Bombings, Missionaries, and a Mom's heart

My world has been rocked again.

In April 2013, my world was rocked by the bombing of the Boston Marathon. I wasn't there, but I have run my fair share of marathons. I can only imagine what it was like. I've been in the craziness of the finish line. I know how those last few miles seem to last an eternity and to be turned back. I have no idea how I would have reacted but I'm sure it would have rocked my world.  I did find out what races were like after that. In 2015, I ran the Vancouver, BC, marathon and my husband, who usually is by my side within seconds of me crossing the finish line had to run around a lot of barriers to get to me. They asked us to limit our checked bags to the essentials if at all. I've run local races and likewise they will pat down your bag and even look inside. 

Elder Michael Blanding

Elder Michael Blanding

Tuesday (March 22, 2016), I woke to the news of bombings in Belgium. This follows a few months after bombings in Paris. Then the news flashed through my news feed that four of injured were LDS missionaries. My heart sank. My heart sank because I have two sons who are serving on missions. One is serving in San Fernando, CA, (near LA) and the other just landed in Macon, Georgia. In fact he hadn't even been in Georgia for 24 hours when the bombs went off across the Atlantic. 

Just a side note, when I heard of the San Bernardino shootings a few weeks ago, I wasn't quite sure where that was in relationship to where Elder Michael Blanding was serving. I pulled over (I'm always in my car it seems) and did a quick google maps to find out how close his apartment and area was to the shootings. Thankfully he was some 70-80 miles away. WHEW!

Elder Matthew Blanding

Elder Matthew Blanding

My heart ached. My heart still hurts. Three of those missionaries were young people. Young people who gave up 18-24 months of their lives to teach peace, love, hope and the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God speed their recovery. The fourth missionary was a "senior" missionary. Someone who during their retirement years decides to serve. I read today that his condition has turned worse. My heart aches for those who are here in America waiting to hear news and wishing they could be by the bedside of those they care for. I don't even know what that feels like but it must hurt. 

Elder Jason Blanding

Elder Jason Blanding

I've stood in the driveway of the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, three times now (I have one son who served in Puebla, Mexico from 2013-15). I have sobbed upon closing the door to the car and pulling away leaving that young boy. I've turned and watched them with the help of a fellow missionary, pull their two (or three) suitcases down the sidewalk and either we turn the corner or they do and they are gone! My only communication with them is a weekly email they send. They spend the next 24 months (18 if they were a female) serving, teaching and loving strangers far from home. Two of my boys have done it in a language not their own. I've cried myself to sleep numerous times just thinking about them. Yes, they are young men, but to me they will always be my little boys. 

Elder Matthew Blanding and me. I tried not to let them see me cry. 

Elder Matthew Blanding and me. I tried not to let them see me cry. 

Will I see them again?
Will I hug them again?
Will I hear their voice again?

There are dangers no matter where we send our children, school, missions, vacations, etc. But for me the reality hit home with my first son. I hadn't yet hit five year remission and that bench mark is huge when fighting cancer. Survival rates climb after year five. And when I said good-bye to Jason (my first), I had a scan coming up the next week. Letting him go knowing that I might be back fighting cancer was gut wrenching. Mike (my second), was the same thing. I hadn't yet hit five years. Matt (my third), was just a little bit easier because I had hit five years, but six month before he left they found a mysterious band in my liver. And why do I do this? but I scheduled a scan to happen right after all three of them left on their missions. Thankfully all three times the doctor called and said, "See you in six months!" 

But my missionary mom heart aches. She aches for all those missionaries who are hurt while away from home. There is no mom to help you; you can't even call her. I know the first time I was sick while away at school, I called my mom--probably a collect call--and she walked me through getting myself well. Then to be the mom who can't do a dang thing! You can't hold their hand, make Chicken Noodle Soup. You do exactly what all of us moms do: you give your son to the Lord and pray daily (sometimes three times a day) for their safety, peace, health and with people to teach. You live by faith. 

May every child of every mother be looked after is my constant prayer and may those who wish to do evil STOP! Please stop! My my mom heart is breaking. 

Running

I never thought I would be thankful for running, but I am. 

I remember being a Freshman in High School and telling Coach Q that I wouldn't run anything more than once around the track (that's 400 meters) and that I was only on the track team because I wanted to use the weight room and throw the javelin. He was so kind and obliged me. 

