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.  🙂

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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!

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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!

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Team Sampsonite 2011

This past Thursday Ryan and I made our way to De Soto to spend some time with family and friends.  John was not able to make the trip with us because he had to work on Saturday.  I told him if I keep making trips home without him people are going to think we’re getting divorced.

We got in town Thursday around noon and spent the day hanging out at my parents house with my Mom.  Thursday night one of my best friends Sara had a birthday party for her youngest girl Sophie.  I was so excited that the timing worked out that we actually got to go!  Ryan was pretty clingy, there are a ton of kids in Sara’s family and Ryan can be pretty shy in front of strangers, but we still had a really good time.

Friday was the big day- Relay for Life!  The family headed over around 5:30 for all of the opening ceremonies and like last year, I walked the survivor lap with my Aunt Phyllis.  I’ve said it a million times but I love my family and all of the support they have showed for us over the past year is tremendous.  Some of my friends showed up as well and while I didn’t stay all night, I made it until about 1:30.  Shout out those troopers who made it until 6 AM!

Saturday we spent the day with my sister Pam and my nieces, we just missed my brother-in-law Bryan who came home from a job he was out of state for.  Dad got 2 cows on Saturday so Ryan loved going to look at those with his Paw-Paw.  Saturday night we went over to Sara’s house for pizza, after dinner I took Ryan home to go to bed and I went back over. Takara & John and Kristen & Andrew came over and we played a mean game of Scattegories.

Sunday- Mother’s Day- we had breakfast with my parents before leaving around 10:30 to come back to Springfield.  Ryan was good in the car both there and back, but didn’t really sleep.  We took a small nap when we got back and didn’t really do much the rest of the evening.  It was a good Mother’s Day, but Ryan and I were just so tired from our busy weekend.

While I was home we also found out that my Uncle John, who my Aunt Linda has been with for 16 years, has cancer in his lungs, liver, bones and brain.  I went to visit him in the hospital for a while on Friday morning and at that point, he was in a lot of pain.  I’m very thankful that I was home and could see him, although it’s such a helpless feeling to see someone you love in that much pain.  He is now home and Hospice is doing a good job of keeping him comfortable.  So I’m asking for prayers for John, Linda and all of his family- that they are both comforted during this hard time.

I went to the doctor today and all of my counts were outstanding.  I have a bit of a sore throat and because of that I have an appointment with my general practioner tomorrow.  I haven’t seen him since I got the blood work done to find out I had cancer, but they are urging me to see him for anything that isn’t specifically cancer-related.  I get it, I mean Dr. Ellis has hundreds of patients and he needs to focus on keeping cancer cells out of my body and not whether or not I have strep or allergies.  Still, it’s kind of annoying to have to go to a different doctor when I still have to go to the oncologist once a week.

Relay for Life

I am participating in Relay for Life with my family in Festus on May 6th.   Have you ever been?  It’s really an emotional experience, especially when they turn off all the lights on the track and you do quiet laps in the dark, with only the lights in these bags lighting the way.  They are called Luminarias and they can be done “In Honor Of” and “In Memory Of”.

We need to each raise $100 and I am asking for your help.  A white bag can be purchased for $5 and a gold bag for $20.  All you need to do is visit my page:  Click Here for Laura’s Relay Page to donate online.  If you’d rather not donate online, you can pay in cash or make a check payable to:  American Cancer Society; both of which can be mailed to me.  If you donate and would like a luminaria (of course you can always just donate too) send me an email and let me know what you would like on it.  Or if you need my mailing address, send me an email too.

My email address is:  laurawinstead@gmail.com

They would like to have as much money as possible by the first bank night, which is April 4th.  Less than 2 weeks. Please help support me support the American Cancer Society!

Relay for Life

We are doing a “not a raffle because raffles are illegal raffle” to raise money for Relay for Life.  I am on two different teams, so therefore we have two different Tiffany necklaces to offer you.  The raffle tickets are $10 each.

