Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy 1st Remission "Re-Birthday"!

So, this is my remission “re-birthday” post continued. It seems my thoughts are often drawn towards my 1 year of remission these days. I've been thinking about it for weeks, and I'm still thinking about it. So, instead of keeping my thoughts to myself, I thought I’d write them on my blog, so others can understand what it’s like to go through this process.

It’s hard to believe that in Fall 2006, I was originally told I may not have a long life because my cancer was so aggressive, and they were having trouble getting rid of the cells in my spinal fluid. Did I mention that was in 2006?! And did I mention that I'm leukemia-free?! They apparently don’t account for stubborn, fiery souls like me. (CURES ROCK.)
Honestly, cancer may be the best thing that ever happened to me (might be). The air smells sweeter, the ocean looks bluer, the sun shines brighter, etc. It’s nice not to take things for granted and to have the priorities reset in my life. If ya’ll haven’t done it, I strongly recommend it. When I go running, I don’t think the entire time I'm out there about only the final step I’ll take at the final finish line. If I did, I’d probably trip on that rock on the trail or run right into a pole on the sidewalk. The point being, the race isn’t just about the running. It’s the proverbial “journey” that matters.

Yes, I beat cancer. Totally kicked it’s bootie. I hope that gives many young adults my age hope. But, I also hope that people realize there is a 100% chance that living will kill you (it’s true…statistics are shocking). Wow. It is strange that after all my writing about cancer, it still feels awkward to write about death. Kicking the bucket. Sleeping the big sleep. Tumbling in the ocean (I made that up). It feels like I’m being rude or talking about something that shouldn’t be talked about...that’s how little we talk about it these days. There is something really valuable in realizing how short life is, and how fragile it all is. There’s something good in feeling life desperately flash by. There’s a part that I personally like about feeling like you should get off you’re bootie and do something with yourself, or for others, before you die. Perhaps my story will motivate someone reading it to do something they’ve been meaning to do---whether that’s living, loving, doing something for someone else---just get on with it!

So, happy 1st Remission re-birthday to me. I’m 33 years old. I’m probably going to live for quite a while longer. I can’t wait to do something extra with this time I’ve been gifted, which is why I’m involved with LLS Team in Training and the San Diego LIVESTRONG Army. Yesterday, my Team in Training Run Team surprised me with a remission celebration at our morning practice. They had cupcake cakes (yum!) and a TNT shirt that the whole team had signed that said, "(RE)MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" This team is out there fundraising to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Mission and to run on behalf of all those patients and survivors who cannot – they are doing something for others – they are making their life count. This team has become a local family to me, and it is inspiring to know that my story is just one of so many as they work to raise money to help people just like me. Here’s a YouTube Video Asst Coach Happy made for me to remember the day (2mins): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTwlgn9Y5Ik As if the day wasn't awesome enough, we also celebrated with my twin sister and her hubby for dinner up in Orange County...and the four of us had a grand ol' time (Yes, I am a twin, and that's her in the picture.) For such “UN-REMARKABLE” lab tests declaring me cancer-free at this one year mark this week, it was great to have such a REMARKABLE day. *smile* Thank you, everyone!! May we have many more years celebrating cures! CURES ROCK!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Do you LIVE STRONG?


Remission Year 1:
Jules 1, Cancer 0


See, ya’ll – what my cancer didn’t understand is that I’m on the home team, and I’m undefeated. Cancer didn’t have a chance when it met me. Leuk (my nickname for my leukemia), got a one-way express ticket to Heaven…and that loser better have enjoyed that ride because that ticket set me back in medical bills more than he’s worth. It just goes to show that you can’t be friends with cancer. I mean, the loser stops by and the next thing you know, you’re spending a year of your life paying a professional to evict the pathetic excuse for pond scum. :)

So, I’m cheering that I made it through my first year after I found out that I was “officially” in remission. AUGUST 30, 2007. The date I will never forget. I mean, it’s a year later (tomorrow), and I am still 100% officially free of deadbeat Leuk. I'm spending my time on cancer advocacy and starting up the LIVESTRONG Army in San Diego.

