Proudest Moment Number 6,535 (and counting!)

Last week was a very big week.

It was a big week for me but more importantly, it was a very big week for Adam.  Adam graduated with honors from a school he has attended since the 6th grade: Bishop Kearney.

I don’t mean to take anything away from Adam. I only mention that it was a big week for me because when I was diagnosed back in 2013 no one was sure if I would be alive to see this day. This day was the only goal I had set for myself (and I made it my medical teams goal too). Regardless of what condition I was in, I WAS going to see my son walk the stage and get his diploma. Last week, not only did I accomplish that but I’m doing OK right now. Better than I had envisioned and I’m so blessed. (That reminds me, there will be an update on the Brain MRI I had at the end of May – stay tuned for another post).

Moving on to a more uplifting topic…… OMG ADAM GRADUATED!!!

The Thursday of Graduation Week (June 8th), there was a Baccalaureate Mass at the neighboring Catholic Church. Bishop Matano was on hand to officiate the Mass. The Graduates entered church as a group and then sat with their families, giving a white carnation to their Mothers (ME!). I am proud to say that Adam had so many family members there that we not only filled the reserved pew but we took over the pew in front of us as well! In addition to Adam’s Grandparents, my Mother and Father In-law, Pat & Bill, Sister In-law, Kim and Niece Leah also came.

On Friday (June 9th), Adam had almost a full day of rehearsal for Graduation. As National Honor Society President, Adam was to deliver a speech. He was instructed to arrive before the other students so he could practice on the stage. We were like two ships passing in the night that day. I had an early morning Dr appointment so I didn’t see Adam before he left. I came home to find an envelope that looked like it was from School. When I opened the envelope and realized that it was a handwritten letter from Adam, the tears began flowing. (I made a mental note to ground him when he got home for not warning me this was coming so I could adequately prepare to read it).  This is what he wrote:

Mom,

How can you thank someone who’s given you everything you have?

The person I am today is the result of everything you’ve done and all of the sacrifices you have made to get me here. Next year, I will be attending one of the highest rated Universities in the entire country and when people tell me that my “hard work is paying off”, I do agree with them, but it’s not even close to half of the full truth.

You’ve done things for me that I would have dreamed impossible if I didn’t know better, for sending me to a private school for just about my entire life, to sending me on a week-and-a-half long vacation to Italy. Now, I am preparing to similarly do the impossible in becoming a doctor. If I’ve learned anything from you, it’s that I can do it, no matter how much I say otherwise.

In a few days I will walk across the stage in a packed auditorium for the first time. Four years later I will do it again, in a much larger room. Eight years from now, the room will be smaller, but the applause will be louder. I said that you taught me I can do anything – but the one thing I cannot do is thank you enough for setting me up for success.

With All My Love,
Adam

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My Special Letter

I am not even lying when I say that it took me damn near 30 minutes to get through the entire letter because of all the tears and ugly crying. (His handwriting didn’t help much either).

This heartfelt letter came from MY KID! The boy, who for the most part, is on the quiet side. The boy, who to have a conversation with, you sometimes have to pull the words out of him. Wow. It’s going to take me a bit to pick out just the right frame for that letter. It needs a very special frame indeed.

I could tell that Adam was nervous and excited Friday night. When I went to say good-night to him, he was carefully picking out his clothes and laying them next to his Graduation cap. It was the most adorable endearing thing. (He’ll kill me if I say adorable).

I hardly slept Friday night. I was so excited. I went thru the memories of Adam’s life, like it was a movie. All of the amazing milestones: his first word, his first steps, his first actual sentence (yes, I remember that specifically because of what he said: “I hung-wee” and trust me, he has yet to feel full!), losing his first tooth, learning to ride a bike, and teaching him how to drive. The trips just he and I took: Hershey Park, the Corning Museum of Glass, Darien Lake, New York City. It’s absolutely astonishing to me to think that his childhood is all but over and he will be beginning this next chapter of his life.

GRADUATION DAY!!!!

June 10th 2017

Somewhere between laying his clothes out and sunrise Adam’s excitement got lost because when I went to wake him up he was none too thrilled. He finally rallied and he even agreed to a pre-Graduation picture! (after the threat of violence).

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Me and The Graduate

The ceremony started at 11am at Roberts Wesleyan College, however the students were told to arrive at 10am. That was fine by me because I wanted to sit in a very specific spot and wanted to secure my place in line. No one was going to stop me from being down front. NO . ONE.  I was going to be in perfect view of the podium so I could capture Adam’s speech on video. I give my husband props for standing with me in line until they opened the auditorium doors. I could rattle off about a thousand other things he’d rather do (watching paint dry) in that hour than standing in a line of people he didn’t know.

As soon as those doors opened, I bee-lined it in. I made my way to the row I wanted and waited for my family to catch up. Third row, stage left (for my non-theater folk, that means the right side of the stage). In perfect position of the podium to see Adam’s speech and to see him get his diploma. I was happy.

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Roberts Wesleyan College

It was a very nice ceremony. Adam gave his speech in between the speeches of the Valedictorian and Salutatorian. He spoke about all the work and fundraising that the National Honor Society did throughout the year. It was especially moving when he mentioned The Scoops Challenge that Adam and the NHS organized to benefit The Cancer Couch Foundation. This was the first year that the school did a fundraiser specifically for Metastatic Breast Cancer. It’s a fundraiser that they will continue to do every year during the month of October.
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Photo by: Bill Rahn

The Commencement speech was given by Patrice Walsh who not only is an Alumni of Bishop Kearney but a very well-known and respected local news reporter. She’s also someone I consider to be a friend and that made the day even more special to me.

