Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Busy busy busy!

Thanks to everyone who has been in touch lately, especially those of you asking for copies of the booklet! Ive been to the post office a lot lately, and I couldnt be happier about it. Im so glad these booklets are getting out of my house and into the hands of the people who they were created for.

Please send us an email at BRICKSpgh at gmail dot com to receive your copy, or with any questions or comments. And dont forget to let us know if youre working on a submission for volume 2! Although I had initially hoped for a December 31 deadline for submissions, thats just not feasible, so the deadline has been extended indefinitely. We cant make the booklet without you.

I finally got over my awkwardness about sending a booklet to my hometown newspaper, so maybe thatll be a good thing that will get us a little press and reach a new audience of people. Ive kept my adult life pretty separate from my childhood life, but this might be one exception. I'll let you all know how it goes!

Thanks as always for your support and happy 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LLS YAconnect Webcast

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

8:30 PM to 10:00 PM EASTERN
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM CENTRAL
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM MOUNTAIN
5:30 PM to 7:00 PM PACIFIC

This webcast for young adults facing cancer will feature Owen Applequist, a young adult lymphoma survivor; Michael Mauro, MD, a hematologist/ oncologist from Oregon Health and Science University; Kate Breitenbach, BA, RN, an oncology nurse and Lauren Kirby, MSW, LCSW, an oncology social worker from the University of Chicago Medical Center in an open discussion about:

Communicating with your healthcare team
Making treatment decisions
Managing side effects
Talking to family and friends
Coping with fears of recurrence
Planning for long-term health and well-being
And more!

Program participants will have the opportunity to chat online with other young adults and ask questions of the panel.

Go to www.LLS.org/YAconnect for information and registration for this free interactive program.

Visit www.LLS.org/YAconnect to hear audio replays from past YAconnect webcasts: Navigating Employment and Insurance and Getting the Answers You Need: Fatigue and Other Cancer Treatment Side Effects.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Y'all know these are free, right?

If you havent gotten a copy of our booklet, the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, now might be a fine time. I'll be making lots of trips to the post office, and wouldnt mind adding a few of these to the mix. If you havent gotten/read/seen one, send us an email at BRICKSpgh@gmail.com with your mailing address and we'll get one right out to you. If you're with a group or organization that might like more than one copy, just let us know how many youd like!

The 68 page booklet contains submissions from 15 young adult cancer patients, survivors, their partners and loved ones. It also has a resource guide in the back that includes a recommended reading list. And dont forget, we're soliciting submissions for version 2, so get in touch if youd like to contribute your story!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Terminally Illin'

Please check out and support this awesome project, started by 2-time young adult cancer survivor Kaylin. Give her blog "Cancer is Hilarious" a look-see while youre at it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All things equal...

20 months ago today I sat with my husband as he died.

20 months prior to that, we were newly married.

I dont have anything terribly profound to say today other than how ok I feel. I was nervous about this marker, and worried I may not be in a very good place. Not that the time period of grief has to be equal to that of time spent with a person, or that the two are in any way related. But I can say, today, that I had 20 months of a beautiful marriage with a wonderful person, and Ive survived 20 months without him here. For each of these things, I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thank you!

Hey look, thats me and some cupcakes!

Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who came out on saturday and made Blood & Cupcakes 3 a huge success. We collected 46 units of blood- just 4 shy of my goal! It was a fun day, and a lot of good was done for the world. Im proud of everyone who made an attempt to donate, and appreciate everyone who made cupcakes or a donation to the raffle. I couldnt have done it without each of you!

Thank you!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vote for Electronic Saviors!

Sideline Magazine is polling for best albums of the year. Please vote V/A Electronic Saviors:Industrial Music To Cure Cancer, a project by my friend and booklet contributor Jim Semonik.

You can cast your vote here.

You can learn more about Electronic Saviors here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blood & Cupcakes 3 is TOMORROW!!!

And its not too late to come and donate blood! We've sweetened the deal with some extra special prizes for the donor raffle- gift certificates from our beloved friends at Gypsy Cafe, Piper's Pub and the Tartan Devil's Football Club, Jester's Court Tattoos and more!

As always there will be cupcakes for everybody- from independent bakers as well as our friends at My Goodies Vegan Bakery and Magnolia Cafe. Each donor receives raffle tickets to enter to win prizes, as well as a commemorative mug for the first 45 donors! We'll also have copies of the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide for those of you who may not have one yet, or want to know more about what we're about!

The drive benefits the Central Blood Bank, and their basical donor qualifications can be found here. The CBB staff are super helpful and really good at what they do- so dont be afraid to come out and learn more about donating. Repeat donors are always welcome and encouraged, as are "first timers"!

Its a really fun and exciting day, we hope we'll see you there. We're counting on you all to help make our third annual Blood & Cupcakes the most successful yet!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Call for Submissions v2.0

So guess what? Its that time again! Here at BRICKS we are beginning to think about working on our SECOND edition of the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, and it wont be possible without all of you!

BRICKS for Young Adults is looking for YA cancer patients, survivors, partners and caregivers in the Pittsburgh/Western PA area who would like to share their story for the booklet. Stories can be printed anonymously if the author prefers. If youve read the booklet then you have a pretty good idea of what we are going for. Submissions should be about 1000 words in length, though we are certainly flexible. Poems or other forms of writing are certainly encouraged, so long as the story deals with YOUR cancer experience.

Please feel free to email us at BRICKSpgh at gmail dot com with any questions, or to receive a copy of the booklet. Id like to think that we can have a submission deadline of December 31, but we may extend it if need be. This time around, our booklet will be entirely funded but the donations of many amazing individuals over the last year, and we are eternally grateful for your support. The first run of the booklet was very well received, and we're very glad to be able to do an updated version for 2011!

Please consider sharing your story!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Hey all- just a quick note to say happy halloween, and to remind you there are only 6 days left to sign up to donate blood at Blood & Cupcakes 3, our annual blood drive to benefit Central Blood Bank! Cupcakes and goodies for all donors, just in case you dont get your fill of sweets this weekend. Email me at BRICKSpgh at gmail dot com to sign up for a donation time slot, and help us reach our goal of collecting 50 units of blood!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

B&C 3!!!

Dont forget!

Saturday, November 6, 2010. 9am-3pm.

Our third annual blood drive to benefit Central Blood Bank. Contact me to sign up to donate!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

goodbye, mike.

