Insomnia and Perseverance

Team Tasha Vinyasa

I wake up now, multiple times a night, usually soaked in sweat. Sometimes I wake at 1am, or 2am and go back to sleep, but typically I can’t. Or I don’t for hours and then I do; passing out just 30 to 45 minutes before my 5am alarm rings. I’m not complaining so much as stating the facts. I used to toss and turn, and roll around in bed, but now I know better. Now I get up and try to be productive. I try to think POSITIVE thoughts, and put them to good use. It doesn’t always work, but like yoga, it’s a practice.  This morning, I knew laying in bed any longer would do the opposite. The itchy, restless, burning sensations in my bones, the hyper-sensitiving and anxiety was impossible to quell.

I got up. It was the only option.positive thinking

I shifted to my side, and picked up my phone, mostly to see how many hour of sleep I had manage to collect,  when I noticed a steady stream of email notifications. “Congratulations” they said, “you have received another donation”…. In a rush of excitement I jumped out of bed and into my office.

I reached my $7,500 fundraising goal yesterday evening around 9pm, which in itself was hugely exciting, but over night – more donations came pouring in. $5, $25, $50, $100, and then – $1,000…

Amazing.

YSC Tour de Pink Fundraising progress

When I read the emails and checked the status of my fundraising page, tears welled up in my eyes. It’s been a tough week for me, personally, with the date of my hysterectomy and oophorectomy looming on the horizon, and I am just exhausted from the culmination of a SUP Yoga season fraught with equipment and scheduling issues, and parenting challenges, so it doesn’t take much to make me weepy these days. These tears, however, were tears of joy.
It makes me feel indescribably good to help others. To know that these donations for the Young Survivors Coalition, will help other young women, like myself, battling through the process of breast cancer treatment, makes me feel useful and connected to my cancer community, and gives me a deeper sense of purpose. The overnight donations have pushed me onto the fundraiser leaderboard, and much closer to the next fundraising goal of $10,000 then I ever thought I would get. I’m on such a roll now, I can’t help but set the bar even higher.

So I’m bumping my goal all the way up to $10k.

The purpose is two-fold: the money raised continues to be the primary objective, the campaign, however, is a personal project, and a much needed distraction. In three weeks, I am returning to MGH for more cancer-related surgery. I am anxious and scared. Because I am a rape and child abuse survivor, thinking about the bodily location of the surgery and the fact that I will be unconscious, on an O.R. table, with a team of strangers moving organs out my body through my vagina, makes my heart race.

I’m not sure, unless you have been victimized in the same way as I was, that it’s possible to understand the PTSD that is triggered by these thoughts of helplessness and exposure. I don’t know that you fear being sedated and strapped down to a table as much as I have, unless you too have been pinned down in the middle of the night, and had your legs spread apart.

#nevergiveup

rape, cancer, it doesn’t matter – we never give up.

I have tried to describe the psychological stressors, to my partner and friends that make this surgery so much scarier than my double mastectomy, but I’m not sure they relate, or understand. Some times it feels like I have been talking and writing about my personal struggles for so long now, that the significance of this particular chapter of my trauma, or the gravity of this operation, has diminished. Sometimes I get the feeling like their empathy has simply worn out. And you know what, I can’t really blame them. It’s been a long, painful narrative. I only hope it has also given others, who have gone through similar struggles, promise and encouragement t0 keep on keeping on. Because that’s what we do. We fall down, and we get back up.

So… back to fundraising it is.

Dear readers, if my cancer diaries have touched you, if you have been following my journey – the one that started in March 2013 – if I have inspired you in any way, please consider making a donation of any amount to my upcoming 200+ mile charity bike ride for young women with breast cancer. I need you. They need us. It is all one and the same.

Thank you for taking the time to hold some space for us cancer warriors and thank you for holding space for me.

