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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Live Strong - Carpe Dieme

Today is Livestrong Day. I remember the day of its genesis. I was, and still am, an avid bike racing fan because I was a bike racer before my spine degenerated too much for me to race. On that day many years ago, I was teaching a class, and a student hurried into the room, announcing as she arrived that Lance Armstrong had just been diagnosed with cancer. I have to admit that I didn't believe it in my heart. After all, he was a strapping, youthful, and incredibly strong bike racer.

Later, I found out that it was true that America's young and most promising bike racer had cancer. Cancer spares no one, not even the strongest among us. None of us or our dogs is immune. It could be waiting just around the next curve in the trail.

I closely followed Lance's recovery and finally his comeback to professional racing. I cheered with all my heart as he gradually climbed toward the top of the professional ranks again, getting high placings in the Tour of Spain and world championships in his first year back. Then, in his second post-cancer year of bike racing, he won the Tour de France. It was a fairy tale.

When his yellow Livestrong bracelets came out, I wore one, in memory of my mother who died of breast cancer at a young age and in memory of my dog Acadia who died from complications of a brain tumor. While I had my bracelet on, our dog, S, a sweet-hearted yellow lab, died of cancer. I kept wearing it for a long time in memory of all of those who I'd lost.

I also wore my Livestrong bracelet to ward off the evil C from me. My greatest fear is that I will die the same way that my mother did. My Livestrong bracelet felt like protective armor. Partly because of this fear that lives deep in my soul, I rarely miss a day of doing the things that I love.
When my mother was my age, she had only a couple of autumns left in her life. And, let me tell you, she was one of the most amazing and loving women who has ever lived - she deserved many more springs, summers, autumns, and winters. She deserved to see her children grow up and to meet her grandchildren and grand-dogs. It's been almost 25 years since her last day on this Earth, and my heart still aches for her.

I saw my mother's brother recently. He pulled me aside at the end of the get-together, and he said "Your mother isn't dead. She lives on in you. It's eerie to be in the same room as you - *you are your mother* in so many ways". We both cried. My tears were partly for how honored I felt to be compared to my mother in that way.

Because I'd embraced the Livestrong message, I was truly dismayed when a barrage of stories emerged in recent years suggesting that Lance cheated to win his Tours de France. It's never been proven, and there's no rock-solid evidence of cheating. But, last summer, I finally took off my Livestrong bracelet. I felt wrong about wearing it if the man who inspired it was a fraud.

Since then, I've gradually realized that, by our moral and legal standards, he is innocent until proven guilty, and he's never been proven guilty. Moreover, Lance's tireless campaign against cancer is the best possible way that he can use his fame. So, I'm participating in Livestrong Day today.

The yellow that I've shown you throughout this post is from our natural world. I wish that no one ever has to face down cancer again. I'm sending my strength to all of you and your dogs who are facing it now - you know who you are. Live Strong. Be Strong. Have Hope.
And, my precious K, I hope that you never have to face it. Carpe Dieme.


  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful post


  2. What a beautiful moving post. The photographs are perfect for the post.

    I often think that those of us who have faced special hardships are more lucky than others. We now know that most of the things we had worried so much about are trivial. We reboot our priorities and are all the better for doing so.

  3. Thanks, KB, for this very inspiring post.

    My birth mother died of cancer when I was 18 months old! I was adopted by my Aunt and Uncle.

    Then about 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with the same cancer as my mother, but with all the advances in treatment, I was lucky to recover. So if it comes to you, don't despair, it may well be very treatable and your recovery may be 100% like mine.

    Every grateful,

    Jo in MN

  4. PS. Thanks for sending the pictures for my blog. If you didn't get a chance to see one of them, they are on Saturdays Post about Scent. Thanks again


  5. What a great post lady. And nicely said
    Benny & Lily

  6. A truly inspiring post, KB. Thank you.

  7. What a beautiful post, KB. You are one amazing woman to the deepest cores of your being. You brought me to tears with your words about your mother. A good kind of tears:)

  8. Beautiful post KB....."your mother is you". Wow....
    One thing I've learned is to stand for what you believe in, even if you stand alone....

  9. KB, your thoughts that go with these words are so beautiful. I did not want you to stop talking.
    I feel what your saying and I so connected.
    Together we sit with hope and faith,, and courgage,,, and we must remmember to Live Strong,. Stay Strong,, just as you said in your amazing post. Now I will dry my eyes

  10. This is lovely. Thanks so much for sharing the story of your mother.

    Your pal, Pip

  11. What a beautiful post today! My mom is a breast cancer survivor. I can still remember the last time we went to see my grandmother, who'd had lung cancer spread to her brain. I knew it would be the last time I saw her alive. It was strange being the only one who had hair. My grandmother was the single greatest influence in my life, and sometimes I think seeing her battle cancer was the only way I could have born seeing her pass away. It's a terrible disease.

    On another note, a friend on a Greyhound photography blog was recently in Colorado, and was bemoaning the lack of Fall color there! I told him to come and look at your pictures!

  12. Oh man, this photos was really great! You look doing great ah, just keep it up!

    Dog Fence | It's All About Pet Fences

  13. Lovely post. Keep in mind that many cancers are more survivable today... try not to worry about it, but get yourself tested regularly....


  14. Hi Y'all,

    wonderful moving post.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  15. A beautiful post today, KB. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

    My mother died of cancer as well, when she was two years older than I am now...(That kind of freaks me out...) But my cousin just beat esophageal cancer, my work colleague is 3 years cancer free from leukemia, and my niece's husband kicked lymphoma. It seems we're making progress...

    Please give beautiful K a hug from me...

  16. You have said it all so succinctly...the C word is everywhere and as you said could be around the corner. I only hope that corner is never turned. We have all faced C in one manner or members, friends and beloved pets....let's keep positive because the negative doesn't deserve to thrive. Thanks again for the yellow, uplifting colour and emotions that radiate from this. Cheers! Ron Jim and Sophie!

  17. Fabulous photos, KB. I was older than you were when I lost my mother to breast cancer, but I still think of her daily. Lance Armstrong has done more good for those suffering from cancer and for research than all the people trying to bring him down. Our government often spends money in foolish ways and politicians use bad judgements - this case is a good example of both.

  18. Loved the yellow photos, and made the connection immediately. Like you, I don't know if he's guilty or not and don't really care anymore. They say everyone does it, or at least everyone did back then. If that's true, the playing field was level. If they want to ruin their bodies...

    I'm with you. Lance has done so much to bring cancer out of the shadows, that's the important thing now.

  19. What an inspirational post! I have a close family member who started fighting the dreaded C in January. I guess it's hard to find a person these days that hasn't been impacted directly or indirectly my the nasty disease. I'm a firm believer in two themes here: Carpe Diem and innocent until proven guilty. We may never know all there is behind the Lance Armstrong controversy, but I don't think it's my place to judge. Thank you for sharing your encounter with your uncle with us. You mother sounds like an amazing, loving woman.


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