Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gma's Boxing Gloves

During Relay season I have been sharing some of my favorite Relay stories with you.  These stories that touch my heart, and explain WHY someone Relay's.  I shared my husband's, my friend Denice's, and today I want to share Jacy's with you.  Jacy is on my Relay team this year, and we hit it off right away, because we can relate to each others care giver stories. 

This story is posted on Jacy's personal Relay page and is another great example of why it is so important to take the time to customize your page.  When you open up and tell your Relay story, you inspire others to join the fight with you.

And without further adduce - Jacy's Relay story-

Cancer is a word that hits very close to my heart. It has become a disease that has overpowered the world. You hear is every day every min every second that someone has or is being affected by it. Thinking of it you hear the word Cancer more than I love you, family, or any kind words in general.  Which a couple of those being the strongest words created.  We all take life for granted sometimes and not realizing our surroundings until it might be a little too late.

Just after becoming a new mommy my family and I learned my gma had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It was a gloomy day. But she was destine to fight and pulled out her boxing gloves. April fool’s day she received her double mastectomy. While that is the day of joking for most people, our family was starting a serious new journey. Recovery, chemo and radiation. We were on our way.

Things looked wonderful. A few years went by and the Dr. noticed some tumors surfacing. She knew it would be another fight.  But she was willing to go round 2. This time multiple tumors were diagnosed in her spine and radiation treatments burnt a hole in her esophagus. Walking skeleton she became. Thanksgiving Day I wasn’t happy with gma not being able to have Turkey Dinner. So I pureed turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy.  Ew.  But gma loved it. I knew she wasn’t giving up and I wasn’t giving in. Gma pulled through once again.

Through all her Dr appointments, treatments, and medications stood the sweetheart of her life, my gpa. He always was right there by her side loving her. Crushed her meds, worked, and kept up with the house.  His health suddenly wore him down. Months and months of him trying to keep strong we lost him a few days before Christmas. We always worried gpa couldn’t live a day without gma. I believe she knew that to.

Now our family was faced with many decisions on how gma would be taken care of. There’s where my journey of a caretaker began. I had a man tell me don’t put your life on hold she won’t live 6 months. Well, I was bound and determined to prove him wrong. I quit my job of many years and picked my lil family up and moved gma to her home. Her house my gpa built her in Fay, Ok. We had the time of our lives. Gardening, cooking, pedicures, manicures, Dr Phil, Cheetos, Dr Pepper, late night chats, swimming at age 79, road trips, make-up and hair every day, and lots of quality time. Memories I will cherish forever. Seeing her smile everyday was the best thing in the world.

My husband and I always take a trip to Red River and debating to take it that year was hard. We decided a few days would kind of be nice. The day of leaving was approaching fast. Four days before gma took a turn for the worse. Very few hours of sleep, but lots of hours of holding her hand and lying right next to her. I debated not leaving. Hospice assured me they would be at her side with my mom and take care of everything.  My last words to her were "Gma, stay strong until I get back in 3 days."

Six hours after we left my mom called  and gma hung up those boxing gloves and decided she needed a vacation to.

I miss her bright smiling face every day. But, I know she’s on my shoulder. That’s when I decided to become part of the fight for cancer.  I’m just beginning my list but I have accomplished the Susan Komen 5k race, participating on a Relay for Life team, and I have a journal I’m planning to finish this year.

Sometimes we are faced with tough times, but never realize someone else could have it worse. I challenge you, my family, my friends, and to everyone else in this world to be part of One Family. The Family Fighting to Cure Cancer. Come together as one. Put our boxing gloves on. WE can conquer this awful disease. We are the World. Only WE can make it a better place. Make a donation, participate on a Relay team, or walk with us.

P.S. Gpa passed away 12/17/2010   Gma passed away 2/16/2012. I proved the man wrong.

Together, we can finish the fight!!!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

February Facebook Relay For Life Challenge

Are you ready for an awesome 2014 Relay For Life season?  We are all fired up here in Custer County to finish the fight!  Share your love and passion about Relay by participating in Cancer Man's February Facebook Relay For Life challenge!  A Facebook challenge is a great way to get your Relay participants actively posting about your event on a daily basis.  I wrote this challenge to feature the best parts of Relay- when the posters friends see it, they should feel like they are missing out if they don't sign up (and hey, let's be honest- they are!)

Need a copy of the challenge to share or post on your Facebook wall?  Just Right click and save the image below!  Good luck!

UPDATE:  Your wish is my command!  You can find a March challenge here!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Relay For Them.

