Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tennis Anyone?

If your a tennis fan like me, and anywhere in my vicinity, I'd like to invite you to a Memorial Day tennis bash some of my friends are throwing.

The Windwood Tennis Committee is hosting a Memorial Day Fundraiser this Monday, May 30th, 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Windwood Swim and Tennis Club, 6649 North Windwood Drive, West Chester. Bring a breakfast item and a donation. We will provide balls, beverages and lots of fun. This event is open to men and women, and all levels of play are welcome.

The proceeds from this year's fundraiser will go to bringing The SCAR Project to Cincinnati. The Pulitzer nominated SCAR project is a series of large-scale portraits of young women with breast cancer shot by fashion photographer David Jay.

The SCAR Project mission is three-fold: Raise public consciousness of early onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs, and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.

The Cincinnati Exhibition of The SCAR Project will be September 29-October 2. The SCAR Project Cincinnati exhibit will be a benefit, in part, for the Pink Ribbon Girls.

SCAR Project Cincy - The Cocktail Party Fundraiser Report

The SCAR Project Cincy Exhibit Planning Committee, from left to right: Shelly Emrick, Litsa Spanos, Vanessa Tiemeier, Joules Evans

Thanks to everyone who turned out for our SCAR Project Cincy Cocktail Party Fundraiser event on May 20th. It was a beautiful evening and a fantastic kick-off event toward bringing The SCAR Project to Cincinnati this fall. We believe it will be one of the most beautiful meaningful art exhibits to grace the Queen City.

For those who are new to this blog, The SCAR Project is a series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors shot by fashion photographer David Jay. Primarily an awareness raising campaign, The SCAR Project puts a raw, unflinching face on early onset breast cancer while paying tribute to the courage and spirit of so many brave young women. Like Vanessa, local subject of The SCAR Project and part of our Cincinnati planning committee. Vanessa was first diagnosed when she was only 25 years old. She's actually been photographed for The SCAR Project twice. Once at 25, after her initial diagnosis, and sadly a second time when her breast cancer metastasized three years later.

Vanessa and I met at the New York City premiere of The SCAR Project exhibit last October. I was standing next to her standing next to her picture when we realized we were both breast cancer survivors from Cincinnati. We've been working together to bring the exhibit to Cincinnati ever since. Thank you Vanessa, for your strength and vulnerability to show what the SCAR Project is all about: Surviving Cancer. Absolute Reality. You are beautiful.

Vanessa speaking at the Cocktail Party Fundraiser about being photographed for The SCAR Project

Thanks also to Litsa Spanos of Art Design Consultants for being such a gracious hostess for the cocktail party fundraiser and The SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhibit. Thanks to Elegant Fare for their generous donation of appetizers for the fundraiser. We are so lucky they have so generously donated their catering services for The SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhibit. And thanks to the Kicked-In Fence for providing live music for the evening. Especially this song (which, obviously means a lot to me, since my kids are in the band and they wrote "Cancer is a Bitch" for my last chemo cocktail).

The Kicked-In Fence

The Cincinnati premiere of the international, Pulitzer nominated, photographic exhibit will be September 29 - October 2. The exhibit will fall on the heels of the September 24th Cincinnati Race for the Cure and on the cusp of the October 9th American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. (I plan on participating in both events and will have a Team Shaken Not Stirred registered in both in case anyone would like to join me.)

The SCAR Project Cincy Exhibit Planning Committee is excited to announce that we have recently designated a local breast cancer organization, Pink Ribbon Girls, to be a primary beneficiary of proceeds from the event. We're also really happy to work with Pink Ribbon Girls to bring this event to Cincinnati, which will in turn raise awareness for the Pink Ribbon Girls and all they do to support Cincinnati breast cancer survivors. And by do, I mean to say, have done for the past 10 years, as Pink Ribbon Girls are fast approaching the double digits in years of reaching out to local breast cancer survivors. Happy birthday, Pink Ribbon Girls. And thank you for everything you do.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Boo-boos, Bandaids, and the Big Scheme

