Posts tagged ‘colon cancer survivors’

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

Humbled, Grateful and Slushie-fied

There are few places that feel like home to me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to travel. But as someone who uses the restroom like 10 times/day, I like to feel at home.

If you would have told me five years ago that a charming lake house in upstate New York would feel like home – even with over 20 people running through it and only two bathrooms – I probably would have laughed really hard, possibly tooted, and said yeah right – I’m from the Midwest. But strangely enough, that has come true as the McMasters’ pad and all the homes that run along Hulett’s Landing in Lake George, NY are like a second home to me. Did I mention there is a slushie machine?

I’m coming down from my “colon camp” high once again and trying to reel in the feelings and emotions that come after spending four days with fellow colon cancer survivors. Last year I met up with past models at our reunion. This year, I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Lake George. I’m still tingling and humbled at the opportunity. I pray to God I never break my fingers; these babies and the power of the pen have opened up the opportunity for me to serve as part of the team that makes the Colondar happen. I’m still beside myself. Not only do I get to write the bios this year, but I just had the opportunity to sit down and interview twelve of the most inspirational people on the planet.

 

The 2012 Models

There are not many things that leave me speechless – or maybe word-less – but I’m just not even sure how to talk about the 2012 models. It’s hard to encapsulate Belle’s reactions to how great a flower smells or her first sight of Lake George. I’ll always remember Dave’s cool, calm demeanor when the gals dropped at his feet begging to hear his voice, Roger’s genuine happiness, Kim’s hilarious one-liners and Melissa, Paige and Reagan’s tales of bravery and persistence as 20-something survivors. I loved Connie and Staci’s wit, Tim’s sly smiles, and Dan’s humbled, quiet reactions toward every running comment (he’s a major marathoner.) Oh – and then there are Adam’s jokes.

Fellow Colondar models, this group is special and it’s with great honor that I got to help welcome them into our family. As I sat down with each one of them, I was struck by a common thread that ran through each of their lives: gratefulness. And as I sit back, rejoin my life (well, sort of – I’m on the beach in Florida… but that’s beside the point) I can’t get their words out of my mind.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“Be grateful for what you have.”

“Take it one day at a time.”

“Life’s awfully temporary.”

 

Being Grateful for my Life

You know, it’s funny the way life has its way of twisting and turning and going on with or without you. About half way through the weekend I was chatting with my dear friend Erika about some of the models’ comments. I realize that three years ago during my interviews, and even years earlier I would have said the same stuff. I probably still do. But I was very aware this weekend that I’ve not been living like a colon cancer survivor who knows life is temporary. I do sweat the small stuff. I forget that life is short. And with all that I’ve been given, I go through life so fast sometimes, I don’t stop and offer thanksgiving for life in general – much less everything that God has brought into it.

It’s with my deepest gratitude that I was at Lake George last weekend. What a life-changing experience once again. And while yes, I am motivated to exercise more (thanks, Dan…) I’m even more motivated to live differently; to kiss my husband more often, hug my daughter even tighter and not let one day go by without thanking God for life.

Enjoy some photos; you’ll have to wait until September for the good stuff…

Kansas City represent!

The 2012 models

Cancer buddies

June 13, 2011 at 9:18 pm 4 comments

#colondarreunion

If you would have told me that in my lifetime I would join a group of people that come from all over the country, of varying ages, with different family backgrounds, opposing political views, contrasting views on religion, and even very different ethnicity, life experiences and definitions of “fun,”  – and then told me that after spending a weekend with this group I’d be mildly-depressed after heading home and separating from these people, I might have not believed you.

But that indeed is what’s happened.

Modeling for the 2009 Colondar was an experience that changed my life. At the risk of sounding too cliche and cheesy, it really, really did. But the amazing thing is that I didn’t even realize it at the time. I walked into the home of the McMaster’s in May 0f 2008 as a 7-year cancer survivor. Sure, I’d been diagnosed when I was 17 and had a crazy story to tell, but I was kind of “over it.” I was excited at the opportunity to participate in the calendar, but strived all week to relate to the other 11 people who were sharing their stories of surgeries, treatments, post-treatment, emotional issues, family issues and the other myriad of problems that come with colon cancer. I could relate, but only to a point. I had been diagnosed so young and was so far removed from it. I took it all in that weekend and went home a little shell-shocked. It’s like a door that had been closed was suddenly reopened, and I was faced with thinking about my cancer once again.

I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing until in Dec. of 08 when a routine colonoscopy found those little annoying polyps growing once again. You know the story… surgery, second diagnosis, genetic testing…. the past year of my life. While it’s been no cake walk to walk through cancer once again, this experience has been different this time thanks to my experience with the Colondar, and my several little “colon angels” who’ve helped me through this process.

Jon, Mr. February, was there from the start and has been my coach through it all. He also has had the same procedure I had and lives with an “itty bitty” colon. He helped me before, during and after surgery, and still keeps tabs on me to this day, encouraging me that what I still face a year later is normal. Trish, Miss March and Karen, Miss December, have been two pillars of inspiration as they too faced another diagnosis of cancer since we met in 2008, both of breast cancer. To see them gracefully battle and make it through another cancer (and still find times to laugh!) has also given me the strength to keep going. Libby, Miss January, has been my best buddy through this all and such a dear friend. She’s my roommate and my girlfriend who’s in my same age range, and been such a blessing to have as we figure out how to live as 20-something colon cancer survivors. And Erika, the yearly cover girl, means so much to me I can’t even explain. We were diagnosed only a few months from each other, her at age 22 and me at age 17, in 2001. We’re two people who really “know” what it was, and is, like for one another and strangely enough continue to be in sync with the different seasons and issues of cancer we face. And these are only a few of them. I’m daily inspired by my other ’09 buds: new-mom Allison, Doug, Jaimie (the guy lives with a J-pouch!) Greg & Todd (stage 4 survivors!), Shaye and Terri – they are all so near and dear to me.

The Colondar network has been a life-saver and a game-changer for me. That’s why this past weekend when the first-ever Colondar Models Reunion was planned, I knew I had to go no matter the time, location nor sacrifice. And I am so thankful I did. I met up with several old friends, and made many new ones as I was introduced to Karen from ’06, Dean from ’07, Becca from’08 and Evelyn from ’10. I spent time in Vermont all week with the former models, and then traveled to Lake George in upstate New York once again to meet up with the Colon Club crew that was working the shoot, as well as the new host of 2011 models.

I had an absolutely amazing and incredible time. Taking in the beauty of Vermont while spending time among people who really “get it” when it comes to life as a colon cancer survivor was exactly what I’ve needed to help heal my heart and fight the emotional battle with cancer. It helped me realize how much of my day-to-day still revolves around the fact that I had colon cancer, and that while I might feel alone at home, I’m not alone completely in it in the world. It helped me take a much-needed step toward addressing the repressed feelings I’ve had about this second diagnosis and begin to work through them. It made me want to keep fighting off some of the negative pressures cancer puts on me, and gave me a support network of people who can relate and work through this with me. It brought out sadness and sorrow at our situation, yet hope and joy that we’d made it and that we’re together. It motivated me to keep going.

I’ve used many words to explain the significance of our group and the impact this past weekend had on my life. And while I could keep going on and on, I’ll let the pictures explain the rest. Thank you to all of my Colondar family for an unforgettable experience, and I cannot wait to see you all again…

June 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm 1 comment


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