Why I Stride

Since today is World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness day, I thought I’d write about why I stride.  Stride of course refers to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s annual 5k called Purple Stride.  This Sunday, as we’ve done since 2015, Team Deb Force Five will be off to the races at the Broward-Palm Beach Purple Stride.  While it will be my first as part of the event team, it will also be our second Purple Stride without Debbie, which brings me to why I stride.

I remember the day clearly.  I had travelled with work to Orlando to present for the first time as part of our Military Roadshow. It was a pretty big deal and I was super excited.  We were driving up as a group and heading back that evening.  The presentation went swimmingly, so I spent my afternoon getting caught up on work.   And then my husband called, hysterical..   I was convinced something had happened to one of our kiddos.  When he finally calmed down, he told me the devastating news that Debbie had been diagnosed with stage iv cancer.  Instantly, my knees went week and I started to slide down the wall as I too started to cry.   At that point, the origin of the cancer was unknown, but the prognosis was dire.

At the time of her diagnosis Debbie was 40 years old.  She wasn’t a smoker, she ate exceedingly healthy and was an avid runner.  She didn’t fit the profile for a pancreatic cancer patient, but I think that’s the message.   According to a a recent study, pancreatic cancer will be the 2nd deadliest cancer by 2020.  Lung cancer is projected to remain the deadliest cancer.  While other cancers have seen a decrease in mortality rates, pancreatic cancer has not.  Researchers pointed to a combination of factors as to why mortality rates for pancreatic cancer have not declined.   Risk factors including an aging population, the relative growth of high-risk minority populations (African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews) and the underfunding of pancreatic cancer research.

Debbie was committed to finding a cure and research for better patient outcomes.  She was an avid supporter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the work they do to drive pancreatic cancer research.  Unfortunately, this can’t be done without money.   Pancreatic cancer patients and their families, like Debbie and her family, deserve better outcomes.  They deserve a survival rate well over 9%.

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We lost Debbie almost two years ago, but some days it feels like it was yesterday while others it feels like it’s been years.   Even still Goalielocks asks why they couldn’t do more for her.  I stride because I’m committed to ensuring that pancreatic cancer patients and their families have better outcomes.  I’m committed to helping drive research forward.  This disease has stolen so much from so many.  It certainly has from me.

You can support PanCan and Team Deb Force Five in Debbie’s honor: http://support.pancan.org/site/TR/PurpleStride/PurpleStride?team_id=14831&pg=team&fr_id=1573

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TMinus Seven

It’s tminus seven until Jake, and my brother and his wife head to Scandinavia for an epic adventure.  Jake and I spent our morning picking up a few last-minute items from Kohl’s. It’s going to be in the 40s-50s, so a light jacket should suffice.  Since we live in Florida our fall wardrobe for Scandinavian weather isn’t quite up to par.

After Kohl’s we headed to Barnes and Noble.  I’ve been reading book after book as I work my way through the top 500 fiction and non-fiction books.  I’m currently reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, but should finish it in the coming days.  It’s delightful this far, quite the departures from Tolstoy’s Resurrection.  I’d highly recommend both novels.  For the trip, I bought Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since paperbacks were 3 for $30, I was seriously tempted to by several books.  I behaved and walked out with only two.

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In addition to Larsson’s novel, I picked up a book on Swedish grammar.  I love DuoLingo, but I needed to read through the grammatical rules.  Every night I try to spend at least 30 minutes practicing Swedish before reading for the last hour before bed.  I don’t expect to be fluent, but I hope to at least be able to communicate in Swedish while in Stockholm.  As an aside, there isn’t DuoLingo for Finnish or Finnish grammar books at our Barnes and Noble.    Please see video below for what I imagine I’ll sound like.

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I am super excited, not just for the trip, but for November’s Purple Stride.  This year I’m unable to run due to my left ankle, so I’m taking on a different role.  For this year’s event, I’m happy to announce that I am the Team Chair.  I’ll be in charge to driving team results and recruitment.  Those of you on the fence of joining team Deb Force Five – now it the time to join.   If you’re not in Florida that’s okay!  You can join us as a virtual strider.   Join by clicking here.  I’ll leave you with one of Freddy Mercury’s iconic live performances.  I, for one, cannot wait to see the Queen movie coming out next week.

