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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Komen is OK, but not for the Cure.

There's been a lot of chatter in blogs lately about Komen, pink branding, and, most damning, that very little of the KOMEN money...all those races and walks and bracelets and ribbons...actually goes toward researching a cure for cancer.  There's also talk that Komen is in bed with big pharma, which admittedly, has its own set of issues.  I deny none of this.  In fact, while I will be running in the local Race for the Cure this fall, I won't be putting together a team, nor will I be asking for donations.

So, you might be asking, why the heck is she even telling us all of this.  She sounds rather wishy-washy.  If she's against Komen, why is she even participating?

I want to clarify:  I am NOT against Komen as an organization at all.  I'm against the duplicitous nature of the "for a CURE" mumbo jumbo.  If an organization raises millions of dollars "for a cure," I expect that, quite frankly, a lot of their money should go toward a cure.  Instead, approximately 25% goes toward research.  When it comes to research dollars, only about 3% go toward research on metastatic breast cancer which is what actually kills the absolute vast majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer.  Komen's mission is to end breast cancer.  Yet, almost as much Komen money is spent on fund raising, office expenses, etc. as goes toward research.

But I'm letting all that roll off my back right now, because one thing Komen does, and does superbly, is support those with breast cancer, and for that, I'll run.  I have directly benefited by Komen funding in one way, especially, that might potentially prevent me from having an reccurence.  One way that has been life changing.


A year ago, I attended, a yoga retreat for breast cancer survivors that was funded by Komen and private donations and Duke Cancer Center.  It was an amazing experience, one I shall be forever grateful for.

However, much more life changing was my participation in a Komen grant sponsored exercise program here in town.  C.U.R.E. (A Community United Through Relationships and Exercise) was one of the best experiences of my life (some might think that my life has been boring).  Granted, we were a small community, but what we learned about exercise, alone, made the experience worthwhile. 

I am much, much stronger than I was before beginning the classes.  I also had the opportunity to try different forms of exercise, for instance spin (and I decided that I really do NOT like it) and aqua fit (water aerobics, two thumbs up).  Zumba, which I really did not think I would like, turned out to be one of my most favorite exercise options, and I now attend at least two zumba classes a week, have purchased a zumba game for our xbox kinect!  I'm in the market for the best option for zumba shoes.

I also developed relationships with other bc survivors I may not have otherwise developed.  For instance, one participant was a woman I'd known in passing for several years, yet I didn't know she had had bc and she didn't know I had.  On the surface, we are two vastly different women, but we easily found commonalities in the CURE classes. 

The teachers were very awesome as well.  As trained exercise specialists, and young very fit women themselves, I would have previously been disinclined to chat them up; however, that was so not the case with these CURE instructors.  The one I exercised with the most frequently even went so far as to come up with a specialized exercise routine for me and one other participant as we were a little stronger and more able than some of the others.  Regardless, we all had fun, we all tried out new activities, and best of all, I learned to enjoy sweating to the point that my entire head was wet.  Who knew?

So, for this, and this reason alone, I'm not convinced that Komen is worth totally ditching.  I have certainly benefited from Komen's generosity in funding these programs.

Oh, and now I've "graduated" to the regular classes at the Rec Center and can hold my own with students who are the age of my own children.  Some times, I even show them up :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Wow.  It has certainly been a long time since I've written anything.  It's not that I don't think about blog posts.  I have many good intentions; I have many ideas for posts and notes jotted down; however, I have moved my laptop from the couch to the table.  This is both good and bad.  It's good in that I'm less likely to get sucked into watching tv and hanging out online.  It's bad in that I don't hang out watching tv and hanging out online.  This change in location also means that I'm more apt to do "drive by updates" on facebook, but less likely to sit down long enough to compose something thoughtful.  I've read enough blogs to realize that the self-indulgent, thoughtless blogger is worse than no blogger.  Hence, my silence.

However, today was such a nice day that I'm compelled to share it with you.  Actually, the day had nothing to do with me.  It was a beautiful day for my youngest son, aka The Feral Third.

