Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Relay 2012 and other musings

On my way to Concord Relay
Yup, that's me, heading to Concord Relay, driving my son's car and wearing his CHP shades, all just to make him crazy while he's out on tour with the Concord Blue Devils.  When I posted this on his FB wall, he commented "So not only did you drive my car, you were also taking pictures of yourself WHILE driving my car?! Holy shit Mom, are trying to give me a heart attack?!

I replied "at least I wasn't texting."

I really enjoyed myself at the Concord Relay last Saturday morning, and I thank you very much Cathy Guzman, Survivor Chair, for requesting me to be your survivor speaker.  It was getting hot early out there, but that didn't stop the wonderful enthusiasm on the field and track at Concord High that morning.

I always try and add a little something new to each speech I give.  This time I started by recalling the day I sat waiting, on the edge of my bed, for the phone call.  I had my mammogram earlier that day, and I knew right away something was really wrong, because they took so many photos.  I sat on the edge of my bed, staring at my phone.

Primary care doctor called "Yes, there is something suspicious... I am going to order an MRI and biopsy for you, and I'll call you back with the details."  We hung up.

I sat.
Deep breaths.
Trying not to pant.
I was scared.
This couldn't be happening.
Maybe it's all a mistake.

I called Doctor back.  "Dr., I'm a best case scenario, worst case scenario kind of girl, was there anything else the radiologist said, or any other information you might have for me?  The waiting is killing me."

There was a very long pause.

"Debbie, the radiologist told me that in his years of evaluating mammogram films he would be very surprised if this is not breast cancer..."

That was April 7, 2010,
and two weeks later,
on April 21, 2010,
I was diagnosed with Stage III lobular carcinoma, breast cancer in my left breast.

One of the first phone calls that my Husband made was to the American Cancer Society, and that was the beginning of my family's relationship with ACS.

This is one of the reasons why I participate in Relay for Life, not only on a team raising money, but this year as an ACS Hero of Hope.  It's really important to me, and kind of my way of paying back all the support I got from them.

Heroes of Hope for California, 2012

There are so many good reasons to support Relay for Life, which is ACS' largest fundraiser, with Relay's all over the country.  If you've never been to a Relay, it's really something, for everyone not just survivors.  It's a 24 hour event, and opens with the Survivors Lap, where all the survivors in attendance walk the first lap together around the track.  I've done this many times now, at Relay's from San Ramon to San Jose, and every time I do it, and with every step I take with my tribe of survivors, I am empowered.  I am filled with gratitude.

My hopefulness is supercharged.

The rest of the day at Relay is almost like a fun fair or carnival, with all kinds of events and entertainment for the whole family.

My favorite part of Relay is the Luminary Ceremony, which is usually about 9pm, when it gets dark.  The lights are dimmed, and the whole place is lit only by luminarias made in honor of those fighting and surviving cancer, and in memory of those lost to cancer.  I was the Luminary Speaker at last year's Vallejo Relay, and what a magical, spiritual, blessed night that was for me.

These are the Luminaries I made for Mom and me.
Teams walk the track through the night, and the next morning, the closing ceremony is called the Fight Back ceremony.

I've got my work cut out for me a couple weekends from now, when I will be the opening speaker at the Oakland Relay on Saturday July 28th, then later that night at Belmont as their Luminary speaker, wait, I'm not done yet, then the next morning, I'm heading to Novato as their Fight Back speaker.

24 hours of Relay but in three different cities!  Talk about Relay hopping!  I'm excited about this marathon coming up for me, and I'm pushing myself to speak at as many events as I possibly can that I get requested for.  Every single time I speak at a Relay or other survivor event, I pray that just one person will be comforted and realize they aren't alone in this.  Something magical happens every time.

I've been blessed by bear hugs from survivors and caregivers, and often brought to tears by the sacred quiet things people say to me.  Like at the Berkeley Relay for Life, when a young girl, probably about 12 who had also lost her Mama to cancer like me, hugged me and whispered "I was only five..."

UC Berkeley Relay for Life:

Cute coeds who wanted a photo with this old lady.

Hi Brittany, sweet girl!  We are FB friends now!

My son Zac, known here on the blog as "Robin"
At the Concord Relay after my speech, a young twenty something woman came up to me and asked "Can I hug you?"  She hugged me several times, and told me she was there to support her brother, a teenage cancer survivor, and when he saw us together he came to talk to me too.  "It really meant a lot to me and my brother what you said today, and I'm just so thankful I got to hear you this morning, and I'm so thankful you're a survivor" and she hugged me again, and so did he.

Then a gentleman named Manny approached me, he had someone in his family recently diagnosed with breast cancer and he was looking for any suggestions I might have, so I gave him my blog address and my cell to give her in case she wanted to call me.

At the Willow Glen Relay, I met another breast cancer survivor Marie, and also an older gentleman, who told me what a good job I did, and he really appreciated that I made people laugh and cry.  In fact, after my speech at Concord, the survivor chair Cathy said "Hey that wasn't in your contract, to make us cry!"

Last year I raised almost $1,100 for Relay, and so this year, I set my goal for $1,500.

I'm only a month away from my home Relay in Vallejo, and thanks to my generous friends I've raised $290.00 so far, but I've got a long way to go!

I'm hoping that between my family and friends, my FB friends, and also with the help of my blog, I will be able to reach my goal.

If you, Dear Reader, would like to help, here is the link to my Relay page.  You can donate online and even a $5 donation is appreciated.  Every little bit adds up.  If you can do more, then of course, PLEASE DO, and I thank you in advance.

RFL FY12 CA Vallejo CA: Ms. Deb Clay | The American Cancer Society - 2012 Relay For Life of Vallejo CA

I never thought I would need the services of the American Cancer Society, but I did, and they were there when I needed them, and continue to be.

I have noticed that several of my old blog posts are being read, so I am assuming another newbie Sister has found me.  Hello Sister.  Welcome.  Please comment, I would love to hear from you.  There there now.  Just a reminder, the American Cancer Society has a 24 hour hotline, just call 1-800-ACS-2345.

Thank you again everybody following Cara's story, and praying for her.  I thought you'd enjoy these recent photos she shared with me.

Our doggies, Muffin, Hallie and sister Cassie, waiting for popcorn

This girl makes neutropenic fashionable.
Trust me, that last caption is hysterical.  I hope I made you laugh Cara!  Bravo to all the leukemia fighters and survivors out there, especially that cute one up there.  I am taking her to do labs tomorrow and lunch, and I'm going to drive your car Batman, cause your Mama and your girlfriend miss you bad!

My son Adam, aka Batman, is currently on tour with the world champion Concord Blue Devils, for his fifth and final season marching drum corp.  I love and miss you Adam.

Batman, in the middle.

Snare extraordinaire, that's my Son.
Thanks for listening; my next post will be all about my recent appointment with Da Good Witch, my oncologist.  If you got breast cancer, you're gonna need a Good Witch.  Mine is from Ohio.

Peace to you Dear Reader.


1 comment:

Sheri said...

Great post Debbie. I admire your energy in spreading your powerful and heartfelt messages. Sheri H

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