Follow Up With My Surgeon

I got pretty much the best I could hope to hear last Friday in my follow-up appointment. Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 6.49.48 PMI did ask Bryan if he thought there was any chance that Dr. El-Tamer would tell me this was all a big mistake and there was actually nothing wrong with me. Bryan said not a chance in hell. Mass was 1 cm and my surgeon said he got clean margins. Very minimal (a trace he said) in one node which he removed, but that makes it stage 2. That’s the good news.  It is small and only present in one lymph node.

The bad news is it is high grade and necrotic. This means it is growing fast. As explained to me, the best course is to treat this with chemotherapy. Since it is growing fast it tends to respond better. If the tumor was limited to the breast, and not aggressive or invasive just radiation after surgery would have been proposed.

So . . . how do I feel?  Except for the ugly scars, I still don’t feel like someone with cancer.

I am healing well but a slight allergic reaction to the stitches. That should be fine. I can swim and I can bike outside but I can’t run for about two more months. No bouncing activities because of the surgery. I can do pretty much anything else except lay on my stomach. I meet with the chemotherapy oncologist on Thursday, April 27 and the radiation oncologist on Monday, May 1st.

My feelings — this Thursday is when the shit hits the fan — a treatment plan will be reassuring on one hand but scary on the other.  And it means this is all real.

Here’s what I woke up to this morning.  Thank you Erin, you made me cry.  But it in a good way!

“Today, I race the first of many races for my friend, Moira Easton Horan, since she is busy beating cancer! The red flower represents strength, and she is one of the strongest women I know! Your flower is coming, Moira! I picked it up yesterday 🙂
#teamcoeur2017 #hardcoeur #cancersucks
— with Moira Easton Horan.”

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Thank you all so much, please keep the thoughts and prayers coming 💕💕

 

 

The Boston Marathon 2017

Four years ago today I ran my third Boston Marathon and was blessed to be able to finish.

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I qualified again and ran Boston in 2014 and in 2016 and was supposed to be running it for the sixth time this year.  Instead, this Monday I will be in my surgeon’s office for my follow-up appointment and hope to find out more about what is to come for me and my treatment plan.

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I’ve been thinking all week about so many of my friends and teammates from the Jersey Girls StayStrong Multisport Club, my Coeur Sports Team and my other fellow Newton Running Team members.  And truth be told, right now I’m feeling a little sorry for myself.  But, I will be thinking of each one of you on Monday and wishing that I was out there running with you.  If it’s your first, or your fifth or your twentieth — soak in each and every moment of it.  I love the excitement of Boylston Street in the days leading up to the race.  I love the energy at the race expo and number pickup and seeing friends from all over the world.  I love everything involved in Marathon Monday . . . . . getting to the start, hanging out in the athlete village waiting for my wave to line up, and running every step of the way.  Especially after the bombing in 2013 I made sure to look in the faces of the spectators who still come out and cheer for us, whether we were in the first wave or the last wave.  I love the signs and the families, the kids, the senior citizens, the college students and the music.  I even love the pain of the hills, and actually look forward to Heartbreak Hill.  Because it meant the hard part was behind me and I could look forward to the firehouse where my husband always watched for me at the window, and then the turn onto Boylston Street and that stretch to the finish line.

I wish each and every one of you the best day you can have.  I have one small favor to ask if you are running — when it gets hard, run just a little bit of it for me and I’ll do my best to get you to the finish!  902005_10152760851595521_1103218482_o

 

Surgery is Behind Me and Other Good News

The really good news came on Thursday morning — my genetic testing came back negative!  This was something that was building inside me each day since the test.  I was convinced the test would come back positive and I would have to make some hard decisions on surgery which would be much more serious than the planned lumpectomy and also involve a much longer recovery process.  My mother died of breast cancer in 1977, she battled for 10 years and was 53 when she died.  Horrific traffic on Thursday morning made it likely that I was going to be late for my first appointment of the day with my genetic counselor so I called her.  When she said “don’t worry about it — our appointment won’t be very long” I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of me.  We changed that appointment to later this week to discuss further but I don’t have any of the genes and that means neither does my daughter.

