Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Month of Pink Turns Orange!

Our neighbors, Dave and Kim, came knocking at our door this evening with a surprise! The month of pink turned “orange”! Can you believe it? This is a gift I have never received before—a pumpkin with a “pink” ribbon!

Isn’t it awesome?

Breast cancer is definitely not a “treat,” but this pumpkin certainly put a SMILE on my face.

The other evening, Kim and Dave brought over a pink ribbon organizer (something I definitely need), and a Christmas ornament with a pink ribbon in the glass globe. There seems to be no end to the month of "PINK"!

Thank you, Kim and Dave, for your gift of pumpkin carving!


Monday, October 27, 2008

The Month of Pink

The month of pink is coming to an end and with it a treasure trove of memories, including survivors with courageous and touching stories that warmed my heart and made me realize just how fortunate I am to be able, not only to share my story, but to hear the amazing stories of others.

On Sunday, I was at the Piney Branch Golf Club for the "Hope and Healing" luncheon to benefit the Carroll Hospital Breast Cancer Center.

It was an amazing day filled with a scrumptious lunch, silent auction and door prizes. The Carroll Community goes all out for this event and they spared no expense in making each survivor and their caregivers feel loved and appreciated. I was especially touched by one survivor’s story of how her husband found the lump in her breast (details to follow!). Tears welled up in my eyes as I saw the love between the two of them and how both of them are making a difference as they share their story of compassion and hope! They are just one of the couples that I met that afternoon that made an impact.

Yes, I am tired. It’s been a month of travel (I’ve logged on over 2,400 miles), not including sky miles, and I still have one event to attend.

On Sunday, I will be the honoree of the Celebration of Life Award on behalf of the Eileen Stein Jacoby Foundation for Breast Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center. The Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund supports the laboratory of Molecular Biologist/Geneticist Andrew K. Godwin, PhD. Dr. Godwin and his team of researchers study the hereditary and non-hereditary factors that influence one's risk of developing breast cancer and response to therapy. It’s a great honor and a wonderful way to end the month of “pink.”

On Sunday on my way home from the Piney Branch Golf Club, I took the back roads to catch some of the spectacular fall scenery.

God’s creation is simply amazing!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Angels Can't be Locked Down!

I had just finished speaking at United Parcel Service for their Leadership Forum on Breast Cancer Awareness, and decided to stop off at Border’s Bookstore to take a rest before getting back on 83 North to go home.

There was a horrible traffic jam and cars were lined up in both directions, so I made an "executive" decision to head to my favorite department store, "The Bon Ton,” to do some early Christmas shopping.

No sooner had I entered the store, I felt like I was in the scene of a movie. Over the loud speaker came a calm voice, “Everyone, please move to the back of the store, quietly and without talking.” Like sheep to the slaughter we went. The little girl beside me was holding on to her mommy’s hand and crying. We huddled in the back of the store (near the restrooms—thankfully!), and waited.

The manager of the store said, “We’re in lockdown. No one can leave the store until further notice. There’s been a bank robbery in the vicinity and the suspects are considered armed and dangerous—heading on foot in our direction.”


My first thought was, This is ONLY A TEST!

But it was the REAL thing.

Three suspects held up a nearby bank: one was shot, one was in custody, and the other one was considered armed and dangerous—still on the loose.

We waited.

There was no more communication for an hour. The books I had bought at Border’s Bookstore were for a speaking engagement on Sunday. So I was armed with the One Year Life Verse and Chicken Soup for the Coffee-Lover’s Soul. I started handing out books to read, while we waited—huddled in the corner. One of the clerks asked if she could read, “Touch by a Coffee-Loving Angel,” and I said, “Sure, I think we need all the angels we can get right now.”

At one point, we were allowed to shop the store, but we were not allowed to leave the premises. That’s when I thought it was a new marketing ploy.

So I called my hubby on the cell phone and said, ”You know what? They have us locked up in the department store so we’ll buy early Christmas presents. What do you think of that?"

"No, Connie, it’s the REAL deal. It’s on the news right now! There was a high-speed chase on 83-North; one suspect was shot, one was taken into custody, and the other one is still on the loose.”

