Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Tiffany Foundation Fundraising Event is a Week from Today

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Tiffany Floth Romero, but I had the honor of running into her legacy last December at the Ballers Against Breast Cancer/Tiffany Foundation Event at my tennis club.

The Tiffany Foundation was formed to honor the life of Tiffany Floth Romero, who died on August 5th, 2006, after a 4 1/2 year battle against Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Tiffany had an indomitable spirit that both stuns me and spurs me on in my own battle against breast cancer.

Tiffany didn't put life on hold while she faced and fought cancer. Her battle was more difficult than I can imagine, but despite everything she lived passionately, loved deeply, laughed, hard and often, and she played tennis. I would have loved to play tennis with her. I would have been honored to be Tiffany's friend.

Last December the Tiffany Foundation gave me a holiday, of sorts, away from the cancer and the chemo: a year of tennis at 5 Seasons to help me get back on the courts. Through the year, both on the courts and off, I have been aware of Tiffany's generous gift and spirit.


This December I get to "pay it forward" so to speak, and be part of the passing on of the torch to the next Tiffany Award recipient. Pictured with me above, is Kristi Frazier, the 2007 recipient, who handed me the torch last year and whose hair growth I am trying to catch up with this year.

The Event will begin with tennis! from 5:00-6:30 p.m., followed by a silent auction, live music, food and spirits, in celebration and honor of Tiffany from 7:00-10:00 p.m.

5 Seasons is located at 11790 Snider Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45249.
The club phone number is 513-360-4332. It's web address is

Please R.S.V.P. here or by calling 5 Seasons so they can cater accordingly. Also, feel free to bring friends. The more, the merrier. The more to join with The Tiffany Foundation and 5 Seasons in the battle against breast cancer, in honor of Tiffany. The more to stand beside and bless the next Tiffany recipient.

As it is a Fundraiser, the Event is $35 per person.

Cheers, and I hope to see you there!

P.S. Learn more about Tiffany, her story and The Tiffany Foundation at

Thursday, November 26, 2009

No, This is Not an Amex Ad

As you can see, I made a happy plate at our little Thanksgiving today! Boy does food taste better when chemo isn't the cocktail on the table. This time last year I had just had my first Tax-ALL the week of Thanksgiving and I still couldn't really taste the food from the first flight of chemo cocktails. Not to mention, the first week of Tax-ALL was probably one of the hardest weeks of my life. So so sore. I was a pretty good sport until after lunch, and then I pretty much went to bed for the weekend to put myself (and everyone else) out of my misery. The day after was really about the blackest Friday I've ever had. I was not very thankful and didn't even feel good enough to feel bad about that.

This year, not only was my plate happy, but my tastebuds are still dancing, in a Conga line with the thousand thankful thoughts parading through my head.

TGTWNACW: Thank God Thanksgiving Was NOT a chemo week. I can't tell you how thankful I was to sit at our Feast this year, with everything that has gone on in the past year. I know I could not see forward to this Thanksgiving last year. I know that is the point when I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do this. I feel a little like the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who never quite knew what he had in himself until Gandalf chose him to go on an adventure with the dwarves and he went "there and back again". I didn't not know I had it in me to get from point A: last Thanksgiving, to point B: today. And yet here I am! A tiny part of me is pleasantly surprised with myself. Who knew?! But for real I know God is the one and the reason I supped at point B today. With a thankful heart!

I am thankful that I got to taste the amazing Rachel Ray turkey we have made for the past three years. It is seriously the most Yum-O turkey ever.

I am thankful that my little girl was home from college to do her traditional part of the turkey prep, by dancing around our kitchen with "Feathers" before we buttered him up to get him into the pan, and then gave him a few glasses of white wine to make the ride a happy one.
I am thankful for the amazing team work Dave and I have in pulling off such a fabulous feast. Last year we just made the turkey and all my tennis buds brought us a bounty of sides, which was so fantastic of them. This year Dave and I made stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese shells, cranberry sauce, apple pie, green stuff, puppy chow. So much fun. And so delish.

I am thankful for the Thanksgiving mix we listened to while we cooked and feasted.

I am thankful we watched my favorite Thanksgiving movie, Pieces of April, while the turkey cooked. I love this tradition.

I am thankful for the family time around our candlelit dinner table, feasting away, fearless in the face of the subsequent food coma we all happily fell into.