Fast forward 24 years and a cancer diagnosis and finding Team in Training.  In the five years from my first visit to their site I've run four marathons (Nike 2010, Vancouver 2011, Seattle 2011, Seattle 2012) dozen or so half marathons (first was Vancouver 2010), countless 5K's and 10K's and three Northwest Passage Ragnars. 

Yes, you could say that I've become a runner. 

I'm very grateful for all the blessings running has brought into my life. When I first started, it was something that I could do to fight cancer. It has now given me health, strength, friends and countless stories to tell. It has also given me a new career (more on that on another post).

I truly am grateful for running! 

A Little Color - The View on my Run

If you know anything about me, you know that I'm now what one would call a runner. I'm averaging about 20-25 miles a week. I'd love to up that a bit, but maybe after the fall soccer season is over. 

I've grown to love where I run. The colors speak to me. The smells tell me stories and of course nature tells me I'm loved. 

Every now and again I'll post "The View on my Run."

Today's comes from the Sammamish River Trail. I did a four mile up and back from the 60 acres parking lot. I took more than one shot today as it was so gray out there.

A little color on a gray day.

A little color on a gray day.

 

Ragnar-itis

In 2012 a friend asked me if I wanted to run Ragnar with her and her team. I just think she wanted me to come because I have a 15 passenger van--and a driver. I was a "runner" and so I thought what the heck. I ran it with her and LOVED it!  I loved it so much that when the email came that said, "Hurry sign up for 2013 Northwest Passage" I leaned over to my husband and asked him if he wanted to drive again. He said, "Heck yay!" and so we were team 14!  That was a great team. Fast, dedicated and I found some new friends. 

Of course I drank the Kool-Aid and signed up again for 2014, this time I was team #3! I brought back my core running friends and grabbed a few more for this 2014 "Will Run for Donuts" team.  I think they drank the Kool-Aid too!  We, yes, all 12 of us (well, minus one since he is a young boy--more on that later--but his mom doesn't want to pull him from school) are signing up for the Napa Valley Ragnar in 2015!  Yes, I think we bathed in the Kool-Aid! We've got Ragnar-itis and we've got it bad. 

I don't know how to explain what Ragnar is. It really doesn't sound like fun, but it is! Simply put it is 12 runners running 200 or so miles from point A to point B passing a baton (aka slap bracelet) as your teammates take turns running.  Some runners run 2.7 miles on a leg and others run almost 9.  Each team member takes three legs. My legs this year totaled 19.1 miles (I was runner 8). You do this from Friday morning until Saturday evening. Your team never stop running.  Thankfully you are in two vans so the first six runners (in van one) are running while the second six runners (in van two) are resting, eating and getting ready to run their legs.  When runners from van two take over, van one eats, sleeps (or tries to) and gets ready for their next set of runs.  Yes, sweaty, stinky people are forced to spend about 36 hours hanging out with each other.  (Baby wipes and ziplock bags are a must for each van!) 

2014 NWP Team: Will Run for Donuts

2014 NWP Team: Will Run for Donuts

I've run marathons before (26.2 miles) but you pace yourself differently when running 26.2 miles all at once than you do when you are running a five mile run and then a 7 mile run and then a 6 mile run. Not only that, you desperately want to come in under your projected time.  There is so much pride in that accomplishment. 

This year I blew my time out of the water.  I have been tracking my time (thanks to my new Garmin) and noticed that my pace has dropped so I dropped it on the spreadsheet. I dropped my time to it to what I have been averaging on my long runs. I was running a 10:34 pace for the past four months so I thought I would put that down. Somehow I ran 8:50! What?  I'm not sure what happened, but I ran like my pants were on fire!  

My first leg was a nasty 700 foot gain over a long 5 miles. I averaged a 9:26 pace. WHAT? Where did that come from? I don't run UP HILL under ten.  Crazy good that is!

Crazy tall hill!  

Crazy tall hill!  

My second leg was at 1:45 in the MORNING!  Now that's motivation to run fast if ever there was. It wasn't for the faint of heart.  I ran across a trail that was out over Figalgo Bay so I could hear the water lapping agains the shore--scary. Turning up my itunes didn't help because anyone coming up from behind me would scare me even more!  So I just ran faster! This leg I did with a 8:46 pace.  It was my longest run at 7.75 miles. And I got the girl at the very end for a kill! 

