I have this thing called a blog…

…and it’s something I never use anymore.  I have been in a writing mood lately so maybe I’ll pick it back up again.

Last I checked in I had accepted a position with Cancer Research of the Ozarks and was running for LLS Woman of the Year.   That was a year ago.   In case you didn’t hear, I won!

Woman of the Year    me-john

I am still very involved with the LLS and am serving as the Nominating Committee chair this year.  One of my nurses from Dr. Ellis’ office is a candidate this year - Team Patty all the way!

I am still working at Cancer Research for the Ozarks.  I’ve learned a lot over the past year – about different cancers and about how research works.   One of my tasks is to inform the IRB about the status of patients, whether they are in follow-up care or deceased.  Sometimes it’s hard to have info about cancer in my face all day, but most days I just hope I’m contributing to the good cause.

1620518_10152276316832421_685362482_n The family is good and Ryan is another year older.  Very hard to believe that he was 19      months when I was diagnosed.  He is 5 (and a half, he says) and will be starting kindergarten  this fall.  He is in pre-school at Immaculate Conception (where John’s Mom taught and where  John went to school), but starting next year we are going to move him to St. Elizabeth Ann  Seton  (SEAS), which is our home parish.

Ryan has started flag football with his little buddies (Grant and Jackson pictured here).  He’s       no longer running back to us after every play, like he has in t-ball.  So big.

Ryan keeps John and I busy – that’s for sure.  Yesterday we played hooky and went to Silver      Dollar City in the afternoon.  It was a beautiful day and no lines, we walked onto every ride!

This past February John and I went to Cozumel with my cousin Brian and his wife Jenn.  It was amazing, wonderful, awesome, and every other adjective that describes being on an all-inclusive resort without children for 5 nights.  :)

1926809_10152181834147421_2023213815_n

Health wise there is no new news and that’s a great thing!  I saw Dr. Ellis last Friday and my counts were a little off but nothing he’s concerned about so it’s nothing I’m concerned about.  I see him every six months and will eventually see him yearly.

I’m looking forward to marking a couple bands off my concert bucket list in the next couple months – hopefully I’ll still be in the writing mood then!

Woman of the Year

If you’re my Facebook friend I’m sure you’ve heard about my Woman of the Year campaign.  Just in case you haven’t (and even if you have), I’m going to talk about it more.  Let me back up a little and tell you how I got roped into this.  I wanted to volunteer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as a ‘first connection’, which is someone who talks to someone who is newly diagnosed and shares their story, answers questions… that sort of thing.  I filled out the form online and never heard anything.  Then in December I get a call from my cousin Dustin’s friend Andrea, who is on the committee for the Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) Campaign for SW MO, asking if I would consider being a candidate.  I was really just wanting to volunteer, not be that involved, but I told her we could talk after the holidays.  In January I had lunch with Andrea and Beth, who is in charge of the campaign.  Beth sent my info along to be a first connection volunteer, but also told me all about the campaign.  I told her I’d think about it.  Now, if you know me, you know just how competitive I am.  I told her I’m not going to accept unless I know I can win.  After a couple more meetings and trying to gauge the support I would have, I accepted in February.

Thanks to Joanna for designing our logo!

Thanks to Joanna for designing our logo!

How it works:  In a nutshell, it’s a fundraising competition.  There are 6 candidates in SW MO, 3 women and 3 men.  So to win, I have to raise more money than the 2 other girls.  Doesn’t sound so hard as there’s not many people to beat out, but we’re talking about raising a lot of money.  The two winners last year combined raised $22,000 and as a group they raised more than $50k.  I can’t officially state my goal as it’s a blind contest, but let’s just say it’s a lot.  We have from now until June 21st to collect money then on June 27th we have a Grand Finale Gala.  At this event we can have 5 silent auction item groupings and 1 live auction item, which counts towards our final fundraising total.

