

But that's me, that is how I handled so much of the fight. My inner strengths and weakness. My fears and determination. We all have our ways of handling things. Our strategy is different being we are each so different. Our stories are different. My hope is that the results are the same-- survivor, long term.
My hope, one day there will be no such thing as cancer. And that is why I do what I do. So that the fighter, doesn't wonder or fear that they are alone or forgotten.

Join me? Help me, help the ACS create more birthdays through research, through information, through programs, through volunteers and education. Through someone being there when they are needed. Join me? Join the fight and be on the winning team.

Team link:

my page:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Relay for Life..not just a cancer thing..

Have you ever heard of Relay for Life? Have you ever noticed those folks that wear the Survivor or "I am Hope" t-shirts? Have you ever been curious of what it is all about? Have you ever noticed and thought- that doesn't have anything to do with me I don't have cancer. But does. We have all in some way, shape or form been touched by cancer. Whether it is our self, a family member, a friend, co-worker, or a friend of a friend of a friend. It does touch us in some way. A family member is in the hospital facing surgery. A co-worker is out due to treatments. A child is far away from home in  a hospital fighting for their life. A person stands above a grave with tears streaming missing that loved one.  
Relay for Life is the main fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society but it is much more than that. Here are some of the things that I as a member of the East Gaston Relay for Life have learned personally about Relay for Life, not in order of their importance.
Relay is yes, a fundraiser- while much of the money raised goes to help fund research for a cure there are other things that money helps. There are programs set up such as the "Look good-feel good" where there are people who help cancer fighters -look good- through wigs, scarves, make-up. There are phone numbers and web sites set up with people manning them to offer information and assistance. There are rider programs that get the fighter back and forth to doctor visits and to get their medicines. This to name just a few examples.
Relay is in itself educational. Often times the monthly meetings will have a guest speaker. The speaker will share information on other Relay events, the programs offered, how the money is spent, of the things offered by the American Cancer Society and of the many ways to battle a terrible disease. To name just a few.
Relay offers the fighter/survivor a chance to meet some of the people who are fighting for them. It offers them the chance to meet other survivors and know that when it may feel as if they are alone- in truth they are not.
Relay through the year has teams that put on fund-raising events that allow fighter, caregiver, and others a chance to come together, to have some fun and to support Relay but participating in what-ever the event at that time may be. Whether it is a barbecue, hot dog or candy sale. Whether it is a car show, a motorcycle run or golf game.
Relay offers the community at large a chance to come together in an event that goes through the night. An event filled with fun and laughter, where more than a few tears are shared. It offers music, song and dance. It offers demonstrations. It offers challenges. It offers those attending a chance to donate, to purchase items in various ways with the money going to Relay, to purchase raffle tickets on some interesting items where all are winners. Relay, the winning ticket purchaser and those who were able to donate even that one dollar.
Relay for Life is not just a fundraiser. The people that join together to form teams, to form an event become much more than that. They become family. They know the survivors, they know the caregivers. A bond is formed and strengthened by the caring hearts that attend and work toward a common goal. They work together, they share, they fight for the life of those affected. They laugh, they cry and they pray together. They work together to raise money for the ACS in the hope of finding that cure, of finding the ways to prevent, of creating more birthdays and celebrating lives and hope.
Relay is not just a cancer thing-- it is a community thing. Because cancer touches us all.

