Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I think Halloween was one of Melissa's favorite holidays. Didn't always have the costume she wanted, but she had fun. Loved trick or treating...
One of our favorite memories (mine and hers) - I think it was the year she dressed up as a clown (picture below)...the neighbor girls were a few years older and had a mom who was REALLY good at putting on makeup. They dressed up as PRETTY cheerleaders (with BEAUTIFUL makeup)...somewhere we have a picture of the three of them, the two cheerleaders smiling and a very unhappy clown. I KNOW she laughed about that years later. (Interesting side of the other girls - one of the cheerleaders, now has breast cancer...diagnosed in her early 30s)

Not one of her FAVORITE costumes. Saddest clown I've ever seen. I'm pretty
sure we've laughed about THIS picture...

OU Halloween...looks like she's having fun here...

Fast forward about 10 years...FORT would have LOVED this. We have a picture of her (probably posted on this blog somewhere - Oct 2008 - of her and Drew on his FIRST Halloween)...good memories, but I miss her SO much. Holidays are hard...

Picked up the kids from the sitter,fed them (BEFORE all the sugar), then Mere got here to get them ready to go. First "real" trick or treat experience for both of them...didn't take them long to figure it out!

A little girl came up to the door and said "Is that Drew?" Andrew said "I'm not Drew...I'm a STORM TROOPER"

Ok Pamma...get the picture...we are READY to go trick or treating!

All sugared up and ready to go home!

Hope you had a happy, sugar filled Halloween. We did.

Get the toothbrushes out.....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


2900 walkers, 6.5 Million dollars raised....(JUST IN ATLANTA!!!!!)
and HOPEFULLY a cure to be found for Breast Cancer in MY lifetime...
It was ANOTHER incredible 3 Day experience.

Some of the MEMORABLE MOMENTS in those three days...(in no specific order)...

~Crossing the finish line after 60 miles (of mostly hills!)

~ Crossing the finish line with our ENTIRE team...even though we weren't walking together much during the 3 days (everyone pretty much had a partner - same stride/same pace...)

~Sleeping w/ Angie (we had our own beds...) :o)

~Spending three days with good friends of Melissa's...Ang-best friend from high school, Annie, Roommate from OU, and Julie, walked with me Melissa and her sister Shannon (rugby friend of Forts from OU too!) in 2007.

~Walking with one of my best friends from high school-for the SECOND time (Sharon)

~Emily-one of our teammates, a YaYa AND high school friend of mine! - walking after a stress fracture on her foot a couple of months ago AND a double MASTECTOMY a couple of months ago WAY TO GO EMILY!!!!

~Teammate Tina - continuing to walk even though she had HUGE blisters on BOTH heels and some other weird things going on with her feet...WAY TO GO TINA!!!

~Having an AWESOME Team Sign - thanks to teammate Mindy...THANKS Mindy!

~Getting mail....LOTS of mail! From friends, family, one of my teachers at school and ALL of her kindergartners, Forts' friends (with pictures of Fort from friend Stacy...THAT was with expressions I had forgotten...)
THANK YOU SO MUCH. They got me through DAY 2 AND Day 3!!!!

~Meeting a CREW member who went to OU (on the last day in Turner Field. When I did the walk with Melissa, she made up a Scavenger Hunt, and one of the things we were looking for was an OU Alumni! I found one again Fort!)

~BUTTERFLIES! - at the finish line on DAY 2, Finish Line on DAY 3 and behind the stage before Closing Ceremony

~Friends there to support you (from DAYTON!!!) Cheryl(Angie's mom)and her friend Terry, Ralph, Karyn & Kylie (Sharon's family)and Larry & Deb (my friends from Dayton)
THANKS for being there!!!!

~Got busted on my cell phone (whoops...major no no) Didn't do it a second time...

