Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birthdays under the weather....

Back in 1996, I had my 43 birthday. I was a month into chemo, hairless, lacking energy and feeling a little anxious about my battle. Unbeknowst to me, my brother and sisters planned on surprising me for my birthday. I think I was somewhere down the hall, maybe in bed. To tell you the truth the shock of seeing them probably knocked my memory right out of me. (Or the chemo...) These Northwesterners came to cheer me up, and celebrate my day.

I don't remember every detail, but what I do remember is making a road trip to Los Altos. We grew up in Los Altos. It's the last place where we all lived together as a family. We walked the old neighborhood and ran into a few of my Mother's old friends. It was a bitter sweet day, because you can't help but miss such a incredible woman on a day that was meant for remembering. We went to Los Altos High School. I told them how my yearbook had been thrown out in one of my father's moves, so we headed into the library and talked the librarian into letting me "buy" an extra copy of the year book for a donation to the library. The Yearbook was a GREAT birthday present, but didn't touch that feeling of being connected to my family.

It's one good thing about illness, it brings out the caring we have for each other. Too often, we let those moments, when we could express our love for people slip by without doing so. Today, on my birthday, I have been given many heartfelt expressions of love. To each and every one of you who have donated to my journey, I say thank you. Thank you for the love. Because of you, I have exceeded my personal goal and now have raised over $3000 for the Breast Cancer 3 day!
For you who were planning to donate by haven't had the time to do it before now, I would ask, as a favor, that you donate to my daughter Allison. In the above picture she is on the lower right. She was 13 at the time I was going through this. It is a hard thing to watch a parent struggle with cancer. Hopefully, it is a life affirming thing to see them not only survive cancer, but thrive in it's wake. Allison will be traveling from Denver to walk with me in the 3 day. She has $1600 more to raise before she hits her minimum required to walk. You can donate to her at

And do me one more favor. Do not wait until someone is sick to let them know you care. Let people know everyday, just how much you appreciate them. Make the most of every moment.
THANKS VICKI, KEN and DEBI for that special birthday 13 years ago. I love you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Walk the walk and cough the cough

My training has been interupted and I am not happy about it.
Despite walking 4 miles at my open house, I haven't been able to go to yoga, hit the roads or trails or anything of much consequence. You see since I got this cold, I can't really breathe very deep. I went to see the Doctor today and he says I have "walking pneumonia".
Yeah right... walking... pneumonia.
The good news is... I am on anti-biotics now, so I should get better soon.
And I don't really buy the walking pneumonia diagnosis at all.
I think it's a virus that Glenn and several people at work have too.
So, until i can really take a deep breath, I am putting training on hold.
BUT.... donations can still come in. In fact only a couple more days until the BIG day and I would love, love, love to meet my goal by then! So do a girl a favor, MAKE MY DAY! DONATE!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

To each according to his own ability

It's Sunday, so I thought I would share with you a phrase that has been in my mind ever since I started this journey. "To each according to his own ability". The phrase repeats itself in my head as I walk. I figured it must be a parable of the tortoise and the hare. (Me being the tortoise and those marathon runners, who run past me on the road, the hare). I couldn't remember exactly where in the Bible this came from but I remembered that it did. So this morning I looked it up.

Matthew 25 - It's called the parable of the five talents. Briefly, A rich man was traveling to a far country and he gathered his three servants to distribute his goods. To one he gave five talents, to another he gave two and the last he gave one. When the man returned from his trip he gathered the men. The man who had received 5 talents, traded with those and gained another five while the master was gone so he returned 10. The man who received 2 talents returned 4 since he had also traded with them and gained another 2 while his master was gone. When the man with only one talent came forth he only had the same one talent. He had buried his talent in the ground so he wouldn't lose it and anger his master. Of course this angered the master who took the one talent and gave it to the one who had 10. Basically saying, you lazy so and so, you took what I gave you and you hid it, but the others multiplied their gifts. You don't deserve even the one gift...get lost. So he kicked the servant out. (Then there's this great part about weeping and gnashing of teeth after that).

So why am I thinking about this as I walk? I guess it is because I too have hidden, even from myself, my ability. I never thought I could do a walk like this one. Bigger than that even, in the course of my life lately, I have hoarded my time. I have given to my business life, my talents, energy and time but not so much to causes outside my immediate circle. To those I have given my money, but not much energy or time. I guess I would be a little like someone who was given 5 gifts and only worked with 2 of them.

Basically the lesson here is, look at the gifts you have been given and ask if you are using them to your best ability. Because... you really want to avoid the weeping and gnashing of teeth!
PS. One final Biblical reference... Regarding my lack of substantial walking this week..."My leg's are willing but my cold is weak!"