I’ve been going through an annual round of check-ups (bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap, blood test). My oncologist and I reviewed my test results today, and looking back over the past few years, I can see just how sick I really was back then. Especially when he squints at you…pauses…smiles….and says, “wow – I’m surprised we made it this far.” I’M ON THE HOME TEAM BABY! Of course, I made it this far! BRING IT ON and LIVESTRONG! (Insert cheerleading routine here.) I have been told that so far the test results are “unremarkable.” Normally, I would be offended by hearing such words --- after all, my mom always told me I’m special --- but in the world of cancer, being “unremarkable” is the coolest thing anyone can tell you. In fact, in a total LIVESTRONG move, I think I’ll go to the beach tomorrow on my 1 year “re-birthday” and yell on the top of my lungs, “I’M UN-REMARKABLE!” If anything ,the looks I’ll generate from all the San Diego tourists ought to be worth it.

Can’t wait for my remission re-birthday tomorrow....and when it hits, the only question I'll ask you is, "DO YOU LIVE STRONG?" Unite & fight cancer. CURES ROCK!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Livestrong Challenge: Philly

Any cancer in the vicinity of Philly is shakin in its boots tonight! The LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly is tomorrow! Click here for info. Many of the new friends I met during the LIVESTRONG Summit will be there tomorrow. If you're in the area, cheer them on or participate! If not, then go online and donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to support them. Here are some individuals that truly LIVE STRONG!:

Alexis K.: She was on my Fundraising 1 Blue team (Go Blue Scouts!) at the LIVESTRONG Summit. She just wrapped up her chemotherapy treatments for her ovarian cancer. She's running the 5K to celebrate her survivorship. Marc G: He was also on my Fundraising 1 Blue team at the Summit. Cancer affected his family by taking his father, 4 uncles, and 4 aunts. It has taken his wifes' grandmother and stepmother. He will be biking at the Challenge! Tim D: Another awesome delegate at the Summit. He is a SURVIVOR and will be biking at the Challenge!
If you LIVE STRONG then show your true colors! Order your yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets and share them with others in your life that have been affected by cancer. CURES ROCK...so watch out Philly Cancer! You don't stand a chance tomorrow!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dutch Cancer Survivor Wins Gold!

Wow. The Olympics are inspiring…and it just got even more inspiring with the men's marathon swimming event:

Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden, given only a slim chance of survival when diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago, won the 10km swim, one of the most testing Olympic events. A stem cell transplant and chemotherapy saved van der Weijden's life. "That makes it extra special," he said. "It proves that even after such an illness you can win gold."


Cures rock!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Questions to Ask & Local Livestrong Army

There was a great article in the NY Times today on questions patients should ask about cancer treatment. Click here to read it.
Tonight was our monthly LIVESTRONG Army call. Believe it or not, one year ago, there were no LIVESTRONG Armies in the U.S., and we now have 300 armies across the U.S. and Canada. How exciting!!! Our local San Diego LIVESTRONG Army will be kicking off this month (another local and myself will be planning the activities and leading the army)…as you know from my earlier blog, we already registered our army. We are completely thrilled to be able to be a part of this Cause.

What is a LIVESTRONG Army? That’s a darn good question! LIVESTRONG isn’t just related to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. “LIVESTRONG” is a state of mind…it’s a strength and willingness to live strong in one’s life….in whatever you do…whether it’s cancer-related or not. The LIVESTRONG Armies are local grassroots advocacy and fundraising groups to promote awareness of cancer-related issues. Our goal is to unite across cancer organizations – therefore, many Army members are involved with all sorts of cancer organizations, like LAF, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, local oncology wards, etc. If you want to sign up for a local Army in your area, let me know, and I’ll find the group for you. If you’re in San Diego and want to get involved, email me! The Armies are for anyone who would like to be involved in uniting to make cancer a national priority!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

TNT Winter Season BEGINS!

