Sunday, May 31, 2009

Race For The Cure! :-)

*warning...long story, but REALLY worth it! So get your cup of coffee, settle in, and enjoy! (lots of fun pics at end of entry)

I woke up yesterday morning around 7:00 and went through my usual routine. Turned on the tv, fed the dogs, and made myself some tea. As usual, I had the channel 4 action news turned on (they are my favorite) and I listened while I busied myself in the kitchen. I heard the news reporter say that he was broadcasting from downtown Detroit where "Race For the Cure" was taking place that morning. What?!! Race For the Cure?? I had heard of the "Three Day Breast Cancer Walk" but didn't even know that today's race was going on. How could that be?? I've been sitting in chemo now every week for 10 weeks (not to mention Round 1 which started in January) you would think that somewhere along the way I would have heard about "Race For the Cure!" But I hadn't, so I turned and watched the newscaster for more information. Then he said the magic words, "There is still time to register for today's walk, some come on down and help fight breast cancer." Well, that's all I needed to hear! Being the impulsive person that I am (who me?) I got dressed, printed off directions to downtown Detroit (sorry, don't go there much) and jumped in the car! Half way down I-75 I did think, "am I crazy?" But I answered myself with a resounding YES...and kept driving. (absolutely no surprise to those that know and love me!) I felt compelled to be there. I know I'm not alone in this battle, but sometimes it feels like I am, and I just wanted to be with others (ok THOUSANDS) that knew how I felt. I had no idea the emotions that were going to come from this experience. But I was soon to find out.

After I parked the car, I started walking toward Comerica Park (where everything started) and all I could see was a "sea of pink" flowing down the streets. There were people everywhere! Two ladies passed me in the street and I asked them if I was going the right way. (nobody wants to get lost in Detroit) They took one look at me and started hugging me tightly (this was going to be happening a lot) and pointed me in the right direction. I found my way to the registration table, filled out the form, and paid my money. (proceeds go to Susan G. Komen foundation) I then proceeded to pick up my race number and tshirt. Now, survivors were supposed to get a pink tshirt, while everyone else received a white one. But considering how late I registered (like two seconds ago) I was told there were no pink shirts left. I said no problem and was about to walk away when a volunteer from behind the table came running over with a pink shirt! She said that it was THE VERY LAST ONE but it was a size small. Hmmmm...small and I have never been mentioned in the same sentence, but she told me to take it along with the white one. And I did and just draped it over my shoulder. I proceeded to walk around the giant lot in front of Comerica Park where booths were set up, freebies were getting handed out, and every kind of "PINK" piece of apparel was on sale. (I even saw dog collars with the breast cancer ribbon on them. (No, I refrained from buying one. But I did consider it! lol)

I headed over to where the race was starting on Woodward Avenue. It was a massive sea of humanity. It was standing room only and you were standing shoulder to shoulder. Now, by this time you have to know that I was standing there bald for the world to see. You see, my nose started running and I had no tissues. So I did the only thing an inventive person would do (no, I didn't wipe my nose on my sleeve) I took my bandana off and used that instead. Hence, my shiny bald head for THOUSANDS to see! Well, that's all it took. The rest of the race (walk) I was approached over and over again. People asked me my story and I gladly told them. I met the most amazing people, and they all showed me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I even received gifts from strangers. The first gift came from another survivor in a pink tshirt. She overheard me when someone asked me why I wasn't wearing my pink shirt. (remember...size
SMALL!) She approached me and said the shirt she was wearing was a large and she would gladly change shirts with me, as hers was too big. People suddenly formed a human "dressing room" around the woman to shield her, and she took off her shirt in the middle of Woodward Ave. to give it to me. I was so touched. I immediately put on MY pink shirt.

I was also given a pink rose by a man that walked over to me and said, "God Bless" and while I was walking another man gave me a beautiful bookmarker (which I can really use) with photos he had taken from Bryce Canyon in Utah which also had an inspirational poem written on it. It was such an emotional morning I really can't even put it into words.