I am thankful for couches to become rooted in during food coma. And our big screen TV. And the internet, that has allowed Mikey and I to catch up on Glee this Thanksgiving break. Glee makes me gleeful.

I am thankful that my Mum drove from Indy to have Thanksgiving with us, and a few friends as well, graced our home and presence throughout the day.

Speaking of my Mum, I am thankful about the update I have to report. Sorry it has taken me this long to get to it. Things have been spinning so fast it has been really impossible for me to sit still enough to process my thoughts and get them in writing where I can figure out what they are.

The news we got from the breast surgeon was about as good as it gets, not that it's going to be a ride in the park, but it was really the best news I had conjured up in my hopeful imagination. The Doc staged her at a 0, which is really good. Means we caught it really, really early. It was a cluster of cancer cells in a duct. But they had not gone invasive yet, so that was more really good news. Mine was invasive and aggressive and there is where the double mastectomy and chemo came into play. Thank God my Mum does not have to deal with chemo. The Doc gave her an option of a mastectomy or a lumpectomy and radiation. I was hoping hard against a mastectomy for my Mum, and was so relieved when she chose the lumpectomy/radiation route. The Doc said they were equal options according to my Mum's details and that she wouldn't get any bonus points for the mastectomy anyway. So Out Damn Spot it is. On December 8th. Then she will have about a month to recover before she starts up with the radiation. It will be 33 times, on Mondays - Fridays, for almost 7 weeks. Then, God willing she will be done with cancer. Please pray for my Mum's healing, and health, and for all the Little Red Door and Medicaid issues all work out to cover her medical expenses.

I am thankful for the Little Red Door Cancer Agency that provided her the free mammogram screening which found the cancer at this early stage where the prognosis is excellent for my Mum.

I am thankful for the irony of the fact that my Mum found this cancer via a mammogram the very same week the new guidelines came out basically dissing mammograms. I AM NOT THANKFUL ABOUT THE NEW GUIDELINES. If I had not found my own damn spot, I would not be scheduled for my first mammogram for 6 more years. I would not be here typing this if those guidelines were the gatekeepers to early diagnosis which led to my excellent prognosis.

I am thankful to still be around to know and love on my redheads as teenagers. They have grown into the most lovely/loving peeps. I really dig my kids.

I am thankful for my MacBook and the gift of writing to help me process all the cancer and chemo crap.

I am thankful for a late night followed by sleeping in.

I am thankful for the cup of coffee my hub will have waiting for me when I do rise and try to shine tomorrow.

I am thankful I have the whole weekend ahead of me still. And I have all of my redheads all weekend long.

I am thankful that on Monday I will have my second-to-last chemo cocktail!
I am thankful for all my fam and friends who have helped carry me to point B via prayer.

I am so very thankful. And about as happy as my plate.

Cheers and love,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Heavy Blow

Yesterday I went with my Mum's to receive the results of her recent biopsy; the doctor said the C-word. She is understandably in shock. I am mad. Damn cancer.

We don't know much at this point. The biopsy finding was duct cell carcinoma. There doesn't appear to be any evidence of it being invasive. We are hopeful that we have caught it early. Like the mantra my oncologist told me: early diagnosis, excellent prognosis. We have an appointment with a breast surgeon on Thursday to get her read on the reports, and a game plan.

I do not like my Mum having to go through this cancer crap. I was tested for the gene and it was negative. There was no need for this. If the statistics are that one in eight women get breast cancer, then surely I should have been able to cover my own Mum. Cancer is a bitch.

This is my blog, not hers, so I'll not presume to make it be that. I will update as I find it proper to do so while respecting my Mum's own dealing with it all.

Please keep her in your prayers.

And sorry for the tone of this post. It is a heavy blow to me. I am not even done with my own treatment and just wish I was already done so I would feel stronger to be stronger for my Mum.

That said, I have this at my core that I want to be clear is at the core of even a difficult post like this:

Remember, [my] Message is not about [myself]; [I'm] proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All [I] am is [a messenger], [an] errand runner from Jesus. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and [my life] filled up with light as [I] saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

If you only look at [me] you might well miss the brightness. [I] carry this precious Message around in the unadorned [clay pot] of [my] ordinary [life]. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with [me]. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know yourselves that [I'm] not much to look at. [I've] been surrounded and battered by troubles, but [I'm] not demoralized; [I'm] not sure what to do, but [I] know that God knows what to do; [I've] been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left [my] side; [I've] been thrown down, but [I] haven't been broken.

