Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Today was the day. Erin woke up with a strong head and complete determination to get this surgery over and done with. Honestly, I'm super impressed at how little she seemed to worry. My mom and Dan came with her this morning, and my dad, myself and Erin's mother-in-law joined in on the waiting room fun.  It took about 5.5 hours, but the surgeons assured us that everything went great. Erin is currently settled into her room and seems to be managing the pain pretty well- with a quick trigger finger to the morphine, of course! We are all incredibly proud of the decision she's made. Being that I have not made the decision to get tested yet myself, seeing my big sister face this head on has been a huge inspiration. Here's to a speedy recovery for the most awesome previvor I know!

-Jenn (Erin's little sis)

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Last Hurrah was a success!

Love my hubbie! He grew a mustache for "Movember" for prostate cancer awareness!

Well, if the awesome-ness of the night was categorized by how bad I felt the next was a huge success! We were all moving a little slow the next day but it was totally worth it!

Let me start at the beginning. First my core group of close friends (who all have two kids each) and sisters-in-law and brother in law decided that booking a hotel room downtown was the way to go, that way we could take a quick cab ride and no one had to drive to any destination. So, we all checked in around 4 and hung out in the room for a while. We ate dinner at a restaurant that had rave reviews and it lived up to its expectations. The only issue I have is that I ate too much!

After dinner, the rest of my friends met us at 9pm at a local Irish pub. It was so great to see everyone out and about. Friends from school, friends from my training team, old friends, new friends, it was great! After a few hours there we decided we would head to dance club type place. Whew, what a night! Even my guy friends who don't dance were out on the dance floor. It was amazing. We had so much fun. I know I mentioned my hot pink pants and they certainly did not disappoint. Two, yes two, 22 year old girls came up to me raving over my pants and wanting to know where I purchased them! At this point, I felt the need to tell them that I was super old (32) and I had two kids. They were both floored and couldn't believe it. Or they were just trying to make me feel better! ha ha Either way I'll take it!!
At the hotel for our "stay-cation"

Dan and I

The gang at dinner

Some friends from my training team

So much fun hanging with my girls!

It was an amazing night. Just seeing all my friends make the effort to join us just re-affirmed what an awesome group of family and friends that I have. I have so many people who are here to support me. Those that came and many many more. My toast at dinner was, "I know people think I am being brave for my decision, but honestly any one of you would do the same thing given the situation. Having you all here to support me just makes this decision all the more possible. Thank you" That pretty much sums it up!!

This is it. The week of my surgery is here.

I wish I could give credit to the person who made this up. I tweaked it a bit to make it apply to myself. I think it says it all.

Breast Cancer took its toll on my Mom, you see
And I have decided that I won’t let it get me.
I'll take this action courageous and strong
So that I can live unscathed, healthy and long.

I have children to love, I want to watch their lives unfold

And eventually precious little grandchildren to hold
I choose to not live in a place of fear
Wondering each day if my turn is near?

There's too much at stake; too much has already been taken

But my foundation's still firm, my faith never shaken
Instead I'll be proactive and choose
That I can live each day fully, not a moment to lose.

I will not waste precious time wondering "when"?

I'm rewriting my future with my own pen.
My children will not shed unnecessary tears
Or lose out on dear memories because of lost years.

I do this for them and I do this for me

I am not ashamed of my choices as you can see
My Mom would have done this if she had the chance
I choose this on my terms, I'll have the last dance.

My family and friends are with me each step of the way

There's no place for worry, I want this new day
I'm moving forward with courage, I want my children to see
That when you meet life head on, a great example you'll be.

I look forward to each day, and the new memories I'll be making

Life is so precious and it's mine for the taking.
This breast cancer stops here. There will be no more sorrow.
Only bright days ahead, hope and joy for tomorrow...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last Hurrah for Erin's Ta-tas

The countdown is on to my Last Hurrah. One week from today I'll be celebrating what a nice life they have had! My very talented husband came up with a clever invite that was sent to my friends.
Here it is:

A Message from Dan:

Happy Birthday to Erin and the gift to you,
They’ll chop off your ta-tas, we know Dan will Boo-Hoo.

Thinking only of your kids, this is one selfless act.
No one could be braver and that is a fact.

So in celebration of “the girls” we now know
an event we have planned for friends to all go.

Down in the bottom on November 24
We’ll meet about 9 on the dance floor.

Getting a bit crazy well bounce them around
With one last night out on the town.

There are lots of friends joining me for a night out on the town and a few close friends have booked hotel rooms downtown so we can all have fun and not worry about getting home (or waking up early to get up with our kids). It is shaping up to be one crazy night out! I can't wait! PS. I even have my Last Hurrah outfit purchased and ready to go and yes, it does include some HOT pink pants!!! 