~Caitlin

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 {My Cancer Story: The Beginning}

(Making the Breast Decision)

(Life After the Knife)

{How to Talk to Someone with Cancer)

(Let’s be Friends)

My Tour de Pink

I’m a little nervous, but…I’ve slayed much bigger dragons in the last 2 years. Even so, in just a few days I’ll be on yet another slightly pause-worthy, solo adventure. And I get to check another first off my list. This time that incorporates a few different things: my very first time riding my road bike off the island of Nantucket, my first charity ride, my first time riding in a group of 100+, my first time riding with total strangers and my first time doing more than 50 miles in a day.

I’m amped.

I’m ready.

and I’m HEALTHY!

As many of you know, this time last year I was in the fight of my life, on bed rest and healing from a radical double mastectomy. This summer, I am thrilled to report, life is looking very different. Having recently wrapped up 16 months of breast cancer treatment in July, I am no longer a patient, but a Breast Cancer SURVIVOR. On September 19th -20th I am riding in my first multi-day charity bike event: The YSC Tour de Pink, a 200 mile bike ride for young women with breast cancer. The YSC, Young Survivor’s Coalition* offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful. 

Considering the year I’ve had, and my newbie status as a cyclist, I anticipate this ride is going to be a challenge, but I know that the strength I have cultivated during my battle, the strength you, my community, have given me to beat back this disease will get me to the finish line. With the motto “Ride. Support. Inspire”, YSC Tour de Pink is much more than just a ride, it’s a chance to honor survivors, raise awareness and support important programs for young women with breast cancer.

Tour de Pink

I signed up to ride the Tour de Pink only 6 weeks ago- and in that short amount of time my friends and family, and even people who don’t even know me have raised $3,888.00 – an overwhelming show of support considering how much fundraising is done here on Nantucket during the summer months, and how many deserving causes there are to donate to. I feel so blessed and yet again, so grateful to live here, to have the community we have and to be a part of something so important with the help of those around me.

I am dedicating my YSC ride to my friend, breast cancer mentor and long time Nantucketer, Claudia Kronenberg Douty, who also had triple positive invasive breast cancer and passed away all too soon, earlier this year.

I would like to thank the following people who made donations to my Tour de Pink:

  • John Osborne & Family
  • Emily Molden
  • Chris Collins
  • Burr Tupper
  • Sarah Montgomery
  • Kimberly and Marina Cassano
  • Terry Keible
  • Julie Hilberg Hunt
  • Jennifer Kaplan
  • Kathy Lipschuts
  • Burton Balkind
  • Elisa Allen
  • my Mom & Dad
  • Caroline Furgeson
  • Ani Kasten
  • Gretchen Cooney
  • Victoria Macomber
  • Jillian Fraker
  • Kim Reilly
  • Barbara Rosen
  • Georgia Raysman
  • Audrey Stery
  • Larisa Foreman
  • Melissa Murphy & Family
  • Tracy Cullinane
  • Alison Gorham
  • John Hunt & Palma Puzzoli
  • Lisa LaFrance
  • Jake & Alisa Allegrini
  • Juan Uribe
  • Mark Loader
  • Patrick Topham
  • Laura Snyder
  • Melissa Swim
  • Georgina Sharman
  • Christen & Andrew deLa Rochelle
  • Ann Marie Hunter
  • Lisa Botticelli
  • and of course the anonymous donors… I know who some of you are 😉

I just picked up my bike from Young’s, where they kindly squeezed me in for a last minute tune-up, and I’m in the middle of packing my bike bag. I’ve gone over my check list a dozen times already, and I’ll go over it a few more times before I go to bed. My excitement is visible in the flush on my cheeks. Although the ride itself doesn’t commence for a few more days, I leave the island tomorrow and head off to Boston. On Thursday morning I’ll make the 7 hour trek from Boston to my friend’s house in PA and pick up my Tour de Pink packet in Philadelphia on the way. We hit the road 9am on Friday morning…

Follow me and my ride:

Live. Love. Ride.

~Caitlin

 

Tour de Pink

#nevergiveup

 

*The YSC is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful. With an interactive website and almost 30 affiliates across the United States, it is YSC’s goal that no young woman should be left to fight breast cancer alone.