Category Archives: Cancer

Paint the Month Pink

It’s October, which means leaves change colors, pumpkin spice lattes are back and it’s breast cancer awareness month. For me, every month is breast cancer awareness month because it is a passion of mine to help find a cure. But for retailers, the NFL and much of the population, this month is dedicated to raising awareness, fundraising and the color pink. Here are some of my favorite Breast Cancer Awareness items so far!

Essie’s Breast Cancer Awareness line (Pictured: We’re In It Together and I Am Strong)

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Providence Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon Recap

I signed up for the Providence Rock n’ Roll half marathon because one of my bucket list goals is to run a race in every state. Turns out, the race was so much more than I ever expected. First my mom and Keith decided to come out so we could tour the city a bit. Then a close family friend got diagnosed with a brain tumor and I decided to run on his behalf for the American Cancer Society. The combination of an amazing race, beautiful city, being with family and running for a greater cause, made the weekend an unforgettable experience.

We stayed at the Marriot Courtyard Downtown (on Exchange Terrace), which was the perfect location. It is about three blocks from the race expo, a short walk to the start/finish of the race, and near popular attractions like Waterfire,  Providence Place Mall and Federal Hill. Federal Hill also is home to some of the best Italian food (high carb!), that I’ve ever had. To get ready for the race we feasted on amazing pasta, pizza and cannolis. Many of the restaurants in Providence have also been on the Food Network. I had no idea Providence was known for having such great food, but I’m glad I got to experience it.

The race is well-organized, follows a gorgeous route and is filled with great crowds of cheering people. Only thing I would warn about, you have probably heard – Providence is very hilly. The first half of the route is pretty much up and down hills, and then it evens out a little bit. However, don’t be fooled. You can’t collect your medal until you run the last .1 miles uphill to the finish. If you aren’t ready for the full half-marathon, the race also offers a relay option. For me the race was near perfect. The weather cooled off a little in the morning, I had done my training and I was inspired to be running for the American Cancer Society. I had raised close to $2000 on behalf of Tim and been touched by the outpouring of support so many people offered. Each mile was fueled with a heartfelt thank you and the mindset to continue running for those who can’t. I had a shirt made with my slogan: “#beatitcancer.”

And the back of the shirt was dedicated to Tim and his team of supporters:

After crossing the finish line there were lots of cheers, a few tears and a mass consumption of Gatorade and carbs/protein. We listened to live music by Karmin, enjoyed some free beer and celebrated life. The entire training, fundraising and racing experience was amazing and I’m so thankful to everyone who supported me along the journey. I’d definitely recommend both this race and running for DetermiNation. The people I met throughout this process have forever impacted me and I thank the city of Providence for putting on a great race.

Once you are done racing, I recommend touring the surrounding area a bit. We enjoyed a day-trip to Newport for fresh lobster and beach time, a night in Pawtucket for a Pawtucket Sox minor league baseball game, and a visit to Battleship Cove. All-in-all, it was an amazing weekend and I will definitely be returning.

Here are a few pictures from our trip:

Rocking out with my mom at the expo

Waterfire

Coaches verse Umpires at the Pawtucket Sox game

Run This Town With Summer Streets

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Three Saturdays in August, NYC closes down one of it’s busiest streets from 7 AM to 1 PM for an event called “Summer Streets.” During this time, Park Avenue gets a short escape from stop-and-go traffic and turns into a peaceful route for New Yorkers to run, bike, walk and even rollerblade. With one week left until the Rock n’ Roll Providence Half Marathon, Summer Streets was the perfect place to finish my last “long run.”

I woke up early to try to avoid the humidity, but it is August in NYC, so the mugginess is pretty much inevitable. During rough weather, small pains and moments of laziness, I always remember why I run so many miles…I run for those who can’t. Signs with words like “Your blisters will be gone before their cancer is,” and “You know what sucks more than running in the heat? Cancer,” race through my mind every time I need a moment of strength. This seven-mile run in the NYC heat and humidity wasn’t any different.

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Summer Streets was a really great experience and if you are ever in the city during it, I recommend putting on your sneakers and heading to Park Avenue. Companies like Whole Foods and Muscle Milk set up stations along the way. The stations included everything from free samples, yoga classes and recycling lessons. Some of other stations that caught my eye were free bike rentals, bike riding classes for kids and adults, and “rest stops” with water. My advice for running Summer Streets…bring a backpack to collect the samples.

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My last long run before next weekend’s race was peaceful and reflective. As you know I’m running this race as part of the DetermiNation team in honor of our friend Tim. With the help of friends, family and many of Tim’s supporters, I raised $1,920 in his name for the American Cancer Society (ACS). The amount of support people have provided during the fundraising and training for this race has been amazing. Every step I take over the 13.1 mile race will be in thanks to Tim’s team of supporters, and will be my way of helping him fight this cancer. With fundraising races, organizations like ACS and the amazing people who step up to help, together we will find a cure.