Thanks to weight watchers and running a half marathon I can now rock out hot pink skinny jeans! I am 25 lbs less than I was in January when I found out my BRCA status and 15 lbs lighter than I was in Sept when I began my training and diet. I'm back to where I was pre-kids and I am so happy about that!


Friday, November 16, 2012

An awesome shout out!

My friend and former guest blogger gave me an awesome shout on her own blog. What a compliment to be featured in her Strong is Sexy post!

Check it out at:

Thanks Krysten!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Waiting is like a 1/2 marathon.

I did the 1/2 marathon and marked that off my list. After I came down off my post-race high I started to wonder, "what now?" My surgery is two weeks away and I can agree with many others who have said that waiting is the hardest part. Then I got to think about my race strategy. I shared it with Lindsey before the race. First, get to Bryan Park (hills), then get to mile 10 to see my friends, and then, finish strong. I broke it up into sections. So on that first mile I wasn't worried about mile 13, I was looking ahead to the first turn at mile 3. The same hold trues for waiting. 

I have 2 great things to look forward to before my surgery. One is T-giving with my in-laws in Charlottesville and the second thing is a get together with all of my friends (Which I so nicely am calling "The Last Hurrah for Erin's Ta-tas"). So, that is my new game plan. Focus on Thanksgiving. Focus on getting through the long lists of things to do before surgery at work and at home and focus on having fun with my friends for one fun and crazy night out on the town. Someone mentioned the other day that I seem so calm, I guess I just haven't been worrying about what is to come so much because there is a lot that needs to happen between now and then. My Last Hurrah is about 4 days pre-surgery so that only gives me a few days to freak out. I think I like this new strategy. I am going to treat this like my race. I am going to put one foot in front of the other and take one step at a time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Today I am turning 32 years old. It has been a great 32 years. As I said in previous posts, my family is not riddled with cancer. I've never lost a close loved one to breast cancer or ovarian cancer so I've lived a relatively stress free life up to this point. Until my mom was diagnosed in the Fall of last year, I really don't think I've ever really felt any real stress in my life. How lucky am I? I lived 31 years without ever worrying that I would lose a loved one to cancer. A year has passed and now my mom has gotten a clean bill of health and will return to work. Almost 1 year to do the day, she can finally move on. What a birthday present to me! On my birthday my mom goes back to life as she used to know it. My dad posted a really sweet status update on FB mentioning that as my mom's journey through this diagnosis is ending, mine is sort of just beginning. She has been strong for our family for the past year, and is my turn to pick up where she is leaving off.

Thought this past year has been a struggle for me and if you've read thus far you know I won't claim to have been happy or stress free these past few months 100% of the time. But, even though the struggles and worry and anxiety of what is to come, I still live an amazing life. Though my job is stressful at times, I do love it. I love helping kids. I love making a difference in their day to day lives. I love being the one that they can get them through a day at school. I also truly enjoy working with the staff at my school. We are like family, and I know in my time of need, they will be there for me. I, obviously, love my family so much. They bring me so much joy. My children are everything to me and Dan. I also have an amazing husband. He loves me unconditionally, flaws and all. He picks up the pieces when I fall apart. When I was stuck in bed sad and depressed. When I cannot handle the stress of day to day things because I am consumed with my own worries. He cooks, he cleans, he is an amazing Dad. He does it all. My parents, my in-laws, my sister are all so helpful to me. They are supporting me 100% along this journey. I also have amazing friends. Friends who have been there for me for years and years and who will continue to be there for me for years to come.

So on this 32nd birthday of mine I choose to celebrate all of the joys of my life up to this point. I lead a charmed life. I am so grateful for all that I have. I know in 10 years I will look back on this journey of mine and it'll merely be a speed bump along the way. It won't be the defining moment of 2012. It'll just be simply one thing in my life that I overcame. One thing that made me stronger. One thing that allowed me to celebrate many, many more birthdays to come.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I did it.

It is official. I am a half-marathon runner.  I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and maybe a little smile on my face. The tears were tears of joy and pain! Let's be honest, it was hard. It hurt. I wanted to stop 10 times. I wanted to give up. I wanted the pain in my legs to go away. But, I didn't stop. I didn't walk. I didn't give up. I had a 2:15 goal in mind and I wasn't going to let that surpass me. Too much was riding on this race.
So, lets start from the beginning. I had a great night sleep. Went to bed early, passed out, and slept soundly through the night. When our alarm went off at 5 am, I was ready to get up. I had my outfit all planned out after much deliberation with other runner friends. I ate a banana and packed up my change of clothes for after the race and waited for our friends to pick us up. We hit a little traffic getting down there but it was not too bad and we got an good parking spot in a deck relatively close to the start and finish line. I had layered up with some clothes that I wore when I was pregnant and I was happy to ditch them before we started running.

