Monday, September 27, 2010

Visit the NAPA Know How Facebook Page

October is breast cancer awareness month. I have learned that NAPA AUTO PARTS and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex, Jr., are teaming up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to honor breast cancer victims, survivors and supporters via a special, one-of-a-kind fan-generated paint scheme featuring the names of individuals affected by breast cancer. From now to Oct. 11, consumers can submit the names of loved ones affected by breast cancer to appear on the No. 56 NAPA Toyota by making a minimum donation of $5.60 via the NAPA Know How Facebook page ( The NAPA Signature Car application allows you to enter a name and select the area of the car where you would like the dedication to appear. Your dedication will then be featured on the #56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for the November 7th NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Texas Motor Speedway. With the help of fan donations, NAPA is hoping to raise at least $250,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to recognize more than 56,000 individuals affected by breast cancer with the custom paint scheme.
In 1982, Susan G. Komen for the Cure was established by Nancy Goodman Brinker, after a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. Since its inception, the nonprofit has raised over $1.5 billion for research, education and health services, making it the largest breast cancer charity in the world. Komen has more than 75,000 volunteers nationwide, 122 affiliates in the United States (47 of 50 states), and 3 affiliates in other countries. The organization has resulted in the development of many new treatment options and a higher quality of life overall for breast cancer patients and long-term survivors. Brinker served as founding chairman of the organization, supervising all aspects of initial growth. On December 2, 2009, Brinker was appointed CEO. She also pioneered cause marketing, allowing millions to participate in the fight against breast cancer through businesses that share Komen's commitment to end the disease.
Brinker faced an immediate uphill battle: newspapers balked at printing the words “breast cancer,” no one talked openly about the disease, there were no 800-numbers, no internet and few, if any, support groups. Few treatment options existed for breast cancer patients and limited resources were committed to the disease. In a matter of years, Brinker broke the silence around breast cancer, and Komen for the Cure is now the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.
Please help support this great cause!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Squirrel rescue

The saying, "You learn something new every day" was certainly true today. We rescued an orphaned, newborn, baby squirrel. His nest had blown out of a tree and his mother didn't come back for him so we warmed him up and took him to the UI Wildlife Medical Clinic (WMC). The clinic said they will place him in an incubator, nurse him and then get him to a wildlife rehabilitation center. This is what I learned: If you find a baby squirrel fallen out of the tree or displaced because of tree cutting, put it in a box at the base of a tree where the mother has been seen and wait for the mother to come. (Mother squirrels keep at least two nests throughout the year. She will move the babies to the other nest). Keep people and animals away! If the baby is cold, put a hot water bottle or jar full of warm water in the box with it. If it is near night time, keep the baby inside until morning and then place the baby in the box with a hot water bottle or jar of warm water, if necessary, at the base of the tree again. You can leave the squirrel inthe box for up to 48 hours. If the mother does not return before the 48 hours, then you have an orphan. I must say that the operation at the UI is pretty impressive.
Their mission is threefold: to provide care and treatment to sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals to the point where they can be returned to the wild; to provide hands-on training to veterinary students; and through our public education program, to teach the members of our community about the environment in which they live and the wildlife they share it with. The Wildlife Medical Clinic accepts ill, injured, or orphaned wildlife (except for skunks and bats) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Upon presentation, the animals are triaged and then assigned to a team of 8-10 volunteers (generally veterinary students) who are responsible for treating the patient. The primary goal in treating wild animals is to help animals recover to a state in which they can be released into the wild. Wild animals must be 100% before being released into the wild in order for them to hunt or forage for food, as well as stay out of danger. Unfortunately, many of the animals we receive are so debilitated (in order for them to be caught in the first place), that they will never be released. A rabbit with a lame leg will quickly fall prey to another animal, and an owl that can't fly will slowly starve to death. If an animal is not able to be returned to the wild, the WMC elects to humanely euthanize the animal.. Occasionally permanent homes are found for the patients where they will be cared for and protected. The Wildlife Medical Clinic is a non-profit organization that depends solely on fund-raising, donations, and grants for its operating budget. If you would like to support the WMC's mission of conservation, public education, and veterinary teaching make a donation to the WMC. Donations can now be made online!
You might be asking, so what does rescuing a squirrel have to do with breast cancer? It reminded me of how fragile life can be. I've been contemplating how the destructive qualities of disease and death seem to come so easily. An automobile accident, a bout with cancer, or a thousand other everyday occurrences remind us of the delicate balance of life. We are constantly on the razor's edge: a single slip and we are severed from what we know in this world. So, live your life to the fullest. Stop giving excuses for not doing certain things that you really want to do. Also, if you feel like you’re wasting your time doing something, then make a change. If you think there’s something you really want to try, go for it. And if there’s someone that you really miss, give him/her a call. Don’t just sit there doing nothing and waste your life. Life is too short.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do I owe him an apology?

