Monday, December 20, 2010

All I want for Christmas...

So for anyone who has known me a long time, let me start with an apology.  I am that person who always tortured people by not really telling them what I wanted whenever it was time for gift giving, like Christmas or my birthday.   I wanted them to figure it out.  Did they know me well enough to buy just the right gift?  Did they have the stamina to look in multiple stores to find something.  I always felt that if I pointed them to the exact gift- what fun was there in that?  OK- so for anyone who has just recently met me, I understand that you are thrilled that you were never a part of this crazy psycho mentality!  If you are feeling bad for my husband, you probably should- he took the brunt of the craziness.

So what I have realized is that I created a story in my head about people shopping for me.  I could have pointed them in the direction of the gift that I really wanted and been just as happy.  This year, I am a very contented, grateful, happy person.  I am thrilled with the direction that my life has taken and the path that was set out for me.  I am happy that people are willing to reach out and share their stories with me.  I am grateful to have such an awesome family.  I am lucky to get the chance to hug the people that I love this year at Christmas. 

The irony then is that there is not really anything tangible that I want this year.  The only things that I want are more time with the people that I love; more resources to do the work for Little Pink Houses of Hope; more opportunities to grow and learn.  I can't even imagine the idea of wanting an actual gift for myself this year.  So yes, the people with whom I have maliciously played this game are now wondering if I mean it or just playing a new game.  

Little Pink Houses of Hope has made my life so busy!  But every bit of it has enriched my life in ways that I never imagined.   I cherish the simple things in life now.   So in an attempt to turn over a new leaf for my dear husband, I have to reconcile my old ways with my new found non-gift giving outlook and at least come up with something.  So I think I have found the perfect gift as I watched a little girl color a picture for me this weekend (thanks Tatum) and was overcome with her joy.  The simple pleasurable task of coloring!  That is what I want this year- a coloring book!  How about that for easy- and don't worry- I have already told Terry!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Honor of the FIGHT!

The day after I found out I had cancer and the same day that I dreamed the idea of Little Pink Houses of Hope I had to tell my son I had cancer.  But what very few people have heard is the story of Jake's response.  The majority of his response will remain private as a memory that only our family ever needs to remember and hold onto as we continue this journey.  But there is a touching story that I was unfortunately reminded of today with the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. 

When we told Jake that I had cancer, the one thing that we decided was that we were going to go through this battle together as a family- a team- we would all need each other to get through it.  And of course, we were going to fight (a word used then, that I no longer like to use).  During the course of the week I had all of the fears that you can imagine- the most important and scary was that I would die before I would ever have a chance to see my beautiful son grow up. 

 Throughout the week, I took time to read Elizabeth Edwards' book Resilience that described her own journey through cancer and what her family went through.  Her words struck a cord in my heart and the more that I read, the more strength, determination, and focus I got that I could survive- because surviving was about living.  After many tears and wonderful insights, I got to the final page.  When I turned the last page in huge red letters, Jake had written the word FIGHT - I love you MOM in big letters.  This simple 5 letter message from my dear son, who was probably just as scared of losing me as I was of losing him, is the word that carried me through some dark times when chemotherapy seemed too hard. 

And so today, my heart goes out to the family of Elizabeth Edwards- to her children who watched their mom FIGHT and win.  She won because she lived!  There are so many people who have lost people that they love to the terrible disease of breast cancer as well as many other types of cancer.  It is not the number of years that you have but how you spend each day.  Live each day to the fullest and celebrate the life that you are living!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Triple D's

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to travel to Austin, TX to attend the Living Beyond Cancer Retreat.  Besides meeting amazing people, I was struck by one of the speakers, Dr. Samuelson.  He gave a great talk about being a man with breast cancer, living with a balance of hope and acceptance, but the most important thing he said has resonated with me all week.

"Pack your bags and move out of the Village of Someday"

Read it again- the message is clear.  And what I realized is that I am so far out of the Village of Someday!  I realized how hard it was for me to accept that I needed to move forward and just make Little Pink Houses of Hope happen.  I had a million excuses to keep me from diving into the unknown and not accepting the direction laid out for me.  Forget the fact that I did not have a business background, or that I knew nothing about property donation, IRS non-profit filings, accounting, marketing, etc.  What I had was HOPE that I would be given everything that I needed to make it happen.  The right people, the right knowledge, and the right direction.  I remember living a life in the Village of Someday.  My life is so much more amazing than I ever imagined now that I have left the village. 

But it is not easy to leave.  Rest assured, I know the comfort and convenience of the village.  And then at church today (we are members at St. Mark's in Mebane), the preacher had a similar message that hit home and one of the reasons that I started Little Pink Houses of Hope.

"Direction Determines Destination"

And it hit me again- that is what I have tried to do- point my God given talents and energies into a direction that is about helping breast cancer survivors and families.  The destination seems like Little Pink Houses of Hope, but really it is about the one on one connections that will happen as a result of LPHOH.  The destination for me is about creating a positive journey for others.   Bob then asked three important questions to ponder when dealing with the decisions in your life and the direction where you want to go?
1.  What is the WISE thing to do?
2.  Why are you thinking about doing it?
3.  If a loved one asked you for advice for the same decision, what advice would you give?

