Happy Halloween!

Pink Ink…

I’m baaaack! Did you miss me? Thanks to Lori and Michele for holding it down!

It has been a busy month, and I have had the privilege of doing several breast awareness events, from interviews, to fashion shows. I’ve got a month’s worth of posts just from these experiences! Not to mention the Race for the Cure, renewing my vows, and my Mayo adventures!

But I wanted to put my toes figuratively back onto the Inkwell, with a light post! A brief trip down memory lane! Don’t worry; it’s not what you think!

A year ago today, I shaved my head! Yup, on Halloween, I gathered Big and Lil B together and before we went trick or treating, we busted out the clippers. It was actually a fun way to lose my hair. A year ago, I wrote that “it’s just hair”. I believe that even more now! My hair has been growing in since April. But instead of letting it grow back, I have been cutting it periodically. I actually miss having little to no hair! It is so much easier. People keep complementing me on how it’s growing back. I hate to disappoint them that there is a real chance that it will be gone again soon! Lil B in particular is begging me to grow it back. She wants to “play in it”. But alas, no! So here’s a quick look at my HAIRstory!

Day b/f chemo starts

Big B gets to work!

Done! Headed 2 trick or treat!

1st real debut of the baldy!

The other reason I have been a little distracted is that there are “things” growing in my lung. Originally, there was some discussion that they were just scar tissue spots. But last week we found out that that is not the case. It is indeed “something” because they are growing. Possibilities are lung cancer or some kind of master infection. Either way, my doc says,…”it’s something”. So tomorrow I head back to Mayo to get cut again.

Left side=now. Right = August

The big blob is my kidney…or liver next to my heart.(?!) (Hey! Don’t judge! I’m a lawyer! lol). Ignore the blob. Look at the little dots on the left, below.

The good thing is that I feel fine.

But, I am tired. I am tired of being cut. I am tired of waiting for the 15th shoe to fall. I am tired of having to share this kind of news. I am tired of being the poster girl for “My life is a Lifetime Movie”. But I guess this is what God’s plan is for me, to fight and share my story! Big B is floored. He had convinced himself that this what nothing because really, how much more could we endure? Plus, he kept saying I look better; I look healthy. For the 1st time, we have chosen not to tell Lil B. Our story is that it is just more testing. So technically, not a lie. When the time comes, and we have news, then we will share. I cry at that possibility.

People have begun to ask me again “what can I do?” Truthfully, there is nothing to do. Just pay attention to your own health. Yes, you may have done your mammo, but did you do a self-exam? Did you do 30 minutes of exercise today? Yes, I know. Life gets in the way. But take it from one whose life is hanging on precariously. You still have life. Make sure you value it.
Ok that’s my lecture for the day! I’m back and more posts to come! Don’t forget to check out http://www.pinkwellchick.com!

Happy Halloween!

Peace on October 21st

Pink Ink…
A 1st for today! A guest posting by one of my besties. A friend who has held my hand from afar. She gave me many things including my prized chemo bag and space to cry for my daughter. She has loved Lil B as only another Leo can! You never know how you affect someone’s life. I am honored to have her as a sister-friend! Enjoy!

Guest Ink…

Thirty two years ago today, when I was eight years old, my dear mother, Dorothy Louise Taylor Hall, died from colon cancer at the age of 40. I am now 40 and my oldest son is 8. And my dear friend PinkInk is battling breast cancer and fighting to ensure she will be around for her daughter, Lil B. It has all come around full circle, but not by coincidence. In the deepest place in my heart I know that it is by my mother’s angelic design. You see, I am Lil B. I see myself in her. I am the little girl who lost her mother to cancer. Although, unlike the “3 Bs”, we didn’t get to fight her battle – it was too sudden and short, a mere two weeks from detection to death, and then we were left shocked and shattered trying to pick up the pieces.

This day, October 21st, which has always been dark, sad, lonely and gray for me, is now a day a victory. Victory for PinkInk. See, PinkInk’s going to win. In fact, she’s already won. Because she is fighting it every single day with an open and accessible candor, a remarkable and natural sense of humor, by arming her sweet Lil B with information and thus interest and understanding so she too can participate in the fight. She is fighting by walking for Komen, being interviewed in magazines and on local news stations and most of all with her dialogue to all of us, her friends, family, followers and supporters, collectively her admirers, who she keeps posted and updated with this blog, quippy emails and texts and with her closest friends – long, deep and emotional conversations, e.g. “cancer real talk” as she has famously coined it.

During one (of many) of these conversations with PinkInk recently, we were talking about how it was for me to lose my mother. After all, I am what she DOES NOT want for Lil B. I am the reason she is fighting. So that Lil B will NOT be me. I’ve always loved Lil B dearly but this fight of PinkInk’s is to me, a fight for Lil B. I didn’t get to fight for my mother. My family kept the gravity of her illness from my brother and me because we were so young. I don’t blame him, especially now that I’m a parent. How do you tell your child that their mother is dying? I didn’t even know or fully understand how sick she was. In fact, she wrote me a letter from the hospital saying that she would be home in few days, not to worry, and that I should carry on my normal tasks of doing my homework and not arguing with my older brother (well 1 out of 2 ain’t bad!). A few days later she was gone. So when I see Lil B walking for the cause and doing super adorable promotional videos for Komen, my heart is warmed. I have joined this fight along with and for Lil B in my mother’s honor, for my sake and for Lil B’s benefit.