The rest of the day’s appointments — all part of my “new normal” — included a lot of mammography pics and needle pokes and even a card to show security if I get stopped at a bridge or tunnel or airport — seems I was radioactive for a few days. IMG_3049
With the genetic issue taken off the table and seeing so many children’s beds and stretchers in the halls really made what I’m going through feel way less overwhelming.  One of my nurses recognized me and we went on to discuss triathlon, she’s done quite a few triathlons herself.

Friday morning arrived all too quickly.  I carefully drank the 12 ounces of liquid I was allowed which meant one glass of water and one small cup of coffee.  Off to the MSK Josie Robertson Surgery Center for my 8:45 AM scheduled arrival time. (I’m not dyslexic but I keep seeing this as “JSRC”).  This almost felt like checking into a hotel — beautiful facility and extremely gracious staff.  My pre-op room was on the corner with huge windows overlooking the East River and the 59th Street Bridge.  Brought back so many good memories of being part of the SEA Paddle around Manhattan on my stand-up paddle board and running over that bridge many times in the NYC Marathon.    I mentioned something about the SEA Paddle to my nurses and suggested they should check the date for this year and watch for the paddlers go by.  Seemed one of the nurses had seen it from her apartment and was familiar with the event.  Well, one thing led to another and it turned out they both hope to do a triathlon one day.  I introduced them to the Women for Tri Facebook group and we had a great time talking about how to get ready to get to that start line.  All of this meant the time passed very quickly and it was time for me to walk to the operating room.

Wow, it seemed to me there must be several people who would be getting operated on in that room — it was huge!  So many people and machines.  Only one place for someone to lay down though.  I was greeted so warmly by my surgeon, Dr. Mahmoud El-Tamir.  He asked how I felt and when I said I was relieved after the genetic testing results he said he was never worried about them.  I hope he’s right about everything.  I remember sitting down, being told I was getting something to help me relax and the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room.  IMG_3060

I was told that I could “resume normal activity” in 24 hours, among my other discharge instructions.  That really made me laugh and I tried to explain what my previous “normal” activity was.  She modified that with “use your judgment and don’t push”.  I specifically asked about swimming and she said yes.

My surgery started at 10:15 AM, by 12:35 I was starting to be discharged and we were in the car driving home at 1:15 PM the same day.

Saturday was spent mostly at home relaxing and catching up with some friends and family.  I took a very short and slow swim on Sunday but decided against swimming today.  I got a call from my surgeon’s office this morning.  She asked if I was doing my exercises and I said that I had taken a short swim yesterday and she stopped me and said absolutely no swimming till after my April 17 follow-up appointment with my surgeon.  My prescribed exercise routine includes deep breathing, shoulder shrugs and reaching my arms straight up.  I’ve done them a couple of times today with no problem.   In addition to some easy spinning on the stationary bike and some walking on the treadmill.

Among the best advice I’ve gotten is from my friend, Kyrsten.  Make myself a training plan for my recovery.  Work less.  Sleep more.  Really focus on my eating.  Deep breathing, shoulder shrugs and arm reaches.  And bide my time till my April 17th appointment with my surgeon and then my April 27 appointment with my oncologist.  She is a specialist in the wild card of the “triple negative” part of my diagnosis.  I’m trying not to read too much online about treatment before my appointment with Dr. Tiffany Traina.  It’s her specialty and I can’t imagine I’m going to find out more than she can tell me by searching online.    And all these things are hard to accept as part of my vocabulary.  Part of the “new normal”.

I feel like this is a very boring post but I wanted to bring anyone who’s interested up to date with what’s going on.    Let’s get from here to April 17 with as much good energy and healing as I can muster.