About a month ago I wrote about living life with no regrets. One of the items I talked about was making amends. I wrote, "If my past actions or words have harmed others, apologies may be in order. Or not, as apologies can be tricky. I have to judge for myself if an apology will help matters or only drudge up old wounds better left alone. But, I definitely have to forgive myself! Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Unfortunately, righting a wrong is not always feasible. There may be some past action that cannot be righted; so if there are, I must forgive myself, and let it go." I've been thinking that I need to apologize to my ex-husband as the failure of our marriage wasn't all his fault (mostly but not all). It's taken over 20 years for me to admit my part in the failed marriage and I've been thinking I should apologize for my part but I never see him and don't know where he lives.
Then, lo and behold, today I ran into him at the Social Security Office of all places. Mike and I were there to order a new Medicare card as Mike has lost his wallet which had the Medicare card in it. Paul was there with his fiance so I did not approach him. He saw me and made eye contact but didn't say a word. Perhaps if it had been just the two of us, I would've approached him. As I thought about it, I was afraid that I might actually choke on the apology. So I got to wondering if I even owe him an apology? Then I realized that to "make amends" is not the same thing as to "make an apology." To "make amends" for something you've done means you make up for, or compensate for, the injury, insult, infidelity, or aggression you have perpetrated. The point is to make the sorry situation right, not to unload your guilty feelings on the other party. It's been over 20 years since that marriage disintegrated and there is no going back, so there is no way to make amends for it. But I guess it is still possible to apologize.

It's my "Cancerversary"!

Happy "cancerversary" to me! One year ago today my life changed forever. I remember sitting in the doctor's office as the surgeon said those dreaded words, "You have cancer". And with those words, I became a breast cancer survivor. There is much discussion in the breast cancer world as to when you start marking the point at which you went from being an average Jane walking down the street to the "breast cancer survivor." Is it from the point of diagnosis? Is it from the point at which you had you surgery to remove the cancer? Is it when you are done with treatments? A "cancerversary" marks the annual recurrence of the date of a survivor's original diagnosis, although it can also mark any notable event in someone's cancer journey (such as the date of the completion of treatment, the receipt of a bone or stem cell transplant, etc). Though these are all important milestones, for me the process of "surviving" began the minute I was diagnosed. If you are thrown into the pool and tread water for a while you don't count your journey from when you are pulled out of the pool, you mark it from when you were thrown into the water. Some days it seems like it has taken forever to get here and other days it seems like only yesterday.
It is the day that my life as I knew it ended, and a new life began. Because no matter what the outcome, life is never the same after a cancer diagnosis. It feels rather momentous, partly because my life took such a dramatic change on the day I was diagnosed, but also because of the relief that I have made it through this first year. For the last several weeks, I thought about my upcoming cancerversary with a combination of pride, dread, sadness, happiness, and relief. Sound schizophrenic? Welcome to life as a cancer survivor. The past year has been filled with ups and downs, good days and bad, and a lot of emotions. What does one do to celebrate a cancerversary? Go out to dinner? Throw a party? Buy yourself something nice? My answer is this: you celebrate that you got to wake up this morning. And that's enough for me to want to pop a bottle of champagne. This may not be the life I ordered but it is the life I’m living.

I lost
one breast
most of my hair
mental clarity
all sense of modesty
a few friends along the way
my life's work

I found
gray hair
tremendous respect for my family
true knowledge of who my friends are
new friends
a sisterhood with other survivors
a realization of how resilient I truly am
freedom to be my "true" self
roller derby

The more I think about it, I've decided that I want a Mad Hatter's Tea Party to mark this milestone! It is a tea party inspired by Alice In Wonderland (in case you didn't get the mad hatter reference). It should have vivid colors and a mixture of textures. It should have a random, mismatched feel that I can identify with... if that makes any sense at all. Afternoon tea is quite possibly one of my favorite things in the world. Just the thought of colorful pots of tea, dainty cups and saucers, and sweet conversation over cookies makes me feel relaxed and wonderfully domestic. It also evokes sweet memories of tea with my great aunt Pauline when I was a small child. It was how I knew I was loved.
I was not prepared for the roller coaster of emotions that today has brought. One minute I'm grateful to be alive and the next I'm annoyed by life in general. I'm not obsessed with the fear of recurrence, but I do think about it and I also think about the fact that one day I will die of something, whether it's breast cancer or something else, a lot more than I used to. I have also dreamed of my death, which is far less scary then you'd think. I will say it has taken me this entire year to feel that my life has gotten back to "normal", or rather a "new normal". Time to start planning that Tea Party in order to say Cuck Fancer! I win!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A fond farewell to Ghirley