My last leg looked really nasty. Once again some nasty hills with no van support. I really like hearing my people cheer me on. Highway 20 through Whidbey Island just won't let vans support you.  I hit that hill and did it!  I wanted that run so bad that I chased down a few runners.  The wind was in my face while on the highway and it was loud. The cars are driving pass you at 50-60 miles an hour. Gives one a moment of thought.  As I passed the one mile to go sign, I noticed a white shirt in front of me. My legs were already toast, but I wanted one more kill, so I chased her down and just at the last moment--in front of everyone at the exchange, I KILLED HER! (That just means I passed her, there is no violence in running.)  It felt so good!!!  Again, my average pace was crazy good! How did that happen?  My pace was 8:47! 

 

Just about to pass the girl in the white shirt for a KILL!!

Just about to pass the girl in the white shirt for a KILL!!

So now I have created a monster. The five ladies in van one want to stay together as a team and they even want to travel to San Francisco next September to do the Napa Valley Ragnar. (Mom of the six runner, our 14 year old hero, says he needs to stay home and go to school.) My van? They drank so much Kool Aid, they are trying to figure out a way to do it this year! Sorry team, it's full!  

Ok, so I'm drowning in the Kool Aid. I've already mapped out the Napa Valley legs (they will all change by September 2015) and I've looked up flights, rental vans, and I'm looking into hotels. I've got Ragnar-itis. I think the only cure is to run another one.  (Anyone out there in Ragnar-land who wants to take a chance on a 10 minute pace runner who just wants to come have some fun?)

What makes this so fun? Your legs are gassed. You are so tired (I think I got about two hours of sleep the whole weekend). You don't eat well (hello port-a-potty) and you smell even worse! Not only that you are with five other people who are in the same boat, I mean van.  

It's the stuff that happens when you aren't running.  The dance party on the side of the road. It's the squirt bottles that someone thanks you for. It's the chocolate covered pretzels. It's the team and friendship building that happens as you tell stories in the van. It's the people that make Ragnar so fun.  The people on your team and especially the people in your van.  That's why I pick them carefully.  

It's the daughter who runs her mom's leg because her mom's ankle is twisted. It's the husband who runs silently by his wife on a very difficult run. It's the wash cloth given to a very hot runner as she busts it up a hill. It's the butt pat from spouse. It's the water dump. It's the catch at the end of the leg. It's the cow bell. It's the tunes. It's a Ragnar!

Spraying Sandra down with squirt bottles.  (look at those runner calves on that gal  with a cowboy hat on!)

Spraying Sandra down with squirt bottles. 
(look at those runner calves on that gal  with a cowboy hat on!)

Van two waiting for Van one to arrive. We have a treat for them!

Van two waiting for Van one to arrive. We have a treat for them!

The back of our van. Decorating your van is what you do while waiting for your runner.  We got a message on the back, "Your spray bottle rocks!"

The back of our van. Decorating your van is what you do while waiting for your runner.  We got a message on the back, "Your spray bottle rocks!"

Team "Will Run for Donuts" Our driver (aka Steve) is begging for donuts. Maybe he should try running. 

Team "Will Run for Donuts"
Our driver (aka Steve) is begging for donuts. Maybe he should try running. 


A Slow Half

I had a HORRIBLE winter training for the Lake Washington Half Marathon. It started with hip troubles last fall. I ignored them for a while then finally went to the doctor and ended up in physical therapy. Once I got that working right I started running again. Boy was I slow!

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Ragnar

I had the privilege of running my first Ragnar Relay the summer of 2012. It was so much fun that the moment the Relay was open for 2013 I grabbed a spot. I grabbed it without even having one person on my relay that's how much fun it was.  In fact when I was talking to my husband about doing this (you have to put down over $1000 for a spot) he said, "Only if I get to be the driver again."  Guess he had fun too!

What is a Ragnar? Simply put it is 12 friends in two vans running a relay "race"  of about 200 miles from point A to point B over two days (roughly about 30 hours). You run your leg, rest, run your leg, rest, run your leg, rest and party. It is so much fun.

