Posts filed under ‘Colon Stories’

It’s OK to go Quiet

I recently renewed the domain name to this blog and realized I’ve not written one post all year. ALL YEAR!

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With my team in D.C. for our 8th annual Call-on Congress

Part of that is unintentional. Working at Fight Colorectal Cancer means that it’s “go time” right when January starts. For two months we work nonstop in preparations for March – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And then once March hits – we’re in a flurry of activity. I’ve ridden in more airplanes, subways and taxis the past three weeks than I have in my entire life.

And every second’s been worth it.

So, I’m just now slowing down after a crazy few months and personally blogging again. And while my activities have taken up the majority of my time, my schedule isn’t the only excuse for not blogging lately. There’s another reason.

Not all of this journey is public. And honestly, I didn’t feel like it.

If I’ve given awareness to anything over the years, I hope it’s a few things:  colorectal cancer in general; a hope that faith can carry you through anything; and, the realization that this disease has many layers and can hit you in different ways.

At the One Million Strong Kickoff in NYC's Grand Central Terminal

At the One Million Strong Kickoff in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal

The KC Star ran my story in January through a full-page spread in the FYI section and an AP-syndicated story that followed. It was certainly gracious of them, and unexpected by me. I had no idea my little birthday bash would soon become a headline story across the U.S. (or I guess the world, since an Australia newspaper picked it up.) For the past several months I’ve seen my face behind The Colossal Colon in many news feeds and articles on a nearly daily basis.

Between my job at Fight CRC and the publicity of my birthday party, I’ve had more doors open to share my story than ever before. Hospital newsletters, Sirius Radio, colon cancer walks, the Today Show… just to name a few. And while all of this has been amazingly awesome… I’ve not blogged about it much.

Because not everything is public.

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At the Blue is the New Black party to celebrate One Million Strong kickoff

No, there are no secrets I’m hiding. My marriage is great. Daughter is amazing. All-in-all, things are going really awesome here. But in the midst of a crazy few months, I’ve taken the slow moments I do have to soak it all in and process how I’m feeling – and not through the Internet. Sharing links to social media are easy. Writing blog posts about the experiences – not as much. While this blog is an amazing tool to share my life and my thoughts with others, I’m learning it’s OK to not share everything. Or at least right away.

There are some moments reserved just for me and my family. Some experiences that I’ve wanted to process and think through before posting about. Some days that weren’t ready for the headlines. And I’ve come to let myself be OK with that.

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At the White House, receiving a copy of the presidential proclamation for March 2014 as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Some who go through cancer or really, hard times in general, speak out right away. Others take a little while to get there and find their voice. And for me, I’ve gone back forth depending on the season. Sometimes I’m ready to say a lot; other times not so much. And what I’ve learned over the past three months of my “blog silence” is that it’s all part of the journey. God uses our experiences to help others when we’re ready. But sometimes that takes a bit of time to get there – or at least some time to process things personally before they inspire others publicly.

There’s no one way to fight or survive cancer. The different layers and phases are all part of the journey. Sometimes I speak out and blog about what’s happening. Other times, I don’t. Going quiet is OK. But, as this blog post shows, I don’t stay quiet for long.

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March 22, 2014 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

Week Two

week-two-10k-trainingLast week I announced to the world that I was training for a 10K. Well, okay – not really the world, but I did mention my training when writing for the Huffington Post. 

It was Week One and I was pumped. In my post, I explained how I wrestled with the initial fears of commitment but finally signed up for an upcoming race. I figured making it public would help me stay on track.

And it did at first. This time last week, I was pretty jazzed. I was on schedule, I hadn’t missed one day. Last Sunday night I ran a little over 3 1/2 miles. For someone who’d been in the hospital three weeks prior, I was pretty proud of myself. Shorts fit better. Mind was clear. Smile big.

And then, Week Two hit.

I headed out earlier this past week to run a quick two miles and struggled. Mentally and emotionally I wasn’t there. It was physically harder than I expected. Everything about the run was tough.

I chalked it up to a bad night and assumed my next run would go better. I was running with my trainer and another gal my age. I thought, “Surely having a group will help keep me going!

But, not so much.

I struggled again. But this time I had some of the fun “I’ve-had-colon-cancer-and-still-experience-side-effects” come up. For anyone else who’s had radiation or colon surgery – you probably get my drift. It wasn’t pretty.

After soaking in the tub to make the sting go away, I decided to take the rest of the week off to heal up. Good timing since I didn’t feel well all weekend. I was physically, mentally and emotionally defeated.

I needed some strength.

