Tag Archives: ribboning

The #Ribboning Movement: Participate in the #Ribboning Relay

MyLifeLine.org initiated the first ever National #Ribboning Day on July 16, which was inspired by MyLifeLine.org members, Jen and Britton.

Jen and Britton are two caregivers who independently journeyed with their spouses, who lost their battles with terminal cancer in 2011 and 2012, respectively. They later met through a personal connection with MyLifeLine.org and were married on July 16, encouraging their wedding guests to ignite the #Ribboning movement.

“MyLifeLine.org supported Britton and me during a very dark part of our lives, and we want to support them however we can,” said Jen Garza, member of MyLifeLine.org, and Executive Director of Texas4000 for Cancer. “#Ribboning is our way to keep love going.”

We are excited to share the overwhelming response of celebrities, businesses and nonprofits who have joined us in raising awareness and supporting all people impacted by cancer by sharing their #Ribboning photos or posting about the movement.

  • InStyle and Zac Posen shared some stylish #Ribboning photos
  • Ralph Lauren joined the movement by having four of their models ribbon
  • The SAG Awards team posted their #Ribboning photo
  • Sacramento Kings Head Coach George Karl and family posted a #Ribboning photo
  • People.com thinks #Ribboning might just become this year’s planking
  • The Ellen Show says all the cool kids are #Ribboning

Join the #Ribboning Relay
We are continuing to raise awareness for all people affected by cancer through the #Ribboning Relay, and we are passing the baton to you, asking everyone to either ribbon or give.

Participating in the #Ribboning Relay is Easy:

  1. Have a picture taken of yourself in a “Ribboning” pose with your body in the shape of a cancer ribbon.
  2. Post the picture to Facebook with #Ribboning and share who you are Ribboning for. For example, “I am Ribboning for my Aunt Barbara.”
  3. Pass the baton – tag friends and ask that they participate by #Ribboning and passing it on or by giving at www.ribboning.com.

ribboning

 

Jen + Britton: Inspiring Compassion and Caregiver Awareness on first ever National #Ribboning Day

At MyLifeLife.org, we are blessed and inspired by the unique and extraordinary stories shared by our members.

Today, July 16, is a celebration for two reasons. It is not only the wedding day of special friends, Jen + Britton. It is also the first National #Ribboning Day, inspired by Jen + Britton’s journey from love to loss to love again.

Jen has said this isn’t your average “boy meets girl” love story. Jen and Britton met after tragic circumstances. They married the loves of their lives, Ruben and Jax, who both passed away from cancer just months apart from each other in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Jax and I bonded when she was using MyLifeLine.org after her breast cancer diagnosis. She became an advocate for our cause, a volunteer and a friend. My favorite memory was when I visited her home with my 6-year old son, Ryan. She was so frail and so sick. Despite how she was feeling, she lit up when Ryan sat on her lap and they worked on a puzzle together. She wore a silly hat to make him laugh, and I took a photo of them together. I was shocked when Jax passed away a month later. She was young and positive and hopeful, which seemed immortal to me. I had met Britton, Jax’s husband, a few times and admired the way he cared for her.

I met Jen soon after Ruben passed. As Jen would say, she “searched” for me when she heard I was visiting the LIVESTRONG offices in Austin where she worked at the time. She graciously thanked me for creating the platform she needed to galvanize her personal community during Ruben’s time throughout hospice care. Jen used MyLifeLine.org to describe to her friends and family that they were living, not just dying, until the very end. Even when Ruben’s prognosis was grim, he squeezed more life and vitality out of his days.

While Jen + Britton struggled to cope with their devastating losses, I thought of them often. It didn’t feel right that they should suffer alone.

Since Jen lived in Austin, and Britton lived in Denver, their paths were not likely to cross. Until one day, an idea sparked in me…maybe they can help each other. Maybe they can find comfort in knowing someone else in the world just went through the same hell.

They gave me permission to introduce them over email and started writing to each other. Communications were slow at first, and eventually Jen came out to Colorado, and they met in person.

Happiness alert! The bonding created over their shared grief became more than that over time. They fell in love, Britton moved to Austin, he proposed, and they are getting married today.