Today is National Relay Kick Off Day.  In that spirit, I would like to start sharing some AMAZING examples of personalized Relay pages.  You have heard it over and over- personalize your page.  Why?  Well, it's simple really.  If someone clicks your fundraising link, and is captivated or inspired by what you are writing about, they are more likely to give you a donation.  I know it can seem scary, but you don't have to be an amazing author; just speak from your heart. 

You know, one of the biggest joys that comes with being an avid Relayer is the community of Relayers you meet along your journey.  I'm not just talking about people at your local event- but people you get to know from all over the country.  You have got to love modern technology- it is connecting those of us that bleed purple from all over the globe.  Whether it be through Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, or blogs like this one.  We are sharing our stories, ideas, and passion like never before. The Relay story below comes from Denise Mortimore's Relay Page  Denise is the Event Chair for American Canyon's Relay For Life in California.  Denise and I got to know each other last year when I made some Relay tank tops for her and her girls.  I have to say I think American Canyon is pretty darn lucky to have her as a chair.  She brings fresh ideas, a fierce spirit, and has so much PASSION for Relay.  I see a lot of myself in her- no wonder I like her so much! 

Without further ado - one of my favorite Relay stories. 

My Reason to Relay
The first time my best friend asked me to participate in Relay For Life I didn't feel like it would be a good idea.  I did not know anyone that had cancer at the time.  It sounded fun and it sounded interesting, but I felt I had no right to be there, because I didn't know anyone with cancer.  My best friend told me she didn't know anyone that had cancer (mind you- she is a survivor) at the time either, but we both ended up signing up together.

Little did I know that my life was about to be drastically touched- drastically changed.  I learned that I wasn't just walking for those fighting cancer right then, but those that have fought and won, and those that have fought but lost their battle.  My heart was touched, and I knew I was going to walk with everything in me for my Grandmother.

In 2007 my Grandmother was diagnosed with Leukemia.  It was late on-set leukemia and it was a devastating diagnosis.  I was very close with my Grandma.  Watching her health decline to this disease was heart-wrenching.  She passed right before my oldest daughter turned one.  I miss her every single day and know she is by my side.  I just wish she was still with us.  I walk and walk and walk in her honor.

Last year I found out that not only will I be walking for my Grandma, Uncle, friends, and children of friends, but I was now going to be walking for my Dad.  He was the one that heard those awful words "you have cancer" and I remember the phone call like it was yesterday from my step-mom telling me "it is malignant".  I immediately started bawling.  You see, my dad is my world and the thought of watching his health decline was so scary. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 Prostate Cancer.  But, prostate cancer is slow growing and many (not all) men will die of other health related issues before they will of prostate cancer.   So okay.  I can be okay with this.  Make sure he does all his follow-ups, etc.  He is a stubborn man and I knew he was not going to let this cancer win.  Ever.

Then came another scary diagnosis.  He was having some health issues and kept going into the doctor trying to feel better.  Feeling that the problem was probably his gallbladder, they did an ultrasound.  I am so thankful they did.  There, inside his body, was a tumor the size of a grapefruit.  It appeared to have attached to the Vena Cava and things did NOT look good.  He was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor.  An extremely rare tumor (Steve Jobs died from the same tumor) in that only .05% of malignancies will be this type of tumor.  That is only 1-2 people in 100,000.  The fact it appeared to be attached to the Vena Cava also made surgery scary and very difficult and we were warned that if it was attached, there would be nothing they could.  So the day of the surgery came.  We all sat in the waiting room on pins and needles.  Many many hours later they came out to tell us they got it all.  Even the part that was *just starting* to attach to the vena cava.  They said it was one of the most difficult surgeries of their entire career.  But they got it!  I walk with everything in me in his honor- he is a Survivor!!

I walk for an extremely courageous and beautiful little boy named Jared.  He is battling leukemia right now and is kicking some major cancer butt!  He has been through so much in his 3 short years on this planet but through it all?his infectious smile warms hearts and gives EVERYONE hope.  He is a Survivor!!

I walk for a friend of mine, someone with whom I was very close with that passed away from breast cancer.  Not only was she a friend, but she was my mentor to me.  I will never forget the phone call I received to tell me she had passed.  I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.  I am walk in her honor.

My Uncle, the man I am named after, fought prostate cancer as well and won!  It was a long road for him but HE IS SURVIVING!  He is an inspiration to me, always has been.  I am walking for him.

