Monthly Archives: April 2012

Just one more sleep!!!


I have just one more sleep until the Nashville 1/2 Marathon.  I was worried I wouldn’t have time to write before I left.  Since the sleeping meds prescribed by the doctors are obviously not working, I will blog now, and nap later.  I’m all packed mental and physically.   The anxiety built up pretty good last night, but a walk with the girls sorted me out and I’m ready to Rock n’ Roll!  

So what does one pack for a trip of this magnitude?  I thought you might like to know what I’ve got going aside from underwear and socks.  Here is what will be with me on race day.

Race day Checklist:

  • One blue Tutu
  • One Long Distance Hero team jersey
  • One pair of Lime green compression sleeves


  • One Bad Ass pair of Mizuno Elixir Running Shoes (oh yeah baby)


  • One Team visor
  • Two Silver Charms – Hope and Courage – I will literally carry them in my back pocket along with…
  • One Irish Blessing
  • One SuperSue Tatoo


  • One iPhone to keep you all up to date and record this epic event in pictures
  • One crazy cousin
  • Lots of tissues
  • All of your well wishes, hopes and prayers


The weather report for Nashville is low 60/ high 80, 20% chance of thunderstorms and very windy.  The Irish Blessing given to me by my teammate says it all. 

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

My thoughts…God had better hold me in the palm of His hand especially on the hills…he got me into this!


Smiles for Miles  – Sue


Charlotte Man to Run 52.4 Miles in a TuTu!!!!!!


Are you kidding me???  I still can’t believe it and I’m not sure I will….it just sounds too crazy.  On April 28th I will wake early, power down some type of fuel, have a sip of coffee and venture off to my very first half marathon.  As many of you know this is no ordinary half…this event literally saved my life.  Had I not gotten the guts to train for it, we never would have found the cancer and I don’t even want to know how that story ends. Instead let’s focus on what did happen.

So I signed up for the training program … best $100 a girl could spend.  Part of the training package is a super duper, use any time, 15% coupon for anything at Omega Sports (yup that’s the training sponsor).  During my first shop prior to our first training session I met one of our coaches, Mike Vance.  He’s twice as tall as me and as nice as nice can be.   I remember him asking if I was ready for our Saturday run.  (I was thinking, “Hell I had better be, it’s only two miles”).  Always up for a chat I engaged in conversation and asked him what his plans were for the weekend.  He responded with 50 miler.  Over the course of the weekend?  No he replied…just one day.  Are you kidding me?  I had never met anyone that ran that far…well I had, but over the course of a week, month or year.  I was amazed.  Mike has continued to be a source of inspiration for me whenever I run.  A few weeks into our training program he posted this on Facebook”

As an example for anyone who has ever felt discouraged about their running, I ran my first marathon two years ago next Saturday.  I would run 5 minutes, and walk 1, which last through 15 miles or so, after which I was too tired to really keep that up. Finished in 5:03:59. Barely beat a guy wearing sandals.  You may feel like you’ll never get faster, and never improve, but trust us, you will. Just keep running. – Michael Vance 2/26/2012

Mike and I will be at the St. Jude Country Music Nashville Full and Half Marathon together on April 28th along with many of our teammates. Most of us are running the half (13.1 miles) or the full (26.2 miles), but Mike will run THE FULL MARATHON TWICE IN MY HONOR….I put this in caps so it is easier to read twice.   I still read it and have a hard time comprehending it.  So while I am plugging away at my 13.1 miles Mike will be kicking ASSphalt in my honor in a tutu!!!  The funds he’s raising will go to Get Your Rear in Gear Charlotte.  I hope you will help Mike and I reach our goal for this event.  Funds raised will stay here in the Charlotte area to help other Colorectal Cancer survivors.

p.s. Mike and I agree that for his safety he will wear the tutu during daylight hours in the company of other marathon runners…alone, in a tutu in downtown Nashville after midnight is just not safe not matter who you are!!!

Here’s the link to make donations. Thanks so very much…Sue and thanks Mike….you are without a doubt a Long Distance Hero!!!!


Fight Information


With all the suport I had today my first day of Chemo was a breeze.  Here is my silly version of the day…way better to read than the clinical stuff.

