Tag Archives: family

Love is Louder!! A story of the amazing people you meet on the journey.

One of the things you have to just accept as a road warrior is that you are going to spend a lot of time alone.  On planes, on shuttle buses, waiting at the airport, hanging in hotel rooms……you have a lot of time to yourself.  You also have the opportunity to meet a lot of people along the journey.  Today I would like to introduce you to one of the great ones I met along the way, meet Kelly Thomas and her family.  The Thomas family is the very definition of survivorship.

thomas family

I have known Kelly (the good looking bald one above…..sorry Dave Thomas, I don’t mean you) and her family for about the last 3 years.  Our paths crossed when she came to work for me.  Fortunately, they have not stopped crossing since.

Kelly is one of those people who light up a room just by walking in.  Her huge smile is infectious and she always has the most positive of attitudes to back up the smile.  People want to be around her because they know they can only be better if for no other reason than osmosis.

I will never forget when Kelly texted me to let me know that she was leaving our company…..and why.  Her 2 year old daughter (the youngest one above) had been diagnosed with Leukemia.  There I was, in a hotel room in Indianapolis, alone, crying for my friend and her family….and also for my own.  My response to Kelly?  I know how you feel and I am in it with you.  This conversation happened just days after my own wife, Joy, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (read her story at http://www.joybowen.net).  I was in shock and truth be told, happy to have someone who could even possibly understand the journey through hell I was about to embark on.

Over the course of the coming months, Kelly and I would check in on each other through text, Facebook and the occasional call.  Kelly was always concerned with how I and particularly, Joy, was doing.  Here she was battling childhood cancer with her youngest and she was sincerely inquiring how I was doing?  Simply amazing.  I watched and encouraged as she and her family tireless raised funds and awareness around childhood cancer research.  Creating Facebook pages, being the poster child (literally) for fundraisers and constantly keeping the issue front and center, the Thomas family was making a difference.

Then lightning struck twice.

The next text hit me like a sledge hammer.  I literally dropped to my knees as I was reading it.  This time not at a hotel room, I was home, with the one woman who could help me process what I was reading.  Kelly had been diagnosed with stage 3 Breast Cancer.  Her daughter had not completed her fight yet and Kelly was about to start hers.

For the last few months I have been watching Kelly and her family live this journey of healing.  Asking others to perform Random Acts of Kindness on Kelly’s chemo days and posting to the Love is Louder Than Cancer Facebook page and with the hashtag #loveislouderthancancer so Kelly could see the good that her story is doing.  Constantly putting others first in their journey to go from cancer patient to cancer survivor.  That journey takes a giant leap today.

Today is the day Kelly is scheduled for her double mastectomy.  It is also her 40th Birthday.

I will spare you the details but the day of Joy’s mastectomy is one I will never forget (and not just because it was the day that Hoda put her cell phone number on air for all of America to see).  I am sure it will have an impact on the Thomas family as well.  We spent the days prior getting ready for the big event.  Buying pajamas, getting pillows and asking everyone to change their profile pic to something with pink involved.  Kelly and her family definitely have one upped us, in the best way possible.

Cancer sucks2

I have a love/hate relationship with this picture.  It was my profile pic as Joy headed into her own mastectomy.  I love that it captures the fun that my son and I have on the mat.  I love It was taken on Thursday, September 4, 2013, the day before my wife underwent a double mastectomy to rid her body of the cancer that was threatening to take her from me and he her sons (the oldest pictured here).  I love that the shirt my son is wearing is the walk out shirt that Chael Sonnen honored his aunt with in her battle against breast cancer and the shirt I am wearing is to honor Joy’s fight.  I hate that I ever had to do so.

What Kelly is asking for is exactly what I have come to expect from her, a campaign to put others first.  So I am asking you now for Kelly, for Joy and for all of the other survivors out there, please do something for someone else tomorrow and share it on the Facebook page.  The go to http://www.Loveislouderthancancer.org and make a donation of any size.  The Thomases will thank you and so will I.

To read the details of Kelly’s story, click http://www.facebook.com/Loveislouderthancancer

To donate, click http://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/0x85/love-is-louder-than-cancer?utm_source=giveforward&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=dashboard&shareid=2516217

Make it Work!!

My ratio of pleasure vs. work travel is infinitesimally small but I was fortunate enough this past extended weekend to travel to LA & Santa Barbara with my wife Joy  On paper the trip was ideal, 4 days with just the two of us enjoying our native California sand and sun.  One day as a couple in Santa Monica and 3 up in Santa Barbara where we would reconnect with fellow UCSB Gaucho alumni and their families.  What could be wrong with that kind of trip?  Romance, friends, California sun, great food and my beloved Ocean, virtually nothing could derail this trip, unless of course the hotel we stayed at did not have a gym.

Which of course, it didn’t.

Now when I travel for business, I am faced with all kinds of options as to where I would like to stay.  The choice is mine and very often it comes down to ‘Who has the best gym?’.  But this time we were traveling with 5 other families, from all over the country with kids of all ages all getting together in the same spot.  My fitness needs took a back seat (and rightfully so) to the greater needs of the collective.  So as we found the one hotel in the Santa Barbara area that could house our motley crew, it was up to my wife and I to figure out a way to make fitness a priority.  We had a choice to make.

We could either let it slide for the weekend (I mean really, it is just a weekend) or we could make it work.  So make it work we did.

Santa Monica was easy, with a full gym a located less than a block from the beach and running paths, it was a no brainer.  Easy-peasy and I got to enjoy sights like the one below.

Santa Monica

Santa Barbara was a lot tougher but thank God I had Joy with me. 

You see she is a Beachbody Coach and in the middle of a PiYo challenge so I focused on her routine rather than mine.  She had her workouts downloaded already and even though we did not have a single weight, treadmill or elliptical at our disposal, we got 3 challenging workouts in over the 3 days in Santa Barbara.  Without a workout room, we even had to improvise on the location (it is amazing how much space your standard pool deck has when you move the chase lounges out of the way) where we could complete the PiYo workouts. To say we improvised is putting it mildly.   Joy even took video of our space for one of her accountability groups which can be seen below and as you can see, there was a great deal of improvisation going on with these workouts.

Now I am not going to lie, we got a lot of funny looks from the other guests who were passing us doing our PiYo on the pool deck.  Our preferred workout area was directly on the path for all hotel guests who were getting their breakfast from the free buffet.

And for every ‘You guys are so good’ comment I heard or crazy eye directed our way, I had to remind myself that;

a) Their opinion did not matter – living longer for my wife and kids does

b) It is my health and not theirs – I can only choose to affect my own health, they can only choose to affect their health

c) We do crazy stuff like this so that we can enjoy the good stuff later – Like Brophy Brothers which is one of our absolute favorite dining spots on the planet and the location of the picture below;

Brophy selfie

So don’t let opinion, resources or apathy get in the way of you achieving your fitness goals while on the road.  You can always do something.  Walk, run, do a body weight series or maybe even a PiYo workout.  Regardless of the circumstances, you can do something and you will feel worlds better for it when you are done.