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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Winter Sport

Last week I was able to enjoy winter sports at it’s best (possible) here in Minnesota.
Kharmen and I had hoped to plan a few days snowboarding in Jackson Hole, but ended up in Lutzen for a day and a half playing in the snow. We left Thursday morning for a ride filled with laughter and serious catching up on our lives, because we hadn’t seen each other for a while. Lake Superior was partly frozen and provided some pretty views.
We arrived in Lutzen a little after 2pm, which left us only 2.5 hours of boarding, no night skiing/boarding in this part of the state. After complaining about the fact that an afternoon pass was only 5 dollars cheaper for a while we decided to go ahead anyway.
We did get some good boarding in despite Kharmen’s troubles with her bindings. She bought a new board this year and this was her virgin voyage not without difficulties.
When we arrived back in the “resort” the bar had opened so it was time for a beer. Late lunch was enjoyed in the form of chicken wings and OK, one more beer than!
We drove to our hotel, only about 300 yards down the road, to check in and be told that our room was even closer to the lift.
We unpacked, showered and decided to get a quick dinner before Gray’s Autonomy started. Besides we got a coupon for a free drink, so those couldn’t go to waste!
We walked back to the restaurant, which was connected to the bar we were before, and finished our food pretty quickly.
Back in the hotel room we switched on the fireplace and found out that Gray’s was a rerun. That was the end of the day for Kharmen, who had been up until after 2am the night before. I made it to about 10pm before calling it a night.
The next day the temperatures had risen and the snow was a lot softer. We started on time and had a wonderful day. Kharmen was able to sort of fix her binding problems what made things a lot more comfortable for her. I didn’t get cold hands or feet and besides the occasional slowdown due to slush we “ripped it up!”
At the end of the day we jumped back in the Saab to get to Duluth for our Ice-hockey tournament. Dinner was at Betty’s Pies, which is besides it’s pies famous for the “Backpacker” a wild rice veggie burger, Kharmen is well informed when it comes to food. We both ordered one and it turned out to be true, the best veggie burger I ever tasted!
A piece of pie to go, which I eventually eat on Sunday after returning to Minneapolis, it was still tasty!
At the hotel we met up with the rest of the team and got ready for the first game. This was at 10.30pm and we actually played a good game despite loosing. I ended up missing a penalty shot and spending some time in the penalty box, innocent of course; she was holding my stick!
Back at the hotel we hang out in Kim and Michelle’s room for a while but I was quickly ready to hit the sack.
The next day started with a breakfast of many choices and a trip to Walgreen’s for my diet coke and toothpaste.
It was time for Kharmen to leave, as we got ready for our next game. She had a wedding reception to attend in the Cities. We were unable to convince her to stay and just wear her sweatpants to the reception. Who needs a little black dress when you have “Golden Stars” pants!
We again played a good game, even though we didn’t win. We have to learn to score to win!
Deb arrived during the second period and took some team pictures after the game.
We returned to the hotel to meet up in and around the hot tub and bubble our soreness away. The plan was to meet up for “happy hour” in Kim and Michelle’s room but Deb and I got side tracked and ended up, after getting coffee and a smoothie at Starbucks, trying on and eventually buying shoes at DSW.
Back at the hotel it was time to go out for dinner at “Grandma’s” with most of the team. Barb told me she found the perfect hill to go tubing right in the back of the hotel. So when I got back to the room I got out the pump and tube and got ready. I donned my ski pants, mittens, jacket, goggles and hockey helmet and was good to go.
The hill turned out to be perfect and before long we were taking turns sliding down trying to find better and faster paths. The spectators were able to keep their drinks cold in the snow bank and I found a shovel to improve and maintain the course as needed.
“Blue Bird” as my penguin was named did a great job with standing efforts to slide down luge-style with 2 people and sometimes sliding onto the parking lot pavement.
When everybody was soaked and cold we returned to the “party-room” were everybody soon figured out that watching to movie from the comfort of your own hotel bed would be much more comfortable.
The next day the last game of the tournament finally brought a win for us! Katie started out by score one, in our own goal, oops! But we stayed focused and played a good game, resulting in 4 goals for us including one by yours truly, who by the way ended up in the penalty box again. It was she or I going down to the ice, what’s a girl to do?
It was great to leave Duluth with a win and we now have a new mascot: Little Snowman or do we?