THANKS to your generosity, I know I am going to meet my fundraising goal by my Birthday 4/30. The next goal is getting our daughter ALLISON WELCH there too! If you would like to DONATE to me I would appreciate it. If you would like to DONATE to Allison I would appreciate it just as much! I am so happy she is coming out to walk with us. Just remember a donation to either goes to the same place... Susan G Komen to find the CURE for Breast Cancer in our lifetime. Thanks and spread the word!

Friday, April 24, 2009

How I came to hate Campari

Having a wicked cold and feeling the need to stay put, I thought it might be the ideal time to reflect on another time I wasn't feeling too well. It should put today into perspective!
Before I had cancer, I had developed a love of Campari and soda, with a twist. If we went out for dinner, this is what I would order. I loved the bitterness and that bitterness used to somehow calm my stomach. That was before I met its evil twin sister.... Adriamycin.

After the surgeries, there was no real question that I would have to have Chemotherapy. The only question involved, which ones and how long. At the time the most conservative approach was a longer course of Cytoxin. If you followed this approach there would be a chance that you would not lose your hair, although Cytoxin decreased your white blood cell count and some other potentially nasty side effects. But it wasn't as aggressive as the doctors I consulted with felt I should be. The new kid on the block was Adriamycin. I was warned of its side effects. Hair loss would be a given. I could get easily sun burnt. There was a chance that I would damage my heart muscle. I was also offered the chance to be in a study testing a new drug. I felt, the AC option would make the most sense. I would know I was being given what had been shown to be the most effective full court press that had already been tested.

On the first day of chemo, of course I was very nervous. I had seen how terribly ill my mother had been when she underwent chemo. There was no choice for me to do anything but get to it. Glenn sat in the chair next to me. I had brought a cassette player and earphones and two tapes to listen to. One was the Tongan children we had met singing hymns. The other was a Kenny Loggins tape of lullabies, my friend MB had given to me.
I found when I listened I was transported, I felt as though there were angels singing.

The chair is a very comfy, lazyboy-ish chair. The nurse directed me to sit down and she brought a warm blanket to put on me. She said "You can get cold as the medicine goes in."
She hooked the first bag in.
After all this time I can't remember which it was first.
The medicine began filling my veins and you could feel the coolness work itself from your arm out to the rest of your body. I focused on the music and tried to imagine the medicine was seeking out every cancer cell and wiping it out.

When the nurse brought a bag of strangely familiar red liquid in, I thought to myself, that looks just like Campari. "Hey you know, this won't be bad, I Like Campari!"
Then the drug made itself known. I could taste a bitterness in my mouth, it wasn't Campari, it was quite unpleasant. I found that after a treatment I would have that taste for several weeks.

That night we headed back home. Glenn thought he would get a movie to distract me. "Braveheart" On reflection I guess he wanted to say something there... But I only made it through 20 mins before the effects of the drugs took hold. Let's just say, all those things you have heard about people and chemo and their stomachs... it was all pretty true that night.

Long after I finished chemo, and returned to normal life. We walked into a restaurant for dinner, we waited for our table in the bar. The waiter walked over and asked if we would like anything to drink. I looked over at the bar and saw the bright red bottle of Campari. I immediately tasted the same unpleasant taste in my mouth and my stomach turned.
I had to literally turn my chair around so I wouldn't see it anymore.

So if you are planning to buy me something for my birthday...skip the Campari...heck skip the present and donate to my walk! I promise with each step I will be celebrating Adriamycin and how the evil twin sister helped save my life. With each step I will be celebrating how your donation will help find the one drug that will cure Cancer forever!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Count down to my birthday! Sweating the details

WALKING, talking and sweating in 90 degrees
My birthday is next week. There was a time where I lived my life like there wouldn't be another one. In fact when I was 49, I told everyone that I was 50. That's not usual for people to do, they try to hold on to 49 for as long as they can. For me though, 49 was a scary age. My Mother had died when she was 49. I had survived Breast Cancer for more than 5 years at this point, undergone a mastectomy and treatment through chemo and tamoxifen. This was the year a little tap on my shoulder showed me that I hadn't forgotten about any of these things. I wanted to fast forward through the danger year, 49, straight to 50. I didn't want to die like my mother.

And lately since I began this journey, I think about these things when I walk. I think about survival versus living. I think about living in fear versus embracing the new. The difference is the difference between surviving and thriving.

So despite having a cold and two blisters, I elected NOT to cancel my scheduled walk with my team mate Jill. I had mapped out a route for 10 miles. The temperature was 90. I took all the precautions recommended for blisters and the heat and rendezvoused at my office.