So I guess the big question today is- Where are you?  Have you thought about how your direction will determine your destination?  If you are in the Village of Someday, maybe it is time to pack your bags!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From the heart.

If you only knew how exciting it is for me to pick up the phone and have the person on the other end share their story of what has motivated them to help Little Pink Houses of Hope.  I am always humbled and touched by the Little Pink supporters. 
This week, I recieved a call from a friend that I had not heard from in years.  She is a 2nd grade teacher who had mentioned the focus and mission of Little Pink Houses of Hope to  her students.  Like most teachers she went on with her day, hoping that maybe the lesson about helping others got through to her students.  Time went by and to her suprise, she was contacted by the student council faculty rep to inform her that Little Pink Houses would be the new charity beneficiary for all of the spirit days that the school conducts.  But how did it happen?  Enter the heroine of the story.  A young 7 year old student who was moved by our mission went to the student council and presented her idea to change the charity to support LPHOH.  Can you imagine this little 7 year old walking in with her plan?  Amazing.  My heart is touched by a young girl who decided that all she had to do was act to start making a difference in the world.  A big heartfelt thank you to the newest group of supporters from Claxton Elementary in Greensboro, NC! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Momma always said....

If you have ever had the chance to meet my mom, you know that she was dropped into a family of very competitive athletic kids who loved to win.  She could have cared less about whether we won or not.  She was the person routing on the sidelines who never really understood the rules, yelled "good goal" when it was really a basket, and ALWAYS told us that it was how we played the game that was more important than winning.  She would usually pirouette out of the kitchen after such a statement.  She is a joyful woman indeed!

Well, the PEPSI refresh project is over and I am so happy with HOW we played the game.  I am able to track various aspects of the contest and we have had people from all over the country and the world voting for us.  We have had thousands of people on any given day casting a vote of support for the dream of Little Pink Houses of Hope!  People telling their friends and complete strangers getting involved in the organization.  Although we did not finish in the top 10, we came very close on numerous occassions (as high as 17th one day).  We have had donations coming in from places as far away as Texas! (Thanks to the great group of Bunco ladies for donating their card proceeds).  We have had beach houses donated, fundraisers locally, and most importantly, we have made my mom proud.  Because in the end, the PEPSI project was not about the $50,000 prize, it was about creating a culture where everyone can be a part of something.  It was about spreading the word about the mission and values of LPHOH.  It was about getting to know each other.  It was about starting the foundation for an amazing organization that has grown by leaps and bounds.  It is about celebrating life!  And it was about a lot of voting.  Thanks to everyone who voted religiously over the course of the past 8 weeks.  Your dedication to the cause will never be forgotten.   When you see me, know that I will buy you a PEPSI (or a Coke for the matter). 

And with that, I am going to pirouette out of the kitchen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Helping Hand

The Beatles said it best, "You get by with a little help from your friends".  (If you are too young to know who the Beatles are, I forgive you- just make sure that you visit me in the nursing home one day).  Not only have my friends been amazing through my cancer journey, but friends- new and old, are making every day working on Little Pink Houses of Hope more enjoyable.

I want to highlight two people in this blog-not because they are the only two, and not because of what they are doing, but because they represent the journey of Little Pink Houses of Hope.

I have a beautiful, talented, compassionate, and dear friend, Melissa who from the very beginning has been by my side with Little Pink Houses of Hope.  She has taken on amazing responsibilities as my partner, board member, and go-to girl.  Why highlight her?  (besides any brownie points that I may score)...Well, she is a great example of how the spirit, mission, and values of my dream of Little Pink Houses of Hope can move people to action and commitment.  Over the next few months, Little Pink Houses will need more people to heed that call and take action.    Little Pink Houses is lucky to have her as an integral person who is helping to make my dream a reality. 

So, as you know, LPHOH started as an idea and a facebook group.  We have grown exponentially and have followers as far away as Australia, India, and Nigeria!  We have recently realized the need to fully utilize the social media marketing platforms that are out there.  I put together a description for a volunteer and sent it to the Elon Service Center.  And voila!  Liz!  A young, energetic 19 year old who is studying digital media and has a wealth of information that she is willing to share as a volunteer.  Why highlight her?  She is a great example of a person who realized her niche- her passion for online marketing and communication and reached out to help complete strangers.  I am truly enjoying getting to know her and am positive that she will be a wonderful assett to our team.  But the important thing is- she was a stranger a couple of weeks ago and now she is part of the LPHOH team- all because she was in tune with her gifts. 