My Ragnar Team 2012

My Ragnar Team 2012

So here it is 2013 and I'm the captain trying to steer her team to victory.  I set up a facebook group so that we can post our training. I find that when I post my training I train better, at least that is the idea behind the group. I just hope it works. 

Training:

One more to go...

One more to go...

1. Run! Ragnar has a great training guide for those who are experienced runners as well as those who are new to Ragnar. Use it. I believe that each Ragnar event has its own schedule. If not fine a schedule. There are a ton on the internet or in books. I just like to get out and run.  Here is what i try to do (and I'm not expert). 
Monday: Run 3-4 miles
Tuesday: Run 4-6 miles
Wednesday: Run 6 miles
Thursday: Run 4-6 miles
Friday: Rest (important to not skip this part)
Saturday: Long Run 
Sunday: Rest
Now my long runs can range from 6 miles to 18 miles depending on where I am in my training to an event. I try to add two miles a week until about four weeks before my event with the max at 20 miles (or 3.5 hours). Don't forget to taper.   

2.  Run at different times during the day and make sure you do a solo night run. Make sure you run with a vest, headlamp and tail light. It is a totally different feeling running in the middle of the night and each runner will be running at least once during the night.  It might not be pitch black, but you will have to run with a headlamp and vest and that can be different.  

3. Split your milage.  Take your milage and split it up during a 12 hour period. In other words run 3 miles in the morning and then do a 3-6 mile run later in the day.  It's even better if you can add another 5 mile run during the 12 hours as well (a lunch time run).  During a Ragnar you will be running three different times without a long rest period.

3. Run in your gear.  Make sure you wear what you are going to run in; don't "save" it for race day. There is nothing worse than being two miles into your six mile leg and finding out that your shoes aren't right or the shorts ride up and you are uncomfortable. 

4.  RUN! RUN! and RUN!

What to pack?

GEAR

Yes, it all fits and I still have room.

Yes, it all fits and I still have room.

You will need three complete running outfits from the inside out. The only thing that you might be able to reuse is the shoes, but even then I would have at least one pair of backups. Living in the northwest it rains and I HATE to run with wet feet!  I don't mind the rest of me being wet, but I hate running with wet feet.  Last year we had a downpour during the first six legs and when we were "resting" we had to find a laundromat to dry out our shoes. I'm glad I had two pair of shoes. 

I would suggest that you put each outfit in a ziplock bag (minus the shoes) so when you are trying to find your outfit you will only need to find one thing (ok, two if your shoes are not in the bag). Then when you are done running you can then put the sweaty, stinky running clothes into a bag that can be zipped up. Your teammates will thank you.
Don't forget to make one of the outfits your night running gear. 

Ziplocked and ready for my first leg!

Ziplocked and ready for my first leg!

Here is the list of items in my personal bag:
Three ziplock bags with my running attire (bra, top, bottom and socks) with one of them being my PM outfit (long sleeves). And a team running shirt. 
One ziplock bag with my comfy clothes in it (if room I'll slip in a second shirt).
Running jacket just in case it is pouring
Sweat shirt (it's cool at night)
Head lamp
Vest
FRED (flashing Rear End Device)
Sunglasses
Running watch
TWO running shoes and an extra pair of socks
Garbage bag for soaking clothes & a couple ziplock baggies
Towel
Hat
Ear phone, iPhone & charger
Running belt (just in case my leg has no van support)
Quarters & Cash
Safety pins
Body Glide
Body Wipes & Deodorant
Flip Flops
Hair band, hair brush
Running chews & Nuun
Cosmetic bag: (see below)
First Aid: (see below)

SURVIVAL KIT: 

You will sleep just about anywhere.

SMELL COMBAT: You will be running and running and running and NOT showering so please bring a box of baby wipes or something so that you don't have to have all the windows down. You may also want to wear something comfortable when not running, so bring an extra pair of clothes to change into during your off times and maybe not too causal as you may hit an eating establishment during your break, but don't over pack. And don't forget the Deodorant!  

You will sleep just about anywhere.

You will sleep just about anywhere.

SLEEP: You may catch a few catnaps but trying to get a good nights sleep will almost be impossible, but still bring a sleeping bag and pad. The gyms at the exchanged during the Northwest Passage are open for those who want to try to sleep.  My husband and I slept on the tennis courts last year and had a great sleep considering.  