The entire MyLifeLine.org team is celebrating the union of two people who deserve all the happiness in the world. As Britton says, Jax and Ruben are irreplaceable. Jen + Britton will move forward by framing this as a new chapter, and they are grateful to spend it together.

Now, how does their story connect us to National #Ribboning Day? At MyLifeLine.org, we started #ribboning last year on Instagram as a way to humanize the cancer ribbon you see on cars, retail windows and advertising on all channels. #Ribboning has come to symbolize that cancer is not about the color of a ribbon….it’s about the people. Cancer may be a disease, but it’s also a community, and we believe in compounding the emotional benefits of human support and unity.

#Ribboning is simple – have someone take a photo of you in the shape of a cancer ribbon and post it on Instagram. This movement caught on and people from all over the world have posted #ribboning photos to show support for cancer patients and survivors.

Jen + Britton inspired us to take #ribboning further and to proclaim their wedding day as National #Ribboning Day to raise awareness for the unique needs of caregivers. The emotional tidal wave of cancer doesn’t just hit the individuals diagnosed; it also hits those people closest to them.

On their own, Jen + Britton created a fundraising page to ask wedding guests to donate to MyLifeLine.org to “keep love going.” This fundraising page evolved into us creating a video that shares their story in their own words, and then the fundraising page migrated over to IndieGoGo with a bold goal and shared vision to raise awareness and funds for an organization dedicated 100 percent to providing free communication tools and services for cancer patients, caregivers, family and friends.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Jen + Britton’s wedding and National #Ribboning Day!

Visit our IndieGoGo page for Jen + Britton’s video story and learn about the #Ribboning Relay that will move MyLifeLine.org forward in our mission to serve millions of families in cancer’s wake.

Jen + Britton

Giving Tuesday = Ribboning Tuesday


At MyLifeLine.org we’re always coming up with ways to help show support for cancer fighters because we know support is vital. Research shows that cancer fighters with a strong support community can have up to a 20% increase in positive outcomes.

The internet is full of pictures of people lying face down on freeways, laundry baskets and news desks, or perched in a crouch atop lawn furniture, ledges and fire hydrants. You’ve probably seen some of these Planking or Owling pictures, and they’re fun, but MyLifeLine.org Cancer foundation wanted to add purpose, so we created Ribboning.  Ribboning is taking a picture of yourself standing in the shape of a ribbon to show support for cancer fighters, and if you donate to a cancer organization before you do it, you can consider it a donation celebration dance! Similarly, shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is fun but after all that fun, it’s nice to find purpose by donating on Giving Tuesday, December 3rd.

We’ve already started seeing support from people everywhere, giant tortoises in Galapagos have made ribboning appearances and we’d love to see a ribboning picture from each of the 50 states. We know there are many cancer supporters out there, so we’ve been asking our community to display it proudly, both by giving, even just $1, and Ribboning.

Our star ribboner (pictured) is Fay. When Fay found out she had breast cancer, she knew she’d have to rally the troops. She knew, because this was the third time she’d been “gifted” (her words) with that diagnosis. Looking toward the journey ahead, Fay knew she wanted to deal with things differently this time. Keeping up with hundreds of emails from well, wishers, supporters, volunteers and family members was an exhausting piece of an already exhausting trek.  When she found MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation, she knew there would be at least one less hill to climb. She could get a free site where she could post updates and her supporters could comment and follow along. Volunteers could coordinate using her website’s calendar and when she found resources she had the perfect spot to save them. In the end, amazingly, Fay and her supporters conquered cancer for a third time.  With 364 posts 735 comments and over 16,000 visits to her MyLifeLine.org site, Fay had not only a record of her experience, but really the beginnings of a book, and a picture of her ribboning will be on the cover.

Donate at: info.mylifeline.org/ribboning

See #Ribboning #UNselfie photos on our interactive map

Share #Ribboning photos with us on Facebook

Stories from a Breast Cancer Caregiver

Today we welcome guest blogger, Steve who has been a caregiver for his wife, a breast cancer survivor of four years. In honor of national caregivers month we’ll be featuring a few posts about caregiving and caregiver stories.