One of my dearest friends, who is on my team with me, and the friend I talked about at the beginning is also a survivor.  Thyroid cancer.  I did not know her when she had cancer but I know her now and am honored to call her my best friend.  I walk with pride for her.  I walk with thankfulness that she fought this battle and I was able to meet her and have her in my life.

I am walking for one brave little girl, Rylie Cruz.  Her life ended way too soon from neuroblastoma.  Her courageous battle with this disease was an inspiration to many.  She touched my heart in so many ways.  NO child should ever have to deal with this disease!!!  Absolutely NO 3 year old should ever have to know what cancer is.  She is now one of Heaven's beautiful little angels.  I walk for her.

I walk for my two beautiful daughters ages 5 and 3 in the absolute hope that they NEVER have to know cancer on a personal level.  I pray they never have to know what it feels like to lose someone they love to it, and I pray they NEVER EVER have to deal with it in their own bodies.

I walk for my husband who I love more than words could ever express.  I pray and I walk in hopes that he NEVER has to deal with it in his own body.  Just the mere thought of him having to deal with it is terrifying.  In his career (firefighter), many men and women are diagnosed with and die from cancer.  I pray and I hope that he will never ever have to battle this.

I walk for my mom.

I walk for my step-dad.

I walk for my step-mom.

I walk for every single person in my life.

I walk for every single child.

I have various other family members and friends that have battled this disease and lost while others are surviving.  I am walking for every one of them.

For each person who has lost a loved one or who has been affected by this disease in some way...I am walking for you.

I am walking for all of our children.  I am walking for their future.

PLEASE support my efforts by making a donation or by joining my Relay For Life team. Together, we have the power to help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays!

Wouldn't it be wonderful for our children, grandchildren or great grandchildren to grow up in a world where there IS a cure for cancer?  I'm hoping to make that happen!  Are you?

Powerful words, right?  Straight from the heart.  Denise is walking for you.

Moved, inspired?  Throw a little donation Denise's way.  and for goodness sakes, go personalize that page!

Have an awesome Relay story?  Post a link to your Relay page below!

<3 Cassi

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Relay For Life Fundraising Letters - make it fun and personal!

It's a new year, and Cancer Man and I have been busy getting letters ready to go out to potential donors for Relay For Life!  I thought I would take a break from all of the folding and stuffing to share this years letters with you guys.  It is really amazing to me to see how much Wesley's letter writing skills have grown over the years.  Since he started Relaying on his own in kindergarten, the first ones were short and sweet.  But as he has grown they have gotten more detailed and informative!  To see previous years letters, look here!

First let's talk about some key points in fundraising letters that are effective.   I am known to encourage people all day long to ask online through email and Facebook, but there is something about getting an actual letter in the mail that really means something during our technology driven age.  Here's how to make the most of the letters you are writing once you get them in someones hands.

-Make it personal.  Why is Relay important to you?  How have you been personally affected by cancer?  Who are you walking for? Your friends and family know you- speak from your heart!

-Make it unique.  How many times have you just glanced over a letter asking for a donation because it looks boring?  Let's face it, we have short attention spans.  How can you make your letter unique to draw people in?  Some of my favorite letter have had a really creative edge.  A drawing, a picture, and hand made paper have topped the list on my favorites from kids- but you grown ups can do that to! Not into drawing?  Write from a creative edge (check out my letter from my dogs!)
-Share the details.  When is the event?  How can they donate online?  Who should the check be made out to?

Cancer Man writes a LOT of letters, and they are a huge part of what makes him the top fundraiser for our event.  We separate his letters into three categories- previous donors, in town friends, and out of town family and friends.  Check them out!

Previous donors:

In town friends:
Out of town family and friends:
So now that you know what direction we are going for the year- let me share my favorite little secret for speeding things up.  Adding a return envelope with your address on it increases your likelihood of getting a donation back.  But addressing them all (on top of putting your return address on all of the envelopes you are sending) is a lot of work.  We have streamlined that process by having Jessica Lynn Original create a custom return address stamp for us.  Let me tell you, it saves my hands!  So check her out- she has even created a special Relay for Life stamp, and will donate to Cancer Man every time one is sold.  If you are going to spend money, it might as well come back to the cause, right!?  She even made us one with his face on it, which he adores!

It is always more fun to write letters, and stuff envelopes with friends.  So, think about hosting a letter writing party at your next team captain or team meeting!  It's a great time to sit and talk about your upcoming Relay plans, and get ideas from other Relayers to!

So get out your favorite purple pen, and get to writing!  Together, we can finish the fight against cancer.

Peace, love, CURE!