COSMETICS: Not the kind that will make you beautiful, but will keep you beautiful. Sunscreen and bug spray. Don't forget toothbrush and toothpaste (a must if you want to still be INside the van come morning. If you wear contacts don't forget saline solution and a pair of extra glasses--just trust me on this one.  Oh, and chapstick.  I throw in shampoo and conditioner just in case there are hot showers at the end and you get a chance to take one. And bring a whole box of babywipes and share. I have long hair but wear a ponytail when I run so a brush and hair band (or two) are needed.  

FIRST AID: Grab a box of band aids for the car, a few ziplock baggies (they hold ice better than the produce bags at the local market). An ace bandage comes in handy too.  BODY GLUID! I live by that stuff.  Safety pins if only to hold the big number on. Foam roller or Stick (love 'em), compression socks (use 'em), Hand Sanitizer: all you have are port-a-potties--need I say more!  You can either put this together for the van or you can bring it as an individual. Oh, and don't forget  your favorite pain med. 

EXTRA: Quarters for the laundromat dryer or you end up with $20 worth of quarters. gum, window markers, cow bells, whistles, streamers, sunglasses, umbrella. sharpies, wash clothes, phone chargers, a towel for either the hot shower (if you take one) or the rain shower, camera and a smile! 

All our legs done and done in.  

All our legs done and done in.  

FOOD:

On my team we let each van decide how to handle the food. It is hard to do it completely communal food when there are food allergies, likes and dislikes and on event day is not a day to stray too far from your normal or you wont' be running for the finish line.  

My van has two coolers, one that is for personal items (all marked with sharpie and in ziplock baggies) and the other is food for sharing.  We all bring stuff we want to share with others. it can be from bagels, cream cheese, grapes to gu, salt tablets and gatorade. 

During our rest period we will find a sit down restaurant and each order something to refuel. 

Tracking our kills and progress on the back of the van. 

Tracking our kills and progress on the back of the van. 

WATER:

I love having a case of individual water bottles as it is easy to toss when you are running and not worry about breaking an expensive water bottle and they are easily refillable. We will also have a couple gallons of water in the car and pick a couple more up when we stop for gas and ice.  

We keep track of how many 8 oz. each runner drinks so that no one gets dehydrated. Dehydration is very preventable and if you do get dehydrated it is a trip to the ER spoiling everyone's day.  We even track our drivers intake.  

HAVE FUN! 
It will be so much fun you will be signing up for the next one before you know it! 

  

42

Well, I turned 42 a few weeks back and had publicly stated that I was going to run 42 miles (to Seattle and back) for my birthday.  Well, I sort of did it.

Here is the story:
One day while on a 4 mile run (those are easy now), I couldn't shake the email I got from a friend about a little girl with cancer who had passed away earlier that week.  Here I was celebrating one year remission while a little girl didn't get to celebrate her fourth birthday. I was going to be turning 42 in just weeks. That more than 10 times longer than that little girl got to live. I also was (still am) having a hard time raising money for my next run. I had to do something. I made up my mind to run the Burke-Gilman/Sammamish River Trail for my birthday. It had to be close to 20 miles there and back.  I've run almost every part of it, except the top part and I would like to do it from Marymoor (home) to the end (Gasworks). (I know it isn't the "end" but that is a good "end" in my mind.) That would make 42 or so miles.

Without talking to my husband I posted it. Now it was public and I was stupid ambitious. My husband of course read about it (I didn't want say those words to him) and he told me I was silly.  He didn't say much else (I think he knows better) and just let me go about thinking I was going to pull it off.  He didn't even offer to help me (no water stop etc), but pick me up when I died.  We sort of talked about it, but for the most part he just shrugged it off and never really offered any support.

When it came time to put rubber to the trail, things changed.  The day before my long run we held a family council. (Yes, we hold weekly family council; we have to, we have kids going every which way and if we don't...well, hell breaks loose anyway, I just don't want to see what it would be without it) and the kids brought up a few good points on why I shouldn't run 42 miles the next day.

1. No medical tent at the end of the race.
2. No water stops.
3. No coaches or teammates to push me (or stop me).
4. It was the last day before Kray went off to college and he didn't want to spend it in the ER with his mom.
5. We had promised the kids a day on the town and still hadn't paid it and it had been about three summers.
6. No one wanted to cheer me on or help me.
7. I had already run 26.2 miles and was going to add another 26.2 miles during the year I turn 42 and that added up to MORE than 42 miles.