As always, we need your help.  We are currently looking for people who are interested in volunteering and becoming part of our team.  Here are just a few examples of skills and people that we are looking for:
  1. Assistant Volunteer Coordinator- we need someone to help us take the goodness of the people that want to volunteer and channel that energy into specific tasks.  If you are organized and like meeting and talking to new people- this is right up your alley.
  2. Pink Games Organizer- we need people who like organizing events, sports, and helping to create a buzz!  This person would be responsible for helping to design and implement Pink Game fundraisers for college and high school sports (basketball for the winter season).  If you are a go-getter that wants to help bring our cause to organized school groups, I have a Pink t-shirt with your name on it!
  3. Development- we are looking for a few people to take on creating some imaginative fundraising ideas.  All different types of skills are needed for this task- so there is a place for lots of different personalities. If you can dream big, come on!
  4. Application Administrator- we are getting ready in December to start taking applications for retreat attendees and then soon after, volunteers.  If you are a person who understands the administrative side of a big project like this, you are just who we are looking for!
  5. Retreat Week Assistant- for every week that we conduct a retreat, there are 8 houses, 10 volunteers, 21 meals, rentals that need to be made, property securing that has to happen- you name it and we have to do it.  If you are interested in being the point person for one of the 7 weeks, we would love to talk to you!  Be a part of the planning!
And then of course, 25 other things as well.  The bottom line is this- if you have a desire to help, I am asking for your help and can use your talents!  Don't delay, lend a helping had today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

An AMAZING month!

Have you ever seen the movie "The Fast and the Furious"?  Laced with action, speed, drama, intrigue, and something new around every corner, the title of that movie sums up the month of September for Little Pink Houses of Hope.  Are you ready?  Take a deep breath and get ready for a thrill ride of action and drama over the past thirty days:

  •  Voting began on September 1st!  If you voted, you know how exciting it was everyday to see how we were doing in the standings and to see us do so well during our first month.  We were like David fighting the Goliath projects who have been doing this for months.
  • Our facebook group grew from 348 people on September 1 to 728 people on September 30th! 
  • We found ourselves on the big screen at St. Mark's, WFMY News 2, ABC 11, and Fox8!
  • We had great opportunities for people to read about LPHOH in The Coastal Journal, and be heard on the radio on G105!
  • These media segments allowed for the message, mission, and service of Little Pink Houses of Hope to reach thousands of people.
  • We have had 4 individuals interested in donating their beach houses after seeing the interview segments!
  • I had a teacher who won a Educator of the Year award donate his check to Little Pink Houses, showing the joy of Paying It Forward.
  • My alma mater, Saint Louis University, heard about LPHOH and is doing a Pink Field Hockey game on Oct 15th versus the Richmond Spiders.  They are donating their proceeds to LPHOH.  Go Billikens!!!
  • In finding businesses to help advertise for the Pepsi Project, we have created wonderful connections that will last a long time. 
  • We were honored to receive memorium donations on behalf of two special individuals who passed away.
  • We were contacted by numerous survivors about attending a retreat or to share their story.  The stories and hope keep me more focused than ever on LPHOH.
  • We are working with Elon and NCstate volunteers
  • The president of  a fabric company offered to donate the fabric when we secure permanent housing one day.
  • Many high school and middle school students are participating to actively change the world
  • We have Paypal available on the website now to take online donation
  • Finishing 58th qualifies us to roll over for voting for next month.  Keep up the voting and spread the word.
  • I have had a chance to meet wonderful people at survivor meetings
  • Certain local businesses have decided to do fundraising events during October to help raise funds for LPHOH.  The first one will be held on Saturday, October 9th at West End Studio in Burlington 7-9 pm!

Whew!  I warned you to take a deep breath.  The Pepsi Project has given us the opportunity to continue to create a culture where people can actively participant to help make a difference.  It has been easy to ask people for something simple, like their vote, and look at all of the amazing things that have happened.  I feel so lucky to have the support of our group and to know that you are each working on behalf of LPHOH.  I can only imagine what October will bring.

PS.  Did I mention that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month?  Make sure to do a self breast exam!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who would have thought....

Who would have thought that I would end up in this place?  Not me.  I was hit today by thoughts of my birthday party one year ago this weekend.  I was so happy to be turning 40- and I really do mean that.  Happy that I had made it.   And now I look back and reflect on everything that has transpired over the past year and how is it that I have done more during this past year with cancer than I did in any of my other years?  Or is it just that I am doing my life a different way- with purpose and treasuring all of the steps along the way...

The celebration of my birthday this year was a strange day.  I learned at 6:30 AM that they were testing my father in Florida for kidney cancer.    Luckily, by the end of the day we found out that he did not have cancer.  I had a really difficult time processing this information. It wasn't that I was worried about his mortality, but that he had to deal with those internal moments of not knowing and letting your mind wander to some crazy places.  It wasn't that I did not understand how to navigate the cancer universe to get the best care, rather that it would be out of my control.  It became crystal clear to me that it cannot be easy being on the other side of the coin when you deal with a loved one with cancer.  I literally said aloud to my husband, Terry, "How do people get through loving someone with cancer?"  Anyone who knows Terry can probably imagine the look on his face that screamed "duh!?!"  Of course he knows- that has been his life and the life of many people in my life over the past year.  Wow!  I realized this week what it must be like and how much I appreciate all of you that have stayed in my life during such a hard time. Let me just try to express my thanks to each of you through a poem I wrote. 