Lori flew in to help me celebrate kicking Cancer’s butt!

I once heard someone say that if there’s day that you always dread when it comes every year because of a death, tragedy or terrible memory, you should actively seek out ways to do things on that day to create new and positive memories so that bad ones don’t always incarcerate you. So today, on October 21st, I claim victory. Not loss. Victory for PinkInk, for Lil B, for myself and for all the little girls whose moms are battling or lost their battles to cancer. And for the moms, God bless their brave souls, especially my dear PinkInk. YOU fight on, since my mother could not, so that you can win, Lil B can win and I can win. This is a new day. I won’t cry for the loss of my mother (even though I cried therapeutic buckets writing this), I will rejoice in the victory that we are claiming. The victory here is PinkInk’s fight – the educating of others, the passionate outreach to everyone, the determination, the 31 days of wearing pink, the blogging, the recording of videos, the tweeting, the Instagram pics of the day, “being on her grind” as she so regularly refers to the sum total. Making a difference – a real difference – by turning the pink ribbon into a tapestry, a line, which others can easily access, grab a hold of, and follow the ride meaningfully into the depths of their hearts. Thank you PinkInk.

Your battle has given me something I never ever dreamed possible… peace on October 21st.

With a Strong Voice

red ink…

Earlier this week I heard an interview with a TV news anchor who talked about her double mastectomy in what I thought at the time were the starkest terms. She said “Look, I loved my breasts, they were a part of me growing into a woman and nursing my children, until they tried to kill me, and then they had to go…”

Now that, it struck me, is the voice of a survivor! I was honored to be in the presence of thousands of them today at the 20th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Phoenix, each with their own story – each with their own unique voice.

Standing at the kickoff at sunrise this morning listening to Pink ink share her story as one of the Grand Marshall’s of the race, I was hearing Beyonce’s “I’m a survivor…I’m not gon’ give up…” in my head. (I’m a B fan. Her music is my “Rocky” inspiration when I run.) Barb was loud and strong today as she looked this damned disease in the face and in her own way said a resounding “NO!” for every one of the survivors gathered – no, they would not stop fighting, no they would not lay down or stay down, no they would not stop living, and loving and smiling and laughing and sharing and believing in their power to find a cure – with their resolve to BE THE CURE.

The faces I looked into were old and young, male and female, speaking many different languages, pushing strollers, and walking with canes all into the Arizona sun with the mountains at their back. I felt truly hopeful as we all joined forces with survivors to start the walk. A nice surprise was when we were joined by Miss Black Arizona, an undergraduate journalism major at Arizona State University, who learned about Team Pinkwell Chick online and just wanted to be a part of us!

It was especially great for me to match faces with the now familiar voices of people who have become family on team Pinkwell Chick this year. I will always be grateful to Barb’s cancer mentor Tracey who has been there every step of the way and snuck a call post-op just to let her hear my voice. Embracing her and her family, and walking together in the race, made the occasion even more special.

Listening on as Barb and Lil B were interviewed by Channel 12 near the finish line, and hearing both of them talk eloquently about their ongoing commitment to breast cancer awareness dating back well before Barb’s diagnosis (this was their 10th race together), I knew that no matter how tough this year has been (and it has been tough), they are tougher! I love that they have not been silenced by this enemy, but their voices have grown stronger. Pink ink really has become kind of a local celebrity’s with glossy spreads in magazines, tv interviews and fashion shows all in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer.

We were all exhausted afterwards, especially Pink Ink who looked like she had finally exhaled, and retired 16 strong to LoLo’s for some chicken and waffles before the members of Team Pinkwell Chick started our respective journeys home.

As we were settling up, an older lady – her name was Millie and she was there in the restaurant with just her husband – came up to me noticing my shirt and our crowd. I told her that we were there to support my lil sis who had been diagnosed a year before. She told me that she had been diagnosed last year too and had been through surgery to remove multiple lymph nodes that had left her with swelling in one arm that she was still trying to resolve, but “Hey” Millie said with a big smile and strong voice, “I’m still here…”

You sure are Millie, and so is my girl!

Out In Front

Red ink…

Running is my new favorite form of exercise, and most of the time, it’s a good thing…

…Picture this…

Aging 5K runner heads to the gym to do something after sitting still for days following a back injury borne of rigorously lifting laundry baskets. (After this last birthday it seems that doing the simplest things can result in injury. Is this what getting older is like?? Another post…). One of the principles I live by (and Pink ink shares – recall the planning of outfits before chemo), shallow as it is, is that if I look better, I’ll feel better. So I head to the gym in matching Lucy workout gear complete with headband and cute gym shoes, I wasn’t at all sure that I could run given my back issues but I was determined to get moving even if I had to walk around the track. Once I got there and stretched a bit, I decided to try a run and, remarkably, it didn’t bother my back at all so I kept going albeit slowly after a sedentary week or so, After the first mile, I resolved that I could keep going for afew more laps especially at this pace, That’s when it happened…I spotted another jogger running at a steady enough pace who was probably not much older then I am, and I decided to keep pace with her. No problem right? Well as it turns out this runner was glancing sideways at me as well. Who knows what was going through her head, but she decided to speed up after a few side eyes. As I looked at her in her decidedly unfashionable gear, I picked up my pace as well, I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but I ended up determined to beat her, not just to keep up with her! By the end of my second mile (yes, I ran two miles despite barely being able to walk into the gym!) I was In a full out sprint – out in front of my nemesis – an older, frumpier version of myself! I was breathless but satisfied.