So I compromised.

I got up at 5 and ran until I hit the detour on the trail. My fear of getting lost (I have a HUGE fear of getting lost) over came me and I called Steve to come get me.  I had spent 2 hours and 30 minutes running and covered 14.3 miles that morning. I truly felt like I could have run another two hours.  I was home before the kids were all up, showered and ready for our day at the EMP.

As I thought about it I decided that during my birthday month, September, I was going to run those 42 miles. So, here is my log so far (and I'm only counting my Saturday long runs):
Sept 5th 14.3 miles
Sept 10th 12.2 miles
Sept 14th 12.2 miles
So I have logged 38 miles already and this Saturday will probably get in another12 miles. So I'll be well over my 42 miles for my birthday month.

But the whole reason I did this was to raise funds for my run in November. I don't want to beg or plead, because I'm awesome and can run so far, do it because of that girl who didn't get to see her fourth birthday.  That's why you should donate, not because I can run, but because she won't ever.

Doreen's donation page

PS: just for fun my log books says that for the year of 2011 I've run over 575 miles!

And the Winner is.....

For the past few months I have been struggling as to which race to do next. Last fall I did the Women's Nike in San Francisco. This fall, I just don't feel like going back there, so I didn't sign up. I thought I would just keep running like I"m supposed to and it will be all good. But I started making excuses as to why I couldn't run. On crept the weight. I just know I need to get back out there and start running, but without a race as a goal I probably will only do one or two runs a week. Not good enough.

I also have this sitting in my heart: Cancer! Well, actually it is in my blood, and I just can't shake it.

Then I have these two big thing happening within a month of each other: my forty-second birthday and my first birthday.  I need to celebrate in a big way.

So what to do, what to do.
Well for the winter TNT season (I have to run for TNT!) they are doing Honolulu and the Seattle Amica Marathon. I've flipped back and forth for about three weeks and today, I'm proud to announce two things.

1. I'm running in the Seattle Marathon. I want to do it at home Thanksgiving weekend so that my family can cheer me.  There is something cool about hearing your kids voices as you run the "bite-me" miles. It'll be sad not to have Kray there who will be in Hawaii, (so now you know why the choice was hard) but I need to do it at home.
2. For my 42 birthday I'm going to run 42 miles (or at least try). I'm going to run from Marymoor park to Gasworks and then back to Marymoor on Labor Day.  (Steve doesn't even know yet.) I'm going to sell ribbons as a fund raiser and ask my friends to run miles with me. I'm going to sell shirts too. (I've got details to work out.) I'm celebrating my first birthday and my forty-second. My remission date is August 5, 2010, and my real birthday is September 6, 1969.  I sure hope this is a success.

Now why do I do this, because today I read on a fellow TNT teammates facebook that a sweet little girl who would have been four later this month is now in Heaven.  She was diagnosed at 8 months with blood cancer and lost the fight today.  I'm doing this because there is no cure for my cancer. I'm doing this for Paul, Lilli, Mark, Colleen, Frank's dad, Shelley's mom, and more importantly for my kids. Cancer has to be stopped. It takes people's lives and screws them up! It has to be stopped and I can do it one mile at a time.

As soon as my paper work is in, I'll be sending out emails asking for donations one more time. Somebody is going to crack the cancer code and lives will be saved!

So Seattle here I come!

Seven months and counting--but I still have cancer.

I posted on my Caring Bridge page that my MRI scan and blood work came back clean! That makes seven months and counting!!! But then again who is counting--ME!!!! That great news, but they still don't know why the pain. I hope it is "growing" pains and that my muscle is starting to heal.

I'm still running to help with the pain, healing (mental and physical) as well as raising money. It seems like that is the only thing I can physically do to fight my own cancer. There isn't much I can physically do, but this I can do!

I need to make something very clear; my cancer is not curable. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma does NOT have a cure at this time. That is why it is so important for me to keep getting these clean scan and blood work reports. I have a very aggressive form of NHL and the reports of re occurrence aren't great, so I have to fight. I'm sort of sad that people I love and care for aren't as supportive as I thought they would be. I know I'm not in chemo anymore, but every day I wake to the fact that I'm still fighting for my life--every single day! Not a day goes by that I'm not fighting--FIGHTING FOR MY LIFE! I truly am running to save my life!