Feelings to deal with

Looking back on it from this perspective I can see it more intellectually, but the emotions of that time haven't changed. The time distance makes them more easy to bear but I know that they will forever be a part of me, for that I am actually thankful.
When the doctor told me that I needed to have a mammogram I was mentally flippant. The thoughts were basically, "sure, no problem." To my knowledge no one in my family had ever had breast cancer so no history, no worries. Ignorance is not bliss.
My only concern at the time was finding the imaging center as I have absolutely no sense of direction. After all, I am the person who coming back from a weekend trip one time missed the one and only turn I had to make and had us many miles out of the way before I realized my error. I can and often do work myself up into an unnecessary mental state worrying about things. As it was, I had time though to find the place and believe me I went out of my way to find it before hand. I asked directions, I searched on line and I drove out to the location and around to the side of the building where it was located. Still on the appointed day I was a nervous wreck until I pulled into that parking area where I was to go, parked and entered the building.
Now my only concern was for the coming embarrassment, discomfort and pain. I am a self-conscious person who is very uncomfortable when it comes to body parts being exposed even to medical personnel. That and the fact that I had after all heard all of the horror stories connected with mammograms. Walking down that wide hallway I had a somewhat better understanding of those walking that last mile. The way was well lit but my fear made it dark.
  Signing in at the window I then moved through the doors and entered the waiting area. This was a very comfortably decorated room. Designed to make one feel at home with an understated elegance. I was still nervous. I tore up a tissue, I read and reread those little informational cards- not remembering a thing on them and I shifted repeatedly in my chair. After waiting, called to fill out insurance information and then waiting a little more I was called back. Shown to a dressing room and told to strip to the waist and dress in a nice fat, fluffy robe. That done I sat down to wait and tremble. If trembling were a weight loss tool I would have lost several pounds sitting in that room. While I waited all manner of thoughts flowed through my mind. Thoughts that were to some degree expected and logical and some that came from way out in left field that were the manifestations of a frantic mind. To some degree- man,y if not most -of us fear the unknown. Especially when you know others that love to share all of the horror stories they know, whether personal or one of those it happened to..' stories. The mind and one's imagination can create havoc. Combined, they can take you to places where there is no reason to go. Only when you have the mental aptitude to keep those fears and thoughts in check are you prevented from acting out physically. Right when my fear was reaching its crescendo I heard my name called through the door. Even though I had known it was coming I was still startled from my mental ramblings and jumped slightly. Standing, I took a deep breath and opened the door. It was waiting.
  Following the technician down the short hallway I was giving myself a mental pep-talk. It would be fine, no worries, no pain, no problems. Self wasn't listening very well. Passing through a door with warning signs around it I looked at one of the strangest machines that I had ever seen, and I didn't like it. The technician wasted no time and as she instructed I followed to the best of my ability. All the while babbling on, making the same comments that she had probably heard thousands of times before and some that could come only from someone like me who has an unusual sense of humor and unique oddness about them. Even through all of that she was very professional and I soon lost most of the embarrassment and found that the discomfort was not nearly as bad as I had feared. It was definitely not something that I would want to deal with on any schedule other than once a year, but I was not in the excruciating pain I had built of the fear for. When she told me afterward that I may get called back due to nothing to compare to I wasn't worried. I had done the mammogram thing, it was over, it was good I was about to go back to my so-called normal life and not worry about this again until next year.
That flippant attitude continued even when I did receive the message and returned for the images they needed. It was the  day after Thanksgiving, mom and I were going shopping and my thoughts were on all of the great deals we were  missing not on what was taking place. If anything I was feeling slightly annoyed. Mom was with me as once this was finished we were going to head out and find out what deals might be left. Impatience more than anything fueled my emotions as I sat, waited, followed, undressed and entered the imaging room. I was annoyed right up until they only took images of one side. I was told to sit and wait while the image was shown to a doctor. Another set of images later I was told the same thing. After the third set I was slightly concerned, especially when I was told they needed an ultrasound. Fear is like a kudzu plant. It starts out as a tiny sprout and then grows uncontrollably when allowed. Walking back down the hallway to wait, listening to the technician actually babbling on about shopping that first tiny sprout was trying to peek out. I don't like being afraid. It is not a comfortable emotion. I do not ride those thrill rides at amusement parks partly because of that. I don't like heights, I don't like feeling like I'm falling and I don't like not knowing what others do especially when it comes to me and my health. Even my mother who was still waiting for me picked up on the babbling and wondered.