Steve is “ribboning” to show support for cancer fighters. Join him and share your #ribboning pictures on Facebook.

My wife, Tricia, asked if I would write about my caregiving experience. We were at our favorite watering, hole spending some quality time together, when she asked me. I teared up! Crap, as I’m writing this now I have to wipe my eyes. I asked myself, “Why is her request causing this emotional reaction”? I’m a Director at an electronics company and deal with issues and problems every hour, I’m tough! Yet her simple request impacted me deeply even though it has been 4 years since we started our journey.

So, out of the blue she pops this question, what is a caregiver? I couldn’t articulate anything but tears. I didn’t know. I wasn’t focused on being a Caregiver. I focused on my wife and what she needed. It was that simple. Decisions were easy, even though the journey wasn’t. My head was empty, void, nada (typical for most males), but I still agreed to write something.

I’m not a feelings kind of guy, and I’m definitely not versed in expressing them, let alone writing about them. Half of the time I can’t figure out what I feel and have to ask Tricia. Yet, here I am hunting and pecking on this keyboard as I enter my world of feelings as a caregiver.

I remember back to the moment when the word carcinoma was first mentioned in our house. When that word was first uttered to label what Tricia had on Aug 19, 2009 I was scared, more like petrified, at the thought of losing my partner, my lifemate, the other half of me, the one I have my history with and so many dreams yet to fulfill. Using the word cancer hit me hard and everything in my world was instantly reset, all our plans went on hold. I knew nothing about cancer. Out of the blue this thing capsized me in less than a pico second! Talk about a transformation. I should have been aware of the possibility as 1 in 8 women are touched by cancer. Just think about it. Start having your friends count off 1 through 8 and then ask who it will be. Ignorance was bliss!

I recall the frustration with all the hours sitting in waiting rooms and then not hearing the news you wanted to hear from the doctors. I can’t express the feelings any better than my journal entry back then: “Then we waited, and waited, and WAITED some more. I’m not very patient you know! It was about 1.5 hrs into her surgery when Dr. McDreamy (my daughter, Brittany, came up with that because of his hair) came out to speak to all of us. You know Tricia, she always has a crowd around her wherever she goes. There was standing room only! Our hopes were high knowing she was out of surgery early. Good news right? Not! Dr. McDreamy shared how he was able to identify the Sentinel Lymph nodes (I won’t refer to them as Lump nodes anymore!) and one was cancerous. Hearing that I instantly went numb! There were tears as we listened to how he was going to take longer and needed to go back in and remove all 15 of her nodes. He mentioned she was going to need chemo and answered our questions. Well, we knew this was a possibility.

An hour later we were summoned again and listened to more sucky news. While taking out the Lymph nodes, he had the breast tissue examined. The tissue did not have clear margins. As such, he extracted more of her and had it tested. The second extraction did not have clear margins either. Seems Tricia has to be different! She has another form of breast cancer (sorry, I went blank at that point and can’t remember which one it was). Her cancer is throughout her breast, so he stopped the cutting, buttoned her up, and started to bring her back (wake up girl!).” I felt such anger and helplessness. I’m a Mr. Fix-It but couldn’t engineer these outcomes.

Each day I would wear a happy face, independent of what was going on within me. I displayed a strong, positive, calm and hopeful outlook. Inside I was capsized and drowning. Friends and family would ask, “How’s Tricia? We’re praying for her”. She was the one touched by cancer, but I was too. There were times I felt alone amongst all our friends.

