A Ride with Matt: Rarely Am I at a Loss for Words

But right now I am. I’m struggling to put a coherent sentence together, let alone a whole post. I have to try. This is THAT important. I grew up in Mayberry (OK it was a small town in upstate NY called Palmyra, but it was very Mayberry-ish). Everyone knew everyone else’s name, and business. But we didn’t know everything. We judged others based on their actions at times and it was wrong. I told you about this over a year ago when I explained that I wondered why the town drunk, who was actually suffering from Huntington’s Disease, was allowed to walk the streets of this beautiful small town. 

I later came back to explain that his daughter and I cheered together, his wife was my awesome English teacher, and I had his daughter tell their story in her own words.

This family has had it rough but they are standing up to this disease. They are trying to fund a cure. Here’s where you come in. A Ride with Matt can help but you need to help them to help find the cure. I’ve been following along, I’ve donated, I felt like I did my part. But tonight…well tonight…this got even more personal. I heard about a father that took his life before Huntington’s could take him. I heard a young, courageous man say that he’s taken a knife to his wrist 9 times to escape the disease but backed out because he knew it would make him feel like a coward. He wants to help. He suffers with this disease. Yet he is an inspiration. 

They need $2600 more to reach their goal of $12,000. If each one of you on my friends lists, my twitter followers, my readers, donated $1, (put down the Starbucks…it’s not that important and can’t save lives) they’d more than exceed their goal and lives would be saved. Lives would be saved. I meant to repeat that. Were you listening?

You know what? If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to and watch this. If you don’t want to donate after following this story, maybe I should consider downsizing some of my lists. You might not miss me, but these families sure miss their loved ones when they’re gone. This disease is hidden. They aren’t drunks. This disease kills people. Kills people. Again, I meant to repeat myself. Please help!
Make your DONATION today. Super simple. You can give up your coffee and feel good about yourself. Matt can live. 

Life Lessons, Cancer, Inspiration, and a Cure with MasterCard! #DoGood #MC

In an attempt to help MasterCard Dig In & Do Good to benefit Stand Up to Cancer, I have partnered with them through Collective Bias. I’m honored to share this program with you. And although I have been compensated for this post, I would do it anyway and all opinions, ideas, and photos are entirely my own or used with express permission. 

My Pappy, my mom’s dad, was my favorite man who ever lived. When he spoke, I listened. He taught me many life lessons in our 10 years together. He taught me to be kind and caring, to have fun and love everyone, no matter what, and he taught me about favorites. You see, as my Pappy explained, it was OK to have favorites. It doesn’t mean you love anyone else less, it means you realize that you click with some people better than others. You chose one spouse because they’re your favorite, you have best friends because they’re your favorite, you like one food better than others because it’s your favorite. Favorites aren’t always a bad thing. I was his favorite and I adored him. He was to walk me down the aisle. He was to be there for the birth of my first child. He was not. 

The last lesson my Pappy taught me, at the age of 10, was loss and cancer. It wasn’t his fault. The beast did that. He had just retired, bought a boat, and he was diagnosed with cancer. A brain tumor. I was too young to understand, but as I sat in his hospital room after his surgery, he tried to explain. I didn’t really get it, but the beast took my Pappy. I knew I hated the beast. 

My life moved on, because it had to, and I learned more about this beast over the years. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost family members. I’ve seen this beast rear its ugly head WAY too often. It has to be stopped. Luckily there are brilliant people who can help through foundations that we should all support. Luckily there is MasterCard Dig In & Do Good. They’re making it easy for us to help foundations like Stand Up to Cancer which is where the end of cancer begins. SU2C is a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research to get therapies to patients and save lives now. You can help by simply buying your family dinner, spending over $10, and MasterCard does the rest. They make the donation because you ate dinner to help fund cancer CURE research. 

Who do you stand up for? What’s your personal story? Who inspires you to do good?

You see, I have this friend, and she’s my inspiration. We met in middle school and reconnected years back on Facebook. She’s had cancer since 1998, and she laughs at it (literally) and she stands up for others while she battles the beast herself. Her name is Jody. I absolutely love her. She inspires me to help and be a better person.

Jody mentors young cancer patients, even while she’s being treated herself. She’s amazing. She lost her young friend, Heather, who was only 16 (for only 9 days in fact) when the beast took her life. And Jody helped throw a fundraiser for the family to pay the bills while they mourned the loss of their daughter. I hate that beast. 

But Jody, just like MasterCard and the Do Good Foundation, knows that there is a cure on the horizon. She knows that if we all support these missions (and there are many of them), there will be no more Heather stories in this world. Heather should have gone to her prom. Heather should have graduated high school. Heather should still be smiling today. She’s not, because of the beast. 

Here’s Jody’s story: She’s been through hell and back, yet sparkled through the beast’s attacks. In 1998, 3 weeks after her wedding, while running in a Relay for Life, her legs gave out. After several tests, the doctors diagnosed her with a form of Guillian Barre. Over the next few years, she went through different treatments and ended up having a port put in for IV treatments, 3 weeks on, 1 week off, for 2 years. Her legs giving out went from on/off to progressive constant. Her Neurologist OK’ed her to get into a clinical trial of stem cell transplant in 2007. The night before she went in for an all day nerve conduction, they found “the lump”, so they added an extra scan, and she got the cancer diagnosis 10 days after her 40th birthday. Breast cancer, stage II. 

