Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cancer Sucks But Life Rocks!

It is a rainy dark morning here in New England.  I skipped out of my morning run today so I could bake a pumpkin apple bread and finally do some writing.  It is starting to smell yummy!  I have so much to write about, as it has been a pretty busy and exciting last couple of weeks.

My mom and dad flew in from Florida to visit.  We all had missed them so much.  Our relationship with them is so tight.  A blessing that has come out of my illness has been the incredible relationship we all have.  My parents were so supportive over the last year and continue to be.  Mike and I would not have gotten through the last year, was it not for my parents.  They literally left their lives in Florida to come and take care of my children.  They have become so intimate with the kids schedules and routines.  In fact, even when they are back at home in Florida their daily calls are to check in to get an update on the kids' days.  Watching their relationship blossom into this incredible bond has been such a gift.  They have also been so strong and supportive of me.  They listen to me during my dark moments, as well as embrace all the happy times.  I never understood what people meant when they discussed the gifts that come from cancer.  Now I get it.

On the 17th of September we all participated in the MMRF Race for Research in Boston, MA.  It was a beautiful morning.  We had about 60 members of our team Cancer Sucks But Jeanie You Rock!  Together, we raised over $12,000.  And the donations are still coming in!  We had a big presence at this years' race.  Our team had a tent where we all met.  There we had hats in rainbow colors for everyone to wear.  My Uncle John, being the fun guy he is who will do just about anything, agreed to wear the rainbow costume.
My Lovable Uncle John!

It was so wonderful to see everyone who have been so supportive of us during the last year.  This was a celebration of how far we have come.  I say "we", because we have all had to go through this cancer diagnosis together.  My family, friends we all went through the many emotions together during this journey.  Last year we were all terrified of this Big "C".  Scared of the year ahead.  Now, 10 months later, I have fully recovered from my stem cell transplant and I am in a complete response, zero M-Spike (ie: no Myeloma detected!)  Prior to the race, I spent time talking with fellow Myeloma patients as well as families who have lost loved ones to this disease.  Their stories were beautiful and truly inspirational.  Some families continue to participate in the MMRF Race as a way to honor their loved ones and to be encouraged by people like me who are benefiting from all the advances in treatment.

This year I was honored with the Spirit of Hope Award.  It truly was an incredible moment to listen to my story being told in front of all the people gathered that morning.  And then to step on stage with Mike and the kids to accept the award, I was speechless.  I couldn't help but be overwhelmed.  How did someone like me get here?  I can still feel the fear and sadness I felt when I first got diagnosed. I remember how weak and beaten down I felt those first few months.  And now I was on stage feeling strong and healthy looking out at the crowd of people many who had been my shoulders to cry on and sources of strength over the last year.  Tears rolled down many of their cheeks.  It really was a moment I will never forget.

Receiving the Spirit of Hope Award

My beautiful kids were selected to start the race.   They were so excited to do the countdown and blow the air horn.  During the race I had the privilege to personally meet Dr. Kenneth Anderson. and Dr. Paul Richardson, both whom are leaders in the Myeloma Community for their research.  For the first half mile, Dr. Richardson, Suzi and I chatted about running and my treatment.  This was real treat to speak have this awesome opportunity to talk with a man I am so grateful for.
Mike and I with Dr. Richardson and Dr. Anderson!  What an honor!

My Awesome kids starting the race!

Even with chatting with so many people while running and listening to such compelling stories, Suzi and I managed to both tie for second for our age group!  This seemed so perfect! Suzi has been so supportive with me during my journey.  And together we are committing our efforts to raising money for the MMRF.  We were so excited that we surpassed our goal of $10,000 this year!    Her dedication, love and loyalty is truly one of my greatest blessings in life.  When I was sick she cared for my children, as if they were her own.  A lifelong friend who has been more like a sister to me since the age of 4.  This year we have even closer than ever before.  We have running and training together since April for our participation in the Bay State Marathon in October and Boston Marathon in April 2012.   This past week Suzi injured her hip and will be unable to run in the Bay State Marathon, which is in less than 3 weeks.  She is devastated.  It just will not be the same without having her by my side chatting about life and whatever other subjects come up during a long run of over 4 hours.  We are hoping she has a speedy recovery, so that we can run over the winter and train for Boston.  But for Bay State I know she will be on the sidelines cheering me on (even if she is holding crutches).