(From The Message, 2 Corinthians 4:5-9, with the pronoun personalized from we to me.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dos Mas = Peace

I cannot even believe that I am saying that I am down to only 2 chemo cocktails left! But I am! And all I can say is Thank God!

Had T-3 on Monday. The chemo cocktail lounge was unusually rowdy. The sisters were there. The other Julie was there. My new friend, Shelly, was there. Shelly's sister was there. The other Julie's son and girlfriend were there. My hub, daughter, and friends Jenn and Wren, were there.
And of course our chemo cocktail servers, our angels, were there. It was practically a party, as far as chemo lounges go.
Here's a pic of me and Shelly. We have been doing chemo cocktails together ever since my birthday this year, so I sort of consider her a birthday present. We have very similar stories and treatments, and have become chemo sis-tahs. We do Herceptin shots together, and she is still on Tax-ALL. Thankfully, it is not giving her the grief it gave me, so keep praying that all continues to go well for her. She did have some side effects of turning red after I left the chemo lounge on Monday, but it wasn't really clear to me if it was the Tax-ALL, or she was just missing me? ;) I knew I should have stayed until she was done. Anyway, thankfully they got it all worked out and she is one more chemo cocktail down too! Her light at the end of the tunnel is September. Go Shelly!

I also have a friend named Amy, who I would like you to be praying for. She is a survivor of thyroid cancer, and is currently on day 9 of 19 days of hell, I mean, treatment. Hang in there Amy! Tomorrow you'll be halfway there!

While I'm at it, let me ask you to pray for my mum. She has been having some health issues lately. She had a couple of questionable mammograms recently. They think it is just a sprinkling of calcified deposits, but because she is related to me, they are doing a biopsy tomorrow. Please pray for a good, as in, benign, report. She also is dealing with a chronic infection that has resulted in Bell's Palsy and a number of abscessed teeth. Please pray that we can get this infection and inflammation under control, and for her health. She has had a rough year, to say the least, witnessing my sickness and her mum's passing, and forgetting her own health. I am heading to Indy tomorrow, to sit on the other side of the waiting room for a change of pace. Not really the pace I like though, if you want to know the truth. I'm used to being on the other side, and hooked up with some happy juice. Let's hope I've at least learned some good bed-side manner through all this. See ya tomorrow, Mum!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Countdown: Rewind to T-4 and a Preview of T-3

My answering machine was blinking its ominous light again yesterday. I haven't listened to the message yet but I already know what it is. A message on the answering machine on a Thursday means a chemo cocktail coming up on Monday.

Which reminds me, that I didn't update from the last chemo cocktail I downed three weeks ago. It was T minus 4, meaning I only have 3 left.
Here is the ominous blue sign that means turn left to the chemo cocktail lounge. I think the interior decorator made a good decision to have the sign match the blue recliners so we with mushy chemo brains don't accidentally drive past the oncologist office. It's also good advertising, in my mind, to have CARE highlighted, because honestly, the oncology part makes you want to apply a little pressure to the gas peddle, but then you see the word CARE, and you remember there are really nice nurses in there who you wouldn't mind saying hello to. Even if it is over a chemo cocktail. One last word on the sign, the word EXIT, is also a nice touch. I mean, I like Hotel California as much as the next person, but it really made me appreciate exit signs. Especially at the chemo cocktail lounge.

Here is my roller derby name on the back of my Whip It tee shirt. You might notice that in both pictures I am holding up three fingers. I am not signing a "W" and you do not have to read between the lines. It's just a simple three, silly. As in, I have three chemo cocktails left.

One of which, I will down on Monday! Wow, who would ever expect to see an exclamation point at the end of a sentence like that? This counting down thing rocks.

Plus, I have a chemo buddy that I am looking forward to seeing. Her name is Shelly. She and I have much in common with damn spots, a not bad bald look, a similar bar tab at the chemo cocktail lounge, and sweet children that help you somehow smile through it all. She is in the midst of her Tax-All flight. So please be praying for her whenever you pray for me.


p.s. If you haven't registered for The Army of Women yet, please do it. Not just for me and my pink Vespa. Although, you have to admit, it does seem meant to be. Go to Click on Get Involved. Scroll down and fill in the registration form. Where it says, how did you hear? Choose Pink Vespa Contest. Then fill in my email address: Thanks.

p.p.s. If you haven't read my article on Christianity Today's Web Mag yet, please check it out at Thanks again.