Once we got into our corral the nerves kicked in. I started to feel butterflies in my stomach. Lindsey calmed me down a lot and I told her I was so glad we could do this together because I would have been a mess alone! Once we crossed the start line the nerves only grew. We were running a bit under my goal pace and combine that with the nerves and I was feeling a little cramp growing. After we crossed mile 3 I feel like I settled into my pace and I started to feel great. I felt pretty good until about mile 7.5. Linds and I got separated at mile 5.5 just as we were entering in the hilly park of the course. She had a sub 10 minute overall pace goal and I had a sub 10:15 overall pace goal so it was inevitable that I wouldn't be able to hang on with her the whole time. I turned on my ipod and started to jam. I missed Dan and several other friends passing as we entered/exited the park. I guess I was into my zone at that point. I crossed the 10K point at right about 1:00. The park was hilly but was ok. I made it out at mile 7.5 and that is when it hit me. Those 9:45 miles started to add up on me.  I slowed to a 10 minute pace and then to a 10:30 pace and there was even one 11 minute mile thrown in there. Miles 8-10 were the hardest miles I've ever run. I was alone out in a neighborhood that I'd never been in and it wasn't flat. I thought after the park, it would be flat. It wasn't. It was a slight incline for a good amount of those 2 miles.

I knew at mile 10 my friends and training team would be at the party stop (Thank you Endorphin Fitness!!)and I just focused on getting to mile 10. I could do it, I could do it. Sadly, I saw the 2:15 pacer guy pass me and I started to get nervous.  I did the math in my head and was confused as to why he passed me because I still was on track with my overall pace. It turns out he finished too fast and so I was still able to squeak in a sub 2:15 finish.

Once I saw my team and the "Only a 5K left" sign overhead...I dug deep. I knew that I could make it another 30 minutes or so. I was just in survival mode at this point. I was averaging about a 10:30-11:00 pace and that is all I had in me. I wasn't trying to speed up, just hang on. I knew I was on track with my goal I just needed to hang on a bit longer. So I did. There was a slight hill at mile 12.5 that hurt really bad but then you turned the corner and went down the biggest downhill I've ever run. Wow, even downhill was hurting at that point. My pace picked up a bit because I had no choice with the hill and I saw the 13 mile marker. I felt the tears welling up inside of me. Tears of pain and tears of joy and tears of the overwhelming feeling of pride that I was feeling. I saw my watch and it said 2:14. I knew that I had done it. I had reached my sub 2:15 goal.

I am so close at this point!
Trying to finish strong!
Dan, Sean and my Mother-in-law were cheering for me but I didn't see them. I found my two friends right after the finish line and the tears really came out when I hugged Lindsey for the first time. We both were so proud of what we had done. At that point, just walking around post-race was a difficult task. My legs literally hurt more than they have ever hurt. My calves were on fire. Luckily, we found Dan and my mother in law and Sean pretty quickly and shared race stories and results. Dan did amazing with a 1:43 finish (7:50 pace!) and my other friends also did a great job! Sean had made a sign for us so we took some pics and walked slowly to the car. We were able to change clothes and head out to the marathon course to cheer on a friend and then have a wonderful brunch to re-fuel.
The Rettigs and the Eades finish the 1/2!
Our biggest fan!
Training buddies
Needed a little post race snuggle!
Yes, we wore our medals to brunch!!
Delicious breakfast! Just what I needed!

 When I got home I put my new 13.1 magnet on my car. My sis found one and had it sent to me for an early b-present. It was a perfect combination of what this race meant to me. I want to display that proudly on my car. So much was riding on this race and thankfully I was able to reach my goal. Now, I move on to a new kind of race. My surgery is 2 weeks away and now that I've crossed 1/2 marathon off my list I am ready to cross this PBM off my list, also. My body is strong, my mind is strong, and I have my family and friends to support me. I can do this.

Putting it on my car!
It is official! (Man my car is dirty!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why do I run?