Jill had said she would love to look at houses. I am a Realtor, as you know, and I look at houses all the time. She just bought a home that she is remodeling in Moraga and so she is looking for ideas. Our route took us through Kentfield and Ross. Our final destination was to be Taco Jane's in San Anselmo. The first part of the walk took us past Redwood High School , through Larkspur Marina. Shade was at a premium. IT WAS HOT! By the time we reached Kentfield and took off into the side streets, we both were glad to find the big trees that lined the streets providing that much needed shade.
The following photos are from our trip. The trees were great for shade, but not so great for photos of homes.
Woodland Market is everyone's favorite!
Ross post office - Residents still go in to pick up their mail - or send someone to do it for them!Gated Estates along Glenwood
We made multiple stops, to drink our water and recharge. This kind of heat is not usual for our area. One of our team mates lives in Sacramento and had walked 7 miles the day before. I asked what temperature it was and she said it wasn't bad it was 85.... Sorry I live in S. Marin. 85 is hot!
Jill and I decided we wouldn't even attempt the walk back to the office, so we made a plan to call my husband when were were at Taco Jane's... The problem with that was...Taco Jane's is closed for renovations! Luckily I knew a place that wouldn't turn up their noses at these two sweaty ladies.... we headed to Comforts.
Our lunch stop
After a great lunch of Chinese Chicken salad and chilled cucumber and mint soup, Jill and I called Glenn to come and retrieve us. In all this walk took us over 6 miles. I sweated about 1/2 my body weight in that time. My cold disappeared while we were walking. When I walked back in to the office immediately I recognized I still had it! It's great to have such wonderful friends. I am proud to be walking with each and every one. We all are counting on your support. If you like this blog and believe that curing cancer is a worthwhile cause, as a birthday present to me please donate!
I have a long life ahead to thank you!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SYC to ST Francis YC - Bridging the Bay

When I was a girl scout leader, we had a ceremony called bridging. It was when a Brownie, graduated to the ranks of the Girl Scouts. Symbolic of this, the scouts would cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Once they did they would receive their new pin - and if I remember correctly a ride back to Marin. This Saturday, I and my friend Goli, bridged the GGB and at the end... Goli got a pin for her first crossing. She said it was always a goal of hers, but in 30 years, she had never attempted it. Well, let me tell you how we got Goli across the bridge.

Goli had mentioned to me that she would love to go for a walk with me some time, and we tentatively scheduled Saturday as the day to go. By the time Friday rolled around, it was obvious, the day for me to attempt my longer walk of the week had to be Saturday. Since she hasn't been walking distances lately, Goli said she would walk from the Sausalito Yacht Club to the end of the city. We made plans to meet at the club.

In the morning I realized I had left the better walking pants at my office, so I ran off to grab them and change. In the process, after getting ready with this odd accoutrement "Glide" I inadvertently left my pedometer behind. Luckily, I already knew what was ahead as far as distance...13.19 miles.

Goli was a little bit late arriving, so I used the time to stretch. I know you have seen people doing this preparing for a run or walk. I am a little self conscience, but today knowing I would have hills and distance in my future, I grabbed the time, put the pride aside and stretched to get ready.

The club is located adjacent to the Sausalito Ferry, so if you know where that is, you know our starting point. The car below is pretty cool, and although it isn't "landscape scenery", it is a point of interest. Two pretty impressive rides sitting outside Gene Hiller. But we weren't going to drive... we walked on.

I love Sausalito. It clings to the hillside, holding privileged views of the Bay. Goli told me back a long while ago she lived in the building you see low on the water, before it was converted to condominiums called Cote D'Azur.

As we walked along we walked the boardwalk behind Vahalla. Vahalla used to be owned b y Sally Stanford. Sally was a notorious Madame and later mayor of Sausalito. People, who were around in the day, say that in this restaurant she used to run, chickens had free range inside. Sally used to say there were two kinds of people in Sausalito, the hill people and the rest of us. (Or something along those lines). The workers in Sausalito used to live in the lower lying areas, and the wealthy up on the hills. The Vahalla Restaurant has been through many name changes and despite the views, and some times good reviews, they didn't last. The sign on the door said coming soon the Vahalla Inn. We'll see what develops!
I looked at Goli and said, "Want to keep gong?" ...and she did!
Our route took us down East, to Fort Baker. Speaking of Fort Baker, and places to stay, the new Cavallo Point is incredible. Our last anniversary Glenn took me to Murray Circle in wonderful restaurant, and I had an incredible meal. (Fine dining not being my husbands choice over a burger and fries, I appeciated the gesture.) Not only are the food and accommodations fantastic, look at the views! Another attraction here is the Children's Discovery Museum.
Look at Goli, her goal is in sight! No need to stop now!

