From 1000 Gifts

Introducing SCAR Project SuperSURVIVORmodel Vanessa Tiemeier

I’d like to introduce my friend, local SCAR Project SuperSURVIVORmodel Vanessa. She and I are on the SCAR Project Cincinnati Exhibit Planning Committe to bring the SCAR Project Exhibit, which premiered in New York City last October. That’s the when and where I met Vanessa. SCAR Project photographer David Jay was giving a private gallery tour and as we approached Vanessa’s portrait she was standing right next to hers.

I was just about as beside myself as she was, literally, standing beside herself, to run into a fellow Cincinnati Survivor in the Big Apple.

Vanessa was diagnosed when she was only 25 years old. Yes, young women get breast cancer. That’s a point The SCAR Project is out to make. The stats are out there for anyone to clearly see, but everyone knows a picture is worth a 1000 words.

A picture also puts a face to the sad reality. I hope it also puts some traction in our race for a cure. Look at these pictures. Please, look at these pictures and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we’ve had enough breast cancer. I know I’ve had too much breast cancer. And I have way too many friends living with breast cancer and way too many friends I’ve lost to breast cancer. Breast cancer is a bitch.

While I don’t feel like glorying in anyone’s death on this blog or in my life, the way I figure it, if we here in America can find Bin Ladin, I have to believe if we put some red, white, and blue behind all the PINK, we could do away with breast cancer and give the color pink back to little girls who won’t have to grow up and THINK PINK.

Dedicated to the more than 10,000 women under the age of 40 who will be diagnosed this year alone The SCAR Project is an exercise in awareness, hope, reflection and healing. The mission is three-fold: Raise public consciousness of early-onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.

And with that, I’ll just hand the mic over to Vanessa (who is #103 on my list of 1000 gifts, btw):

"I think sometimes I am so good at putting on a pretty face and acting all put-together that some people don't realize the extent of everything that breast cancer survivors go through."

I heard about The SCAR Project through a post made on the Young Survival Coalition online survivor forums. David Jay put a call out for breast cancer survivors willing to travel to NYC to be photographed. I was intrigued but hesitant. I kept wondering if I would really want to or be able to show my scars to strangers, and expose myself like that. But after I emailed another young woman who had already participated and she urged me to go for it, I was excited to make the trek!

I took a 16-hour Greyhound bus ride from Cincinnati to New York City with my husband and younger sister. I was nervous meeting David in a city I had never been. My husband and family shared my nervousness, but supported my decision to want to take part in the project. My motive being that I don’t want to be part of the mold that breast cancer survivors have been confined to. It’s not always pink ribbons and charity runs. Breast cancer oftentimes is glamorized and commercialized.

I think sometimes I am so good at putting on a pretty face and acting all put-together, that some people don’t realize the extent of everything that breast cancer survivors go through. My outward scars and spoken words are only half of the story. They don’t show the emotional and private struggles that are continuously present. They don’t show the burden that my family has willingly endured. They don’t show the lifestyle changes and limitations that come with breast cancer.

David Jay embraces the everyday, personal, true happenings of life, and through his photographs, beautifully portrays every woman’s unique situation. As part of The SCAR Project, I can “just be me”. No covering up or masking the truth. No pretending that everything is fine.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of this project, and am honored that my photo is one of the ones selected to be in the exhibition. I am excited to represent Cincinnati when the exhibition comes here on September 29th, and look forward to sharing this ground-breaking exhibit with my home-town. After all, breast cancer is a part of my life but it does not define me. It will never be ALL that I am or ALL that I do. I can’t wait for my friends, my co-workers, my community, and the world to see me…as I really am.

—Vanessa Tiemeier, in her own words.

#102 Hope is a Lottery Ticket I Bought on Good Friday

I have no illusions of who I am.
Where I stand is the only thing I stand
upon-at the foot of a tree, a Lamb
dangling from it, with eyes that see me-and-
See right through me. Right down to my stain-
my guilt-the reason He is exalted there
hanging, naked, like He is wearing my shame-
right there for all the world to gasp-and stare.
Some “joy set before Him” is all I can think
as I set myself before Him…and wish
upon the One who made the stars…and blink
teardrops-mine, mingling with blood-His: swoosh-
as in Nike, and the robe that I have won
casting my sin, my cares, my lot upon the Son.

Indy Race for the Cure

I don’t have enough back to pin enough “in memory of” and “in celebration of” papers on my Race for the Cure shirts. This, is a very sad but true fact.

