To Survive or Not to Survive

On the second morning of the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, Ed and I ate breakfast in a big tent with other walkers. One of the fun things about walking 39 miles with a bunch of strangers is that strangers share stories, and then become friends.

Ed eating oatmeal for breakfast!
Ed eating oatmeal for breakfast!

One of our new breakfast friends was walking for her sister, and when I began to ask the details about her sister, the answers were astonishingly tragic. Twenty-five years ago, her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 26. She died just a few years later, when she was 32 years old. “She was so young!” I exclaimed.

“You were young, too,” said the woman, who had just heard that I was a 20 year survivor after being diagnosed when I was 27.

Yes, I was young. And how different my breast cancer journey would have been if I had had different doctors. For years, I resented the way I was treated; how I was shuffled from the exam room to radiology to the surgeon’s office, all in a matter of hours. I was never given the opportunity to call someone for support. (Let me remind you, this was before everyone had a cell phone! I had a “car phone,” one that needed to be plugged into the car because the batteries were too expensive.)

The surgeon scheduled a lumpectomy for the very next morning, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to have surgery so quickly. After all that shuffling around, I called my parents as soon as I left the clinic. My parents made a phone call to my mom’s doctor (At the time, Mom was a 13 year breast cancer survivor) and made an appointment for me. We cancelled the lumpectomy and picked up my mammogram films the very next day. After a second opinion, I eventually did have a lumpectomy, but I wasn’t rushed to make that decision.

The DeKalb clinic left a really bad taste in my mouth, and yet it has taken me 20 years to realize that the doctors there served a very important purpose in my survival. The urgency those doctors gave my situation probably saved my life. I wasn’t told to wait and see; I was told I needed to take action immediately. Through that sense of urgency, I was diagnosed at Stage 1 and had no cancer in my lymph nodes. Many young woman have more advanced breast cancer at the time of diagnosis because they are simply considered too young to have breast cancer.

Fortunately, now that young women are diagnosed with breast cancer more often, doctors are less likely to just “wait and see” when a woman has a breast lump. While I still am unhappy with the bedside manners of the doctors during my initial mammogram, I am so grateful that 20 years later, I’m still here with no recurrence of breast cancer.

Twenty years and counting!

Ed and Ginny
The start of our second day of walking

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Walking and Blogging

In one week, my husband and I will be walking 39 miles over 2 days during the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. I took a training walk yesterday and dictated this blog post into my phone as I was walking. The phone got some words wrong, as you’ll read below! My corrections and additions are in italics.

Today I have a three-fold purpose for my walking. First, I’m testing out my raspberry pink shorts to see how they hold up for a long-distance hike. Will the elastic band to stay up or will it drip (drop) down during a long walk? Secondly, I’m breaking in my new shoes. They seem to make the toes on my right foot curl up for some unknown reason. Finally, today’s temperatures are supposed to rise into the 80s, so I’m testing my feet and joints. (No, that wasn’t right, even though it kind of makes sense!)

As I walk I’m dictating my words into my phone. The words I just spoke with heat and urine. (Still not right!) No, endurance. Yes, my phone finally heard the correct word. (I wanted to test my endurance to heat on this warm day!)

The bike path I’m walking on is not well-traveled. It’s just me and the birds and some airplanes overhead. There are a couple other joggers and bikers on this week day but for the most part nobody can see me talking into my phone. No one can see my huge fanny pack which holds all my supplies and water bottle. And passing cars can’t look at my red and sweaty face and wonder if I’m okay. My fair skin turns beet red when I exercise and seriously, I’m okay.

ducks
My turn around spot

Sometimes my fanny pack makes weird noises: water sloshing, straps rubbing and swinging, and I get paranoid and turn around to see if a biker or runner is coming up behind me. Usually I’m alone. This trail also goes by factories and I often see workers taking a break or taking things out to the dumpster, and I suppose I could always just pretend I’m talking on the phone instead of dictating a blog post. I would much rather dictate a blog post, however, than talk to someone on the phone. I’m not much of a phone person plus, I’m out of breath. I suppose blogging while you’re walking does that!

A thought just occurred to me. I’ve been watching Star Trek Enterprise during my lunch hour and a lot of times, the captain is dictating his personal log to the computer while pacing in his quarters. That’s just what I’m doing now. I think I just wrote more now then I usually do in the same amount of time when I sit down at the computer and type. When I was the secretary, (my job during college) I would have to listen 2 letters on a dictation machine. Attorneys would dictate letters into their recorders and then I would have to listen and type out their letters. It was a huge pain in the butt. There was no talk to text like I’m doing now. I wonder, do attorneys use talk to text now or do they still dictate letters for their secretaries?

pedestrian bridge
The pedestrian bridge above Palatine Road

 

I’m nearing the end of my walk. How did I do? The path has become busier during the lunch hour. I decided to turn around at noon to make my way home. The raspberry shorts held up well. The shoes are still iffy. As for walking in the heat, it’s hot and humid but I feel good. I think I did about 8 my miles but mapping software will help. I briefly wondered how I could make my walk longer, but I’ve been out for over 2 hours are ready and I have things to do. I’m a mom after all.

(I walked about 7 and a half miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Not bad! And then I did a load of laundry.)

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Alert: Sappy Motherhood Post Ahead

It happens every year. I finish teaching preschool before my daughters are out of school, and that first day of summer vacation for me is rough. I always have a plan of getting so much accomplished on that full day all to myself!¬† And of course, it’s full of my usual tasks; getting a load of laundry done, loading the dishwasher, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

This  morning, I was loading the last of the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher and it hit me. Again. I miss my girls.