So to my friends and family who think the fight is over--YOU ARE WRONG! My fight will not end--it can't. I still have children to raise and grand babies to kiss! This is a very lonely battle. One I fight by myself every day. That's why I pray that my scans come back clean, why I run and why I raise money. My fight is not over--and yours shouldn't be either.

Yes, I did turn in my paper work and if I don't raise the money, it will come out of my pocket--I believe in fighting my cancer that much. Please help me. You can either donate here, send me a check and/or drop me a quick email to tell me to keep fighting. I save them or those days when I'm worried, feel really lousy or just need a pick me up--a reminder of why I should fight hard to stay alive long enough for a cure to be found. Remission is great, but cured would be better!

In passing they touched my life

I had two very different experiences happen to me that have touched my heart. One happened on the Sammamish River Trail and the other in Red Robin. Two very different experiences, yet the touch on my heart was the same.

The first incident happened on the Sammamish River Trail during one of my runs. The trail runs along the Sammamish Slough and is a local favorite for bikers, walkers, runner, roller bladers, of all sorts, from the serious athlete to the family out for an afternoon walk. I love running on this trail because there are no hills and the view is often beautiful. I've seen bald eagles in the trees. I like to make eye contact with everyone I meet on the trail and tip my hat. I don't always get a response, but I like to smile at them anyway. It makes a long run just a touch better.

On my longest run a few weeks ago, I witnessed something for only a brief moment but I've thought about it ever since. It was my long run, 180 minutes or THREE HOURS, and I had carefully set out my route so that when I was at the end I would be at a place for Steve to pick me up. I didn't want to walk a step further than I had too. My plan was to run from 60 acres to Marymoor part (45minutes to, so 90 round trip), then up past Woodinville (another 45 minutes up, so 90 round trip for 180 minutes). I had just had my turn around at Marymoor and I was struggling. My neuropathy was killing me and the five hours I spent on the soccer sidelines was catching up with me. I so desperately wanted to call it quits. I knew I couldn't but I sure did. Then I look up and there coming towards me was a man in a wheel chair. We made eye contact and we both smiled at each other.

It wasn't just his smile that made me keep going, but the thought that he was propelling himself with just his arms. I couldn't stop thinking about him. He too was "running" without a partner. A partner helps so much when you don't think you can take another step. I'm sure he would have loved to have a partner push him, just like I would have.

I made it all the way past Woodinville and was just about back to Marymoor park, when this young man in the wheelchair came "running" toward me again. We again exchanged pleasantries. He was able to smile at me after close to two hours between meetings.

I've thought about him on most every run since then. If he, a person just using his arms, can propel himself forward for over two hours with just his arms, then I'm able to keep running with both legs and arms. I wish I knew his name, but I will never forget his smile and his courage.

Tonight, Jessica and I were at dinner at Red Robin. We were close to the end of our dinner when the hostess sat a couple just across the walk way from us. The young lady caught my eye because she had a corsage on her wrist. I looked at her and noticed that she was very attractive. Then I saw her date. I knew right away that this young man was mentally challenged. His mother was with them. As the hostess directed them to the table, the young man literally leaped for joy and let out a squeal that most any young boy would give upon seeing what Santa had brought him.

They sat down and ordered drinks. I watched them for a moment and the young woman was totally engaged with this young man. She engaged both the mother and her date. He was on cloud nine and tried so hard not to squeal yet again. Their conversation must have been engaging as both the young woman and young man talked with each other. The mother put her two cents in when necessary and kept a gentle hand on her son's knee. I suspect she was keeping him in his seat.

Jessie and I finished our meal and had to leave, but I sure would have liked to stay and watched how that date ended. I don't know how that young woman will look back on that date, but I have an idea of how that young man and that mother will look back on it. I know I will remember that young woman's patience, kindness and grace as well as a mother's love and devotion.

I witnessed two people who went beyond themselves and made my life a little better. I wish to express my thanks to the four people who are total strangers to me and yet have touched my life and my heart.

What's Up?

It has been quite a long time since I've updated this blog. Many reasons why but the most important is that I have a very hard time sitting for long periods of time. The pain is back! It just seems like my body doesn't like to bend in half. I literally live my life upright and moving. I'm not joking! I feel like I'm a mom again and the baby won't let me sit down. Thankfully I can lay down as long as I have a hot pad going.

