Friday, April 26, 2013

Get out the Vote!

My new friend, Elizabeth Grant, is entered in the More 2013 Beauty Search. The judging is based 50% on looks and 50% on the inspirational quality of the entrants's 300 word essay. There's a Reader's Choice component to the competition-- a $1,000 prize for the entrant who gets the most votes by May 16th.

Elizabeth is a beautiful soul, who's attitude and courage while fighting stage IV breast cancer is inspiring and humbling. As the saying goes, "Please vote early and often."

Below is the text from Elizabeth's original post on*, which gives the details for voting for her:

If you haven't heard, I've decided to step outside the box and do something that I would not normally do....enter a beauty contest! Actually, I like to view it as an opportunity to share my story and perhaps inspire a hurting soul or two.

If you'd like to support me by voting, I'll tell you how. But first, you can learn about this contest here. It's for MORE Magazine and sponsored by Olay and Cover Girl. I'm entering because 50% of the judging is based on a written inspirational story of my life. The Grand Prize winner is chosen by a set of judges, but there is also a separate "Reader's Choice" winner — which is chosen by YOU (all readers). Here's how to vote.....
  • The voting begins today and runs through May 16th.
  • You may vote once per day.
  • You must have a Facebook account in order to vote.
  • Go to this site and click on the VOTE NOW button.
  • [NOTE: You may have to "like" the site before it'll let you access my voting page.]
  • NOTE: Unfortunately, voting won't work on mobile devices. Sorry.

Thank you!
Source: Elizabeth Grant, Dead Man Skipping Blog, April 25, 2013.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Contribution - A Poem by Elizabeth Grant

Elizabeth Grant
I met Elizabeth less than a week ago, yet I already feel a connection to her. She's one of those rare people who can touch your life merely by extending her hand. She's a big believer in therapeutic writing, and the words she writes are as soothing as music. Her steadfast faith in God, in the face of adversity, is inspiring, and comforting. We met in a rather amusing way, which for now shall remain a secret. I hope we become great friends, for I think she may be my writing soul mate.

Elizabeth wrote the below poem for a friend of hers, and I loved it so much I asked her to adapt it for me and allow me to post it here. But first, a little bit on Elizabeth, in her own words on her blog,

"I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2004 at age 28. Bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, hair loss, forced menopause and five years later, I was pronounced cancer free. But on that sixth year, the cancer came back with a vengeance. I now have stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized to my bones, brain and liver.  I have been married to my high school sweetheart and childhood friend, Dale, for 15 years. I have 2 children: Marielle (born in 2001) and Josiah (born in 2003)... the true love of my life is God --- my Savior, my Friend. Oh, what would I do and where would I be without Him? He gives me a strange peace that can only be described as a breath of His holiness."

Elizabeth, thank you for allowing me to share (and keep for future reading) the below.

by Elizabeth Grant

It doesn't seem quite fair to me
To lose a child this way;
To carry such a precious life
And have her snatched away.

I've questioned "Why" so many times;
Why God allows such pain;
To take a helpless, unborn child...
Oh, what is there to gain?

I carry my sweet unborn babe
Down deep inside my heart;
I ache to hold and kiss and hug
and never be apart.

I wish it all would go away;
I wish with all my might;
I've grieved and tried hard to let go
But peace is not in sight.

Then I heard the voice of God;
He whispered in my ear:
My child, I love you more than life
No need to shed a tear.

I'm not a heartless Father,
My hope is that you'll see
I've given you a special gift
For all eternity.

I haven't taken her away
from you, I gave her life;
Unblemished is her little soul
And safe from hurt and strife.

I needed you to carry her
Inside your womb, you see;
How else could I create and give
This gift to you, from Me?

Your babe was meant to live with Me
Until I bring you here;
So I can bless you on that day
With a gift you'll hold so dear.

You'll get to see your Lily's face,
Shining like the sun;
It's then you'll come to realize
Your life has just begun.

I'm keeping her in constant care;
She's waiting here for you
To hug and kiss and hold real tight
As only moms can do.

Please hear My words and go in peace;
Live life and be set free;
No need to shed another tear;
Live happy as can be.

And when you think about your babe
Please think of Me as well;
For all of us will live as one
And never say: Farewell

Thursday, April 18, 2013

NJ News 12 Phone Interview for First Descents / Half-Marathon Participation

Below is the video of my phone interview with Della Crews on NJ News 12 television. We discussed my participation in the More Magazine's / Fitness Magazine's Women's Half-Marathon in Central Park last Sunday, which was the first segment in my Aggregate IronMan Challenge for First Descents. So far, our team for the challenge is seven strong, and we hope to add more. While I'm home during my next chemo round, I plan to put together a team page on this blog, to highlight our athletes' progress.

Rob and Katelyn watched the interview live. Before hand, he situated her on the couch, with a blanket and snack. When the segment came on, Katelyn was disappointed; she'd thought they were about to watch American Idol. Sorry to disappoint, Sweetie...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Race Recap: 13.1 Miles Behind Me...