I never knew
How hard it was when you were blue
I never guessed
that you were trying your best
not to let the hurt show
as you watched during the high and the low

I never saw
your quiet moments of anguish and awe
I didn't feel
the worry with which you had to deal.
you cared for me
and knew when to let me be

I will always try
to cherish you for the days that went by
I will love you more
because you touched me at the core
by your caring ways
during my darkest days

I will be there for you
For all of your days you wander through
I will try to feel your pain
to ease the burden of the rain
for in my heart I know that your heart is always near
because you have been a friend to me- that is clear

It became abundantly clear how important the work of Little Pink Houses of Hope is because we will be addressing what the whole family is going through.  We will be helping each person who struggles with dealing with this on a daily basis by reconnecting families and trying to remove some of the daily burdens, financial struggles, and create an environment where they can celebrate being together.  Thank you for your support of Little Pink and of me.  Love ya!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Little Pink Fever!

So if you do not already have it, Little Pink Fever is running rampant!  Check out how people are spreading the excitement about Little Pink Houses:

Eastern Eagles defeated Cummings and both groups of supporters helped in the "Show Me Your Text" campaign at the stadium.  I was totally inspired by all of the high school students that were texting.  When they were approached, it amazed me how quickly almost all of them connected by saying something about a family member who had cancer.  Our youth is growing up in a world where cancer is turning into their normal.  There is a sadness in that statement, but a hope in the way in which they rally behind wanting to do good in the world.  We had over 350 text votes in a matter of an hour and a half!  Great job fans!  If you are interested in hosting a "Show Me Your Text" campaign at your school football game or event, it is easy.  All we needed was a sign with the text code, a roll of raffle tickets, and a fishbowl.  Someone had donated a Wal-Mart gift card for the raffle.  Free text, free ticket, and a chance to win something.  Who would say no to that?  Give it a try!

The Brown family went to the beach and took Little Pink Houses on the road with a Free Pink Lemonade stand to try to get votes! 

I probably do not even need to write anything else...just look at these wonderful ambassadors for LPHOH.  I know that I would not have been able to say No to either one of those adorable faces. I would imagine a lot of votes came from Garden City, South Carolina. Thanks to the Browns!

The Hurst family decided to use the two most adorable kids to help promote LPHOH.  I have long called my friend Melissa one of the best wordsmiths that I know.  She chooses her words carefully and writes a fabulous blog about being a new mom that is worth checking out and following:  Her kind words about my journey over the past year were very touching.  Again, how could anyone say no tho these adorable faces!  More adorable LPHOH pictures of these two are on her blog.   Check it out!

And Live, from New York, it's Josh Patten!  My youngest brother declared this month "National Write about Your Sister Month".  If you have never met Josh, he is an improv performer and coach in New York City and is incredibly funny and talented.  He took his talent with the pen to lend his support for Little Pink Houses of Hope this month. He is posting his writings on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr for all of his adoring fans.  Get ready to laugh when you read his writings at our family's expense! You can find his daily writings at  Great job Josh!

To everyone who is being creative with getting the vote or doing it the old-fashioned way- THANK YOU!  Send me an email of what you are doing- I would love to feature it on our blog or site. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The many blessings...

Voting started yesterday and what a crazy, fun, exhausting week!  There are so many people who have decided to be a part of Little Pink Houses of Hope and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed.  I have been touched this week by the many people that I do not know who have written to me about their experiences, struggles with cancer, and creative energy.  So many people have told me that they are proud of me or inspired by what we are doing.  But really, it is not just me.  It is all of us.  If you read the email from the woman who is dealing with her 4th recurrence of breast cancer, you would be inspired by her courage.  If you heard of the 10 year old boy who is conducting a meeting with his Boy Scout troop to promote LPHOH you would see what the heart of activism looks like.  If you had heard the news anchor talking to me about the other people that they interviewed you would realize the enormity of cancer on the lives of so many people.  If you had read all of the facebook posts from people who have never really been involved in something before, but are finding a voice in their community to help through LPHOH, you would know that good exists in the world.  If you had opened up the email from my brother, who has decided to make it "National Write about your Sister" month, you would understand how easy the past year has been for me because I have been given a family that has rallied behind me.  If you heard the conversation with my preacher about the God that is working vigorously through LPHOH, you would be hard pressed not to have hope.  The truth is, I have been blessed and inspired by all of you. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Little Pink Houses on TV!

It  is exciting to think about all of the people who are graciously reaching out and embracing the Little Pink Houses of Hope vision through their support of the Pepsi voting campaign.  I received an invitation today to tape a segment for the WFMY News 2 Good Morning Show to discuss the organization and the voting campaign.  The segment will air the week of Sept. 6th!  What a great way to reach a larger audience to help us in our bid for $50K and to garner support for the organization!

