Sunday, June 8, 2014

Relay for Life weekend was a success!

$1450 raised for American Cancer Society!!! And that is before we tally up employer contributions and what my friends raised (then we might be close to $2100!) The event has raised over $40,000 already!  You guys are amazing!!! Too many of our family members and friends are affected by this disease, and every new diagnosis makes me MAD and encourages me to do more to fight cancer!

Why I fundraise:

I've had to take it easy today after all that walking, but I wanted to give you an update on the event.  We were able to attend, and actually joined the festivities twice!  We went in the morning to hear some of my friends speak at the beginning ceremony. All the survivors were asked to go to the front of the stage ans introduce ourselves - I got to stand up with my daughter: "Hi, I'm Joelle, I'm 32 and I'm a one year survivor from Non Hodgkin Lymphoma." It felt awesome to say that!  Then, after convincing my daughter that she couldn't get up on stage, that the microphone was now out of batteries (which meant she couldn't sing into it), and after she gave high-fives to almost evert single person around us - I carried her while I walked half a mile (one lap) with all the other survivors at the event!!! Then the caregivers got to walk one lap and my husband took her with him! They ended their lap around the bounce house and she got to have some fun before we headed home to nap. 

The back of my new shirt:

Later in the day we had friends and family join us for a 3mile walk around the park - we had 4 strollers (3 toddlers and a baby), one college student and 12 adults! It was a slow moving group (baby spit up, or toddler had to go potty, or another toddler wanted to get out of the stroller, etc) but we had a lot of fun and got to do something good for charity.  I am beyond grateful to those that joined us!

As we approach the 1 year anniversary from my diagnosis, I want to say THANK YOU for all your help in the last year!!! I appreciate all your donations, kind words, visits, calls, texts, emails, cards, and overall support! Gabo and I wouldn't have been able to get through it without the help of our friends and family!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Relay for Life this weekend - and I'm walking!

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." -John Lennon

Hello everybody! I know I owe you an update of how things have been going, but that is complicated and will take several posts.  Overall, I am doing well.  I have been feeling much better and almost like myself since I last wrote.  I returned to work full-time, which is mostly the reason I haven't had time to write, I crash when I get home!  I also have started to gain some energy, which also means I've been getting the "how can I help?" bug.  My company has an Employee's Community Fund where employees can contribute and a board chooses how the money gets distributed among local charities. When I first returned to work, I submitted a request for a grant for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's local chapter. At the time my brain was still pretty foggy so it was actually time consuming for me to write the letter of recommendation.  Well, last month I got to present LLS with a big check in the name of my Company's Employee Community Fund!  It felt awesome to be able to give back, and also to chat with one of the LLS employees and discuss volunteering opportunities.  I have grand plans of things I would like to do to raise money for LLS - but I keep getting sick and plans get delayed.

Which brings me to my other big news - months ago I was invited to walk the Survivor Lap at a local Relay for Life event.  For those that don't know, Relay for Life is a 24hr walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  At the time I signed up, I was hoping to at least be able to walk the Survivor lap but wasn't sure I could do much more.  Since then, I have been gaining energy and thought I could walk the 3.1 miles it takes for my company to consider it a wellness event and donate $100 in my name.  To fund-raise, I hosted an online jewelry party, and my friend and Silpada rep donated proceeds for the event to my Relay fundraising. I kept thinking when I had more time I would try to get a local restaurant or other business to do a fundraiser for us but I frankly have been getting wiped out at work.  However, I have been able to convince some friends and co-workers to join me in the walk, and I am very excited about that!

Well... Unfortunately, about 3 weeks ago I had to go to ER because my horrible sinus infections that I had been trying to ignore turned into a 101.8 fever - and with my port I can't afford to be ignoring infections.  While in the ER they discovered my white blood count was close to chemo-patient low, so I was admitted. I was in the hospital for 4 days, then got to go home. I think I went into work for 4 hours so that I didn't automatically go into medical leave, and a couple of days later I got on a plane to Puerto Rico so that I could witness my baby brother and my awesome sister in law get married!  Unfortunately the sinus headaches and ear ache returned even before we flew back home, so doctors put me on really strong antibiotics, have been monitoring my seemingly declining white blood counts, and I'm basically on fever watch again.  I started taking antibiotics on Tuesday and still don't feel great - although I do feel better.  I am very upset that I am feeling sick again, but my oncologist has been great at letting us know that he doesn't believe any of these symptoms to be a recurrence of my lymphoma, and my general doctor reminded me that people get sinus infections and ear infections and there's really not much I can do about it.  All this a long story to explain that while I'm very excited to participate on the Relay this weekend, I'm no longer sure I would be able to walk the 3.1miles I was hoping to walk.  I'm sure if you are reading this you probably think I should be taking it easy anyway, but I had been looking forward to pushing my achy body to reach that goal, to feel like my efforts made a difference.

Feeling sorry for myself I logged into the Relay for Life site and just found out that I am one of the top 10 individual fundraisers for the event! I'm sure that will change between now and Saturday, but I am really pumped for this event! I can't wait to hear some of the cancer survivors that have become my friends in this crazy journey speak, walk the survivors lap with children, men, and women who have (or are fighting hard to) beat this disease, to see my husband walk the caregiver's lap, and to meet up with friends.

Check out my page and why I'm walking! And please wish me good luck!
Joelle's Relay for Life Page

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31 year old navigating life with husband and almost-2-years-old daughter :)