I need your help and here’s how:

  • Donations through my fundraising page-  http://www.mwoy.org/pages/mid/swm13/lwinsteij5
  • Do a small fundraiser on my behalf – initiate a dress down day at your work, do a bake sale, yard sale, etc.
  • Auction Items – We are collecting items from local businesses, but I am also needing out of town things- specifically a 2 night hotel stay in STL.  We will take any and all donations you can get your hands on, especially if you can get your hands on some iPads or exotic vacations :)
  • Support our local events- Next Event:  Celebrity Shake-Off on Thursday, May 2nd, at Parlor 88 East – find more information on the FB Event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/533988946643669/  Jay Fotsch from Power 96.5 and Springfield Cardinals fame is my celebrity
  • While you’re at Parlor 88 East for the Shake-Off, purchase a $1 blood drop.  You can also do this at south side Parlor, any Dublin’s Pass or Big Whiskey’s Location.  Tell your friends or let me know if you’d like to sell blood drops as well.
  • Follow the FB page to keep up to date on all events:  https://www.facebook.com/LauraWinsteadWOTYCandidate  We are working on something really cool so you’ll want to stay updated.
  • Buy a ticket or table to the Grand Finale Gala on Thursday, June 27th:  http://www.mwoy.org/pages/mid/swm13/lwinsteij5 – ‘Attend the Grand Finale’ Button

I have an amazing campaign team that’s been working their butts off to help me so far!  My cousin Dustin is my campaign manager and has been putting a lot of time, thought and energy into this!  John, Torie, Neal and Niki are all in it to win it too and I love it!  We are overcoming some frustrating defeats in planning fundraising events, but are also super excited to roll out the next one in the works.  All of the fundraising is done in honor of a Boy & Girl of the Year and the team got to meet these cute little kiddos last week at Kick-Off!

3555_10151530919813903_988818334_n

For me, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a way to give back to an organization that helped me upon my diagnosis.  Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the #1 cancer in children, but thanks to research over the years, the survival rate is over 90%!  My hope is that with more funding and research, we can raise the adult ALL survival rate as well.

Every dollar puts me one step closer to my goal and every donation is so greatly appreciated!!

Long Time No Blog

Yep, it’s been awhile.  Again.  At least this time I have been super busy and have lots to share.

Health update:  While I’m done with chemo, I am starting to see the impact of having poison pumped into my body for 3 years.  Nothing too serious, just lots of little things that add up to still too frequent trips to the doctors office.  I have osteoporosis and just had a bone density scan;  I have a fatty liver and out of control cholesterol, which is most likely hereditary, so I see a lipid doctor next month; The chemo causes pap smears to come back abnormal so those have to be repeated a few times a year;  Still seeing Dr. Ellis every 3, last time all of my counts look great;  I had a CT scan a couple weeks ago that found some nodules on my spleen that Dr. Ellis isn’t worried about, but I have to repeat another scan in 4 months… You know, just to keep me on my toes.

Family Update:  We are doing great!  Ryan did some art classes this winter and will be starting t-ball again next month!  We’ve been practicing and he’s fielding and throwing a lot better this year.  Now let’s just hope he wants to stay out on the field by himself now :)

Work Update:  I have accepted a position with Cancer Research of the Ozarks/ Cox as a Regulatory Compliance Coordinator!  I have orientation this Saturday and start one week from today, 4/22.  My job will be to review cancer research trials, meet with the review boards from Cox and Mercy and draw up contracts for the patients to sign to participate.  At least I think that’s an accurate description, I can update you after I’ve been there for a few weeks.  I think it will be awesome to get to see research at work!

What’s been occupying my life update:  Charities!  My last blog post was about the ACS and Relay for Life.  It’s just a few weeks away and while I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to speak about for almost a year now, today I started putting it on paper.  I’m not nervous about it… yet.

And my Woman of the Year campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!  See the next blog post for details!

135459901262549574_mBg0rR8E_c

American Cancer Society

Relay for Life is only a few short months away and I’m more excited (and nervous) about it this year than I’ve been in years past…  At last year’s event they asked me to be the survivor speaker this year and I finally accepted!  I am nervous about speaking in front of a lot of people, mainly because I don’t know what to say.  I have an idea, and I know what I’d like to talk about, I just don’t know what people expect.  It’s not something most people there will even remember, but I think it’s an honor and I want to do the job well!

We are Team Sampsonite if you want to put a few of your hard-earned dollars towards the American Cancer Society’s mission.

In that last sentence I had originally typed “American Cancer Society’s research”, because that what I always assume that’s what the money I donate goes towards…  research towards finding a cure.  I did some light reading and now this post is going in a whole different direction.  :)

From Wikipedia:

The society’s allocation of funds for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2010, lists 72% of funds for Program Services (Patient Support 28%, Research 16%, Prevention 16%, Detection and Treatment 12%). The remaining 28% are allocated for supporting services (Fundraising 21%, and Management, General administration 7%).  John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, received $2,222,272 salary/compensation from the charity.

What I am really interested in is the research aspect, all of this I found on their website:

Their research is basically two main parts:  extramural grants, as well as intramural research programs.

