Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wearing of the Green

There have been a couple requests for the meaning behind Waeger Will Win and the green bracelets. I had to do a little research, so if I don't get it exactly right, it's close enough!

So, with a little help from Serge & Joe...

"Waeger Will Win is pretty much a phrase coined by Dan since the time we met him. Whether it be on the golf course, fantasy sports, or his intramural team - that would pretty much be Dan's team name. Or his trashing talking on the first tee. I think I've told you to me he really seemed to like the name Waeger and was proud to refer to himself as such.

The most prominent WWW team name is probably the intramural floor team. It was our floor hockey team (Joe was on the rival team) and we got it together just after Dan tore his ACL. Because of this Dan decided tobe the goalie, thinking that would be fine. After letting up a couple goals and having a ball SLOWLY, and I mean SLOWLY, roll between his legs he quit (we kicked him out) and became coach of the team. He would show up in suits for the games. His team that year was named, like all others, Waeger Will Win. Pretty sure that is the only coaching advice he gave too....

After Dan was diagnosed, a girl named Julie wanted to do something for Dan. She called asking for ideas ofwhat to put on a t-shirt or wrist band. I think we went with Waeger Will Win because it was in Dan's IM profile and everyone started putting it int heir profiles after he was diagnosed. Just grew from there.

The 237 Lodestone crew (Tyler Wright, Stoney, Becky, Serge, and I, and the usual random people sleeping on the couch...Lowy, Marshall, Galligan) all had the bands right off the bat. We brought the first batch of wrist bands to Dan's first Birthday Bash. His fam loved them and ordered more. They gave me a bunch more during a visit to see Dan at Hopkins. Seemed like half of Westminster had them from there. Pretty cool how the bands transitioned from a way a small group of friends could show support for their buddy to ideas on living your life to the fullest, showing support to those withcancer everywhere, making the best out of every situation, and, of course, agreat way to remember and show tribute to Dan...."

For me, the green band played a very important part in the day Dan & I got engaged. Within a few months of meeting Dan, I started wearing my Livestrong bracelet again. He offered me a green WWW bracelet, but I didn't want one. I didn't feel like I was one of Dan's inner circle, and after seeing how close his friends were, I didn't want to wear one just because I had a little crush on the kid. It became a sort of running joke between the two of us, but he never offered me another bracelet during all that time.

Fast forward to engagement day when Dan sent me on a journey around the various places that were important to us (yes, that meant I went to a bar AND a church in the same day!). At one point, I received a little box and a note. In the box was a green Waeger Will Win bracelet. The note read


I'd be honored to have you wear the wristband. Wearing the band does not remind me of cancer or a winning attitude, but of friendship. Friends like Joe & Serge and all those who have supported me over the years. To me the green band signifies an unbreakable bond between friends, and I'd love it if my best friend would wear one forever...."

Now, I am struck by how good it makes me feel to see people still wearing the bands. I know that I am always among friends.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Birthday

Dear Dan-

Happy Birthday!

I miss you every day, but am so thankful for all the wonderful memories you left me. We crammed a lot of happiness into such a short time. As you said, "We had a good run."

Thank you so much for loving me and making me a better person. You showed me what it was to be joyful, and even in my grief, that joy remains in my heart. Even though you're gone, I still learn from you and still laugh when I think of all the many jokes and adventures we shared. I know that when you said you'd never really leave me that you meant it. Because you left me with a true happiness with myself and with life. A gift that will always remain.

I love you. I miss you. And I hope you'll be proud of who I've become as a result of loving you.

Happy Birthday babe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another Year Older

So Friday is Dan's birthday. I've been very careful not to make certain days big "anniversaries" of events. For me, it would just make this whole experience a lot harder. It's bad enough getting through normal days. I wonder if people at work have any idea what it takes for me to get up and look presentable, commute to work, sit at a desk for 8+ hours... let alone actually be productive and intelligent!

But Dan's birthday will be the first significant day for me since he passed. We loved planning fun things and surprising one another. And we always wrote a letter to mark these events. I would have spent a long time picking out the perfect card. He would've cried when he read it.

Dan's birthday last year was one of the last fun days we had before we knew his cancer spread... when life was just beginning for us, and we were excited about our future. We played hooky and went to Six Flags for the afternoon. He had no idea, of course. And it took a lot of effort to smuggle towels & a change of clothes for the water park! I'll always remember that we stayed until the park closed, still running up the lines for the water slides. We were easily the oldest ones there by many years. I think we may have elbowed a few abnoxious teens out of the way. It was such a fun day. I miss planning fun things for him. Well, I just miss him. I miss everything about him.

So if you have a good story to share, feel free to post it in the comments. It would be nice to hear. I don't know what I'll be doing on Friday. I need to find something fitting. Something fun and goofy. I better get moving!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Loss

A couple of years ago, Golf Digest ran a contest that allowed one lucky winner to play at the US Open with a celebrity foursome that included Justin Timberlake and Matt Lauer. That winner was John Atkinson, and he was a lung cancer survivor. You can't imagine how jealous Dan was, and kicked himself at the missed opportunity. When he found out that this year's "essay" had a 10 word limit, Dan was even going to enter with one tagline "John Atkinson has Nothing on Me".