I’ve got a couple of close girlfriends who’ve stood by my side (and over my hospital bed) for many years. Hitting a “low” point made me realize I needed help. So I reached out and let them know what was happening.

And, in true fashion, they gave me just the encouragement I needed to hear.

I have the “muscles” I need to get through this. I just need to flex them and put them into play. Not only from a physical sense – but the emotional and mental, too.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been down because I want to feel normal. It’s one of many times my past has affected my present… and my future. I’ve been physically limited because of a circumstance I didn’t choose time and time again.

But through the years, God’s given me the strength to get through the trials. And as they reminded me, if I’m going to get ready for this race, I’ve got to tap into that.

Pressing on.

I see why so many Bible verses use running imagery. “Fight the good fight,” and “Press on to win the race.” That encouragement is no joke — running is hard.

And for me sometimes, faith is hard too.

It’s hard to use the muscles God’s given me to power through sometimes. But, if I’m going to run a 10K, I’m going to need that strength. And if I’m going to make a positive impact on others because of my story, I’m going to need to press on.

We’ll see what awaits me on Week Three.

August 5, 2013 at 8:00 am 3 comments

My Colon-Themed Weekend

Sometimes, I let my mind wander back to the hospital bed. I hear the beeps on machines pumping to carry fluids in and take fluids out. I feel the pain in my stomach from a fresh incision. I roll my eyes at the doctor’s voice reassuring me that “checking out” my tumor area will only take a minute. But I try to only let myself stay camped in those memories for a second. Because there are better ones to be dwelt upon.

Making New Memories

This weekend was big for me. And it gave me many new memories upon which to dwell. But these aren’t filled with trips to the bathroom or toilet paper. Instead, they’re full of moments I realized how blessed I am to be a survivor. Minutes I felt so loved and supported. Situations that made me realize I’m not alone. Instances that showed me I am strong.

Over the weekend I took part in several events related to my colon cancer. I shot a national PSA for Fight Colorectal Cancer. I ran in the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K in Kansas City with 50ish fellow team members, team B-Hinds. I had a “Colon Club” reunion with some fellow Colondar models. And most of all – I realized how lucky I am to still be here and going strong.

I’m Not On The Back of the T-Shirt

All cancer races feel somewhat like a running cemetery to me – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. But many times it’s those who’ve lost a loved one that come out for cancer events. Many form a team and rally the troops as a way to have a very personal Memorial Day. T-shirts and signs displaying the years their loved ones lived and the battle they fought are all around. It’s very moving. Especially when you’re a survivor.

At Saturday’s 5K GYRIG race, many t-shirts passed me along the 3 miles listing fellow survivors whose battles have since ended. I realized how fortunate I was to be out in the crowd – running in my black tutu and red beads. My name was listed on the race roster as the B-Hinds Team Captain. Not on the back of the shirt as a beloved daughter, wife, mama and friend.

Survivor’s guilt? Maybe just a little.

Humbled beyond belief? Absolutely.

After a weekend full of great friends, much love and a little sweat (I did run the whole 5K) – all I can really say is thank you. I’m blessed to still be here and have such an amazing community. And Jehovah-Rophe:  God is my healer.

Enjoy some pics…

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Shooting the PSA for Fight Colorectal Cancer – should come out in March!  Photo courtesy of Michael Sola

 

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Did I mention that I got to meet Frank White at the PSA?

 

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Me, Mike and little Miss Mae out at the GYRIG 5K

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All of my parents (also now known as the grandparents) came out for the 5K!

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The runners from B-Hinds – we had 4 who placed in the race!

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Team B-Hinds ended up having around 50 people (including kids!) What an awesome experience!

 

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Me and two of my long-time best buds – Em & Leah

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My dearest friend Ber traveled over 3 hours with her family and her 9 month old to be on team B-Hinds.

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The Colon Gurl herself came all the way from Evansville, IN for my B-Hind

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Colon Club party! Colondar model Belle (Feb ’12), myself, Krista (president of Colon Club) and Colondar model Adam (Sept. ’12)

 

October 1, 2012 at 2:04 am Leave a comment

Back Behind the Wheel

My hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, fingers fitting right back into the comfortable grooves.

Although it was the fourth time I’d experienced a “no driving allowed” season, finally getting behind the wheel once again never grew old. A rush of freedom and empowerment swept over me. The options of paved paths to follow felt too numerous to count.

behind-the-wheel-lessons-on-faith

I started the car and the engine hummed. I slowly pulled out and headed down the road on my four-mile journey toward the video store for the important task of returning a rental. My trip was short. The scar running the length of my abdomen, still covered by steri strips, couldn’t take more than a few minutes in the driver’s seat.