When I started BRICKS for Young Adults I was really concerned about interacting so closely with young adult cancer patients. After losing my husband to the disease I was scared to get close to people who I also might lose. I realized pretty quickly that this was a risk worth taking, and one that I needed to take.

A few days ago I learned that Pittsburgh lost another young adult to his illness, at just 33 years old. Although I barely knew him (we had only exchanged a few emails in the last year primarily about BRICKS and the booklet) many of my friends were also friends with him, and it broke my heart to know that so many of them had to deal with this again. Thinking about his wife and knowing what she is going through pains me.

I dont have anything profound to say, other than I am deeply saddened by this loss, and wish much peace for Mike's family and friends. You are all in my thoughts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


It is absolutely fitting, and also very exciting, to announce that the Allegheny General Hospital Breast Care Center,in partnership with National Breast Cancer Foundation, is providing free mammograms to women with limited resources. To learn if you qualify please call 412-359-6543. You can click here to print out the pdf of the flyer to share with others!

I speak from personal experience when I say 1) how important access to these services can be and 2) how wonderful and amazing the folks at the Breast Care Center are. No woman should have to put off having a potentially life saving mammogram because of her inability to pay for it. Please spread the word!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

October is

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Learn more by visiting NBCAM.org.

And while so many illnesses, including numerous cancers, deserve our attention, I wanted to post this in honor of the many ladies I know who have been touched by this particular form of cancer. To the ones Ive lost, if youre out there somewhere, know that I love, respect and admire you endlessly. For those I still have in my life, know the same applies to you. You are all in my heart.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Walk at the Waterfront

Join the Cancer Caring Center for a


Sunday, October 10 at the Waterfront in Homestead

The Top Ten Fundraisers will be guests at a luncheon
at the Lemont hosted by Honorary Chairs
Yonka and Ryan Clark (#25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers).

Register online at 3WS!

Download a Registration form!

Cancer Caring Center
Don't Confront Cancer Alone

Dedicated to providing free emotional support services to cancer survivors,
their friends and loved ones since 1988.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tuesday at Gilda's Club

From our friends at Gilda's Club:

Gilda’s Club Western PA
2816 Smallman St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222


Come join us Tuesday, Sept 28th from 6-8pm for a Young Adult Networking Group Dinner/Lecture on Late Effects with Patricia Crist, Ph.D. OTR, FAOTA from Duquesne University.

While the research priorities for cancer have focused on viable interventions for the acute phases of this disease, the impact of late effects experienced by cancer survivors has received a paucity of study. The foremost consideration with cancer is to save an individual’s life, despite the toxic cost resulting in possible long term and late effect consequences. Late effects are different than the long term effects. Long term effects are chronic, lingering problems occurring during or near the cessation of cancer interventions (radiation, chemotherapy, bone-marrow transplantation, etc.). Late effects experienced by cancer survivors are seldom forewarned by health care providers as a result of delayed problems occurring months and more likely up to 15 or 20 years after treatment.

Participants will learn about late effects to increase awareness of this condition and learn advocacy when interfacing with future health care providers, even family.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

B&C 3!!!

(not our logo, but look at that thing! amazing!)

Hey all,

Just a quick heads up to mark your calendars for BLOOD & CUPCAKES 3, which will be held on Saturday, November 6, from 9am til 3pm. Thanks to the kind folks at Modern Formations Gallery we will be holding the blooddrive in the same location as last year, which worked out really well for everyone.

This will serve as a replenishing blooddrive to benefit Central Blood Bank. For more information on donor qualifications, please click here. In a couple of weeks we will provide more information on how to sign up for a donation time slot. All donors receive special gifts from us at BRICKS for Young Adults, entries into our donor raffle, and all the cupcakes you can eat. Oh and the warm fuzzy feeling you get from knowing that your life saving blood donation means the world to so many people.

Im really looking forward to this year's blooddrive and have set a goal to collect 50 units of blood. Please spread the word, and plan to attend. If you are unable to donate blood, please come by and show your support (and eat cupcakes). We are also looking for donations of items or services for the donor raffle, as well as bakers to donate cupcakes. Contact me at BRICKSpgh at gmail dot com with any questions, and look here for more information soon!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Spokes of Hope

Last week I got to meet Patty, a representative of Spokes of Hope, who told me about this great event happening next weekend. Saturday September 11 Spokes of Hope will be in Pittsburgh sponsoring bike related events.

What is Spokes of Hope? From their website:

The mission of Spokes of Hope is:

• Display passion for life as a testimony that there is life beyond cancer

• Build awareness throughout all communities of the number of lives touched by this wretched disease

• Advocate for the support necessary to beat this disease

• Educate everyone in how to prevent, detect and treat cancer as well as the resources available in their community

Activities will be happening at Gilda's Club as well as other locations. For more information about the event, click HERE.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Expiration: 3-17-10 Do not double"

I've been pretty swamped with BRICKS related work lately, and Ive been lucky to have the assistance of a couple of wonderful helpers. But in my day to day life, the one where Im left figuring out how to fix things or how Im going to pay to fix something, the offers of help have waned since the days immediately following my husband's death.

In the days and weeks right after a major life changing event, people flock to you, come at you from all sides offering everything from food to housework to money. A lot of times these well intentioned offers are completely unsolicited and absolutely sincere. For me, in those first few weeks, maybe even months, I didnt know WHAT I needed. All I knew for sure was that there were things I wasnt ready to do or deal with, and that Id let people know when that time came. I didnt realize that time would be nearly a year and a half later. Back then I couldnt bear the thought of cataloguing my husband's art work or packing up his supplies. It took me months to pack up his clothes and even to this day some of his things remain exactly where he left them.

With so much time gone by, I feel as though those offers of help may not be redeemable. Sure, people still care about me and my situation, but I often feel like those not living with the loss in the way I am probably dont understand why Im not "all better" or "back to normal" by now. They probably cant comprehend how absolutely immobilizing approaching some of these tasks may be. Can I paint the kitchen ceiling by myself? Sure. Can I do it without remembering Rick on a ladder patching the hole in it? No. Do I need someone to say "Todays the day we paint this ceiling!"? Maybe.

My question to you, dear readers is: When you offer to help someone, does that offer ever expire? Do you offer out of obligation or sincere willingness to help when needed? Do you feel like people dealing with a loss, diagnosis, or other life altering event lose their right to cash in the help coupon after a certain period of time?

