National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk Philadelphia 2008

So this is my dad.  My father was a diabetic – a bad diabetic.  He was the kind of diabetic who made root beer floats with real ice cream and diet soda.  He was the kind of diabetic that ate butter on sticky buns, then upped his insulin to help his body compensate.

At some point, when you are a bad diabetic, the disease starts to kick your ass.  It robs you of things a little at a time.  You get a sore that won’t heal; your eyes start to go; you begin to have heart problems; your circulation slows down; you could lose your legs, like my dad did; and most of all, your kidneys stop working.

My dad’s kidneys stopped working in the early 1990’s, and he ended up on peritoneal dialysis.  That was good for him, because it allowed him to continue to travel and be active.  And it was thanks in part to the money raised by the National Kidney Foundation that things like peritoneal dialysis come to be. 

Eventually, my dad received a kidney from the wonderful family of a man who lost his life.  A portion of all of the money raised by the National Kidney Foundation goes towards organ donor awareness.  Imagine my surprise when I did manage to pull a team together!  And I got an even bigger surprise when that team generated more than $1100 raised to benefit the National Kidney Foundation!

Thank you, to my friends, my family, my team – who walked in memory of my dad – for helping raise this money!  I know my dad would have been so proud – and he would have enjoyed the walk around the zoo with his grandchildren and nieces!  It was a terrific experience, and I’m hoping we can do just as much to help again next year.

It was my goal when I decided to walk for the National Kidney Foundation to raise money that might help another family recognize the benefit of organ donation and the various treatments for kidney disease.  I wanted other families to know that kidney disease does not have to mean life is over and you curl up in a ball and wait for the rest of your body to shut down.  I wanted people to be aware that help is out there if you are battling kidney disease.

I set my fund raising goal at $200.  I thought I would be lucky to get that, even if I did get a team together.

Think Pink – in honor of Jual and the other women fighting Breast Cancer

October is breast cancer awareness month.  You’ll see commercials, billboards, newspaper ads, and t-shirts encouraging you to feel your boobs; get your mammies slammied; and other clever slogans designed to remind women to get their yearly mammograms, do their breast self exams, and keep themselves cancer free.

 

About 20 years ago, I worked in an office, and one of my co-workers had a very good friend named Kathy.  Kathy was young – 30ish – with 3 children.  She had battled breast cancer, and I think that was the first time I had ever thought it was possible for someone who wasn’t a grandmom to have breast cancer.  I don’t know why, but I had always just thought it was one of those things only older people got.  Shortly after I left that job, they found out that Kathy’s cancer had returned, and she eventually lost her battle, and again, I was left completely dumbfounded by the fact that breast cancer could kill someone so young.

My sister Megan has a good friend named Jual.  Jual was 29, and had just begun her pregnancy with her third child when she found a lump in her breast.  At a time when God was surely blessing this wonderful family with a new little baby, and all focus should have been on the joy and wonder that a newborn brings, Jual and Alex were thrown into chaos.  Treatment that was safe for the baby had to be found, which meant taking a less aggressive approach to the cancer.  And when baby Ryder finally made his appearance in August of last year, Jual only got to enjoy a short couple of days with him before she was undergoing a mastectomy.  So much for a young woman to go through!

Just weeks ago, Jual celebrated one year cancer free, and then the walls of euphoric bliss came crumbling down.  A spot, which looked initially like an old, healed wound that had maybe gotten arthritic, was now labeled suspicious.  Tests were scheduled.  The news isn’t good.  Jual has Stage IV breast cancer.  The terms used to describe Stage IV breast cancer are “terminal” and “incurable”.

Jual is in excellent hands in terms of medical treatment, and with a caring, concerned medical staff on her side and a host of family and friends surrounding her and the whole Harman family, we hope and pray that Jual gets a miracle.  We pray for her to find the strength to battle tooth and nail against this disease, damning the cancer that threatens her life.  We hope she knows that prayers for her are being said far and wide – the Sisters of the Good Shepherd pray for her and her family in Clarks Summit, PA.  Her name was around the neck of someone she has never met as they walked 5 kilometers in the Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk this weekend.  She has been added to prayers lists at Churches in Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

There is nothing so sad as thinking of someone so young, with so much potential and so much to live for, having to fight a battle so difficult.  But I know that she will face this head on, do her best to kick ass and take names, and use every ounce of strength to continue to mother her three babies and love her husband.  That’s what superheroes do.

So in honor of Jual, and all the other women, young or old, who are fighting breast cancer, think pink.  Wear your ribbons, show your support, and get your mammogram.