Lead back to another area of the building I followed instructions and waited yet again in another cold room. When you are beginning to feel fear, a cold room is one of the last places you want to be. It only amplifies the trembling. The actual ultra-sound wasn't a problem. I watched the images on the screen and watched as she returned time and time again to the same area. She knew what she was looking at, I didn't. Again the unknown and the fear that comes with it sprouted a bit higher.
I was told that I would need to see a surgeon as there was "something" showing up. My attempt at shrugging it off in agreement didn't quite have the same effect that it had in the beginning. Mom and I didn't go shopping. The mood to find bargains was no longer there. Instead in the back of my mind was the question, do I have cancer?
I believe that fear, nerves, worry all have a cancer type affect on one. It grows, consuming one's thoughts and actions. You try to put it out of your mind, you try to push it aside only to have it return time and again. You go on about your business, taking care of your daily life and all the while its still there hounding you.
I loved my surgeon immediately. She has the best personality and style of dress. She is her own self with a wonderful attitude. I had worried about this meeting. I tend to say odd things at odd times and have people give me 'that look' letting me know they wonder if my keepers know that I'm running loose. In this doctor I found somewhat of a kindred spirit. She examined the images and told me that they-the almighty They- thought something was there. She showed me where the 'something' was and that it didn't have a defined appearance. That was when mouth opened and I told her it looked like a cat. She glanced at me and then the image and reluctantly agreed. She told me that she wanted to do her own ultra-sound. When I asked her if it would really be a cat scan she said "No..its an ultra-sound." but when the assistant she called came in she told the assistant that she wanted to do a 'cat-scan' I loved the expression on the girl's face. It brought that Kudzu in my mind down a notch. Even when the ultra-sound showed the same thing that 'they' had found I wasn't really too terribly concerned. When she told me that she wanted to do a needle biopsy I shrugged. I thought we would set up an appointment. Nope, she did it right then.
When we allow emotions to control us they can hurt. Broken hearts, separation and loneliness, fear of any kind, deceit of a friend..but that needle going in and the after that was pain and not merely an emotional one. The sample would be sent off and we would have the results in a week. that fear Kudzu plant can grow a lot in a week if you allow it. I was doing my best not to allow it. When it came back showing the possibility and that she needed to do a surgical biopsy I knew.
How many emotions does one actually have? Joy, love, hope, faith, trust, fear, hate, worry. You could start naming them and with all their variations never reach the end of the list. That was what I was feeling. I returned to work a mental mess. The foremost and strongest emotion was that I did not want to deal with this. I did not want to go through with this. I was not happy, I was angry, and I was a little afraid. Kudzu grows quickly.
Back in a far corner of the department I gave in and leaned over a box waited to be filled and prayed with all of the passion that I could pray. I did NOT want this. I am unashamedly a Christian. I believe in the Hope. When I prayed I was answered. Just not in the way I expected. Chastisement of the Spirit gets your attention, but it let me know I was not alone. The fear that had been eating at me- left. The creeping Kudzu plant wilted and fell away.
The surgical biopsy was an inconvenience that I had to deal with to get to the real ball game. Questions and tests and presurgery stuff out of the way my husband took me to the outpatient building and we waited. It was raining that morning and it fit my mood. I had to be here but I didn't want to be. I was only slightly nervous, mainly because I was once again dealing with the unknown. I had never had any surgery before this was new ground for me. Everyone was so very nice though, my fears and concerns eased. I knew what they would find, but now I was girded for battle, I was not alone.
When the biopsy showed the cancer I did not fall apart. I did not panic. I did not cry, moan or curse the fates. I matter -of- factly told her that she knew what and where it was- go get it. Game on.
The most difficult part in all of this so far was that I was going to have to tell my family that I had cancer. My husband was on a bus headed for a potential job. I called him and broke the news over the phone. I knew he didn't want to wait, he had made me promise to call. He was concerned, wanted to know if I wanted him to come back but I told him there was nothing he could do, continue on and see about the job. My mother took it better--or hid it better-- than I had hoped. My brother that lives the closest- he took it hard. He refused to look at me at first. I guess when you are facing our mortality for the first time it does make one confused and distressed. It took a few minutes but I finally got him past that. It was going to be okay. I knew though that I didn't want to deal with anything like the same reactions at work so I purchased a pink ball cap with the awareness ribbon on the front and wore that to work the next day. Of course it was questioned as I do not generally wear a cap but it broke all the ice and work went on and those who had dealt with this before me rallied to my side.