To those of you on the same end of this situation as me, what has your experience been with this? Have you found areas where you realized you needed help well after your life changing event? How have you reminded people they offered help once, and have you been successful in receiving it?

Please share your thoughts on this, Id love to hear from everyone!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hot hot Hothouse!

Hey all, just a quick quick note to say hi and let you know Im not ignoring the blog or hiding from the world- Im just wildly preparing to represent BRICKS for Young Adults at the Sprout Fund's annual Hothouse event THIS SATURDAY. Buy your tickets now and be a part of one of the biggest events of the year. Check out all of the projects the Sprout Fund has supported and see tons of amazing things that are happening right here in Pittsburgh. Better than ever, this year's Hothouse promises to be the event of the summer.

Im channeling my inner carny to bring my morose sense of humor to the masses with BRICKS for Young Adult's "Ring Toss of Death". You'll just have to be there to find out what that means (or wait for the photos!).

Buy tickets or learn more by clicking here!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

17 on the 17th.

Today marks 17 months since my husband passed away. I've been thinking about it a lot today, even though the monthly markers have been a little easier lately. I suppose some people would think that by this point I should be "over it" or "back to normal", but theres no normal that I can get back to, only a new one to figure out.

I work at a women's health care facility that is also an out-of-hospital birth center. I see women and children and families and brand new babies every day. Today all I could think about was how very much like a toddler I am, or rather, my grief is. It can walk, but sometimes needs a hand to hold, sometimes it falls. It can string some words together and recognize familiar objects or people. And like so many toddlers, its struggling to find the balance between independence and dependence- learning the limits of new abilities, developing skills, but also developing a fear of abandonment.

Most of this time I feel ok. But I often find myself relearning how I feel about things, how I interact with people, what I want to be. I struggle with the things I think I want and the things I know Im not yet ready for.


SMASH CANCER: A Smash Brothers Brawl Tournament

August 21, 2010

Registration at 8:00pm, Gameplay begins at 9pm

Morning Glory Coffeehouse
1806 Chislett Street Pittsburgh, PA 15206

$5 entry fee. Tournament style Smash Brothers Brawl gameplay (Wii) for prizes. Come out and play video games to support BRICKS for Young Adults! We'll have booklets on hand. Come drink coffee, hang out, and have a great time.

Please remember, this is an ALL AGES event.

(I know the image above is cut off, click on it to see the entire flyer!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Visuals Speak Volumes

Visuals Speak Volumes:
an interactive music and visual art double night event

conceptualized by Adam Rauf

August 20 and 21, 8pm
Future Tenant
819 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222

$5 suggested donation
with part of the proceeds to benefit BRICKS for Young Adults

On August 20 and 21, 2010, at 8pm Adam Rauf leads a collaborative two-night event as part of Future Tenant’s Trespass Performance Residency. Bring paint, magazine clippings, chalk, noisemaking instruments, and found objects and participate in this interactive installation that will benefit a great cause and be a fantastic networking opportunity for artists & musicians alike. Entry is $5, with 50% of the ticket sales going toward BRICKS for Young Adults.

Visuals Speak Volumes was conceived by Rauf during a symposium dubbed Mobile Art&Code at Carnegie Mellon University in the Fall of '09. According to Rauf, “I was able to hear the words of the talented artist and technology guru Julian Bleecker, who
gave the phrase of "Wouldn't it be cool if..." Julian had invented things that people often dream about, but with his passions, he made them happen.”

Visuals Speak Volumes asks: "Wouldn't it be cool if we could combine art, music, and technology together for an amazing interactive performance that anyone could be a part of?"”

A group of musicians selected from the Pittsburgh music scene will improvise "soundscapes & textures" each evening. While this collaboration is happening, a group of artists, hand-picked by Rauf, will put visuals to the music. To add to the excitement, members of the audience will participate in the making of the art as the musicians slowly blend their soundscapes in with one another.

Half of the proceeds will be donated to BRICKS for Young Adults, an organization founded to raise awareness of young adult cancer. Rauf was inspired to donate to this cause by someone who had tremendous ties to the art and music scene in Pittsburgh, the late Rick Gribenas, a former CMU professor.

Future Tenant, a non-profit visual and performance art space, is located at 819 Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. Future Tenant’s Trespass Performance Residency occurs twice a year, in the early spring and summer. Artists can apply for the
Residency through futuretenant.org.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Front Page News!!!

Check it out- thats my face on the front page of the Western PA Hospital News! The paper reaches over 30,000 healthcare professionals each month, and this great article will hopefully be read by people who can help us get our booklets into the hands of the young adults who really need them. Just to stress again, the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guides are FREE, so please get in touch if youd like one (or twenty!).

Many thanks to the folks at WPA Hospital News for taking the time to talk to me!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Supporting Actor

Things have been somewhat quiet on the BRICKS front, but thats because we're so hard at work! Til we have more news for you, I thought it would be nice to share an excerpt from the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, written by my dear friend and young cancer widower, Stuart Boslow. Stuart talks candidly about figuring out his role after his partner Jason was diagnosed with cancer in his story, The Supporting Actor: Becoming the Caregiver:

In April 2008, Jason found something unusual under his right armpit. He called me to come over to feel it for myself. I still remember the first time I put my hand on his body and felt the mass underneath his skin. I tried my hardest not to over react, but feeling that thing scared me immediately. We discussed the possibilities, and I told him he needed to go have it checked out. It was biopsied in early May, but it was not until May 28, 2008 that we found out the worst-case scenario. It was Burkitt’s lymphoma—a highly aggressive and often deadly form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

The months that followed felt as if they were going by so fast. Looking back now at every step, it feels like time stood still at times. I remember many days spent sitting in the infusion room just watching his drips, wondering when we’d be released to go back to our lives away from cancer. I would find myself counting each drip, trying to estimate the hours, minutes, and seconds until we would be free.

When Jason wasn’t sleeping, we would play cards—usually Gin or Rummy— to help pass the time. We also became very familiar with TLC and HGTV shows. We sought humor during those extra long days at the infusion lab. Humor became a big part of Jason’s treatment to the point even the doctors and nurses were involved. They would stop by to chat with us, and before too long, Jason would crack a joke at the nurse’s expense, and then everything was fair game. Those days, which at first seemed they would be long and horrible, actually turned out to be some of the most memorable days of the whole thing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More good press!