Last night we bid our good friend (and Vice President of the Twin City Derby Girls) Amber "Ghirley Manson" Carmer a fond farewell. Now that she's finished her Master's, she's leaving us to head back home. I don't think she knows exactly how much we will miss her. I will admit to shedding a few tears on the way home last night. But we sent her out in true derby girl fashion - alcohol, dancing & karaoke! For those of you who don't know, Amber worked for Rape Crisis Services when it was a program of A Woman's Fund. So, yes, I was her "boss". I think that's why she likes to pummel me on the track--it's payback! I've always recognized Amber's passion and drive but it was a real pleasure getting to know her in this capacity. It was her initiative that helped bring this league to fruition. I don't know if I have ever appropriately expressed her "awesomeness". You see, she's the reason I belong to TCDG.
I'm not sure she even remembers the conversation that evening in early February when I attended the Talk Derby To Me fundraiser at Boltini's. I was fascinated by roller derby but I attended the fundraiser thinking I'd become a volunteer. I was too old to skate and after all I was fighting an aggressive breast cancer. I was smack in the middle of chemo, feeling like death warmed over and complaining about my shitty life. Leave it to Amber to cut to the chase. She pretty much told me to put on my big girl panties and bring my bitchin' ass to Saturday's practice before deciding not to skate. She was so right. That turned out to be the kick in the ass I needed. She truly saved my life. That Saturday, although I was slightly off balance due to the missing breast, I skated and managed to keep up with the others. That was the day I decided that cancer didn't get to win. So many people thought I was crazy to join a roller derby league but my league mates didn't. They accepted me (minus 1 boob) and made me feel a part of them. I understand why it's so hard for her to leave us.
I can never truly express my gratitude to Amber for her work to make TCDG happen and for giving me that kick in the ass. Ghirley Manson will always be near and dear to my heart. So to Amber I say a million times, "Thank You". I love you, I'll miss you and always know that you have a home here with TCDG. Good luck to you in whatever you do. I know you'll be absolutely fabulous!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crazy dreams

Last night I had the craziest dream! I dreamed that The 'Paign was traveling to Europe for a roller derby exhibition! But I was running late and once I finally arrived at the airport I couldn't find my ticket or passport in the mess I call my purse although I knew they were there. To dream that you are part of a team, indicates the importance of working together. The dream may be a metaphor that you have your life in order. To dream that you are traveling, represents the path toward your life goals. It also parallels your daily routine and how you are progressing along. Alternatively, traveling signifies a desire to escape from your daily burdens. You are looking for a change in scenery, where no one has any expectations of you. Perhaps it is time to make a fresh start. To see a busy airport in your dream, signifies the desire for freedom, high ideals, ambition, and hopes. It is an indication that you are approaching a new departure in your life. Some new idea is taking off or is ready to take off. You may be experiencing a new relationship, new career path or new adventure.
Being late or unable to find your destination highlight some anxiety or agitation that you are experiencing in your waking life. These dreams usually have to do with your self-esteem and confidence or the lack of. You tend to believe in the worst about yourself and are often overly worried that you are not making the grade and measuring up to other people's expectations of you. You may also experience the fear of not being accepted, not being prepared, or not being good enough. If you are not from Europe and dream that you are there, then it indicates that you need to be more expressive. You also need to take time for more leisurely or artistic pursuits. Alternatively, dreaming of Europe indicates original thought or old ways of thinking.
To see a ticket in your dream, represents the price you need to pay to attain your goals. You have decided on your path in life. A ticket signifies the start of a new endeavor. Consider also the type of ticket. A plane, bus or train ticket symbolizes the price you pay to get ahead in life. To dream that you lose a ticket, denotes confusion and ambiguity in the direction of your life. To see a passport in your dream, represents your identity and your ability to traverse through various situations. You are experiencing new found freedom to do what you want and go where you want. You may be going through a period of self-discovery. To dream that you lose your passport, indicates that you are trying to find yourself and get a sense of who you are. Alternatively, the dream means that opportunities are closing off to you. To see or carry a purse in your dream, represents secrets, desires and thoughts which are being closely held and guarded. It symbolizes your identity and sense of self. Consider also the condition of the purse for indications of your state of mind and feelings.
Wow! So what does the dream mean? Ever since I've been unemployed, I have felt pretty useless. I think this then translates into derby because I always fear letting my team down. I do believe I am at a crossroads in my life and searching for a new path. It's all so confusing. Anyone have any other thoughts?