Sunday, September 18, 2011

9.17 Benefit

Good Morning!
I'm writing this morning in Holyoke...yesterday, the community here put on a benefit to help us by raising money that will go to help us catch up on our bills, etc. The event was incredible, and I know that there are some of you who read my ramblings and would like to know exactly what went on.
The day started for us with a drive to Holyoke. Generally speaking, the drive isn't our favorite thing in the world, but yesterday we were actually quite excited because we've become intensely obsessed with a book series called
The Hunger Games. If you haven't read any of these books, you should find a deserted Island and go there with the books (three of them...we are midway through number two) and read. The drive gave us several hours lost in Panem. Once we got to Holyoke, it was time to watch the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Unfortunately, the Rams didn't prevail, but we enjoyed watching the first half anyway.
It was finally cool outside and the clouds followed later by the sun made it so the temperature outside was quite nice. To begin the benefit was a golf tournament that fielded around twenty total teams. We played and it was fun to travel around the golf course and listen to all the fun being had. Each of the holes had a pin prize. Some were for "normal" golf things while others were for things like being closest to a flag in a sand trap. The tournament lasted for nine holes before the event transferred over to the local Vet's club for happy hour, steak dinner and a silent auction.
The Vet's club has a large room that was filled with long banquet tables covered in purple and white balloons. Along
The tables were also pictures of Kurtis doing various things with family and friends. Served for dinner were plate-sized steaks and baked potatoes served in a tin foil wrapper. There was also a salad for all the adult types that like that sort of thing :) everyone seemed to enjoy the drinks and well as checking out and bidding on many of the silent auction items. Around the outside of the room on the east side were tables covered in auction items. People were extremely generous and donated all kinds of things to be auctioned, homemade blankets and pillows, gift baskets, various gift certificates, handmade jewelry, doorstops, clothing, were among the items for sale.
After dinner, the live auction took place using a live auctioneer. There were many things up for grabs...a fire
hydrant, sports tickets, golf, stays at a cabin, and a game-used Todd Helton helmet were only part of the line up. It was a fun auction for everyone - with great items and an even better atmosphere. In addition to all of that, there was also a putter that had been purchased to raffle off. The man who won it turned around and donated it to the auction which was an incredibly generous thing to do.
Following the auction, the large room was cleaned up while auction winners collected their items. A dance took place with people staying for or coming to the festivities. A lot of Kurtis' family was able to not only coke to the benefit, but also stay for the dance and we enjoyed seeing and hanging out with them. Some of our friends were also in town and that made it more fun. After midnight, we headed back to Kurtis' parents' house and crashed out for the night.
There were a lot of great things going on yesterday and I'm confident that I'll never be able to properly express the gratitude that Kurtis and I have sitting in our hearts right now. To write that this was thoughtful, incredible, meaningful, amazing, and exceedingly kind...I would still be only describing about 1% of what yesterday meant to the both of us. To everyone who helped to organize and run yesterday, to those who donated items to be auctioned, to everyone who came to play golf or eat or dance, to those who supported us financially through the purchase of tickets, items, and straight up donations ... THANK YOU. Thank you for helping us. Thank you for caring enough about us to aid us in any way you were able to do so. Thank you from the bottom of our grateful hearts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Continued Good News and Self-Check 10-18


Time from a quick update from our neck of the woods.  Today has been rainy and grey.  Normally, this sends me into an angry tirade all day...and my poor students have to listen to me moan about how much I hate rain...but not today! My classroom has been a bazillion degrees since we've started school and the cool air circulating around my room felt more than fabulous today.

Since Kurtis' HCG has been "less than two" the doctors ordered the high sensitivity test.  We have since learned that Kurtis' HCG is .5 which great news.  Right now, there aren't a lot of things that we're doing medically for Kurtis.  He's taking oral chemo which doesn't impact his daily life too much.  Sometimes he's tired and occasionally his stomach hurts, but for the most part, he's "normal."  In order to make sure that he should stay on the chemo, he also gets his blood drawn once a week to check for various levels, etc.