The business voting cards also came in and they look great!  Please let me know if you need some as you promote Little Pink Houses of Hope

This week has been vital to getting out the word regarding the Pepsi Project voting campaign.  A quick reminder:
  • Send out any information to local print, radio, and media.  These outlets usually take a little time to respond.
  • If you plan on putting information in your church bulletin, remember that you usually have to submit this ahead of time.  Check with your church office.
  • Any school contacts should be made to give them time to get students to help organize.  A student run campaign will have a better chance of being successful than a top down campaign.
I am thrilled to have so many people on this journey together.  I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people!  Thanks for all of your hard work in getting the word out!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Ready!  It is time to really get started with promotion for Little Pink Houses and the Pepsi Project!  A group of volunteers has created TONS of materials for you to use to get the word out about the Pepsi Project.  There are flyers, radio spots, press releases, school announcements, church bulletin announcements, FB posts, name it and it has been created!  A special thanks to all of the people who used their creative gifts to make all of the materials.

Set!   Look through the online materials link at Think about how you can use the materials and people that you know who might be interested in helping to promote it.  Through our meetings, we have came up with some wonderful ideas:
  • targeting college students through their organizations
  • using key personnel in school districts/ schools to promote on a daily basis
  • creating a pyramid of people who will help through organizations like Avon
  • targeting medical center waiting and treatment rooms
  • talking with ladies groups/ organizations
  • using PTO groups
  • getting information on listservs and email groups
  • using Facebook and social networking sites
  • putting in church bulleting or handing out church flyers
  • capitalizing on large groups of people (football stadiums, etc)
  • creating a way for students to earn community service hours
  • talking to everyone that you can think of!
And of course, many more.  You will undoubtedly think of things that work for you and your community.  Print off whatever tools you need to help make it happen and you are set.  A few words of caution:
Remember that some of the letters/docs need to be adjusted with either a connection or place (specifically the letters).  We will get the texting code on Sept 1st and it will be put in the HS flyer at that time.I have ordered tons of the voting business cards, so please let me know if you need any of them. 

GO!  Voting starts September 1st, so it is important to capitalize on timing.  For example, go ahead and start sending out something to a radio station now, but you will want to wait til Aug 31 to post anything on Facebook.  Or, go ahead and contact schools now to discuss how you can promote it with students and parents, so that you are able to be in full swing on Sept. 1.   But remember, September 1st is right around the corner.

As I have been preparing, I have had unbelievable support from anyone that I speak to in the community.  People are happy to help- especially since it is a vote, rather than someone asking for money.  They want to help but often times they do not know how to help- they just need to be asked.  Take a look at the document "How Can I Help" so that if anyone asks you what else they can do besides voting you will be prepared to answer.

Thank you for all of your love, support, and willingness to jump in and help.  With that said- there are 11 days til voting begins!  Let's get out there and show the world what Little Pink Houses of Hope is made of!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Little Pink Fever

Little Pink Fever hit Mebane on Monday night!  A group of wonderful, caring people got together to brainstorm how to get the word out for the Pepsi Project.  With the great ideas that came about, we are bound to win!  One of the most beautiful parts of the night was the unbridled enthusiasm of the middle school students that attended.  They always have a way of reminding the adults that there are no boundaries.  We are creating press releases, flyers, voting business cards, Facebook announcements, school announcements, etc.  There will be so many avenues by which you will be able to get the word out, no matter where you live.  We are meeting again next week on August 19th to go over the finished materials and to start the process of disseminating it. The meeting will be held virtually, so please let me know if you are interested in attending.

On a separate note, I am writing this from the chemo waiting room.  When I finish my treatment today, I will have 2 treatments left!   Little Pink Houses of Hope is such a huge part of my life now, but this morning I am reflecting on all of the people sitting in the waiting room who are only at the beginning of their journey.   It is a scary place to be and one that makes you a member of a club in which you never asked for an invitation. The past year and 3 months has included an unbelievable range of emotions.  I am thankful to have had so many wonderful people supporting me and helping me maintain a positive outlook.  The world of cancer can be a very depressing place- which only makes me more motivated to bring Little Pink Houses to Life.  A surgeon friend told me right after the diagosis that the hard part is not dying from cancer, but finding a way to live with it.  That is my goal- to help make a difference in the way people view how they can live with cancer.  That is where my motto for Little Pink Houses comes from..."helping families live stronger, laugh harder, and love deeper". 

This was written on Friday, Aug 13th and posted on Sun, Aug 15th.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tired and happy!

What an exhausting two days!  But it was all worth it tonight when I hit submit for the Pepsi Refresh Project.  I had worked tirelessly on the application, the video, and putting the website together and was thrilled when I saw the screen that said Hooray!
Our application was accepted and official voting starts on September 1st.  Keep your fingers crossed that we get through the review process- just a formality.  We will know by the middle of the month.  For tonight, I just want to revel in HOORAY!  And a special thanks to Jake who dealt with his neurotic mother during the 3 minute submission process!

You can check out the new Little Pink Houses of Hope website at  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A hoop and a cause

I have been completely in awe this week by the people who have came into my life. Some people think it is God's hand at work; some think that it is the cosmic energy of the universe; some feel that when this happens it is kharma. Whatever you believe, it is happening in my life and it is so crystal clear that I am being surrounded by people to help me make the Little Pink Houses of Hope dream come to life. You anticipate that your family and friends will support you, but it is when complete strangers jump in full force that you feel the true power at work.