The highlight of the walk however, had to be when I turned and saw my favorite channel 4 news anchors walking right behind me! Rhonda Walker and Guy Gordon. There they were... dressed in pink and walking to support the fight against breast cancer. I approached Rhonda for a picture
(I really do watch her every day!) and instead, she hugged ME!! I told her how I had seen the news that morning (channel 4 of course) andjumped in my car to come down. She called Guy over to tell him my story. I was overwhelmed to say the least and started tearing up. It turns out that the whole thing was recorded by the camera guy and I wound up being on the channel 4 news last night! Ahhh the hilights of fighting breast cancer :-) (well, there have to be SOME good things)

I also want to mention (for all my Riverside Elem. friends) that towards the second half of the walk, I looked to my left and saw my old friend Dana Gorman! (for non school blog readers she was the speech teacher in our building but went to a new school district several years ago) I was shocked and yelled over "DANA GORMAN!" She looked over, but had no idea who I was. In her defense, it is hard to recognize a bald woman in pink that you haven't seen for years. I said, "It's JOANNE SHEIMAN!" I got the puzzled look that I'm now used to getting and then she flew over to give me a hug. We have not been in touch and she had no idea that I had been diagnosed. She told me that her family has been participating for 17 years (sorry Dana if I got the number wrong) as her Aunt had passed away from B.C. many years ago. I walked with her family the rest of the way. THANKS Dana and Family! :-)

I happy to report that I completed the 5K walk (3.5 miles), took lots and lots of pictures, and have enough memories now to last a lifetime. I plan on joining The Race For The Cure for many years to come (next year I'll pre-register lol) and hopefully some of you reading this will join me.
Together WE CAN make a difference.

Enjoy the pics!


Had to include this pic...BALDIES UNITE!! :-)

There was LOTS of entertainment along the way...this was just one of the groups. I loved their outfits!

Me and the Channel 4 Action News team! Guy Gordon and Rhonda Walker!
Dana and me! It was SOOO good to see her!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I had my appointment with my surgeon this morning, and I've been scheduled for my surgery!
I'm really excited (well, as excited as someone facing a bilateral mastectomy can be) that the next phase of recovery can begin. The only downside is that my surgeon said I will need to have radiation after the surgery which will be daily for 6 to 8 weeks! (each session is only 10-15 minutes, Mon-Fri, and I will be able to be back at school in the Fall!)

This is the next time line in my life. My surgery will be Thursday, July 2. I need to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. and the surgery will be 4-6 hours. When the surgeon is finished, the plastic surgeon will then step in and begin the reconstruction. When the plastic surgeon has completed what he needs to do (in about 4 weeks) then I can begin radiation. WHEW!! And I thought showing up at camp chemo once a week for 12 weeks was tough! But a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta know?

If all follows the plan, then by the end of September I should be finished. That will be just just about ten weeks short of the day that I was diagnosed. Quite a year. But in the end, worth everything that I've been through to be able to continue on my life's journey :-)

Today, I am a happy camper.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to Reality

Hope everyone had a relaxing Memorial Day Weekend. It was a looong weekend for me, not much going on, although I did manage to finish yet another book. I also attended the local Parade yesterday and saw lots of familiar faces which was fun. Didn't do any barbequing either, the grill broke, and things just didn't work out. :-(

Today it's back to reality. I have a doctor's appointment at 1:30 and then it will be right into camp chemo for my treatment. I also have my appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday, hopefully she will be able to schedule my surgery after that appointment.

I am looking forward to the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life" which is taking place at my local Middle School in a couple of weeks. Here are the details:

June 13th, 10 a.m. - June 14th, 10 a.m.
Pierce Middle School
Waterford, Michigan

Walk as little or as much as you can...
The goal is to have at least 1 team member walking the whole 24 hours.
This will be Waterford's 2nd year having Relay for Life in our town. Last year they knocked the socks off of the American Cancer Society by earning over double their intended goal!
It's one day - 24 hours. You can choose to stay at Pierce the entire time, walking sporadically, walk 1-2 hours on Saturday, stay all night in our base camp, come early Sunday morning....the choice is up to you. Our goal is to have 1 person from our team walking at all times...each taking turns during the 24 hours. There are no 'relay police'...however, cancer doesn't take a break so neither will our team. There are family activities for little ones during the day. We'll have our own base-camp with supplies, bedding, food and such. You can contribute as little or as much as you would like to it all.

Survivors: If you or someone you know survived cancer, please tell them about this event. They will want to participate in the opening ceremony, at least. This is to honor them and their loved ones

Key Times to know....
10:00 a.m. Relay for Life Kick-off - Cancer survivor victory lap
10:00 p.m. Luminaria - hundreds, thousands of lit candles with messages to love ones written on them incircle the track.

Can't walk, but want to donate?
1) Donate online to our the link below and search for the team name Riverside Racers.

2) Purchase luminaria bags - $10/each. Decorate the bag in honor of your loved ones. Bags are displayed around the track at the luminaria ceremony Saturday night.

Everyone knows someone who is affected by cancer. Everyone walks for a different reason. Who will you relay for?

