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Saturday, September 28, 2002

  It is just past 6 p.m. here. The sun has cast us into the shadows while it dances off of the building windows on the other side of the lake. Our lake has been a magnificent shade of blue all day today. Is this fall blue? Cleaned by divers last weekend, free of the visiting boats and noise, it seems to look content. Its dark blue dimples create a perfect contrast to the water’s happy hue. I wish I were swimming.

Instead we are cleaning, prepping, chopping, and washing. Tomorrow, 9 a.m. we will be hosting a camera crew and Heather Hughs (weekend news producer) from the local CBC affiliate, CHBC. Xdr is very excited, Jerry is a bit hesitant and I am not feeling much of anything. I don’t know if I am preparing myself for what lies ahead in a week’s time. Perhaps I should listen to my body and take on more meditation and less stress.

All of this preparation is sweet though as we are also preparing for Ken’s arrival. I love having family here. Ken is off to a conference in Vancouver next Sunday, so he arranged to have his flight to the city cut into two bits with a stopover in Kelowna for three days. Yahoo!!


posted by wendy at 6:20 PM

Friday, September 27, 2002

  Here is the story from the Capital News, although you can see the whole thing here for yourself. I thought I would add some of my own comments to the news item....so, read on if you care:

Cancer Research: Local woman [I know that this term should be cool...but I still feel like a "girl"] moves ahead with her idea to raise money


Wendy Yamashita says she is ready to lose her locks in order to raise money for cancer research. Photo Gordon Bazzana
By Barry Gerding, editor

Wendy Yamashita is prepared to sacrifice her hair to help raise money to fight a disease that has taken the lives of people close to her [I named about 10 family and friends...4 of which have passed away this past year alone].

Yamashita is currently attempting to raise $1,000 from pledges in support of the upcoming CIBC Run For The Cure by shaving [yes, it is going to be a full shave. Sorry for those of you who thought that it might just be shorter, or simply "brush cut" off ]off her long flowing locks.

She plans to donate all her shaved hair to Wigs for Kids, a non-profit organization that makes wigs for children who have lost their own hair in the course of receiving cancer treatments.[I guess the info about where this is and how it send the wigs to children all across Canada and the fact that children in BC also benefit from this program just filled up way too much "stuff"]

The shearing [ouch...I never quite pictured this to be like a sheep shearing...however, I guess it is. Now lets all sing "Jerry had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb....teehee] will take place Saturday, Oct. 5, at the New Image Salon and Day Spa [I hope it wasn't I who had not mentioned the address and the owners...I think they would have appreciated that publicity].

While Yamashita had intended to participate in the Run For The Cure as a member of the Bridges.com [Lesley should be happy to see that] team entry which has a goal this year to raise $7,500, she also wanted to do something more as an individual to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

“I talked to people at the B.C. Children’s Hospital and Canadian Cancer Society about what I could do and that’s when I found out from an oncologist about this program,” she said.

So far, she is about 75 per cent on her way towards her $1,000 target.

Friends and family members have sent her donations, as has a nursing friend of her mother who lives in Florida, who donated $100 US to the cause [I tried to get the point across here about how new we are and that makes trying to get people here to donate a bit more difficult and that most of my help has come from my family and friends...all over Canada and Florida].

She laughs that going bald is not something her son is too crazy about [but she is working hard to help him to take this on in stride as well], but she felt compelled to do something in light of how cancer has taken close family friends.

“It’s really hard to lose someone to cancer but I’ve also seen the good side of what research and treatment can do to help people live longer and overcome it,” she said.[we were talking about the differences in treatments over the years and that some good things seem to be being found in the research and development .... but that we are still trying to find that all illusive CURE"

Anyone wishing to make a donation to Yamashita’s hair donation efforts can do so by calling 769-5939 or contact her by e-mail at yamashita@ shaw.ca. [I hope that this does help get some of those last donations fulfilled here][too bad he didn't include the fact that I will be soliciting donations at the "Our Lady of Lourdes" church bazaar this Saturday. At least the bazaar is in the community events calendar]

bgerding@kelownacapnews.com [thank you Barry and Gord]

Short story


posted by wendy at 11:09 AM

  Finally!!! Some media support. Thanks Kelowna Capital News and editor Gerding and photographer Gord.


posted by wendy at 10:57 AM

  This is a test. I am trying to program an area where readers can leave their comments. I hope this helps

posted by wendy at 10:05 AM

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

  Parenting 101...

