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Wednesday
Dec292010

Congrats, Coach K!!

Tonight, the Duke Blue Devils took the court in Greensboro, and beat UNC-G by nearly 50 points. Everyone played great -- Nolan was on fire, Miles had some incredible dunks, and Kyle quietly led the team in scoring with some beautifully silky shooting from the 3-point line. Our team played hard during every play, and when the last seconds ticked off the clock, Duke enjoyed one of its many, many victories.

But tonight was more special than usual, because Coach K moved into 2nd place on the list of all-time wins by a men's college basketball coach with...prepare yourself...880 wins. 

Yup, 880 wins. And the season just started. And we're going to continue to win. More than impressive, Coach K's career has moved into uber-elite status. And the best part about his success is that it is truly deserved. Nobody works harder than Coach K,  nobody cares about his team more, and nobody wants to win more than he does. On top of that, he's a great man -- committed to his family and the Duke community. As you can gather, Coach K can do no wrong in my eyes. 

I first noticed Coach K in 1991, when I was nine years old. Duke had made it to the Final Four and was on its way to a storybook championship. As I watched the team progress in the tournament, I gravitated toward three things about Duke.

The first was the "Cameron Crazies" -- the Duke students who painted their faces blue and cheered their hearts out for their team, game after game. I loved the passion that the Crazies showed for their team and their school, and vowed to myself that I'd always look for that kind of community and enthusiasm in the schools I attended and the places I worked. 

The second was Duke's point guard, Bobby Hurley. Hurley, who wore #11 and is known as one of Duke's best players, was a pretty scrawny dude at the time, but he dished the ball to his teammates with ease and played incredibly hard. He was tough as nails, and I loved him immediately. Even at nine years old, I fancied myself as a hoopster, and I tried to emulate Hurley's game throughout my basketball career and always wore #11.

The third, and the most lasting thing I noticed about Duke, was Coach K. I loved his intensity and his focus during the games, and I felt that he set a standard of excellence that defined Duke and defined what I wanted to be. At nine years old, I decided that I wanted to be excellent like Coach K and I wanted to go to Duke. Those dreams guided me throughout my life, and I know they've helped shape the goal-oriented, competitive, passionate person I am today.

So now you understand why meeting him a month ago was such a big deal for me. This man is my hero. The fact that he knows me and has supported me on my cancer-killing adventure just blows me away every time I think about it. He shoots me emails on a weekly basis, cheering me on and letting me know that he can't wait to see me in Durham (I'll be there for the Boston College game on January 27th, right before my surgery).

Tonight, I got to cheer him on. 

When the buzzer went off and Duke won tonight, as Coach K further cemented his status as one of the all-time great coaches in all of sports, I shed a tear. Out of pride for my school, out of joy for my team, and out of gratitude. I can't really express how grateful I am for Coach K's presence in my life, as a man on TV when I was a second-grader, and as the man inspiring me to keep fighting and keep beating cancer today. 

Coach K: my hero, as always.

Tuesday
Dec282010

The Good Life

You know, months ago when I was working 70 hours a week and packing my other waking hours with fun times with my friends and family, I would've told you, without hesitation, that I was living my dreams and enjoying my life thoroughly. And it would've been entirely true.

But these days, your pal WunderGlo is living what would be universally acknowledged as the good life. And it's really, really enjoyable.

Take today for example. I got up feeling great, headed to the gym with my mom (where I met up with Tim and Sabrina), had an awesome biceps and back workout, and then suited up for acupuncture with Mary Ellen. My acupuncture session went great and, as always, I left feeling relaxed and centered, yet full of vitality and energy. I spent the afternoon with my old friend Anna, checked out her sweet new apartment in Santa Monica (that includes a yard with a lemon tree -- how awesome is that?) and walked along Ocean Boulevard overlooking the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. We grabbed afternoon tea at the Tudor House -- I'm a pretty big fan of all British things, and a pot of delicious tea with freshly baked scones are no exception. On the way back to her place, we passed a musician on the Third Street Promenade who was playing the most enchanting music I'd heard in recent memory with some Chinese instrument I don't know the name of, and my mom bought me his homemade CD. As my mom drove us back to my parents’ place from Santa Monica, I reclined, put on my shades, closed my eyes, and listened to the music that remained just as enchanting as it was moments earlier on the street. Will soon joined me for the night, and we headed off to the movies to see True Grit, which was just as awesome as I knew it would be.