My son has been at the Chris Duhon basketball camp this week and CJ, the director, and I have connected each day. He tells the story of how he met the NBA player Chris Duhon. He was working as a skycap at the airport when Chris was late for a flight in college. He asked for his help to make his flight and CJ ran him through security in a wheelchair to make his flight. At the time, he did not know who he was, just that he needed help. Long story short, Chris came back the next week with tickets for CJ to the Duke-Carolina game and a friendship for life was born. CJ now trains Chris and runs an entire set of basketball camps around the country.

CJ has been amazing all week working with Jake and bringing our family into his life.   What a gift that is because his heart is huge and his personality is infectious.  His wife is a cancer survivor and he has offered to conduct a fundraising benefit for Little Pink Houses of Hope this year that will include some of the Globetrotters (some of which are counselors at Jake's camp) and other basketball players. He said it best, "People come into our lives to help in the critical moments that matter". I believe this to be very true!

This is just the most current example. I have had so many people that I have had the priveledge to meet or get to know better because of this journey. I am so lucky to be going down this path each day. And I am so happy that you are a part of the journey.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What are your gifts?

I have always been inspired and perplexed by asking the question to myself and to others- "what are your gifts?" and "are you using them?" 

I have been knee deep in planning for Little Pink Houses of Hope and my level of excitement increases everyday just thinking about this thought coming to real life and impacting the lives of others. Various people have said to me, just tell me what I can do to help with Little Pink Houses of Hope.  Of course, the logical things come to mind- we need houses donated, we need meals donated, we will need volunteers, we need money.  But the bigger question for me whenever I have that conversation is "what is your gift?" and "how can you use it to help Little Pink Houses?"  One of the things that I am very passionate about is creating a culture of giving for Little Pink Houses of Hope that is inclusive and driven by the good that we all want to see happen with this project.  Two events this past week made it clear to me that this culture is possible if we all are able to tap into our gifts. 

The first event started with a pedicure (a little treat for myself!).  After talking to my nail technician about Little Pink Houses, she made the statement..." if there is anything that I can ever do, just let me know".  My response was- "What gifts do you have and how do you think you could use them for Little Pink Houses"?  She immediately came up with ideas of how she could help.  How she could provide services, how she could fundraise, and how she could use her gifts.  She now owns these ideas, she will be driven to do something, and she will know that she is using her gifts to make a difference.  Isn't that what we all want- to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; to leave our mark?  That is the type of culture of giving that I want to create. 

The second event started as a facebook post by a friend who was hot in a barber chair.  What started out as typical banter about getting a haircut turned into an idea about using his connections (that is right, I am calling you out Todd!) to raise funds for Little Pink Houses with an extreme haircut fundraiser.   This would never have been the first thing that came to my mind to answer the question, "how can I help?"  and in his case, he never actually asked; the idea grew organically through the joys of social networking pressure:)

Imagine if everyone in our group was able to hone in and create a tangible way to help just by using their gifts.  For example, I know that each person in our group might not have $100, but may be able to use their gifts to raise $100.  As of today, we have 265 members.  That would be a total of $26,500 just for answering the question "what are my gifts?"!   Or it might be that your gifts are not in the fundraising realm, but maybe you are a part of a civic organization that does volunteer work.  Imagine if everyone of us find a way to get 10 service hours from others- that would be a total of 2650 volunteering hours!!!  Everyone's gifts are different, but what is important is not to sit on the sidelines.  Jump in and use your gifts!

Do you see where I am going? The question that I want to pose to you is simple- "What are your gifts?" and "How can you use them to help Little Pink Houses of Hope?"  Sometimes asking others this question about yourself is a great way to get in touch with your gifts.  Don't put it off- get started today.  Use your gifts!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The reality show has developed the ultimate slogan from which we can all learn a lesson, including Little Pink Houses of Hope.    First, OUTWIT.  The retreat week will be designed to help create an environment that outsmarts all the typical traps of family living.  Take away the chores, the cooking, the cleaning, the doctors, the treatments, and the daily routine and what do you get?  A week filled with a chance to create lasting memories focused on thriving, not just surviving.  Secondly, OUTPLAY.  Little Pink Houses of Hope is excited to think about all of the fun aspects of the week.  A friend of mine recently pointed out how easily laughter is to create and how lovingly it can release stress.  In her case, all it took was a good shaving cream fight!  A reminder that Little Pink Houses does not need to have tons of programs; rather that it just needs to create an environment where families can PLAYOUT.  And finally, OUTLAST.  Now this is the key to winning the reality game survivor and is the key to living as a survivor.  Outlasting is about finding ways to create strategies and structures for coping.  Little Pink Houses will meet all patients where they are in their journey and help support them as they learn how to celebrate life as a family. 

