The Cancer Color of October is … (2015 Version)

NOTE: This is an update of a post I originally wrote in October 2014.

The Cancer Color of October is … not always PINK.


It is October, and pink predominates pretty much everything because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important to me because I am the daughter of a survivor and have seen countless friends, acquaintances, and fellow humans (women and men) be diagnosed with this disease. Some are (blessedly) still alive and thriving; others have passed away. As a woman, I face a 1:8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in my life. Therefore, for selfish reasons research should be supported. However not all “pink” is effective “pink,” and there are many other causes out there of which we need to be aware and for which we need to take action.

When Pink Makes Me See Red

I am wearing a lot of pink this month, and having been a multiple-year captain at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, I am in full support of many efforts to raise awareness of breast cancer and fundraise toward support and research. Here in Tallahassee, October 2015 is fully in pink bloom, with many of our city’s leaders and brightest lights leading the way. However, it is important to know that not every product robed in pink does much good and to make well-educated purchasing decisions.

When Pink Has Gray Areas

It is also important to respect the connotations all that pink carries for people currently dealing with breast cancer, either for themselves or a relative. Sarah Thebarge writes eloquently of the evolution of her feelings about pink as a color representing breast cancer here.  She also wrote a superbly useful list of 31 Ways to Help a Friend Who Has Breast Cancer (visit it here) which goes beyond wearing pink.

But Paula You Said This Post Wasn’t Just About Breast Cancer!

It’s not. I want to encourage you to add some “blue” to your October observances (I know, now it’s feeling baby shower-ish up in here, isn’t it?). Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. It has affected many men I know.

Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure seeks to “save lives by increasing awareness of prostate cancer and the life-saving value of early detection while providing education and information about cutting-edge research to reduce risk, detect, and treat prostate cancer.”

Fans for the Cure aims to encourage all men over 40 to consult with their doctors and schedule their prostate exams and PSA blood tests today because early detection saves lives.

See Tom Foley, Tampa Bay Rays Bench Coach, discuss prostate cancer and his father’s experience here:

Fans for the Cure envisions a world where all men are aware of their risk and know how to prevent prostate cancer. (Early detection can involve a simple blood test. Read more about detection options here or visit this site to donate.)

Fans for the Cure was present at nearly 175 minor-league games this baseball season. At these games, Fans for the Cure partners with local hospitals to offer prostate cancer screening and provides information. I hope to make one of these games next year.

Got it: PINK, BLUE, and … GRAY?

I had this “pink and blue” post planned for weeks before I wrote the original post in 2014. One individual’s story presented itself to me via friends, though, and it was important to add it. Andy Nichols was the brother-in-law of a friend (as she puts it “the brother of my heart.”). Andy had an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumor, which is in the same family of brain tumors as the one my friend Dustin had. When I learned that Poplar Head Baptist Church would be holding a 5K race in Blountstown on October 11, 2014, in Andy’s honor (to help with expenses not covered by insurance as well as raise awareness), and that his friends wanted help getting the word out and generating as much participation as possible, I knew in a heartbeat that I would be heading west that day.


Tiffany, Debbie, Paula O’Neill and I had such a fun day at the fun for Andy!

Andy and his family chose the "I have hope" phrase to symbolize hope for a cure for ALL forms of cancer, not only brain cancer.

Andy and his family chose the “I have hope” phrase to symbolize hope for a cure for ALL forms of cancer, not only brain cancer.

NOTE: Andy passed away from complications caused by his brain cancer. He is not forgotten, even by those who did not technically know him.

So Many Causes … Where Do I Go From Here?

I wish I knew! I have only scratched the surface, with a bias toward the fact that it’s October, that my mom (pictured in this post with a pink bird of hope) is a breast cancer survivor, that Ed Randall is doing so much across the country to encourage men to get screened for prostate cancer, and that Andy and his family needed (and got) our support on October 11. My friend Mary Jane, a multiple myeloma survivor, organized a team for the NYC Half Marathon in March via Team in Training and our team ROCKED THAT RACE. As to “where do I go from here?”

cancer colors

This graphic is from

In a sea of choices, the best recommendation I can make is the same one I would make if you were drowning in a literal sea: clear your head, get your bearings, look for the surface, orient yourself toward the shore, and take action. Your action may be donating funds, running in a race, running for a cause (hello, Charity Miles and Stand Up 2 Cancer!), or simply telling someone who has cancer “I am here for you” or asking their family what you can do to help.