To my surprise, Adam received an academic award in Social Studies. It’s a pretty fancy award too! It’s not the paper certificates that he’s gotten in past years. This one is glass and could do some damage.

And then it was time for the Graduates to walk across the stage! Thank GOD his last name is near the front of the alphabet because the waiting seemed to take FOREVER!!

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IT’S OFFICIAL!!

And just like that it was over. My Son had Graduated High School and I saw every single second of it. I have the memories, the pictures, the video of his speech and it was better than I could have ever imagined it.

Now, I reset the clock. I set the clock for new goals and new milestones to be around for. If I did it once, I can do it again and maybe again. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. Maybe, just maybe, my body and I will listen.

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The Proudest Mom Ever & My Handsome Graduate

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Adam Rallies The Troops – Brain Freeze for Research!

 

This post is going to be entirely about me raving about my son, Adam. So, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

At the end of his Junior year last year, Adam was elected President of the National Honor Society at his High School – Bishop Kearney. It’s a big deal just being part of the NHS but to be President, there comes a lot of responsibility and obligations. Part of that being coming up with fundraiser ideas throughout the year that the NHS can do for the community.

Over the summer Adam came to me and asked me my thoughts for October. Typically, the school likes to do something to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month and he is acutely in tune with my aversion to ‘pink’ and the useless ‘awareness’ campaigns that happen during October.

I immediately thought of my friend and fellow advocate, Rebecca Timlin-Scalera, founder of The Cancer Couch Foundation. I told Adam about a fantastic fundraiser that she held at her son’s school that was very successful – The Scoops Ice Cream Eating Contest. This would be the perfect event for a Middle/Jr/Sr High School. What kid doesn’t want to eat as much ice cream as possible in 5 minutes?? The idea is simple, kids form teams of 4. Each team needs to raise at LEAST $100. They can raise more but they must raise $100 to be in the contest. They have 27 days for their team to raise as much money as they can. On the day of the Scoops Challenge, teams will go against each each other until they reach the final 2. The final 2 will have one last challenge and then one Grand Prize Winner will be named. There is no selling of a product, catalogs to have people to look through. Just asking family, friends and anyone else to sponsor their team.The best part about this, aside from the ice cream, is that all the money raised would be going to The Cancer Couch Foundation which exclusively funds Metastatic Breast Cancer Research. Win – Win!

Adam got to work! He contacted Rebecca to get all the details and he then met with his adviser, Mrs. Sikora and his Principal, Mr. Simoni and eventually the Parent’s Association. Their response was unanimous – Absolutely, Yes. Adam began planning and the event began to take shape. Everyone was on board!

At the end of September, the fundraiser was announced at the kick off of Homecoming Pep Rally. I was invited to speak to the student body, tell them my story and how they would be playing a big roll in not just helping me but the 155,000 people like me living with terminal breast cancer by raising money for the Breast Cancer that kills. I explained to the kids that all that ‘pink stuff’ that they see in the stores doesn’t always mean that the money they spend will go to research or to even help anyone at all. I also had the kids actively involved in my explanation of the fact that One in Eight women will get diagnosed with Breast Cancer in their lifetime. Each student was handed a Popsicle stick as they walked into the assembly. Some of the sticks had a blue dot and some had a blue and an orange dot and the rest didn’t have any color at all. I asked those students with the both colors on their sticks to stand. Those students standing represented the “One” in One in Eight. Those students according to the statistic would be diagnosed with Breast Cancer at some point. Then I asked those students standing that just had a blue dot to continue standing and the rest to sit. Those that remained standing represented the 30% of Early Stage Breast Cancer patients that eventually become Metastatic and are now terminal.

http://13wham.com/news/local/bishop-kearney-seniors-mom-brings-breast-cancer-message-to-homecoming

http://www.rochesterfirst.com/news/local-news/bishop-kearny-launches-scoops-challenge

Adam planned, organized and worked with the other NHS students all month to make the fundraiser successful. There ended up being about 12 teams!

This past Friday the 28th was the BIG day!! 25 gallons of Ice Cream were just waiting to be eaten and Rebecca Timlin-Scalera even flew in to host the event!

 

I even did a short Facebook Live video as the event was beginning…….

 

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Even the teachers got into the challenge!

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The Bishop Kearney Drum Line

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Focused on not getting Brain Freeze!

The Drum Line was the absolute best! It may not look like much with the buckets but they really were good – they kept the energy and excitement level high!

Prizes were given out for the most scoops eaten (collectively speaking) and there was a tie between 2 teams – 46 scoops of Ice Cream eaten!!  And there was a prize for the most money raised!

I’m proud to say that the students raised $2,000 for Metastatic Breast Cancer Research and they aren’t done yet – with the ice cream they have left over they are going to sell ice cream sundaes at lunch and put THAT money into the pot for a bigger donation…AND Rebecca talked Mr. Simoni into letting the students have a Blue and Orange dress down day – a Cancer Couch Dress Down Day!  So, there’s THAT money as well.

I’m so proud of Adam for taking this on and doing all the work himself on top of a full load of classes and having a part time job after school. I’m also so grateful to Bishop Kearney for rallying around Adam and me and allowing Adam to do this fundraiser that benefits Metastatic Breast Cancer.

I truly hope Mr.Simoni, Mr. Miller, Mrs. Sikora and the administration know just how much it means to me – to Adam.