The Pittsburgh Better Times is a publication for people in the Pittsburgh region who are divorced, widowed, or separated, and they recently ran an article on their website about me and my work with BRICKS for Young Adults. You can find it by clicking here!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Help Be Well! Pgh

Our friends at Be Well! Pittsburgh have launched a small fundraising campaign to help move their project forward, and we're calling on our friends to lend a hand. You can make a donation of any size by visiting their fundraising page. Be Well! is a crucial and critical resource for un- or under- insured folks in the Pittsburgh area. More about them:

Be Well! Pittsburgh has been around since 2005. We’ve shared resources (10,000 or so booklets, a website at www.bewellpgh.org, community health fairs, info sessions, visits to health care and social service providers, lots of referrals,…) in the hopes that people will be well with or without health insurance, even at lower income levels. We want people to stay well and have also shared info on preventive and alternative health care resources.

- distribute 2000 updated resource booklets (and get the donations together to print them)
- find more affordable alternative health resources and share that info
- focus on relationship-building with health care and social service providers in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh
- find more info on preventive health care, in particular environmental concerns and health care and their relationship e.g. toxic burden
- talk with interested/involved people about what health care “reform” will mean and how we’ll deal with it
- learn how to better evaluate Be Well!’s work with the help of a smart statistician
- send monthly email progress reports to all contributors

A laptop. We need $900 for a laptop. We’ll do the rest – the actual work for six months and the fundraising for printing booklets – ourselves, on a volunteer basis.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

3 years

Three years ago today I had the amazing privilege of marrying a very special man. My life, both then and now, would not have been the same without him.

To Rick- still, 16 months later, it was worth it. And you were right, we're ok.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

BRICKS founder nominated for Community Service award

Charissa Hamilton-Gribenas, founder of BRICKS for Young Adults, is one of three nominees for the Women's Small Business Association's Community Service Award. The winner will be announced at the "Honoring Extraordinary Women" luncheon the be held on Wednesday, July 14.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Just wrapped up the Im Too Young for This Cancer Foundation's Stupid Cancer show on blog talk radio. So awesome. I'll post a link to the broadcast as soon as its posted. Hopefully I didnt sound like too much of a weirdo. Special thanks to Matt, Jack, Lisa and everyone at i2y for doing a show on bereaved spouses, its definitely a lesser discussed topic and one that needs more attention.

If you happened to tune in tonight, let me know what you thought! Was there something we didnt address that we should have? Was there something you were glad we mentioned? I seriously think we could have talked for hours and hours about this subject!

*edit 7.6.10* if you missed it live last night you can hear the show here:
Bereaved Spouses Stupid Cancer Show

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"I Cant Remember"

Today I wanted to share a passage from the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness and Resource Guide, that we put out in March of this year. The segment comes from the story of 28 year old Katlyn Basilone of Erie, PA, who was diagnosed with cancer while in high school.

There are still plenty of booklets available- people can request one by making a small donation via the paypal button below. Any amount is wonderful; we ask for donations only to off-set the cost of shipping, the booklets themselves are free.

"There are a few specks I remember when I first found out. A family doctor appointment soon followed my slight tumor-like finding. I sat on a table (or maybe it was a chair) when the nurse came in and spoke to me as though we were previously engaged in conversation, or that I had the slightest clue of what she was speaking. She cheerfully strung together words that sounded like, “You’ll lead a normal life someday,” and “I’ve been through it too.” Confusion washed into a piecing together of our crossed, unshared timelines. She later felt sheepish for the abrupt breaking of a young adult’s reality. I cried a lot of tears that day, and I remember those tears of confusion and change.

I remember everyone thinking I was so brave. I don’t think it was bravery to do what one must. I don’t remember cancer being much of my reality. Sure, I had lost my hair, and was called away for innumerable tests, surgeries, prescriptions, and runs to the little girls’ room. I know these things happened. I have a few pictures and scattered journal entries. Others validate me, or I may very well believe it all to have been a dream.

I don’t remember a lot, but what I do remember does not include a feeling of, “I can’t do this.” It was very much like an obligation I had to fulfill. Like the Sunday ritual of cleaning the family bar; no one wanted to do it. No one asked to do it. We all would loathe it if we were allowed. I am sure of this. No one ever got out of doing it. The more diligent you were at finishing a task Dad or Mum doled out, by finishing it well, the sooner you’d receive your ticket to freedom. Bitching wasn’t really an option. I guess that’s how my cancer felt, like it was not an option.

-Katlyn Basilone, January 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010


If youve ever wondered what my voice sounds like, youll have your chance to hear me speak on the internetblogtalkradio thing, on Monday, July 5, when I appear as a special guest on the Im Too Young for This Cancer Foundation's Stupid Cancer Show. You can learn more about it RIGHT HERE.

Monday's topic is Bereaved Spouses, and promises to be interesting. Please tune in and spread the word to any one who may benefit from the program!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hooray for the SAMFund!

Today I received an update email from the SAMFund marking the end of their 7th fiscal year- congrats to them for all of their successes over the last few years! Theyre a great resource for young adult cancer survivors, awarding $90,000 in grants and scholarships to 62 young adult cancer survivors across the country just this year alone.

For more information about the SAMFund and their services, please visit their website.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BRICKS booklets in Chicago!

Today we mailed a shipment of the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness and Resource Guide to Quimby's Bookstore, so now all of our Chicago friends can pick up a copy!

Quimby's Bookstore
1854 West North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 342-0910

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

6/25: Cancer Caring Center benefit!

From the Cancer Caring Center:

You are cordially invited to join us for an evening in paradise. Come join the fun as we let loose in 10,400 square feet of the uber modern jewel of Mt. Washington, located at 207 Bailey Avenue.

Wear your jeans and jewels, but add some island flare for a night of dancing to the sound of Pittsburgh’s premier party band, John McDonald and the Mango Men.

Enjoy the open bar and taste the wonderful hors d’oeuvres from some of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants. Don’t forget to browse and bid on items in the Chinese and silent auction.

207 Bailey Avenue,
Mt. Washington Pa

Friday, June 25, 2010
7 – 10 p.m.

Only 200 tickets are available for $100 each. Reserve your tickets today.