Whatever you choose, don’t for a minute let yourself believe that your contribution is too small or won’t matter.

My mom, Ed Randall, Andy, and Mary Jane would surely feel differently …

My Running “Year In Review”

I am combining two topics into one post tonight; both are about running.

First, I want to make sure you know that there is still plenty of time left in the RunChat “Holiday to Holiday” scavenger hunt (it ends 12/26). I will be sharing collages of my “finds” at the end of this post!

Secondly, I loved the way Amanda / Miss Zippy’s Six Questions helped me assess my running year so I decided to join with my answers to the six inquiries:

1. What was your best race experience? Ever since I started training with PRS Fit back in April 2012, I don’t race as much as I did prior to entering into a coaching relationship. In short, the goal is “more training/less racing.” That makes the races I have done all the more special. I would have to give the nod for “best race experience” to the “Gate to Gate” at Eglin Air Force Base on Memorial Day. There are a combination of reasons: the great camaraderie with my fellow Gulf Winds Track Club team members, the gravity of running past the memorial to the fallen and dropping a flower, the fact that I got my act together enough to drive over the night before and enjoy a decent meal and a good night’s sleep …… it was a good day, for running and for life.

2. What was your best run? As much as I love to hate them, I would have to put my interval workouts into the “best run” category. They are so hard, but they are the times that I get closest to the speed I need to be able to maintain to meet my goal of a sub 30:00 5K.

3. What was your best new piece of gear? It’s not “gear” exactly but I ended up getting a skirt for a costume I needed for a recent run. I had always thought I would hate skirts because I feel big enough in shorts but I actually liked it! Go figure.

4. What was the best piece of running advice you received? All of the legitimate advice I have received about form would go into this category. Fast light feet, lean slightly forward from the ankles, pay attention to how your arms are moving. I am sure “nutrition” would take second place to that; I know I have a lot of work to do to improve my nutrition and fuel my body better in order to run more effectively.

5. Who was your most inspirational runner? Dustin Rhodes, who passed away 7/31/13, is my most inspirational runner. Hardly a run goes by that I don’t think about him and the mental picture of how he carried himself while running — upright, powerful, yet relaxed.

6. If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Fortunate, evasive, enthralling, centering

Okay, back to the Runchat hunt. It’s fun, and there are prizes! More details here:


I am happy to report that I am *done* with my RunChatHunt! Found the snowman, the cows in the field, the “runner I didn’t know.” Here’s the proof:

edited collage one

edited collage two

And for the “grand finale” (yes there is a Santa under all that unruly beardage!!):


Getting Lost With Dustin

I seem to get lost every time I leave the Earl May Boat Basin in Bainbridge, GA. I have participated in the Kiwanis River Run there quite a few Januarys, and have gotten lost on the way out almost every time. The year that Paula O’Neill, Arlene Feril, and I rode together (2012) was no exception. We decided to follow the car in front of us because it had running stickers (you know, that age-old indicator that the individual knows where they are going!!). Turns out we were following Dustin Rhodes, who was just as lost as we were. We eventually all figured it out. That January 2012 conversation in Bainbridge was the only time I ever spoke to Dustin face-to-face*.

However, an enjoyable Facebook friendship ensued, especially once we figured out that Dustin, his wife Rebecca, my daughter Tenley, and I had all been at the very same village and church in Guatemala on mission trips (although he and Rebecca were there before Tenley and I were). Once you have been at the church in San Lucas, met its ministers and its people, you never forget.

Our last messages to each other were on my birthday (November 28). Dustin had asked about the Jingle Bell Run (how “low key” it was) and I assured him how family friendly (and non-competitive) it would be.

The following Sunday, Fr. Tim Holeda at Blessed Sacrament added at the very end of the service “please pray for Dustin Rhodes who has been diagnosed with brain cancer.” I could barely believe my ears, since Dustin and I had literally just spoken lightly of a fun run.  Unfortunately, it was true.

Everything moved at lightning speed after that. Dustin, Rebecca, and their son Michael moved back to Pennsylvania to be with friends. Surgery was performed at Duke University in early January. The list of therapies, medications, challenges, and diagnostic procedures is lengthy. So, also, is the list of people who rallied around Dustin, fundraisers that were held (including a skydive/ultra race combination), and compassionate love that was shared.

