Here’s the deal, 1

cancer sucks.  There are no if’s ands or buts on that subject.  I don’t believe there is anyone who doesn’t know someone who has died of cancer.  I could look up the statistics but why bother?  Ask everyone you know if they know someone who has died from this disease. Cancer is cancer.  Every form needs to be gotten rid of.  Brain cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, prostrate cancer, colon cancer.  It’s my guess that if a cure is found for one form of cancer it will aid in the cure for all of the rest.  Over all I think it will take everyone to conquer cancer.  In the past I’ve donated dollars to here and there for different cancer benefits. I used to have a busier schedule.  I’ve heard about the Susan G. Koemen Race For the Cure 3 day for years and years.  My thoughts at the time were always about not having time to do that.  Last year I realized that I have that time at this point in my life.

The Susan G. is the cancer fighting program I’ve heard the most about.  This is why I chose it. When filling out the registration forms last night one question asked “where did you hear about this?” my girlfriend responded with “who hasn’t heard about it?”  My response was “it’s everywhere, it’s everywhere”.  The advertisements also tell us exactly what we need to do to help.  We need to walk 60 miles.  We can do that.  Granted the advertisements don’t tell us how much we need to raise but it does tell us what we need to do.  How many other sites don’t tell us what we  can do to help and instead just say “for info call…..”? There’s no guesswork here.  Can you or can’t you walk 60 miles to aid in the research of breast cancer?  I decided that I can.  I made that decision a long time ago, never had the time.  Last year I realized that I had the time and I posted and toyed with the idea. The deal breaker was that we were supposed to have moved in August, which is when the walk was so I decided to put it off for a year.  It’s a bit ironic that my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in between then and now.  The good news on that story is that after her double mastectomy she didn’t need to have chemo or radiation.  If one has to have breast cancer, I can’t think of a better ending.  We are all grateful for that.

So this is my year to do the 3 day.  I’m physically able to do it, I feel fortunate for even that.  The tough part will be the raising $2300.  When I posted last year that I was thinking of it the 1st person to respond that she’d do it with me was my daughter Shannon, that makes a mom very proud.  However,  I had to turn her down.  I think my exact words were “I will support you when you do it but you can’t do the walk when I do because I can’t afford to split the family donations”.   I’ve got to raise $2300 and that’s the part that scares me.  Have I ever walked 60 miles in 3 days?  No but I still think it’ll be a whole lot easier than raising $2300 dollars.

My girlfriend, Wendi, is doing the walk with me :o)  She’s just as confident on being able to walk 60 miles as I am (although yes, we will need to train) and is just as ambivalent as I am on raising the the required dollar amount.  We’re looking at fundraisers and the like but we’re still thinking boarder line can we/can’t we?  Any help, no matter what size would be more than appreciated and not by just me.  I wanted to make the 1st donation but like a lot of others I need to wait till payday.  This is my site , any contribution, no matter how small will help.  Thank you in advance.

I researched Susan G. Komen.  It was her little sister who started this in the early 80’s after Susan’s death. Susan was diagnosed when she was 33 and died when she was 36.  How many of us have past that age years ago?  Her sister, Nancy Goodman Brinker thought her sister would have had a better chance at surviving if more people knew the facts about breast cancer.  I’ve decided that I adore Nancy.  I’ve put her on my list of heroes. I  can’t ever get out and do the things she has done in her sister’s name but I can do my small part with a little help from my friends :o)

Who wants to be last?

I remember being at my great grandmother’s funeral.  I remember seeing my great-great aunt who, with the passing of my great grandmother, was the only one left of her generation.  I remember how sad I felt for her and that I didn’t feel I had the right thing to say to her to make her feel better .  I felt awkward and so I said nothing.  This many years later I think that just a hug or an “I know how much you’ll miss her” or an “I’m so sorry for your loss” would have been so much better.  Shame on me.

Fast forward a few decades and I’m in line for food at Nancy’s funeral…and I completely don’t understand having to feed people who are supposed to be there for support and to honor the dead…anyway, I was in line at the reception.  Nancy was my sister’s ex-sister-in-law.  Nancy was one of the most sunny and funny people I ‘ve ever met in my life.  She died of a very radical form of breast cancer when she was only 47.   This was what Nancy had to say the day of her mastectomy “oh man, I sure got a load off my chest today”.   I remember when Bern and I pulled into a parking space to go to Nancy’s funeral and we met my parents in the parking lot.  My mom was just shaking her head and she said “this isn’t right, this just isn’t right…no child should ever leave before their parents” .  My mom was entirely correct.  Does any parent have a bigger fear than losing a child?

Yes, I am going to go back to the standing in line for food at Nancy’s funeral but 1st I’d like to mention that once you marry and then divorce someone, it’s optional to you and your family on whether or not you stay related to the divorced person’s family.  We all opted to stay related to Nancy.  She came to our family functions long after Bernadette divorced Bill.  Nancy was always welcomed.  She was always an asset.  During the service  for her funeral the priest listed off some of her best one-liners.  The stories of things she’d said made us laugh at her funeral.  That was a good thing because not long after the priest finished relaying some of her one-liners there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  She was very much loved.  I’m misleading you to think that Nancy’s only quality was being funny.  Not true, she loved with all of her heart and was willing to help out anyone who needed help.  She was a giver, not a taker.  She was a good person.

Completely not the point of this blog (still hate that word) I just wanted everyone in the world to know that Nancy lived and died and was, very much, someone worth knowing.

