Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Pittsburgh

Its cold, wet, and dreary, but my son and I still ventured out this morning for a halloween parade a couple of neighborhoods over from ours. We didnt expect a big fancy parade, but the lure of candy and some folks in costumes seemed to be enough. Who would have thought that at the end of the parade, Franco Harris would come walking along. My son was so excited- we were able to get their picture together. Even halloween in Pittsburgh is Steelers-related!

No BRICKS or cancer news today, just wanted to wish everyone a happy halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who takes care of the caretaker?

Its been slow here on the blogfront, mostly due to the fact that I cant seem to shake this stupid cold. Id be more worried, after a long 3-4 weeks of lingering coughs and sniffles, if it didnt seem that most everyone has this weird cold right now.

Its the first time Ive really been sick since Rick passed away, and to be perfectly honest, its kicking my ass. Much as I hate to admit it Ive actually had evenings when, after I got the kid and the dogs settled in for the night, Ive layed on the couch and cried, cursing the universe for taking away the person who always took care of me. Sure, I spent the last 10 months of Rick's life being his caretaker. But at least if I was feeling the slightest bit under the weather he was there to give me a kiss or a hug, even if it hurt to do it. He always had a smile for me. And sometimes thats all I needed.

Having my husband in my life was really the first time I stopped being a hard ass and actually let someone take care of me. It took some getting used to at first, and I certainly resisted a little bit. Ive been known to be stubborn. Fortunately Rick was persistent, and eventually I got used to letting him carry a little bit of the weight. We divided chores and household jobs. i allowed myself to rely on him. He knew how to do laundry, cook a wonderful meal, and could fix just about anything. I dont think I ever took any of this for granted, but after he died I was hit immediately with the gravity of just how much he had taken off my shoulders. I had to walk the dogs every time they needed to go out. The dishes wouldnt just disappear from the sink. And when I got sick, no one would make me a cup of tea or let me nap while they helped my son with his homework.

I suppose this is another in the list of "firsts" I have to figure out in my life after my husband's death. I think as parents or caretakers we forget sometimes how to take care of ourselves, or even remembering that we need to make a point of doing so.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PBS, Arthur & Cancer

My son, although he is a little old for it now, has always loved the PBS show Arthur. He's home sick from school today, resting on the couch glued to the TV. We flipped to PBS and found a special episode of Arthur dealing with cancer. A synopsis of the episode from the PBS website:

When Lakewood Elementary's beloved lunch lady Mrs. MacGrady is diagnosed with cancer, Arthur and his friends all react differently to the news.

In this special episode, parents and kids — with some help from guest-star Lance Armstrong! — learn how they can come together to support Mrs. MacGrady and each other.

"The Great MacGrady" will air every day the week of Monday, October 19.

Its really great watching the kids work through their concerns and questions. Is cancer contagious? Will Mrs McGrady ever be better? What does a person who had/has cancer look like? I highly recommend trying to catch this episode if you have kids!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Its another boring saturday night at home, for me, feeling the return of the cold I thought I had finally gotten rid of, flipping through the channels while bundled up on the couch. As Im channel surfing, trying to avoid college football and limited by our lack of cable, I come across an episode of The Outer Limits, a sci-fi show that aired in the mid 1960s.

The episode on tonight is called "Cold Hands, Warm Heart", and is about an astronaut (played by a young Will Shatner) who travels to Venus. During his trip, he has a mysterious encounter, and comes back a changed man. He has strange nightmares, is unable to stay warm, and develops webbing in his fingers. Doctors test him and grow concerned, his wife fears the worst when he begins having fits of delusion and rage. Eventually it all works out (a little too quickly, really) and all is well.

No biggie, right? I spend an hour watching a relatively entertaining old school sci-fi show. Then the closing narration comes on and I, being of completely unpredictable emotion, lose it over this:

"The eternal, never-ceasing search for knowledge often leads to dark and dangerous places. Sometimes it demands risks not only of those who are searching, but of others who love them. These, in their own special way, know that knowledge is never wasted, nor is love."


Friday, October 16, 2009

BRICKS for Young Adults receives Sprout Fund Seed Award

It is with great enthusiasm that I can announce that BRICKS for Young Adults has been named a recipient of a 2009 Sprout Fund Seed Award. What is this, you ask. Why is this a big deal? WELL. Its huge. The Sprout Fund provides "seed" money for organizations and individuals with ideas for community-based initiatives that engage young people in the region. For BRICKS, this refers to the cancer stories/awareness/resource booklet we are developing. With funding from the Sprout Fund, we will be able to proceed with booklet production, meaningful distribution, and outreach. Most importantly, we will be able to put this booklet in the hands of young adults in western Pennsylvania FREE OF CHARGE to them.