Extramural grants are research grants and health professional training grants

Intramural research has 5 departments (all done in-house):  Epidemiology (cancer prevention studies), Surveillance & Health Services, Tobacco Control, Behavioral Research Center & Statistics and Evaluation Center

Number of Current Grants as of 9/1/12: (broken down by cancer type – top 3)

230: Breast Cancer – $86M
113: Colon & Rectal Cancer- $42M
107: Lung- $30.8M

Areas of Research:

Biology: $61M (I don’t know what constitutes biology, just an understanding of how cancers develop?)
Survivorship: $36M
Treatment: $27M

So it’s a lot of numbers and facts to sort through, and this is just what I gathered in about an hour of research.  I’m not sure what to make of all of it, but thought I’d share.  Maybe it will make someone else’s Saturday night as exciting as mine :)

2012 Music & Book Review

I always make a year-end playlist of my favorite songs from the year.  While I would venture to say most of my readers don’t like my style of music, I still wanted to share.  You can listen to any of the tracks free on Spotify, here is the link for this playlist:  2012

2012

 

I only read 33 books this year, way down from last year.  My reading goal for the year was to read or re-read the classics.  I think I did a pretty good job on those:  The Fountain Head, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Confederacy of Dunces, Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye, 1984 and The Stranger.

My favorite book, besides maybe The Great Gatsby or the Catcher in the Rye, was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I cried approximately 7 times and finished it in about 4 hours, staying up until almost 3 AM.

fault

Gone Girl and Defending Jacob were also very good reads, although none of them particularly happy stories.

I read several I didn’t care for, so in 2013 I need to decide not to waste my time finishing a book that didn’t resonate with me from the beginning.  I can stop watching a horrible movie, why do I feel I need to finish a book?

2012

Overall, 2012 was a pretty great year.  Ups and downs aplenty, but lots of great memories.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Turning 30 & celebrating with lots of great friends.

421247_10151332221185534_588978142_n  feb12 010

In April we went to Biloxi with my parents.

557650_10150778451457421_1741344128_n  SONY DSC

I was very excited for Ryan to start playing T-ball this year!  Below is his first hit and spectacular fielding position.

578191_10150878957487421_1412383241_n  SONY DSC

I had several friends have babies this year, guess I’m at that age… Congrats to Lauren, Erin, Jenn, Jamie & Emma!  And Elisha, one of my best friends, is going to be having a girl this May!!

I had my last Chemo treatment on October 9th.  It sort of feels like I am 18 again and not sure what to do with my life, sort of like a blank slate.  I still don’t know what adventure will come next!  To celebrate being finished, we went to Disney World over Halloween.  Defiantly the highlight of my year, and a check off the bucket list.

trip30   trip46   IMG_0791

Our Christmas was great, lots of time with family and a spoiled little guy to whom Santa was very good to.

On a sadder note, this year I also lost a couple people who I cared a lot about.  The first was Christy, my friend with ALL, who my last blog was about.  And just on the 30th of December my Aunt Jackie passed away.  She married my Uncle Kenny when she was only 15, and being that she was completely blind, they were ALWAYS together.  I pray he can find some peace in this new year.

SONY DSC

Christy

It’s a special bond you have with other cancer survivors, but for me, it was especially more so with Christy; she is the only other person I’ve ever met with Adult ALL.  Our nurse Shawna introduced us at my first Relay for Life in May of 2010 and we became fast friends.

Me, Shawna, Christy & Joni

Relay for Life 2011

This past March Christy relapsed and had to go to Barnes in April to go through the stem cell transplant surgery/ recovery. (Some of you might remember me asking you to send her a card while she was there).  She never let it get her down, not Christy.   She was always bringing a smile to everyone else’s face, her spirit was infectious.  She loved the Razorbacks, so while she was in the hospital in Springfield, before going up to Barnes, she got Dr. Ellis a Razorbacks shirt and had him yelling “Woo Pig Sooie” :)

She finally got to come home to Arkansas after a lot of time in St. Louis, but wasn’t home hardly any time at all before it came back again.  The last time I talked to her was Oct. 11th, the night before she had head back to Barnes.  It was a heartbreaking call, she was crying, telling me she was scared and how much she loved me.  Through the tears she told me she was a fighter and I assured her she would be fine, that I know she’s scared and I loved her very much too.

She passed away on the 23rd of this month.  I regret not calling her again, or mailing that card I have had in the drawer for months.  Cancer sucks.