Gentlemen, we have the technology. We can rebuild her . . . . Better. Faster. Stronger.

A week ago, a cluster of violent weather systems moved through much of the Southeast, creating catastrophic tornadoes across numerous states, including Northeastern Alabama. Around the beautiful Tuscaloosa area, where the University is located, shopping centers and homes lie in ruins. My parents were fine, although without power for almost a week, but smaller towns like Rainsville were virtually destroyed. Trailer parks, of course, saw the worst of the damages. The death toll in DeKalb County (one of the hardest hit in Alabama) is over 50 at this point. More dead are discovered daily.

If you are able to help, there are several established relief efforts. The American Red Cross is one. You may also visit and purchase their “Roll Tuscaloosa Roll” t-shirt for only $10. 100% of the proceeds go to the Tuscaloosa Tornado Fund. (If you’re a Crimson Tide fan, this is especially sentimental.)

My heart goes out to this area of the country, especially in a time when most of the world is focused on deciding who deserves credit for the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. (I’m not denying the international significance of this series of events; however, there is a great deal of support desperately needed by the local people.) Many are unaware, but this is one of the prettiest parts of our nation. There are many places that will never be the same.

Around the same time as this was going on, I had my appointment to go over the one-year ultrasound to find out how the ol' cancer was doing. Turns out, there's some suspicious tissue where the tumor was, so I’m having a whole body scan to rule out further malignancy.  In the long run, this will be a wise move, as we all want to be able to say that we have officially destroyed the cancer. In the interim, it's (at best) inconvenient and (at worst) exhausting, because it means switching around medicines, and possibly coming off of thyroid hormone altogether. I’m not looking forward to being sick and hypothyroid for a few weeks. The good news is, the oncologist and endocrinologist seem to agree that it looks like scar tissue, especially since my labs (except liver enzymes) are in tip-top shape. I won’t even know when we start this 6-week process for another week or two. The Waiting Game begins.

In any case, I have been training, perhaps more consistently than ever in my life, and making progress. I joined up with a team of tri ladies who are a lot of fun and definitely in this sport to have a good time, like I am.  I am also taking the chance to give back to the tri community next weekend by being a “Swim Angel” for the Danskin women’s triathlon. A Swim Angel is a mentor who stays with women in the water who express the need for support.

There may be darker times ahead, but I don't see the need to let them outshadow the singularly brilliant moments of light.

I mention my own situation because we’re not so different, Bama and me. Both of us need a little faith and a lot of work. I have said before that a complete destruction or resurfacing of certain parts of one’s life is often necessary before one can move ahead, and that cancer was mine.

Right now, Alabama is experiencing that type of resurfacing, and it wasn't any more expected or welcome than mine was. I sincerely hope that this will become a point from which the residents can move ahead and rebuild – better, and stronger, than they were before.

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