The way to the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Baker is travelling under the bridge. I had seen the bridge from below many times on our boat, this was the first time on foot.

Once on one side of the bridge you take a set of stairs and then cross back under again, so you can be on the pedestrian side. The last thing a biker would want (or I would want) is to share the way over the good would come of that!) From the catwalk under the bridge we looked back on the path we took up the hill.

And of course we had to admire the fantastic engineering!

As we started to cross, I snapped this picture of Fort Baker. You can see, on the far side, the Presidio Yacht Club. I had hoped on this day's walk to see Glenn and the guys sailing on their race out to the Lightship buoy offshore. But the fog and the timing wouldn't allow this. As we continued to cross the fog continued to thicken. All of it below us!

I wish I had taken a minute to take a picture of Goli with her pin! It was a great accomplishment because, I believe, she saw that she could do this...So many things in life, we stand on the outside and look in. It's like you're starving and you see a lavish feast behind a glass door.
Sometimes, all it takes is to open the door to get the thing you are craving.

Goli headed back over the bridge while I marched onward.

Part of the reason I chose this walk was to overcome my fear of what day 2 might bring. I saw on the 3 day walk last year day 2 involved leaving from Crissy Field, going over the bridge and down into Mill Valley and then back to Crissy Field. Envisioning that walk, the hills up to and away from the bridge seemed the most daunting. As I headed down into Crissy Field I already felt as if I had eased a lot of that dread.

Crissy Field used to be an military airfield. It sits along the water and is a part of the Presidio (also old military). Over the past several years, the buildings have been transformed into commercial, non-profit and other endeavors. George Lucas has his campus for Industrial Light and Magic here. My old company has their offices there as well. The Field area, and the beach has been lovingly reverted back to a more natural state and if you are a dog lover, it is a great place to walk your dog. There were hundred of people here enjoying a beautiful day.
At one end of the bridge and Crissy Field is Fort Point. This is an old Civil War period building. Can't see it much with the fog, so I took a photo of the photo.

Beach and the
city beyond

Some of the old hanger buildings

Looking back at the bridge

Alcatraz in the background
Little day-tent on the beach

I could see my destination in the background. The St. Francis Yacht Club. I thought that would be the ideal place to stop. How many times has Glenn been spending his Saturday off sailing on races sponsored by this club?! It is the grand daddy of clubs in SF. One of the most renown clubs in the country. Today it was the lunch stop!

Luckily for me... they had a nice public bench right next to the club for me to sit and relax.

Although we belong to a Yacht Club, the St. Francis is one that doesn't reciprocate with club members of other clubs in the 200 mile radius.
The fog clinging to the bridge.

After making myself rest for about 20 mins. I started retracing my steps back to my car.

After climbing steps from Crissy and criss-crossing on some pathways,
the Golden Gate Visitor's Center was in sight.
It seemed to me the fog was higher on the way back. I felt sorry for the many tourists who were desperately trying to snap the perfect Golden Gate Bridge picture. I thought hey, this could be a good way to make some $$$ for my walk! I could charge $5 a photo for charity and take the group pictures on the bridge. Then I realized, there is probably a rule against that!

This is MY bridge picture.

Heading back down the long pathway to Fort Baker, I passed quite a few tired looking souls who had rented bikes in the city thinking it would be cool to ride over to Sausalito. This one woman was at the base of the pathway up and was pushing her bike up the path. I thought, GEEZ didn't you know there is a FERRY?!

There's a lot of history if you look for it. I wondered where this old structure came from.
It looked like a pump was inside.
Leaving Fort Baker - I forgot there would be this one last hill!

Head down.. you can do it...take it slow.
I kept trying to see Hazardous Waste (our boat) - but undoubtedly
she wasn't in this pack off Angel Island.

The town has gotten crowded since I'd been gone. I walked for the most part on the street to give them room! I heard so many accents.

Back at the club, I got into my car and was THRILLED to turn on the AC and
some great tunes and head home for my shower.
Unfortunately with no Pedometer, I could only try and verifiy the distance of my walk with the website! If you look close you can see it... 13.19 miles! Only 7 more and I will be at 20 miles. What a great thing to know the impossible is in sight! The encouragement and support I have recieved has been so fantastic! I am over 1/2 way to my goal on all counts, the $ for the 3 day, the distance I need to walk. I believe I am 100% of the way there in the attitude it will take to achieve this. My birthday is around the corner and wouldn't it just be remarkable to hit $2500 byt 4/30?! If you are thinking of a perfect time to help me reach this goal that could be it.
Then it is on to the rest of the team.
On a personal level, I would love it
if our entire team reached our goal by 8/5.
This is my mother's birthday.
She passed away at the age of 49 - from cancer.