 

It’s Been Crazy

It’s been crazy around these parts hence the several month hiatus from the blog.  While the kids went north this summer, the hubby and I worked.  Oh and I tore my posterior tibial tendon, which has been so much fun.  Needless to say I didn’t do much this summer but work and elevate my leg.  Now I’m bootless, scooterless and ready to write!

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I did take on a new, super girl like identity as the summer ended: Scooter Girl.  You know like Avril Lavigne’s skater boi just older, with a boot and a lot less coordination.  I spent eight weeks in a boot and on my glorious scooter.  Whoever invented the scooter, also known by its significantly less sexy name as a knee walker, is my hero.  I can’t imagine having to spent eight weeks in a boot and on crutches – I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.  The scooter was a complete lifesaver.  It helped, of course, that my scooter was pimped out with a basket, a cup holder (how else would I carry my coffee), a memory foam padded knee pad cover and a bell (thank you KB.)

While I was on the scooter, I noticed that people were much nicer and helpful.  Even the snowbirds near me were sweet – amazing.  It was, however, a little demoralizing when a woman in her 80s told me she had been in the same boat and that I’d be okay.   She was so sweet.  Seriously, the snowbirds were sweet and if you lived in S. Florida you’d understand how amazing that really is.  It also sucked having to put on a cast bag to go outside or take a shower.  Having a cast during rainy season isn’t awesome.

The scooter also got us VIP entrance and upgrades at a couple of concert.  I definitely was not  looking forward to being on the law at an amphitheater with my scooter.  However, nothing was going to stop me from seeing the Imagine Dragons or Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence.   I think maybe that’s the lesson in all of this.  No matter what life throws at you, don’t stop living.  P.S. The Imagine Dragons with shirtless Dan is a must see show!

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Thankfully, I’m off the scooter as the craziness of hockey season is in full swing. I did have a scooter buddy at the beginning of the season, but I’m happy to report we’re both off our scooters!   It was a challenge to fit my scooter and their gear in the car.  Not too mention it’s tough to navigate the rink and find a comfortable viewing place for the games. I’ll admit that the bell prevented several potential collisions as I glided down the ramps at Ice Den.  Fortunately, the breaks on the scooter were quite effective.

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Perhaps the hardest part of the boot life is the inability to really exercise.  For eight weeks I was relegated to water workouts only.  We don’t have a pool at home, so I was at the mercy of traffic and the weather.  It’s been tough to be outside my normal workout habits.  It’s also tough to be passed in the pool by a geriatric swimmer, but I digress.  I’m still not cleared to run or do Zumba, but spent sometime on my TRX this past week.  It felt amazing.

At any rate, it feels good to back at the blog and bootless!

P.S.A.

While I won’t be able to run this year’s Purple Stride, I am still captain of Team Deb Force Five and am taking on an expanded role at the event.  Please join the Fight by joining Team Deb Force Five as a participant, donor or virtual strider!  Together we can help PanCan double survival rates by 2020.  Here’s the link:  Join Team Deb Force Five

Today We Waged Hope

Today We Waged Hope

Today we waged hope for better outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients and their families.  After months of anticipation, the Purple Stride 5k was upon us.  It was a tough, heartfelt morning full of love for Debbie and her family that left me in tears a couple times.  Team Deb Force five won an award for raising the most funds as a team for the second year in a row.  Unquestionably, Debbie was the key our success.  Our collective love and the respect we hold for Debbie continues to inspire us to wage hope.  She was a tour de force, who inspired so many of us.  

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While we were highly successful fundraising, my training and preparation for the race was poor.  Sadly, the results showed this as I finished with a time of over 30 minutes.  Excitedly, Jake and The Mayor had awesome showings with the Mayor getting 3rd place in his age group with a time of 28:11.  Albeit Jake didn’t place in the top 3, but still finished with a time of 25:13.  Of course, he was disappointed with his time feeling that he could have done significantly better.  Nonetheless, it was still over a minute faster than his time at the event last year.

