Friday, July 20, 2012

See You Tonight at the Track, My Good Friends!

Look at that list over there... over on the right hand side of this blog, under the title Everyday Heroes Making A Difference Just 99 Cents at a Time. Those are the changemakers. The do-somethings. The I-can't-just-sit-here-and-do-nothing heroes that decided to make an effort.

Look at where they're from:

Wisconsin. New York. Florida. California. Texas. Tennessee. Illinois. Minnesota. Maryland. Oregon.

Maybe they donated in memory of a loved one. Maybe they donated to support a friend who is currently battling cancer. Maybe they donated because secretly they think a good deed will keep their family safe. Maybe they just tossed in a few bucks so I'd stop blowing up their Facebook newsfeeds with my incessant please donate! posts.

I don't care why they donated.... I care that they did.

Some donated more than I ever thought a single person would! And some scraped together the change in their couch cushions because that's all they had.

But they donated.

And everyone all together made it possible for a total of $900 to be donated tonight at the Relay For Life.


From the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for supporting this cause. Thank you for wanting to eradicate cancer from our society as much as I do. Thank you. Again, I thank YOU.

(Of course, I'm accepting donations until 5pm today, so feel free to get this to an even thousand.)

Tonight is the event. Our county holds the Relay for Life event at our local Fairgrounds which is pretty awesome. The site is perfect! The midway (where all the carnival rides are usually placed) is transformed into this amazing temporary neighborhood. Tents and canopies line the midway... filled with good food and treats and refreshing drinks. Games for the kids, glitter tattoos, glow sticks, crafts for the kids. Bouncy houses and giant inflatable slides. The public is invited - in fact, they're encouraged to come and join in the festivities.

Our team is the Walworth County Cloggers; all the student cloggers, and all the moms of cloggers (like me), have been busy raising money and preparing for our "site." (How will it be decorated? What will be offered? Oh, believe me --- that's best answered when you see it tonight in person!) And the kids have already signed up for their time "on the track." The public is always aware that there are walkers, but it's totally not like a track meet where they must sit and watch the activity on the track. It's like, well, it's like walking around the fair. Stopping by to say hi to this friend or that one, laughing and joking together while the kids race across the track to get a root beer float, and yet always being aware that people are walking by.

It's a community. It's what every neighborhood should be like. And it's where you and your family should be tonight. Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Because of You. And You. And You and You and You....

I was absolutely floored when I was approached by someone who wanted to not only donate to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, but who also wanted to encourage OTHERS to donate, so they asked if they could match whatever donations came in yesterday from 10am to 10pm, up to one hundred dollars - which, let's be honest, is a lot of money. I put the call out there and waited to see what would happen....

And $114.90 was raised!! Which meant that ANOTHER $100 was matched!! Which meant that yesterday you (and you and you and you and you and you....) raised a total of $214.90!! Just like that. *snaps fingers*

You guys ROCK! *virtual hug*

Last year we raised $727.00... I'm still not exactly sure how that happened, but we did it. And I wanted to do it again. Tomorrow's the Relay and we're just not there yet.

If 263 people donate just 99 cents today,
we can meet our goal!

It's been a bittersweet week. Three years ago this past Tuesday, my co-worker lost his son to cancer. It was - and still is - so incredibly hard for him. I think about all the baseball games they played together, about the vacations to the civil war destinations they took together, and about the college he can never finish and the children he can never have and the friends he can never drink a beer with and the father he can never hug... and it just hurts.

And, how selfishly, as a mother I plead please, God, not my child. Please, I wouldn't be able to handle it. Please... just not that... 

And then I think about how many other mothers have said that same prayer. How many fathers have begged and negotiated with God and who would give anything, ANYTHING, to change places with their sick children. Just to make them well. Just to make them okay.

And I think about all the moms and dads whose hearts break under the crushing ache of losing their child... who cry when they're driving to pick up bread because suddenly they're reminded again: their child is gone.

But we can't trade places and we can't magically wave the pain and fear away. We can only do what we can... and for me, it's making sure that cancer is not just accepted.

I want to make sure that we continue to raise awareness about all the screenings that can and should be done: get your PAP smear, get your prostate checked, tell your doctor about blood in your stool, don't ignore it. Get your colonoscopy (yes, I know the prep sucks; I've done it. Now you do it.). Get your mamogram. Get those moles and checked out by a dermatologist.

I want to make sure that no one who has cancer misses a treatment because they can't get a ride to the hospital. That's just not acceptable to me. I want to make sure we can finance programs that will provide rides to and from treatment, or offset the cost of gas -- especially when a patient has to drive an hour or more to their appointment.

I want to make sure that a teenager gets a wig if that's what she'll feel comfortable in. My goodness, isn't highschool hard enough as it is?

I want to make sure that all my family members and friends who have battled cancer are not forgotten. That they're strength and courage is something to be honored and remembered -- regardless of whether the battle was one or lost.

