Sunday, May 18, 2008

Redefining 'tacky'

What can I say? Sometimes the gets to you. It can make you do crazy things. :-) Last night, a fund raiser was held to benefit the Children's Cancer Center. This was an adult Scavenger hunt through downtown Tampa and Ybor City (Tampa's "entertainment" district, which is a Chamber of Commerce-esque way of saying, "where the bars are.") Each team had to have a name, a theme and a costume. The Center gave a team to a group of Moms: Anissa, whose daughter Peyton, 4, is battling leukemia; Renee, whose son Justin is fighting a brain tumor; my new BFF Holly Wirth, whose beautiful baby girl, Paige, was healed in Heaven from Glioblastoma Multiforme three years ago; and myself.

Holly, Anissa and I spent a hysterical morning at Goodwill looking for inspiration a few weeks ago. We laughed so hard we cried and went through many options including Brides, worst prom dresses ever. We were finally struck with just how many horrid Cheetah print dresses there were in the world, all for $5 or less too! :-) And so, The Cheetah Girls were born.

To merely call us tacky would be an understatement of epic proportions. We were HIDEOUS and we loved every minute of it. So, armed with our competitive spirit, a Trolley pass and a digital camera off we went. We had challenges like letting a dog sniff your butt and you got double points if you sniffed the dogs butt back. I did this one...the dog, well suffice it to say, he was not amused. :-) Anissa had to eat Wasabi and slam a beer. Holly had to dance on the bar at Coyote Ugly. Renee had to do a shot that had a hot pepper in it. It was a hoot! You had to get strangers to switch shirts with each other. You had to bedazzle a bald strangers head with yellow glittery flower stickers. You had to get a stranger to give you a piggy back ride...the list went on and on and on! All of this had to be documented on digital camera for the judges review at the finish line. I had a really emotional moment at the finish lie when they called all the parents on stage and the whole room gave us a standing ovation. Us? You gave US a standing ovation? You all are the ones raising all this money to help the Center, which is such a lifeline for all of us. I truly wanted to yell, 'Sit down! We should be giving you a standing ovation!!' It was truly very touching. Like I said, there are pictures to document the 4 hours of sheer stupidity! I can share the pictures if you like! :-) But be afraid, be very afraid!

I don't think I have laughed that hard in years and I certainly haven't laughed that hard in the last 3 months, since Mandy started treatment! My fellow Cheetah Girls were the best! Anissa, you rock, sweetie! Watch out for the trash guy dying to give you a piggy back ride!! Your friendship coming into my life was absolutely a God moment. Holly, I feel like I made an instant lifelong friend in you. You rocked that Coyote Ugly bar like you had been up there all your life! Renee, you were a ball and always willing to take one for the team, if it was slamming Dippin Dots Ice cream or nasty pepper juice drinks, you were a rock star! Sure hope your earring finds its way home to you! I certainly hate the method by which these amazing women all came into my life and I into theirs, but what a blessing to be able to call these wonderful women friends.

All of this fun and games was in the name of the Childrens Cancer Center. I don't know what we would do without this group of people. The love and the support and the understanding is never ending. I could go on for hours and never be able to say enough wonderful things about the director Mary Ann or her staff or the Center. Every city, everywhere needs a group like this for families. They set up funds,like Mandy's fund, for people to make tax deductible donations to help out families as we all struggle through the financial mess of treatment and loss of income and all the added expenses. They host a support group every other Thursday, feed us and our kids dinner and entertain the heck out of the kids while they let us parents talk and vent and cry and laugh together. They are always there for families whose children didn't win the fight here on earth, to help them through however they possibly can. They show up to visit families in the hospital, usually with real food from the outside world. They host summer day camps for the kids (not just the patient but their siblings, too). Truly, it is an amazing group. We are so lucky we have them here. And you know what, it is absolutely 110% worth smelling a dog's butt to have this group here!!

My fellow Cheetah Girls, we were truly Cheetah-licious! Same time, same place, more fun and more tacky outfits next year! The first three will be easy! That last one, we are going to have to work hard to top our tackiness level this year! Thanks, ladies! It was a blast!

Mandy is doing well. Two weeks with no chemo has been a really nice and much needed break for her. I think she may have actually put a little bit of weight back on, She starts back on chemo this week. She will be having MRI scan in just a few weeks to see if the chemo is making any progress yet. Please, send a lot of prayers her way for some good news, not just on the optic glioma but also on the brain stem and ventricle area lesions that are of such great concern.

We will be driving over to Orlando on Wednesday for a dear friends father's funeral. He lost a very long battle with prostate cancer. Heaven truly gained an angel in this man. He passed away Friday at 12:30 am. I can only imagine how beautiful the sunrise must have been that morning in heaven with him there. He was an incredibly spiritual man and had no doubt what was next for him. I am certain Jesus met him at the Gates and handed him the baby daughter he lost in a car accident so many years ago. Firios family, we love you to the ends of the earth and back. No one could have been more loving for Jerry than you all were. I know he reciprocated that love a thousand times over. We are all better people for having known him. As always, we wrap you in our prayers for peace and love and strength. We love you!

One other thing, Mandy and Zachary's school's PTA will be hosting a fund raising garage sale for Mandy on June 7, here in Brandon. More details to follow. But, if you have any garage sale stuff you would like to donate to the sale,please, let me know and we will let you know where you can drop it off or we can make arrangements to pick it up. We also need volunteers to work that day and help out. You can contact myself or Kristen Norse at if you would like to help in any way. The money raised will be placed into Mandy's fund through the Center and will be used for expenses associated with her care. It is so hard for Ronnie and I to be on the receiving end of something like this. It is an exercise in being humble and willing to accept help. Neither of those come easy for us. But, that being said, we are so blessed that they have asked to do this for us. It is things like this that shine a light in a dark journey and we are so grateful.

I think that is about it. Sorry for being so long winded! Thanks as always for checking on her! Love to all~

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