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At the start of the race, The Mayor and his teammates, Jake and my co-worker Imani were at the front.  The Mayor and his teammates were super excited and nervous to embark on their run.  They were the cutest.  It was a sea of purple as we lined up at the start.   This was my first run at FAU and this particular course was absolutely beautiful.  Undoubtedly, I wish I had been better prepared for the run, but now I know what I need to do before the next event.

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After the event, my stomach was churning -thanks to chili I ate yesterday, but we waited for our team to finish. As the team members finished as we enjoyed the free food and we waited for the Mayor to get his medal.  A big congratulations to the Mayor and fellow Deb Force Five member HB who placed 3rd and 2nd respectively in the under 13 age group.  I now owe the Mayor $50 as he finished under 30 minutes and he beat me handily! 

Lastly, while the event may be over our work is still unfinished.  There is a long way to go in the war against pancreatic cancer and doubling survival rates by 2020.  In fact,  it isn’t too late to donate to Team Deb Force Five.  If you’d like to donate, please click here. To our Deb Force Five family, thank you for your participation, your donation and your continued love and support of this beautiful family.  

Today’s song is “The Sky is a Neighborhood” by the Foo Fighters.  I was jamming to this song as I finished my third mile today.  It’s a great one!

 

Honk If Your're Thankful

Honk If You’re Thankful

Honk if you’re thankful!  Judging from the sounds of my morning and evening commutes, S. Florida drivers are super thankful.  Who knew that it was gratitude driving this behavior not anger issues or self importance as I had thought.  I wanted to share with you one of my favorite Debbie stories tonight.

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Let me take you back to last winter.   Our boys had home games early.  The hubby picked up John and TK and bring them to the rink  for warm-ups.  Debbie and I didn’t need to be there an hour early. Consequently,  she picked me up an hour later.  She was even kind enough to stop at Dunkin’, so I could get my coffee fix.  On our drive to the rink, we talked about things she wanted to do in the near future.  She was headed North to New York to visit family and ski, but she wanted to go to Iceland to see the Northern lights.

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It was then that she dropped it on me.  Debbie had decided that she wanted me to take her to a rave in Miami.  Keep in mind, this was probably a week or two after the devastating fire at a rave in San Francisco that had killed 36 people.  Not to mention, raves in Miami aren’t known to be held in the safest locations or be the safest events.

I looked her and asked if she was serious and/or crazy, she was in fact quite serious.  As I’m digesting this request, it dawns on me that Debbie determined that I might just be the hockey mom crazy enough to take her to a rave.  Sadly, and I hate to disappoint people here, even I am not that crazy.   We started talking it through and I told her that likely we’d both end up dead if we went to a rave in Miami.  Can you imagine two hockey moms at a rave with glow in the dark pacifiers?  I mean, can you?

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Rather than head to a rave, I suggested we try going to Ultra or WMC in Miami.  The atmosphere would be similar, but more controlled than a warehouse rave.  Debbie started looking to possible DJ shows we could hit too, but that pesky hockey schedule kept getting in the way.  As it turns out, WMC and Ultra were scheduled on spring break when Debbie and the family were going to be out of town.

One of the things that struck me most in our conversation was the fact that Debbie and her family had been planning things in three month windows.  Debbie and John, throughout Deb’s illness, were both so inspiring in their attitudes and approach to life.  In that  moment, it struck me like a ton of bricks.  While we all plan our lives in days, months and years, they had been planning their life around an illness for almost two years.  Just when you think you’re inspired by people, they blow you away with their amazingness in a whole new way.

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On the heels of the boys’ state tournament, we received the devastating news.  Debbie’s doctors were admitting her to hospice.  Incomprehensibly, Debbie’s doctors determined that she had exhausted all treatment options.  It bothers me that Debbie and I never got to SoBe to enjoy a dance party, but I know she’s dancing in heaven.  The lesson here is don’t wait to pursue your passions or your bucket list trips – go for it now.  And of course, honk if you’re thankful.