There is a lot more preparations that need to be made for surgery than I had ever realized. How many times can they ask you the same questions? How many different people need the same information? How many times must you have the same tests? Why do MRI's have to be so frightening? Well, at least to me and my not so lovely claustrophobia. Why are hospital rooms- any and all hospital rooms so freaking cold? I do really love those heated blankets though. A lot of different people came in as I was preapring for the surgery. Each with their own purpose. Each very friendly and very professional. Each managing to calm my nerves a little bit more. I wasn't so much afraid. I knew what they were going to do, and it wasn't as if they were doing back or heart surgery, but that level of concern and fear was determined not to be ignored. I think that they have the timing of that anesthesia down to an art form. Both times the minute I entered the operating room the first and last thing I saw was that bank of lights- then it was lights out.
Waking up after surgery is an adventure in itself. Disorientation is not fun. Trying to figure out where you are and why you are there. Who is that calling your name and why are so many people staring at you expectantly? Getting dressed and going home is always a relief whether it was a major or minor reason for your visit. Sleepy and nauseated from the anesthesia I went straight to bed and pretty much stayed there. I got up a couple times to talk with people and let them know I was doing okay but for the most part I lost two days. The day of and the day after the surgery. Now the real fun would begin.
Once the bandages were removed and I had healed up slightly I was sent to see an oncologist. Another professional type person that I had to see and try to figure out their personality and find out where the lines were drawn as to what part of my sense of humor would be accepted and what would get me those so familiar looks. He turned out to be a very nice doctor and gentleman. He, too, had a wonderfully quick, witty and bright sense of humor. Amazing- but not surprising- how blessings are given.  The first visit was a fact finding one. Afterward I would get my schedule. It still had not been determined if I would need chemotherapy. I wasn't afraid too much of the radiation..and I wasn't afraid really of the chemotherapy. My pride simply did not like the idea of losing my hair. Even though I complained about it for various reasons on a regular basis, it was my hair and I didn't want to lose it. Pride is a silly thing actually. Turns out my fears were relieved and I didn't have to face that threat as I did not need chemotherapy- only the radiation.
Fear of the unknown crept up again on that first day. I had no idea what was about to happen and I did not in any way look forward to it. The treatments turned out to be not so bad in themselves. It was the after effects that got me. Each day I grew more tired. Each day the weariness threatened my ability to function. Every single step was difficult. They were acts of sheer determination. I had no energy, thoughts and emotions took too much to feel. I was a machine doing what I had to and only what I had to just to get by. I had to totally change my diet. No more chocolate- no junk food period. The processed sugars only made the exhaustion worse. I allowed myself one cup of coffee a day- the rest of the time it was water. I was always thirsty, downing bottle after bottle of water a day. I carried one with me at all times. I had to learn to allow others to do for me. I- the person who prided herself on her self efficiency had to have help doing simple things. People I did not know who were reading the columns that were running in the paper would see me attempting to lift something and would rush to my aid. I received multitudes of cards and letters from people. Strange these feelings.
Cancer can and does give you a feeling of isolation. You know you are not the only person to have dealt with it. You are not the first and you won't be the last. But-- this is you. The fear that tries so hard to consume you. The loneliness in those times when you let down your guard, the exhaustion that you fight, the sickness from treatments. All battles you must fight and even when you have people at your side, they can only do so much. They can lift things for you, they can cook meals, do housework, drive you places...but they cannot fight the battle. As your body fights against the invader your mind and heart fight against the emotions that threaten.
The entire time I was in my particular battle even as my family and friends were around, they could not be around all of the time. I found a healing presence waiting for me on the many long walks that I began to take. Always along the route, and I took the exact same route daily, there was something special waiting for me. I found flowers that I had never noticed before, I found an amazing variety of insects. Deer, raccoon and opossum appeared on various occasions. There was always something amazing waiting to remind me that I was not taking this journey alone. There in lay my peace.
All of this was in 2008. Still today I can and do look back on that. It is a forever part of me. I faced and dealt with the emotional side of this thing. I was able to write about it then and write about it now. I have shared and continue to share my experience not for pity or attention, but to let others know that it is something that can be faced, can be beaten. Do I ever worry about it returning? I wouldn't be human if I didn't..but if it does. I know who is on my side.