About the Sprout Fund:

The Sprout Fund enriches the Pittsburgh region’s vitality by engaging citizens, amplifying voices, supporting creativity and innovation, and cultivating connected communities. Founded in 2001, Sprout facilitates community-led solutions to regional challenges and supports efforts to create a thriving, progressive, and culturally diverse region. With strong working relationships to many community organizations and regional stakeholders, The Sprout Fund is one of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s leading agencies on issues related to civic engagement, talent attraction and retention, public art, and catalytic small-scale funding. With ongoing local support and continued appreciation by the communities it serves, The Sprout Fund will continue to catalyze creative solutions to pressing challenges, engage people in community conversations, respond to the needs of its target audiences, open doors to civic participation, and promote responsible stewardship of community interests.

For more information about the Sprout Fund, and what they do, please visit their website

More details about our project are coming soon, so please stay tuned. This was the good stuff I referred to in an earlier post, its here! Im so excited that the many, many hours I put into the grant proposal paid off. Many thanks to the people who looked over the proposal for me, gave input and support, and for everyone involved in the booklet project. This award will TRULY help seed something wonderful.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fresh Widow

Thanks to my fancy blog stats tracker I can see where people are finding out about me, and kept seeing this "freshwidow" blog come up, which has a link to my blog, so I decided to check it out. Wow. WOW. What a lady. I have been reading backwards through the blog, and having a good time doing it. She too lost her husband to cancer, but didnt start blogging until much later. Now, theres this massive collection of posts about her journey over the last couple of years.

I was especially taken by the post Grieving: How We Survived the First Year+.. At 7 months in, I could really go down that list and check off all of the things I myself have been doing, and it made me feel a little more normal to know I wasnt the only one whose done these things, as good or bad as they may be.

The blog has lots of tips and ideas for friends of widows, and lots of things to laugh and cry about for those of us who are traveling the same road as Fresh. Her style and wit are evident in how she describes herself:

I identify as a young remarried widow and Mom to a 5-year-old. Our loss was in June 2006. I see widowhood as an experience, not a label. Loss is something you get through -- not over. "Closure" is so Hollywood. Some of us may turn lucky enough to use what we've been through as a springboard for revelation, renewal, or reinvention.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's been a long week....

...and Ive considered writing about at least a hundred different things, and actually written about none of them.

I would like to mention that Kairol Rosenthal posted a really wonderful entry in her Everything Changes blog this week, that asks about end of life issues and the place of end stage cancer patients in the young adult cancer community. Its proven to be one of the most interesting exchanges on the blog in recent days, and I really recommend people check it out. The comments people have left are so honest, and candid, and absolutely moving.

Personally, I suddenly find myself the parent of a 12 year old this weekend. As my son turns this very important age, I try to remember when I got old enough to have a 12 year old child. It seems to have happened really fast. Last year, my husband missed the better part of my son's birthday party because he needed platelets. He spent the day sitting in an ER waiting for blood. Its hard not to think about those things today, the anxious feeling I had as I waited for him to come home, hoping he'd at least make it in time for presents. Or at least maybe cake. Or maybe he'd get home before everyone had to leave. I remember knowing that day that things were serious.

Beyond that, I dont have much to share. Nothing important anyway. Hopefully there will be lots of good things to share next week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sign up now to donate!

We are now beginning the donor registration process for our second annual Blood & Cupcakes replenishing blood drive to benefit Central Blood Bank. The event will be held on Saturday, November 7, from 9am -3pm.

Donation times begin at 9am and are available in 15 minute intervals- 9am, 9:15am, 9:30am, 9:45am and so on. Up to 3 donors can be signed up in each time slot. Please email me at BRICKSpgh at gmail dot com to secure your time slot!

For more information about the blood bank, or their donation requirements, please visit Central Blood Bank qualifications.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Planet Cancer Roadshow is coming to Pittsburgh!

If anyone reading this blog works at UPMC, West Penn or Children's Hospital, its your lucky day! Staff and Crew from Plant Cancer will be in town this week to talk about young adult cancer and what we can do about it, and theyre coming to you. More info below from the Planet Cancer website:

Planet Cancer is taking our young adult cancer Advocacy Roadshow on the road! Starting in fall 2009, we’re hitting cancer centers across the country to spread the word about young adults and cancer.

Planet Cancer staff - alongside our amazing doctor friends who’ve already drunk the young adult Kool-Aid - will be talking young adult cancer survival rates, clinical trial stats, psychosocial dilemmas, and what your docs can do about it. If we’re headed to your institution, please tell your medical care providers to come see the Planet Cancer presentation at their center's Grand Rounds.

What to expect at the Planet Cancer Roadshow:

-The latest in young adult cancer research
-Inside the world of a young adult with cancer
-Why our unique needs aren't being met
-What docs, hospitals and care teams can do about it
-Resources and the future of young adult oncology

Planet Cancer will be in town Wednesday & Thursday, so talk to your docs and make sure they're in attendance!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Go Pink at Panera Bread

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and in honor of that, here is something you can do TODAY to make a difference. This was sent to me by a friend:

Please stop by a Panera near you Thursday, October 1st to try some pink ribbon bagels. All the proceeds go to the support the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Foundation.

The mission of the foundation is to educate as many people as they can about Breast cancer in women under 45. They also aim to educate and support younger women with a diagnosis.

Fund raising efforts have benefited the American Cancers Society Reach to Recovery Program and Clinical Trial Grants for the American Cancer Society.