Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Week of Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving was this past Thursday. One of the gifts that my cancer diagnosis gave to me was the ability to truly be thankful for small things. In years past, I intellectually knew that Thanksgiving is a day set aside to express thanks and gratitude for the things we have and the people in our lives. This year was truly a different experience for me, though. I have never been so truly, deeply and completely happy to celebrate the small, seemingly mundane moments of life.
In 2013, I had just gotten out of the hospital six days prior to Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving day, I could not stand up straight. I was hunched over because my incision pulled my abdominal cavity together tightly. It was impossible to hold my body in a fully upright position.
My husband and kids had signed up for the local YMCA Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving day. I insisted on going to watch the race. It was physically difficult to stand up for an hour, but I did not want to miss seeing my kids and husband cross the finish line. As for the rest of the day, I barely remember anything from it. I know we enjoyed a family meal, but I honestly cannot remember any of the details.
This week has been an entirely different experience for all of us.... 
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Monday, November 24, 2014

I Guess I Really Did Have Cancer

I Guess I Really Did Have Cancer

Yesterday marked exactly one year since I found out that I had pancreatic cancer. The date was November 22, 2013. I will never forget the date, in part because it is also my father’s birthday. I still feel badly about delivering that news to my family on my dad’s birthday.
A couple of weeks ago, I sought out a second opinion from another oncologist. This has nothing to do with the care I have received. It has everything to do with my own peace of mind. I really should have sought this opinion last November or December, but my insurance company fought me and denied me so many times that I just gave up. For some reason, I could never shake the feeling that I should have gotten that second opinion. This may sound silly, but there was even a little voice in my head that wondered if the original pathologists had been wrong. Perhaps I never had Pancreatic Cancer after all!
On November 21, 2014, one day shy of the anniversary of my original diagnosis, I heard back from the doctor’s office where I had sought out a second opinion. 
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Remembering on My Cancerversary

There are certain moments that you will always remember in your life: your first kiss, your wedding day, the birth of your children. I can add to that otherwise happy list the moment I heard the words “Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma”. November 18 is the day I had surgery one year ago for what turned out to be Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma. I went into the surgery thinking that I had a precancerous lesion. I did, but there was also cancer present. This past year has been an amazing journey.
I remember seeing my primary care doctor and being told I needed some additional testing. I remember the moment when he got the report from my CT scan and we went from laughing and joking to a very sobering conversation. I remember feeling like the air had just left the room. I remember thinking that my then 10-year-old daughter Peyton was in the waiting room and we were headed to a high school cross country meet. I remember wondering how in the world I was going to pretend that everything was good around my children.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Moving Beyond Fear

A new post has been added to my Wordpress site.

Moving Beyond Fear


Winter descended upon Colorado in a matter of hours on Monday. I went for a run Monday morning and the temperatures were in the mid 60s. As I finished up, I looked behind me and could see a wall of clouds moving in from the north. The winds
were blowing at gale forces and I was glad I had gotten out to run when I did. I knew the next few days were predicted to be bone chilling, with wind chills below zero. The weather forecasters were not wrong. This week has been bitter cold. Snow began falling Monday afternoon, as the temperatures dipped into the 20s.
After I got done working on Tuesday, I squeezed in a 7 mile run prior to picking up the girls from school. Maybe I am just a little crazy, but I always get excited about the first run in the snow. As winter hangs on into spring, I definitely lose my enthusiasm for running in the snow. But, the first snow excites me every year. So, I ventured out in 16 degree temperatures and was sadly disappointed at the lack on snow on the north side of Colorado Springs. There was a little, and it was pretty, but there wasn’t enough to qualify it as the real first snow run of the year.
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Sunday, November 9, 2014


I am in the process of moving my blog. Please follow the link below to my latest post! Let me know what you think of the new format.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month!

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. November holds an additional significance for me because I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on November 18, 2013. I am just a couple of weeks away from my one year anniversary. By making it one year, I will have survived longer than 75% of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

I bought this shirt to run in:

On the back, it says, "Aiming for the 6%", which is the overall five year survival rate.  It honestly still feels surreal to think that I had Pancreatic Cancer. A lot of this last year feels surreal. But, I have the scars and the pathology report that can quickly bring me back to the reality of it all.

Last Sunday evening there was an event in Denver called the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Purple Light. This is an event that honors survivors and remembers those who have been lost to Pancreatic Cancer. We met on the capital steps at 5 pm. I got to meet people I had been in communication with via facebook.

Here I am with Karl, who is in charge of media relations in the Denver area. Karl lost his wife to Pancreatic Cancer. 
This is Beth, who is in charge of putting together the Purple Stride. Beth was 5 years old when she lost her mother to Pancreatic Cancer. Her mother was only 37 years old when she passed. Beth is frustrated because the survival statistics have barely changed in the time since she lost her mother.

Just prior to the ceremony beginning, we gathered for a survivor's photo. As you can see, there are only ten of us. We didn't really know one another, but it was a happy occasion to see, talk with and hug others who were part of this very small club. (Photo credit to Beth Corlett)

People sitting on the steps to honor their loved ones.

I have been lucky enough over the past couple of weeks to get to spend time with others who have been impacted by Pancreatic Cancer. First I spent an afternoon with Elli from Project Purple.

Then I got to spend an evening in Denver at the Purple Light event. I cannot express strongly enough how powerful of an experience it is to meet and talk with others who have a connection to this cancer. We all understand what a devastating diagnosis it is, whether we are survivors or family members who have lost a loved one to the disease.  It is the club that none of us asked to join or wants to belong to, but since we are here, we have a strong bond that unites us against a common enemy. 

I hope that November brings as much support and recognition to Pancreatic Cancer that other cancers have received. Too many lives have been lost. Too many families have been torn apart. Too many survivors continue to struggle with guilt for being one of the very few who are fortunate enough to make it. We need more funding, more research dollars and more public support to battle this illness. I will be making a couple of announcements in the coming weeks about things I will be doing to make a difference for the future of Pancreatic Cancer. I am very energized and excited about some upcoming projects that are in the works. Stay tuned and wear your purple!