I've signed up to be a member of the team from my elementary school and can't wait to walk the "survivor's lap." Anyone reading this from Riverside Elementary that would like to join us is WELCOME! I'd love for you to walk with me. Please go to this link, and you can register online.
Team: Riverside Racers

On the homepage, look at the sidebar on right that lists "Top Participants." At the bottom of that box click on "View Participants" and scroll way down to the bottom of the list, and click on Riverside Racers. You will see our page and you can join or donate here.

*Questions or additional information can be answered by Shannon Wikle (Team Captain) at
248-568-5940 or email her at :

I'd LOVE to see you there, and welcome the support of EVERYONE to fight this deadly disease.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Carly's documentary is complete!

I'm home from Chicago and Carly's graduation was amazing! There were so many amazing things that we stuffed into an action packed weekend that I'm not sure where to even start. Yes, I do! Besides the graduation itself, another highlight was getting to see Carly's completed documentary! She and her friend worked extremely hard on this production and I viewed it for the first time on Friday evening during the "Senior Showcase" which highlighted the works of graduating seniors. I viewed it on the big screen in one of the auditoriums on campus along with the works of other students. Of course my family could hardly wait for Carly's film and we were not disappointed. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, and when we got up to leave, the lady sitting in front of us recognized me (hard to miss lol) and she applauded me. (more crying on my part) I am extremely proud to present the documentary here for all of you to see. It's only five minutes long and I would advise you to have a tissue handy. Enjoy it and pass it on to every woman you know!

P.S. Chemo yesterday went just fine. My friend Margaret Risser kept me company and we never stopped talking for three hours straight. Thanks Margaret for keeping my mind occupied! :-)
(Only three more treatments to go!)


Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm still here!

Sorry I haven't updated recently, I'm still here and doing well. I'm looking forward to only FOUR more treatments and then surgery. I've actually been really busy (well, as busy as someone at home can be) getting ready to go out of town tomorrow. My daughter, Carly, is graduating from Columbia College in Chicago, and we are headed there in the morning. I've rescheduled chemo for Monday at 2:00. (we are getting home late Sunday night) and the following week I'll have to go in for my treatment on Tuesday, as that is Memorial Day weekend and chemo will be closed on Monday. (I don't think cancer takes a long weekend...but I know that the hard working nurses and staff at camp chemo deserve the break)

I had a VERRRRRRY exciting day today. I was able to go to my elementary school to participate in the assembly they had to honor the entire school for becoming a "Michigan Exemplary Blue Ribbon School." IS as big a deal as it sounds. We are SOOOO proud!! The best part of the day was walking into my classroom to see my students. I surprised them (I was just sure someone would call to say it was a mistake and I couldn't come) and boy were they SURPRISED!
They flew over in about 5 seconds flat and I was getting the best hugs in the world. In fact, it was hard to get through the school without hugs coming from all directions. It sure did feel good to be missed! :-) :-) I did bring my camera, but I didn't take one picture. lol I was too busy saying hi and hugging people. It was a GREAT afternoon!

I'll check back in after Monday to let you know how I'm doing, but just know that after my visit to school today I'm feel PRETTY DARN GOOD!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The END is in sight!

I just had a call from my surgeon's office. My surgeon wants to see me again since the end of chemo is getting closer. Once I have this appointment she will schedule my surgery! Hooray! My appointment is at 9:15 on May 28. This is the best news I've had in awhile. I finally feel like there is going to be an end to this journey.


Friday, May 1, 2009

LIVE from NY...only kidding

Broadcasting live from camp chemo! I am actually sitting in my recliner right now waiting for the labs to send up the results for my blood tests. (they do this every week before starting the chemo) If I haven't mentioned this before, they are very high tech here at camp. Each recliner has their own computer screen which allows the "camper"to access the internet, watch tv, or choose from a wide assortment of movies. All for your infusion pleasure. :-) Actually, it does make the time go by very quickly if you haven't brought a good book. (which I am rarely I brought Brisingr by Christopher Paolini)

I'm also happy to report that today makes treatment #7, only 5 to go! Then on to surgery. (we'll deal with that later) The sun is shining here in Michigan (yeah!) and two weekends from now I'll be headed to Chicago to watch my daughter Carly graduate from college. :-) (I'll have chemo the Monday after I get back) So all in all life is good.

Have a wonderful weekend. Get out and enjoy the sunshine.
Joanne (still trying to get my water in every day...I'm just not much of a drinker. Unless
I'm headed out after work for adult beverages!)