A look back at 2011

At the beginning of 2011, I was bald,  scarred, nursing a nasty radiation burn, and not ready to spend any energy on an end of year analysis of my introduction to life with cancer.

My life has changed a bit since then.

For starters, I have hair.

Judy Schwartz Haley

Photo by Darrah Parker Photography


There was some awesome

My little girl grew up so much:





While Aaron was finishing his master’s degree, Gem and I went on a 3000+ mile road trip with Grandma, through Canada to Alaska.


I completed cancer treatment with the help of some amazing people.

We took a couple trips to the coast


I was on CNN telling the world about my hero, Debbie Cantwell and the Pink Daisy Project.


I can’t say goodbye to the cancer experience just yet, I’m still dealing with some residual complications, but I am in the process of moving on. I did so much more than deal with cancer in 2011, but it featured prominently in my life.

Before we get to the rest of my life, I did write up a post detailing what a day of radiation treatment is like, which has been quite a popular post over the past year. I hope it helps people who are facing this treatment, and a little nervous about what they are in for. (I also wrote a similar post about chemotherapy.)


What else did I do this year?  

I learned you can experience beauty without feeling guilty for not taking a picture

I am still learning to look past the angry in others

I’m embracing the idea that improvement comes from habit  

Made a fun discovery in my journal

Random act of kindness: I received an amazing gift that still brings a smile to my face and checks my attitude every time I use it


Looking Forward

I am so ready to get on with 2012.

I’m not doing resolutions this year, instead I’m picking a couple of words on which to focus as a kind of guiding principle for the year.

I picked “habit” and “kaizen”

The two are related. By habit, I mean I’m going to be intentional about creating healthy habits, slowly and gradually, the same way my bad habits get their start. For instance, I’m gradually improving my diet instead of going on a crash diet cutting out everything at once. Kaizen was a new term to me, meaning small improvements made every day will lead to massive improvements overall. This year is going to be all about incremental, sustainable change.


Do you have any plans, resolutions, or words of the year for 2012?


Get Hitched Give Hope

Get Hitched Give Hope

What happens when you take a few good friends

get hitched give hope

Add some bedazzled furnishings

get hitched give hope

A little finery, and a little wine

get hitched give hope

And a few cameras?

get hitched give hope

Well, for starters, you end up with some fun pictures…


But more importantly, this event raised money for some pretty awesome organizations.

Get Hitched Give Hope brings together wedding related vendors from around the region, allowing the wedding party to meet the vendors, bid on wedding products and services, and plan their weddings while raising money for a great cause.

Brilliant, really.

And Swanky.

Food, wine, flowers, rhinestones, and feathers…

get hitched give hope

Vendors were there to show off the best of what they have to offer

get hitched give hope

And the Young Survival Coalition (an organization which has been of immense help to me in my cancer battle) was one of the beneficiaries, along with The Dream Foundation, which grants wishes to adults in the last year of their battle with life threatening diseases.

Such an amazing event. And thanks to all these events in October, we’ve got a good jump on hitting our budget for next year.  But I’ve got to admit, I’m thankful that October is over; I’m exhausted, and ready for a two week nap.

Also, I think I’m going to try to get one of those photo booths for all my events in the future. That was fun!

In Living Pink 2011 – Young Survival Coalition

In Living Pink 2011 – Young Survival Coalition

It sounds cliche to say that women who have faced down a life-threatening diagnosis really know how to embrace life. It is cliche. It’s not even always true. But my girls? My friends? They know how to party.

Suzanne Wastier - Young Survival Coalition


Friday night we celebrated and raised money for the Young Survival Coalition with our annual silent auction and dance party, In Living Pink.

The silent auction was wildly successful, and boasted donated items such as massage certificates, white water rafting, sight seeing cruises and flights, art, event tickets, A NYC package including Letterman tickets, Seahawks gear – autographed by players, jewelry, restaurants, vacation packages, and too much more to list.