I want to make sure that I do what I can. No matter how big or how small.

No matter if it's just a little bit.

...just 99 cents...

To donate directly through the American Cancer Society Relay For Life page, CLICK HERE. Or you can look over to the right-hand side of this page and find that little PayPal button and donate through that.

All proceeds will go to the Walworth County Cloggers' 2012 Relay For Life Team to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Donations MATCHED today!!

Just 99 cents. It doesn't seem like much. Not much at all.


That's right! For today only, any donations made between 10am and 10pm my SUPER-DUPER AWESOME anonymous donor will MATCH (up to $100). That means we could EASILY raise $200 in one day!!

But, I wanted to know... what's up with the 10am to 10pm guideline?

"I was 10 years old when I first learned what cancer was. I didn't get it. I mean, I was told my aunt was sick, very sick - but she didn't look sick. She looked, well, normal, at least to me. But people were acting different. It was that difference that I felt but couldn't understand. Until later. 

I remember going to her house and being scared of what she looked like. She looked so scary. Her skin looked like a ghost and it was all wrinkly because she was so skinny. She looked like an old, old woman - except I knew she wasn't because she was a lot younger than my mom. But I was only 10 and I was just scared of what I saw.

My aunt used to do cartwheels in the lawn and roll down hills. Now her arms shook and she always had wadded up tissues that she pressed to her eyes because she cried all the time. I am ashamed to say I avoided her. I wouldn't give her hugs or even want to look at her. I try to forgive myself because I was only a child, but it's hard for me now, as an adult, to know that I wouldn't give her that love she craved at the end of her way too short life.

I was 10 years old when I went to my first funeral. It was my aunt's.

I wish I could do more. Matching only $100 doesn't seem like very much. But together, with help from your readers, maybe we can raise $200 today. I'd like to do this for my aunt."

Personally, I can't imagine how a child can wrap their heads around cancer. It's too big for just grown-ups. But it got me thinking about all the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and grandparents who are fighting their way through cancer while having to look into the scared eyes of a child. All those children afraid and confused, not really understanding what's going on around them. It breaks my heart to pieces. Too many pieces...

Ways to donate:
(1.) Directly at the American Cancer Society Relay For Life site.
(2.) On the right hand side of this blog on a little button that says PAYPAL.
(3.) In person. I'll be more than happy to see you!

All proceeds will go to the Walworth County Cloggers' 2012 Relay For Life Team to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What difference can we possibly make?

My grandparents lived in the woods. The driveway was long and winding, the crunch of the gravel beneath the wheels of a car welcoming visitors. A modest house surrounded by trees. Lots and lots of trees.

There would come a time when the trees, as they are known to do, would drop their leaves. All of them. Leaving my grandparents surrounded by thick blankets of oak leaves. As children we would trudge through the yard, leaves up to our knees, happily crunching and kicking our way around.

Inevitably, my grandmother would want to rake the lawn. Rake it. As in, physically remove gazillions of leaves from (what looked like to me) thousands of trees. Impossible. Absolutely, positively, impossible.

Then the caravan of cars would make its way up the drive. Aunts, uncles, cousins.... one by one exiting their cars to grab the rakes and tarps and garbage bags from the trunks.

I remember thinking the same exact thoughts every season, as I stood surveying the impossible task set before us:

1. This is too big of a job for just us.
2. What difference can we possibly make?

Then we would begin. We would all rake, little kids would scoop leaves in garbage cans, strong uncles would pull overflowing tarps to the burn pile, the aunts and big kids raking in a long line across the yard. It would seem to me we'd work all morning long and nothing would have been accomplished. We'd eat sandwiches with our earthy smelling hands, noses sniffling, palms pulsating where blisters would surely appear. And I'd look out over the yard still filled with way too many leaves and think, what a joke. We've barely made a dent in this.

Then the grown-ups would declare our break time over. And we'd continue.

Rake. Pick up. Move. Dump. Burn. Rake. Pick up. Move. Dump. Burn. Rake. Pick up. Move. Dump. Burn.

But then.... then we'd get to this point somehow, without really knowing when or how --- this point where suddenly, there were less leaves and more visible grass. Smooth, healthy grass thanking us for our hard work. And, sure, there might have been a ton of leaves left to rake up, but we were here: making a difference. And it would dawn on me: there is no job too big for us. As long as we all chip in a little to help. Together we can actually make a pretty big difference after all.

My grandfather passed away in the modest home in the woods. From cancer. I can't forget the image I have  of him lying way too still on the couch, facing the big windows that looked out over the woods and down to the creek that flowed peacefully below. I know how much he would have rather been raking up those leaves with us.

My grandfather taught us that many hands make light work. That we were put on this planet to help one another and that's just the way it should be. And I think he was right.

