My 15 minutes of fame

Last year around this time, I heard about an opportunity for breast cancer survivors to take part in an on-field tribute during halftime of the Broncos game. Now, we all know that, while I was a Bronco fan for many years growing up, my NFL allegiance these days lies with the Colts. However, I love football regardless of the team playing, so was excited about the chance to be part of the festivities! However, a crowded football stadium was the last place my doctor wanted me at while undergoing chemo last year - it's very important to stay on schedule for chemo sessions, and if you're sick, they won't let you do chemo - so the halftime show came and went without me.

This year, I was on it the second the e-mail came out! I must have been among the first to request a ticket, and was thrilled when I was notified that I would be taking part in the halftime show this year! I was told that the show would involve 100 survivors, but not any other details. Who cared? I was going to be on the field raising awareness for breast cancer! When we put in our request for tickets, we were asked to submit our breast cancer "story", and were told that some stories would be selected to be featured at the game. When I didn't hear back prior to the game that my story had been selected, I figured too bad, interesting story, especially since I would be running the Denver half marathon the morning of the game - thought it could be a cool "overcoming obstacles" story. Oh well, their loss.

We were asked to attend a rehearsal the morning of the game, which I had to miss because of running the half marathon. My friend Gina did attend, so I texted her on my way over to the game asking if I missed anything at the rehearsal. She texted back "so cool your story is going to be featured at halftime!" Ummm, what? I started getting excited and a bit nervous!

At halftime, Gina, Lindsay, our new friend Karen and 80 other breast cancer survivors were escorted down to the field to form a pink ribbon the field. I don't care if you're a Broncos fan or not, being on the field is pretty darn cool! 10 feet from the cheerleaders, 25 feet from the players, and then walking on to the field, knowing that you're in front of several thousand screaming fans is just awesome. Seven survivors' stories were chosen to be "featured", which included the announcer reading the story we had submitted and us standing in front of the "ribbon", waving to the crowd when our story was read, which was shown on the jumbotron!!! Even cooler than the experience of standing on the field was all the texts and phone calls Brian and I got from friends telling us that they had seen me on the big screen, and how meaningful it was to see from the stadium.

Here is the story that I submitted, which was read by the announcer: (it was edited, but this is the basic idea)

At 32 years old and 8 months pregnant with my second child, I was on top of the world - with a wonderful husband, sweet 4 yr-old and baby brother on the way, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect life. One day, while putting on a sports bra to go for a walk, I noticed a lump in my left breast. I mentioned it to my OB/Gyn at my next pregnancy appointment, which happened to be just a few days later, and he assured me that it was probably nothing, but that we should check it out, just in case. I never imagined that a week later, a biopsy would confirm a mother's worst nightmare - I had breast cancer.
In the next year of my life, I gave birth to a healthy, happy baby boy, 11 days later underwent a bilateral mastectomy, and 3 weeks after that, started 5 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy. At a time most mothers were enjoying their newborns, I was recovering from major surgery and facing several months of intense chemo that would make my hair fall out and leave me too tired to take care of my two children.
Fast forward a year later - it's been a crazy year, but thanks to my incredible husband and amazing support of friends and family, I made it through treatment and am living a healthy life. 6 months after chemo, I was back to training for and participating in triathlons, and am now training to run the Denver half marathon just 7 weeks after reconstructive surgery to give me back the breasts that cancer stole from me. Thanks to breast cancer, I have realized that I am stronger than I ever thought possible, and now appreciate every moment of life, rather than just plodding through each day. I hold my kids tighter than ever, tell my husband I love him more than ever, and try to enjoy every single moment of this life, one that can be so fragile. I encourage everyone to live their lives this way too - you never know when life will deal you a crazy hand and you have to make sure you take advantage of every moment here on this beautiful earth!

From beating my previous half marathon time by 2 minutes that morning, to an exhilarating on-field experience in the afternoon, October 17, 2010 will be a day I will remember for the rest of my life. One year ago, round 2 of chemo, lying in bed recovering, bald head and all, too exhausted to take care of my kids, heating pads all over my body to help with the chemo-induced pain, and now today, in the best physical shape of my life, surrounded by people who love me, loving every moment of life.