The first necklace is for the Relay I’m doing on May 7th in Festus.
http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/Item.aspx?fromGrid=1&sku=25102657&mcat=1
48204&cid=563629&search_params=s+5-p+1-c+563629-r+-x+-n+6-ri+-ni+0-t+

If you want to purchase tickets, go here and click the donate button.
If you want more than one ticket, just donate accordingly:
http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY10PL?px=14994248&pg=
personal&fr_id=23841

Here is the second necklace for the Relay in Springfield on May 14th:
http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/Item.aspx?fromGrid=1&sku=25142888&mcat=1
48204&cid=563629&search_params=s+5-p+1-c+563629-r+-x+-n+6-ri+-ni+0-t+

If you want to purchase tickets for this necklace, go here:
http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY10PL?px=14994248&pg=
personal&fr_id=23888

I can mail your ticket or take a picture and email that to you.  We will draw winners on the night of the Relay so I will call you that next day to let you know if you’re the big winner.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

My individual goal is to raise $100 for each team and I couldn’t do it without you guys!  We are doing some other events to meet our team fund raising goals in Springfield including a neighborhood garage sale at McDaniel’s household in Rivercut on Friday, May 7th and Saturday, May 8th.  (Thanks Kristin!)  If you have anything you’d like to donate to a garage sale, please let me known and we can arrange to pick it up!

A Normal Day

Today was the first day in what my new “normal” day is going to be. I woke up and I wasn’t in pain, the day is already on it’s first step towards normalcy! I got up and got Ryan ready for John to take him over to his parents house before he goes to work. Amy takes care of breakfast and morning play time at the in-laws house. This gives me a little bit of time for myself in the morning.

She will then bring Ryan & Cashel over for morning nap time, which today she was over around 9AM. Nap time is generally 10’ish for an hour or so, after nap time is lunch time, then play time in the basement. Afternoon nap time is in the 2 o’clock vicinity. Today Amy & I spent nap time watching 500 Days of Summer (finally!), I have to admit I dozed off for about 15 minutes during it, but I thought it was really, really good!

I thought today was really fun and it will work out perfectly on all of the “normal” days when I have no doctors appointments or outpatient or whatever else. It was great watching the boys play together, they crack me up. Monkey see, monkey do. I will be adding a video to the baby winstead blog as soon as I get the software on my new laptop…

What’s not so normal is having sushi delivered to your house! Our friend Krystal brought over Haruno for dinner, which was AWESOME! It was sooo good and I can’t say thanks enough to how supportive she’s been 🙂 After such a great dinner, John & I decided to make it into a date night and Cindy came over around 7 to play with then put Ryan to bed while we went to a movie. We saw Crazy Heart at the Moxie, and I still can’t believe that is the first time we’ve ever been there (it’s an independent theater in downtown Springfield). I thought the movie was pretty good, John didn’t care for it, but it was nice for the two of us to have a night out. Thanks to Cindy for watching Ryan.

My cousin Richie in DeSoto started a Relay for Life team for the event in Festus on May 7th. Funny story… I was going to sign myself and John up, but was curious about how many people could be on a team so I thought if I act like I’m going to create a new team, then I’ll find out the answer. I started to do that then realized it wasn’t giving me any more information than if I were just to join the team so I thought I aborted that and moved to to just joining the team Richie set up – team name “Sampsonite”. Well, instead I created a whole new Relay team called “Test” that includes myself and John. So I spent most of my morning before Amy brought the kids over on the phone trying to get that cleared up. The lady who can fix it won’t be back until next week so until then I guess we’ll just pretend we’re on the right team.
Here is the link to check out the team page: Relay for Life – Sampsonite You can join, donate, or even start your own team if you want — it’s really easy to set up 🙂

Amy also started a Relay for Life team here in Springfield – “Come Together” (sorry Rich, we’re using that idea here too). I correctly registered for this team! Here is the link to check out this team page: Relay for Life – Come Together. We need some team members people!
This event is on May 14th, with a 5k the next day. Amy is doing the 5k. Me?