I need a course in parenting 101. I don't know which program, college or university offers it. It's not that I am in any dire need as a parent. My child isn't (that) bad, or (that) unlawful. He is a (pretty) good citizen. It just would be nice to really "get" what is happening in their wee developing brain and know a bit more about what is going to happen next.

Yesterday had been a long day. You know, the type of day where your inner well runs completely dry, but you have to find a bit more "water" anyway for what is needed. Anyway, my hubbie gladly made up the supper and in return I would do up the dishes and let him decide where he would like us to eat; knowing full well that his favourite supper spot is sitting at the t.v.. As usual, it took xdr 3 half hour shows to finish the main dish (exclusive of rice...that was another show later). Jerry and I quietly spoke about the developments of the day. I finished first and set my dish to the side, cuddled up in a corner of the couch and decided to just "be".

Then, xdr decided that my spot looked good for him too. So he pushed in (not having yet finished his rice). I just wasn't in the mood to cuddle and the real issue, I felt, was trying to avoid the rice. So I asked him to move away. To which he responded, "What?" "Kids my age aren't toxic you know. We live a clean life and we don't smoke yet. You'll wish someday that I would come and cuddle with you." Where do they get their ideas from? Where do they get the foresight from?

Of course, I threw out my arms with a request for a full hug. We sat there together just "being". He eventually got up and quietly finished his rice. I eventually cuddled into the corner again and mused.

parenting 101
today's topic: K.I.S.S.
today's expert: your child

posted by wendy at 10:19 AM

Monday, September 23, 2002

  Happy Anniversary Brian and Barb. Today marks the anniversary of the fouth part of their four part wedding celebration.

Last year, Brian married Barb over a four day celebration. It is the most amazing concept I have ever been part of. Simply put, part one was a celebration of their commitment to a group of their friends. Part two involved a great dinner at Barb's mom's place complete with the best German food, dessert and liqueur I have ever tasted. Both of our families met and celebrated our siblings / children. We toasted not only the fact that Brian and Barb were uniting, but "family" and "tradition" and "values". I loved the concept of making a poster of "our family". I only wish I could go back in time and change some of my "silly" pictures to something a bit more appropriate...however... The next day we found ourselves in the country at Barb's "Tante" and "Uncle"'s for an incredible celebration of love, nature, God, family and tradition. Here the extended families (aunts and uncles, cousins and relative-like friends). We participated in the blessing of their rings. We lit candles, listened to beautiful music, fiested our eyes on beautiful costumes of love and family. I listened in awe as my brother played his sax with the music of the wind all around us by the huge tree that doubled as our altar / home / base. Sunday was a celebration of all family, friends and Brian's congregation. The traditional "church" wedding even had a soul of its own. Then, the pews / seats were set aside, the tables laden with food (more food), music started and the dance began...with Jesus looking on...

I can't articulate how beautiful the whole ceremony was. We were presented and participated with the dedication of love that obviously is welling from these two very special and unique people. Barb became a new step-mom, sister-in-law and wife. Three "titles" I share with her. I wish them both well as they celebrate their first year together in their new relationship. This now begins the second year of their marriage life together. As I lack the creativity they so well impressed upon me (and others) during their marriage, I can only say the traditional and typical Happy Anniversary. However, within those simple words, I wish them happiness, joy and a beautiful year ahead. Kick up your heals guys and celebrate. I love you two. With Blessings and Love...xoxoxoxo


posted by wendy at 5:09 PM

Sunday, September 22, 2002

  Yesterday, I joined the local “friends of the library” as they held their outside book sale. I was ushered to “my spot”. Without my soapbox but with a great deal of fear and trepidation (I find this task scary) I held my clipboard in hand, pen ready to go…

I stood quietly trying to form some sort of symbol between the encyclopedia of war histories and the prominent pillar. Like the war books, I was full of information that was useful…to that certain reader…to someone who would care to glimpse inside. Just a simple lift of the flap of the box that housed the collection would form an image in your head. “study war”, “why”, “not for me” ..continue. Like the pillar, my pale form stood not moving. Trying hard to hold up what was needed to be upheld, but more cosmetic than truly applicable.

“Excuse me sir, I am here looking for people to sponsor me for the “Run for the Cure”.
[blank stare]
“For cancer…Breast cancer research and help….”