So now, I'm here with you all, recounting my day. My muscles are slightly sore after a great workout, my energy is high after a wonderful acupuncture session, my belly is filled with delicious tea, my soul is soothed by the memory of walking along the ocean, my ears are filled with the delicious music created by the unnamed Chinese instrument, and my mind is thoroughly satisfied by the fantastic movie I just watched. I'm realizing, dear readers, that I'm not only living a great life these days, but a truly blissful existence, filled with love and fun and happiness.

Not bad for the Tuesday after chemo, right?

Monday
Dec272010

Chemo Round 6

Today marks what would have been my last round of chemo before my surgery with Sugarbaker, but given how well I performed so far, I earned another round. Today, then, marked my second to last -- penultimate, if you will -- chemo before the Sugarbaker show. I felt great as I woke up, put on my Great White Shark shirt that my OMM friend Jillian bought me (I suspect she wanted it to become a chemo shirt and, if so, she totally succeeded), had some yummy Christmas leftovers, and headed to USC Norris.

I was a touch late to my appointment with Dr. Lenz, and I had to face the music when he flew into the room. He teased me about being late, knowing that it couldn't be because of traffic (very true), but because of, as he said, "too many parties." He was right -- I did stay up a little late last night belting out tunes to Rock Band 3 with Will and my dad, and had to hit the snooze button a couple of times this morning.

The rest of my meeting with Dr. Lenz went well and was very fun. We planned my final round of chemo (which will be on January 10), my final set of CT scans (which will be on January 18th), and my final appointment with Dr. Lenz (which will be on the day before we take off for the cross-country trip to D.C.). We had a good time talking about the book and the blog, and I got a big hug before I headed to the Day Hospital for the last cancer killfest of 2010. I know I'm already going to miss him while I'm on my East Coast adventure, but I'm comforted by the fact that 1) I have a feeling that I'm going to love Ilse Sugarbaker and Dr. Sugarbaker so I'll be distracted, and 2) I can always call and email if I want to get a dose of Dr. Lenz. The only drawback to enjoying people so much is that you miss them when you're not around them. A small price to pay, though, in the grand scheme of things.

The chemo treatment itself was great. The best nurse at Norris took care of me, I spent time with Sabrina (who finally got to meet Dr. Lenz, which was awesome since she's the one who got us in to see him way back when), I caught up with my old friend Tiffany and her mom Carol, I snoozed while getting a foot rub from my dad and listening to Mumford & Sons, and I shared lots of laughs with Will and my mom.

As always, chemo day was awesome. It's always great to kill cancer, but when you're doing it with such wonderful people surrounding you and supporting you, it couldn't be better.

Sunday
Dec262010

Week in Review/Week in Preview

After a wonderful and fun-filled Christmas, it's time to reflect on the week gone by and the week to come. Not sure how every week proves to be more exciting than the last, but I'm going with the flow on this one.

Week in Review

  • Started off the week with a wonderful time at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Blind Boys of Alabama did not disappoint.
  • Knocked off all my Christmas shopping in four hours at the Westfield Shopping Center in Century City on Tuesday. Toured the impressive MGM offices before my shopping adventure courtesy of my friend and MGM employee extraordinaire, Aymee.
  • Spent Wednesday at OMM -- a slightly belated birthday lunch with Sabrina at Lazy Ox Canteen (the rice pudding is divine) followed by some good, solid book-writing, with lots of hanging out with my OMM family sprinkled in between.
  • Celebrated Christmas Eve-Eve with a reiki treatment, batting cages, lunch with Tim, and Christmas tree decorating
  • Grabbed lunch and caught up with my good friend from high school, Meghan. Followed that with some Christmas Eve ice skating at L.A. Live with Will. Decided that I wanted to sweat a little more, and headed to ESPNZone for some serious arcade games (I don't need to mention that I beat Will at every basketball shootout contest we had (that makes me 4-0), but I wanted to). It's pretty funny -- I barely break a sweat when I'm pumping iron at the gym, but after I'm finished playing air hockey or arcade hoops or Dance Dance Revolution, I'm soaked.
  • Christmas Eve Evening celebration at my uncle's house. Loved spending time with my cousins especially, who made me the coolest Christmas present: they gave me a floor length mirror, decorated with pictures of us, quotes, notes, and, of course, pictures of Rocky (and the cast of Jersey Shore, naturally). The picture on the right is me with one of my cousins, Samantha, just acting normally.
  • Big Christmas Celebrations on Saturday -- opening presents on Christmas morning with my parents (I got a ping pong table, sweet new clothes, lots of stuff from my favorite store (Kid Robot), and tickets to the Lakers/Heat game), spending the afternoon with Kobe at the Staples Center (the Lakers lost, but luckily, we're months away from the playoffs), afternoon and evening festivities at my place in downtown (I ate so much that I managed to actually feel stuffed, which doesn't happen often given my newfound monster appetite), a quick trip to Sabrina's house to see her family and especially her adorable little ones, and a late-night session of DJ Hero and Rock Band with Will and my dad.
  • Resting and working on the book today...going to see Next to Normal tonight (another Christmas present)
  • Watched Duke continue their reign as the best team in college basketball, now 11-0. Our Senior leadership is for real.
  • Finished watching my new favorite TV Show, Boardwalk Empire. Who knew the history of Atlantic City could be so riveting?
  • Took all my vitamins, got all my Lovenox shots, meditated, rested, drank water, celebrated the holidays in grand fashion, killed cancer.

