Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Music and thankful thursday

This post is part of "Thankful Thursday" Go to JonnandKate's Blog. To get your own button and start your Thankful Thursday post today.

I am so very thankful for music. Music has always been a major part of my life. Whether it was when I was 10 years old and force fed piano lessons, 14 years old blaring Ice Cube, or when I was 18 and listening to the same song over and over during a 3 hour spinal tap. Music to me is the most powerful drug in the world.

My mom used to call it the Finnerty rhythm. You see, apparently my mom's side of the family (the 100% irish clan) was very fond of music and dancing. From a very young age, I absolutely loved to entertain and make people laugh. I did this mostly through my dancing. Sadly, I remember in 1984 that I got a great report card and my parents said I could see any movie I wanted, my choice? Footloose. Crazy and now embarassing, but so true. I have always found solace in music. It is an easy and readily available escape from reality for me.

In high school, I had a friend that took his own life. The song that really helped me reflect on his life was tears in heaven by Eric Clapton. I could really relate to everything going on in my life and found that to be SUCH a powerful song. When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years later, there were a few songs that helped me get through it, but one that sticks to my mind was Nine Inch Nails, Hurt. I now start and end every workout with Johnny Cash's version. I know this is an odd song as it's original intention was about drug use, but I could totally relate to some of the lyrics. For me, the hurt was the chemo and the cancer, the needle was the doctors and nurses drawing blood. And you know what? I felt like I had to feel that pain to be alive. In my mind, if I didn't feel the pain, then I was not alive. I know that may sound crazy, but cancer really plays with your emotions.

Fast forward to 2002 and I had just lost a good friend to cancer and my aunt was battling cancer. I lost myself in the acoustic version of Matchbox 20, 3am. Not sure why, but it really motivated me because I could relate to the lyric, "well, I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes" and "its 3am I must be lonely." Lord knows, I was scared as shit with cancer and every morning between 3 and 5, they took my blood out of my Hickman Catheter. Turns out, this was written about his mom who passed away from breast cancer.

I will wrap it up here, but I will NEVER forget seeing Wideawake live in Chicago. Scott Leger sang their amazing song, "Maybe tonight, Maybe Tomorrow", and I lost it. If you have not heard this song, I encourage you to please check it out. I am a sucker for acoustic songs and this blew me away. The whole song is about a cancer diagnosis and Scott saw me in the front wearing my "I beat cancer" t-shirt and said that this song was for me....he sang his heart out and I swear there was not a dry eye in the room. Scott and I hung out after the show, and he is just an amazing guy with a huge heart. This is another one of the songs that motivates me when I need a kick to get off my ass and work out. I also rely on a steady dose of Metallica, Godsmack, and Eminem, but you get the picture. I pretty much run the gamut when it comes to musical tastes.

My point is that I am so very thankful for music. Music is certainly a mood maker and mood changer, I can be having the shittiest day in the world and a song comes on that riley likes and we will dance. Clearly my shitty day is long gone. Music can bring people together, change attitudes and provide motivation for that workout that you are too tired to do. I listen to music every chance I get. Fortunately, Meg and I have very similar musical tastes. Looks like Riley has some of the Finnerty Rhythm. She loves to shake her booty to Justin Timberlake. I should mention some of my favorite artists:

Jason Mraz, Eminem, Scott Leger, Damien Rice, Dr. Dre, Johnny Cash, Rascall Flatts, George Strait, Carbon Leaf, Pat Mcgee, Kings of Leon, Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Gangstarr, The Game, Kenny Chesney, Mozart, Beethoven, you get the point.

Livestrong, be well, and Keep Climbing!!
Joe Schneider

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This post is part of "Thankful Thursday" Go to JonnandKate's Blog. To get your own button and start your Thankful Thursday post today.

So, this is definitely a different sort of thankful thursday blog, but relevant nonetheless. I am thankful for our 4.5 year old pitbull mix, Kaily. Meg and I knew we wanted a dog in our lives since we both were born and raised with them. Four years ago, we went to a local place that rescues dogs; We found a fantastic dog, but immediately found out it was spoken for. It was late in the day, I was hungry and just wanted to go home. Meg suggested we stop by the pound on Western avenue about 5 city miles from where we were. Reluctantly I agreed. This is the city pound folks, the care pretty nice, but they euthanize the dogs if they are not rescued. We toured the facility and saw some interesting dogs. Nothing stood out. We were about to call it a night when we both noticed a cage off to the side. We looked in and there was this pretty little puppy in there, tag wagging and just staring at us. We took her outside and the debate began.

We both fell in love with the dog named Xena immediately. We wanted to make sure we were ready....back and forth, back and forth and we decided she was the one. We actually had to undergo some stringent interviews to confirm we were not going to train her to fight. Of course we passed, despite a Chicago bear trying to get her before us. A few days later, we took her home and so our journey began.