Next, I looked the person in the eye. There. I had said why I was there. I asked “The" question. I watched as the person facing me quickly changed their brain gears from “search: free or nearly free books; person; wants what?; why?; where?; Found:"

“No thank you” or “when is the race?” where the typical next response…I was somewhat ok with this. It is a great cause. This is a great reason to give. Why wouldn’t someone want to give…or admit to not wanting to give?

Then I saw her.

Her beige shorts didn’t cling closely to her white legs. The t-shirt carried a symbol familiar to me, but not easily recognizable. It must be an old shirt that was pulled out of a box that carried clothes from a day many years ago when she was smaller. From her side one arm laboriously held a stack of 3 or 4 hardcover books, the other protruded searching for more volumes. Each arm showed little curve or form that is seen on those who shape and strengthen. These arms barely fit the sleeves. They proved to show more likeliness to a scarecrow’s than those of a mature woman. On her head, tightened to the last hole was a cap. I don’t remember if it was a baseball cap or a hiker’s hat, but it too was beige. The beige seemed so dark against her pale listless skin….skin… no hair. Under her cap, she was bald. There were no hairs pulled up from the nape of her neck. There were no hairs sliding out the side of the hat. Her glasses were dark sunglasses. But above the rim, no eyebrows framed the top.

I approached the next person, within earshot of the beige and white woman.

“Excuse me, I am asking people here today if they will sponsor me for October 6th’s Run for the Cure”. This time I said my lines perhaps a bit clearer and louder than the last request.

Whatever the response that came from that next person I don’t remember but the beige and white lady’s eyes met mine. She looked at me and smiled. Then I knew. We weren’t fighting the same fight but, in a way, we were soldiers fighting in the same war.

Thank you so much...all of you!! You have given so much. I can't tell you how often I have shed tears of joy and gratefulness these past days. Thank you so, so much. We are nearly three quarters of the way to the goal!!! Warmest thanks.


posted by wendy at 5:52 PM

Thursday, September 19, 2002

  Cancer...when I was growing up in the '70s there were many tv movies and shows that talked about this disease. Like so many other diseases, I felt somehow distant from it. "That" happened in the States (as most of the show's actors were American). "That" happened to people I didn't know. I could watch the shows, cry and then be thankful that we didn't have to fight that battle.

Then I started to see it in "my" world. Friend's parents were diagnosed with the disease. They always died. Friends were diagnosed with the disease. Many of them have died. I think the first time I ever felt particularly personally or "family"-iarly aware of the disease was when my Aunt Bonnie told us that she had cancer. She joked about losing the hair and being able to blame the drugs for a sudden gain or loss in weight. She talked about sores that wouldn't heal, but always smiled and showed us in person what "joyfulness" and love a person can have for life (just like the actors' portrayed their characters on the screen). But she fought it...for a long time. Until finally, in 1993, her body now weakened by other illnesses and more cancer took over her body and she couldn't fight it any longer.

I sat with another friend of the family when he too was dying from cancer. Of course, at that time, we were all sure that modern science and its many therapies would help him fight cancer. I remember one day in particular when I was visiting him. We watched the sail boats out in Hamilton Harbour from the cancer ward. I don't know that we shared so much in words, but we shared a love for the beauty that was playing out before us. He had lost his hair by then, although I never really remembered him having a lot of hair to begin with...but the thing that I kept remembering was just how cold he was. He couldn't get warm. Eventually he too passed away.

Last year it was my mom's friend Tom. This year, my sister-in-law lost her father. My best friend lost his mother. Jerry's cousin Janice has watched as her husband, once a professional football player, has weakened and changed. All due to cancer.

When I started working at Bridges in the early spring, there was a very strong bond with the employees. Oh, we did the usual gossip here and there, or we pulled together to get that last job done, but every Monday at our huge staff meeting in the garage, Doug would hold up a pink piggy bank and say..."do you have something to share?...for a donation to the pink pig". Many people announced their engagements, their finally cleaned house, the arrival of their friends for March break, and the new expectant moms and dads shared their new news with joy. They deposited a dollar, tooney, and sometimes people stuffed in bills to announce their news. From that wee pig started the beginning of the company's quest for a cure. All of the money saved was going to research and help women with Breast Cancer.

Finally, we started into full gear. There were challenges and "ra ra meetings" encouraging all of us to sign up to Run for the Cure. We each committed to raise at least $100. Seventy-five people joined up. That meant that we would be able to raise $7,500. The company would match our pledges. The math worked out. It seemed a wonderful thing.

