Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Eve of the Walk

I should be asleep. It's after midnight - any sane person would be asleep, knowing she has to get up at 4:45 a.m. Knowing a full day of grueling exertion, walking 22 miles of concrete - the first leg of 60 total miles - awaits.

But I am awake, thinking of the first day of the Breast Cancer 3-Day, starting in the morning. I'm thinking of the women on my honor roll: friends and friends of friends, all facing breast cancer or surviving it or losing the fight. I've lost track of how many names are lettered on the sash I will wear - there must be 16 or 18 by now.

I keep repacking my gear, trying to weed out anything superfluous, winnowing down the weight of my duffel. I lay in bed and close my eyes. Instead of drifting off to sleep, though, I review the contents of my belt pack. Can I fit one more necessity in it? Is the disposable poncho good enough if it rains? Did I remember to pack sunscreen? Insect repellent? Ibuprofen?

My husband, my soul mate, is sleeping in the next room, breathing softly. He has supported my strongly held belief that I must walk this 60-mile trek again, raising money for breast cancer research, raising awareness and educating women and men about this horrid killer. I am very close to my personal fundraising goal...but just how close does that take us to a cure and prevention?

The task is daunting...progress is slow, but there is progress being made. What can I do, besides raising money? I can learn and I can share what I learn. So here's what I know:
  • Nearly 200,000 women and 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009
  • Over 40,000 women and 440 men will die of breast cancer this year
  • Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among African-American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino women
  • The two most important factors risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older
  • Men with breast cancer often get treatment at later stages than women because they are less likely to report symptoms immediately, and this can affect their survival

Please learn about your risk and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Then share what you learn with your family members and friends. And if you can, please make a donation, however large or small, by clicking the pink box at the right or visiting http://www.the3day.org/goto/connie.walks. I know we'll all sleep better at night.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Joys of Being Owned by a Cat

We didn't see ourselves as cat owners. When we said a final goodbye to our dear canine friend last fall, my husband and I agreed to wait before bringing another pooch into our lives. We said we would wait until we had completed the three trips we had scheduled in the winter and spring, and then we'd see.

Then my friend's cat got sick while my friend was out of state, so we took Sabrina in and nursed her back to health. When it came time to send Sabrina back home, we had a tough time giving her up and our lives were a little less full.

So we put the word out to our friends at Love-A-Stray that we would consider rescuing a cat, but not just any cat. We wanted a female, spayed, front-declawed (please, no lectures) with a warm and snuggly personality. It wasn't long before such a kitty was found, and we had a new critter in our home.

Belle - her name was Jingle Bells, but that wasn't going to fly - rules our roost. Fortunately, she has decided - for now - to let us stay here too. She talks to me constantly, squeaking and chirping and meowing. She expects a dollop of wet food every evening and will chew me out if I'm late. She is fascinated by our bedroom, where she is not allowed, and plots how she will sneak in. She also plots how she will sneak out into the garage. It's not that she's trying to run away, it's just that she's not allowed, which makes it more attractive to her.

Belle especially likes to curl up on my lap and stare into my face. She's completely entranced with the laser pointer. She also likes the stick with the feathers and streamers and will carry it around with her, much like a dog.

Our lives have changed so much, but it feels so right to have a pet again. The house doesn't feel empty, I have someone to talk to (and who talks back), and Belle clearly dotes on me. At least she has good taste! She's a messy eater who hates to get to the bottom of the bowl, and given the chance, she will drink from the toilet. Other than that, we're delighted to have Belle in our lives.

Thinking about getting a pet? Please consider rescuing an animal through Love-A-Stray: Click here for more information.