Week in Preview

  • Chemo Round 6 -- bring it on, baby! Can't wait to see Dr. Lenz and get the party started yet again. One one more round after this! I'm going to miss Norris, but I'll be back after surgery.
  • Acupuncture with Mary Ellen on Tuesday -- spending the rest of the day relaxing in Santa Monica with my friend Anna.
  • Belated Christmas gift exchange with Nick, Jessica, Aymee -- I'm not going to point any fingers at why this gift exchange is belated, but Nick didn't get his present together in time for our previously scheduled date. I guess I just pointed my finger!
  • Taking off for DC on Thursday -- looking forward to spending quality time with my second cousin, Vivian, and her family in Maryland.
  • Driving to NYC for NYE, and spending the evening in the city for what will be a crazily exciting and memorable night.
  • Sitting front and center for the matinee showing of Time Stands Still on New Year's Day. So incredibly excited to see Laura Linney.
  • Enjoying the chilly weather on the East Coast. If there are snowballs to be made, I will make them. And throw them at Will and my parents, especially when they're not looking. (I'm a little devil in the snow.)
  • Continue taking all my vitamins, hitting the gym, taking all my Lovenox shots, living life to the fullest, and thoroughly annihilating cancer.

Enjoy this last week of 2010, everyone!!

Saturday
Dec252010

Celebrating Christmas

I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas holiday, and enjoying your time with family and friends. For those of you without cancer, I hope you spiked your egg nog. I'm getting all the special sauce I need on Monday when I breeze through my sixth round of chemo.

Amidst all the craziness of getting my place holiday-festive in preparation for Christmas dinner and buying gifts for my whole family (the rule was that everyone would only buy gifts for me this year, but I flipped the script and bought presents for everyone), I started thinking about the significance of this day. On Christmas, fans of Jesus celebrate the birth of Christ, the day the big J.C. started his life here on Earth. This holiday, for me, has been one of rebirth. 

This year, because of my cancer diagnosis and the way I've approached my ever-closer annihilation of this disease, I've been given an opportunity to stop pushing forward with my life and enjoy each moment, in the moment. Before my diagnosis, I'd never really stopped looking forward to that next goal. I'd never stopped thinking about how my present actions could shape the future. These days, life is still very much about the future, but even more so about the present. I've been given an opportunity, because of "the cancer," to reinvent myself -- to be reborn -- as someone who soaks up all the beauty of my days without always planning for bigger and better things. Because this moment is the bigger and better thing.

Christmas Day has always been one of my favorites, but when you're living life in super-HD, it's hard not to marvel at the true beauty of the day, as families and friends get together, talk, laugh, eat like little piggies, and exchange gifts inspired totally by love. My Christmas has certainly been fantastic so far -- with Christmas Eve celebration at my uncle's house last night, opening presents with my parents and Will this morning, and the Laker game with Will this afternoon -- and I'm sure it'll only get better as the day continues. When you're surrounded by people you love, it's hard not to have a great day. 

Merry Christmas, everyone. WunderGlo wishes you a day filled with joy, love, and fun.