It struck me how crazy this all was, and I had to laugh to myself as I headed to the showers and then to a massage to apologize to my body for putting it through this ordeal.

As I prepare to join Barb and so many of her friends from all over the country and especially right here in Phoenix in the 20th Annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Phoenix tomorrow morning, it strikes me that my girl Pink Ink has been in the race of her life for the past year, that she has long passed the two mile mark, and while the finish line is still elusive, in my experience there is nothing like the joy of the second wind that you get when you realize that you can keep going, that the race is not over for you, and that you might have just have hit your stride. As I watched Pink Ink tonight reveling in the joy of bringing together so many for such a cause as this, I know that she is breathless as I was when I glanced to the side at the embodiment of my fears, but she has also strengthened her resolve to outrun it! You go . . .and I’ll be right there with you (at 6:00 in the morning!)…We all will!


Pink Ink…

Anybody can make do when things are flush. Loyalty is the thing that will help you through the bad times.
-J. McCann

We are only in the 2nd week of breast cancer awareness month, and I already feel exhausted! Between meetings, and awareness “parties”, fashion shows, and all things PINK, I have been running. There is so much to share that I don’t know where to begin. Instead, I’ve decided to take an editorial break.

For the past few days, everywhere I turn there are headlines on the Nikki Minaj v. Mariah Carey epic battle on American Idol. Lil B and her friends are even discussing it at school. (Again, reminder that she doesn’t even watch American Idol.) Yesterday, she asked me why this was such big news and did I believe it was “real”. I must say, as always, she gave me pause. How to answer? I told her that it was probably a little bit of both. I have no doubt there is “beef” between the two. They are each superstars battling for another 15 minutes. But I also think they both “put on ” a bit, (translation: create drama) and the producers are thrilled that it’s bringing this kind of publicity.

I told Lil B that unfortunately, seeing women fight each other, and especially black women, makes for good TV. How else to explain the ratings of Basketball Wives, and the Real Housewives of…anywhere? I quickly identified my teaching moment and forged ahead. My message? There are far more examples of women coming together to help each other, to support each other, and not hurt each. I told her to just look around.

Today I highlight and thank a few women, for fighting against the stereotype just in the last 2 weeks.

• This past Saturday was the Komen Race for the Cure in Charlotte. Thank you Eboni for being Captain of Team Pinkwellchick! My friend has been supportive in so many ways! Tweeting and Facebooking breast cancer info, soliciting monetary support for the Race, and constantly sending me words of encouragement across the miles.

• So much has been written about the state of black sororities, and their relevance. Thank you Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., (Gamma Chi chapter) for unending support. My true crew has come together and helped me work on my intellectual property endeavors, providing creative, legal, technical and financial support. Thank you to my pledge sister, who hopped on a plane to see me after surgery, and to support me as I gave my speech.

• Thanks to the Survivors I have met over the last 2 weeks! Listening to other stories of survival has helped with healing. Having a safe place to share fears, laugh about losing hair…or breasts, and comparing medicines, dreams, and goals is invaluable.

• Thanks to Jen, who just an hour ago spilled tears and laughter over life’s joys and challenges, with me over lunch.

• Thanks to my Spa Crew. You know who you are, and why.

• Thanks to ALL the women in my life, who have proven that we are better than what we see on TV, and social media. Thanks for showing my daughter that women can, and do get along, love and support each other in times of crisis, and beyond.

Thanks for disproving the…headline.

Stay tuned, AGAIN

Pink Ink…

Bra with message of Love from Link Sisters

Ok, you know what today is! It’s the 1st day of October, and the kickoff of Breast Cancer Awareness month!

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good after a very busy weekend. Lil B asked me, why I was so excited about this day. I had to stop a moment and think. I already talk about breast health. Why DOES today seem different? I think b/c it is one more milestone I have crossed. I made it to my 1st October after diagnosis. But more important, I get to spend the next month talking about breast cancer without feeling guilty! Without feeling like I am beating folks over the head with info. I have free reign for a month!

This next month is dedicated to all the men and women we have lost to breast cancer. It is dedicated to all my friends and family who supported me this last year. It is also dedicated to all the women who still have not gotten a mammogram, done a self exam, or continue to ignore their risk factors. This month I promise to share even more info, ask questions, share funny moments, and force you to “dig deep” with me. It will not always be pretty. But Life in the Cancer Lane never is!

Don’t forget to check out pinkwellchick.com

So buckle up, wear pink, and…, stay tuned, AGAIN!