Oh What A Night!

red ink…

imageArriving to a receiving line of cameras flashing, smiling faces with headsets on, pink ink had her red carpet moment. At last! Once inside the door of the theatre, a special center seat awaited her where she was surrounded by love in every seat and on every side. The place was packed. Pink ink’s play “Life in the Cancer Lane” debuted last night in Phoenix and she was there to see it all. Now let’s be clear, this was no small feat. She left the hospital yesterday morning, rested for a short while, and rallied to get herself up and ready for her big night! So many of us worried about whether it would be too much for her to make it out because she was still weak following her hospital stay, but she, as always, was determined. The night before, she basically threatened the nurse who was administering her night medications saying “you’re NOT going to stop me from going to my play!” I think the lady was a little scared honestly. Lol! Pink ink’s play has been a labor of love. She has poured her soul and her journey into writing this wonderful series of vingettes that chronicles, not only her journey, but that of many other breast cancer survivors. It’s real talk, full of insightful advice for anyone going through this themselves or with someone they love. She hit every topic imaginable from the expected “diagnosis” and “chemo” to the more sensitive like “hair,” “sex,” and “crazy-ish people say.” I laughed out loud and cried unconsolably recognizing some of our conversations in the play, all within the span of a couple of hours. For me and everyone in the room, it made us think about the effects that breast cancer has on everyone it touches. She took the task of telling this story more seriously than almost anything else I’ve ever seen her do. She was disciplined and precise about her writing process, and deliberate about soliciting and receiving feedback. I don’t know that people, including me, understood how serious she was about this at first, but her commitment made each of us get on board, one by one, so that we became as invested in her achieving her vision as she was. She inspired me and so many others (We started writing at the same time and my book still hasn’t been published BTW.) She wanted to be heard because she had something important to share – and last night all ears were open. There are a whole host of people to acknowledge – to be clear, I don’t know everyone. Just know, whoever you are, that I’m certain that pink ink is eternally grateful for everything, from the smallest thing to the most monumental, to make her dream a reality … from her girls in Phoenix who had the idea to put up the show, secured the backing for the show (Thank you Cox Communications), and laid out the beautiful reception, to those who recorded every bit of revised dialogue and stage direction to those who assisted with props to the unseen narrators, to those who traveled from near and far to fill the house, to her husband who gave her introduction in her stead, and to everyone who inspired one of the monologues. It was a beautiful night. At the end of the night, she had just enough energy to spare to spend a little bit of time at the reception to take photos with the “cast” – those in the play and the rest of us who are in her much larger “supporting cast.” Everyone wanted her to know that they were there to be a part of her vision, and by the looks on every face – we were all SO proud of her. Pink Ink you made your mark! My mother always said that she wanted to “receive her flowers while she could still smell them.” Just before leaving the reception, someone walked up to pink ink and put a single pink rose in her hands. She got into the car, exhausted, and on the way home and held that flower in her lap, and no doubt, took in the scent of sweet success. Now on the to book and the movie!

image

Have you had yours?

SONY DSCred ink. . .

Talked to pink ink today and promised I’d post.   With much hesitation, I went to have my annual mammogram today.  It was clear and  I am truly grateful.   Honestly,  given all that has happened to Pink Ink, I was scared to go in and delayed my appointment until after my birthday.   My breasts are lumpy (benign fibrocystic my doctor tells me), and I had to have a biopsy 3 years ago, so I worry maybe more than most.  Pink ink has shown me how your life can change in an instant.   I was just about in full out panic (kind of like the “turbulence on the plane” panic that pink ink and I share) when I reminded myself about the other valuable lessons that pink ink and others have taught me . . .  Lessons about the importance of early detection and how finding out early can extend and save your life.   So I put on my pretty pink bra and matching big girl panties and headed off to my mammogram.  Not knowing is not caring for myself, or my husband or my kids.   I had to do this.   My doctor’s office makes this the best experience possible, but at the end of the day, there you are boobs out in a cool room being smashed to a pulp.   The worst part was waiting for my doctor to read the films and give me the okay to get dressed and come to see her.   I tried to look at magazines, got a cup of tea, and tried to be calmed by the office fountain.  None of it worked.  I exhaled when she came in and told me that I could get dressed.   I knew the routine.   I knew then that I was o.k. today.  I thanked God and posted on Facebook to remind people to get their mammos no matter how scared they are.  As I said there, reach out to me if you’re scared!   Today I celebrate, and  I won’t stop touching these tatas during my regular self-exams, which are just as important (remember pink ink found her lump herself after having a clear mammogram months before)!   Don’t wait another day…make your appointment and by all means, regularly touch your tatas!   We owe it to Pink Ink and to all the survivors out there.  Make it happen!

What did YOU do?

Pink Ink…

 
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is officially over! What did you do? Did you wear pink? Did you walk a Race? Buy a product? Get a mammogram? Nothing? One of the things I did was “PinkItOut” for 31 days. Yes, I wore pink for 31 days!


Some people said, “We get it. You had breast cancer. “ Others said “Oh, that’s cute.” But no one asked me “Why?” Yes, I am a Survivor and yes, pink IS cute. But that’s not why I did it. This past February, Star Jones inspired me. You see, she wore red for a month as a way to promote heart health after she had heart surgery. “I learned late in life that my heart health is my greatest asset.” she said when asked why it was important to her. Each day that she wore red, it prompted someone to ask her about it, or comment on it. She used her celebrity for good! As an American Heart Association Ambassador, I knew about National Wear Red Day. But I loved that her simple act of wearing red created dialog!


Could I do the same thing? Given that none of my friends asked me why I was rocking pink for a month, one could argue that I was not effective. After all, I am no celebrity. My friends checked Instagram just to see if I could keep it up. Again, they thought, “Ok, we get it! You have breast cancer! “ But even if no one “got it”, I “got it”. I know breast health is a lifestyle, not just a month. Choosing something pink EVERY DAY, forced me to take action. The small action of choosing something pink, led me to think about breast health and awareness the moment I got up! The small step of choosing pink motivated me each and every day to think, talk, tweet, and write about breast health. (For all 31 days, check out “pinkwellchick” on Instagram!)


Am I glad I am done wearing pink for a few days? Yes! (I’m headed to Mayo in sweats!) But I am even stronger in my belief that breast health is more than a month. It is a…lifestyle!

 
What did YOU do?

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!

MEDICAL MINUTE:
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!

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!

Headline

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.

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