There are no winners or losers in the journey of cancer.  We are all in this together and Little Pink Houses of Hope is excited that we will be there supporting survivors in their journey. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Don't Stop Believin' may have been one of Journey's most famous songs and Gleeks all across the country now are aware of that, but it has also been the motto for the week.  It has been an amazing week of feeling like Little Pink Houses of Hope has the momentum rolling!   It started on Monday when I met with a fellow survivor who helped me create more of a strategic plan for LPHOH.  Check!  The week got better when I learned that my mammogram results showed "no evidence of cancer".  Check!  Then I met with my surgeon, who is an amazing woman who said that I was doing great physically and wanted to be a part of Little Pink Houses of Hope.  Check!  Confirmed my first member of my Board of Directors.  Check!  Doors to donors started opening up.  Check!  Had a riveting conversation about fundraising and financial structures with my LPHOH mentor from Lighthouse Family Retreat who always makes me feel like I can do anything.  Check!  Put together important LPHOH documents.  Check! 

You will notice that it has been quite a week.  I fully believe that by putting my intention out into this world that wonderful things will happen and this past week has been proof of that.  And I have lots of people wondering how you can help.  So this week, my post is about putting together a checklist to help you better understand the mission of LPHOH:
  • Read the Little Pink Houses of Hope information sheet.  Ask questions if you have any- I am happy to talk about the big vision and the mission.   But I also know that this group is capable of amazing things because of our common belief in wanting to help others, and I need your help.  The best PR will be from the people who understand the mission of LPHOH and can discuss it with others. 
Click on the Image to Enlarge it
  • Identify a part of the mission, structure, and/or need that you can personally relate to and can use in conversations with others.
  • Think about people that you can forward the information sheet to, like friends and family.  Spread the word!
Imagine if each person in our group plays an active role in LPHOH- Amazing!  What role do you want to play?  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Little Pink Houses Beach Trip

Follow the link to see my video!!!
Video footage from Buxton, NC
This week has had its ups and downs.  First- the US Coast Guard contacted us late on Thursday to let us know that the compound in Buxton that started it all was going to be put back into Congressional subcommittee which made it illegal for anyone to view the property on an official tour.  So our June 15th date was cancelled.  But coming back to Buxton this week with my family only got me more excited about all of the possibilities.  Whether it is this area or some other area, I know that amazing things will be happening with Little Pink Houses of Hope.  To have more insight into the properties, I used my Flip video camera to shoot some video of the complex in Buxton.  It was even more amazing than I remembered!  A few details: 
  • the complex contains 23 different houses
  • it includes a playground and a community center
  • it is located directly across from the beach
  • it needs to be painted shades of pink!!!
I still think that this is one of the most restorative places in the world. 

Follow the link to see my video!!!
Video of Little Pink Houses Buxton Trip 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

All business this week...

I have always been a dreamer and when I dream, I usually dream pretty big.  Little Pink Houses is a great example of that! 

Knowing that I want to provide week long beach retreats for breast cancer families has been the easy part.  This week, I have started to really focus on the business side of what I need to do to make my dream a reality.   Two things were of primary importance to me this week  1) find an organization that was doing something similar and set up that connection, and 2) discuss the financial aspects of the project with someone who lives and breathes finances for their business.  I managed to do both and had a wonderful week!

First, I connected with the Lighthouse Family Retreat Center .  What a wonderful organization!  They provide weekly beach retreats for children who have cancer and their families.  I was highly impressed not only with their organization and mission, but also with their model.  This prompted me to contact their President, who graciously agreed to talk to me and offer some very practical advice.  Since this whole project is rooted in giving to others, I felt very lucky to be led to a person who was truly interested in giving of himself as we spoke.  Too much to cover with the actual conversation, but the big three things that I need to make sure that I keep in mind:
1)  When focusing on the family, do not overprogram their time so that they are capable of reconnecting.
2)  Get the right peple to help me make my passion come to life.
3)  Fun is the answer!
If you know of someone who has a child with cancer, take a look at their website and pass it on to the family!

I then met with one of the smartest men that I know- my dad.  My dad has a history of running the major operations of a Fortune 500 company both here and abroad.  I took him out to dinner to pick his brain on the financial side of this venture.  I have to admit that this is an area where I am the least comfortable.  It is amazing how clearly he can see through the passion and the ideas and get right to the core of what needs to be done in terms of financial planning.  Again, too much to cover, but here are the big three things that I walked away with from our talk:
1)  Create a financial model based on the total outlay for the cost expenditures for a week for a typical family at the retreat.
2)  Create a network of people for my board that have specific areas of expertise.
3)  Prioritize what needs to be done first.
And of course, finally, he loves me!

I know that I have a long way to go before the first family arrives at Little Pink Houses of Hope, but this week has made me more determined than ever of the reality to help make a difference in the lives of others. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pepsi Power!

The Pepsi Refresh Project is such a cool idea!  You might have seen the SuperBowl commercials that promoted the idea that rather than spending ad spot money, they were going to give away money each month instead.  The give away a whopping 1.3 million a month!!!!  And yes, I plan on strategically getting Little Pink Houses of Hope ready for our chance to receive funding.  I have already started the application for the Pepsi Refresh Project, but will not be able to be part of the voting until all of the legal docs for Little Pink Houses of Hope are completed.  I plan on being able to submit all docs by the beginning of August and being a part of the voting in September for a 250K project.