I would try to escape sometimes, typically late at night by myself. I would climb into myself to let the anger and worries out. Let’s be honest – pity parties. But my wife couldn’t escape. Cancer was always there, now part of her DNA. I would frequently journal during those pity sessions, so my messages were raw and emotional, very opposite of my wife’s thankful and inspiring messages. Remember, I’m not a feelings kind of guy! Again, my journal entry on Tricia’s blog articulates this best, “So it is 1 AM as I’m pounding on this keyboard and messing up the character and flow of my wife’s cancer blog. I am scared, for tomorrow morning she, “the better part of me”, heads into surgery. As a husband, this disease cripples you. You quickly learn there is NOTHING you can do except to be there, care for her, and listen.“

I encountered plenty of anxiety and insecurity and would describe it as a war, battles to be prepared for and fought. Journaling comments like, “It has been mostly quiet on the Mid-Western front. Last week it felt like we could hear the explosions off in the distance. But they were not upon us, yet!” Things were hectic and we were running around starting to prepare for what is coming at us. Later I wrote, “That night, when Tricia got home, I sensed something was wrong as soon as she came through the door. My first thought was, “What did I screw up”? Then I remembered I have been earning lots of Atta-boys so I just asked her what was wrong. Her eyes filled with tears and she melted. She used the word Anxious a lot. The sounds of those cannons are getting louder at the McEuens.”

Frustration, oh yes frustration and confusion. I spent a lot of energy doing what I thought was needed. Prepare new tasty meals (at least I thought so), but see her push them away. Something about “smelling right”, “metal taste”, or heaven forbid, “no taste”! I cleaned the house like she would want to have it cleaned. I washed and bathed her. Listened to friends express their concerns for her and share their prayers. I would research and study cancer and try to educate others. I sat there, watched nurses connect poison into her power port and wondering if the incredible hulk was going to emerge. I would prepare a long list of questions for her doctors but not ask what I wanted to ask because I didn’t want to go near the forbidden room, it might crush me. I had to stay focused and listen because my mate would ask me later what was said. There was worrying over hospital bills and how we were going to manage. I would journal, “This ride has been an emotional roller coaster for me, from shock and fear to anger, to anxiety. Self inflicted I hate to say! I watch Tricia and I am learning how she handles it, one day at a time. She lives in the present moment and she faces whatever decision needs facing next. As such, she gets up each morning and says it’s a beautiful morning. I feel half the time I am on this damn roller coaster screaming as I zoom skyward or scared to death as I slam downward. All the while, Tricia is on the stable ground below me saying “come here my Honey”. I’m confused; who is really the caregiver here? To get off the roller coaster I told Tricia I would slow down, sit back and deal with things as they come. I would not get out there too far. That lasted about 30 minutes! I couldn’t sit back and not learn and try to understand what my soul mate is dealing with.”

There were plenty of lessons learned and surprises. One person who taught me a lot about the healing process was Cleon. Cleon was an elderly gentleman who would sit in the heat of the day in this little white parking hut in front of the Cancer Center’s parking garage. There were countless hospital parking garages but only the Cancer Center had a little white hut. It reminded me of a mini information booth. Strange place for an information booth. Countless times I would proceed toward the garage, in a hurry, and intended to zip past him and just park the car. I didn’t need directions, I knew what I was doing, but Tricia would never allow that. She would insist we pause at the little white booth and say “hi” to Cleon. Cleon would always have a warm smile and we would exchange a brief, “It is so good to see you today”. Then I would zoom off to find a parking spot. One day as I was trying to distract Tricia and sneak by Cleon, she put it to me this way, “They get it here. The hospital understand what patients are going though. Cleon’s purpose is to welcome and greet us. Not to share information but to share his smile and connect, in person, as a human. A warm hello before we enter into this place.” I never again missed the chance to stop and say Hi to Cleon. He was every bit part of her healing process, up there with the Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin, and other drugs.

There were so many different seasons we experienced with our journey. One time, while Tricia’s body was still recovering from all the damage it had incurred and she was struggling with her new image, the ongoing memory loss (chemo brain) and fluid retention, she shared there was a dark cloud hanging over her and when things didn’t go according to plan, the cloud would rain and she was struggling to dance. Now Tricia lives by her mantra: “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.” I learned of my importance during the season changes. Awareness was the first thing I had to come to grips with. She basically had to club me senseless before I picked up on the cues! As I laid there in a mushy pulp, I realized things were changing. I learned to talk to her, share feelings, and talk about what was next.

