I was looking forward to the start of a new year, 2011 promised to be filled with happiness and love. However, this would soon be shattered by what I was about to find.
The Pink Cart Blog
In 1988 when I was 32 years old I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. I did my 6 months of Chemo and followed all the rules laid out by my Doctor. 4 years later I had a recurrence.
We posted a link to a video for an all-woman owned and operated trash hauling company earlier this month as they are in the final selection stages for their own reality tv show. The company is called DirtyGirl Disposal and is run by a remarkable woman by the name of Katherine Fairbanks. When the link came into the office last week I passed it around to my co-workers to gauge their reaction because it's a little rough around the edges and I wanted to be sure that nobody would be offended by the language.
I have never shared my whole story with anyone before. Perhaps I find it hard to talk about or perhaps I am just scared to death. Not to share of course, but because of the unknown future it holds. But if one person reads it, benefits from it and takes the next step of getting the dreaded mammogram then it will all be worth it. If it saves one life that would be priceless.
Last week, The Pink Cart hit a major milestone. Three local haulers, who normally compete with each other for customers, banded together to bring Pink Carts to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. The haulers, Dick's Sanitation, Troje's Trash & Recycling and Walter's Recycling & Refuse, all had their own story to tell about cancer.
It's a big day around here...being Pink carts birthday which of course, no co-incidence, is the anniversary of my Mother's passing from breast cancer and the WHOLE reason Pink cart was born. What few people know is it's also the date I chose to get married on.
This week we'll enter into September and face the sad truth that Summer is winding down and Fall is just around the corner. As the leaves begin to change, we in the PINK community also start to shift our focus to the pinnacle event for breast cancer awareness and support - October. Every October breast cancer support groups, charities and advocacy organizations flock to the streets, websites, blogs, social media channels, TV, and add their message to the caucus of PINK voices heard throughout the month.
Breast Cancer isn't funny. It's scary. It can be overwhelming and intimidating. It's also something that 1 in 8 women will experience in her lifetime. It becomes a part of these women's lives, becomes a part of their families' lives. And most of the time, it's certainly not the only thing they've got going on! They all have to keep going, keep moving, keep working, keep paying their bills. And, hopefully, they keep laughing as much as they can.
In our Pink Cart journey, we've long been hoping for a Pink City. Can you imagine? Pink Carts at every home, at every curb, on every street, on every block, in an entire city! Can you imagine the level of awareness those residents would have about the risk factors of breast cancer, about the importance of early detection in saving lives?
Line up, Soldiers - You gotta fight for your right to roll Pink Carts to the curb!
Woo hoo! There are now 30,000 Pink Carts at curbs across the U.S. raising awareness and $150,000 in funds for the fight against breast cancer. We have worked long and hard to get here and want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone in our PINK Community for their passion and commitment to this important cause. We could nothave done this without you!
PINK is too girly, too cutesie, too feminine. Believe us, after a year of working on the Pink Cart program, we've heard it all. Teenage boys, husbands, fathers, and yes, women, too, all have something to say about Pink Carts. Too bold, too brazen, too bright. And that's ok with us, because that's exactly why we make them PINK!
Summer is in full swing - flowers are blooming, beaches are filling up and PINK is popping up everywhere. From garden gloves to jewelry to trash carts, people are displaying their passion for pink and their own breast cancer advocacy. How is PINKpopping up in your neighborhood?
On Monday I had the pleasure of playing golf in the American Cancer Society's West Michigan Golf Classic event here in Grand Rapids. It was a well run event and lots of fun - all focused around the goal of raising $80,000 for ACS. It was a beautiful day and I had the honor of playing with a group of men that I work with at Cascade Cart Solutions. I was very nervous at first as I got partnered with Scott who is undoubtedly the best golfer in our company which is never a good thing because I am a complete hacker with absolutely NO TALENT but fortunately he was in a gracious mood.
My mom's story is not a success with life, but a success with the legacy that she left behind. Mom grew up in a small town, learning the values of family, hard work, and dedication. She was one of two girls. At an early age, she lost her mom to breast cancer and later in life, lost her sister to the disease. I will never forget the day in 1991 when Mom was first diagnosed. Ovarian cancer. She battled and won this round after a hysterectomy and treatment. Then in 2007, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a double mastectomy and more treatment, she conquered this round.
"24 is no big deal...its sorta like an in-between number that is a stepping stone to 25...now THAT is a number...25 is cool."
My strength and courage, came from my Mom.
I’ll never forget that fateful day.
When my sister, Mom and me heard the doctor said, we have bad news, the tests are in.
I suddenly lost my happy grin. My beautiful Mom had breast cancer.
They said don’t fret, but to no avail
We will get through this..we will not fail
There is no choice, we must stand tall
And beat this thing, once and for all.