It begins again! Today was the first Saturday session of the Team in Training (TNT) Winter Run Team in preparation for the January marathons. Folks on the team will be running the Carlsbad Marathon, Rock N Roll Tuscon Marathon or the Walt Disney World marathon. I will be training for the Carlsbad Marathon (I mean...hello?...it's local AND along a beach..I can't complain). This season, I have returned not just to run, but to assist on the team as a team Mentor along with a season role as Fundraising Co-Mentor. My job? Cheer on a group of teammates and answer their questions...and also help raise a ton of money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through setting up fundraising events, helping others fund-raise, etc. It's just plain AWESOME. And, in the immortal words of Po, "There is no charge for awesomeness!" (Kung Fu Panda, the movie). I even have a mentor (hey, mentors need mentors too!), who is AWESOME. Gail is our A Team Captain and is helping me through the ropes of my 2nd season of TNT (Thanks, Gail!). If you'd like to support my fundraising efforts as I race for a cure, please visit my TNT website by clicking here. All donations are tax deductible. We ran a nice 3 mile run today. It was hot and humid, but, it felt good to be out with the team. I had a chance to share the Mission Moment, which I'll upload later for you to read. Yes....you can now expect that I'll talk about running non-stop for the next 4 months (well, that topic and those of fundraising and the need for cancer research/early detection). GO TEAM!

Friday, August 8, 2008

LIVESTRONG Army - San Diego

The submission forms went in today, and another delegate from the Summit and myself have started the LIVESTRONG Army of San Diego! Our mission is to UNITE and join the fight to make cancer a national priority and to raise awareness of the 70,000 Young Adults that are diagnosed with cancer each year.

If you want to see an example of someone that LIVESTRONG? Tonight at the Olympics, Lopez Lomong will have the honor of carrying the American flag. Read his story.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I wouldn't want to pick a fight with ya'll...

Hi all. I am blogging from the San Jose Airport at the moment. That's about exciting as it sounds. I have to admit that I am still living in the "yellow haze" rush of the LIVESTRONG Summit. Everyday, I have new emails from new friends, "friend requests" on social networking sites, and comments to my videos and blogs. To know there are so many people out there fighting for the Cause is music to my ears. I remember on the last day of the Summit, Lance Armstrong looked out over the audience of so many survivors, and he commented: "I wouldn't want to pick a fight with ya'll." LOL. Remember my motto during chemo? "Failure is not an option." I live and breathe it now. As Lance said, "We will not lose." Anyways, the LIVESTRONG Army YouTube channel just posted a video from Day 1 of the Summit (you'll see me pop up on the screen for like 1/2 second): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI2HVdSVCZQ :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My lastest video: My TNT Journey, Part 2

TNT Journey, Part 2 now exists (4 mins)! I've uploaded it to my YouTube videos at my "Cures Rock!" channel. To watch my new video and comment on it, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtiSEKx7Yfk More to come as I finish the videos from the LIVESTRONG Summit, too. This video starts the same as the first one, but has an all new marathon of an ending! Take 4 mins of your life to watch a little about my adventure from my "chemo endurance challenge" to my final "marathon challenge"! I hope you find it inspiring. I appreciate your support through your donations and cheerleading efforts. It was with a HUGE SMILE that I made this video this past weekend. CURES ROCK! Help make cancer a national priority!

Stand Up 2 Cancer!

Hello all you advocates out there! FYI - tonight at 9pm ET, CNN's Larry King Live will feature guests from the Stand Up To Cancer organization. Sept 8th is the "Stand Up 2 Cancer" TV special that Lance Armstrong will be a part of, too. I know it's last minute notice, but if you see this blog and want to tune in to ask your questions....call the show tonight! There's more info and also suggestions for topics on the LIVESTRONG Blog. Or, go to: http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/larry.king.live/ for info about the show. (If you'd like info on the upcoming Stand Up To Cancer special, go to their web site: http://www.standup2cancer.org/ ).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cures Rock, Down Under