Call 412-622-1212, e-mail info@cancercaring.org or visit www.cancercaring.org

All proceeds benefit the Cancer Caring Center: celebrating 22 years of service to our community. This local non-profit has provided a wide variety of free support services to cancer patients and families including children. All services are free.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Hey all! Yours truly has been asked to be a speaker on July 5th's Im Too Young For This! Stupid Cancer Show. The topic will be "Bereaved Spouses". It airs at 9pm, for more information, Click Here!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010


...hundreds of magazines. tomorrow they go to the recycling bin.

magazines about art.
so many things.

i paged quickly through each one before putting it in a box, half hoping some little scrap of paper might fall from between the pages. something to note he had flipped these pages too.

no secret treasures though, just the heavy notion that he had read each of these, maybe at home, maybe in a hospital bed. all with the intention of learning, making mental notes for future works. dreaming of future homes and places he'd never been. his hands had touched these pages once.

most of these magazines made the trip from chicago to pittsburgh. i tried to get him to throw them away then, with no luck obviously. and now that i finally get my way im not as happy about it as i might have been then.

tomorrow is the day though.
theyll all be recycled.

theyll get to be new again.
a fresh start.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Help for Medication Expenses

Ive mentioned it here before but its worth repeating: NeedyMeds.org is an amazing resource for anyone needing assistance paying for prescription medications. You can search for brand name AND generic drugs, and find programs through drug manufacturers or discount card programs. You can even search by disease or condition for programs that may cover many types of expenses, including drugs, insurance co-pays, office visits, transportation, nutrition, medical supplies, child or respite care. The site also lets you search for drug coupons to help with prescriptions, and even search by state or zip code for free clinics in your area.

And look, they even have a facebook page now! Be sure to sign up for their newsletter, which alerts you to new programs and offerings on the website.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Parent & Kid Zine read at CLP

Tonight my son and I got to participate in a Parent/Kid zine reading at the Carnegie Library. Jude Vachon, creator of the amazing local resource Be Well! Pghorganized tonight's event, and invited us to come and read. I took along copies of the BRICKS booklet to hand out, but chose not to read my submission. I let my 12 year old son do the reading- hes been making a zine called "Swirling Vortex of Terror" since 2005, when he was only 7.

While we were there, we had our first opportunity to see the bookshelves we bought and donated to the library in honor of my husband, to house his very large zine collection which he had intended to donate to the library. After his death, we took the MANY boxes of zines to the library, where theyve all been catalogued and are currently available to be read by the public. Many of the zines are from Rick's own private collection, the rest were part of a project he helped curate called Comic Release. There are literally HUNDREDS of zines on every topic from art, GLBTQ issues, music, health/illness, comics, and so many more. It was amazing to see all of it in one place, available to the world, exactly how Rick wanted it. It also made me very proud to know that my son and I continue to make contributions to zine culture, a culture thats alive and well in Pittsburgh, and that Rick's contribution lives on in such an amazing local institution.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Hey! You! Have you received or read a copy of the BRICKS for Young Adults: Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide? We wanna know what you think of it! Was there a resource in the back that you didnt know about, and have since utilized? Was there a story that made you say "Wow, Im not the only one who feels that way!" Was there something we missed that just HAS to be included in the next one?

If so, shoot us an email at brickspgh at gmail dot com, subject line "TESTIFY!" Your input means so much to us, and we want to make sure we are meeting the needs of those this book was made for. We'd love to be able to share your opinions in future grant writing or reporting, or with people who interview us about the booklet. Please also include a line in your email saying whether or not we may reference your comments, which we would always do anonymously.

Please please please get in touch and let us know what you think, we cant wait to hear from you!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cancer Caring Center benefit

(click on image above to see full sized version of the beautiful flyer!)

Join the Cancer Caring Center at Diesel on the southside for ENCHANTED, on Friday May 28th. Events include a showcase of fashions, hair and makeup styles, and drink specials. Tickets are only $5.

The mission of the Cancer Caring Center is to help cancer survivors, their families and concerned friends cope effectively with the emotional impact of cancer through a variety of FREE support services. Its an AMAZING community resource, staffed by incredible people, doing such important work. Please come out and support them!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

14 months

Yesterday marked 14 months since my husband passed away from Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The monthly anniversaries of his passing dont seem quite as heavy as they had, but something about yesterday made me stop and think about just how long 14 months is, how much time has passed. Its sort of funny how time shifts, changes, seems to actually carry a different weight. In some ways, 14 months sounds like ages ago, and in other ways, it doesnt seem possible that so much time has gone by.

I think, in a way, my brain has been in survival mode- blurring out a lot of the last year and a half, fuzzing the details around the edges and running the days into each other. I think back over the last year or so and while some events stick out in my mind, most of it seems to run together. A long string of "medium" sort of days, a general undertone of sadness or maybe even lethargy.

Ive started making a more deliberate effort to get out there, do things, be alive, again. Its not always easy. Im trying to remember that life is fleeting, and not to be saddened by that, but to act because of it. My relationship with Rick was swift and jam packed full of fun, adventure and happiness. We did so many amazing things in the 32 months we had together. I almost feel ashamed for missing things in these last 14 months. I dont want to lose the possibility of all the good things that could happen in the next 14 months.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How do I get a copy of your booklet??

Thanks to an AMAZING feature story on Tonic.com about the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, the question of the day has been "How do I get a copy of your booklet??"

The answer is super simple- just let me know you want one! Thanks to the Seed Award we received from The Sprout Fund, the 68 page books are available for FREE to anyone who wants one. They are currently being distributed at cancer support organizations in Pittsburgh, or at our outreach events, but for those of you who are not in the Pittsburgh area, we can mail you a copy. Just use the Paypal DONATE button on the right hand column of this blog to make a small donation to cover shipping and handling fees (its costs about $2 to mail one booklet). Provide complete mailing address information and we'll get one out to you right away. If youd like more than one, or would like additional copies to distribute, just send us an email at brickspgh at gmail dot com to specify how many you need/want. Not only will your donation get a booklet to you, but additional funds assure that we can continue to get the booklets into the hands of those who need it most.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BRICKS goes to the Roller Derby!

BRICKS for Young Adults has been invited by the Steel City Derby Demons to table and hand out booklets at this saturday's game.

May 15
Steel Hurtin’ vs. Suburbia Roller Girls Brawl Stars (Westchester County, NY)
and the B-Unit vs Suburbia Roller Girls Backyard Bullies

7pm at
Romp N Roll
1661 E. Sutter Rd
Glenshaw, PA 15116
Phone 412-486-4117

Tickets are $10 in advance and can be bought here

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Drink for the Cure - DJ 7up & Charissa from BRICKS for Young Adults

Last weekend I was invited to participate at the Drink for the Cure event to benefit the Komen Foundation. Above is a short video clip of me speaking at the event. Not too bad for being unrehearsed!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Happy birthday to BRICKS!