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Reality Hits. Hard

So, as any of you who are friends with me on Facebook or Instagram know, this has been an amazing week of vacation for my family and me in the US and British Virgin Islands.  And I’m sure many of you have also figured out it has allowed me to have a certain amount of detachment from my diagnosis and what lies ahead.  This all couldn’t be as serious as the little bit of reading I’ve done online, could it?  I still feel great, I can hike. I can run, I can swim.  I can even save 78 year old Dottie from Southampton, who cramped and couldn’t handle the wind on her standup paddleboard.   I pushed her and her board for a good 500 yards, an unplanned anaerobic addition to my second swim of the day. She was grateful and lovely, and I was happy to help. So really, how bad could this be? A mistake maybe?

I had my Team Coeur kit for 2017 with me and thought about wearing it, but felt that my “Heart and Courage” kit was appropriate for my last run before starting the attack on the unwelcome parasite who’s inhabiting space in my body. 


Well, lets fast forward through the rest of the day and get to the airport the next afternoon. Our flight is delayed, we are sitting at a very crowded bar having a drink that I shouldn’t be having. My phone rings, I look and recognize the Memorial Sloan Kettering exchange so I answer. It’s a doctor who asks if I’d be part of a study of women with triple negative breast cancer. He begins to explain the difficulties in treating triple negative and how this will all be part of my pre surgical and surgical procedure. And I cut off the conversation and ask that he email me the information because I just can’t process it. And all of a sudden it hits me hard, in the middle of this crowded airport in the tropics, that I have cancer. And I have tests scheduled for tomorrow. And a surgery scheduled for Friday. And one way or the other, the course of my life has changed. And the course of treatment is going to suck. And even my surgery could become much more radical than planned at this moment. 

How do I feel about possibly needing a double mastectomy? How do I feel about losing my hair? How do I feel about chemotheapy, filling my body with poison? Radiation? All I know about radiation is my mother had burns on her back from radiation. I know I don’t want to leave my husband, or my daughter, or the grandchildren I hope to have one day. I don’t have any answers, or any control over what’s to come.  

But, just like Scarlet O’Hara, who I’ve identified with my whole life . . . tomorrow’s another day. And I just said to my husband, maybe I can set my sites on doing the Atlantic City Triathlon?  Even if I’m dead last in the sprint, it’s a start on the road back. I’m hoping DelMo can find room for a last minute entry?  I just need to get through what’s ahead.

Checking In

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Our family vacation to St. John was scheduled randomly and quite a few months ago.  I am now even more certain that there really are no coincidences.  This trip couldn’t have come at a better time.

There is so much that I am learning and understanding and accepting about my family.  First off — my daughter Mary.  She has stepped up and taken charge of so much on this trip.  I’m so proud when I look at her and see the beautiful woman she has become.  And, grateful for the meals and such that she has put together for us.  She’s done an outstanding job and I’m gratefully taking second chair.

Next up, my son-in-law Ryan.  I’m used to being the one in charge.  Doing the research  Deciding on the next day’s adventure.  I’m grateful to pass the mantle to him.  He has made this an amazing trip.  He’s handled the logistics and the research and the driving and so much more.  Each day has been better than the last.  And once again I’m happy to take the back seat.

And my husband Bryan . . . . . what can I possibly say.  I look around each day and say thank you to him for the life we have.  Those of you who have known us for a long time will appreciate this the most — we are more blessed than I can possibly put in words.

I can’t say that I have ever “forgotten” what lies ahead but hours go by here that allow me to enjoy just living in the moment and soaking in the beauty around us.  Reality will be here soon.

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Saturday Happenings and Random Thoughts

Swam my last Saturday morning masters for a while.  I’ll be back as soon as I can, but I know it’s going to be a long road back, especially getting to the pace and lane I’ve been swimming in.  I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am, I’m going to have to work twice as hard to get back.