Introducing: team HEART for a cure

   I have participated in Relay for years now- many already know that after receiving emails, blogs notifications and tolerating my asking for donations, many responding to those requests in a positive and giving manner. This year I decided to step it up a notice from merely participating to registering a team. I have registered a Relay for Life team: HEART for a cure..(Honoring-Everyone-Affected-Recognizing-The caregivers).
   I'm not sure exactly what I am getting myself into with this endeavor. I do however love a good challenge and it is for a great cause.
   I have been approached by a friend wanting to join forces, even suggesting that we use the name I've chosen as they believe it to be a good name. I am currently at war with myself over this. Imagine a tiny version of me on each shoulder each with a different opinion on the topic. One reminding me of the pro's and the other the con's of joining together. The side thinking I should knows how capable this person is in raising money for Relay for Life. It knows that this person has a greater contact base. Knows the in and out of it and has proven time and again how successful they are. That raising  money- the more the better- is what Relay for Life is all about, that and bringing attention to the American Cancer Society and what they have to offer cancer victims and their caregivers.
    The other less rational side of me is a bit of a whiner mentioning that I wanted to have a team. I wanted to see just what I could do on my own just starting out. I wanted to see if I could convince people to join the team and work toward a goal. With no preset fundraiser, no templates waiting to be used. Simply starting from scratch and seeing what happens.
     The part of me in the middle thinks that by following one, I'm shooting myself in the foot-by following the other, I'm shooting myself  in the other foot.
     I full respect the person who suggested this joining. I didn't expect my first challenge as a team captain to come quite so quickly and be so frustrating in the decision. Flipping a coin is not an option.
     Team, HEART for a cure is special to me, even this early on. In 2008 I went into battle  against cancer and by the grace of God won. My faith grew stronger each day that I fought even as my body grew weaker under the effects of the radiation treatments. I struggled physically to meet the demands of each day, finding my peace in the woods and along the dirt road that I love. It seemed to take an extraordinary long time before my strength returned. Now I am stronger, now I am more at peace and filled with a greater appreciation of things around me and of the people that I know as family and friends. They know of my past battle, they know of my feelings for the things around me, they know my faith and they know my thoughts and feelings for Relay.
   My hope was to see HEART for a cure be a success. That is still my hope. I have ideas that I would like to explore in the planning, in the putting into action and hoped for success. It was my hope to see the events I was contemplating be events that would draw in a lot of community involvement with only small amounts of donations required from each individual but drawing in enough that it would add up.
   As with many start-ups my on hand cash is limited so I have to be careful in that the events I hope to put on do not require spending out of pocket because the purpose is to raise money-not spend it.
    I'll meet with this most capable friend soon and we will discuss all this and more. Whether we will join together into one team, or find ways to work together in a partnership of teams. Either way- I'll get those two annoying tiny versions of me off of my shoulders and quiet.
  Another Relay for Life season has begun. I will be blogging again on various Relay, ACS, and cancer related topics. All  of which are things that I am passionate about, Please join me as we travel this road toward the East Gaston Relay for Life event on May 10Th 2013, at Common Ground on Hickory Grove Rd, Stanley, NC.