~Wheelchairs - at least two of them. Being pushed for 60 miles. Occasionally people who were cheering us on would volunteer to push up a hill...incredible

~People walking in boots (not winter...stress fracture boots)

~Pregnant- VERY pregnant women - WALKING

~Beautiful scenery

~GREAT food

~Beer stop - DAY 3


~lost toenail

~Tent City

~NEW friends

~OLD friends

~Waiting in line for the shower with only 2 people ahead of me!

~450 CREW MEMBERS keeping us going, feeding us, generally keeping us HAPPY~!

~Atlanta Police Dept....keeping us safe!

~SOUTHERN Hospitality at it's BEST...fresh bread and FREE coffee (THANKS 3 DAY Coffee Kids!), LOTS of candy, gum, cheering - mostly Atlanta residents (I'm guessing!)

I Thought you said 3 Miles in 60 Days
Cancer can Kiss my TIRED ASS

~Inspiring signs - Pain is weakness leaving your body

~ Keeping up with a 29 year old for 60 miles (YEP...that was ME. The 29 year old was Julie~ Thanks for being my walking partner for 3 days Julie~!

I compare this walk to giving birth. There is definitely PAIN, but you forget the pain after you cross the finish line. I heard some very young girls saying "ONE and DONE...I'm going to be driving a car next year, beeping the horn and cheering y'all on"...
Yeah. That's what I said after 2007. It's just something that you can't do just once. For me, every two years.

Looking forward to 2013 ALREADY....


Getting ready to leave lunch on Day 2, this guy comes up to me and says "I met you two years ago - LOOK! I still have my FORT bracelet! I wear it all the time!" He also had her card in his lanyard (with her picture showing!!!!)...I am SO glad you stopped me...THANKS CHRIS!!!

I'm walking behind this person who has a FORT button on her backpack. Got close enough to take a picture, then I tapped her on the shoulder and asked "Did I give you that FORT button?" She turned around and looked at me and said "YES. Two years ago!!!!"

Elizabeth, Pam, Erin

I was standing in a pit stop when I heard "Pam?" was two of my tent city neighbors from 2009!!!! Becky & Bobbie...still wearing their FORT bracelets!!!!
Thanks for stopping was GREAT to see you!

OUR 3 DAY JOURNEY begins....THURSDAY, October 20

TEAM B POSITIVE arrives in Atlanta. Only 3 on our team have walked this before (Pam, Sharon & Julie)...the rest have NO IDEA what they have gotten into...Thanks John & Wendy for transporting us from the airport to the hotel...and THANKS for being patient with us (none of us were very familiar with the Atlanta airport. We walked from our gate to the baggage area...about a mile. We decided that this was part of our training...NOT stupidity...)

Tina,Sharon, Annie, Angie, Terri, Mindy, Emily & Pam (Julie met us at the Opening Ceremony)


Getting ready for Opening Ceremony...remembering MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER...

Right after Opening Ceremony, ready to get started on our journey...what a great way to start - in front of STONE MOUNTAIN!!!!

Troops joining us in the Opening Ceremonies AND the walk around STONE MOUNTAIN...
ALL with FORT bracelets AND cards!

Annie, Ang...and Fort? (trying to get Annie to say something???)


THESE shoes, on THOSE feet, will walk 540 miles in 3 days...AMAZING.

YAY!!!! We finished the first 20!!!!

Stopping in the Remembrance Tent to see Fort after finishing the first day...

Inside the Remembrance Tent. I stopped by every morning to see her, and every night to kiss her goodnight...

Everyone decorated their tents (this was a necessity so you could FIND your tent!)...Ang came up with our theme...our tent was The FORTress. We put about 10 pictures of Melissa on our tent. PERFECT. We woke up in the mornings to her smiling face (or sticking out her tongue at us!). I loved it.

3 DAY "Mall" (included shopping, a post office, lounge and foot massages!)


After getting through DAY 1 with no problems,we were excited to get started on DAY 2.
Got up around 6:30, to breakfast around 7 and in line with 2900 others to get out the door. ANOTHER beautiful day....

