The One Boobed Member of Destiny's Child or My Survivor Speech at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Staten Island Kick Off Event...
About Making Strides...
Last August, I signed up to walk in the local Making Strides walk - I had never raised money before nor had I ever walked before for a cause. I had spent the last couple of years raising my kids and giving money if and when I was asked for it but had not ever done anything like a walk.
So I went to last years kick off with my daughter and I had a lot less hair and a totally weird experience with calling myself a survivor. I walked in to register and got a sash calling me a survivor, clapped in by a local cheerleading team, got photographed and a flower and heard the speaker Holly Bonner speak about her story, which had us all in tears of her bravery and strength and then I thought to myself 2 things:
1- I wanted to be a pacesetter and raise more than 2500 but it was a crazy thought and one I had no clue how to execute on but I knew I wanted to do it and
2-I wanted to be the speaker like Holly and share my story - which was just another crazy thought without any basis in reality - I had just started blogging and didn’t even really understand my own story yet or the power of my words...
But I was learning - I was sharing and meeting people from all over who were chatting with me, reading me, sharing me - cancer health magazine began to serialized my content and I had numbers going up and up for unique visitors, twitter followers and my favorite relationship builder instagram was growing and I recognized that maybe I did have a story to tell that people needed to hear,
Well, dear reader, (hey Charlotte Bronte thanks for that), I did it - I became a pacesetter and some extra on top and I was picked to be the survivor speaker at the event.
Whoa! If you watch the video you can just see how damn excited I was and how the American Cancer Society and their events put my kids fears at ease and showed me how to be a survivor.
The making strides event was amazing mc’d by the local office leader Kimberly Cantoni. We had amazing food, camaraderie and what unites us ignites us -
Lessons on just how far our donated dollars go to helping the American cancer society be sure that no one walks alone - with rides to treatment, lodging near cancer hospitals, look good feel good programs and more!
Soo think about walking - join my team if you’re in the NY area I’m Lili’s Team (as we try to come up with a different name )...
This is what I do in the time between.
My Unfiltered Thoughts About the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk - Shaolin Edition (Staten Island)
I walked and raised money for my first Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and I had some feedback about the event and then I had second thoughts about my feedback...
The best part about this walk was seeing my kids' faces when I posed for this photo:
Can you find me? It is kind of like a Where's Waldo picture - we are almost all wearing pink - I have the pink knitted headband on that was given to me from the UFT Ladies who knit - as a survivor, I got to pick one thing for free and it was so chilly, that was my pick.
All of those ladies in this picture are breast cancer survivors. I put myself right in that photo and when the photo was done, my son was standing to the side looking on in awe - he could not believe how many women were there and seeing them all there, vibrant and alive put a tiny bit of his fear to rest. My daughter also loved seeing it but she was surrounded by her girlfriends and was too busy to show it (I think). No one wants to bring 2nd grade children to a wide open space but the 5th grade girls were out in force for my girl.
I am not even one year post diagnosis yet but I was there with bells on - at the kick off meeting, the event organizers highlighted the pacesetters (those who raise $2500 or more) tryin-to-be-a-survivor-at-the-making-strides-breast-cancer-kick-off-breakfast.html and I knew right there that I wanted to be a pacesetter more than anything - but I also knew it would be really hard for me to raise that kind of money as I am not working full time and I do not know rich people.
Of course, I was wrong about not being able to raise that kind of money as you can see by my personal fundraising stats below (and add another $100 to that amount as there was a recent matching done by an anonymous donor).
The walk was powerful and touching. Not only did people who I have not spoken to or see in decades donated so much money to my fundraising but my mom's bank, Victory State Bank, supported my walk and sold those little postcards for $1 all for my team. Over $1900 came from Victory State Bank and their generous customers.
I finally went back on Facebook in September and got a huge amount of donations from my Facebook peeps fear-and-loathing-on-facebook.html and it reiterated for me how lucky and loved I am.
Nothing though could prepare me for the amount of people who showed up to walk with me -
Even one of my college students from years & years ago (2014, I think)
At first, post walk, I thought about how much more powerful it could have been to highlight those pacesetters in a large setting - or the top 10 teams (I was number 7). But now, I am ashamed of my unfiltered thoughts. I was proud to be there, proud to do my part and really really happy to see the other survivors, my friends and family and everyone rally around for a cause that is now so near and dear to me - and I am ashamed that I was not out there walking every year even before I was diagnosed and deep down I am ready already to smash this fundraising amount for next year - to do it all again and not for recognition, not for fame - screw it, I just want to help those who are going through this beast and to let them know I am here for them. I am not in it for anything else -if you know someone going through breast cancer or if it is you, find me - I am here at email@example.com. When you are ready to talk, I am here at 3477339211. No one should feel alone during this crap of a plot twist - as you can see, I never was alone but I felt it anyway (as I share about on this blog). Having someone who has been through it is one of the best ways to feel "normal". When I was one boobed (still am) AND bald (not anymore), even having my girls around me did not always feel like support because I was envying their hair - oh my goodness, the hair envy is real.
