Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The (Teal) Warrior Spirit

UPDATE: I'm walking again this year - I'd love if you could support our team in this worthy cause! Click HERE to learn more!

This past Saturday, my husband kissed me goodbye sometime around 0-dark-thirty in the morning to head to work, and I snuggled deep into my mountain of blankets and sheets, relishing the cool air wafting in from the open windows in the bedroom and savoring the patter of rain. Blissful in the knowledge that I had hours yet to sleep, I quickly drifted off.
Five seconds later, my alarm pierced through the haze of perfect sleep, its annoying little tune chirping happily in my ear. I cracked an eye as I batted around for my phone, smacking the snooze button. It was seven thirty, but it felt more like five in the morning. The day was cold, grey, and wet—official ‘sleeping in’ weather. The night before, getting up early and driving the hour into Raleigh to join my Heart of Carolina fellow romance writers for the Ovarian Cancer awareness walk seemed like a good idea. The brisk, drizzly weather, however, was doing its best to convince me otherwise.
Another alarm, another snooze. And another. And another.
Until, somehow, I pryed open my eyes and peered at my clock . . . eight-thirty! I groaned and rolled over. All I wanted to do was sleep. I mean really, would anyone miss me if I didn’t show up? I hadn’t even told anyone I was coming, so the answer was a resounding no. The warm cocoon of my covers beckoned, but with a sigh, I tossed everything off and got to my feet. The cause was important to me, and I couldn’t miss it on account of a little cold rain and dark clouds.
In less then twenty minutes, I was dressed, the dogs were taken care of, and I was out the door. It was slow going navigating the Saturday morning traffic in the relentless rain, and I took the time to stop to buy a poncho before finally making it to the high school that was hosting the event.
As if by magic, the rain slackened as I got out of my car and headed around the back of the building toward the registration area. All around me, people dressed in varying degrees of tealness—teal shirts, hats, bracelets, wigs, and even retro sneakers—streamed toward the event. I laughed, despite the crappy drive and the icky weather, when a teal-outfitted basset hound trotted past me, followed by an ovarian cancer awareness t-shirt wearing golden retriever.
The crowd thickened as I approached the line to check in. There were kids running past giggling, babies cradled by teal-wearing parents, teenagers clumped together in groups, families laughing and friends chatting. There were white-haired ladies, teal-haired kids, and several bald-headed participants of all ages. At the registration desk, the lady behind me handed back the white event t-shirt with a grin. “Sorry,” she said, holding up another shirt, “I didn’t realize there was a differed one for survivors.”
She was beautiful, with short silver hair and a ready grin, but there was no mistaking the steel in her eyes. “Wow,” I said, offering her a smile, “it’s an honor to meet a true warrior.”
Her grin widened. “Why thank you!”
After getting my own shirt, I headed off in search of the HCRW booth, where I knew I would find my friends and fellow romance writer. It wasn’t long before I spotted them, damp, bedraggled, but in high spirits. We were all members of Heather’s OC Warriors, and rallied around our friend and one-week-free-of-cancer survivor Heather McCollum. Her teal wig, teal knitted cap, and brilliant smile­—not to mention her tall, kilt-wearing Scottish husband—made her hard to miss. The dreariness of the morning, the difficulty getting up, the crappy hour-long drive in the rain—all of it melted away and my spirit rejoiced at being in the company of such amazing people all united for a wonderful cause. The other members of our team included Sabrina Jeffries, Deb Marlowe, Katharine Ashe, Virginia Kantra, Marcia Colette, Mari Freeman, and Jennifer Harrington. Many others who couldn’t be there also contributed, be it with book donations or money.
Katharine Ashe, Me. Heather McCollum, Deb Marlowe, Sabrina Jeffries, Marcia Colette
Soon, the PA system crackled to life and the walk began. As we followed the crowd down the residential streets, covered by over-eager crepe myrtles and interlocking branches of oak trees on either side of the blacktop, we laughed and chatted together, inspired by the palpable feeling of community to be involved in such a great cause.
The walk was Heather’s first since being subjected to the rigors of chemo and radiation. She was amazing! Like the warrior she is, she powered through, accepting our helping hands when needed, and keeping a strong, steady pace throughout the whole of the 2K walk. All around us, we could feel the love and support of all the participates—children, mothers, grandparents, friends, husbands, and, most inspiring of all, survivors. All of these people, joined together in their fight against ovarian cancer, taking a stand against the near silent disease. SHOUTING against the whisper, as Heather would say.
(Yes, I know it's a dreadful picture of me, but its the only one I have on the walk itself!)
At the end of the walk, we toasted each other with Chick-fil-a sandwiches and cold bottles of water. We cheered when Heather’s OC Warriors came in 5th place for money raised, and gasped with delight when the total amount raised by the walk was announced: over $300,000!
It’s absolutely amazing what we can do when we join together. Strangers, friends, and family members alike, coming together for one special day, throwing their collective support behind the cause. It was inspiring, heart-warming . . . and way better than sleeping in on a rainy September morning could have ever been ;)
Have you ever joined in a walk/run for a cause? What are the causes/charities that are important to you?

