To Make a Donation to the 2016 team

Please visit my fundraising page to make a donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.runDFMC.org/2017/jennies). Please help me reach my goal of $50,000 to fund important basic cancer research! With your support, we have already provided over $312,000 to Dana-Farber researchers over the past 8 years. Please give as generously as your means allow!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Be the Change

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Ghandi

We all have our "stuff" in our lives...work stuff, family stuff, the stuff that bothers you, the stuff you believe in, the stuff that makes a difference. This stuff is all influenced by our life experiences, our interactions, our relationships, our communities. It's different for each of us, and often is the guide for our thinking and our actions. So, this February 25, a day that marks three years since my sister, Molly, died, I ask you to think about your "stuff." What do you believe in? Who is important? What kind of world to you wish to see?

My "stuff" is what has pushed me in the direction of helping to fund cancer research. It's my beliefs, my pain, my history, my desire. I have been forced to recognize what is important in MY life has unfortunately deeply influenced by being a part of a family whose lives have been so deeply affected by cancer. The resulting priorities are abundantly clear, and I've tried to incorporate things I know a little about, like running, into making some changes that I wish to see. It's how I know to help. Because cancer has been forefront of my mind for so many years, I tend to be affected and inspired by examples of others in similar situations and how they have made changes in their lives....changes that affect many, many others.

My friend, Wendy, experienced the devastating loss of her two year old daughter, Emily, five years ago to a cancer called neuroblastoma. In the midst of their pain and recovery, she and her husband started a foundation called "Emily's Power for a Cure" that raises money for research and for making the lives of families affected by this disease easier. This week, a pediatric CT scanner and kid-friendly waiting room was dedicated at TC Thompson Children's Hospital in Chattanooga in honor of Emily. They had been through the testing with Emily when the option for a pediatric scan was not available, and they saw a need for a change. The foundation donated $300,000 to fund this center, and the ribbon cutting was covered by the local news (http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/feb/24/ransom-six-honored-for-fighting-cancer/). There assistance is not only monetary but emotional as well. They reach out with support for local families who receive this diagnosis and try to alleviate the burdens that accompany the medical diagnosis. Their family is the change.

There is a local high school student, who I have never met personally, who lost his father in 2009 to colon cancer. Nolan is a pentathlete and last year, he decided to ask for pledges based on the number of points he scored in the All-State Pentathlon in Boston. He raised $10,000 for the MGH Cancer Center, and he is competing and fundraising again this year. Nolan created his own website (http://www.running-for-a-cure.com) and is reaching out to the community to support his efforts to honor his father. He is the change.

Two friends in the past week have signed up to run and/or walk the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville at the end of April to raise money for cancer research at Dana-Farber. Deidre, a former co-worker, registered with Dana-Farber's "Running the Race Against Cancer" program to raise money directly for this wonderful institute in honor of our family. She created a personal website and committed to do this because as she said "words were not enough." She is the change. Gina is also running the same race and has asked that funds be channeled through the DFMC program of which I am a part. She is running because she "learned the death of someone close to you either stalls you or forces you to put one foot in front of the other." She is the change.

My sister, Mary, had hopes of organizing a bike ride in Chattanooga to raise money for cancer research. She believed in it, and although it ultimately did not bring about the results she had hoped, she knew that her participation and support might influence the lives of patients down the road. Many of Mary's friends are working hard to bring her hope of a bike ride to life, and are following through on their promise to her. They are the change.

These examples all have to do with cancer research, but ultimately, that isn't my point. It's just a long, roundabout way to get to my point because it's what I know and where my focus falls. The point is that these people saw a need and they are acting on it. There is plenty of change out there for each of us to make. It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be an every day occurrence. I know that the time each of us has to commit is as varied as our interests, but sometimes it only takes a moment to "be the change." It's so easy to wait it out, to hope that change will come on its own somehow. I am as guilty of that as anyone, often believing someone else will take care of it. But we can all walk the walk if we truly recognize our priorities and just take a step

So, today I will try to find some hope in a day that brings sadness. I will try to see the changes we can make out there. I will try to walk the walk, especially for Molly. I will continue on my mission to help bring change in the world of cancer treatment, and will not give up on remembering the people and the things that were important to Molly.

Be good. Be strong.

