Sunday, March 25, 2012

Walk Like a Diva

Saturday, my family and I participated in the Walk Like a Diva 5K Family Fun Walk in my little part of the world, Kingwood, Texas. It was a GORGEOUS day! The route traversed some of the most beautiful greenbelt trails Kingwood has to offer: through the woods and along the lakeshore. The ladies who organized this inaugural walk did a great job, as there were refreshments and vendor booths and even a bounce house for the kids afterwards. And all for a great cause: The Avon Foundation for Women (more info, below.) The Pink Ribbon Shop is planning to partner with the KingwooDDivas for next year's walk -- hoping for an even bigger turnout = even more $$$ for Avon's Walk for Breast Cancer.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the organizers asked me to speak before the walk. It may not seem like much for some of you out there who are accustomed to speaking in public as a crusader for the breast cancer awareness cause, but it was huge to me! I think it went well, except for the fact that I was up late and had a house full of teenagers, AND I was sick with allergy/sinus issues and had NEARLY LOST MY VOICE the night before the walk! I mean really, what are the odds? I am hardly ever sick like this! Anyway, they say God works in mysterious ways, right? So the morning of the walk my voice was a little better, but definitely still very hoarse -- I didn't sound like me at all! Also, the Diva-mobile of sort that I was supposed to stand on/in to speak, wouldn't start that morning, so I would be speaking at ground level in front of the walk participants. OK, no big deal, it was a really small crowd anyway, since it was the "1st annual" walk of its kind. And with the organizers trying to keep costs down as much possible, there was no microphone, only a megaphone with a handheld talkie-into-thingy. Not what I expected, but hey, it'll work.
I had been thinking of "the talk" for a couple weeks, so I had an idea of what kinds of things I wanted to touch on and focus on, but I didn't put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keyboard) until Thursday night. I'm a last minute kinda gal! I don't recommend being that way, by the way. I really didn't have any trouble, though, because as I said I had been working on it in my head for some time. Danny proofed and tweaked a couple things with me. Then Friday night he asked if I had memorized it! I was like, "NO!" It never even occurred to me to memorize the whole thing. I thought I could handle not "reading" the speech -- alternating looking up at the people with glancing at my notes. He said he would have memorized it ... which got me thinking that I would probably look stupid holding my printed notes in front of me. Great, I was going to look dumb! Way to go, Kim. Oh well it was too late to cram speech memorization before the next morning. It was going to be what it was going to be!
Some background information about the walk ... The KingwooDDivas, a team made up of a group of local women, will be walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (Houston) April 21-22. The Walk Like a Diva walk was a fundraiser for the KingwooDDivas team, so proceeds from from the Diva walk ultimately benefits the Avon Foundation for Women, who then distributes funds via their grant process to local organizations for awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services and scientific research. If you're interested, you can read more about the Avon walks here:
I had Danny video the talk, mostly for my own use, but afterwards I felt really good about it and received some positive feedback and thought I might post the video to this blog, or maybe even link to it from our site and/or Facebook page. But after seeing it ... well ... I wasn't happy with the way I looked or sounded! I was hoarse and still sick (and fairly well-medicated, I might add, with anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory and sinus med) and I sounded like a MAN. I guess it's common that people who don't often speak in public aren't used to the way they sound, sick or not sick, right? Anyhoo ... I was pleased with the substance/content of the talk, just not the communication of it by me. Also, it was a little breezy and there was kid noise, and let's face it, the megaphone didn't make for great-sounding audio. Plus my (new) friend and team leader / walk organizer Amanda held the mouthpiece for me (because remember, I had to hold my notes because I hadn't memorized my talk,) close to my face so it would work its best, so even the visual of me talking is obstructed. Sighhhhhh.
Then I had the ambitious idea that I would make a slide show of all the walk pictures and make a new audio of my talk to play during said slide show. But the way I am still suffering with allergy/sinus junk, and the way my voice still sounds, it looks as though I am not going to be "sounding like myself again" for weeks, maybe! Plus the project itself would take time. I don't have a staff of folks who can put something like that together for me! I definitely didn't want to wait that long to get this out for those who missed it -- which is a LOT of people, being that the event was new and small-ish.
So here it is ... the "transcript" of the pre-walk talk I gave at Saturday's Walk Like a Diva 5K Family Fun Walk. Enjoy!

Good morning! I’d like to tell you a little about myself:
I’m a cat lover, I love to travel, I love taking pictures, I love nature, and I
love to hike and see places you just can’t see from a car window. I’m a
fan of any team or group my kids are in, and I’m a Saints fan. I like
windchimes, sunsets and waterfalls. I like to run and hug and bike and eat
out. I read a lot.

I’ve sold shoes, bagged groceries, managed a medical office, worked as a
labor delivery nurse and run my own business.

I am a mom of 4, grandmother of 3, a wife, daughter, sister, aunt,
daughter-in-law, mother-in-law and friend. I’m a dance mom, sports mom,
and band mom. I’m a taxi driver for my own children.