TFT has had a rough month or so.  You see, his soccer team merged with a team from another club and there will now be enough kids to have two teams.  Sadly, TFT did not make the A team.  Even sadder, all of his buddies did make the A team.  This has been very upsetting and devastating for him as you might imagine.  No matter what spin we put on it, he knows that he is going to be playing weaker teams, in a weaker division, not going to tournaments, and will not have the prestigious coach.  He also believes this marks the beginning of the end of his soccer career and he foresees playing JV in high school while his buddies all play varsity.  Yes, we adults know he's waaaaay over analyzing this all, but reality is that he is over analyzing this and this is his life right now.  He totally feels slighted, insulted, and demeaned.

Yes, we've all been there, done that and lived to tell the tale.  He just has a lot of emotional energy to put into this tale these days (weeks?  this has dragged on and on).

Anyway, to make what has been a miserable month shorter for the sake of the rest of you (no one else should have to live my misery and believe me, I've shared it enough already with others), he has felt overlooked by his friends who, being on the A team, do some sort of running club or something.  He was invited once and didn't go because we got off to a slow start (no pun intended) that morning, but he clearly feels that if he were wanted there, he'd have been in on it from the beginning and then he found out that they also play soccer afterward and, again, he wasn't "in on it".  He was an after thought.

Again, play me a violin....

So, that sets the stage.  Probably 99% of all of this angst is in his imagination, but he's been bringing that imagination to life in our family's daily life for a month now.

Last night, though, things began to look up.  Two of his mates spent the night and they never once talked about soccer.  Thank the stars.

It was a total flash back to 2005 or so, when my eldest ( I have a blog name for him?  I might, but thanks to chemo brain, I can't remember) and his mates would get together.  It was a mini-me of the current teenagers hanging out here at the same time.

On top of the emotional wanking that has been going on, we've also had lots of late nights and slow mornings for the past month.  I was out of town for about 10 days, and my husband is an early to bed kind of guy, which meant that the kids were very, very late to bed.  Those of you who still have enough control over your children to have bedtime, might be shocked to hear that an 11 year old was regularly going to bed at 2 a.m. or later and sleeping until noon, but that is a pattern we've fallen into.  Add in a visit from the cousins which makes for a week with looser rules than usual, and...chaos regarding sleep hygiene.

So last night, I agreed to these other two boys spending the night in part to keep the hormonal Feral Third happy but also because I saw it as an opportunity to enforce a bedtime without an argument.  Who wants to act like a toddler and throw a tantrum in front of their friends?  The deal was OK to the sleepover if they agreed to lights out and a movie turned low at midnight. 

It worked.  I removed all the video game controllers so that they weren't tempted to cheat, told them if they'd lay still, they'd be cooler, and they were out.

The Third Wave
This also meant then were awake fairly early this morning.  I was reading and came out of my room at 8:45 and found all three of them awake.  Awake and looking like the older boys they so admire.  I have since begun referring to them as The Third Wave.

Sorting Game Pieces

Now, back in the day, in 2005 or so, my eldest and his buddies would have some wild Risk games.  They'd combine games, boards, pieces, and rules and play for entire weekends.  There have also been many Risk games played at our home by many, many young boys in this town.  It is also a tradition to play Risk with the cousins when they come to visit each year.  It was very heart warming to see The Third Wave getting it on with World Domination with such glee.

Of course, you can't have boys in the house (even if they are on the patio) without feeding them.  I was flashing back to the days when I would regularly stock up on cheap frozen pizzas, frozen burritos, jarred spaghetti sauce, and other food items in mass quantities because I never knew when I'd be called upon to provide food for the hungry hoards.

It's been awhile.

So a trip to the grocery was called for. Hoping that this will not be the last time we have a hoard of hungry boys, I stocked up. 

Then I got to do what I love doing the most.  Providing food for people I love. 

And these people were very appreciative!

The day continued without a hitch.  It included a walk to Walgreen's, a game of volley ball and one of badminton.  They then went to one of the other boys' homes for dinner, returned here, were playing something that involved yelling and running in the dark, and at 10 p.m., more than 24 hours after it  started, the "sleep over" ended.

No fuss, no muss (they did have to be persuaded to clean up the family room, but they did a good job), no arguments, and only one injury (and that was in the last 15 minutes).

I know my member of the Third Wave was asleep early and easily tonight, and I hope he is feeling better about his predicament or at least had 24 hours of not stewing over how unfair life can be at times. 

Yes, it can be, son, but it is still a wild and wonderful place and you might as well ride it hard while you can.

And I'm glad there are Risk players back in the house.