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Lastly, tonight is the deadline for online registration for the Purple Stride event.  If you’re thinking about participating, it’s go time.  There is no deadline for online donations to the team.  However, donations received after Friday will not be applied to the team total.  You can join the team or donate here Support Team Deb Force Five!  You can also cheer us on Sunday at FAU.  The race starts at 8:30 am.

Tonight’s song is one of my favorites from Swedish House Mafia “Don’t You Worry Child.” At their peek, the group spent most of their time providing the soundtrack in SoBe.  I hope you enjoy the song!

 

Daily Prompt: honk

Purple Haiku

Purple Haiku

In honor of Pancreatic Cancer month, I wrote a Purple Haiku.  I am by no means a poet, so please be kind.   Cancer is an insidious beast.  Nine years ago today, cancer took my grandfather from us.  My Grandfather lived a good life, but he wast was still taken far too soon.  Like Debbie, my grandfather’s cancer impacted his digestive system (colon) and had metastasized to the liver.

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I go Purple, including purple streaks in my hair, because raising awareness for pancreatic cancer can and will save lives.  Moreover, I advocate for meaningful research like the work the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network does because this is how we will find a cure.  Importantly, the goal of PANCAN is to double the survival rates of pancreatic cancer patients by 2020.  I am proud to support this cause for Debbie, for her family and for all of us.

By the way, if you’re wondering how you can join or support Team Deb Force Five, you can do so by clicking here.  So without more delay, here is my first attempt at a Haiku since high school.

Wage Hope

Now that you are gone
Our hearts are empty and broke
Grieving we wage hope

Purple stride is here
training has made us faint
yet we won’t give up
 
We run in purple
your spirit energizes us
record time is ours
 
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Finally, the song for tonight is “Believer” by Imagine Dragons.

Faint.

demand better

Demand Better

One of PanCan’s most powerful slogans is demand better.  Demand better for patients and for survival.  Pancreatic Cancer is now the 3rd leading cause of cancer related deaths in the U.S.  By 2020, pancreatic cancer is forecasted to be the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths surpassing breast cancer.  Meanwhile the 5 year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has increased from 7% to 8%.  While the increase is welcome, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is still way too low.

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The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer to anyone’s friend or family member is horrifying.  What I respected so much about Debbie is that she lived her life fully not allowing the disease to define her.   I’m grateful to have had her in my life and for the example she set.  Additionally, she was the epitome of grace under pressure.  In the midst of her treatment, she was committed to making the future brighter for all pancreatic cancer patients.   Our commitment to the cure steadfast driven by her absence, which is felt profoundly by all of us.  I promised her that I would never give up the fight that I would always wage hope as her proxy.

Join us or donate to Team Deb Force Five here.

Love is Stronger

Love is Stronger

Love is stronger than cancer undoubtedly.   It doesn’t always feel like that.  Sometimes the pain that cancer has caused brings us to our knees, but that’s why awareness and advocacy are hugely important.  Like most people, I wish I knew nothing about this insidious disease.  Why?  The only way you really learn about its devastating impact is when a friend or family member is diagnosed.   Otherwise, the disease is a complete mystery.  The battle, the fight for a cure for many of us is personal.

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Today begins Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month here in the states.  For us it will culminate at the Purple Stride event on November 19th.  I’m a huge supporter of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and their goal to double survival by 2020.  Importantly, PANCAN is not only working towards a cure, they are a priceless resource to patients and families contending with the diagnosis.  My friend Debbie was a huge proponent of the organization and spoke at last years Purple Stride about how their services helped her and her family.

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For the last two year Debbie a fearless, courageous and incredibly strong women completed the Purple Stride 5K.   She was in the middle of chemo for stage iv pancreatic cancer and she completed a 5K.  Up until my first Purple Stride event, I didn’t think I could even run a mile let alone 3.1.   Her strength was so inspiring to me that I took up running.  I went on to complete 12 5Ks in 2016.  She made me better in so may ways.