Damn cancer.

That is why I can’t seem to get enough of Racing for the Cure. It’s not just a 5K. And I don’t walk it alone. I carry a lot of peeps I love with me. They ‘aint heavy, they’re my sisters and brothers. Yes, men can get breast cancer, too. But no, I don’t just write breast cancer sibs on my shirt. I hate all cancer. I have friends with brain, cervical, kidney, leukemia, liver, melanoma, ovarian, prostate, thyroid… cancer on my shirt too.

The night before the race I like to spend some time thinking about all my way too many friends who are fighting or have fought the big damn C. It’s sweet communion as I write their names on my shirts. I think of some of them, resting in peace, and I feel lucky to have known them, to follow after them, to race in their memory. I think of the rest, like me, who are still running our race and I hope we win, and find a cure. Which makes me think of everybody else I know… which makes me run harder. Cancer is a bitch. Don’t want to write any more names on my shirt.

This race for the cure was special, because I ran it with my Mum, who is also a survivor, and my daughter Amanda’s friend Kiley, also a survivor (cervical). Even though I had genetic testing and was found NOT to carry the breast cancer gene, my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. Right before my very last-23/24-chemo cocktail. I know, it sucked, as much as it sounds. But she is doing well, currently also cancer free!

Here we are the morning of the race. On our marks, get set… but first, a publicity shot with sock monkey. And… Go! Here’s Mum and Kiley in the middle of the sea of pink. And it was a sea, at least 41,410 peeps deep. We took note of race numbers while we walked, to see just how many peeps were in this sea. 41,410 was the biggest number we found. There might have been more, but there were at least that many. Yikes. How cool is that? To walk with so many? To share in this fellowship? To be part of something so big?

My number was 504.

I have no idea why this uploaded sideways. I tried it twice. Whatever. It is what it is. And, now that I come to think of it, somehow appropriate. I call it, “Caffeinated.” Although, truth is, I really wasn’t very caffeinated. First, it was freaking freezing out, so I was using the coffee as a hand warmer. And second, I was trying to be smart since we were racing and not potty dancing for a cure.

Here are a couple of cool random photos that I really loved from the race:

That tiny dot in the middle of my poor photo is a giant “PINK” elephant, courtesy of the Indianapolis Zoo! How freaking cool was that?! Luckily he didn’t trumpet and spray us all with water from the fountain of his trunk, because it was so cold the water would have turned into ice cubes and that would have been one hail of a mess.

As you can see, the Indy dogs were not to be outdone by the breast cancer aware elephants. This was my personal favorite, a dog sporting a save the tatas t-shirt.

Speaking of Save the Tatas, I superheart this foundation. As you can imagine, I especially connect with their sense of humor. And besides humor, in the fight against breast cancer, they promote awareness and fund cutting edge research toward a cure. Check them out at www.savethetatas.com. Use my discount code: “Shaken” at the checkout to receive 15% off your entire order!

#98 Save The Tatas Foundation

All in all, it was a hot race on a cold day. The only thing missing was pink SURVIVOR bracelets:(

Couldn’t find one anywhere. About froze my bum off looking for one to replace the one I broke last week. It’s funny how I sort of feel “vulnerable” without one on. Like a superhero without their cape or something. I’ve outlived 4 so far. Now, it’s become a challenge. Joules 4-Survivor bracelets 0. That’s right, I live hard.

andthat’swhyineedanotherpinksurvivorbraceletfix

All I can say is I hope they have them at the Race in Atlanta.

Well, the trail for pink SURVIVOR bracelets might have been cold, but boy oh boy, did the hot tub feel good after. Ahhh…

#99 Hot tubs

Despite the cold, I really like doing race for the cures. I like getting caught up in the fervor to end breast cancer.

#100 I like imagining a world without breast cancer.

I hope to see that reality.

For all the peeps not on my shirt.