Today’s recipe is more than just a list of ingredients; it’s a recipe for a long and happy life. Below are the list of symptoms to be aware of the whisper-quiet symptoms of ovarian cancer. Together, we can SHOUT against the whisper!
Symptoms can be subtle, and confused with those of other diseases or conditions. And in our busy lives, they are easily overlooked. This makes ovarian cancer hard to diagnose. Know your body and watch for the following symptoms:
· Bloating that is persistent
· Eating less and feeling fuller
· Abdominal pain
· Trouble with your bladder
See your gynecologist if you have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks. Experts suggest a combination pelvis / rectal exam, a transvaginal ultrasound, and a CA-125 blood test.
Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities, although these symptoms are found equally in women without the disease.
From the symptoms consensus statement endorsed by the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
Please visit the OCNA for more information: http://www.ovariancancer.org/


  1. Prior to having kids the only causes I supported were World Wildlife Fund, National Space Society, police and firefighters.

    Due to relatives we've made some donations to Education and Heart Cancer research. Because of the kids Autism has become the biggest thing we support right now.

  2. What a great post about a great event! Kudos to you for pulling yourself out of those warm covers! :)

  3. Good for you!! I don't think I've done a walk since the one in Louisville when I was 14 that we complained all the way through;) How wonderful that you all raised so much money!!
    I support Compassion International, Laura's House for domestic abuse survivors, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and the American Cancer Association. Oh, and I sponsor a Puffin through Project Puffin:)
    I'm thankful that mom and dad instilled in us the importance of giving...I wish more people understood the big difference their small gifts can make.

  4. Beth, those are all wonderful causes! I totally understand shifting your support to causes closer to home. Its the passion of those supporters most affected that makes the real difference in any cause.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Thanks, Aimee :) It should have been so hard, seeing how I sleep in most days, but I SWEAR there is something in my DNA that makes waking up early nearly impossible (Just ask my sister - that DNA runs in the family, lol!)

  6. Yeah, Kara - I remember that walk. It was like 100 miles, I swear! Okay, so maybe it was more like 15k, but it was waaaaaay too much for this 9 year old :)
    I agree that mom and dad led by example when it came to generosity. The old saying is right - tis better to give than receive! I'm glad you have found so many wonderful charities to support :)

  7. I've done a Breast Cancer walk as well as a memorial run for another cause. It's so nice to get together and remember someone who has passed away and make new memories, or to commit to a great cause. Good on you!! :)

  8. That was tons of fun last year. I wanted to do it again this year, but we're going to be busy packing for Disney. Of course, if there's a booth, Little Bit and I can definately spare a few minutes to stop by and see everyone. :)