I assume by now that a lot of you have read Marley and me. We changed Xena's name to Kaily, a good irish girl. Kaily is our Marley. She is the sweetest dog in the world, but definitely has some idiosyncrasies. She is a 55 pound dog who acts like a lap dog. She will jump up in our laps like it is nothing! She drinks water too fast and throws it up all the time. She eats Riley's toys if she can get her paws on them and gets needy if we ignore her!

She is amazing around children. Kaily loves kisses and kisses Riley and Luke all of the time. Kaily, like Riley, can make a bad day great. I know firsthand as Kaily comes to my office everyday. I am very lucky to own my business so Kaily and I really get to hang everyday. I can be having the worst day and I look over and hear Kaily snoring and I cannot help but smile. Talk about unconditional love, Kaily is the best. There is a reason that the National Cancer Institute brings in dogs to the pediatric kids fighting cancer. I remember when I was going through treatment and the dogs came in...The entire attitude of the floor changed. Dogs can make your shitty day, an amazing one; regardless of what kind of stuff you are dealing with. Morale and dogs= increased morale. I promise.

4.5 years and I cannot imagine our lives without Kaily. I am excited for Riley to grow up with Kaily around. Kaily is definitely part of our family and I would be absolutely devasted if anything ever happened to her. It is crazy, we basically spend 365 days a year together and we can tell each other moods. It is very hard to explain, but those people who have pets, know what I am talking about. Kaily is definitely a part of our family and we are lucky to have such a cute, well behaved, and loyal dog. Kaily knows what it means to LiveSTRONG!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This post is part of "Thankful Thursday" Go to JonnandKate's Blog. To get your own button and start your Thankful Thursday post today.

Sorry I missed last thursday! Sometimes life gets hectic with an eight month old...which brings me to my thankful thursday blog. This thursday, I am so very thankful for the miracle in my life named Riley.

We call Riley our miracle baby because I was told prior to chemo that I may never be able to make babies due to all of the chemotherapy. This is common with chemo, but even more common since I was given 2.5 years of chemo in 2.5 months. When Riley was born our lives would never be the same. I know, I know, Captain Obvious, but I mean it. She brings an amazing calm to my life, she completes me.

Riley has taught me so many things about life, even at her young age of 8 months. Most people get annoyed and crazy when a baby incessantly cries, but for me, that is the sound of life, music to my ears. Cancer tends to do that to you, gives you a totally different perspective on life. Tonight, Riley was playing and laughing and smiling and I broke down and cried. Cancer definitely makes you more emotional. I cried, not because I was upset, just the opposite, I was so happy to be there, in the moment. Then as Riley saw these tears coming down my face, she flashed that million watt smile, and I cried even more. She truly is a miracle.

I truly never knew I could love someone as much as I love Riley. The saying Daddy's little girl exists for a reason. This is not to discount the bond between Meg and Riley, because it is real and amazing. Riley and I have a different sort of bond; very hard to articulate, but I would never trade it for anything in the world. Even at her age, I am amazed. I look forward to watching our bond grow as she gets older.

I was thinking about how a cancer diagnosis affects the feelings and bond between a parent and child. Cancer tends to enhance all senses. My sense of smell is more acute, the sounds of Riley and the noises she make, I embrace. I truly love the way she makes me feel and have never appreciated anything more in my life. I truly cherish every moment she and I share together. I get that life is short and I really want to make the most of our time together. I love everything about Riley...from her booty shaking dance to the alphabet song, the splashing of the water in her duck tub, to the giggles she gives me when we play the tickle game. The gift of life is an unbelievably amazing thing and I have never been more happy in my life. Thank you Riley, for being the most amazing daughter in the world, you have changed our lives in the best way possible, you complete us. I will always cherish every moment that you and I share. You are definitely the best a dad could ask for.

Be well, liveStrong, and keep climbing!

Joe Schneider

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Cancer Free

Just wanted to share something I just received. I am on the board for a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society event. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Jamarielle was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia) in April of 2007 and in May of 2008 she relapsed and had to undergo intense chemo and radiation in order to prepare her body for a bone marrow transplant - which she had in September, 2008. She is 'technically' in remission but won't be 'officially' cured for 2 years. She is 10 years old and SERIOUSLY AMAZING. Here is her poem:

Cancer was the worst of all
at least for me
it was

I used to crouch down
just like this
but now
I'm standing tall

Cancer isn't all just blues
sometimes you have some hilarious
moments too

once I was in remission
and this much is very true

I bought some bacon mints
and got the nurses back
with an 'eeewwww!'

sometimes I would be super sick though
and couldn't eat or drink for a month

I would just lie there

with a tube
gone up my nose
and not even
a little grunt

when I'm home
I snore my way to sweet,

I dream of my cells living
in my body
as one
each little cell
has one of its own thrones

No cancer to fight
No cancer to bite

I am living the life
I always wanted
playing soccer
not worrying
about being haunted
by the cancer
that came

I am living the same
as before five
years ago
I'm out of harm's way
and from this day on

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