Joyfully living

summertime freedom

Our family had the most amazing summer in Michigan.  We all agree, the best yet!  (which is pretty remarkable given some of our adventures.) Wide open days filled with swimming, fishing, boating, climbing sand dunes, spending time with dear family and friends.  10pm dinners.  Barely ever knowing what day it is and certainly not paying attention to what time it is… A summer sabbatical.  How blessed and lucky we are.

As we transition back to reality it’s agonizing to think this precious time is already behind us.  7 weeks seemed like 10 minutes.  Not because we didn’t treasure it… but because we were having so much fun.  You know… time flies.

I focus on gratitude for the moments we shared instead of  tearfully wishing I could be back on my paddle board listening to the laughter of our kids jumping the crashing waves.  I focus on the blessings here: My health is stable.  Our children are happy and healthy. My brother is getting married this weekend to an amazing woman (and we are on our way to Michigan- squeal!) We have a project to pour our hearts and time into in Kentucky, K bar M, a 125-acre farm with a 100+ year old farmhouse to renovate.   Big things are happening at Hope Scarves and I’m eager to spend time with the people involved in our sisterhood of the traveling scarves.

New partnerships – big potential

I’m excited to see what lies around the next corner…

The corner… I’ve lived in fear of looking around it for nearly 5 years. Since I got the metastatic breast cancer diagnosis I have lived terrified of the future.  Over time (and help from a counselor) I learned how to live more fully present instead of worrying about the perceived future.   That’s why transitions are hard. By its very nature, a transition is a time to look ahead, anticipate and plan.  So, I nervously sneak up to the corner and peek around it.   As I set goals and plan for the coming year I have a little less fear then I’ve had in the past. A little less anxiety, confident that we truly are living our best life.   But, I’m cautious not to let my guard down too much.  We never know…. None of us.  But, we peak and we hope.

As you make these transitions in your life – start of school, getting married, changing seasons, changing treatment plans… I hope you too find the balance between living fully present and peaking around the corner.  For some (like my brother and his soon to be wife) this is exhilarating.  Yet,  I know many are burdened by fear and face a scary darkness around the corner.  To you, especially, I am thinking of you. May you find light in your darkness… a treatment that works, a kind doctor, a loving embrace.

This time last year I was in a lot of pain as I trained for the Bourbon Chase 200-mile relay race.  Scared to find out if the pain was progression, I let a stress fracture worsened in my femur.  Eventually getting a diagnosis and hobbling around on crutches for 6 weeks.  Now, a year later, I am more aware of my body and cautious not to push it too hard.  I’ve transitioned to less impact exercise and am learning to accept my body for what it is.  Weaker, sorer & rounder (thank you surgically induced menopause).   But, here.   Here!

I face each day with a unique perspective – the precarious balance of a terminal optimist.  I’ve felt the life I love slipping away.  So, I treasure it more than I ever did before. While many don’t have this perspective,  we can all benefit from finding joy in each day of life. Our oasis in Michigan is life giving.  Truly.   I am working to bring a piece of this to the messy midst of carpool, laundry, doctor appointments and homework.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Relationships – While our surroundings and daily activities are different – the opportunity for connection is the same.   Authentic relationship, laughter, lifting each other up, friendship… life giving even in the midst of chaos.   When everything else falls away – relationships are the heart of the joy.  How empowering it is to be loved and to love.
  • Presence -Take time to be fully present.   Observe little blessings all around us.
  • Gratitude – Acknowledge and appreciate how precious this life is. Even in the midst of deadlines and doctor appointments – this is our one beautiful life to live.

Live it to the fullest.  One day at a time.


Founder, Hope Scarves

An angel soars above our farm.


We were late and forgot a project. They rolled their eyes for this picture. But, being their mom is my life’s greatest work. Each day is a gift. 


Working to bring this joy to every day.

This moment… summer!

For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know summer really starts for me when we head to Michigan.

Jay and I grew up in Michigan. I was never more than a couple miles from Lake Michigan my entire life until careers took us on adventures in Europe, Alabama and Kentucky.  We made a promise to each other when we moved that we’d have summers in Michigan.  And, we have.  Each year our children experience the same joys of Michigan that we did growing up – fishing, sailing, body surfing, dune climbing and much more.  We treasure time with family and friends who are like family.  It feeds my soul. It has come to feed all our souls.   My blog posts reflecting on summers of 2017, I was there and 2016, Here Goes are examples of this.

After my metastatic diagnosis in 2014 it was time in Michigan that brought me back to life. Where I found my laugh and wrote “We’ll always have this summer.”  What a blessing that we’ve had 4 summers together in spite of this disease… experiences many families don’t get.

So now, as we drive north, five summers since my MBC diagnosis, I am eager to see what this summer holds.  It’s moments like this that cause me to pause and reflect.  A friend of mine was recently wearing a workout shirt that said “Don’t look back” on the front and “You’re not going there” on the back.  “Huh,” I said as I read it.  I couldn’t help but think how important “looking back” is to me. Memories are sacred.  Not knowing what the future holds – I work hard to “create memories” for our children. To teach them lessons that will plant a seed of compassion, confidence, adventure.  Reflection makes me smile.  It also reminds me how strong I am and how much we have endured.   I know I can’t go back…  but, I don’t want to forget. This blog is a perfect place for me to capture these feelings.   (And, I’m grateful others enjoy it too!)