Okay, back to being in line and I promise to stick to my point.  My parents left after the service and before the reception part of Nancy’s funeral so it was Bernadette and I in line and she was behind me.  Nancy had 3 siblings and I think she was the 3rd kid out of the 4.  Bernadette and Nancy had been very close and here was Bernadette amongst all of her ex’s family and I know that she was distraught over Nancy’s death and most likely uncomfortable being in the same space with all of her ex husband’s family and she was on a non stop train-of-thought talking.  She was thinking of Nancy’s place in the family which brought her train of thought to herself and her own siblings. My parents have 5 children. “Who do you think will go first?” Bernadette asked me. ” I think Claudette will go 1st because of blah, blah, and I think Bob will go 1st because of blah, blah, blah, blah and I think you will go first because of blah, blah, blah and I think Joe will go first because of blah…” and it was at that point that I turned around and cut her off.  I remembered how sad my great-great aunt had been at my great grandmother’s funeral.  Being the only one left from her generation. I turned around, looked my sister in the eye and asked  “do you really want to be last?”

That ended that conversation.

Okay, listen up everybody, this is important.

First of all,  I strongly recommend the book Women Are Not Small Men by Nieca Goldberg for all women.  There’s nothing but truth in the title.  My  grandmother was told (twice) when she went into see a doctor (because of heart pain)  that she had gastritis.  Her autopsy showed that she’d had two silent heart attacks.  Do the math.  That was my mother’s mother and because she didn’t have the “classic” (aka male) symptoms and because she was female and most people (especially then) thought of heart disease and heart attacks as a gentleman’s game, she was told she had gastritis.  My grandmother had lung cancer from decades of smoking, however, that’s not what killed her.  Her heart gave out.  I’m sure that’s at least partly due to all the damage it incurred from her silent heart attacks.

My mom had a heart attack on Monday, this is Wednesday.  This kind of blew us all away a little bit.  Fine, it blew us all  away COMPLETELY!  Even though we know about her mother, this happening to my mom was something we’ve braced ourselves for to happen to our dad…not our mom.

These are the facts:

1. One out of every two women will die of heart disease.

2. More than 500,ooo women die of heart disease each year.

3. More than 250,000 women die from heart attacks each year.

4. Heart disease is the most common cause of death every year in women aged 35 and up.

5. I’m taking these facts straight from Nieca Goldburg’s book so I hope I don’t get sued for whatever it’s called when you use someone else’s research with out their consent.

6. I would think it’s free advertisement for her book because it’s definitely a “must read” if you value your life.  My copy is dated 2002 and by now I’m sure all the numbers are higher and that she has more information.

I come from 2 families of bad hearts.  That’s not why I own this book.  I started smoking when I was 14 years old and that’s not why I own this book.  For all of my adult life, the only thing I’ve done that’s good for me (although not necessarily for my health) is to wear underwire bras.  True confessions, that’s it.  I can’t even call it a vanity thing, I would have to call it an easy thing.  When faced with the question “do you do anything that’s good for you?”  I could always say “yes”.  It helped that my mom worked in lingerie for a few decades…I was conditioned.  Anyway, the reason I own this book is because of Carmen.

Anyone who doesn’t know by now that Rob and I were divorced for 13 years just doesn’t know me.  That’s the fact, we were divorced for 13 years and we lived life and dated other people and had relationships…and a lot of fun. Well I know I did.  During those 13 years, one of the people Rob dated was Carmen.  Carmen died of a heart attack when she was 36 years old.  Rob is a bit paranoid on the subject, especially knowing the histories of the families I come from so sometimes I try to make him think I’m paying attention to my health…that’s why I own the book.  I’ve never read it cover to cover, however, I know there’s a ton of good information that we should all know.

In the bit of paging through this book I’ve learned that we, as women,  for the most part, live in denial about our hearts.  If we feel any kind of discomfort we just wait for it to go away instead of having it checked out.  It’s a proven fact.  I am totally guilty of this as well.  That’s my comfort zone. This book tells stories of  women who finally did agree to go to a hospital…but not until they’d neatened their houses.  There have been cases where the little time it took to do that made it just a little too late to save them.  My mom was walking uphill when she started having chest pains.  She sat down and waited for it to go away.  From my understanding that happened a few times. Ask me where I get my living in denial from.  That’s probably the single most eye opening thing I’ve learned.  That we do that.  That we should pay more attention.

Another thing is that a lot of women who have heart attacks experience back  pain.  My mom did.  I thought not but apparently she did know that can be a symptom of a heart attack but she’d also fallen or something recently and had attributed the pain to the fall.  My mom’s heart attack was in the back of her heart.

I think that we, as  a sex, deny any sort of heart warning unless it’s a classic (aka male) symptom.  The chest pain, the left arm, the jaw…these we’ve heard about over and over again because it’s what happens to most males.  These things do happen to females as well but these are more  common in men.  According to Nieca Goldberg, the most common symptoms in women are as follows and this is word for word so again, I hope I’m not sued.

Unusual fatigue

New, unusual shortness of breath during everyday activities (or at rest).



Lower chest discomfort.

Back pain.

Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort.

Then there are, of course the classic which apply more often to men:

Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest. spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw.

Chest discomfort w/lightheadedness, fainting , sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

Not that I’m good at taking my own advise but at least I know the facts so I can pick and choose.  I want every female to be able to pick and choose.  Pick up the book, learn the facts and take note of yourselves and your moms and your sisters and your daughters and your girlfriends and don’t live in denial.  That’s all.