Another hour passed and still no word, until finally we were released to go to our cars at our own risk! I thought, What robber would want my Buick or my books? I felt safe. And anyway, I had angels on board. I called my hubby on the cell phone and told him I would be late for dinner (most likely).

It took me two hours to get home (a total of 34 miles). All the side streets were blocked and guarded by police officers.

When I finally turned into the driveway of our home, I realized once again how God’s angels protected me. If I had not gone into the Border’s Bookstore exactly at the time that I did, I would have been caught up in the high speed chase.

As of this evening, the other robber is still considered armed and dangerous, but thankfully I’m safely home because angels can't be locked down.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Power of Pink!

It was great to be part of the “Power of Pink” on Tuesday in conjunction with Boscov’s and Holy Redeemer Hospital and the Bott Cancer Center near Philly last evening. There was a dinner, fashion show, and “yes” door prizes galore. I noticed one thing: When you bring women together with food, fashion, and a chance to win something, you’ve got a party! I never heard so much laughter, shouts of pure hilarity and, of course, oohs and ahhs when the evening gowns were being “sported” down the red carpet by one of the hospital’s own oncologists (a first in my book!). He wore a tuxedo and acted as if he had done it his entire life (I wonder if it was part of his residency program?).

I gave my “Touched by a Coffee-Loving Angel” story from Chicken Soup for the Coffee Lover’s Soul, and afterwards many cancer survivors sought me out to sign their copy of the book which was part of their gift bags for the event. I was inspired, encouraged, and thrilled to meet each woman and encourage them in the “power of pink.” We have come so far in the treatment of breast cancer, but also in our methods of detection.

A big thanks to Heidi Volpe, Breast Cancer Coordinator at Holy Redeemer and her great staff of volunteers who managed to make the evening a spectacular event—one that will be remembered in the hearts of women for many months.

Several women came up to me and promised to make an appointment for their first mammogram! In my book, that’s a success and a tribute to the “power of pink.”

I’ll be sharing more about “pink” as I travel to Maryland this weekend for another event of “Hope and Healing” at the Piney Branch Golf Course for the Carroll Hospital Center.

Until I blog again...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Heart-Shaped Moon

I guess it’s no secret that when I have a deadline, I head for the Hershey Hotel, get an iced tea, climb two flights of stairs to the mezzanine area overlooking the lobby, and write. I stay until the “job” is done!

On Tuesday, I had more than one deadline—actually three—and it was late when I left the hotel. I was disappointed that I missed the sunset, but the moon was full and it was smiling at me as I walked to the parking lot. I snapped a picture—knowing that it wouldn’t turn out because I had my Kodak camera without the night landscape setting.

This morning as I was packing for Ohio (I leave early tomorrow); I transferred my disks to CD’s and guess what popped up?

A heart-shaped moon!

Call it trick photography, blurred photography, or chance, but I call it God’s love for me. I was feeling overwhelmed with deadlines and I worked hard—really hard—to get it all done (even ignoring a sunset which I NEVER do).

My reward was a smiling heart-shaped moon!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my daddy’s 79th birthday! I guess it’s no secret how much I love my parents and how much of a daddy’s girl I am. He is my knight in shining armor and I adore him.

This past weekend, I spent time with both my parents in Del Mar, California at the Hilton (we were there on “business”).

For five days I was their “little”girl again. We went out to breakfast, brunch, and dinner, took long walks on the beach, stayed up late to watch CNN and hear how much money we lost in the stock market as the Nasdaq and Dow plummeted, and took more walks while Dad shared with me what he was reading. He is a voracious reader and this trip was no exception. He had a stack of books on the desk (five books thick) with his yellow highlighter nearby.

Dad got up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to take his morning walk by the beach (I did not!). I slept in. When I heard the door close softly behind him, I knew he was exercising without his beloved dog (Brandy), and walking alone. Sigh! (She stayed in her own “Hilton” in Brentwood.)

Daddy walks fast (really fast)—not because he wants to—but because he has to. He’s a “walking” miracle! Five years ago he suffered a devastating heart attack, which left him with about half a heart that functions. So he eats well, exercises, and with my mom’s watchful eye, he is not only surviving but thriving.