Although the initial independence felt great, I couldn’t stop the thoughts creeping in about the previous two weeks. Emotions came and went as the cars driving next to me. I felt stunned that surgery had become a way of life. Sad at the loss of future life. Thankful for the removal of cancer threats. Grateful the surgery went so well. Expectant to return to “normal” soon. Lured by feelings of victimization. Tempted to shut down and lose the faith.

I arrived at my destination, dropped off the movie and headed back to the car. It was amazing how wiped out I was just by the small trek to the store. Or maybe it wasn’t the trek at all but the reflections behind the wheel. God always had a way of getting my attention and making me think while driving.

With just a few yards to go, I stopped at the last stoplight before home only to see a woman and a teenage boy standing at the corner to my right. The boy was tightly holding a walking stick which he tapped all around the corner while the woman stood behind him and talked firmly. He was blind and she was helping him navigate his way through downtown. And then it hit me.

I worship a God who once made a boy just like that see. However, the boy to my right would probably never experience that same miracle of sight told in the Bible. Not to mention the freedom and independence I had just regained of driving a car. However, he wasn’t letting the disappointment of a “miracle life” stop him. He had chosen to learn to walk around the city despite his circumstances, despite the fact he may never “see.”

As the light turned green I drove away and couldn’t get the image of the blind boy and his walking stick out of my mind. I realized I too needed to press on despite my less-than-ideal circumstances and flood of emotions. Sure, life had thrown me curve balls. Sure, things were hard. However, to experience the life God intended for me, I needed to follow the boy’s example and pick up my head, hold firm to my guide and trust that the small voice behind me will carry me through.

March 13, 2012 at 6:22 am 3 comments

Update from Research

Hey all. Mike here. Honored to be a guest author on the Semicolon blog. Though I am acting more as a news reporter than a creative writer. Danielle has been in surgery for about an hour now. Umm, yeah, that’s it. So expect another update post op.

Be back shortly.

February 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm 1 comment

Absolutely Honored – Phoenix Undy Run

There have been a few bumps along this cancer journey that have made some of the hard days “worth it.” Hot air balloon ride? Worth it. Colondar shoot? Double worth it. And yesterday, I felt absolutely honored by my mom’s best friend, Terri, and her hubby, Bruce, who drove hours just to run in the Phoenix Undy Run in my honor (and left at 5am by the way…). Triple worth it.

To have people go out of their way to run on my behalf still has me speechless even now. I’m honored in a way that I can’t describe, except that it feels really good and really humbling. I don’t only feel so loved, but I feel like some of the hard days that I went through might be able to help someone else. Whether it’s giving them stamina to run or raising awareness that colon cancer can happen in young people, too – it’s awesome to see the message getting out there. I’m absolutely honored and humbled.

I’m thankful for the Colondar that opened the door for me to start talking about my experience, and that it got my story “out there.” (Terri met someone at the race who said she often tells my story to people she talks to in Arizona.. crazy!) And I’m so thankful for great friends who help carry on the message of colon cancer awareness … and hope for survival … from city to city, and in this case, state to state.

Thanks again Ahlfs, you absolutely made my day! (enjoy a few pics I stole from Terri’s Facebook!)

Bruce at Phoenix Undy

Terri at Phoenix Undy

Their sign for me... this rocks.

Bruce holding a copy of the 09 Colondar they got at the race!

November 20, 2011 at 7:02 am 4 comments

Des Moines Get Your Rear In Gear

There’s something powerful about getting to meet people “like you.” Once again, I had the chance to meet fellow young colon cancer survivors at the Des Moines Get Your Rear In Gear event this weekend.

Colondar Models from '09, '10 & '12

I had a great time. Five past & present Colondar models met up to support this great event. I met new people. I slept in an amazing hotel suite. And my daughter walked through an nflatable colon.

On the way home, Mike asked me what stuck out the most about the weekend. And when I thought about it, my answer surprised me. I met another young survivor, age 26, at the race. She was diagnosed 2 years ago. Ironically, her name was also Danielle. And she explained she was Stage IV. She was wearing a continuous pump to help with stomach cramps. And yet she told her story with such courage, and a near flippancy – yet a good flippancy. She was upbeat and positive. And when her young, blond son ran up to her and hugged her leg, I saw why. Her journey and the courage she portrayed to me. Sure, I bet she has rough days and nights at home. But meeting her gave me such inspiration. I met one of the truest definitions of “hope” this weekend.

So… there you have it. Short synopsis of our short road trip to Des Moines. Can’t wait for next year!

Props to Mikey for running the 5K!

 

Mae walking through a giant inflatable colon

 

Our family in a colon

October 2, 2011 at 9:00 am 1 comment

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