Colored Ribbons and #RyantoDuke

Today I am going a bit off of my regular chatty, life with and without kids, life in general type format. I want to talk about something serious, a topic that hits very close to home for me.

I’ll start off by introducing you to Colored Ribbons Against Cancer. It’s a small not for profit organization dedicated to raising and distributing funds to people stricken with cancer. They have a blog, a Facebook page, and Twitter account. I have the honor of helping this foundation grow.

If one was to go old school and make an actual family tree (do kids even know what those are anymore? what if ancestry.com went down?) you would see that on my mother’s side, several women have bravely battled cancer: leukemia and breast being the offenders. The two women (aunts) that immediately come to mind who were diagnosed with breast cancer, fortunately, kicked it’s ass. Less than two years ago another aunt died after having been diagnosed and treated for lung cancer. My father’s side I know little of, however I have vague recollections of holiday remembrances of family members lost to this vicious disease. Further, I had a cervical cancer scare immediately proceeding my pregnancy with DDa; (having been diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia and gone through a LEEP procedure only to be told they may need to “take everything out” since they were unable to get all of the offending cells) and still need to undergo genetic testing for the BRCA gene. This is just immediate blood relatives. If I was to extend the scope to spouses and non-blood ‘family’, the number of people I have lost to cancer is really quite sad.

My point, is that helping individuals, warriors, as Colored Ribbons refers to them, who are fighting for their lives, is something that means A LOT to me. Not only because those around me have been affected, but because the chances I will one day be fighting it are higher than average as well.  I am passionate about it. This is why I am dedicating this and probably future posts to the work Colored Ribbons is doing. Statistically speaking, each of you probably has been similarly affected by cancer and it’s evil doings in one way or another.  My hope is to bring about some passion in you, so that you will want to aid this cause.

Back to the point. #RyantoDuke

Currently, Colored Ribbons is involved in helping raise money for a young man named Ryan Connell. He is a soldier who, at less than 30, has already completed a tour in Iraq and served 4 years in the Army National Guard. After this he went on to earn his Associates Degree at a local NJ college and made the decision to even further his education at Rowan University. Ryan’s goal is to become a History teacher. I don’t know about you, but I consider teaching one of the noblest professions these days, considering the effort to compensation/appreciation ratio. However and unfortunately, the Powers That Be had a different plan for this young soldier.

One Saturday night in 2012, Ryan suffered a Grand Mal (aka Tonic-Clonic-ref. Wikipedia) Seizure. After testing and a craniotomy,  (surgical removal/incision into the skull- reference here. Don’t scroll down the page. Seriously upsetting.)  Dr’s believed it to be a benign mass.  Then the results came in. Not at ALL what they had anticipated.

Ryan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Gioblastoma encompassed by Stage 2 Astrocytoma.  As Ryan and his family tried to absorb what was happening, they learned that Gioblastoma is one of the most rapidly growing form of Brain Cancer.  Hope abounded though, Ryan is young and a fighter. Radiation and chemotherapy for almost a year brought normal MRI reports, thus a collective sigh of relief.

Sadly, this relief was short lived and a suspicious area popped up in October 2013; despite chemo treating that, a new and rapidly growing mass developed. As of December it was about an inch in diameter. It is affecting his vision and his speech. Due to it’s location his current team of neurosurgeons felt surgery was not an option.

Then the bottom dropped out. Since Ryan is now 27, he is being dropped from his father’s medical insurance. Because of his “pending medical discharge from the military” he is not receiving military benefits-despite having served a tour in Iraq and four years in the Army National Guard.

Through extensive research, Ryan’s family found that Duke University in North Carolina has clinical trials and treatments that have been proven successful.  Ryan and his family feel that this is his only hope for survival. THEY BELIEVE THAT THIS WILL SAVE HIS LIFE.  His sister has set up a fund via youcaring.com to raise money to fund the travel and associated expenses of his treatment. Every single dollar will go to to meet their established goal.

In just two days, almost 20% of the goal amount has been met. My opinion? The goal could be 10 times higher. But let’s get #RyantoDuke before I start getting grandiose over here. Click on my drawing on the left “Pathway to My Dreams” (You may recognize it from *LESIGH*) to be linked directly to Ryan’s YouCaring page. Click the Colored Ribbons logo to the Right and be linked to the post there, #RyantoDuke if you wish to make a donation there. Colored Ribbons will also be holding a fundraiser on Ryan’s behalf; a kitty of startup funds is always good.