The darkest of my feelings was the depression. It was an arctic cold that would rush through me when I allowed my thoughts to wonder near the forbidden room. Tricia was my best friend. All my life I have been fiercely independent, focused on getting ahead in life and making her and our children happy. The fear of not having her terrified me. It still does. Once you have been touched by “C” it is always there. She is the other side of me, and usually the better half. I was fighting for my life too! She was the only one who could sense something was abnormal within me, but really couldn’t help because she was fighting her own battles.

If it isn’t obvious yet, my wife and I are very opposite. She is the extrovert, I’m the introvert; she lives in the present and I’m way out there somewhere. She instantly sees the good in everyone and I have to get to know them. She is open and inviting, I’m reserved. She is in touch with her feelings and I avoid them. She has compassion and cares for others and I’m “well let’s not get too carried away here”. There are plenty more examples, believe me! Tricia’s life skills have given her an immense capacity to care for others. She is our family’s caregiver. When the tables were turned and I got the privilege to be her caregiver, I learned humility and compassion. I witnessed the outpouring from others and I saw how my wife was overwhelmed by it. It is not like her to be the center of attention, but cancer kind of forces that on you. Her journey remains focused on Kicking Butt. My role allowed me to experience what my wife is all about, a caring, feeling person. I was blessed with experiencing what is was to be the other side of me!

I heard Marcia Donziger, Founder of MyLifeLine.org mention that “cancer cures writers block.” That is so true! I had plenty to share and found relief and renewal through my journaling. So often our dialog about “C” is focused on the clinical side, but the human element is just as important. I used journaling to escape, share my fears, connect with others, inspire and be inspired, and to express my love for Tricia. I wrote once, “It is good to get your feelings out and, although I have never journaled before, I feel I’m now addicted to doing this. It actually lets me think through what I feel while I write. From a guy’s perspective “That’s a Good Thing”! Normally, when Tricia asks me what I feel, I look at her with that ‘Deer in the headlight look’ and think to myself, “it’s empty up there, how should I know?” Now I can actually talk to her about my feelings. Life is ironic isn’t it? “

I can proclaim that everything is good at the McEuens! “C” has changed our lives, in some ways I think for the better. It has been 4 years, we are in a very happy place. We live our lives to the fullest and we aren’t hearing any cannons in the distance.

I will end this with a journal entry my wife wrote that sums up the emotion within me.

“And now, to the one I am most thankful for, my Honey. Honey, I am so thankful that 23 years ago you called me up, as nervous as you were, and asked me out on a blind date. I am even more thankful that 7 months after that blind date, I became your wife, complete with 2, 3, and 4 year olds! As we added 2 more (and a few other blessings!) we became the most amazing, wonderful, crazy, loud, loving family that I could ever have imagined. Through all the ups and downs, the challenges, the triumphs, the good news and the bad, you have been my solid rock, my true hero, my soul mate, my life mate. Thank you for holding my hand (and probably my head here soon), rubbing my back, soothing my brow, supporting me, filling my heart with love, giving me the courage to face this battle head on, for researching to make sure not only you but all of us understand what I am facing, for asking questions when I go into my numb mode, for writing in the journal, for supporting our family even from El Paso or Denver or Michigan, for being the #1 person on my KICK BUTT team. I draw strength and courage and love from you each and every day and you seem to have an endless supply to give me. I absolutely adore you, cherish you, love you and I am so very, very, very thankful that God blessed me as your wife. I will love you always.

Your Lifemate”

Ribboning – It’s Tebowing With a Purpose

MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation, would like to start a nationwide show of support for cancer patients by having people “ribbon”.  It’s like Tebowing with a purpose.  We’re asking people who support cancer patients to do one or both of the following.

  1. Donate $1 to MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation by going here.
  2. You’ve given, now “Ribbon” and post it to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account with the hashtag #ribboning to celebrate and spread the word. Ribboning is standing in the shape of a ribbon with your feet wide and your arms circled over your head.

Please get ribboning! Our goal is to get pictures of at least 100 people ribboning with representation from all 50 states. Colorado and Florida are in, make sure your state shows support for people affected by cancer.

 

As always, if you’re a cancer patient or caregiver looking for your own place to write blog or journal, you can sign up for a free site at MyLifeLine.org.