Sunday, April 28, 2013

All caught up

Ok, ok, you're probably wondering where I have been the last month or so.  Or maybe you're not because you gave up on me?! ;)  Well, I'm alive and finally caught up on the blog.  (Read below for my newest posts.)  It's been a whirlwind of a month between a couple of short trips (spring break and a weekend getaway with girlfriends), and then of course, my family, our non-profit stuff, and everything else that consumes my life.
I still feel good though.  Maybe I'm not getting enough sleep on a regular basis (only because I'm so busy!), but healthy nonetheless.  I am happy to just be living a normal life!  The mundane things in life--the shuttling kids to school and practices, the grocery shopping, the cleaning, the church activities--are all things that I enjoy doing because there was a time in my life not very long ago that I wasn't able to do all of those things!  I even remember saying to myself how I wished I could just do normal "mom" things again, just be like everyone else, and have the same worries that anyone in my stage of life would have.  And I love that I can have that again.
Not that I don't worry about the big "C" word still, because I do.  It is always there in the back of my mind.  But notice how I wrote "back of my mind"?  That's because the cancer worries, the fear, the anxiety of the melanoma returning are in the back of my mind, not the front of my mind.  Cancer used to consume my thoughts everyday, and now it is a fleeing thought, a reminder for certain, but not something I dwell on daily.  Why?  Because I actively choose not to.  I chose to just live my life.
I have learned to be be exceptionally good at living in the moment, not sweating the small stuff so much, and enjoying life to the fullest, even despite all of its challenges.  These are things that I wasn't good at before I had gone through cancer.  Now, I am better at not worrying so much about the future (because it's unknown and I can't change it), and have learned to embrace living in the now.  It is a beautiful gift and one that I am infinitely grateful for.
Please read on for more happenings and thoughts!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2nd Annual Run for Dunn

The 2nd annual Run for Dunn is coming up Saturday June 1st!  This event was started in honor of Amy Dunn, a Boise, Idaho local who lost her battle with melanoma about a year ago.  She is one of the reasons we started and dedicated our foundation.  This year, the event is raising money for the Amy Rae Dunn Get-It-Dunn Foundation, held by the Idaho Community Fund.  Funds will then be dispersed between us, Sol Survivors Melanoma Foundation and the Make-a-Wish Foundation (to help young melanoma patients).
This event will help bring melanoma awareness to the community.  We will also offer free skin exams before and after the run, as well as host a BBQ for the participants to honor Amy and celebrate her life.  It should be fun and inpsiring!
To register, donate, or find out more information, click here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sun Will Rise

One of my all-time favorite stories (and broadway productions and movies) is Les Miserables.  This quote says everything to me.
Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

B Strong

We live in an increasingly scary, unsafe world.  First people were bombing buildings like the Twin Towers in NYC.  And then came bombs at schools and movie theatres.  But now marathon races?  Seriously?!?! What is this world coming to?
I was appalled and shocked to hear about the tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday.  I was also freaking out because I had friends running it and on the sidelines.  I was relieved to hear that all of them were safe, however, my heart broke when I heard about the people who lost their lives (like the 8 yr old boy cheering on his dad), or people who lost their limbs or were severly injured.
So, so frightening and devasting.  Yet, through it all, miracles and glimmer of hope sprung forth.  People came together and supported the victims' families, donated blood, held vigils and fundraisers, and rallied around the city.  There is hope in this world and seeing all of the acts of service, love and support is a reminder that there is still more "good" in this world.

I love this photo of these soldiers who ran the entire marathon in their fatigues and wore 60 lb. packs!  It is truly inpsiring.

And I just think this photo is so funny, yet true!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

You are Enough

Do you ever feel inadequate?  Not good enough?  Not doing enough?  I am beginning to think this is a woman thing, that all of us women have this life-long struggle to feel that we are enough, that what we do isn't enough.  I know I'm not alone in this area.
Maybe it's because we wear many "hats" and are usually running in 100 different directions to please everyone and do everything.  Because I run around with my head cut off, I always feel like I'm never doing anything REALLY great because I can't put ALL of my focus and attention on that one thing.
Slowly, I am learning that I will probably never feel like I'm doing enough, so I just need to get over that!  I'm a bit of an overachiever and I place high expectations on myself, so this is constant cycle for me.  I'm sure it will be something that I will have to continually work on... I am trying to learn that I am enough though.  That despite falling short of my own expectations, what I do matters to someone else and that my efforts aren't going unnoticed or underappreciated. "A" for effort, right?!
Perfection isn't all that is cracked up to be anyways.  ;)

Making a difference

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really awesome experience.  I was at my son's birthday party at this indoor play facility, and this young teenage girl approached me as I was getting ready to leave.  She said to me, "Hi. You probably don't remember me, but I was one of the students in the class you did at Rocky Mountain on sun safety and melanoma."

My reply, "Oh, ok, I thought you looked familiar!"

To which she then went on to say, "Well, I just wanted to let you know that ever since I heard your presentation, I haven't used a tanning bed once (in 5 months). In fact, I used to go with my dad a couple times a week and I even tried to tell him how bad it was for your skin, but he hasn't listened to me yet."

Me: "WOW!  That is so great!  I can't believe that.  I love hearing things like that.  Thank you for sharing that with me!"

I then went on to tell her how beautiful her skin was, (she was red-headed and fair skinned, by the way) and how proud of her I was.  I also told her that she probably saved her own life by not vowing not to step foot in a tanning salon ever again.

I love having these experiences with these high school students.  Sometimes it feels like what we say just goes in one ear, out the other, but then something happens like this, and I think, "Yes, we are making a difference!"
One student at a time.

Me and Amy Tomasini (a friend of Amy Dunn's) after a high school presentation at Boise High School this month.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hope conquers all

I just love both of these quotes about hope.  Hope was vital to me during my fight (still is!) and I know without it, I wouldn't be alive today.  Many things gave and give me hope.  Here are just a few that helped pull me out of my "darkest moments" and keep me going still:
1.  My friends and family.  I have always said that I have the most incredible support system which helped tremendously in keeping the hope alive.  I was constantly surrounded by people who buoyed me up, who encouraged me, and who never gave up on me!  In addition, having hope that I would still be here for my husband and two boys was my strongest drive to live.
2.  Other survivors.  Personally knowing people who have survived Stage 4 melanoma (and are alive 5, 10 years out still), kept me thinking, "They did this, so can I!"
3.  My doctor.  He never gave up on me.  He never treated me like a number or statistic either.  His continual optimism throughout my treatments helped fuel my drive to keep on going!
4.  My purpose.  I have always had this strong sense of my purpose here on Earth.  And all along, even in my darkest moments, I clung to the fact that I knew I wasn't "done' yet, that my purpose in life hadn't been fulfilled, that I had a mission to accomplish, and that God still needed me here!
5.  God's love.  There were countless times when I would feel God's love around me, and feel his almighty power.  His love, his comfort, his quiet reassurance that everything would be ok kept me going, especially when I needed it the most.