If you have to sit down and take a break (or a rock out of your shoe), it might as well be at a scenic location so you can get a picture...

...and DANCING? after walking 10 miles????? Are you KIDDING me??? No. And yes, that is a guy (walker) out there dancing. I saw maybe 20-25 guys walking. And yes, that is OUR Julie out there dancing too (in the orange)...she was the youngest in our group, so she HAD to.

'nuf said....

I'm not sure how safe this was...but we HAD to have a place to charge our STUFF. You wouldn't want 2900 unhappy women on your hands...

Ni Night...
Julie & Annie...sleeping...or TRYING to sleep. Lights didn't go out until 9, and this night, they had a DANCE PARTY in the DINING room. Not for us.

Getting ready for bed (I am IN bed!)

I asked for some motivating mail...WOW!~ did I get some!!!!! THANKS!!!!!

Last day fun at breakfast...Ang, Pam, Julie (I LOVE that Melissa is in the picture with us too!)

Taking a well deserved beer break on DAY 3. Julie is from Atlanta, so she knew a great place on the route - nice patio here too. NEIGHBORS. Check out the orb over Julie...did Fort decide to join us for a beer?


Annie & Julie having a Buttery Nipple in honor of FORT (her favorite shot) appropriate...


Didn't get many pictures here. My camera battery died about 3 miles before the finish line :o( Passed FORT STREET about 2 miles before the finish - I missed it somehow, but Ang & Annie got a picture...she was with us at the end!

Last day in Atlanta...Julie ended up getting the day off, so she took us to lunch (a great place in Midtown - Joe's on Juniper. Great service - great food, great atmosphere. Nice patio too on a BEAUTIFUL last day. My new favorite appetizer - sweet potato tater tots with marshmallow dip...wonder where you can get THAT in Dayton? THANKS JULIE!

So there you go. That wasn't so painful, was it????
Are YOU thinking about going in 2013?
I hope so.
It is an experience of a lifetime.
I hope you think about it...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ATLANTA ~ 2011

3 Day for the Cure...3 days...60 miles...

If you are reading Melissa's blog for the first time, you are probably from Atlanta...or you walked in Atlanta, OR you cheered us on in Atlanta.

I am Melissa's mom, and have been updating her blog for the last 2 1/2 years.
Her last post was Christmas 2008, about a week before she passed away.
She (and her husband) lived in Cincinnati, I live in Dayton.

Why the Atlanta walk? In 2007 (Just a year before she passed away) She had a friend from college who was doing the walk in Atlanta with her sister (Julie, who happens to be on our team this year). She wanted Melissa to do it too. So Melissa, in her 4th year of fighting breast cancer, decided to do it with them.

It was not a difficult decision for her, since she was fighting this terrible
disease and was hoping to beat it once and for all. This was a good way to
support the cause. Her attitude was B POSITIVE (it's not just my blood type).
She was a rugby player. A competitor. And she was NOT going to lose this battle.

She could not afford to fly to Atlanta (pretty overwhelmed with medical bills at the time), so I offered to drive her to Atlanta, stay in a hotel, cheer her on, and
bring her home.

A week before the walk, the Cincinnati Kelts Rugby Club held a Breast Cancer Fundraiser, with proceeds going to Susan G. Komen. She called me the Monday before the walk..."MOM! The rugby team raised enough can do the walk WITH me!"
My response? "Melissa...I can't walk 60 miles this weekend!!!!"
"Mom. I'm on chemo. If I can do it, you can do it."
So we did.
It was the most INCREDIBLE weekend of my life.
The following Christmas, she gave me a scrapbook that she made of our walk. (You can see those pictures if you scroll down this page, there is a link on the right).

In 2009, I did the walk in Atlanta AGAIN, this time WITHOUT her. I was honored to carry the flag "MY DAUGHTER" in the opening and closing ceremonies.

And now, in 2011, I am doing the walk again, this time with a team of nine. We are TEAM B POSITIVE.