And in honor of all my peeps on my shirt. Here are the credits, in no particular order:

Tiffany Romero Floth, Karen Wellington, Missy, Amy Inkrot, Sue Thompson, Shelly, Marty, Mum, Mary Kate Bourquin, Kiley, Maria Meyer, Yott’s Mum, Cathy Baker, her Mom, and Grandma, Uncle Bill, Auntie Cheryl, my friend Rebecca’s hub, Mary Janet, Kandi Castles Ferrandino, Roxanne, Ron, his wife Sue, and his daughter Amy, Kiley, her Mom Jeanne, Kristi Frazier, Monica, Heather Ray, Patty’s Mama, Mike’s Dad, Jennie’s Mom, Sonya Montemayor, Paige, Mary Jo Cropper, Savannah Hope Swandal, Leanne Davis, Janet Cross, Leah Hartlaub, Keith Gilbert, Mean Jeanne the machine (Megan’s Mum), Janice Hubbard, Kim O’Donnell, Katie, Rich, Big Joyce, Donna Scheffler, Nikki, Julie Garvin Luce, Cynci Wenck, MaryBeth Dupo, Crystal Tatum-Brown, Flora Melchionna, Alison Tarbell-Irwin, Christine Lalama, Linda Wimmers, Susan Fuchtman, Vanessa Tiemeier, Melissa Ward, Marcy Emmons, Rachel Marks, Anita Dalton Lupp, Don Boudinet, Krysti Hughett, Gail Konop Baker, Marilyn Teague, Anita Mason, Julie “Cruise” H., Anne “Etch a Sketch” E., Floyd Penrose, Leona, Sherry Kemper, Kim Wanamaker’s sister, Tracie Metzger, Tami Boehmer, Irmgard Allen, Patricia Fitzwater, Julie Butler, Martha Butler, Kathy Arsenault, Karen Dubois, Jill Davis Lamaster, Heddit Ott, Lou, Sheila Henderson, Phyllis, Carol Egenolf Bramlet, Lori Warner, Shelly Spate, Deb Mulligan, Stacey Karlosky, Charlene Staats Rack, Cyndi and Bill Walsh, Michael Hernandez, Debbie Smith, Jo, Ann who hates pink, Geralyn Lucas, Lance Armstrong, Daria, and me.

#101 the number of peeps I “walked with”

That’s… too many peeps.

Let’s… find a cure. Meanwhile, everybody else, stay off my shirt!

Traveling Mercies

#83 I super heart traveling.

#84 Marriott rewards.

#85 A room with a view of the canal, downtown Indy. The cutest little big city around.

#86 Catching up with old friends.

#87 Sleeping with the windows open, listening to rain fall outside.

#88 That I won’t need the sunscreen I forgot to pack, tomorrow at the Indy Race for the Cure.

#89 I like being part of something bigger, doing something that matters, getting up on a Saturday morning for a reason, running for a good cause, the communion of survivors.

My Indy Race For The Cure T-Shirt

#90 I like writing all cancer siblings’ names on my shirt and taking a walk with/for them.

#91 I like waking up in the middle of the night to pray and count gifts.

#92 Listening to trains in the middle of the night. It reminds me of Europe. I really liked feeling so connected to everywhere over there.

#93 Hearing planes overhead encourages my imagination to take-off.

#94 Noticing the rain has stopped and birds have begun singing.

#95 Fresh air after the rain.

#96 Going back to sleep to a lullaby the birds are singing.

#97 Outliving pink SURVIVOR bracelets that I hope to replenish and stock up on tomorrow;)

The Clocks are Ticking

#81 It’s Friday morning, the house is quiet except for 4 clocks ticking around me, and I’m on my second cup of coffee, gearing up to seize the day. The clocks are laying down a beat and winding me up. Miko Polo is still asleep on the couch, which he is too long for, so he’s curled up, adorably, under Mateo’s Spiderman blanket. I think that book I’ll Love You Forever is a little creepy, so it’s not like I’m going to go rock him now or anything. But I do like that I can hear him breathing in the next room, where he fell asleep watching SNL reruns. On a Thursday, so I guess that makes it TNR (Thursday Night Reruns) instead.

Then Sings My Soul

Things I soverymuchneeded today:

#73 a leisurely lunch with just me and my Miko Polo, come home from his travels

#74 a long (6-mile) walk around the neighborhood

#75 walking on sunshine

#76 without sleeves

#77 to the beat of Gungor’s Beautiful Things

#78 drinking in a few of God’s beautiful things, like pear trees in bloom, along the way

#79 letting a few tears fall. iHope they water things.

#80 napping like a cat

A Day Without Shoes

#67 Shoes

#68 Especially my Toms

#69 The fact that every time I wear my Toms I know some kid somewhere around the world is wearing a pair of shoes

#70 4 kids, actually, since I own four pairs

#71 I like thinking about the 4 kids running around in my shoes’ twins

#72 If one shoe can change a life, imagine what 2 shoes can do…