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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Live Strong

Today is LiveStrong Day. My yellow surrounds me, in the nearby meadow and lining every trail.
I also wear yellow every day - a LiveStrong wrist band. I put it on about 17 months ago when our yellow lab, S, was diagnosed with cancer. I miss our boy, and I can't bear to take off the bracelet that I placed on my wrist in his honor. He lives on, in part, in R and K. He was a patient big brother who helped raise both of them.
 You can see my yellow wrist band in the photo below, taken with S's protege, the black lab R.
Neither of my current dogs knew my first "heart dog" - Acadia. She taught me about how deep the human-dog bond can be. Acadia died of cancer, more than seven years ago. I wear a golden heart around my neck in her memory.  I like the photo below of her because, when I visualize heaven, it sits atop a high mountain with snow capped peaks all around it, just like Acadia in the photo below.
After Acadia died, I didn't believe that I'd ever love another dog like I'd loved her. However, I was willing risk heartbreak and try. I found K, in the faraway state of Virginia, awaiting me. Later, I learned that she'd been conceived on the very day that Acadia died. Serendipity. Although K's spirit is dramatically different from Acadia's, she and I share a love as deep as Acadia and I did. I never thought that I'd be so lucky as to experience such a deep bond twice in my life.
Part of why I keep wearing my LiveStrong wrist band so long after S departed this world is that it represents taking the bad in life and making something good from it. Lance Armstrong had a horrendous battle with cancer. He took the agony and pain that he'd experienced during his illness, and he transformed it into life-changing energy. First, he re-found his love of bike racing and made an unbelievable comeback to win the Tour de France a record number of times. Then, he used his bike-racing fame to create and champion the LiveStrong organization.

Regardless of what hurdles we face in life, his example of facing a heinous battle and finding a way to emerge stronger is inspirational. I want to face my hurdles in the same way - and that's a big part of why I still wear my LiveStrong wrist band.

There's one other reason. My mom died of breast cancer at a young age so cancer changed the course of my life. Every day, I miss my mother, and I face the fear that I'll have a life as short as hers. One of the last things that she said to me was that she felt so terrible to leave me with this genetic legacy. Believe me, she left me with far more than pieces of her DNA -  she left me with a legacy of love. But, I feel a personal stake in the race to cure cancer.

Part of what my fear has taught me is to try to appreciate each day, to notice the small bits of beauty around me, and to notice the tough yet beautiful survivors.
Seize the day - for you never know what might happen next.


  1. Oh my -

    Tears and gooseflesh here for many reasons -

    Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with the nastiest of killers -

    And serendipity SO works - I have proof of it everyday too -

    Hugz From The Faraway Land of PA!

  2. You are a strong and fearless that really does see the beauty of everyday life...along with facing challenges head on....I strive to be like that in my life and you are an inspiration to me.....through your beautiful words and pictures on your blog.....

  3. What a beautiful post! I love that picture of the three labs together! It's hard to believe R was ever that little. I have lost loved ones to cancer, too, and many of your words resonated for me today!

  4. Fantastic post. Lessons learned can be tough but certainly shape our journey and how we look st everything around us.

  5. You have left me almost speechless. Your post explains so much of who you are and why you live life to the fullest. Your mother must be very proud of you.

  6. What a beautiful and moving post. Thank you so much for sharing your love and anguish both for your Mother and your dogs. S was a beautiful boy. I understand that deep, intimate bond with your dogs, it is something precious to cherish every day. I agree, all we have is this moment. Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. An incredible post KB! Yes, let us live and love each day...find the sparkling part of the day, and those great spirits of our past loves that live in our hearts.
    Amazing photo of Acadia. Reminds me of when I think of our Golden Honey...a vision of her in a beautiful place, which is now her heaven. Blessings.

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  8. Wonderful reflections...the dogs, your mother, and the courage we all need to seek within ourselves.

  9. Patient big brothers and legacies of love. Guess the oysters got the right attitude to life - even the roughest grit can be turned into a pearl.

  10. Thanks for an excellent post, KB!
    I have always had a love for yellow labs (my Unc had a very special one!) and the picture of the Three, with R as a baby was wonderful.


    Jo and Stella

  11. Your photography is overwhelmingly beautiful, it takes ones breath away... but it may be more your choice of photos and words together that make this posting so very meaningful. Though sadness flows from it, so does hope. You have put a golden lining onto a dark cloud. Thank you for sharing this with your readers... we, too, LIVESTRONG.

  12. KB...
    You know, you have moved me to tears today!
    It is ONLY by sharing our difficult experiences that we can touch the lives of others and enable positivity to flow.
    I remember through the days of Maxdog's illness, your specific encouragement about'Carpe Diem' ...thank you for that as well as fpr igniting the flame to call my new blog "Living life to the Max". You are one VERY special woman with resolve like I've seldom come across! Thank you for being you!
    Sending lotsaluv

  13. My eyes are leaking. Thanks for sharing your heartbreaking yet beautiful story.

    To quote you...

    Seize the day!

  14. I love the way you "wore yellow" in the Aspens!

    I really think you've seized the Livestrong spirit through all the dark moments you shared in this post. I love how you talked about Lance transforming agony to life-changing energy. You've done and continue to do just the same. Your stories of defiance after your surgery and your carpe diem mantra despite chronic pain (on top of life's other ups and downs) give example of how to use something heavy to open a world that's light, alive and vibrant.

    I think that's a good way to live strong.

  15. You brought tears to my eyes when you first told me about your mom, and now you've done it again. This was a tender and yet powerful post I hope many will read and take to heart. Thank you.

    PS: Those pictures are just wonderful!


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