Before I left on the plane to San Diego, I had a conversation with Dad on the phone. He said, “I’m the luckiest man in the world!”


Tears welled up in my eyes as he spoke and every time I recall those words, I choke up. And then a few more tears betray me. Our family has been through more than most families (that’s a subject of an entire book!), but we remain close—very close.

The older I get, the more I look up to my dad. It’s funny how that works and something we can’t teach our kids; it’s something they have to learn on their own.

My daddy is my best friend, confidant, spiritual adviser, and political analyst (smile!). He’s a great listener (something I’m trying hard to inherit). But when Daddy speaks…I listen!

Our last day in Del Mar was a special memory…

I wanted to take a picture of the sunset on the beach (something that had eluded me during our time there). I watched from the balcony of our hotel room, as the sun dipped between two stately palm trees. I yelled out, “Dad, the sun is setting!”

Daddy has a great sense of humor and he quipped back, “Yep, it does that every evening!”

But then I explained how one day in late October, I drove five hours to Cape May, NJ and five hours back, just to take a picture of a sunset (my version of walking five miles in the snow to school!).

“Oh, c’mon…get in the car; I’ll take you there!” Dad said.

It was music to my ears.

I grabbed by camera and we were off. Daddy at the wheel is my favorite place; he always gets me there. I jumped out of the car and ran about 100 feet until I found the perfect spot while Daddy stayed in the car so we wouldn’t get a ticket. I missed the sun setting on the water, but instead I got the beautiful light show that comes after the sun disappears (my favorite time!). I basked in the glow of the violets, pinks, and purples resting on the ocean. A warm feeling enveloped me.

As I walked back to the PT Cruiser, there was Daddy waiting for me. He smiled and I smiled back. I jumped in the car and said, “Thanks, Dad!” I settled back in my seat and once again let Daddy take the wheel.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Had a Dream!

Last night I had a dream. I was a flight attendant on one of those puddle jumpers from San Diego to LA, and I was demonstrating how to insert the seat belt into the buckle. Only I did it over and over again. When I got out of bed this morning, I reached over to “unbuckle” my seat belt!

In the last 24 hours, I’ve been in the skies and on the highways and byways (traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike to Merck Pharmaceuticals). Last night, I fell asleep with my laptop on my lap and woke up with “it” on the floor (thank goodness for plush carpeting).

This morning, I’m packing for a retreat this weekend in North East, Maryland.
Yesterday, I kept asking my hubby, “What day is it?” He assured me that it was Wednesday. I still wasn’t convinced. I managed to be one hour early at Merck Pharmaceuticals before my presentation, “Care to be Aware.” When I glanced down at my watch, it was 9:00 a.m.; in reality, it was 12 noon!

But today, I woke up on the right side of the bed and I know what day it is and I’m back on track (sort of). It’s my catch-up day before I head off again. I have a newfound appreciation for those who jet through time zones on a regular basis (maybe I was having sympathy pains for flight attendants).

But I’m still confused why it’s necessary to show passengers how to put their seat belts in the buckle (isn't it obvious?).

When I grow up I want to be a flight attendant!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Wedding

Weddings always make me cry…I don’t know “why,” but they just do! Even if it’s the happiest moment in the couple’s life, I still cry.

My brother asked me why I was crying on Saturday evening and the only answer I could come up with was, “I don’t know!” I’m not sure what evokes such emotion, but I’ve been doing it since I’ve been attending weddings and I don’t intend to stop—just in case someone wants to hire me as a professional "crier" at their wedding. My fees are cheap. I provide the tears; you provide the food.

I arrived home this morning on the red eye last night (I know that doesn’t make sense), but that’s how it is. You wake up and then you’re at your destination, but I feel horrible as if I woke up on the wrong side of the "seat."

Then I leave tomorrow (very early) for New Jersey to speak at Merck Pharmaceuticals and then off to a retreat this weekend in Maryland. I love what I do (that goes without saying), but my life is whirling around me faster than I can catch up.

The memories of the wedding are only a part of the journey to California; the best part of the trip I will blog on later. But I wanted you to know that I’m home and the honeymooners are in Hawaii!

Today as I looked at their wedding pictures, I cried again…weddings just do that to me!