Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.  Well, mine and The King's, but I'm still around to celebrate it and he's not, so I'm claiming this date all for myself.  :)

I may have seen The Life of Brian too many times during my college years.
 I blame it on no cable and no reception - what other choice did we have,
but to watch the only movie in our possession until we knew it by heart??
I have had a fabulous year, although it might not seem like it to anyone on the outside looking in.  When faced with cancer, I knew I had to choose the glass half full scenario, so many little things have brought me great joy over the past few months.  This is not normally my perspective, but positive thinking and good health go hand in hand, so I adapted.

Which is why I am going to ask a favor and assume that you will help me out.

Over the past year, Gilda's Club of Nashville has been a huge part of my life as a cancer survivor.  If you don't know Gilda Radner, she was a Saturday Night Live comedienne who was struck down in the prime of her life with ovarian cancer - the silent killer.  Before she died, she started the first Gilda's Club in New York or LA (sorry, my memory on this detail seems to be failing me right now) so that people dealing with cancer - either as a patient or as a family member or friend - could come together and create a supportive network and pool their experiences.

"Elephant Walk," made in the ticker tape style.  I love this little mini quilt.
Initially, I joined Gilda's Club for the weekly quilting group.  I don't talk about quilting too much here because I can't seem to commit to writing about it on a regular basis, but it was one of the few activities that I could continue no matter what 2011/2012 threw at me.  What I didn't expect was the openness and sharing of the other members, and how important their experiences could be for me.  Some of the information those ladies have shared has helped me to make better treatment decisions, and for that, I am so grateful.

My activities at Gilda's also include a guided imagery class.  Before I started attending, I had already downloaded some meditations from Amazon and iTunes, but they couldn't prepare me for the meditative experience when a real live instructor is in the room.  I am continually amazed at how relaxed I am each week at the end of this class.  In my heart of hearts, I know that guided imagery enhanced my ability to remain calm in the face of a life-threatening illness, and that it also helped my body to respond positively to the chemo and Herceptin.  If you ever get a chance to attend a guided imagery class, I encourage you to do so.  Being centered isn't just a phrase for me anymore, and I wish I could explain how spectacular the experience can be, but it's something you have to find out for yourself.

"NavStar." This mini was definitely a learning experience in so many ways.
All of this has been free for me - I haven't paid anything for my membership at Gilda's.  Snacks and drinks are always there for members.  The sewing machines, thread, cutting mats and rotary cutters are all provided in my quilting group.  They have a ton of other activities, such as yoga, tai chi, support groups for different types of cancers, cooking classes and so on.  And it is all free.  Anyone who has ever been touched by cancer can join.

Charley Harper rocks, and I had a blast making this for my oncologist.
Here's where the favor comes in.

Gilda's Club of Nashville has several fund raisers all year long, but their biggest is the Country Music Half Marathon.  St. Jude's organizes it (the fee paid to participate is St. Jude's fundraiser), and Gilda's Club asks for volunteers to walk or run the half-marathon.  This time last year I wasn't able to join in, but I decided then that if I was able, I would walk the half-marathon this year. Just last January, I was trying to last for 20 laps around the U-shaped parking lot of the condos behind ours.  This year I plan to walk 13.1 miles and raise $750 in the process.  Has it really only been a year??

I am asking for your help.  Will you sponsor me?  You can see my profile at FirstGiving, so please donate - and while there, be sure to admire my pink hair.  :)  It's gone now, but I miss it and may go pink again in future.  I haven't decided, but I may do t-shirts or perhaps something quilty? for my donors.  I am not shy asking you to donate, so please don't be shy about telling me your preferences.

"Beauty and the Beholder."
This piece is all about me, and I want to do another like it.
It's funny, I think about my life one year ago, and it's amazing how far I've come.  Last birthday, I'd finished chemo the week before and had a shiny new noggin (well, not so new exactly, but newly shiny, lol) to show for it.  I was getting ready to go visit my sister and other family members because I missed Christmas and Thanksgiving due to the infection risk.  I took that in stride because I knew that chemo and a compromised immune system then meant that I would very likely be around to celebrate the holidays with my peeps this year.  It all worked out well.  :)

Anyone who lives in the Nashville area, come on out and support us if you have the chance.  From what I have read, there is live music all along the marathon route, so it should be a lot of fun for everyone.  Or, if you are so inclined, join us as a member of Gilda's Gang - you don't have to be a member to be a fundraiser.  And if you can't support in either of those ways, maybe you could just do me the favor and share this post with others.  Any way you can help me, I appreciate it.

If you are unable to donate (and believe me, I understand - if I'm lucky, I'll be able to go back to work full time in another year or so), I still thank you from the bottom of my heart.  The support I have had from the online community has been phenomenal and I can't thank everyone enough - the cards, packages, and well-wishes/prayers have lifted me up throughout this past year.  All that support, as a matter of fact, is the reason that I'm pushing myself to do this.


Janet said...

first of all, Happy belated Birthday!

I was suprised to see you had a blog...I don't know why LOL! After all, I do, too...but it seems lots of flickr friends don't.

Congrats on your cancer free status!!! I don't know if you know, but I had my own battle with cancer (rectal) which began in June 2009. Had chemo, radiation, surgery and more chemo, and just recently graduated to a 6 month check up schedule!

And I think it's amazing you got to go to Gilda's Place. I LOVED her on SNL and I read her book, so heart breaking. That's a place I would love to visit sometime.

Best of luck, and omg, your quilting is absolutely gorgeous!

Cameron VSJ said...


I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?




zoe said...

hi, i just found your blog; i wish i had seen this in time, and if you do it next year, feel free to come knocking at mine, i would love to support in any way that i can.
i love your elephant, and beauty in the beholder is fantastic.
everyone should grow up with life of brian :D