In the big scheme of things I know a bandaid is not a really big deal. I had my 3-month check-up with my oncologist last week. It went well btw, despite all the bandaids that might as well have been "out of service" signs on all my veins that kept blowing during the blood draw. Which was the most confusing part, because with mi amore del vino tinto, who'd've expected my blood to just sit there, like an upside down bottle of Heinz (in the pre-squeeze bottle days) singing "Anticipation" like it's some kind of a comedian when it's really just a condiment. Anyway, after the first nurse struck out, we called in Fatima aka the pinch hitter if you know what I mean. And by that, I don't mean she's mean. But she can hit a vein and pinch a drop or two of blood in a pinch like nobody's business. I helped a little by hulking out the iguana veins in my hand just so she wouldn't be intimidated by all the holes in my arm, but I have to give her props. Even if she gave me boring bandaids. I guess they were out of the Sponge Bob bandaids. Whatever. I got over it. And my oncologist gave me two thumbs up at my appointment, followed up by a good report on the blood test. So you can see why I didn't feel like holding a grudge about the boring bandaids.

See this boring bandaid?

It's not the one I was talking about a second ago, but I just thought about it when I was talking about bandaids, and then I felt kind of bad for giving Fatima such a hard time about sticking a boring bandaid on me since it turns out I'm a freaking hypocrite and buy boring bandaids myself. (In my defense, they are cushioned, not to mention, water resistant, which has come in handy with all the rain this spring.) Anyway, this bandaid is from a biopsy I had done on Monday. There's another place on my right shoulder as well. I don't mention the biopsy out of worry. I almost didn't mention it at all. Not even to my oncologist because, no offense, but the idea of more doctor's appointments made me feel sick. Plus I'm super busy editing my book about my cancer story and I like the ending the way it is.

I have so many friends and family who are writing more chapters in their own cancer stories and honestly it breaks my heart right underneath that bandaid.

Like my friend Kristi, who I wrote about recently and pray for constantly.

Like my Uncle Bill who is fighting stage IV prostate cancer in Indiana and my cousin Kaye who is fighting stage IV pancreatic cancer in Florida. Like our friend Don who is fighting stage IV colorectal cancer.

Like when I walk out the door tomorrow. If I look to the left I'll think a friend's sister who is fighting ovarian cancer. Right next door, is a friend who just celebrated his own 5-year cancerversary, while grieving the forth anniversary of the passing of both his wife and daughter within a month of each other from two different cancers. Then I drive past the street of a tennis girlfriend who was fighting stage IV kidney cancer when I was just beginning my battle, but now she's resting in peace. On my way out of the neighborhood I pass another tennis girlfriend's house; she's fighting stage IV breast cancer.

I have a little route of errands I run most days. In the course of my errands, the mother of the owner of the mediterranean bistro where I get my carrot juice, a sweet mutual friend she introduced me to, the mother of my bank teller, the mother of the owner of one neighborhood salon, the mother of a nail tech at another, the the mother of a hair stylist at another, and the cousin of the postal clerk...all fighting breast cancer.

Like my friend Vanessa who I get to work with a lot these days. She's one of the subjects of The SCAR Project exhibit who is working with me to bring the exhibit to Cincinnati in September. She was actually photographed twice for the exhibit. The first time, after she was diagnosed at only 25 years old. Then again, sadly, when the cancer metastasized almost but not quite three years later.

Which is just about the point I am in my journey. Which is why it's hard not to "go there" while I'm waiting on results from a biopsy from Monday, or having an MRI tomorrow (which is also nothing I'm worrying about, we're just keeping tabs on some issues I'm having, probably resulting from the "Vespa Incident." On top of chemo brain.)

I hate the way the lines blur when people I love are dealing with cancer and I end up thinking about myself and hoping my cancer doesn't come back. It makes me feel like a jerk.

Even though they're not sitting there thinking I'm a jerk because they're busy fighting cancer and hoping for a cure.