I had been sick and due to my medical history another bunch of tests were done. Ironically, the day of the company's big kick-off media event I found out that I had to see a specialist. I had a high calcium serum level. A level that usually indicated that cancer was in the lungs or the ovaries. The math started to fade into the back, and those words "cancer" started to haunt me inside.

After my specialists appointment I found out that subsequent tests showed no cancer in either the lungs or the ovary, so I was set off to be tested regularly and observed. I wouldn't need to see that doctor again unless the calcium serum levels rose higher. I haven't seen him again since. I always have found a bit of irony though in the uncanny timing of both of these event.

So, that was the beginning of my quest to raise funds. Not out of selfish desire to find a cure for cancer for myself. Not out of a desire to be part of a "club" or "group" that were going to "fight the good fight" together. I want, so badly, to stop people from dying from this disease. I don't want Barb or Richard to have felt this loss in their lives this year, nor Alison who has lived with the loss of her mom when she was just a teenager.

Sometime after the big company kickoff for the fund raiser I thought back to George. I was watching the sailboats in the lake and suddenly George came to mind. Then I remembered just how cold he felt. I don't remember how I connected after that, but I also remembered my new next-door neighbour (who lost her husband to cancer just months before we moved in) talking to me about hair donations used to make wigs for people who lose their hair to cancer. It helped them feel "normal" when they could go out in public and not be seen as being sick or different. The big thing that many patients commented on...even more than just the actual "having" hair again was that they felt warm again. The wig helped to keep them a bit warmer. I had decided a long time ago that I would donate my hair the next time I had it cut short.

Years ago I had read a story written by an American author named O. Henry. The story is called "The Gift of the Magi". If you have never read it, pop into a library and take a moment to read it. It is a short story. It speaks, to me of giving and loving in the best way possible. I suppose, like the main character I always felt that if I needed something...and we had nothing...I could at least offer my hair as a gift. Now is my chance to do that. We aren't millionaires. I can't even pledge myself very much money. But I am going to give my hair so that a wig can be made.

I researched a number of sites on the internet (mostly American) that spoke of various wig makers who make the wigs for cancer patients at a reduced fee. A regular wig costs between $2,500 and $3,000. When the hair is donated and the time to make the wig is donated, the patient only needs to pay for the small cap that is used as the base of the wig. That base costs around $250. Finally, I found myself emailing every Canadian institution and hospital that I knew who dealt with cancer...particularly the very young patients. A wonderful letter arrived from an oncologist at the British Columbia Children's Hospital. He has a program each year where people raise money (Balding for Dollars) so that the hospital can pick up any of the fees in order that a child can have a wig without having to pay anything out of pocket. I decided then and there...I too would Bald for Dollars. I would raise money for cancer research and care with my employer (The Run for the Cure event), and I would go bald so that some other child (or in may case, they may be able to make two wigs?) could be warm and have a head full of hair.

I have gone through such a transition over the time thinking about the goal (which I may have foolishly set too high...$1,000), thinking about how I would raise the funds (I hate asking people for money...even for good causes...I am shy that way), discussing with my son (and mother and husband and mother-in-law) that I am going to be bald so that a child who is bald doesn't need to be. I have cried over this challenge remembering the others whose lives have been forever changed by the diagnosis of this disease...not the least being the ones who are left behind missing out on a part of a shared life after the disease takes a loved one away bit by bit. Lately this all has gotten me a bit frustrated and sad as I fear that the goal may not be met. I have tried hard to find sponsors in government, friends, family, business and neighbours. Thankfully though, to this point, 18 of the 50 $20 sponsors have given their pledge to my cause(s). There is now $360 ready to go to Run for the Cure...but I need more donors. I need more sponsors of $20, $10, $5...or whatever to reach that $1,000 goal.

I have cashed in all of our bottles. I will (hopefully) be outside a bookstore this weekend asking strangers to support the cause financially. I have almost finished a process so that I can set up a table the following weekend at a bazaar to once again try and ask for donations. I am now riding with the math as my guide, but the disease as my enemy. I want there to be a cure. I want this enemy not to be able to attack another child, male or female and take away a life that we have to have here on earth. In the meantime, I will run (probably walk) marathons, 10k or 5k to collect pledges. I will donate my hair whenever possible. I will go beyond my comfort zone to try and do whatever can be done to help make someone's life a little more comfortable, a little more "normal" and last a little longer so that we can all be with each other for as long as we have.

Please help me if you can.

posted by wendy at 10:47 PM



 

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