Next up was a short outside ride, it will be a while before I’m doing any outside rides again.  And I was reminded why the surgeon said I should stay away from road riding or even running outdoors for a while.  While turning around on a cul de sac I was literally tackled from behind by a loose dog that I didn’t even see was loose.  Well, he wasn’t loose when we passed him, he was being held by his owner.  The dog wasn’t struggling to get away or barking or anything that would have given me an idea I should be worried.  Next thing I knew, a hard strike to the back wheel and down I went, in what felt like slow motion.  That happened at the same time I heard my friend Ben saying something about stopping for a dog.  He watched it all from behind.  I only landed on my knee.  No damage to my bike or my new Coeur Sports bib shorts thankfully!  It is the first time I wore them.  PS — I absolutely love them.  Very comfy, not too bulky of a chamois and the side zip on the leg is a bonus for sure.

Some other very random reasons why everything is going to be okay and a few other somewhat illogical thoughts.

  1.  I finally have Enve race wheels.  I’ve ridden them just a few times in training.  I still need to use them in a race.
  2. I just got my Global Entry Number, it cost $100 and is good for five years.  I need to use it.
  3. I have an awful lot of nice clothes, both workout and “regular” that I need to wear more.
  4. I already paid in full for my premium share of vegetables for the upcoming season from Honeybrook Organic Farms.  I need to be able to cook and eat them.
  5. I almost bought a really cute new bathing suit this week for our vacation.  I tried it on and realized that I may want to wait till after my surgery.  Not that I’m worried about showing a scar.   I just probably won’t want to be exposing it to the sun, at least this year.
  6. I’m still fretting over first world problems.  I’m worried that I won’t be able to go to my gym since I’ll be at a high risk for infection.  Someone else I know with cancer is worried because if he can’t work it will be a struggle to support his family.

It’s a Good Thing I’m Good at “GSD”

I’m on a couple of sub-committees as part of the Women for Tri Board, we often refer to “GSD”.  (Get shit done!)  Well, it’s a good thing I’m good at it because yesterday’s 4:00 PM phone call from Memorial Sloan Kettering (from now on referred to as MSK)  to set up my genetic counseling appointment certainly took some quick action on my part to make it happen and get results before my surgery.  I have a pretty booked schedule between now and leaving for St. John’s and then my surgery, and I didn’t factor in another trip to NYC.
MSK:  “We are calling you to set up your appointment to discuss your genetic testing”
Me:  “Okay, can you do it when I come into NYC on April 6 for my pre-op stuff?”
MSK:  “Sure, but it takes about two weeks to get the results.”
Me:  “Okay, so let’s schedule it for April 6.”
And I continued with my pre-prom pedicure appointment with my niece.

But, then I started thinking about.  And made a quick phone call back to MSK.
Me:  “So, if I wait to do the testing until the day before my surgery I won’t have the opportunity to make a decision about what type of surgery I have.  And if it comes back that I have the “gene” and would then decide to get a double mastectomy it would mean a second surgery.”
MSK:  “Yes.”
Me:  “Okay, can I come in tomorrow?”
MSK:  “Yes.”
So there you go, everything else I had planned for today out the window.

Got home last night and found an awesome hoodie and note on my front porch.  I followed Daphne’s journey and rejoiced in her remission.  She was diagnosed at 12 years old with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 2 A.   Treated at CHOP, chemo and radiation @ U PENN. In remission since November of 2016.  She’s now in high school.  If she did it I can do this too!

One priority I’m not letting go of is my morning workouts.  My friend Ben is still training for IRONMAN Lake Placid so we met at 7 AM for his 2,500 yard swim workout.  I still don’t swim like someone with cancer.  That day will come soon enough

I will keep the long version of the genetic counseling and testing to myself for the moment but it’s something I’m glad I’m able to do, not just for myself but for my daughter and my nieces and their future health  I didn’t really have many questions until I have results.  I did leave with information to read and some resources other than “Dr. Google”.