I think it's cool the way the lines blur between finishing treatment and being finished with cancer. I've been finished with treatment for a little over a year. I hope cancer is done with me. But I'm not done with cancer. I have a lot of peeps I love, too many peeps I love, who are still fighting cancer and hoping for a cure. Which is why this is not so much about my bandaid but a request for some prayer to cover all my peeps I mentioned underneath.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1000 Days

1000 days ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When you hear that word it kinda sorta makes you wonder if it’s time to start counting down your days. If you know me, I’m kinda sorta an out of the box kind of girl, so I didn’t really feel like counting down because that sounded anticlimactic. Anticlimaxes rain on my parade.

Somewhere in the beginning of my cancer journey I came across another blogger who was celebrating her 1000th day since being diagnosed or 1000 days of being cancer free and at first I was jealous that I didn’t think of it first. Then I just decided to be a copycat when I got there.

Now I’ve been there, done that, and I’ve got to tell you, I sure do like the view from here. 1000 days is definitely one of my favorite 1000 gifts [#112]. I’ve had the most amazing 1000 days EVER.

  • I graduated my M&M from homeschool last May [#113]
  • I retired from homeschooling [#114]
  • I wrote a book, which has been the biggest dream my whole life. It’s calledSHAKEN NOT STIRRED…A CHEMO COCKTAIL. It’s a postcard of sorts from the other side of breast cancer and chemo: Been there, done that, had to buy a new t-shirt. It’s a comedy about my tragedy. [#115}
  • I baptized my sister [#116]
  • I got to go on a Roman Holiday with Dave to celebrate our 20th anniversary (a tad late) and the end of the “bad” chemo days. [#117]
  • I received The Tiffany Award, which granted me membership at Five Seasons Sports Club, to help regain my fitness and get my tennis game back after cancer and chemo. [#118]
  • My tennis team won play-offs, against crazy odds, my first season back. It even made it in The Enquirer. [#119]
  • I got an article published in the Christianity Today online magazine for breast cancer awareness month. [#120]
  • I was honored to be able to present The 2009 Tiffany Award to Mary Jo Cropper, may she rest in peace. The breast cancer center at Bethesda North Hospital, where I got my mammogram, is named after her, so it was so beautiful to me to be able to both honor her and thank her personally and publicly. [#121]
  • When I downed my last chemo cocktail in December 2009, we had the best family Christmas vacation EVER at Marco Island. [#122]
  • I traveled with my Mikey for a couple days in Paris before dropping him off in Germany, where he did a 7 month internship with YWAM. Then I made my way home slowly via taking the Eurorail through the Alps to Munich to Innsbruck to Bologna to Pisa to Cinque Terre to Florence to Venice Italy.[#123]
  • I received the generous gift of a holiday in Cancun with Dave-O from the Karen Wellington Foundation for LIVING with Breast Cancer. [#124]
  • I walked half a marathon in the Cincinnati Flying Pig this year! [#125]
  • So far I’ve done the Indiana, Atlanta, and Columbus, OH Races for the Cure this year. [#126]
  • I actually ran most of the Atlanta one, which was my first 5k to run not walk. [#127]
  • I’m currently working on helping to bring The Scar Project to Cincinnati to kick off “Pinktober.” It’s an awareness raising, beautiful, breathtaking, captivating, heartbreaking, impactful, meaningful, powerful Pulitzer nominated photographic exhibit of breast cancer subjects and their scars. [#128]
  • While I'm on subject of my 1000 Gifts...I heart my oncologist, Dr. Lower [#129] and my breast surgeon, Dr. Stahl [#130] and my port surgeon, Dr. Runk [#131]-(Even though my port was notmy favorite thing-I totally don’t hold it against her;)
  • And I also superheart Julia Fikse [#132] and save the ta-tas [#133] for making stuff that makes me laugh and that also supports cutting edge research to end breast cancer, all in one fell swoop, not to mention a cool t-shirt.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kickin' It With Kristi

On Saturday I did the Columbus Race for the Cure with Team Kickin’ It With Kristi. That’s Kristi, leading her team of true blues in a sea of pink. And by sea of pink, think 50,000 peeps. Wow. Just wow.

Kristi is kickin’ Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer.