Also on our team, our close friends Beth, Jay and their daughter Kaitlin all placed for their age groups, as well as our niece Chloe!  Team Cancer Sucks But Jeanie You Rock was a powerhouse of incredible athletes this year!

After the race we spent time speaking with so many other team members.  Patients themselves, as well as people who had lost loved ones.  They would come up to me and share their personal experiences , give me a hug, and tell me to never stop fighting.   At times, it was too difficult to hold back the tears.  So many of these people I had never met before, yet I felt that we were all connected.  We have all been thrown into this Multiple Myeloma Crazy World.  It is not something we asked for, yet this is the card we have been dealt.  We have all had to face the pain, sadness and sometimes loss that this disease brings.  Yet on this day, we were all filled with love, happiness and real hope for the future.  It truly was an unforgettable day.  

The day topped off with a fun party at my Aunt Sue and Uncle John (you know the rainbow guy!)  It was such a fun day  My Uncle John, a beautiful singer,  dedicated and sang a beautiful song to me.  Again, tears strolled down my face.  The love I felt on that day by my amazing Aunt Sue who put together the party and all who attended was overwhelming.  I am so so blessed to have each and everyone of them in my life.  

Well, the rain is still falling and my kiddos are going to be coming off the bus soon.  I hope you all feel as blessed and peaceful as I do today.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Welcoming Change

I just got back from an incredible run this morning with Mike and Flower.  It was a crisp autumn morning only about 50 degrees and sunny and the leaves are beginning to change.  Just as the air is changing in New England, my life is welcoming some new exciting changes.  The kids are all back to school and the busy fall schedules of sports, homework and activities have begun.  My days have become very full with lots to focus on.  Tomorrow is the big MMRF Race for Research in Boston, MA.  Our team, Cancer Sucks But Jeanie You Rock has earned so far over $11,000.00!    I am so excited and overwhelmed by the support we have received.  We have over 59 participants running and walking with us on our team tomorrow.  I think back about our last year when we participated in this Race.  It was only a few months after I got diagnosed.  We were all so scared.  We had no idea really what we were up against with this disease.  But being a part of that day brought us so much hope.  We were so inspired by all the people that were there.  In fact , the walls in my house are full of beautiful photos that were taken last year at the MMRF Race for Research.  My mother-in-law Trish did a beautiful job capturing all the emotions of that day; fear, sadness, love, hope and excitement.

This year we are returning to Carson Beach in Boston with full enthusiasm.  Today I am healthy and strong.  Today I have no detection of Myeloma, M-Spike of Zero!  We will be having a big presence at the race.  We will have a tent.  Also the MMRF has selected me to receive the Spirit of Hope Award.  This award is given to individuals who show strength and inspiration.  I am honored to be the recipient and to be recognized by such an incredible organization.  It is because of efforts from the MMRF that I am healthy and alive today.  Velcade and Revlimid, 2 drugs that have been critical in my treatment, were funded by the MMRF.  I will be so proud to be standing on that stage along side with such dedicated people.

Also I received a message that my four children will stand on a platform and start the race.  No air horn needed with the four Dreyer children.  I am so excited for them.  Tomorrow will be a great day.  A day that we can all fully enjoy, look straight in the face at Cancer and tell it that it sucks and that it will not win.  We will DOMINATE it!  After the race we will party it up at My Aunt Sue's and Uncle John's!

Attached is a link to my MMRF Race for Research Fundraising Page.  If you would like to donate we would be ever so grateful!  You can feel great that 90% of your donation will go directly to research to prolong the life of a Multiple Myeloma patient.  In addition, these drugs are also being looked into treating 30 other cancers.

I hope you all enjoy this beautiful weekend.  I'll be sure to post some pictures of the big day next week!