Speaking of time, I’ve been getting after my health lately – working out with a trainer, running and yoga.  While I’ve loved the feeling of getting back to the active lifestyle that nourishes me… my femur isn’t so sure.  So, I’m starting this summer with the reminder that I need to take it easy. It was last summer when I developed this stress fracture… so my morning runs to the pier might be more like walk/runs.  I’ll take it easy with my work out group (I’ll cheer you on in the hill repeats…)  I’m thinking swimming is going to be my go to – luckily I know where to find a lake.  In perspective, I am MOST of all GRATEFUL for this chance for our family to unplug and be together in a place we love, with people we love.   When we left Michigan last summer I didn’t know if we’d be back the following summer or how I would feel.  Here i am! A little broken… but here.

My first step into Lake Michigan

For all of us, the world is a different place than it was last year. None of us are the same. As a nation we appear more caught up in division than unity, sadness seems to permeate our country.  Families torn apart, senseless shootings, uncontrolled drug addiction and extreme weather.   And, what’s up with Fortnite? My kids are obsessed.

Through it all – I am reminded how fortunate we are for time. Time to laugh, connect with people we love, to breath deeply and live.  While we look ahead and we look back – what we really have, fully and completely is this time right here.  May we find a way to be content, grateful and live as fully as possible in this moment.

Here we go… Bring on summer!

My first morning run/walk. Slow and steady.



A guide to Metastatic Cancer… ?

Since my cancer diagnosis in 2007 I have continually sought opportunities to share my story. In doing so it helped me process my feelings and experiences. I started Hope Scarves as a way to help others do the same. When the cancer spread to my bones and became metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in 2014 the first thing I did was seek connection to people who shared this experience. Our common story was empowering. I was not alone in my fear, anxiety, devastation. Or in my hope, joy and celebration.

As I made my way through 4 years of life with MBC I realized how very different our stories are as MBC patients. While my treatments are able to keep cancer from growing in my body (for now) many are not this fortunate.

Balancing my hope and joyful life with the reality of this disease is difficult.

So, when asked to be featured in the national Metastatic Cancer magazine I struggled with the opportunity. Of course, I was honored to share my story so that my experience might bring another person hope. I was eager to spread the word about Hope Scarves and our work to share scarves, stories and hope with people facing cancer. I wanted to fill the pages about the need for funding in the area of MBC research and our work to raise money for research.

Most of all I didn’t want to sugar coat the experience or add to the endless stream of happy, laughing cancer images. MBC is ugly. It rips families apart, kills young vibrant women, steals motherly kisses from children and is most likely going to kill me.

How do we tell the whole story? How do we show the joy of living life over cancer while not forsaking the despair of the disease and the imminent need to increase funding for MBC research?

I’m not sure… When the magazine arrived at our office I was both excited and frustrated. My article doesn’t include a lot of the “ugly” I talked about in my interview. Does my smiling face on the cover hurt my desperate plea to increase funding for people dying of MBC? Especially knowing two of my friends whose beautiful smiles once graced the cover have since died of MBC. “It needs to be more raw…” I think to myself.  Or, perhaps not.  Maybe this article will be read by a young woman who is drowning in her fear and needs to know she might have 4 incredibly healthy years ahead of her as I did… maybe my story could bring her light. This balance of hope and desperation is arduous.

This week my friend Dianne was killed by MBC. She leaves behind two young sons and a heartbroken husband. Since I met her in 2013 she has endured full brain radiation, gamma knife surgeries, toxic chemotherapies with side effects of fatigue, constant vomiting, debilitating pain and more. She never experienced a long stretch of wellness. At the end she was incoherent, incontinent and ravaged by the disease. This is MBC.

Her death adds to the list of more friends than I can count who died since I became aware of the devastating world of MBC in 2014. Today the pain outweighs the joy. My anxiety is in full effect. I have a twinge in my side that has been nagging me for a couple weeks… is it MBC? Is my number finally up? Is it my time to join my friends in the endless, toxic treatment carousel of MBC that eventually ends in death?

As these feeling weigh on my heart I am traveling to Florida for a girls weekend. We will laugh, talk about our kids and just celebrate life. I am grateful for this time of healthy and stability… to lead a “normal” healthy life.  Gratitude overflowing.

But, see what I mean… My see-saw life.

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t worry about my health and the future. And, quite frankly, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t laugh spontaneously, worry about normal life things like carpool and scheduling my dog’s (very overdue) grooming appointment.

Life is tricky. Complicated. For all of us… I know there are others who balance wide swinging emotions too – Grief, addiction, depression. I’ve learned to allow my emotions to swing – to not get frustrated when I’m anxious, but to let the feelings come. To acknowledge and accept them.