The week before Easter Kristi found out that the breast cancer she’d been diagnosed with in 2007, had recurred, having spread to both lungs and her liver. On Good Friday she found out it was also in her hip, pelvis, lower spine, and kidney. A few days later she found out it was also in both sides of her brain.

She finished up 12 rounds of full brain radiation the day before the Race. Hopefully the radiation zapped all the cancer cells POOF gone. Later this month she will begin chemo which will hopefully shrink the tumors in her lungs.

Kristi is only 32. She just turned 32 on Easter. Her son, Chase, turned one-year-old the day before that. She also has a sweet little girl named Addison Hope, who is four-years-old. Addison’s middle name is not an accident. Kristi found out she was pregnant with Addison when she first found out she had breast cancer in 2007.

Addie’s a miracle, like hope is a miracle. She was born on Thanksgiving day, and after Kristi had gone through her first 4 rounds of chemo. Then she had 5 more rounds of “bad” chemo. Then a year of Herceptin. While Kristi was kickin’ cancer for the first time, she and Addie grew their hair out together.

I met Kristi right before her last chemo in December 2008. It was at a breast cancer event at my tennis club on a good week in between rounds 5 and 6, of my 24 chemo cocktails. The first thing I remember about Kristi was her smile and that she walked around like she’d just kicked cancer’s ass. And she had the cutest curly head of hair; I was in a pink Nike ball cap that said TENNIS on it. Meeting Kristi was like getting a postcard from hope.

The postcard had a p.s. with a tennis club membership to get me back out on the courts where my hat was tickled pink at the thought of being. Kristi had received an award from the Tiffany Foundation at the Five Seasons Sports Club’s Ballers Against Breast Cancer event in 2007, when she was pretty much wearing my hat, so to speak. I was in awe when Kristi spoke and shared her story. She said Addie had just turned one. Addison Hope. She had only one more round of chemo to go. So much hope. I was in a chemo fog or something when she mentioned the Tiffany Award and called my name because I did not see it coming. But the tennis was definitely something I looked forward to. Hope.

Hope happened. Fast forward one year, to December 2009, and imagine Kristi with even longer goldilocks, and me without even a hint of a wave in my own new du, but a bunch of salt and pepper, straight up, on top. Imagine that I am back out on the courts by then, and my team is even going to win the play-offs that week. And imagine that I only have one more round of chemo left. Just like Kristi did the year before. And just like Kristi, I got to give the Tiffany Award to the recipient: Mary Jo Cropper. Which was quite humbling, since I had my mammogram at the breast cancer center named after her—in a way she helped saved my life.

Life happened. Fast forward another year, to December 2010, and imagine me having kicked cancer like Kristi, and now trying to figure out life after cancer.

Fast forward to Saturday’s Race and we’re all blue and wearing Kickin’ It With Kristi t-shirts. Cancer happened. Kristi’s fighting for her life again. And she’s going to kick cancer again.

Please pray for her whenever you think of me. If you’re on Facebook, please join the prayer chain for Kristi Frazier. Let’s kick it with Kristi.

I’d like to see this sign with Kristi holding it next year (then me the next cuz I’m such a freaking copycat):

I’d also like to see a sign like this on Kristi’s back in 15 years, and me still trying to keep up with her.

Although, in 15 years Addie will be graduating high school, and my Amanda will be getting regular mammograms. So I hope there won’t even be a Race for the Cure because I hope we’ll find one before then.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

A couple of weeks ago my friend Debbie and I walked (and ran a little) half of the Cincinnati Pig Marathon together.

Apparently, when pigs take off to fly, it's in the dark.

Last weekend my friend Cee and I ran (and walked a little) of the Atlanta Race for the Cure 5K together.

Don't be confused by the skyscraper, Cee and I are both really short. But I'm a tad gianter.

I realize that might not seem like a big deal, and maybe it’s not in the big scheme of things, but after the marathon they both raced for my cure when I was diagnosed with cancer and going through chemo, it seemed fitting, right, necessary, good.