Dustin participates in the Angels Among Us 5K at Duke University (April 2013)

Dustin participates in the Angels Among Us 5K at Duke University (April 2013)

As of the most recent update on Facebook, the family has shared that the cancer has spread to Dustin’s cerebellum and brain stem. As a result, radiation is no longer going to be part of his treatment plan and the family is evaluating their next steps.

As I was processing this information, I ran across this prayer from the Society of the Little Flower among one of several devotionals that cross my social media stream each day. Something about it intersected (to me) with Dustin’s journey:

God of Miracles, You are amazing!  Out of our emptiness and sterility, You work Your wonders.   Help us to be comfortable with our empty sterility so that You can shine.  Circumcise into the  flesh of our spirits a deep faith in You and Your covenant betrothal of us.  As Jesus touched the  leper with healing power, touch us.  Make us whole and healed.  Make us fruitful so that we can  be a blessing to others and productive in working for Your reign of justice, peace and life.  You  can bring life from where we create death.  Thank you for being the miracle God of Life.  I need Your healing life today!

Time and again over the course of this illness, Dustin and Rebecca have seemed to be the ones ministering to us, as opposed to the other way around. My friends and I have laughed about getting lost in Bainbridge, and the fact that we were following someone who was just as lost as we were. This situation is different and so much more serious. Dustin is not lost here; his unwavering spirit and tenacity have shone brightly. In one of our Facebook conversations, Dustin shared this with me:

God’s work will be done, despite the odds, if we continue to be His hands and feet.

I never had as many face-to-face conversations with Dustin as I would have liked (Lord knows Dustin was so much faster than me that we certainly were never running together!). I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what could have grown into a really wonderful friendship. I fear that in embracing the cause of supporting Dustin, all of us ran the risk of tromping on privacy and personal dignity at a time when this young family needed only to cling to one another and their God. But I suppose, as Dustin said, God’s work will be done…..

….and I’m pretty sure the guy who couldn’t lead three women out of Bainbridge has a very good lock on the Divine.

Thank you, Dustin, Rebecca, and Michael for being just exactly who you are and letting God’s work be done through you.

NOTE: If you are interested in helping Dustin and his family, either financially, by sending a card (appreciated!), or learning more details in order to continue praying/sending good intentions, visit the website at Thank you.

*That’s not technically true; I spoke to Dustin face-to-face when I delivered food to his family after his diagnosis. I am so glad I had that opportunity to see him before he moved back to Pennsylvania.


Runners Go The Extra Mile (Again)

Meeting my Daily Mile friend, Keith, before being be-ribboned.

Meeting my Daily Mile friend, Keith, before being be-ribboned.

This weekend, I am reminded of what a supportive community can be found among runners.

When I was volunteering at my club’s merchandise table at the expo yesterday for the Tallahassee Marathon and Half Marathon, I asked my friend Lisa why she was wearing a blue ribbon.  She explained that it was to honor our runner friend Dustin, who is fighting a rare and aggressive brain tumor (glioblastoma multiforme). That made sense to me – I have been involved in efforts to support Dustin, enough to know that his favorite color is blue. (You can visit Dustin’s website to learn more about his situation and how to help by clicking here.)

Here’s the part that speaks to our running community. Lisa didn’t just say, “you should wear one too” (as she knew I would want to).  She walked up to me a few minutes later, ribbon in hand, cut to the right size, with a safety pin to attach it to myself.

Post be-ribboning!

Post be-ribboning!

Just a small but meaningful symbol of how my runner friends “go the extra mile” for each other.  It happens all the time.

(p.s. – there will be an Anywhere5K (Run For Rhodes) to support Dustin as well as raise awareness of Cancer Control Month on April 20 and 21!. You can get more information about that by clicking here.)

run for rhodes bib


Wordless Wednesday (Prayers for Dustin Rhodes Edition)

My friend and fellow runner, Dustin Rhodes, is having surgery for brain cancer tomorrow (1/2/13).

One prayer that is especially meaningful to him is the prayer to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I have incorporated that prayer, as well as the names of Dustin, Rebecca (his wife), and Michael (their infant son) into the Tagxedo below:

Dustin Tagxedo

Whatever your faith tradition, any prayers and good intentions are appreciated.

For more information about Dustin, please visit this link.

 crafty spices