My laugh out loud moment for today is courtesy of my long time friend and my coach for many years, Brian Shea:  “I heard some news today about this friend of mine w/ a little fight on her hands.  So I say… ‘anyone who’s spent a night in the SkyTop  Lodge, can beat pretty much anything’ 😜”

 

We Have a Plan

Okay, there is the start of a schedule.  I guess it’s going to take the place of my training plan for now.  I worked out this morning, made sure to swim and run since I didn’t know what today would bring and if either of those two things would be restricted (they aren’t, for now).  I thought a few times while I was swimming this morning that I don’t feel like someone with cancer.  I don’t swim or run like someone with cancer.  But, guess what?  I have cancer.  And that hit me hard.  Especially when we entered the building with this sign outside.

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Okay so first off what a beautiful facility and what kind and caring employees but really?  There are really this many people in the NYC vicinity with cancer????  Wow.  So — paperwork, forms, signatures, insurance cards, photo ID, etc.  Finally, in a room with a nurse, then a doctor.  For the first time, I met Dr. Mohamed El-Tamer. He has come highly recommended from two friends who have undergone extensive breast cancer issues.  Right now the conversation, examination, etc. are all a bit of a blur but here’s the bottom line.  It’s still cancer.  It’s still invasive ductal carcinoma.  It’s stage one, that’s new news.  Although they still need to perform an injection of dye before surgery he is pretty confident there is no node involvement.  I will need both chemotherapy and radiation after.  I will lose my hair.  Crap, I like my hair!  He said it will grow back better.  I wonder if it will still be grey, I mean blonde?
So here’s the new schedule:  Monday, March 27 is pre-op testing at the Sloan Kettering satellite facility in Middletown NJ.  Family vacation in St. John’s from March 28 until April 5th.  Dr El-Tamer said that it is absolutely fine!  April 6th, pre-op prep in NYC.  April 7th, lumpectomy.  April 17, post op follow up.  April 27, consult with oncologists.  3 to 4 months of chemotherapy and radiology to follow.  Twice a week.  When I explained my plans for the season the surgeon looked at me very calmly and said: “not this year”.  My response?   “These weren’t my firsts and they won’t be my last”.

According to the doctor, I will have very few limitations from surgery.  Especially about working out.  I have a feeling that the chemo may not be so forgiving but, we shall see.  I gotta take this one day at a time.

Some questions answered.  About 25% of women with breast cancer have this type of cancer.  After 5 years if it doesn’t come back I’m good. Five years is a long time.  They will do genomic testing since my mother died from breast cancer.

Every message I’ve received over the last week and especially today has meant so much to me.  Really.  A few comments made me laugh out loud.  A few made me smile about good memories.  And quite a few made me tear up.   I love my family, I love my friends.  I love and count on my Jersey Girls and my Coeur team.   You guys really are the best!    This truly sucks.  But, for some reason, I still feel like I’m blessed.

Dear cancer, you were not invited.

Dear cancer, you were not invited.  Now please fuck off.  Cheers, Moira

I’ve been talking about getting back to blogging.  This isn’t what I wanted to write about.

It has been a rocky few weeks for me.  Starting with the hugely annoying undertaking of finding a place somewhat locally to get a routine mammogram.  I had a place I went to every year with my aunt but she moved away and the facility closed.  I found another place eventually and had a bit of a scare.  A follow-up sonogram, a stressful few weeks and then a needle biopsy returned the results of “just a cyst”. When I called to go back a year later I found they no longer took my insurance and a few more calls turned up nothing.  I put it on the back burner.  For another year.

I’ve been systematically cleaning out some hidden corners, drawers and piles around my house and while sorting out a stack of papers I had been avoiding I found my old mammography prescription.  I literally spent two and a half days on the phone with my insurance company and calling radiology facilities and finally found a community health facility in Lakewood that accepted my insurance.  I called my ob/gyn’s office to get a new prescription and also scheduled a regular checkup with him.

My routine mammography was scheduled for Thursday, March 2nd.  A very nice facility with a lovely technician who informed me that if there was a need for anything beyond routine I’d need to follow up at another facility.  Oh, great!