This is my story. A story I never imagined owning.  But, since I do, one I am trying to use to support others.  Whether in finding connection through Hope Scarves, raising money for MBC research or trying to tell the whole story of cancer.

And, always, always grounding myself in hope.

My hopeful life.

I am proud to be a founding partner in the MBC Research Collective with Twisted Pink and The Cancer Couch. Together in 2017 we raised $600,000 that was matched 1:1 by an anonymous donor for a total donation of $1.2 million for MBC research. Our goal for 2018 is even bigger. Learn more about our MBC research efforts.

Photo credit to my talented friend Amy Barber of Bluegrass Bebe Photography



Hope, for the win!

Every year outrunning cancer is a powerful display of love, teamwork and support at the Kentucky Derby Marathon.  Every year, I love it.  But, somehow this year broke all records!

84 runners took to the streets of Louisville on Saturday, April 28th in hot pink race shirts that literally glowed in the sunshine. After three years of rain, the weather was perfect.  At the start of the race we had already hit our $50,000 goal with $68,000 in donations.

Today, as donations still come in, our total is $70,838.

The most ever raised for this event!

This money will send Hope Scarves to people facing cancer around the world and help us reach our goal of $100,000 for metastatic breast cancer research in 2018. This race is so much bigger than the fundraising.   Here are some of the highlights:

  • 15 men ran the marathon together carrying a United States flag and a HopeScarves flag.  They are part of a work out group called F3, which stands for Fitness, Fellowship and Faith.  Together they raised $13,006.  Their team Captain Dan Bayer’s wife is a Hope Scarf recipient and storyteller.   He knows first hand the power of hope and connection. Each time they handed off there were high-fives, fist bumps and an amazing energy of camaraderie.   I am proud to have these rockstar guys on our team.
  • The Louisville Collegiate Women – made up of 5 teachers from my sons’ school were equally impressive.  Their dedication shined as they powered through the course with fierce determination – all the way to winning the women’s relay division and coming in 3rd overall for the marathon relay.  Never doubt what a group of strong women can accomplish.    

3. Our 2018 honorary Team Captains lead team Leggin it for Lara.  In their 70th year, both Art and Sue Plewka ran (yes, ran!) their 5k legs and radiated love with Anne, Eric and Lindsay for the 5th year in a row.  We are all grateful for team mom, Anne Sanders for the snacks, water, phone chargers and precision driving skills to get us to all the transition points!


  1. The Go Hope team took the grand prize for top fundraising team with $14,050 in donations- bringing Michigan love to the bluegrass.  And they took on the 26.2 miles with the same commitment to fun.  Running with their own speaker for on demand inspiration & making each other and runners around them laugh.
  2. The Michigangster team brought our furthest traveled runners with Sara coming from North Carolina and Ally & Juliane traveling for two days from Minnesota to be on the team. Together they raised $12,742 & showed the grit of the snowy north!
  3. My team, RitchieMac, faced an early complication when the three 13 year olds set off to run their 3 mile leg… and never arrived at the exchange zone.  Missing the turn for the marathon, they ended up on the mini marathon course and instead ran 8 miles to the finish.  With crowds of spectators cheered them down the final stretch, the three crossed the finish line together.  Meanwhile, the parents were freaking out… until they borrowed a cell phone to call and tell us how awesome it was!  We completed the marathon relay without our baton – and a good story to tell.  Big thanks to Robin and Doug who manned the Hope Scarves tent in charity village and kept track of the exhausted stinkers until the rest of us finished…
  4. Many more ran on teams of friends and family.  And 25 ran the “whole mini”as individuals – 13.1 miles of sunshine and just about perfect running conditions!  Everywhere you looked you saw bright pink and high fives!

And, I ran/walked 7.8 miles as the anchor leg for our team with my friends Laura Ritchie & Chris DeYoung.  I got the hand off from Bennett – who ran 3 miles, leaving his adult chaperone, Ally, in the dust.   The weeks leading up the race I was bummed to not be at full strength to run 13.1 miles as I have in past years.  But, all that quickly faded as I absorbed the energy and excitement of being on a relay team.  There is something special about moving the baton 26.2 miles together.  The passing on, with a hug and words of encouragement struck me deeply.  This is exactly what we do each week at Hope Scarves.   Our very work is a relay.  Hello!!

How appropriate that this is how we support Hope Scarves – in a relay.  It took injury for me to see the joy that comes from completing this race together.  That when you simply can’t do it on your own- you lean on others.  You do it together.

I felt empowered as I ran/walked those final miles.  Careful to go slowly and grateful to simply be out there.  One step at a time, my heart pounding, my legs, strong.   At mile 26 a sea of bright pink was waiting for us.  20+ people jumped onto the course to run to the finish line together.  As we made that final turn my eye filled with tears and I pulled out my phone.  I just had to capture it. I had to preserve this feeling of love and hope. Click here to watch our facebook live finish. I’m grateful to share it with our 544 donors and all the people we support at Hope Scarves.  Because you were all there,  Outrunning cancer!

On Saturday, Hope won.