Welcome to ColoRectal Airlines…We are glad you selected our carrier for your flight today. You have boarded the Challenger 300 Rear Jet en route to a cure.   This may be your first time in the air.  Many of our passengers have been riding the train “in the caboose”…often times we find those taking a second trip need a different mode of travel.  For some it’s by air and if it is it’s your lucky day.  If this is not your final destination we recommended exiting the airline at this time.

The first segment of our flight today will take approximately three hours. During the flight our superior staff will ensure you are well medicated with FOLFOX 5FU and anti nausea medication incase we encounter turbulence during the flight.  Snack and drinks are on us so please enjoy.  All drinks are served room temperature so that the cold sensitivity you may encounter while on chemo will not effect you.  You may walk about the cabin and visit with other travelers if you choose, write a blog or take a nap.  Our goal at CR Air is to give all travelers and enjoyable ride.

Once we land a the gate each passenger will receive a complimentary 1980s style fanny pack. The fashion police may detain you if you do not swap it out with something cuter. So we recommend you stop at Marshall’s on your way home for a little retail therapy.  There are many fanny packs to choose from. The spring collection this year is quite something.  The fanny pack needs to be large enough to hold your FolFox pump that each passenger must wear when departing.  It only needs to be worn for two days post departure and then can be removed.  Once removed passengers may run, walk, eat, drink, sleep and blog until their next flight. The flight schedule is every two weeks for approximately six months.

There are many carriers to choose from thank you again for selecting ColoRectal Air.

So just a few notes on my blog today…I officially have caboose cancer in my lungs.  Yup it moved from the “track” to the “air”.  Anyway it was a great day and my nurse is a runner and has put me on a two week schedule to get me in tip top shape for the Nashville 1/2.  Things might get a little rough after that, but I have not intrest in thinking about anything other than conpleting this 13.1 mile miracle.  Hugs to all for the rockin’ support.  Hugs – Sue



It’s time to weed the flower bed


I’ve never been a fan of weeds. I don’t like picking weeds, spraying weeds or looking at weeds. I have however found a use for them….an analogy. A lot of you have asked many questions about the “weeds in my garden” (the cancer in my lungs) and so begins the blog of the day.

My lungs are my flower garden and in it we have found a few weeds. They are small weeds, but they are there and need to be removed. We all know what happens when you don’t weed the garden. Unfortunately these weeds cannot be dug out of the flower bed (as is the most effective form of weed removal…roots and all). The weeds have grown into my flowers. Come taka a look at the mess my Azalea bushes have become and you will understand why we cannot “surgical remove the weeds'” without killing the flower or the entire bush. So that being said we will move on to weed killer aka…chemo. We will spray with weeds and with hope and prayer the weeds will wilt and die off leaving the flowers to grow and bloom in the sun.

I start chemo tomorrow morning. I am excited and scared.  I know not to expect any horrible side effects this early or or maybe ever.  I prefer to focus on the excitement of moving on to the next step in my treatment and getting that much closer to becoming … “weed free”.

Thanks everyone for your prayers, well wishes, hopes, laughs, beer and cupcakes!!!!!  You all keep me smiling.


A reason, season or lifetime


I remember John telling me a very long time ago that people/things enter your life for a reason, season or a lifetime.  Well it’s taken me more than a few weeks to realize that this applies to every bit of what I am going through.  For the very first time in my life I got the urge to run more than three miles.  I have no idea what possessed me to do it , but I was committed.  I did know that the running group I was joining was filled with all the amazing people that helped me put Get Your Rear in Gear on … My coaches are Dan Keller from Omega Sports and Paige Hauff from PR Race Management.  Many of the coaches are employees of Dan’s who I have worked with at every packet pickup in years past.  Jenny Miller Cousin Extrodianre and GYRIG Coke Vendor, Sandra Downey newest GYRIG Planning Board member and the ever fabulous Michele Mattachini…Post Race Food Court Godess. Why would I ever pass up this opportunity.  So I jumped in committed to run the 13.1 miles and get my cool little sticker for the back of my car.