Dr. Kaufman called me a week later, on Thursday, March 9th.  I needed to go for a sonogram.  This time I didn’t even make any more calls to local facilities.  My next option was expanding the search to New York — first Staten Island and then Brooklyn.  Staten Island facilities gave me appointments over a week later.  I found a place in Brooklyn, right over the Verrazano Bridge that had an appointment available on Monday, March 13.  Not wanting to delay and torture myself mentally I grabbed that appointment, went to Chemed in Lakewood to pick up my images, told Bryan what was going on and that I needed him to take me to Brooklyn on Monday.  Anyone familiar with the 5 boroughs knows that parking is challenging at best.  I was at Bay Ridge Medical Imaging from 9:30 AM till 1:30 PM and guess what, Bryan never found a parking spot.

I was starting to feel a bit uneasy and explained to the office staff why I came almost 60 miles from New Jersey and received a lot of insurance related sympathy.  They couldn’t have been nicer and they were in constant communication with Dr. Kaufman to get the necessary prescriptions for first a sonogram and then a needle biopsy.  I asked the doctor at the facility what the chances of it being a cyst again was and she very matter of factly informed me that it was not a cyst and that it would need to come out.  This was a much more painful and lengthy needle biopsy than the last one, and the technician informed me that there were now “titanic” clips inserted to guide what needed to be removed.  I kind of figured she actually meant “titanium” (and thought about my titanium Litespeed Saber) and it almost made me laugh but I actually started to feel even more uneasy.    The office promised me that the samples would get out to the lab that same day, but it could be Friday before I heard anything.

Since I knew I would have to have some sort of surgery I called a friend who has battled with breast cancer and found out she had recommendations from her own personal experience at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC.  I called the offices, checked their website and found the best possible information — they are preferred providers for our insurances and any doctor connected with the facility also accepts the same insurances.  I wrote down the information for when I had something to call about.

I still hadn’t heard anything by Thursday and I finally just couldn’t stand the waiting and called Dr. Kaufman’s office.  Nope, they had nothing and suggested I check the radiology facility.  I called them — they had nothing and it said it could be the following week before I heard.  Oh great!

I was home on Friday afternoon, hoping for a call from someone but also dreading a call.  I sent Bryan off to the Shillelagh Club St. Patrick’s Day party while I finished up making some Irish Soda Bread I promised to bring.  At 2:15 I saw a Red Bank number calling on my cell phone.  It was Dr. Kaufman.  I grabbed a pen and paper.  He said I’m sorry to make this call but I know you are anxious.  “It is cancer.  You have invasive ductal carcinoma.  You will need a surgeon and most likely an MRI.”

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Okay, it’s now 2:30 in the afternoon on Friday, St. Patrick’s Day.  If I’m going to get anything put in place I better get moving.  I literally used both phones to make calls between Sloan Kettering, Dr. Kaufman’s office, and the radiology lab.  The surgeon’s office said they could probably get everything in place for me to come in on Thursday.  I said what do you need to get me in on Monday?  She told me, I wrote it down and got it done within the hour.  I’m good at taking action.   I have an appointment with the surgeon on Monday, March 20th at 1 PM.  Okay, now off to the Shillelagh Club where I proceeded to drink heavily.

I’ve personally spoken to my family, and some friends — mostly those who have been through this.  I’ve done some searching on the internet — big mistake.  I sat at lunch yesterday discussing the possibility of chemotherapy and radiation with my husband.  Then I stopped myself and thought wow, did I really just say that?  Yea, not what I ever thought would be part of a discussion about me.  A little over a week ago I was discussing my training, our family trip to St. John’s and my upcoming race schedule — which included the Boston Marathon, Eagleman 70.3 and Ironman Lake Placid 140.6.  I had also been hoping to get back to the start line in Kona again this year.

Thanks to my friend Hailey for the blog title, by the way.