A very special thanks to those who have donated since my last blog post: Richard Vanstrum, Mahesh Neelaknata, Barbara Connors and Greta Elmore. Without the support of so many people, this step towards helping find a cure wouldn’t be possible.

#beatitcancer

More Than Just Money

Since joining the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation team last Friday, we have already raised $1,750 in honor of our friend Tim. Through the contributions of Tim’s friends and coworkers, and a few of my friends, we exceeded the original goal set within hours. The outpouring of support has sent such  a strong message – that together we all believe we can and will find a cure for cancer. I’ve been sharing fundraising updates with Tim, along with the kind words everyone has sent with donations, and just wanted to share that he is extremely appreciative. I believe our team of supporters has helped to give his family strength over these past difficult days…which brings me to my point.

Donations made to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and similar charitable companies, are more than just money, they are a source of hope.  From research to educational programs, the money donated by supportive family and friends helps to fund life-saving initiatives. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society’s website, “Thanks in part to the American Cancer Society, two of every three people diagnosed with cancer today survive. Sixty years ago, less than half of people diagnosed survived.” The ACS is the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research in the United States, spending approximately $130 million each year to work to find cures. These advances in research all bring us one step closer to putting an end to cancer. Positive statistics and cancer-fighting research wouldn’t be as advanced without generous  donations like those from Tim’s supporters. For years people have stepped up to help others fight their battle against cancer, and together we will continue the fight.

As someone whose mother had breast cancer 20 years ago and then again this year, I saw first-hand the advances cancer research funding have made. Her first diagnosis was basically a death sentence, which she beat. Her second diagnosis was much more “mainstream,” understood and easier to accept. She beat it this time too, but with a much different experience. Also, as a family member of a survivor, I understand the importance of having support and hope from others. That’s how I know that every donation and kind word made in Tim’s honor helps him and his family to gain strength and faith.

Since my last posting I want to extend a huge thank you to the additional  people who have helped us exceed our fundraising goal for the ACS in honor of Tim. Thank you to Jean Brislance, David Mortimore, Ed Kaska, Michael Ogilvie, Vickie Mersy, Dawn Maniglia, Mary Kincaid, Dave Shearer, Joe Delellis and Dave Shearer. Also, thank you to those who donated money towards groceries for the Garmons!

Also, Tim shared that his doctor is a Husker fan. As someone who was born in Nebraska and raised a Husker die-hard, I know he is in great hands. Like I told Tim, a doctor from a school that bred Ndamukong Suh and The Blackshirts has a good amount of fight in him. Go Big Red and Tim!

#beatitcancer

To visit our fundraising page, please click here.

DetermiNation to End Cancer

I am a Pisces. I try my best to always give people hope. I strive to fight for something larger than myself.  I run for those who can’t. I write to share my stories and hopefully give others strength. I dream of putting an end to cancer.

I’m not one to read my horoscope or really even follow my zodiac sign, but when I saw the above quote on Pinterest, it made me stop and think. I do want to give people hope and faith. And I have a vision – a world without cancer. So maybe my sign does say something about me, or maybe not. But I do hope that through my blog, fundraising efforts and training to run the Providence Half Marathon as a runner for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) DetermiNation team, that I will be able to give strength, hope and faith to the Garmon family. But I can’t do it alone and the response I’ve received in the past 24 hours proves that I don’t have to.

After speaking with both of my parents yesterday, I decided to pledge to raise $1,250 for the ACS in Tim’s name, our family friend who is currently fighting a brain tumor. As someone who has watched their own mother battle cancer twice, I know the importance of having friends, family and coworkers step up to show their support. As a way to show Tim and his family that we are all rooting for him, I joined the ACS DetermiNation team and sent my father an email to help me raise money in Tim’s name. Within minutes the donations, kind words and support began to come in. I was overwhelmed by the instant response, but not surprised. Tim and his family are well respected members of the communities they are a part of and three of the nicest people most of us will ever know. Last night before going to bed we had already raised $1,180, just $70 short of our goal in half a day.

This morning I woke up, put on my sneakers and ran an eight-mile training run along the East River. The temperatures are supposed to hit 100 degrees today, but nothing could stop me from completing this run. My motto has always been “run for those who can’t,” but today I was more empowered than ever. The amount of people who reached out in support of Tim fueled me through eight hot, humid and motivating miles. When I returned home I checked the fundraising page again and we were only $20 short of our goal. Just minutes later two more donations came in and as a team we had exceeded our fundraising goal ($1,250) in just 21 hours!!! In less than one day, people from all over the nation came together to help end cancer and support Tim. This has to be a record.

While we have reached our goal, we don’t have to stop here. Every donation and kind word will continue to help build our support team through the next few weeks and months. I passed along the news to Tim’s wife and she shared that words couldn’t describe their appreciation. She also asked that I thank all of you for her in this blog post.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for helping stand up against cancer and joining me to  give faith, hope and strength to the Garmons during this difficult time. Together we will help Tim beat this and we will help fund research that will one day put an end to all cancer…forever. 