Well, since you have been reading my blog thus far, it is probably no surprise to you that this 1/2 marathon and my PBM (Prophylactic Bi-Lateral Mastectomy for those of you just joining me) surgery are very closely enmeshed. They are intertwined so tightly because I feel that running gives me strength. It gives me the strength I need to have to go forward with a life altering surgery like the mastectomy. I feel empowered in the sense that I am choosing this route, it is 100% my choice, which is different than a person diagnosed with cancer. Though I am choosing this route, it doesn't mean that I am not scared to death. I really do try not to worry too much, but I'll be honest. I am scared. Scared about how I will look, scared about the pain, and sad about missing out on special things for the time I am laid up in the hospital and at home not able to spend time with my children. This surgery, though my choice, it a huge deal and I have to be honest with myself and be open and honest about how much this surgery is weighing on my heart and mind.

Running gives me the strength to put those worries at bay. To push those worries out of my mind and feel confident in my decision. When I run I feel like I can do anything. When I run I feel powerful, in control, happy. When I run I feel strong physically and mentally. When I am running I am 100% confident that I've made the right choice. I am not sure how the race is going to go down this weekend but I know in my heart that my body and my mind are strong enough to make it happen. I want to finish that 1/2 marathon with a smile on my face (and as a friend pointed out) with tears of joy in my eyes! In just over two weeks when I under go my surgery I will *know* that my body and my mind are strong enough to tackle anything because I completed a 1/2 marathon.

5 years ago, or shoot even 1 year ago I would have never though I would be running a 1/2 marathon. I didn't know I had the strength inside of me to complete such a tough training schedule and race. I also didn't know I was strong enough to decide to move forward with this surgery. There are a lot of things that I did not know. I've learned a lot about myself through this journey. I am nervous about the race on Saturday and I am surely nervous about my surgery but in both cases I will prove to myself and everyone else that I am strong enough to become a half marathoner and strong enough to become a pre-vivor all at the same time. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Guest Blogger: Krysten

I am Krysten from The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail, and a fellow BRCA gal. And just as crazy as Erin, because 7 months ago, the day before my prophylactic mastectomy I ran my first half marathon.
So why do we do it? Why do we run?

I run because I am stronger than genetics.
I run because I am stronger than this set of circumstances.
I run because my spirit is stronger than everything that has happened this past year.
I run because I am fierce.
I run to beat 
heart disease and breast cancer.
I run because this surgery will not break me.
I run past muscle fatigue.
I run through mental road blocks.
I run hard
I run fast
I run strong.
I run because I can.

This race was for me. It was about saying that despite everything that had happened this year, and everything that was about to happen - I wasn't going to allow anything to interfere with my life and my goals. It was about saying that I am stronger than all of this, and that I was a fighter. And more than anything else I was running this race to say I could!

I ran those 13.1 miles so I could be proud of my body for what it can do and instead of just how it looks. And when I drifted off to a drug-induced sleep the following day I was smiling because I know that I am strong and that I won.


Today I am cancer-free and in control of my health. So I run to thank myself for making healthy choices for my body - even when those choices can be hard. I run to remember what beauty really means. 

Real beauty is a woman who believes in herself and who knows she is capable of anything she puts her mind to. Beauty comes from strength and determination, a joyful heart and grateful spirit. Real beauty really does shine from within.

I know all of this now. 

So I run to be thankful for this flawed, defective little body of mine because it is finally strong and healthy!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Guest Blogger: Kristy

Kristy is a friend of mine from HS and though she does not share the same genetic fate as I, she does share a love of running.

You can check her out at:

Why I run?
While running has always been a part of my life since I ran my first one mile race at the age of 8, it has only been a consistent hobby for the past three years. After three short years, I can’t imagine life without it. 
I run for all the obvious reason: health, physical strength, mental sanity. 

Besides all the obvious reasons, and what came as a huge surprise, is how settled running has made me with life. Running makes me content. After a quick three miles with the jogging stroller or a long 14 mile on the trails, I always feel satisfied. Not just with the run but with life. Running provides both physical and mental space for me to think, to process, and to let go of stress. Running provides me with quiet.

Being a working mom of a (almost) 10 month old and an 8 year old, life is busy. It can be chaotic. Juggling commuting, working, school, homework, preparing baby food, washing diapers, planning dinners, incorporating swim practices and meets, and big hopes of running a marathon this spring, by the time I stop moving at the end of the night, I have a few moments to spend time with my husband before I fall asleep.

Running gives me back a small space in my life. It is mine. It’s the one time during a week I can be selfish and not feel guilty. At the end of each run, I come back to the chaos ready to tackle each and every hurdle life throws at me.

Like all things in life, running evolves to meet ever single need I have (even if I don’t know it). It started with my first half marathon. Somewhere inside of me, there was a girl who doubted herself. I learned to keep her quiet thanks to the race. A 17 mile training run in the pour rain showed me how much fun life can be when it is embraced. Instead of trying to avoid every huge puddle, I ran right through them. To this day, it is my favorite run. Running pregnant gave me strength to truly embrace my body. It made me feel strong and powerful even when my body wasn’t strong or powerful.

