Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Here in DENVER!

I arrived yesterday afternoon in Denver. I had purposely picked a window seat when I bought my ticket, so I could see the mountains when we landed, but yesterday's haze hid the view.
I could see just the thinnest trace of the legendary peaks.

After a slight baggage guffaw(please note: gate checked baggage doesn't always appear miraculously where you expect it to post flight), I was on my way to Tracy's car, already packed with gear for the upcoming trip. Canoeing and Connection- 17 single cancer survivors venturing over 3 days on the Colorado River- is finally about to happen.

Lots to do before then. Today was a doozy. Tracy, Kat (one of the guides) and I just got back from a huge restaurant supply superstore. This place is only for the SUPER serious. Normally you can only get into this place if you own a restaurant---but Kat had a connection.

Let me tell you- this place makes Sam's Club look like a roadside stand. We are talking orange jackets that they supply you with so you can roll your industrial cart through the giant meat freezer. Here Kat and Tracy pose with only some of the stuff we then carted off and packed into Tracy's SUV. The final bill was probably about half what we would have paid in a typical grocery store.

Tracy and I just finished stuffing everything into every inch of freezer and fridge space she had and threw the rest in coolers filled with ice. Pheewww!
I guess it hit me that the trip, a plan that's been in the works for months, has finally arrived. Tracy is a total wonderwoman---I'm just trying to keep up with her. She dreamed up this program on a wing and a prayer and gathered all of us together to help her achieve it. We've got such a fun adventure ahead. Tomorrow we will put our canoes in a town called Loma. Our final destination is Westwater Utah. Below is a map of our basic route.

This is going to be it for a while...pretty hard to blog on the river, folks... but I will surely update when I'm back home safe and dry. Hope everyone is enjoying their own last "summer hurrahs."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Does illness make you tougher?

Read my subject title and answer the question posed in it to yourself...
Sure, the way it is written it almost tricks you to answer in the affirmative.
However I bet before I framed it that way you wouldn't have thought that.

Sure, people always told me I was "strong" for having fought for so many years...but physically strong? I learned to let go of that identity. It's only in the last few months that I have I been fighting for that physical strength again.

In my quest to run my first ever 5K my eyes have opened. There are so many of us who begin to realize that coming out of illness we want something more.
Many times that comes in the form of an athletic challenge.

I found out one of our i[2]yers here in Rochester Peter Kull has run two triathlons in the last month or so...and he is only a year out from diagnosis...GO PETER! And you read about Val in my last post.

But today I want to share with you a little bit about a fellow cancer comrade from Ithaca. Maki's story will blow you away... and I asked her if I could share it with you.
She is pictured here with her husband Jeff (they had just finished the Cayuga Lake Triathlon)

I first met Maki two years ago at our first Stupid Cancer boot camp in Syracuse (formerly called the OMG cancer conference). I hadn't gotten as much of a chance as I would have liked to talk with her and at the time she was going through treatment for lung cancer and slipped out of the conference early.

It wasn't until a few weeks ago while flipping through a fitness magazine when I saw her face, and read her name that I knew solidly she had beaten her disease beyond all expectations! As I read the article I immediately began to tear up. I was so incredibly in awe of her iron will and determination. And you will be too.

Whether it is possible or not is not what is important---whether you have a stellar time on the clock or a ribbon or a medal, or prance around with an elite crowd of competitors is insignificant. That is not the success story and that is not the point. Afterall- we can't all be Lances. It's not even about getting to the finish lane.

The thing about cancer or illness that can make you tough is that when you re-enter life you have to start seemingly all over to 'figure it out' again. You have to push yourself. It's when you push yourself and redefine who you are supposed to be--that's what takes your breath away. The path is often more winding and more challenging---but you keep keep believing.

When you get a second chance in life---it's hard to resist that urge to try. bet...pretty damn tough.