Life has normalized for us somewhat which is positive.  In October, we will hit the one year anniversary of Kurtis' initial diagnosis.  When I look back at the past year, there are a lot of things that I've learned and ways that I've grown.   There are a lot of people who feel really bad when they find out what we've been through over the last year, but in a lot of ways the things that we've experienced have really impacted our lives in a positive way.

I know, it sounds strange... but consider the following...

...the type of cancer Kurtis has isn't forever.  It isn't something that he'll have to carry in his body for the rest of his life.  Sure, the treatment has been hell (to put it nicely) and it isn't something I'd wish on my worst enemy, but there are a lot of sickness that don't go away.  His is on its way out the door as my fingers tap along on this keyboard.
...the sunrise, the sunset, rainstorms, afternoons in the hammock, baseball games, dinner out, reading books, drawing, writing, dreaming, and playing among everything else we do is now in technicolor.  Life has never seemed so bright - even the simple things.  Both Kurtis and I have learned not to "live in the moment" but to "love the moment".  Of course, we're still future-minded, but it is nice to be able to love the moment you're in - and notice the small things.
...Kurtis and I have been through a whole lot together.  I think there are a lot of people who are approaching marriage...right around our age...who have not been through the firestorm we've just walked through.  I've discovered how nice it is to look at your partner and know that no matter what, they've got your back.  There might be puking involved - or scary hospital stays - random frustration fits - or moments when you don't know what to do, but at least you have someone with you all the time that gets you and that you just get too.
...Families rock.  Our families are fabulous and I can't imagine being here right now without them.  Parents are great and they know how to do everything - from calm you down on a rough day to making sure that you have everything you need to survive. 
...Friends and co-workers rock too.  Ours have been so supportive.  From our close friends that live in Fort Collins to the staff at my school and our lacrosse families we've had so much help that never went unnoticed. 

It's hard to say things like "I'm glad you got cancer" or "I'm glad cancer touched us"...because, truth be told, there is no way that we'd like to repeat this whole process.  BUT - since it happened, there are a lot of things we've learned and a lot of ways that we're better off because of what we've been through.

In addition, I'm gearing up a program aimed at teens called "Self Check 10-18" is only in the beginning stages right now, but what other way to throw out an intro to it than in this blog where you have followed our moves through this journey.

Working with kids (high school mostly) makes it so I know a few things:
-HS kids are awkward.  All of them.  So were all of us when we were there.
-Testicular cancer is rare, but if you break down the ages of kids who are diagnosed, many of them fall into the HS age - or the close to HS age.
-Because they are unsure about who they are, they are also confused about everything else (what time class starts for example...haha) - including their body.
-I don't want ANY kid who finds a lump to not tell someone because they are embarrassed about it.

So...for these reasons I decided that one thing I could do to give back, spread awareness, and ultimately make 10-18 a positive day instead of a negative one.

Self-check 10-18 will launch at my school in classrooms on the 18th of October (Kurtis' diagnosis date).  10-18 in police "ten codes" also means urgent which I found appropriate.  In short, teachers will talk to kids about the importance of knowing their own bodies - and most of all reporting something to an adult who can help them if they find something odd.  It's not about scaring kids, but just about having an honest conversation helping them to feel less afraid.  In the future, I'd love to get people that kids look up to speaking to this, but for now, we'll start small and work from here. 

I'm launching a facebook page today, and if you're connected to facebook, I'd appreciate it if you'd add it.  It takes a certain amount of "likes" before the page can have its own name, and I'd like to get that done ASAP.  So - you should be able to search Self-Check 10-18 and find it!

As time goes by, I'll make sure that more information goes up as I have it :) 

ALSO (I know, this post is long...hang with me) There is a benefit for is the information from the Holyoke Golf Club:
Join us for a benefit for Kurtis Huss! Saturday, September 17th 4-Person Scramble Golf Tournament @ Holyoke Golf Course: 2pm-5pm $200/Team. Includes Golf, Dinner, Auction and Dance. Dinner tickets can be purchased separately for $30/ticket. Call Toby Thompson, 970-580-0581 or Ben Rahe,970-520-7022
Hope everyone is doing well and we're sending love to all!

Liz (Kurtis and Chauncey)