I am writing this story about myself. :) I am a single mom of three awesome kids. When I had just turned 34, and my children, Jake, who is autistic was just turning 4, Elle had just turned 2, and Tyler was 8 months old, I was diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2 and estrogen positive breast cancer with lymph node involvement. My husband was still with me, but went into denial about my cancer.
A year ago I blogged on Mothers Day weekend while my family was driving in from Toronto to be a part of our daughter's college graduation. We had a magical weekend together and since then our son has also graduated from college and now one lives in Romania and the other in Canada. I guess we are now the preverbial empty nesters which all my friends and family warned me would be awful but I have to be honest...I kinda like it.
On December 14, 2011, my life shattered. I lost my mom from a long hard battle with breast cancer. It started in 1998 when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I was about 12 around at the time. My mom underwent chemo, radiation, and a stem cell transplant. She was in remission for 13 years when it came back in her other breast again as Stage 4. At that time it had spread into her bones and from there into her liver and, in the end, her brain. My mom is my hero. She fought so hard in this long battle and she never forgot to smile. I became my Mom's caretaker.
It's the first day of May and it finally feels like spring here in The Pink Cart's hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.The sun is out, grass is growing, trees are budding and all the neighbors are out tending to their gardens. People are planting their seeds and making plans for the beautiful flowers, herbs, vegetables and shrubs that will come to life later in the Summer.
My story started in 1996 when I was 34 years old. My mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I asked my doctor to please order mammograms for me since my mother had ductal carcinoma in situ. Every year I had a mammogram whether I had to pay for it or not. In January 2004 when I had just turned 40 and bought my first house 90 miles away from my doctor, I went for one last mammogram in my hometown.
Two weeks ago I wrote a blog about the frustration I am sensing from our friends on Facebook who are trying to figure out how they can get Pink Carts on their curb. Some people have haulers who are non-responsive or uninterested in doing something new. Some people can't order a Pink Cart online because the shipping is too expensive, despite our efforts to bring the price down. Others want to start petitions and have campaigned to their City Councils but haven't been able to show enough support from their neighbors and community members to bring Pink Carts to their curbs.
In March of 2010 I signed up for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day in Washington, D.C. The walk itself was 60 miles over 3 days, but the journey to get there was 7 months long, and completely changed my life.
One in eight women get diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. And although my family - so far - was safe, as the mother of a teenage daughter, those odds were unacceptable. I was walking for all the mothers, the daughters, the sisters, and the friends who were the one in eight. And I was walking so that my daughter would not be.
You know those people movers they have in airports? The ones where you think ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ because you know that you really do need the exercise and you should walk but they are so appealing. The way they stretch out for as far as the eye can see, and you don’t really have to move a muscle to get from A to B if you don’t want to. I certainly need the exercise but succumb to its lure almost every time.
It's a new year! This has been my motto the past several years. I had a heart attack at age 41, a massive pulmonary embolism in both lungs at 43 ... and was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer ... at age 45. My diagnosis followed the recent deaths of my sister and my mother. I was definitely looking for something positive to happen, not breast cancer.
Our PINK cart community continues to grow by leaps and bounds. When we first launched our facebook page last spring, I asked all my friends and family to 'like' our page and as it turned out I had exactly 19 people in my circle that could do so. 19, how pathetic, but it didn't take long before we hit 1,000 then 10,000 and now we are approaching 30,000, which is remarkable. I love reading everything that people write and I spend too many hours paining over the stories and experiences that people share because I am compelled to listen.
Last Friday our friends at Borden Waste Away drove their garbage truck all the way up from Elkhart, Indiana to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be part of a photo shoot for INC magazine. Their truck is special, unlike any other garbage truck in the world, as it is wrapped with a huge photograph of four cancer survivors circled around with their hands on a PINK cart. Is it possible to love a garbage truck? If it is, then I definitely have a love affair going on with this truck. I remember the first time I saw it on an very cold and overcast fall day.
This week in Grand Rapids the wonderful Betty White came to town for Laughfest in support Gilda's Club which, most of you know, is a free cancer and grief support community offering children, adults, families and their friends emotional and educational support. It was a wonderful evening with an informal feel to it as Ms. White sat up on stage and casually chatted in front of an audience of over 2,000 people.
I was in Chicago last week at the International Home & Housewares show which displays products from all over the world for inside and outside of the home for retailers. It’s a massive show and simply exhausting but I love attending to see what is new and cool and “in” this year. Walking the long aisles I wonder why it is that you can buy a spatula in three hundred colors but carts only come in a handful of colors? After all, a spatula hides out in the kitchen drawer and is seen infrequently (particularly by us working Mothers).