They kicked her out of the clinical trial. When her long-term doctor cried, she responded with “But Doc! This means that I not only DON’T have to go to Chicago and live for 3 months in ‘the bubble’ away from my family, but I get the SAME drug here AND I get a boob upgrade out of the deal! It’s a win win”. That’s Jody! Double mastectomy 9/6/07. She hemorrhaged that night. Four weeks later she had 4 big rounds of Cytoxan and Taxotere. In the meantime, Neuro stuff reversed, she walked and felt better. Her nerves started to regenerate.

If she started wabbling again, they had to look for tumors. Guess what? She started wabbling again 8 months later. Stupid beast! The next scan showed a spot on her liver which resulted in 5 more rounds of heavy Cytoxan. That made her walk better and the spot was gone. Six months later, they found spots on her lungs. This meant 6 more rounds, same thing, all better. On maintenance every 3 months for 3-4 cycles.

Then brain surgery for a pituitary mass in October 2010. More chemo in February 2011. 

She was scheduled for “rounds” in June 2011 but she wanted to do a triathlon! She felt good so they allowed it. And she did it! That postponement, while she helped others and ran that triathlon, lasted 2 years. The “palsy”, as she calls it, came back in April of 2013. More chemo that May. Her counts were low but her scans looked good, and was walking fine. All is on hold. The lifetime dose of Cytoxan is limited so they’re holding off until absolutely necessary again, which is hopefully never. She actually thinks she’s lucky because her body sends off Neuro cascades when the tumors are small and they are detected early. 

Y’all she thinks she’s LUCKY! That’s why she’s helped others over the years. Because they weren’t LUCKY enough to have the signs that would help them suffer through these treatments and surgeries for the past 15 years and still be here to tell about them and help others. 

If Jody can help others, run triathlons, serve at children’s hospitals to mentor and inspire young children, and do Relays for Life to fund Cancer treatment, do you think you could take your family out to dinner and spend $10+ to support the Stand Up to Cancer Foundation? All you have to do is eat dinner and use your MasterCard between now and September 28th. 

And so we did our tiny part. The kids had fun. 

There was good food. 

And I paid with my PayPal MasterCard. So by doing nothing out of the ordinary, I’m helping others find a cure. I hope we’ll see a cure soon. No one else should suffer. There are so many intelligent people working on the cure. A simple family meal, a night of fun, might be the dollar donation that finds the cure. 

And there are more ways you can help through this program. Heck, you don’t even have to leave your house! To find out more, be sure to look through my Google+ Album to find out all of the ways you can help. 

Please don’t just sit there thinking you can’t help. Just don’t sit there and think it’s OK that Heather was stripped of her life. Don’t just sit there and think that the doctors can’t cure Jody. Don’t just sit there and think of all of your friends, or family, that are battling this beast. Don’t think you can’t help! Go create a table, go to dinner and pay with your MasterCard, share it on Facebook and Twitter, or just donate. Join the movement and do your part. Kill the beast. DON’T JUST SIT THERE AND DO NOTHING!

Join Us on Twitter to Bring Awareness and Help #SaveAmericasMustangs

Do you see this fabulous creature? This is one of America’s Mustangs. That’s right, these beautiful animals belong to us, the American public! But did you know that over 3 million roamed free 110 years ago, and today that number is just under 30,000? We can’t have this! 
I love horses, it’s a lifelong love actually! I “owned” my first horse in 8th grade. His name was Cochise, he was a Quarter Horse, and he was amazing! He was somewhat of a rescue horse actually because when I had my choice of horses, I chose him! He was a 16 year old, retired riding lesson horse. He had a stumble and he had no one to love him. We spent many years together and he taught me so much. I was trying to find myself in my early teens and he was trying to find someone to love him forever. I was able to give him a forever home in his old age, and he helped me through the rough times that we all experience as teens. This was not just an animal, a pet, to me. He was my friend!
So when I hear things about the abuse of horses, I get somewhat insane with anger and I want to help! We all need to help!
There is just too much to explain about what is happening to OUR American Mustangs, but here are some key points I want you to drill in to your head: 
  • American horses are being sold to killer buyers who slaughter these animals in various parts of the world for financial gain. Recent legislation just passed making it NOT illegal to slaughter horses in the United States.
  • The horses belong to the American people. The wild horses are just managed by the government (Bureau of Land Management), but the BLM doesn’t own them. Americans should continue to have a say as to what happens to their horses and we encourage all of our supporters to Take Action through the website, Saving America’s Mustangs.
There is a solution! Businesswoman and philanthropist, Madeleine Pickens, is committed to this promise. Through her Foundation, citizens from all walks of life are uniting to create a permanent home, a Sanctuary, to save these magnificent national treasures.

So how can YOU help? You should want to help! Give an hour of your time to help promote this cause! Come party with us on Twitter. Social Media is a powerful tool. Let’s use this power for good to save our American Heritage.

Please join us on August 22nd at 1:00pm EST as we discuss these issues and the solution. This simple hour can raise awareness and you can be a part of it! 

You can follow along on our handy dandy tweet grid here: http://cbi.as/2qe-a

Follow your hosts: @notinsanemom and @mamacheaps

And did I mention the prizes? Yes, there will be prizes! 
  • (2) $25 Visa gift cards
  • (1) $50 Visa gift card + $100 donation to SAM in your name
  • (1) $100 Visa gift card + $100 donation to SAM in your name           

Please be sure to RSVP below to be eligible for the prizes. You won’t want to miss this. It’s a win~win! We raise awareness to help #SaveAmericasMustangs and you win prizes! Hope to see you there!

Please see the official legal rules for the #SaveAmericasMustangs Twitter Party.