And I am also a breast cancer survivor.

At age 32, with a 12 year-old, 2 year-old and 6-month old, I had never even
thought about breast cancer. It was something that other, older women got. I was healthy and young and busy. I worked full time. I had 3 kids! Sure, I knew about breast self exams, but I didn’t do them regularly. But like too many, like way too many, young women these days, I had breast cancer.

It can happen to anyone. It can happen no matter how old or young you are. It can happen no matter how physically fit or active you are. Rich or poor. Man or woman. Skinny or not-so-skinny. It can happen whether or not cancer runs in your family.

It can happen to YOU!

I have to live with the “what if” questions such as “What if I would have examined myself regularly before my cancer started causing me pain? What if I had caught it before it had spread to my lymph nodes? But dwelling on the “what ifs” served no useful purpose for my immediate situation. I had to move on! I focused on doing everything I could to get the cancer out of my body as quickly and efficiently as medically possible. I underwent aggressive surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. I wanted to – I needed to -- put it behind me and get on with my life.

That was 12 years ago! I’m still here! And I’m here to say that there. is. hope. Sure, I’ve had some tough times. My cancer hasn’t been “in remission” all these years. In fact, in 2006, it returned as stage IV, metastatic breast cancer, having spread to my bones and lungs. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, or a long term survivor, or even if you have a friend or family member with breast cancer, know that there is hope.

Here’s some of what I’ve accomplished since being diagnosed: I’ve had another child – finally got my boy! -- yes, it’s possible. I’ve hiked to waterfalls and witnessed sunsets from mountain tops and ocean shores. I’ve run 2 half-marathons (which I like to think of as one whole marathon!) I’ve started my own business. I’ve tirelessly photographed my children’s events – okay maybe not tirelessly – they wear me out! But I want you to know that there is hope to keep going, to keep living, and to living longer, even with breast cancer.

Today I am one of approximately 200,000 women in the U.S. living with stage IV breast cancer. Six years ago when I was told that my cancer had spread, we thought that surely my time was up. But it wasn’t! Today, my treatment includes drugs that didn’t exist 12 years ago, or even 6 years ago. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the major progress cancer research has made in the last decade. Today, women with stage IV breast cancer, like me, are leading fuller lives and living longer than ever
before. It’s like we’re living with a chronic disease as opposed to being issued an immediate death sentence.

There is hope -- because of events like these. And because of people like you, helping fund the fight, to find a cure. It’s making a difference! I am living proof that it is making a difference! So I thank you, all of you! My family thanks you! Because you are here, I am still here, and so are many others.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Busy week!!!

Very busy week this week! A whopping 60+ new products are being introduced @ The Pink Ribbon Shop, which is quite a labor intensive task. Several weeks ago, Cookie the cat showed up in our back yard, clearly expecting, and stole our hearts. On March 2nd, we welcomed 3 new additions to our family: kittens Tigger, Finn & Tex. Adorable. Needy. I volunteered to provide a crock pot of soup for our church's Lenten service Wednesday night, so need to grocery shop and of course cook the soup. On Thursday, I'm having a cleaning lady (first time in about 4 months) come clean my house, which means I've had to nag/yell/scream at my kids to help straighten up in the house (their messes, that is) so that Maria can clean it. My 2nd daughter, Christa, turned 15 last week and is having a party at our house Friday night (pray for us!) It will be an accomplishment if we can keep the house guest-worthy through Friday evening, after which it will probably be a mess again after having 15-20 teenagers over. Plus all the party food/snacks need to be prepared (The birthday girl has special requests, after all!) AND, Saturday morning our family is participating in a 5K Family Fun Walk to support a local Avon Walk for Breast Cancer team, the KingwooDDivas. For the first time ever, I will be speaking (in public) about my breast cancer journey (pray for me!) It's pretty lame that I am nervous about this event, considering it need only be 3-5 minutes long, but public speaking is just something that I have no experience in. I have some ideas on what I will say, but nothing definite yet ... clearly I will have to work on that before Saturday! It will be a small crowd, so perhaps a good way to get my feet wet. I've never thought of myself and my story as "inspirational" as some people say. I'm just a busy mom who happens to have breast cancer. Doing everything in my power to stick around for as long as possible, although it's really out of my hands. To me, it's only by the grace of God that I am still alive to tell my story. It's really nothing I've done. I've been blessed with a great family, a great doctor and treatment facility (MD Anderson,) and a Maker who is evidently not finished with me yet!

Cancer-wise, I'm doing pretty good. At least I think I am. I find that as long as I live a sedentary, inactive lifestyle, I feel good ... which sucks in SO many ways, but I'm not in the mood to complain today, so I won't! Next scans are on April 11th and doc visit is the following week for results. Hoping and praying for good results (regression/disappearance of tumors, or at the very least, no growth) so I won't need to move on to harsher chemo. Liking my hair these days! Would like to keep it awhile longer! More prayers, please!

Thanks for reading -- would love to hear from some of you!