Guess what? We're a year old already! AMAZING.

Take a look at my first blog post from May 1, 2009. So much has happened in the last year, and we still have so much we want to do. I feel optimistic and excited about this, and proud of everything we've accomplished so far.

Happy birthday, BRICKS!!

Its time again


The 7th Annual "Fill the Mug" Charity Bar Crawl
Benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Saturday, May 15, 2010, from 4-11 P.M.
Touring South Side Neighborhood Bars!

Starting at The Library Restaurant & Bar
2302 East Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA
Google Map: http://tinyurl.com/2fpquq4
Register at the Library from 4-5:30 PM

$15 Tax-Deductible Donation/Registration Fee.
Pre-Register & Pre-Pay Online or by Check:
Or Register Day of Event at the Library from 4-5:30 PM


--The Library, 2302 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA. 15203
--Double Wide Grill, 2339 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA 15203
--Margaritaville, 2200 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA. 15203
--The Bar, 2132 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA. 15203
--Tiki Lounge, 2003 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA. 15203
--Smokin' Joe's, 2001 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA 15203
--Casey's Draft House, 1811 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA. 15203
--Jekyl & Hyde, 140 South 18th Street at Harcum Way, Pgh., PA. 15203
--Mario's South Side Saloon, 1510-1514 E Carson Street, Pgh., PA 15203
--Carson City Saloon, 1401 East Carson Street, Pgh., PA.
--1311, 1311 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA.
--Rumshakers, 1224 East Carson St. at South 12th St., Pgh., PA. 15203


--Commemorative 22 oz Beer Mug for the first 200 registrants
--Coupons for products from our Generous Sponsors
--2 Raffle Tickets for Raffle Prizes during the Crawl
--Discount Beer Specials throughout the Crawl
-- Free Admission/No Cover Charge at all Participating Bars
--Appetizer Specials at Participating Bars with Kitchens
--Having a great time, while helping out a great cause!

Last year a group of us participated in this, and Im still undecided about this year (I may have another event to attend). BUT I encourage folks to go out and have a great time. Bar crawls are not a thing I would normally participate in, but this is for a great cause and has some fun bars/restaurants on the list this year!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

BRICKS at Gilda's

On Tuesday, April 27th Ive been invited to speak to and hang out with the young adult cancer support group at Gilda's Club. A couple members of the group came out for the BRICKS booklet release party, and Im looking forward to reconnecting with them! Gilda's Club offers free support services to people living with cancer and their loved ones, and holds a young adult group meeting two Tuesdays a month from 6:30-8pm. All are welcome, but you must attend a new member orientation before coming to the group meeting. See the contact info listed below for more information on how to get involved!

Gilda's Club Western Pa
2816 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4722
(412) 338-1919

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thank you!

Just wanted to send out a quick thank you to Kairol Rosenthal and all the new, awesome people I met last night at our coffee meet up. It was wonderful to see Kairol again, and to meet new young adult cancer patients in Pittsburgh. I really hope to see all of you again soon, and feel like we should try to have more regular coffee shop meet ups so more people can come out and talk. Any thoughts? Im happy to organize and facilitate if there is interest- let me know!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hey Pgh YA's-

Come join me and the amazing Kairol Rosenthal, author of Everything Changes: An Insiders Guide to Cancer in Your 20s & 30s for coffee and chit chat.

Tuesday, April 20
Coffee Tree Roasters – Shadyside
5524 Walnut Street

Pick up a copy of the booklet and ask us questions. We're both relatively friendly, I promise!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back to work!

After a nice weekend getaway, Im back and back to work. Come see us saturday at the I Made It! Market, where we will be tabling and giving out booklets. You can buy some amazing handmade goods and say hi to us as well.

Date: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Time: 2:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Former Joseph Beth Bookseller space at the SouthSide Works
Street: 2705 East Carson Street
City/Town: Pittsburgh, PA

Learn more about the vendors by visiting the I Made It! Market website.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Booklet release party photos!

Please check out these AMAZING photos of the release party, taken my my friend Mark Rawlings. GREAT stuff. More pics soon, but enjoy these for now!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A word about our booklets....

So you may notice the new profile photo- thats me with the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, released March 20th. So far about 400 copies have made their way out into the world, not a bad start, right?

In October of last year I was granted a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund. I put out the call to young adults in my community, looking for stories about their experience with cancer. I collected resource information as well, and set to work on this project. In the end, we had a 68 page book, with submissions from 15 contributors. We had stories from cancer patients, cancer survivors, cancer widows & widowers, the mother of a young adult cancer patient, the friend of a cancer patient. The diversity of the stories was pretty incredible. I included a suite of 8 prints by my departed husband, that addressed an element of his relationship to illness, and along the way we lost one of our booklet contributors to her disease. It was an emotional and exhausting journey for me.

Even in the final round of edits I was moved by the things people said in their submissions, and often felt tears brimming in my eyes. Always something different, from a different story, that I had probably read a hundred times before. Still, I didnt realize how heavy these booklets were, I thought maybe I was just being emotional because I was still working through my grief.

The response from people who have read the booklets in the last week has confirmed that they are indeed serious business. They are reaching a broader audience than I had anticipated, and Im finding out very quickly that more people than I could have imagined have been touched in some way by young adult cancer. I couldnt be happier that I am hearing from those of you who fall into this category- I am glad that people are talking about it.

Im so proud of the booklets and grateful to those who helped make it possible. Im honored by the people who were brave enough to share their stories with me. Im eager to get the booklets into the hands of those who want them. If you are interested in getting ahold of a copy, please send me an email at brickspgh at gmail dot com to make arrangements. The booklets are absolutely FREE, though Im finding it costs about $1.70-$2 to mail one. Check back here to keep track of where we'll be over the next couple months, we'll have the booklets on hand at all of our upcoming events (and boy are there some good ones in the works!).

More updates soon, including photos from our past events. Thanks all!

PS- Please feel free to let us know what you think of the booklet, either here in the comments or via email!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saturday!! Ride & Talk with Ezra Caldwell

Repost from the Bike Pgh blog, because Erok did such a damn fine job writing this up!

Join BRICKS for Young Adults for a ride & talk with Ezra Caldwell, cancer survivor and owner of Fast Boy Cycles on Saturday, March 27. Fast Boy, a custom frame builder, gained some fame in the bicycle world over past few years with their production of wooden fenders and wooden handlebars, featured in Urban Velo #3.