So I am here and I get it... and I will be there next October, walking and smiling like I did this year and I will not fall for the silliness of pride and promotion.
That is what I do in the time between.
Some of my teammates - LiLi's Team - #7 in Fundraising
I was so excited to walk at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer today!
I am so lucky that I was able to get a big team - I have so many wonderful giving and loving friends who were there with me and even more who donated to my walk. I believe in the American Cancer Society and know that with this walk and the money raised (that I helped) goes directly into services and help for my community.
There are people in your life that are there for a season or a reason - some to teach you a lesson and all that mumbo jumbo but the people in my life are the best in the west! I had so many friends new and old walking with me and a few that lagged behind but were there - these are the people who are here for me - my ride or die people. I love them each and everyone and some who were only there in spirit as times are busy for all of us.
When I got sick, I did not realize how many people I had in my corner at first. It hit me over time that some of these folks have been there for me since 1990 when I was upset about my parents divorce or my latest boyfriend and some of them are new from 2012 or 2014 but they are here for me forever and I love them all.
Of course, I cannot forget my mom - she has been there since day 1 obviously and all of this has been so hard for her. Watching me be sick and go bald and see me get stressed and get put through some unnecessary drama well, I cannot imagine as a mom what it must be like to see your kid go through it... She has been amazing and most of my friends love her like she's their idol or their friend.
Some of my besties I met through my mom way back in 1998-1999. These are just some of the people who are there for me and I hope they know I am here for them. Thank you also to all of my Facebook and LinkedIn friends and family who helped me smash my goal - as I said, this organization does so much for local folks and something like 400 women are diagnosed on Staten Island with breast cancer per year. When I took that survivor picture, I felt so in awe - I know I am not even one year out from this crappy plot twist but I feel like I am a survivor and I will do anything in my power to stay that way while praying for those who cannot be cured and those who are newly diagnosed...
Cancer is a bitch, but as we all know, I can be bitchier :)... This is what I do in the time between.
Still cannot believe I was able to raise so much $$$$ Thanks to all who donated! XOXO
LiLi's Team (Missing Some Stragglers) :)
Do you think I had on enough pink?
Team Raised SO Much - #7 out of all the teams :) LUCKY NUMBER 7
One of the pics of the "survivors" who walked - we are all survivors no matter what xoxo
In one of my previous plot lines, I was a college professor. An adjunct, but still a professor. Of all my previous careers and titles (from manager to vice president to entrepreneur) the only one that constantly "impressed" was the title of Professor. It was also the lowest paid title of my career but brought with it the most cache.
I began teaching at my alma mater, St John's University, in 2003 after applying each year after receiving my MBA in 1999. My mentor, Dr Bonaparte, who was instrumental in sending me to Italy to get my MBA had told me that I would be a great professor and I believed him because he had been right on so many things in my life. Sadly, he lost his life to brain cancer -he was the most distinguished, poised and intelligent person I had ever met in my life and I think of him often.
My first classes that I taught were micro and macro economics. Go ahead and shudder, it's ok. I was teaching Freshman and Sophmores and it was macro and micro economics. Oh and I was only a few years older than they were. The funny thing about economics is that I love it. It is funny because if you knew me in real life you would know I do not look or act like someone who loves economics.
I took my first classes in the subject (micro and macro) in Spring 1995 and Fall 1995 semesters and I still remember my Professor (Prof Englander) explaining supply, demand, equilibrium pricing, marginal theory of returns, etc. I also remember learning about price elasticity.
Price elasticity was always explained using the price of a diabetes drug to express something that is price inelastic - meaning that no matter the price, people will still buy it because they need it to live. As a 19 year old learning about it, it made sense on a theory level. As a 39 year old (now 40) with breast cancer, it makes sense on a visceral level.
I have posted many times about how lucky I am to have health insurance and to have the ability to manage the budget even after things not working out with my first full time job in several years (managing-life-stresses.html). This is not a small thing. The cost of cancer treatment and its medications and treatments is an extreme but so is the cost of traveling to the treatment center on the upper east side, parking costs, gas, etc. etc.