If I haven’t spoken to you personally please don’t be offended.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m angry.  I’m scared.  I’d like to be in denial but that isn’t working out real well.  I’ve asked some friends and family to reach out to other friends tomorrow to let you know personally what is going on. I’ve decided to handle this openly.  I’m hoping it will help me, that it will help avoid rumors and maybe help someone else in the process.  If you get nothing else from this, please go get that routine annual mammogram.  I had absolutely no sign that anything was going on.  Even now that I know where it is I still can’t find it myself (or the “titanic” clips!).   I feel great and am as fit as ever.  I don’t know if I need anything right now.  If I do, I’ll be sure to ask.  I’m not really sure I want many phone calls at the moment.  It’s a bit easier to write about what’s going on than to talk about it.  If you call me and I don’t answer please don’t be offended.

I’m going to leave this here for tonight, and publish it before my appointment on Monday.  I’ll get back to everyone with an update once I’ve caught my breath (I’m not expecting this to be easy) and once I have some more details to share.   I’m thinking I’m going to need a lot of heart and courage in the upcoming weeks.

Ironman World Championship Update

Less than 9 weeks until I line up again in the waters of Kailua Bay for the Ironman World Championship.  I thought I’d take a few minutes to  share some updates with all of you who have offered your support to me and to my fundraising efforts.  10399640_126638800520_3738_n

There has been lots of great press surrounding our campaign.  IRONMAN posted an article announcing our exciting news, and followed up with an FAQ to answer questions as they come up.

Special thanks to Julia Polloreno, Editor-in-Chief of Triathlete Magazine and a fellow Women for Tri Board of Advisors member.  If you are interested in what we have been up to so far, check out “Women For Tri:  An Update“.

On Thursday I attended the USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year and Multisport Awards Banquet in Milwaukee where I received the Spirit of Judy Flannery award from the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee.  I am so honored to have received this recognition from USAT and I had the opportunity to say a few words of thanks.  I’m not much of a public speaker, and being called up after Mark Allen’s keynote speech was quite intimidating but here’s the sentiment I shared:

Thank you, I am humbled and honored to receive this Sprit of Judy Flannery award from USA Triathlon.  Being at the top of my age group this year at 59 doesn’t really allow me to be in the same league athletically as someone like Judy was, but I am looking forward to turning 60 in January and being the baby in my new age group.  I try to embody the spirit of Judy and so many others I’ve met like her by giving my utmost to support and encourage more women to venture into the sport that we are so lucky to be part of, which is why I’m so honored to also serve on a new national initiative to bring more women to our sport, the Women for Tri board. I feel that Judy would be proud of our work!

I am exploring as many possible options for fundraising as I can manage with the time I have available.  One of the most fun events recently was staffing the run course of the Jersey Girl Triathlon with volunteers and water stops.  I co-founded this race back in 2010 with local race director, Doug Rice of Split Second Racing.  While I don’t have hands on involvement with the race any more our Club has always supported this event as one of our main focus races each year.  It was great to be out there supporting all the women on the course, and Doug and the race made a very generous donation in exchange for our time!  Thank you.

Besides training for the race I still have a huge task ahead of me — I need to raise $25,000 for our Women for Tri fundraising campaign.  To date I have just over $4,000 and promises from lots more of my friends, family and fellow athletes, but that means I still need just over $20,000 more.  Sounds like a lot, I agree!  But . . . . . as I broke it down earlier, I only need 147 more of you to support me by donating $1 per mile (more is welcome of course) for a total of $140.60 towards my 140.6 mile journey!   This endeavor is something that I am truly passionate about.  Triathlon has had such a major and positive impact on my life.  It is my mission to share this passion with as many others as I can.  These funds will allow the Women for Tri board to establish programs across the country to bring this healthy lifestyle to more women.  All funds you donate are tax deductible as donations will go through the IRONMAN Foundation, a 501©(3),  and are 100% earmarked for Women for Tri specific initiatives.

More details and a link to donate can be found on my Crowdrise page.  I know most of you have offered to donate, please do so today and help me reach that $25,000 goal!  Thanks for your support!