Thank you very much for reading, I know this is a long one. The promising life of a young person is worth it. I ask that you share this post and any other related post you see related to #RyantoDuke. Use the hashtag, donate money, contact Colored Ribbons with ideas or suggestions–whatever you may have to offer is appreciated, I’m sure. United we stand, together we KICK CANCER’S ASS.

link to youcaring

#RyantoDuke

Help send #RyantoDuke

Colored Ribbons Against Cancer official Logo Post for #RyantoDuke

MEMORIES

I was hanging out with my friend earlier, checking out this sweet book she has on Mandalas from different cultures. I love those.

When I was 12, I used to draw them, not knowing what they were, or properly creating them probably. In college I learned a lot more about them, as it was art school. I surmise that I drew a couple then as well. I was more into the boxes and these incredibly beautiful beads I was making though. Fast forward to the very beginning of my relationship with my children’s father, we used to watch a tv show which featured mandalas and meditation as a central theme in several episodes. Here I am now, pining away for my children, coloring them in to keep my anxiety at bay, using them as a meditative aid so that I can focus my energy on positive thoughts.

You’re probably confused. A lot has gone down since May. I won’t get into it in great detail; frankly I could get myself into trouble if I start running my mouth-er-fingers about it. Suffice it to say, I am currently spending 100% less time with my children than I was this time last year, and I miss them horrifically. As if  part of my soul has been removed and is elsewhere, being tortured.

What I’m left with is entirely too much time in my own head. However I had such a happy memory as a result of these mandalas today I couldn’t help but share it. As I scanned the images from her book into my computer so that I may print and color them, or perhaps even play with them in Photoshop or Painter Pro 2 (? some similar program my mom has on her computer. I actually rather like it. If anyone knows anything about it, please let me know. I don’t quite have the hang of it, but I’m ok with basic stuff) or MAYBE one of these days I’ll get into the correct frame of mind and draw some from scratch. Regardless,  I was scanning, and my dear friend puts on a song, asking if I’ve ever heard it.

 

This was the highlight of my day. I used to play this song every morning while I made breakfast for the girls and I. We would sing it and dance around the kitchen even during the darkest of my PPD days. It was how I coped with the fact that I had to get through another day. How I got my blood flowing. And my babies were so sweet dancing around with me, singing along. The best was when DDa would, out of nowhere bust into song: “BLAME IT ON MY ADD, BABY!”

Like the waves during high tide, I was pounded with memories. They flooded my mind and touched all of my senses. Snuggling and watching The Lorax 800 times, playing in the inflatable pool with our old neighbor, tearing up Kale chips like there was no tomorrow and laughing, singing and dancing. Just thinking of these times I am sitting and smiling, probably for the first time all day.

I have some pretty shitty ones, but right now I am immeasurably grateful for my memories because they are all I have to hold on to. I miss my babies. I can’t wait until they come home. So if you’re so inclined, perhaps say a prayer, burn a candle, recite an incantation or chant so the Powers That Be may understand, and know to allow them to come back to me. I appreciate it, and I know that even though I can’t ask them, that my sweet little monkees do too.

 

Quickie

Just a quickie because I realized it has been about 6 months since I’ve even given ya’ll a nod and thought, “How fucking rude am I?”

So here’s my nod, I love you guys and promise to catch you up (prepare yourself, it’s a long one, I may have to sub-divide) as soon as I can. That may even be later tonight. In the meantime, check out this other blog, leave me some feedback. I’d appreciate it.

OTHER BLOG

Grazie.

Gotta run.

Be sure to visit these pages too…

Not merely clouds and rainstorms, I also photograph food a lot.

While cleaning out old pics, I found this.

It's hilariously sardonic if you take a moment to consider it. Two of my three new buddies.  These two slept by when I went into a sugar induced coma. 
Meet Rocky and Wiggles. Wink hasn't warmed up to me yet, but she will. During the interim, these lil snugglemachines give me a happy. Many thank yous to the Queen of this domain for being so welcoming. Love you Mama! Happy #WalkingDead Monday!
#TheDayAfter #TheWalkingDead #DeadYourself #ImAZombie This is what I look like in my head. #NoFoodAfterMidnight #DoubleEntandre (#notreally)
But seriously.  This is what my nights are like. 😉
@rekkr88njsps #IfIWasAZombie #DeadYourself 
#TimeSuck
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