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It breaks my heart to even think that she won’t be with us at this year’s Purple Stride.   Her absence makes our mission that much more important.  While Debbie is no longer her to champion the cause, we are and we will.  Until there’s a cure, until another family doesn’t have to suffer through this horrible disease, we will keep on fighting.  In her honor, I’ll be posting daily this month to help raise awareness and raise funds.  Finally, one thing I learned from Debbie, and there were so many, was living in gratitude.   Additionally, I’ll be including something that I’m thankful for in each of these posts.

You can help support the cause by joining or donating to our team here.

Wage Hope

Wage Hope

There are only 28 days remaining until we wage hope at the Purple Stride event in Debbie’s honor.    Team Deb Force Five was the top fundraising team in 2016 and the 3rd place team in 2015.  Since her diagnosis in 2015, she became an advocate for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN.) Most importantly, it is our team goal to continue the mission and support the work of PANCAN.  PANCAN’s goal is to double survival of pancreatic cancer patient’s by 2020.    This is a huge undertaking.  Furthermore they cannot achieve this goal without our collective support.

Here’s the link where you can donate or sign up: http://support.pancan.org/goto/DebForceFive

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What do Luciano Pavrotti, Count Basie, Joan Crawford, Micheal Landon, Patrick Swayze, Steve Jobs, Alan Rickman, Dizzy Gillespie, Sally Ride and Bill Hicks all have in common?  Pancreatic Cancer.  It is a disease that does not discriminate against race, income level or even age.  Consequently,  I had always thought of it as a disease of the elderly, until my healthy friend was diagnosed at 41.  It was an enlightenment I could have done without.

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Faced with the diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer, Debbie chose to live life to the fullest.  She was a huge advocate for PANCAN and the great services they provide.  Significantly, she was the keynote speaker at last year’s Purple Stride event.  In her two year fight against pancreatic cancer, Debbie taught me and many others a lot about what it means to live, love, fight, persevere and be brave all with grace and dignity.  Debbie will always be a beacon of light in the many lives she touched including mine.  This event is a wonderful opportunity to honor her and support her beautiful family.  Lastly, I look forward to walking, running, skipping, hopping or dancing with you to wage hope.

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Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach

Last week I received an email announcing the Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach Event.  I can’t believe it is that time of the year again.  We are less than a month away from the racing (running) season in South Florida.  Since the heat index has been in the triple digits since we got back, I’ve been training on the treadmill.   It is never too early to start training as the race will be here in a jiffy.

Today I setup our team for the purple stride event happening on November 19th at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.  We will be racing under the team Deb Force Five for the third year in a row.  My goal is to be the number one team in fundraising for the second year in a row.  We are shooting for $10,500.

As I updated the information and the team’s website, I got choked up.  It hit me like semi-truck that this year would be painfully different.   August 26th will make five months since we lost Debbie, but it still feels so fresh.  Grief is awful.  Like a thief in the night, it comes out of nowhere and steals your happiness.  It pops up unexpectedly, forcefully and with so much pain.

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After I collected myself a bit, I got on the treadmill to put in my thirty minutes.  The first five minutes were tearful, but as my run continued my hope and sense of purpose returned.  I made a promise to Debbie to continue advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness and fighting for a cure.  It is a promise I cannot and will not ever break.

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In the coming months, we hope to announce the launch of a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trial that Debbie, Melissa Nicholas and I had started working on last December.   It destroyed me that we were not able to launch the clinical trial, so Debbie could benefit.  In hindsight, I think Debbie knew this since she was a pharmacist.  As a neophyte to the industry, I had hopes that we could get it started right away.

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She was a second mom to my kids and they loved her to pieces.   Her memory is never far for anyone us.  My boys insisted on lighting a candle in Debbie’s memory at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  Afterwards in the gift shop, they picked out a praying angel, for her, that watches over us from our kitchen.

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You may have seen the new shirts that were posted to the site this weekend.  My boys and I have been hard at work designing shirts and a business plan for our new store.  For all of us, the creative process and the opportunity to honor Debbie’s memory has been cathartic.   The profits from our merchandise will go towards funding the clinical trial and towards a scholarship program that helps families with the expenses for travel hockey.

For more information on Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach or to join our team click here

For more information of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network click here

Fore more information Pennies In Action click here

Fore more information on our store click here