Silent auction - Young Survival Coalition

So what does all this money we’re raising go to? Here’s a few examples:

  • $25 pays for a resource kit for young women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. This resource kit includes an organizer for tracking the onslaught of information that must be managed through treatment, an encouraging and helpful DVD “you are not alone,” a guide to services available to young women with cancer, and a chemo-hat – hand-knit by the mother of one of our members.
  • $50 pays for flowers for one of our girls in the hospital, or going through a rough patch
  • $125 pays for facility rental so we can bring in educational guest speakers on a wide variety of issues such as nutrition, dealing with the effects of treatment on sexuality, and post-treatment breast reconstruction.
  • $200 pays for the facility rental and therapist facilitator for twice monthly group therapy sessions.
  • $300 will send one of our members to our annual retreat at Harmony Hill
This is more than just a dance party, this event raises money that makes a difference.
But we do know how to have fun…
Nicole Taylor - Young Survival Coalition


Seattle Young Survival Coalition YSC

The guys, too…

YSC Seattle Young Survival Coalition

Hey, look, it’s me. (One of the best parts of having a 2 year old little girl: Gem declared me to be a “mermaid princess” before I left the house #mamaswoon)

Carrie Sieber Massey, Judy Schwartz Haley, Barb Greenlee

Thank you to everyone who contributed so much to this event, from the planning committee to the volunteers who put in so many hours the night of the party.

in living pink

The decorations looked amazing, Brooke from Movin’ 92.5 kept the party hoppin’, and Miss Shelrawka rocked the house.

Brooke Fox at In Living Pink, Young Survival Coalition

Thank you so much. I puffy heart love all of you.


coffeejitters border pink

You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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Harmony Hill

I’ve spent the past two days working on a couple projects that have had me knee deep in photographs from the Young Survival Coalition. That’s had me a little emotional, to say the least: memories, faces, friends…

One of those projects a presentation on our getaway to the Harmony Hill Cancer Retreat Center. I’ve just got to share a few of these photos.


There’s just something about the ability to get away from it all, and bond with the girls –


girls who have been through what I’ve been through…


at my age, rather than me being the youngest by 30 years…


Who knew getting our craft on would be so cathartic?


or so much fun


We noshed on homegrown vegetarian fare


Wined a bit


Practiced a little yoga


enjoyed the scenery



and got a little clarity.



The words on the back of our jackets:

“When it hurts
to look back,
And you’re scared
to look ahead,
Look beside you…
your friends
will be there.”


You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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On the radio

On Air

.This is the story of how I became an on air radio personality.

Ok, it’s not. I’m not.

It’s not even about me.

This is a story about Debbie Cantwell, and the non-profit organization she started on her kitchen table, all by herself, to help young women with breast cancer, like me.

This is the story of the Pink Daisy Project, and a generous donation from Bonneville Seattle and the Seattle Seahawks.

The Pink Daisy Project provides care and comfort to young women with breast cancer, by means of grocery cards, gas cards, drug store cards, and housecleaning services.

My little girl and I were invited to accompany Debbie, her mother, and Andrea to the presentation of the honor.


And a check that will allow the Pink Daisy Project to help quite a few more young women.


And then, the Seattle Seahawks presented Debbie with the 12th Man flag, signed by all the players.

Yes, of course, my daughter photobombed that shot.


Then we went into the booth, where Debbie told the story of starting the Pink Daisy Project as a way to pay it forward after receiving help from friends and family members during her own battle with breast cancer.


And she told us about her own Grandma Daisy, in whose memory this organization is named. Grandma Daisy taught Debbie, and the rest of us by extension, how to live and give back, even while battling breast cancer.


Andrea spoke eloquently about her two bouts with breast cancer on different coasts of the country, and the difference between one where she was surrounded by family, and the other where she was more isolated. The Pink Daisy Project was there for her when her family was far away.


And then I got a turn at the mic. Look out Seattle.


Actually, because the experience is still so fresh for me, it’s still quite raw. I still get choked up. My voice warbles at certain points. I have to take a moment…

Deep breath…

And my story comes out.

Pink Daisy Project Radio Interview

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Thank you to the Seahawks and Bonneville for your generous donation to the Pink Daisy Project, and the help it will provide for young women across the country facing this terrifying diagnosis. Thank you, also, for broadcasting the story of Debbie Cantwell, and how her work is so integral to the recovery of women like Andrea and me.

And thank you Debbie, for being there for me, and everyone else.

Pink Daisy Project on Facebook

Pink Daisy Project on Twitter

You can learn more about my cancer story here:

my cancer story | Judy Schwartz Haley


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