Think of this project like the American Idol of Funding.  The project with the most votes wins-period.
So here is how I need your help:
  1. Log onto the Pepsi site so that you are familiar with how things work:
  2. Get your username and login and start voting for various projects that interest you.  This will give you a good feel for how voters communicate with each other before our voting window ever opens. (Look for the Welcome/ Sign in link in the bottom left corner)
  3. You get 10 votes per day, but only one can be used for each project.  So when our time comes, it will be important to have lots of people already engaged in the process. 
  4. Spread the word about the website to your friends.
  5. Start thinking about how else you can spread the word about Little Pink Houses of Hope to increase the number of people who will be voting for us.  Examples that people have already shared:
    • I have a principal who is planning on including a curriculum unit on philanthropy and using the site as an example for the students
    •  my brother is working on a video to post to youtube
    •  my son plans on asking his teacher to post to her class website
    •  my mom talked about posting something in her bulletin in church
    • a friend plans on adding it to the signature of her email
  6. Post your idea of how you can share in the comments section of either the blog or the facebook page- your idea might be just the idea that someone else is looking for and capable of doing. 
Great job getting the word out!   We doubled in size from this time last week.  If you have not already shared our mission with your friends, now is the time!

The official Little Pink Houses of Hope website will be up and running soon- stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My science lesson for the day

I watched this video today regarding the scientific process of angiogenisis- don't stop reading just because it is a big word:) This guy does a great job really explaining how we feed cancers by what we eat and how to starve them by eating differently.

One of the areas of healing that I want to model at Little Pink Houses of Hope is healthy living and nutritional balance. I have learned a great deal about nutrition during the last year and have started switching to a more organic lifestyle and increasing the number of plant based foods in my everyday eating. But it is not easy- I am still a sucker for a good bag of M&Ms.

Check out the video! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Put on my shoes and run towards my dream...

On June 15th, 2009 I was officially diagnosed with cancer. We were supposed to be leaving the next day for a family vacation to the beach and I asked my doctor, "can I still go?". He answered with an emphatic YES! Then proceeded with the killer caveat- "you better go and enjoy yourself because when you get back you are ours for the the next year."

With that statement, I packed my bags and headed to the beach with my husband and son. We have been vacationing in Buxton, North Carolina for the past 15 years, but this trip was going to take on new meaning for our family in more ways than we could ever imagine.

We arrived at the house and I put on my running shoes to try to clear my head. That night, we were going to tell my son I had cancer and I was dreading even thinking about the experience. So what better way to handle it than to put on my shoes and run away. Little did I know that I was running towards something.

I ran down the Old Lighthouse Road and when I got to the end of it I was incredibly perplexed. Here was a big compound of houses with a chain link fence around it and no one in sight. I ran around the fence trying to find some marking to help me better understand what it was. I finally came across a sign that indicated that it was owned by the US Coast Guard. It looked like a ghost town. Completely abandoned with no one in sight. Tons of houses, a playground in the middle- it looked so lonely. And keep in mind this is all oceanfront property access.

I turned around and started my run back to our beach house. The thought that these houses were supposed to be mine kept running through my head.... I could paint them pink...Little Pink Houses...I could create a cancer retreat center... families could come to get away from the daily life of cancer...I am supposed to do something amazing with just found out you have cancer...what are you thinking?

As I ran back, I stopped at the realtor office to get the 411 on the property. The properties were owned by the Coast Guard, but they had abandoned them 5 years earlier. Dare County was trying to get the properties to use for affordable housing for firemen, teachers, etc. There are 23 houses in the compound that are in pretty decent shape.

What a great distraction for me. Here I am staring down the barrel of telling my 12 year old I have cancer a mere 24 hours after I have found out, and I have already starting making plans to change the world with this compound of houses. I laughed at myself (repeatedly). Talk about getting cancer and thinking that you are going to change things right from the very beginning. I was laughing even thinking about it and realized I better focus the rest of my run on how to tell my son that our world is about to change.

All week long, these houses kept calling to me, in a way that I cannot explain. Sometimes you do not know what you are supposed to do until you trip across your destiny. In my case, I feel like I ran right into it on a warm summer day in my running shoes.

For the past year, Dare County has been in negotiations with the government for the properties. As of 2 months ago, they officially dropped out, leaving the properties in limbo again. I have contacted the Coast Guard and they have scheduled a tour for us of the properties on June 15th of this year- exactly one year from the date of my diagnosis. I have been dreaming about this compound for the past year- thinking about the difference that it could make for breast cancer families.

Whether it is the purchase of this compound or some other property, I am certain that Little Pink Houses of Hope will become a reality.

Please feel free to follow this blog and join our facebook group for Little Pink Houses!/group.php?gid=127453510602795 .  You can also find me on twitter @jpclilpinky