The beautiful artwork embedded with this post are of Molly's red boots, and it was painted by Kim Clayton, a friend from high school.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Slow Motion

Where is the pause button? I'd like nothing more today that to put life on hold for just a little bit of time, to have some time to process this craziness that has occurred. And I mean LIFE, not just my life. If everything could just take a little break for a while, it would allow some time to take some deep breaths. To remember and cherish and process. To catch up on all the things that have flown right by the past couple of weeks and landed in a big "to do" pile that is begging to be addressed. To figure out what our new "normal" will be moving forward. And to not have to worry about obligations and bills and grocery shopping and cleaning and paperwork and difficult relationships and so much other stupid stuff that requires attention and energy. Pause. Stop. Time-out. Whatever it takes.

We are not afforded that luxury, though, and we all know there is no magic button that would allow for that kind of time. We are granted little reprieves now and then, and help in the form of good friends. But, life keeps moving whether we move with it or not. There are vacations and birthdays and school and work and training and playdates and houses and exercising and all kinds of other things that will keep happening, just like before. Lives are being lived, just like they were before, even when you want to scream for everyone to STOP. That's just how it works. Calling "time-out" in order to have some time to play catch up just isn't an option.

And so I get up in the morning and we go about our routine. The routine things...that's the easier stuff to do and it what keeps our little piece of the world spinning. That spinning is a little slower, maybe, but it is still moving. And when I find I am getting through those routine things, I'll start thinking about the more complicated tasks. And they'll be added back in to our lives. And by doing these things, it keeps our little piece of the world moving despite a vastly different reality than just two weeks ago. It is a changed world in many ways, but since we can't keep life from continuing on, we'll just have to try to control the pace a little bit until we can catch up and grab on again. Perhaps instead of that elusive pause button, it is instead a slow-motion option we are able to each use at our discretion until we find we are able to continue at our own pace, whatever that may be. We have to keep moving, but how quickly we do that right now is an option we can control.

It's taken me a long time to write this. A couple of days. Lots of hours, and I am not even sure it is exactly what I want to say, but it is a start. Making sense of all that has happened has been and will continue to be slow, and writing sensibly has been even slower. Maybe because there aren't answers and honestly, there is little about it that makes sense. There is so much spinning around and what I want to do is tell you stories about Mary and Molly and John, especially for those of you who were not allowed to personally know them. I want to push rewind and tell about the days when cancer wasn't such a player in our 7 person family. I want to ask questions of people who might have some answers, and yell at people who don't. I want to find a way to express my gratitude to so many people that have stepped in to help ease the pace of the past few weeks (and years) without ever needing to be asked. I want to explain how getting out to run and run and run sometimes helps this to feel a little less painful. I want to find a big, giant, enormous way to help eradicate this disease so no other families have to experience such losses. I want to try to explain what an amazing example of selflessness our extended family has been over the years by always showing up, and staying. There are so many feelings and emotions and people and relationships and stories to share, but it all seems too fragmented right now. Moving and thinking in slow motion will do that, I guess.

In the meantime...Be good. Be strong.
For Mary, and Molly, and John.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mary Frances

My sister, Mary, died Monday night from complications from melanoma. She was at home with her family and some of her close friends with her. Mary lived with such courage and strength. I don't have a lot of words right now.

http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_194116.asp

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just Dance

"Nobody cares if you're not a good dancer. Just get up and dance. The same holds true for racing. Whether first or last, we all cross the same finish line. Just get out there and run." ~ Dean Karnazes

Loved this quote. We're big fans of dance parties at our house. Sometimes just turning on some music is enough to brighten the spirit, shake kids out of the crankies, relax the mind, get us through until dinner time (which is shortly followed by bedtime), make you forget about the junk that sometimes overwhelms us, fills the hours of another snow day. Dancing makes you smile. A good song, played loud, can get your moving. You can't help but feel good when you've got your dancing shoes tapping. And it is true....it doesn't matter if you are "good" at it. "Good" is relative. The dance party does not discriminate, and welcomes all dancers. Running is much the same way. Finishing is the goal, no matter how fast or how far. Everyone moves at the own pace, with their own stride, in their very own quirky way. And it just feels good, just like dancing. So, get out there. Rock that run.

Be good. Be strong.
Dean Karnazes