I won't you with the medical story as you can find that on my caring bridge website http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/doreenblanding so I will just update you on the "other" stuff.

We'll start with some of the positive things that have been going on in my life. I've lost 45 pounds. YES! FORTY FIVE POUNDS! Yes the cancer treatment had something to do with it but mostly it was just old fashion hard work that helped me shed the 45 pounds. I have also lost my appetite--truly--I just don't have the desire to eat. I feel full quickly now and really have no desire to eat. I'm not starving myself, I'm just not hungry. I actually need to remember to eat. In fact with the radiation I have to make sure I have enough (even more) protein in my diet. But the biggest thing is that I've been running. To date I have run over 450 miles and just last week ran 10 miles in 100 minutes. Today I ran 8.7 miles in 80 minutes (but more on that later). I wish I could do tummy crunches, but my back just won't let me do it. I still can't believe I'm 45 pounds lighter.

With that weight lost, I had to get new clothes--a lot of them. One day when put on my business skirt it literally fell off my hip. So I went out to Marshalls, Old Navy and Ross (I love discount stores) and got some new clothes. Here is the best part, I tried on a skirt and then had to go back and get a new size. I did that three times! I finally had to try a skirt on that was a size I hadn't worn since HIGH SCHOOL! I pulled some tops off that were on the MEDIUM rack! I took two garbage sacks of clothes to DI and I still haven't gone through all my jeans, pants, slacks or shorts. I feel so great! Almost sexy.

As you may remember I'm preparing to run a half marathon in May. That is 13.1 miles! I've been training since October and think I will be ready. Last week I put in 10 miles in 100 minutes and I felt like I could continue on. I truly am amazed at myself! Here I am the girl who wouldn't run over 400 meters in high school running miles upon miles every day. I started in October run/walking and doing it at about the rate of 13 minutes/mile and now I'm consistently between 8-10 minutes/mile. And here is the clincher! I LOVE RUNNING! I can't believe I just typed that. I actually like to run. I find solace in my hour run each day. Ok, here is an even bigger shock: I'm going to sign up to run the FULL Nike Women's Marathon in San Fransisco in October this fall. I'm going to run again for TNT (DUH!). What craziness! I have now logged over 450 miles since October. I have only missed two days and that was because of doctor orders. If fact I went running today, less than 24 hours after a biopsy. I truly can't believe I am running.

Here is the negative.
I had the second batch of radiation in December and January. In February the pain came back but they couldn't image me because of the radiation so we waited until two weeks ago. The CT scan showed no new tumor and only old tumor. But the pain was so great that they ordered a MRI. In fact I had two MRI's. They found a tumor. They aren't sure it is the old, new or regrowth. So Friday I had a biopsy. I hate biopsies.

Now there is a positive with this. Steve came with me to the hospital. I know it was way too long for him (six plus hours), but he was there. I so appreciate that he was there. Also on Thursday (they day after the doctor called to tell me I had a tumor) Kray gave me a unsolicited hug! Took me by surprise but I loved it!

On that note, I'm really worried about my children. I wish they would open up to me and let me know how they are feeling. I wish they knew how much they need to talk. I wish they would talk. They don't have to talk to me, but to someone. I have numbers of people they would talk to. In fact I ran across a friend whose daughter is in one of Kray's class and she said that her daughter has talked about Kray and how he is "afraid about his mother's cancer". I know this is driving him crazy, but it is KILLING me. I wish they would just open up. I really want to know what is going on. I know what it is doing to my insides and I can only imagine what it is doing to them. One day he told me that I would "kick it in the butt, like you do everything else mom." I love the confidence, but...

My husband doesn't speak about "it" either. I wish he would. I know I'm scared and I have no idea what he feels like. I know it would let me open up. I don't even know how to open up. These are things that you don't think you will ever have to talk about while you are young, but damn! you do. I don't even know how to start that conversation.

Now, you may wonder how I'm typing this since I don't bend in half and typing you would assume that I was at my desk. No, I'm in bed with a back ache typing on my husband's laptop (my laptop has some broken keys so it is hard to type worth beans).

Well, my eyes are getting droopy (thank you vicodin) and I think dinner just arrived.