...127.5 miles to go...
In an impressive (not really) 2:59.43, I completed the first segment in my First Descents Aggregate IronMan Challenge. Given my bad knees, I speed-walked the full 13.1 miles. My original goal had been to complete seven miles, but I was feeling well enough at that point to continue. And good thing I did, because the medal for finishing is quite a beauty.
As exciting, some of my friends are signing up for the challenge too! It's a great way to stay focused on staying in shape over an extended period of time (Our goal is to complete all the segments of the IronMan by the end of 2014). Registration details here if you'd like to join us:
My new shoe bling,
a set of which I'll be sending to all who sign up for the challenge.
Deena Castor, Olympic Bronze Medalist in the Marathon,
as she lapped me on the six-mile loop around Central Park

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Phone Interview for NJ News 12

Monday night, I'll be doing a phone interview for NJ News 12. It'll air live at 8:20PM, and then be repeated at 9:20PM.

The team behind the More Magazine's / Fitness Magazine's Women's Half-Marathon hooked me up with the opportunity to spread awareness for First Descents. I'll be highlighting that the half-marathon is the first leg in my Aggregate Ironman First Descents challenge.

Hopefully it generates some interest in the First Descents organization.

Two Years Post Leukemia Diagnosis

Two years ago, Dr. S. informed Rob and me that I had leukemia.

Having been involved in the young adult cancer survivor / fighter community for the past two years, I've had the opportunity to hear the stories of many new friends. The moment of diagnosis, and the days immediately preceding and following, are almost always the focal point of their cancer experience. Because that's when life irrevocably changed; it's the event they wish they could undo. And because it was traumatic: it's hard to forget trauma. When I hear my friends' recount their experiences, I recognize their emotions, because they're the same as mine.

Two years post Lily's death and my near-death, I'm still trying to process it. Perhaps the constant fatigue and all the drugs prevented me from facing it head on. Perhaps it's a touch of post traumatic stress syndrome. I wash my hands in an airport bathroom, and the smell of the soap reminds me of the soap in my hospital room, and it takes me back to that time. I see a baby girl, and think of Lily. But it's not just physical reminders; I'll have a moment of panic while walking to the subway or folding laundry.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Team First Descents: Who's Up for a Challenge?

I've spent my life around athletes. I still *try* to be one. I was an athlete while kayaking last summer, as were the other ten young adult cancer survivors on my First Descents trip. I want to be one again. I'd love to do an IronMan, but I don't have time to train, especially given chemo disruptions, nor knees that can handle that pounding. Part of coping post cancer is accepting realities, including limitations. That doesn't mean I can't be "out living it," as the First Descents motto goes. So, actually, I am going to do an IronMan.

Here's the catch: I won't travel the distance all at once. My plan is to sign up for swim, bike, and run races that over time will aggregate to the total 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. In doing so, I will complete my Team First Descents Challenge.

What's an FD Challenge? It's a way to stay involved with the organization that gave me back my confidence, by spreading awareness and raising money for other cancer fighters / survivors to participate in the program. Unfortunately, there are so many young adults that could benefit from the experience.
Next Sunday, April 14th, I'll complete the first leg of the race, by walking at least a portion, if not the full half-marathon race in Central Park.
Interested in joining Team Life's a Beach Aggregate Ironman FD Challenge?

Read below and register here.

Then plan out your strategy by finding events in your area. Email them to me, and I'll highlight them here and on our First Descents team page.

Thus far, our team's events are:

April 14th More Magazine's / Fitness Magazine's Women's Half-Marathon
May 27, Ridgewood Run
June 8th NJ Openwater Swim
June 15th, Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Triathlon
About First Descents

Mission of First Descents: First Descents offers young adult cancer fighters and survivors (ages 18 to 39) a free week-long outdoor adventure experience designed to enable them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same.

My Prior Blog Entries about First Descents:

First Descents, May 24, 2012

First Descents Trip - T Minus One Day, June 5, 2012

First Descents Kayaking: Day 3, June 9, 2012

First Descents Kayaking Pics, June 19, 2012

Abridged Version of "Exit" on HuffPost


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Videos from Stupid Cancer NNJ's Young Adult Cancer Workshop @ the John Theurer Cancer Center

Below is the link for the videos of the sessions at the workshop I attended a few weeks ago. It was a well-organized, informative event, at which I made some new friends I hope to see at future events. (And, despite being in a hospital, the food was amazing.)

Videos: Stupid Cancer NNJ's Young Adult Cancer Workshop | John Theurer Cancer Center

The sessions you can view at the link above include:
  • Dr. Andre Goy on the exiciting new developments in modern oncology
  • Brain cancer survivor, Stupid Cancer Founder, and CEO Matthew Zachary on the young cancer movement
  • Young adult cancer psychotherapist Julie Larson on coping with the emotional/physical effects of cancer post-treatment
  • Clinical Nutrition Coordinator Robin McConnell on how to eat healthy when "on the go" and on a budget
  • Survivorship Panel moderated by Matthew Zachary (for which I served as one of the panelists)