Thank you to the following people for your donations and support: Michael Miller, Frank DeLellis, Nanette Robbins, Connie Ryan, Melvin Reis, Jenny Struzyk, Jerry Slavec, Gary Buda, Steve Larsen, Steve Fairbourne, Alan Johnson, John Banister, Lisa Ouellette, Nancy Hemmerly, Pat Manganaro, Jules Muszel, Pat Miller, Keith Weinzierl, Alex Strum, Charlie Miller, TJ Malone, Jenni Page and Jackie Lehmann.

Click here to visit my page for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team – this race is a life-saving event.

#beatitcancer

Crowdsourcing Guidance

Today I found out a very close family friend has cancer. A malignant brain tumor the size of a small orange. The type of cancer that my Grandpa Miller had. The six-letter word that has impacted way too many loved ones in my life. Cancer…again.

This guy is one of the nicest, smartest and hardworking people I know. His wife and son are two of the kindest people I have ever met. Together the three of them have been a huge support system to my own family throughout the years. Their family has opened their hearts to so many people and made a difference in the lives of many. From the soccer field to family vacations, this family celebrates life, appreciation and love on a daily basis. When my father called with the news, everything stopped.

Since this morning I’ve tried to hit play again, but can’t. I reached out to a few family members and friends, tried distracting myself with work, went for a run, prayed and read. I’m sitting here writing my story because writing is often my therapy. But nothing seems to help. I can’t figure out why people say everything happens for a reason and then horrible things happen to amazing people. There is no answer.

I know he will beat this. I will run for him this year. I will raise money for a brain cancer cure. I will not stop until days like this are gone. But for today and probably tomorrow, I ask…how do you hit play when everything seems to stop? What clears your mind? What revives your Faith? Yes, I’m crowdsourcing some guidance.

#BeatItCancer

Guest Post: From Death Sentence to Standard Procedure

This post is written by my amazing mother, Pat Miller, and shares her survival story through her own words. Enjoy!

By: Pat Miller

Being diagnosed with cancer twenty years ago was like being handed a death sentence.  I can remember sitting in the doctor’s office and him telling me I had breast cancer.  Breast cancer!?  I had a six-year-old and a four-year old; I couldn’t have breast cancer.  I felt like someone had literally hit me in the head with a brick.

Kate and Char when they were younger. I knew I had to fight it for them.

For about the next 48 hours, much of what happened I don’t remember. Mike, Kate and Charlie’s dad,  made arrangements for his mom to fly out, friends took the kids until she could arrive, and I somehow got to the hospital.  I can remember people looking at my with sad horrified faces.  The priest from the church coming to talk to me, the flowers, the prayers, the dinners for the family went on for months.  The questions!  At that time, cancer was not something you talked about.  Unlike now, few families had been impacted and even less had positive stories if they had.  No one really knew what to do or say.  Now, the second time, so many advances have been made.  With a cancer diagnosis today, you discuss your treatment plan with your doctor and move forward.  Today, everyone knows someone who has dealt with some form of cancer.  Boobs have come out of the closet and onto center stage. It doesn’t make a diagnosis any easier, but I think it makes the transition back to health more comfortable.

Stop the Cancer!

Weeks later, Grandma was sent home, I was back on my feet being a full-time mom and working a part-time job.  We didn’t really talk about the cancer, and life went on.  My busy life continued, and I still pretty much lived in denial.  Move ahead 19 years, we are living in Minnesota and most people don’t even know I am a survivor.  My daughter Kate hears about this 3-Day breast cancer walk and decides we should go check it out.  I’m thinking to myself “there is no way I am walking 60 miles in 3 days,” but she is persistent, and sometimes, often times, it is easier just to agree with whatever it is she is talking about then to present an argument otherwise.  So off we go to the meeting with me having no intention whatsoever of signing up.  One hour later, we are signed up and I have paid our fees!  We trained together for six months, fund raised and walked the walk, twice!  I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.  Thus our “battle” to beat it began.  My newest friends were surprised but so supportive.  They too got involved with our efforts, and if finally felt good to talk about it and finally really deal with it.

Some of our new friends at the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk in Minneapolis

Kate has actively taken up the battle with walks, runs, and various fund-raising events.  She is also helping to get the word out about genetic testing, as I have tested positive for the BRCA1 gene.  Most recently I learned the cancer was back but in its very earliest stage.  This time the stay was overnight and I was up and walking/running within days.  It is not as shocking or whispered about anymore.  Advances have been made. It is no longer a death sentence.

Running to celebrate life!

My type of cancer is an inherited gene, and the mutation runs in our family.  In the coming days and weeks, Kate will post more about the gene mutation on her blog, please check it out.

To Kate, my wonderful daughter.  I am so proud of you!!  Love you!

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