G'Day, Mates! Support for young adults with cancer is something that is lacking in most countries (yes, including our own). It's the reason why I am publicly putting my thoughts on a blog instead of sitting quietly at home eating potato chips on my couch waiting for someone else to do something about it (uh...no). Here's a great example of what two Australian young women (Falls, 33 and Mackay, 21) decided to do about it. They were told they had cancer and only 3 months to live by their doctors. During chemotherapy, they started to think the same thoughts I was thinking while going through chemo: Cancer is a deadbeat friend who needs to be kicked to the curb because I am too young for cancer. They met online and formed the first ever Australian support group for young adults ----- and have been nominated together in the Pride of Australia Medal for their courage. "People need to understand the difference between the needs of a child, a young person and an older person with cancer," Ms Mackay said. AMEN! To read more from Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper, click here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Blog Colors & Uploaded LIVESTRONG Pics

Note: I have uploaded most of my pictures from the LIVESTRONG Summit to Shutterfly. If you are interested in viewing them, post a comment or send me an email!
Cures rock! (And therefore, my Campaign & Blog needs to rock.) It's out with the old colors and in with the ORANGE! Orange is the awareness ribbon color for leukemia, and it's the same color as the "Cal-Trans" colored "Cures Rock!" shirts my family and friends wore to my first marathon I ran after chemo this past June. (I couldn't miss 'em on the street! They were awesome!). The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also recognizes the color green for the leukemia ribbon (and it's lime green for lymphoma), so I thought I'd mix the colors on my new blog design, in support of kicking deadbeat Luke and all blood cancers to the curb for good! ("Luke" is my nickname for leukemia, in case you missed earlier posts). Tell me what you think! :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Video! :)

Taking a moment before starting my hectic work day, and thought I'd write a post since many of you have asked about what it's like returning home from the Summit. Since I'm sure ya'll are getting bored with my non-stop crusade against cancer, I thought I'd post a picture of Lance to catch your attention (i-heart-lance). :) It’s been a week since I returned from the Summit…and yet the energy and impact it made on my life is still extremely strong. This group of LIVESTRONG Delegates came from every social class, race, gender, charity organization and type of cancer you could think up. And yet, we all have one goal: To make cancer a national priority. It’s strange to think that two years ago, these thoughts weren’t even crossing my mind. But now, I know I have to live a life of service...I’m not even sure I could stop if I wanted to – survivors or those touched by cancer call it “the obligation to the cure.” I can’t just accept that watching 560,000 Americans die each year in this great country is “ok." I met some of the most amazing and strong survivors and caregivers at this Summit. And it made me realize one thing – I am not alone. Sounds strange, right? But, there are days when I feel like I could scream at the top of my lungs how AWESOME it is to be ALIVE and that we can truly live our lives ---- yet the world will just walk by thinking they’ll live “forever” and that “someone else” will fight the good fight instead of them. But, at the Summit,…there were hundreds of people who want to live life to the fullest, who want to LIVESTRONG and who will not give up in this fight against cancer. You all know my motto: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. :) I am so lucky to have all of you as family and friends. You have been tremendous cheerleaders and supporters, and I know you do care about this Cause. I'll show some "snippets" of videos of the people I met during the Summit over the next few days...but I'll start with ME! :) LIVESTRONG!!!
video

Lance Armstrong's "Tour de France" Dedication to Julie

A great reminder that I had armies of support beside me in my fight. (Thanks, Lance!) Even with the recent media, this video isn't about the bike...but the fight against cancer. LIVESTRONG!

Stage 2 Dedication: Julie Westcott -- powered by http://www.livestrong.com

Guinness World Record Broken to Fight Cancer

We *Heart* Our Fans

Cures Rock! on Facebook

Donate & fight to kick cancer to the curb!

500 Miles. 17 days. 2 States. 1 Mission to Cure Cancer.

500 Miles. 17 days. 2 States. 1 Mission to Cure Cancer.
January 1 - 17, 2010
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