Several years ago, Ezra was diagnosed with cancer, and his doctors told him he couldn’t ride anymore because of the pressure of sitting on a bike seat. So he built a bike with no seat. In a Bikerumor.com post, he said:

Yeah.. the assless is a pretty fun bike. I built it for myself over the summer after being diagnosed with ass cancer. They told me I couldn’t ride a bike. I asked if it would be ok if the bike had no seat. The doc said, ’so.. what? you’re just going to stand the whole time?’ ’yeah.. that’s right.’ He just shrugged at me and said, ‘yeah.. that’d be fine.’ So I built an assless bike.

You can read Ezra’s writings in his awesome and inspiring blog, Teaching Cancer to Cry.

BRICKS for Young Adults is a Pittsburgh based organization that aims to connect Young Adult cancer patients to people and resources that may be useful to them as they undergo treatment and beyond. They also hope to raise awareness about Young Adult cancers, and impact survival rates through education and activism.

This event is set to coincide with the release of their brand new Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, the culmination of 6 months of hard work. In addition to providing practical advice, the booklet also features writings by young adults who were affected by cancer, including a contribution by Ezra.

The ride will start at 1pm at REI in the South Side, and will end (around 3pm) at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community on the South Side. Here Ezra will talk about bikes, his cancer experience, and The Assless, the special bike he built while dealing with cancer.

Event Details:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

1pm: Bike Ride – The ride will be social and low key, good for beginners, with an effort to use the trail system. Meet at REI in the Southside Works

3-5pm: Talk featuring Ezra- Ezra will talk about bikes, his cancer experience, and The Assless, the special bike he built while dealing with cancer. Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, 2700 Jane Street, South Side

This event is FREE, but donations are always welcome. Attendees will also get a copy of the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource guide, that includes a submission from Ezra.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

53 weeks.

Its been one year and one week since my husband passed away. The one year anniversary was last Wednesday, and it went by with very little commentary from yours truly. I think that surprised a lot of people.

What Ive learned over this last year is that the markers that might remind other people of Rick's absence arent necessarily the same things that remind me. I live with him not being here every day.

Today the weather reminded me of the day each year when, after so many cold months, my husband would decide it was time to shave off the beard and hair he had allowed to grow all winter. The transformation from wooly mountain man to baby faced boy was always surprising and exciting. Remembering this, I cried on my drive home from work. Wishing he could feel the warmth of the sun on his skin and knowing he never would again. Yesterday I had a serious melt down, a let down after the positivity of the weekend's events, a great dissatisfaction at not being able to share my successes with him.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being happy, or worried that I'll never be the kind of happy I want to be. Its up and down, back and forth, easy and hard. Life as a widow is unpredictable. An x on the calendar can mean everything or nothing at all.

I dont mean to be a downer, especially with so many wonderful things going on with BRICKS right now. I do, though, think its important to be honest and open about my experience. So today, the 53 week anniversary of my husband's death, gets a big thumbs down from me. Tomorrow, back to business as usual.

Full updates and more photos of the booklet release will be posted soon, I promise. Thanks for sticking with me, friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

2 down, 1 to go....for now!

Saturday's booklet release event was definitely a success, and a more detailed report, and photos, will follow shortly. But for now, I wanted to let everyone know about our third and final booklet related event for this month.

Ride & Talk with Ezra Caldwell

Saturday, March 27, 2010

1:00pm - 5:00pm

Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community
2700 Jane Street
Pittsburgh, PA

Join BRICKS for Young Adults, with Urban Velo & Bike Pgh, for a ride & talk with bike builder and cancer survivor Ezra Caldwell.

Ride will start at 1pm at a to-be-determined location, and will end (around 3pm) at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community on the Southside. Here Ezra will talk about bikes, his cancer experience, and The Assless, the special bike he build while dealing with cancer.

This event is FREE (you know how BRICKS likes to do it). Attendees will also get a copy of the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource guide, that includes a submission from Ezra!

Ezra is SUPER awesome and I think people would really like to hear him speak. You may have read about him in Urban Velo a while back.

You can read more about him in his blog Teaching Cancer to Cry

Here is an article about him that was in Urban Velo #3

If youd like to join us just for the talk, please plan to arrive at HMBFC by about 3pm. Those biking can take advantage of the cool bike racks that will be provided by Bike Pgh, complete with bike valets!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 19, 2010


So, here we are. The night before the big event. Theres still so much to do before 3pm tomorrow, but I wanted to take a minute to remind you all to come out and join us at AIR, 518 foreland St on Pittsburgh's Northside, for the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide release party!

This is the culmination of 6 months of hard work. I can hardly believe its here, and that I did it. SO many hours, so many helpers, so many stories and emails and on and on and on and all worth every single minute. The booklets look great, the posters (shown above) are out of this world. So many people came together to help make this vision a reality. I am eternally grateful. If I was able to do this much, in such a short amount of time, who knows what the future holds!! I feel really optimistic about BRICKS and proud of what we've accomplished so far.

In addition to bands and booklet contributors, we will have information and/or representatives from Gilda's Club, the Cancer Caring Center, Central Blood Bank, Be Well! Pgh, and the Sprout Fund on hand. Its a great opportunity to collect information and learn about these amazing organizations in our city, all doing such important work.

Details of the event are below, hope to see you all tomorrow!!!

March 20, 2010- BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Stories Booklet release party

Release party for the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, to be held at AIR, 518 Foreland St, Pittsburgh, from 3-10pm. This project supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.

This event will include readings by booklet contributors and performances by local bands. With the help of the kind folks at AIR, attendees can bring a tshirt to screen with the BRICKS logo. Local healthcare comrades will be in attendance with info as well, such as the lovely Jude of Be Well! Pgh.

Bands playing are:

Coal Miner
Code Orange Kids
The Frantic Heart of It
Devil Deer

Booklet contributors are:

Katlyn Basilone
Robin Belinsky
Stuart Boslow
Ezra Caldwell
John Elliff
Luke Ferdinand
Joe DeFerrari
Charissa Hamilton-Gribenas
Jenn Gaugler (r.i.p.)
Rick Gribenas (r.i.p.)
Kristen Griener
Eric Meisberger
Jim Semonik
Louise Silk
Douglas Weaver

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Making headlines

Well...not really. But BRICKS is in today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Go grab yourself a copy. Its really exciting to get this sort of coverage, especially right before our big event on Saturday. It also happens to be the one year anniversary of my husband's death, and its really incredible to have something so positive to think about.