You probably recieved a card from one of us...a couple of us were wearing FORT shirts. (Melissa got the nickname FORT~from her last name~ from her best friend in high school, who happens to be walking this year and is my tentmate). It stuck.
I don't think many people she went to college with even KNEW her first name was Melissa.

I will be honored AGAIN to carry the flag, MY DAUGHTER, in the opening and closing ceremonies.

My updates for the last couple of years are about Melissa. But you want to read
HER writing. To read from the beginning, go to
She was diagnosed in 2003. She started the blog when she had her first reoccurence and was back on chemo. She had mouth sores and didn't want to talk on the phone (or talk much period), so she started the blog to keep her friends and family updated.

It is the story of HER journey. She will make you laugh a lot. SHe was a fantastic writer...and I am SO glad she left her story.

To read her most recent (last) posts, scroll down this page to the archives. Anything before 2009 was posted by Fort. She was amazing.

I hope you are encouraged by her journey. I was. And I will not give up this fight until there is a cure.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for cheering us on and supporting us in our 3 day, 60 mile journey!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Hard to believe it was EIGHT years ago today that our first grandson was born. John Patrick ~ J.P.
He was BEAUTIFUL. But early. Had NO idea at the time what Melissa and John were going through. How could we know? And now we do. Somehow, after losing her son,she continued on with HER fight. I don't know HOW she did it. And now she celebrates his birthday WITH him. Happy Birthday JP. We love you and miss you and will NEVER forget you. Love you Punkin' Pie...

Drew & Max and Pamma & PopPop sing Happy Birthday to JP...


Last weekend, Nick, Mere, & Drew were in Mere's brother's wedding. Drew was the Ring Bearer. I was a little afraid of how he would do, because he tends to get a little "shy" when he meets new people...but the promise of STAR WARS Legos was all he needed to walk down the aisle...kind of. The flower girl was adorable, VERY friendly, probably around 3 too. Not shy a BIT. At the rehearsal, after the second stroll down the aisle, it seemed as if Drew would be alright. (Except there weren't any people in the seats, other than the wedding party at the altar). SO. At the wedding,
Drew is in the back with the flower girl, entering right before the bride. (His mom and dad are already at the altar with the rest of the wedding party. Donny and I are NOT sitting on the aisle for fear that he will want to come over and sit with us.)
I WISH we would have sat on the aisle...he had his eyes SQUEEZED shut the entire walk down the aisle (except when he bumped into a pew)being DRAGGED by the flower girl. It was hilarious. And I didn't get a picture. But lots of people did, so when I get one, I'll post it.

Is this a FORT picture or WHAT? We have very few pictures of Melissa where she ISN'T sticking out her tongue or making a face in a picture. I love that Drew does it too...(sometimes I think she's whispering in his ear "STICK OUT YOUR TONGUE, DREW!"

Nick, Mere & Drew were in Mere's brother Jeff's (& Katie's) wedding...AGAIN at Holy Trinity. Nick, Mere & Melissa were all in her other brothers wedding (Brad) at Trinity too...our last COMPLETE family picture. August, 2008. Hard to believe...

This was actually at the SECOND a cry room...and Drew is actually
HUGGING Max (although it LOOKS like Max is trying to eat Drew's flower)
I don't recommend TWO weddings in one day for a 2 year old and a 3 year old by the way...

Drew's gift for being in the wedding? STAR WARS Legos. He talked about it for WEEKS before the wedding (they told him they would be at the front pew when he walked up the aisle!)

PopPop to Drew..."Now I don't think I'll be able to put the whole thing together TONIGHT..."

Max getting some use out of Drew's rented shoes...

Blue Steel (Fort's FAVORITE Drew look)

Congratulations Brian & Megan (Fort's cousin) #2

Busy, busy weekend...and this one will be even busier.

TEAM B POSITIVE raised over $21,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and will be
walking 60 miles (20 miles each day, Friday, Saturday & Sunday)!
Will post pics and stories next week.

Enjoy the fall....