Debbie (#104 on my list of 1000 gifts) and Cee (#105) were kind of the CEOs, of sorts, of chemo details in the Evanshire. They got together, and got all my friends together, to bring meals every day of every “bad” chemo week. It was. Such. a HUGE. relief. And feeding my picky family can be a lot like a marathon. [Note: I don't think the term mess hall originated with trying to feed my picky peeps, but then again...]

So a couple of weeks ago Debbie and I did the half-Pig (#106) together. Luckily, writing my book has gotten me used to not sleeping, because I had to wake up at 3 a.m. since pigs apparently take off while it’s still dark. (I didn’t know this when I signed up.) The thing about Debbie and marathons is that she is practically the boy scout of marathoning—prepared. If you know me, you know I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants most of the time, and it probably frustrates you practically to death. Sorry.

It misted off and on but luckily Debbie had told me to pack a rain poncho, and as much as I’m on strike against wearing hats these awesome hair days I’m having, I was glad I brought a hat since my glasses don’t have windshield wipers. Thank God it was warm outside; the mist actually felt good. Except for the fact that my soggy feet (from the chemo) actually, for real, got literally soggy. I could hear my socks squishing and it was gross. (But not as gross as the port-o-potties. Apparently runners keep running when they “go” and they don’t have very good aim.)

As for the socks, no worries, because, of course, Debbie had thought ahead and told me to pack an extra pair.

We mostly walked the 13.1 miles. Of course we ran at the start, which was a lot like walking, with all those runners who can’t aim. We also ran across a bridge over the Ohio River. The cool thing about running over a bridge over the Ohio River it’s literally running from Kentucky to Ohio. Which feels really far and kinda badass. It also feels badass to run downhill, which we did. But not wee wee wee all the way home.

We did run across the finish line though. I can’t help it if all those peeps thought we actually ran the whole way and there wasn’t really time to explain. We totally got busted and shooed away when we tried to go back and take a pic by the “Finish Swine”. And I wasn’t even sure if I could finish it at all. But I so freaking did. (Seems I caught something from the Pig though, and now I simply must do a Komen 3-day, and someday run the 1/2 Pig.)

My time was 3:40:06

Last weekend Cee and I took Team Shaken Not Stirred (#107) on the road and raced for the cure (#108) in Atlanta (#109). It was the first time I ran a whole 5K. Well, mostly ran. There were a couple of uphills that I didn’t exactly channel my Little Engine on, but instead decided to pace myself and possibly finish rather than for sure roll down the hill all the way back to the start line. The thing about running 5K’s with Cee is that she really races for the cure. I thought about tying myself to her and just flying behind her like a kite but then I got caught up in the spirit of racing for the cure and found out that I can actually run a 5K. Well, almost but not quite a whole 5K, if we’re being technical, but then I don’t sound nearly as awesome. Whatever.

Anyway, I have to give props to the Atlanta Race for the Cure peeps for tricking me into running my first 5K (#110). They didn’t have mile-markers, so I never knew where I was in the course, so the finish line shocked the you-know-what outta me. And that, pretty much was my trick to the finish. I kept waiting for the one-mile marker (that never was) and inside I was thinking how very discouraging it was going to be to finally see it and know I still had so many miles to go. And then all of a sudden there was the finish line! Talk about a big “whew”.

My time was 35:02

Here’s why racing for a cure is such a big deal to me.

1) It reminds me that I get by with a little help from my friends.

2) The sea of pink is so moving to be a part of.

3) It is a metaphor to me for moving forward. Though not forgetting. And forging ahead with great purpose.

4) It might be a small thing, but like Mother Theresa said, “”Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” And like the words etched into the Vineyard Cincinnati says, “Small things done with great love will change the world.”







And in a few hours I’ll be racing for a cure in Columbus with my friend Kristi (#111) and Team Kickin’ It With Kristi. Please pray with me for Kristi. She just finished 12 brain radiation treatments today which we hope and pray zapped all the cancer cells poof away….she’s doing the race for the cure tomorrow….then begins chemo later this month to shrink tumors in her lungs. If you’re on Facebook please join the Prayer “Chain for Kristi Frazier” group.

Well, I better get a little sleep before the race;)

Cheers and love, Joules