7th Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer.

My experience at The Annual Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer, February 23rd through the 24th.
Thanks to a scholarship I was able to go to this great conference for the first time this year.
I arrived Friday morning after a bumpy plane ride from Minneapolis where the first snowstorm of the season was about the cover the city.
After arriving at the hotel I went down to do my part and volunteer, I was assigned to greet the conference goers and point the in the right direction to register.
Then Carrie and Chrissy showed up and it was time meet the other girls.
There was a lot to talk about, so we missed the first session of the conference. It was amazing to be around all these young women who went through the experience of Breast Cancer. Everybody with different survivor stories, but each and every women finding positive experiences during their fights.
Saturday was filled with workshops and plenary sessions the first of which was great. Dr Olufunmilayo L. Olopade who gave an medical update for young women affected by breast cancer. She’s a great speaker, very clear and had some interesting information.
The second session from Dr. Julie K. Silver who talked about enhancing quality of life through better nutrition and exercise, brought no new information to me.
The afternoon started for me with the workshop: Get fit! Develop your personal approach to fitness., by Sami Papacek-Reis a cancer exercise specialist. She had some good ideas for women just starting out getting back into shape. I talked with her afterwards to ask about becoming a cancer exercise specialist, because it is something I’ve been thinking about. The last workshop was titled: Fertility after breast cancer: options and strategies, healing and hope, by Dr Amr M. Azim and Jeanne Cater Phd,. It was interesting but somewhat disappointing for me because they addressed mainly the options for women who are before chemo, radiation and hormone therapy.
Then it was time for our photo session. Christine Benjamin is a photographer and survivor who is taking nude pictures of breast cancer survivors for a book she is getting together. Beth, one of the women I met this weekend, is one of Christine’s the models. When talking about this with our group the idea was born to ask Christine to take a group picture. The idea was for us to be topless just wearing jeans. Christine agreed so with 7 women we went up to her room all a little nervous but ready.
A Washington Post reporter got wind of our idea and asked to be present with her photographer to shoot some shots for the paper. (Check out the result on: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/gallery/070227/GAL-07Feb27-66218/index.html
For the story go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/27/AR2007022701360_pf.html )
After a few minutes of giggling and being uncomfortable we took off our tops and grouped together in front of the background screen. Christine started shooting and we loosened up. We had a few full group shots and then split up in 2 small groups to get some more. The experience was great and my surprise was big when I checked the Washington Post on Wednesday and found my back site in the paper.
After this it was of to the reception followed by diner and dancing. My reports about the meals are limited due to the fact that Sunday morning I started to feel sick and later found out the Norwalk virus was making a lot of us sick. I tell you: that’s about the worst thing possible, send a group of cancer survivors home with nausea.
I started Sunday of with a short workout still blaming the discomfort on the (few) drinks the night before. After a small breakfast I did make it through the morning sessions on Sunday but I didn’t find them very interesting. The combination of Dr George W. Sledge with Dr Silver for an “Ask the expert panel, wasn’t very strong. I feel a geneticist would have been a better combination with Dr Sledge.
At this time another problem started to present itself: snow, and lots of it! I was supposed to go and meet my friend Beth and her son David for lunch but the snow made this impossible. Good thing because I would have felt terrible if I had given the little guy the virus.
The airport was still open but planes didn’t leave on time and some flights where cancelled altogether. Since I didn’t have an assigned seat I decided to go early and see. This ended up a good idea because even though only one NWA flight to MN was cancelled the others were very full and delayed. By this time I was feeling like crap starting to wonder what was going on with my insides. I had to wait about 4 hours and just hang around trying to sleep a little while hugging my personal items. The airport was very busy so there was no place to kind of stretch out and get comfortable. Finally it was time to board about 2 hours late, but once we were on our way it was all good!
Deb picked me up and after dropping my bags in the living room she dropped me in bed. It was only 8 something but I was done with the day.
The virus stuck with me a couple of days and I was relieved to receive the e-mail with the info that I was not the only one getting sick, so I knew what was happening.

Despite this I had a great time and met some amazing young survivors! It’s a sad thing that brought us together there in Virginia but it good to be amongst other young breast cancer survivors. So much positive energy coming from these amazing women! Talking about LIVESTRONG!