My last long distance run was 11 miles.   While working up to that mileage I met many new people that I consider more than coaches and aquantencies…Mike, Emily, Dawn, Deb, Smita…the list is long and ever growing…

So while on my runners high, I ran face first into a tree I didn’t see coming.  At first glance, this was a road block.  I was so mad.  Really mad….not “whoa is me”, but more like “WHAT THE HELL???”  I mean really?  Now?  I am so close to my 1/2 marathon in Nashville.  After peeling my face off the bark of the tree, I got a perscription for Xanex and gave myself time to process this unfortunate encounter with nature, I gained some perspective along the way.  Xanex is great for gaining perspective … you can actually think instead of crying … worth every penny for me -‘the broken hearted runner”. By the way, this is not a plug for drugs unless you happen to be in my running shoes and then I say … save yourself some pain, take the drugs and see what beauty you can find in your unfortunate circumstances.

So I woke up yesterday and finally realized that I did not sign up to run a 1/2 I signed up to save my life.  The 1/2 marathon was never truly part of the plan. Don’t get crazy on me … I haven’t given up (not even close), but what i realized is that this 1/2 marathon training was in my life for a reason.  Had I  not been on this training path I would have missed the tree and goodness knows I don’t want to know how that story ends!!!!  So I am now thankful for that tree.

The tree was there for a REASON

I will endure a difficult SEASON

And I promise you I will make a difference that will last a LIFETIME!!!!

On the road to recovery…


I’m finally back online.  This stinkin’ surgery took the wind out of my sails, but gave me more than enough time to plan this blog.  It literally did…my lung was collapsed or something like that…they messed with it I know that for sure.  Now that I’ve re-inflated I am ready to share and then will head to a Percocet induced slumber for the afternoon.  

Before I get into the details of my crazy journey ahead I need to thank everyone who got us to this point.  From blog updates (thanks MK) to meal planning Kelly, Michele and Ali), to meals, well wishes…many phone calls,flowers and txts thank you all.  You have lifted up the Falco family and we are so greatful for all of it.

Now on to the experience of a Thoracotomy.  We went from thinking I was having outpaitient surgery to spending a few days in ICU with open heart surgery patients…let’s just say I dropped the average age level by a few decades.  What you might have thought would be a breath of fresh air to the nurses was not. I think I was just a perky pain in the ass.  Anyway I survived it and was finally released and sent to the nurses a Presby on 5C.  From there the pain level was low (very low), but so was the amount of sleep and general ability to function. I got home Sunday and have not stopped sleeping.  

So on to the road to recovery…Do I take the ’66 TBird used in Thelma and Louise, the RV from National Lampoon’s Family vacation or the Delorian from Back to the Future.  Please adivise…I need something reliable so that I can go the distance, something fun and sassy to match the way in which I plan to approach this next phase, room for the family…can’t succeed without them.  I know that rules out the ’57 Corvette.  This is going to be a harder decision than I thought.   GPS and hands-free installed so we can all keep in touch.

Tomorrow I get my road trip map. Appointment with the oncologist in the afternoon.  I will update you sooner if we get good news and later if I need to process any major twist and turns ahead. I might hit a road block, speed bump, or detour but regardless I’m in it for the long haul. 




Homecoming Update


I talked with Sue today and she’s getting LOTS of sleep at home without being poked and prodded every 15 minutes.  Surgery was a little harder on Sue than she expected and she’s not quite ready to take over blogging.  So ‘yall are stuck with me (Mary-Karen) for the time being 🙂  I’m going to go see her this afternoon and will tell her that you all send your love and are thinking about her.

The Painted Pony


This will probably be one of my last updates as John is bringing Sue her new iPad tonight.  She’s chomping at the bit to get going on her blog I’m sure.

I spent the afternoon with her after she was sprung from the CVRU.  Sue was so happy to be in a room of her own.  Some of her friends had brought beautiful flower arrangements to brighten the room and supplies to brighten her toes (thus the “Painted Pony”).  Her room has a great view of Uptown which I’m sure she will enjoy as soon as she wakes up from her much needed nap.  John is bringing her girls, Mia and Ava, to see her tonight which I’m sure warms all of their hearts.  Sue is in great spirits and continues to recover at lightning speed (would you expect anything less from a champ???).

Morning update


Sue did well last night and was up and at ’em texting us this morning. You all know that Sue can’t be held down for long and she’s itching to get into a private room. Our little mare is also very hungry! She is waiting for a room to open up so visitation is still limited. I’ll let ‘yall know when she has been moved.