When I’m teaching, the mornings are so rushed that I don’t have time to miss them. Everyone needs to get ready for school, including myself, and then as soon as I send the girls off the school, I’m busy with my own classroom. When I get home in the afternoon, there a rush to get things done before the girls come home from school. It’s a luxury many working moms don’t have! Throughout all that busyness, I don’t miss my daughters.

Today, my first day of summer break, I miss them. Oh, I know once school is over for them they will drive me to the brink of insanity and I’ll wonder why I missed them during these few days I’m home without them. But for now, I miss them.

2016 Chorus Concert

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I see more in this photo than you do

When you look at this photo, what do you see? Do you just see an elderly woman?

Grandma
Grandma

That wasn’t a trick question. But when I look at this picture, I see so much.

I see her delicately fingering the brooch at her neck. It was a gift to her from my sisters and me. I can hear her laugh, as she says, “Well, I don’t know, this joke is rather crass but all the ladies at the old people’s home seem to like it,” as she proceeds to tell a joke that I certainly never thought I’d hear Grandma tell.

Her voice is in my head, as she tells me that in her later years she prefers to sleep in a little, and have some toast with jelly for breakfast. Her coffee is weak, but her cinnamon rolls are still as good as ever. It is one of my cherished recipes, written out in her own graceful handwriting.

I am baking cinnamon rolls this morning, so am going to try to tell you how to do it. It takes more than a recipe. It is a process.

Grandma loved all her grandchildren fiercely, and she loved her great grandchildren even more. She was a great blessing to us! Grandma died several years ago, but memories of her live on in all of her grandchildren.

Who’s been a blessing in your life? When you look at photos of that person, I’m sure you see more than what is apparent to the eye!

vintage Mother's Day
Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Ten Walks I Have Taken

I have walking a lot this spring. By a lot, I mean miles upon miles. At the gym on the treadmill, outside in the cold weather, outside in the hot weather, I have been walking. In April alone, I logged 101 miles! And I haven’t been walking alone. I have dragged my husband and kids along with me! (Well, Ed needs to walk since he’s walking the Avon 39 with me.)

Before I show you the details of my walking, I need to give a huge shout-out to all the people who have been supporting me in my walking. As many of you know, I’m training for the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, and I’ll have to walk 39 miles during the first weekend of June. In order to walk, I need to raise $1,800. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve raised over $2,000! How thrilling! Thank you to all my awesome supporters!
Avon 39 Screenshot

My miles include walking:

10. on the treadmill at the gym: 3 miles. This is the most boring place to walk, but it’s the easiest way to fit 3 miles into my afternoon, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating.

9. to work and back: 1 mile. I’ve only walked to work twice, and I should walk more often! However, sometimes I’m in a rush after dropping off my girls at school and I’m afraid I’ll be late, or I want to run errands after work so I’ll need me car. I’m definitely going to try to make walking to work more of a habit!

8. to the River Trails Nature Center: 3.4 miles. In March, the girls and I walked to Maple Syrup Days at the Nature Center. We were able to sample some maple syrup and French Toast sticks, and Lily got a lesson in drilling a hole for a sap spile. The Nature Center is one of our favorite places!

Maple Syrup Spile Driving

7. at Burning Bush Park: 2 miles. This park is by our house, and the girls can play at the playground while I walk around the track. Three times around is one mile, and the most I’ve been able to fit in is six times around.

6. at Moraine Hills State Park: 10 miles. It is amazing to think that a glacier carved out a piece of Illinois and left a lake behind. In Illinois, where we mostly think of flat corn fields and not glaciers.

5. on the Chicago River Bike Trail and the by the Skokie Lagoons: 12.72 miles. This is the longest walk we took. It was a really cold day at the beginning of April. Because it was so cold, however, there weren’t a lot of bike riders on the trail. The hard-core riders go really fast and I get nervous that they will hit one of the girls. When the weather is warmer, we’ll avoid this trail!

Skokie Lagoons
Skokie Lagoons, on the Chicago River Trail.

4. on the Des Plaines River Trail: 6.75 miles. This trail isn’t paved, and is also used by horseback riders. This is right by our house, and we occasionally see horses. While we didn’t run into any horses this time, we saw evidence of beavers, which was very cool. We stopped by the River Trails Nature Center on our way home (which is on the Des Plaines River, by the way) and asked a Forest Preserve Ranger about beavers. He was very informative and loves talking about animals! (We have asked him questions before!)

Forest Preserve 1

3. on the Poplar Creek Bike Trail: 8.84 miles. Those of us who grew up in the suburbs remember going to concerts at the outdoor arena, Poplar Creek. I saw Peter Gabriel during his So tour, and it was thrilling when it started raining while he was singing “Red Rain!” (Fortunately, the real rain didn’t last and the concert went on.) The concert arena is no longer there, but Poplar Creek is actually a real creek with a bike trail! The trail itself is very nice, but part of it is prone to flooding and was under water even though we hadn’t had rain for over a week. We also stumbled onto the Lion Bridge, which was a nice surprise.

Lion Bridge

2. at Independence Grove, 7.5 miles. My brother-in-law met us up there, and he fished with the girls while Ed and I walked with my sister-in-law. The girls have been troopers, but they are getting tired of taking long walks with us! They adore fishing with Uncle Brian, however.

Independence Grove

  1. around Glenview Lake, 5.6 miles. We let the girls bring their bikes this time, and they rode ahead of us and played at the playground. It was a very cool day, but we were also able to get our walking in before the rain came!

Glenview Lake

Phew! That’s a lot of trails! I wonder how many miles I’ll walk in May?

The Golden Spoons

Stop by and visit the hostesses of Tuesday Ten, Lisa and Rabia!
For more Tuesday Ten, visit The Golden Spoons and The Lieber Family!

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