Please donate just 99 cents (many hands make light work) to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

To donate, please use this direct link  or the PayPal button on the right side of this blog post.

All proceeds will go to the Walworth County Cloggers' 2012 Relay For Life Team to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Something to Think About

Yesterday, while you were running late, speeding through town, cursing the fact that you couldn't stop to grab a Starbucks, I was handed a business card with the name of an oncologist.

Last night, while you were trying on your third outfit, annoyed that you had nothing good to wear, I was calling my mother to tell her I had cancer.

While you were laughing with your friends and ordering another glass of wine and telling everyone how absolutely amazing the grilled salmon is, I was wrapped in my husband's arms, sobbing.


While you were trying on swimsuits and complaining about the size of your thighs, I was trying on my new mastecomy breast form and praying the cancer would stay away.

While you were complaining about how the girl in the salon gave you a bad haircut, I was trying to figure out a way to wrap a scarf around my head in a way that didn't scream cancer victim.

While you were whining about how tan you used to be this same time last year, I was throwing on a sweatshirt to make sure no one would stare at my permanent IV port. I just want to be normal again.


Half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

There is no sure way to prevent cancer, but there are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting it: stop smoking, limit alcohol intake, use sunscreen, eat healthy.

And support cancer research.

Consider donating just 99 cents.... if every person in your family, in your neighborhood, at your church, at your school --- would donate just 99 cents... we'd be that much closer to eliminating cancer.

Please consider donating JUST 99 CENTS. (This link will take you directly to my Relay for Life page; otherwise there's a handy-dandy PayPal button on the right hand side of this blog.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Kick Cancer Day

Some days are cancer days. Days it seems everyone you know is being diagnosed with cancer. Days when those battling cancer seem to be losing their grip. Days when you want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head and hope to God you never hear the word cancer again.

You can't seem to get the images of hairless children and scared parents out of your head. You don't want to read about how one mommy has created these amazing memory books so that her children can remember her when she's gone.

Then there are Kick Cancer Days. Those are the days you vow to knock cancer back into its place. Those are the days you're full of strength and energy and even a little bit of anger because how dare you interupt our lives. You go running from room to room, stopping every person you see to tell them together we can do this! Together we make make a difference! Together we are unstoppable!

Today is a Kick Cancer Day.

I was thinking about how there are 129 descendents of my grandfather, Henry Sterken. My grandpa died of cancer. And if each relative donated just 99 cents....

I was thinking about all the people lined up along the lakeshore to watch the fireworks display last Saturday night. All those people. Hundreds of them. If they all donated just 99 cents....

But I have to start with one. One donation. Just 99 cents....

I attempted to create a donation page for anyone wishing to donate. (I'm sure hoping I did it correctly.) It's supposed to be linked right up with the Relay for Life team and should be a cinch to donate to. There's also the little PayPal button on the right hand side of this page if you'd like to go that route.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dr. Gordon Klatt: This one's for you!

Once upon a time there was a boy from Tacoma, Washington named Gordon. Maybe his family and friends called him Gordy or Little G or Bubba... maybe not. Anyway, Gordon grew up to be a doctor which is pretty awesome and a profession that any mother and father would be proud of. His patients know him as the colorectal surgeon Dr. Gordon Klatt. The world knows him as the founder of the Relay for Life.

Dr. Klatt had seen a lot of cancer in his office and he was growing frustrated. In May of 1985 Dr. Klatt decided to raise some money for the American Cancer Society. He thought about all the things he could do -- a bake sale, a car wash, maybe hold a rummage sale. But he loved his patients and he wanted to something that really honored him. He had to do something more...

So, he decided to walk.

For 24 straight hours he would walk and he would let friends walk or run with him for 30 minutes if they donated $25. Which they did. A lot of them did. And he raised $27,000. And walked 83 miles.

He could have stopped there, but he didn't. Because he knew there was more to be done. So he thought of how he could get more people involved and more people to do what he did. That's why today the overnight Relay for Life has spread to 21 countries. Countries, people. Twenty one of them.

Dr. Gordon Klatt had made a huge difference in the world of cancer! Not only through his medical practice but also through monetary donatations and the educational awareness the Relay for Life provides.

And then, in a sad twist of irony, the kind that makes you choke back tears and swallow down hard, Dr. Gordon Klatt was diagnosed with cancer.

The doctor becomes the patient.

And cancer proves to us once again she picks whoever she damn well pleases.

Dr. Klatt won't give up fighting. According to the June 5, 2012, Puget Sound Business Journal, he planned on walking at that Friday's Relay for Life for however long he could (given that he's currently undergoing chemotherapy). He's scheduled for surgery within a couple weeks and he'll be tackling his cancer head on, just like he's tackled all his patients' cancers.

Dr. Klatt, this one's for you!

Dr. Gordon Klatt: Relay For Life founder and 2012 Keynote Speaker
Photo by  Rodika Tollefson