So people who know me KNOW I am a lazy lox who barely gets off my butt. But these last few weeks have inspired me to actually DO my training every week — 4 days of walking, 3 days of cross-training (in my case, Pilates which help my back and “core muscles” as they say).
I’ve found a wonderful team, Flower Power Empowered, that allows me to train with them despite the fact that I am not technically a “member” of their team and for this I am so grateful. Plus, they are awesome fun.
Tomorrow, we are meeting up at 7:30 a.m. for a nice, relaxing EIGHT-MILE WALK. I can do it. I can do it. Icandoiticandoiticandoit. Seriously. And when it’s over, a few of us will be heading down to Arlington, Va., to participate in the national Avon Walk for Breast Cancer 10th Anniversary celebration (the veterans and the first-timers, bonding together).
My plans for Sunday? Well, yeah, I’ll watch the Super Bowl. But rather than cooking a big pot of chili, I will be making my first batch of “Winston Cup Cookies.” Anyone who has donated so far to our team, Winston Cups: Hope and Diamonds, and for whom I have a “snail mail” address will be getting a batch of “thank you cookies” shaped, if things work out with the cookie cutter, like a ribbon (well, everyone except Steve F. who is getting cookies shaped like a hot dog … we have bonded over our love of Liebman’s Deli in Riverdale and their hot dogs which are second only to Papaya King in the hot dog pantheon).
So if you’ve made a donation, keep an eye on the mail for yummy delicious and special cookies.
If you are a newshound, right about now you are probably sick of reading about … well, without going into major detail or starting up any kind of political or philosophical kerfuffles, a certain foundation that is associated with breast cancer research, pink ribbons and annual Walks for the Cure.
So what I WILL say here is that that is NOT the group with which my upcoming AVON Walk for Breast Cancer is associated with.
Now that I have gotten that “pink elephant” out of the way, I wanted to give a few updates on what I’ve been doing, what I WILL be doing this weekend, and, most important, share a few pictures of more people I love who inspire me.
I’ve already talked about my amazing and beautiful baby sister Stephanie, with whom I have partnered up to form the two-person/four-boobed Winston Cups: Hope and Diamonds team which will be schlepping our way through the May 5-6 Walk for Breast Cancer here in Washington D.C. 13 weeks from tomorrow, we’ll be sucking down coffee and meeting up at the Washington Memorial at 5:30 a.m. (ouch) to embark on our two-day journey.
Until then, a few hundred miles apart, we’ll be training so we’re ready physically for the challenge (we are MORE than ready emotionally, especially thanks to the amazing early outpouring of love and support we are receiving).
And I will be writing another blog about Stephanie and our relationship over these 40-plus years. It may be one that surprises you. You can look for it in late March to coincide with a certain sister’s birthday.
Although I have only just started to send out letters to my friends and loved ones, letting them know what we’re doing, the response has been overwhelming. And one common note is that I don’t think I know a single person whose life has not been affected by breast cancer, whether they are a survivor or the loved one of a survivor or the loved one of someone who was not as fortunate.
And while I will be walking with my sister, we will both have SO many people in our hearts and minds for whom we are also walking in spirit if not in reality.
I want to dedicate my next few blogs to some of them …
Tonight, I want to send my love and endless awe to the amazing Barbara Jean Germano, who underwent a lumpectomy last week and is in the process of radiation treatment over these next few weeks/months.
Without BJ, I doubt this blog would even exist because such a key part of it is the glut of gorgeous baseball pictures from my voluminous iPhoto collection and I think she took about 90 percent of them!
If there was ever proof that breast cancer can strike anyone, even the people you consider the healthiest, strongest people you know, then BJ’s diagnosis a few months ago is that proof. She literally (yes, I know the proper use of literally) glowed with health. So when I learned that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, it was like being hit in the gut.
But I also knew, KNEW, that if anyone could kick cancer’s ass and make it sorry it even thought about messing with the wrong person, it was BJ. I know that sounds like a cliche but it is the God’s honest truth.
Turns out, knock wood (hey, I am superstitious, something you can’t NOT be in all these years in baseball), I was right. Despite a relatively advanced stage of cancer, she underwent chemo like the trooper she is and when it was done, the tumors were in such a state of remission that “all” she needed was a lumpectomy and radiation. It was GONE. I think the doctors were amazed, but anyone who knows BJ knows that if anyone could use the power of positive thinking and faith and strength to make that happen, it was her.
So while I walk those miles (ironic since I am the lox and she is the most buff, athletic lady you’ll ever meet — her legs are the envy of everyone who sees them!), I will have her beautiful smile and her voice saying “Lisa Lisa LISA!” in my mind.
A little background on our friendship. I started working on the national minor league baseball beat for USA Today Baseball Weekly when I came on board in 1992, and got my first assignment to cover a Triple-A All-Star Game in 1993 when it was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico (I would cover the game on an uninterrupted streak until it returned to Albuquerque, a few years back, when MLB.com opted to send me to Double-A instead. I wept.)
I love lying in the sun and I love coffee. Neither has done wonders for my youthful look. But that morning of the game, I headed out to the team hotel pool with the temps at about 100 degrees. Only one other person sat out there, a gorgeous and tan woman who had a pot of hotel coffee. She offered me a cup. We became fast friends. And so began a friendship that is running up on two decades now.
Over the years, we shared so many Triple-A All-Star Games together. It was OUR THING. I loved hanging out with her. I loved sharing a hotel room with her, as I did later on when she’d cover it for my paper, either freelance or when they were finally smart enough to hire her as their official in-house Photo Editor.
When we needed a freelance photographer for minor league events, I always asked for BJ.
Though there is no picture of us together, one of our most memorable experiences was when we co-covered a pair of 1997 Triple-A League Championship series, making the I-90 commute between Buffalo, where the last-ever American Association finals took place between the Bisons and Iowa, and Rochester, her home town, where the Red Wings faced off with, I think, the Columbus Clippers. That trip was marked by a few memories. My first-ever trip to Wegmans. And, as we left her apartment in Rochester to get into her car for the drive to Buffalo, my managing to miss one of the steps out of her garden apartment complex, falling, and spraining my ankle so badly that within minutes it had ballooned to five times its size. Luckily, one of her neighbors witnessed the spill and brought me crutches. We got me into her car and promptly spilled a thermos of coffee on my seat so I not only had a swollen ankle on her dashboard but a hot wet pair of jeans (shut up and get your mind out of the gutter).
I survived and we had the best time ever. And if you ever go to Buffalo, get your wings at Gabriel’s Gate on Allen Street.
A few years later, as I mentioned, the paper was smart enough to bring BJ in to run the show and I had so much fun apartment-hunting with her in my neck of the woods. Loved having her in the office. Loved being able to work with her on such a regular basis.
She left the paper about a year before I did and moved to Arizona, where she still lives, in the heart of spring training heaven.
I love getting to see her when I go out there, and even now she’s turning me on to new discoveries (hello, frozen crinkle sweet potato fries!).
Barbara Jean, I love you and miss you and you inspire me. You will be in my heart every step I take this May.
Tomorrow: The other survivor who inspires me and whom I love so much — my Aunt Rhoda.