Cancer leads to economic issues. End of story. Even if my job had worked out, it still was a financial impact to manage these new costs. One shot of the drug Neulasta to help with blood counts after chemo cost $5,000. I had 8 of these shots dispensed to me to help recover from each of my chemotherapy treatments. That is $40,000 worth of medication that with my health insurance cost me approximately $225. What about those who do not have insurance coverage?
My list of costs from Sloan Kettering is long but worth every penny - especially since I only have to pay a fraction based on my coverage. Another important thing that I note every now and again in private is that I have had life insurance since 2011. I do not know of any life insurance company that would insure me now with my pre-existing condition of breast cancer.
I am doing my small part to help others afflicted with this disease who are not as "lucky" as I am - I am raising money for the making strides against breast cancer walk in my town. I was so happy to learn at the kick off breakfast that the money raised goes to research AND to help others with the disease by giving rides to and from treatment, offering rooms for patients and their caregiver to stay in to be closer to their treatment hospital and more.
The room option is huge as right before one of my last chemotherapy appointments, there was forecast a huge storm and I was afraid we would not be able to get in for my appointment. I looked into hotels around Sloan and balked at the pricing - nothing less than $300 for one night. I was lucky enough to be able to commute in because the storm was not that bad but just thinking about folks who need to travel to be there for appointments and the cost factor makes me happy the American Cancer Society has options for them.
Breast cancer has emotional and physical impacts, as well. I am focusing on economics today because it is one of the pieces of the puzzle of helping patients live this new life as one of an "ill" person. I cannot imagine dealing with this disease and all of its issues without the support network I have had financially and emotionally. My main hope is that no one has to go through this disease at all but as that is not feasible right now, I will continue to try to do my part to help others through sharing my story and raising money to help those who need it.
Would you consider joining my team or donating to my Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk to help ease the economic impact for other breast cancer patients? My team is LiLi's team and I am using my married name of Lisa Nielsen for my walk - the link to donate or join me team is here -->
Today, I attended the Making Strides Breast Cancer walk kick off breakfast for my town, Staten Island.
I was floored by how amazing the event was and how emotional I felt at it. I am kind of your average ice princess type of person. I find it impossible to cry in public, in fact, I rarely do. Today, my eyes welled up a bunch of times and for those who know me well, you know that is insane.
Before you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it is hard to understand why cancer is considered a "journey" by some people (I am trying not to use those kinds of words because to me, cancer is just something I have to become a survivor from - hence the title of this post - not something I am traveling through).
When you are first diagnosed, you kind of think to yourself, "OK, I will do X and Y and Z and then I will be done." and it does not really work like that but if you read about people in the media or movies about cancer than you are not to be blamed for your assumption. Every story I read about cancer is about how so and so beat cancer like immediately after surgery. I do know that none of my doctors will say that without many years of cancer free screenings and follow ups.
Today, I got to wear a "Survivor" sash and show all and sundry that I am beating this disease - though to me the term survivor means I am done and have beaten it, for today I was able to taste what it felt like to be considered, "Cured". It was an amazing feeling and something I will strive for or as I like to say I am training to be a survivor.
Me, today, with my Survivor Sash at Making Strides Breast Cancer Kick Off Meeting
I was at the event representing my team, LiLi's Team, for the fundraiser. My co-attendee was my lovely daughter and we had a wonderful time listening to the speakers, Holly of BlindMotherhood was one as were a few others. Holly really spoke to me - just with layers of hope and humanity and strength and it gave me shivers thinking about how much she has endured and continues to endure as she deals with her survivor-ship of cancer.
This disease is ugly and brutal and no one wants to join this club. Unfortunately, we learned today that every two minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer. This is why I am walking - to do something, to help someone else who is going through this disease. The American Cancer Society offers so much help and assistance to those going through the disease from the Look Good Feel Good training sessions to actually giving rides to people to their treatments.
My team link is below and I would love if you would consider to join my team or to donate towards my goal. I am so blessed to have amazing friends and family who helped me every step of the way and I think it is necessary to give back, to try to help others. Cancer sucks and no matter what, anything we can do to help others is just something that is so important to me now that I am clawing and training my way to being a survivor. I am including pictures below of the event, held at The Vanderbilt and also my videos on the event and of course my team link to the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk. Thanks for sharing this post and helping me reach and exceed my goal!
Special thanks for the Making Strides Staten Island event team for making me feel like a survivor!
Link to LiLi's Team: Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk - pls donate or join my team :) main.acsevents.org/goto/lilisteam
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