Click here to read the article in the paper, and see below for information on Saturday's booklet release party!

March 20, 2010- BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Stories Booklet release party

Release party for the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, to be held at AIR, 518 Foreland St, Pittsburgh, from 3-10pm. This project supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.

This event will include readings by booklet contributors and performances by local bands. With the help of the kind folks at AIR, attendees can bring a tshirt to screen with the BRICKS logo. Local healthcare comrades will be in attendance with info as well, such as the lovely Jude of Be Well! Pgh.

Bands playing are:

Coal Miner
Code Orange Kids
The Frantic Heart of It
Devil Deer

Booklet contributors are:

Katlyn Basilone
Robin Belinsky
Stuart Boslow
Ezra Caldwell
John Elliff
Luke Ferdinand
Joe DeFerrari
Charissa Hamilton-Gribenas
Jenn Gaugler (r.i.p.)
Rick Gribenas (r.i.p.)
Kristen Griener
Eric Meisberger
Jim Semonik
Louise Silk
Douglas Weaver

Monday, March 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

Here is today's quote of the day, from the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide:

"There are a few specks I remember when I first found out. A family doctor appointment soon followed my slight tumor-like finding. I sat on a table (or maybe it was a chair) when the nurse came in and spoke to me as though we were previously engaged in conversation, or that I had the slightest clue of what she was speaking. She cheerfully strung together words that sounded like, “You’ll lead a normal life someday,” and “I’ve been through it too.” Confusion washed into a piecing together of our crossed, unshared timelines."
-Katlyn Basilone

If youd like to get a copy of our booklet, or distribute it at your cancer support group/treatment center/etc, please send us an email at brickspgh at gmail dot com. 3552 of the books arrived in my living room TODAY, and Im excited to start getting them out into the world!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

TDFC raises over $5000 for BRICKS!

The Tartan Devils Football Club benefit for BRICKS, held today at Pipers Pub, was a HUGE success, raising over $5000 for us! Much love to all involved, it was really an amazing event and so much fun.

Special thanks to:

Alex & Brandy, for making posters, organizing this entire thing, and for the hilarious oversized check shown above!

The TDFC, for being willing volunteers for their public head shaving, and for collecting such an amazing amount of money (this includes the ladies of the TDFC as well!)

Marla of LunaSea Salon & Day Spa, for busting out over a dozen haircuts in about 2 hours, including my own super cute, super short do

Commonwealth Press for the beautiful signage

and Pipers Pub for being our generous and gracious host

I may post some more pics soon, or check it out on our facebook page!

Edit, Sunday March 14: here are two pics of my new haircut!!!

the front

the side

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

Between now and the release of our booklet on March 20, Ive decided to post a quote from a submission in the booklet. I might do this daily, or every couple of days, so you get a sense for whats in the book.

Today's quote comes from fellow blogger Robin Belinsky:

"It was at this point where emotionally I started processing what it meant to
have cancer. I’ve had my moments, both the dark ones, when I know no one else would understand. The low points when I’ve wanted to give up, and I’ve felt my whole life had become wrapped up with cancer, and all my hopes, dreams, and aspirations had evaporated. My self-confidence has been squashed, and my brain has been scrambled. I struggle with fears of death, anxiety about recurrence, and disillusionment with life. There is the deep bitterness about this happening to my life, there is guilt I’m a survivor or don’t have it quite as bad as other people, and there is an indescribable loneliness. Then there is the constant pounding thought I am only 26 years old, and for the past five years, I have been taking a little pill every day to keep my body running. I live on borrowed time... "

To learn more about Robin, and her experience with thyroid cancer, visit her blog Death by Lettuce.

You can read the rest of her story in the BRICKS for Young Adults Cancer Awareness & Resource Guide, to be released on Saturday March 20, 2010.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

T-Minus 6 days, or Why Im Lopping Off My Locks in the Name of Cancer

As many of you know, the amazing lads of the Tartan Devils Football Club are sponsoring a benefit event for BRICKS on Saturday March 13th, in cooperation with Pipers Pub on the Southside. The banding together of locals fills me with an amazing sense of community that Im very proud to be a part of, and there is a clear sense of solidarity with our brothers and sisters diagnosed with cancer in the act of shaving ones head. What at first seemed like a simple and fun event has really made me consider my surprisingly deeper thoughts on the idea.

Its obvious that all of us participating in this event recognize that we have the OPTION of losing our hair, something our cancer affected peers do not always get to chose. Ive never really been one to be so full of self esteem regarding my physical appearance that making a change to my hair would be a big decision, I didnt have a whole lot of vanity to put aside, I suppose. But I have realized that I hide behind my hair, its my cover, a shield. Could I really have the confidence to go from this:

to something like this?:

When I start to have doubts, I think about how cancer affected my husband's appearance time and time again, especially in the last couple of weeks of his life. He lost weight, his skin was dry and yellowed, he let his hair and beard grow wildly before the chemo could take them from him. He took self portraits in the bathroom mirror and when I recently stumbled accidentally upon them on the laptop I was taken aback by the old, haggard man looking back at me. I remember that after he took those pictures he shaved his hair and beard, making a decision about his appearance before chemo could make it for him, returning to the familiar scruff and stubble of his healthier days.

Cancer leaves you exposed and vulnerable, open to constant poking and prodding and probing. Medications, procedures and illness itself can alter your physical appearance in innumerable ways. People handle this with great variety- some in anger, others with quiet acceptance. Some with scarves, wigs, tattoos, clothing. Regardless of the method, there is coping that happens, because it has to. You adjust, do your best to feel whole and like yourself, and you carry on. Sometimes acceptance never comes.

For me, should I remain as healthy and fortunate as I am now, this haircutting shouldnt be a big deal. My hair will grow back, if I allow it to. I have the opportunity to raise awareness about young adult cancer, raise some money for BRICKS, and have an amazingly fun time with new and old friends. No doubt I will stumble into the bathroom the morning of Sunday the 14th, and be shocked by what I see in the mirror, but hopefully I will do less hiding, and go out into the world more confident for having gone through with it.

My love and respect for those organizing and participating in this event grows as it approaches, and I hope through doing this they realize how important this event is to me. For my friends and loved ones who have been on the other side, who have experienced the involuntary loss of their hair due to cancer, Im doing this for you, in honor of your strength and courage. This is about so much more than just a haircut.