John and Dan became friends, often golf stories or information on side effects when one of them started a new treatment. And mostly just to check in and keep up the positive attitude. I distinctly remember John calling last year on Christmas Eve day. Dan wasn't taking any calls, which if you know how much Dan loved Christmas... that should tell you something. But Dan eagerly took John's call and it gave him a huge boost. Enough that he could enjoy decorating the tree and wrapping presents. Dan also spoke to John just after we'd learn that he was near then end. Dan was nothing but encouraging, but unable to tell his friend the real story. Dan didn't want to let him down.

John passed away yesterday. Most of the fellow lung cancer survivors that helped Dan have passed. It doesn't get any easier. Best wishes to John's wife Lori & their children. And thanks to John for sharing his survivorship story in the national media, giving lung cancer a new face & attitude.

Here is the coverage this morning on the Today show:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Starting Off on the Wrong Foot

So a couple of weeks ago I started my training for a little triathlon in late August. Being the type-A, overachiever that I am, I decided that the program wasn't tough enough, and that I was going to run more than suggested because I hate running & really wanted to do well. Ok, really I just didn't want to make a fool of myself. Well, I overdid it & re-aggravated an injury that I've had on & off for five years. It's nothing bad, but basically I have a lot of pain just walking. And can't wear cute shoes or flip flops.

First off, I was super irritated because exercise is one of the few activities that I can do on my own that I like and doesn't make me feel lonely. The other is shopping, and I had to cut myself off for awhile! That, and I kinda dig the Speedo/goggles/swim cap look for me- it's like a fun costume :) I like to think that Michael Phelps has nothing on me!

I was also very determined to finally do this triathlon which I've had on my to-do list for a long time. I had signed up for the event last year, and Dan made me my own training manual for my birthday with lots of inspirational quotes, etc. However, I dislocated my finger in May and couldn't grasp the bike handles or swim. And then Dan's cancer spread. So, since Dan died I have been really insistent on getting this event done, because I don't like to think that cancer prevented me from completing something.

In light of the sharp, hot-poker-like pain I had, I promptly stopped running, and added more swimming & cycling. And I made a trip to the podiatrist, got my self lined up with orthodics (sigh). And asked that the doctor set me up with physical therapy. Turns out that my problems are caused by overly (and apparently "freakishly") flexible feet. Go figure.

As I was in PT this morning stretching and getting sonograms on my feet, and then getting zapped with some pulsating machine, it dawned on me that I am definitely a little Dan-ish these days. Last year, I made excuses why I couldn't possible train for the triathlon, and just dropped it. And in the past, I just quit exercising when the injury reared its head. I may have seen a doctor, but certainly wouldn't have told her what I needed to happen, and then convince them to throw more therapy at me. This time around, stopping is not an option. And I know that this little physical annoyance isn't much, but it's kinda rare in life when we have an "aha" moment of how much we've grown and really learned something.... when we can pinpoint it.

So as I was getting my footsies zapped, I felt a little wiser today... a little more empowered. And certainly determined to get this done. Baby steps- literally!

I also thinks it appropriate that I was wearing green, which I don't often do.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Must See TV

Update: Here is the link! Well done!

I just wanted to give a little plug to a series that the Today show is running this week called Confronting Cancer.

Tomorrow (Wed. June 10) there will be a very special guest from NCCS- "Boss Lady" will be featured on a segment covering living with cancer. As someone whose life has been impacted by Ellen's survivorship lessons, I can't think of anyone better to represent the topic. Plus I hear that NCCS will be featured as well, which will hopefully bring great attention to an organization focusing on survivorship. A big hug to all the NCCS family!

The segment will run between 8-9 am tomorrow. Please tune in and give your support! I will post the link after it airs.

Here is a link to earlier features of Confronting Cancer

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Case of Emergency

Every day, it amazes me at what things bring up the twinges of pain or disbelief that Dan is no longer here.

Things like having to change my "in case of emergency person". It feels like you wait your whole life to have someone to list other than your parents if something were to happen.

Things like finding files on my work computer that kept a list of blog ideas.

Things like finding a list of returned wedding gifts I never even knew we received while looking for a pen in a drawer at my parents' house.

Things like finding a booklet on planning a funeral tucked into old wedding planning file.

Things like looking at Dan's laundry that still sits untouched in the corner... but needs to be done because all my retail therapy has resulted in a shortage of closet space.

Things like developing tendonitis because I ran too many days in a row... knowing that Dan would say that I was overdoing it.

Things like realizing that grocery shopping for one is no fun and usually results in half of the food going bad.

Things like the fact that Dan STILL gets more mail & email than me. He was always very popular!

Things like being in a crowd of people but feeling much alone....

I know that you never get over a loss like this, although it becomes less potent some days. But then it's these little moments that stop you in your tracks. I don't really break down in tears. It's more like a little gasp of disbelief . I am honestly surprised at certain points that Dan is no longer here with us.

I don't really like being alone, but I accept it for now, fully believing it will be temporary. The more overwhelming feeling is not a sadness around what I lost, but the greater impact of what Dan did. He lost his chance to get up every day & do normal things... even things like going grocery shopping, doing laundry, returning emails and even feeling lonely every once and awhile. We're all still here, and he is not. And there is no real reason why.