Right now I’m at the point where I’m slowly learning that I really underestimate myself. I’m learning that I can push further and faster and harder and stronger. I’m learning that I’m the only one who limits me and my abilities (in both life and running).

Why do I run? I run because it is the best way to expose vulnerability and overcome it. I run because it truly has taught me (and continues to teach me) everything I need to know about life. I run because I love it. It makes me smile and that translates to every aspect of my life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I really needed that.

Success. Pride. Joy. Confidence. Those are the words that describe how I felt after my 6 mile training run today. I am officially one week away from my 1/2 marathon and I can go into it with more confidence than I was feeling before today's run. After last week's not-so-awesome 11.5 miles I really needed a boost of confidence. Not only did we do 6 miles on the actual course in the "hilly" part of the course but we did it fast! Our overall pace was 9:40 and our last mile split was 9:14.  We wanted to see this park that everyone talks about being so hilly. Well, maybe we missed a big hill by accident or didn't go on the right loop but neither of the hills we saw today are scaring us! Whew. What a relief. Now I can get a few shorter training runs in this week and go into Saturday's race with excitement. Excitement to accomplish something that I honestly never thought I could accomplish. Excitement to prove how strong my body and mind are. Excitement to cross that finish line as a half-marathon runner.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Blogger: Renee

I met Erin as we both sought out support and advice from other BRCA positive women over the last year.  The more we shared, the more we realized how much we have in common in addition to our BRCA positive status--our profession, our young children, and our hobbies.  So as Erin moves toward two ambitious goals—running a half marathon and having a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I am happy to help her as a guest blogger and answer the question, “Why do I run?”
I run because it’s one of the things in my life that I can control.  Being BRCA positive means that genetically I’ve been dealt a tough hand.  There are so many things that are completely out of my control—the risks, the surveillance, the waiting for appointments and test results, and what’s going on in my own body.  With running, I am in control.  It’s nothing but me, my shoes, and my ipod.  I can run at my own pace and whatever route I choose; I am in control.  
I run for my health.  I know this is an obvious one, but it’s a huge factor for me. Research shows that those with lower BMI have a lower occurrence of cancer.  The reason being estrogen is stored in fat cells; most breast cancers are fed by estrogen, so let’s get all the fat possible off of me.  Lower BMI (and fitting into my skinny jeans) is just the one of many reasons to exercise.  Additional research is showing that the total number of minutes of exercise per week also contributes to lower cancer risks.  Cancer is an overgrowth of unhealthy cells.  Exercise gets your heart pumping, oxygenating your blood.  Cells need this healthy oxygenated blood to grow properly. Striving for 150, 175, or 200 minutes or more of exercise per week can promote healthy cell growth and provide even more cancer protection.  

I run for my sanity.  Through the ups and downs of increase surveillance and the anxiety of decision making that comes with being BRCA positive, running has been my way of coping.  I just crank up the music and go.  Most days it will clear my mind completely.  However, there are those long runs in training when you have miles of quiet time left to nothing but your own thoughts.  Those are the days that I find myself tearing up during a middle of a run.  The pressure, the conflicting opinions, or sometimes just the thought of everything that we’ve been through is overwhelming.  Running is my much needed “me time” and whether I am smiling through the run or crying I always feel much better after. 

I run because I can.  Yes, running is painful, tedious, and exhausting.  But making the decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy 8 months ago was worse.  It required a mental and physical strength before, during, and after surgery, that I didn’t know I had.  So this leaves me feeling that there is nothing I cannot accomplish now once I set my mind to it.  I feel such a sense of pride accomplishing a race now especially when I think back to how I felt 6 months ago struggling during physical therapy.    
I run a lot, but I don’t run from cancer and neither does Erin.  I wish you the best of luck in your half marathon, Erin, and I am praying for you to have a successful surgery and speedy recovery.  You are well prepared for both of these big events and you have the strength to accomplish anything you set your mind to!  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I get by with the help of my friends.

I have 3 special friends who I will be featuring in the coming week as guest bloggers. Granted, two of them I have never met but I feel very close to them as we are all BRCA positive. I have decided to do this as I approach my 1/2 marathon race date of Nov. 10 and the topic I have chosen is "Why I Run?" which is a topic that is near and dear to many of my fellow bloggers heart's. If you want to join in and also be a guest blogger, leave me a comment and we'll go from there!

Thanks in advance to my 3 special friends-Renee, Kristy, & Krysten!