⚠️How I proceed. When my life flipped upside down seven years ago, I didn’t know how it’d affect me. Didn’t have time to think about it. Chose to deal with it by forging ahead and not letting the loss break me down. I did it for our sons who I knew were watching me. While I’ve always hated the label of widow, I’ve embraced the fact that there’s a level of strength that develops from being able to get up and get on with life. It’s not easy. I learn something new about myself with each passing day, each passing year. When you lose your rock, you have to figure out how to make it through experiences you never could adequately prepare for. You change. On this International Widows Day (yes, it is a thing), I salute the women who find themselves in this position. I wouldn’t wish the roller coaster of emotions that come with losing a spouse, and learning to live without that spouse, on anyone. The lessons I’ve learned may help others and that’s the bright side I choose to focus on instead of dark. Life is short, live your truth. Be happy.
Kimberly Alexander (left) poses with Elijah (courtesy photo)
Elijah Alexander was able to live out his aspiration and played for nine years in the NFL. He was also able to marry his wife, Kimberly Alexander and have two children.
“I felt like Elijah was living his fairytale,” Kimberly said. “There he was, the kid that always wanted to be in the NFL and he grew up and made it to the NFL.”
For years, he noticed that he was having pain in his feet. He went to several doctors about it and many dismissed the issue; some even said the pain was wear and tear from playing football. After getting a blood screening from a physician while traveling, Elijah learned the ailment had to be taken seriously.
“It was actually a trip to Costa Rica, when he got sick on a flight and when he landed, a physician was brought into his hotel,” Kimberly said. “The physician in Costa Rica was the one who ran tests and told him that his protein levels were too high and he needed to get back to the United States.”
Elijah was soon diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow and white blood cells. Kimberly began tending to Elijah, who battled cancer for five years.
Since Elijah passed away in 2010, Kimberly became an advocate for and supported many cancer-related organizations to continue to raise mindfulness and find cures.
“It’s such a confusing disease,” Kimberly said about multiple myeloma. “There’s no rhyme or reason as to why it happens.”
Kimberly is on the board of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and works with Standing in the GAAP, an organization that helps African Americans afflicted with Multiple Myeloma find proper care methods.
Kimberly continued to spread her story with her book “Fairytales, Fate, and Fortitude” which accounts her family’s experiences as Elijah battled the disease. Kimberly noted how she did not want readers to believe that their journey will be similar to Elijah’s and how treatments have advanced since that time.
“The toughest part of the book by far was having to reflect on what happened when it came to me having to explain to my sons what was going on with their dad,” Kimberly said. “Overall, I’m glad I did it, I’m glad it’s out there.”
Elijah also created a foundation called Tackle Myeloma Foundation to aide children with cancer. During his time in the hospital, Elijah was a neighbor to young cancer patients, according to Kimberly.
“He wanted to do something to help cancer patients, not only just myeloma patients, but also kids who have cancer,” she said.
Multiple Myeloma weakens bones and causes kidney problems. There is no cure for the disease, but there are treatments that can possibly put the cancer in remission. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as White Americans.
When African Americans are diagnosed, however, it is more likely to be a less aggressive form of the disease than the form White Americans are diagnosed with.
Early detection gives the patient a better outlook; Standing in the GAAP works to expose African Americans to treatments such as stem cell transplants and clinical trials.
“It’s the blood cancer that affects us more than any other, yet and still many of us don’t know anything about the disease and there’s been so many discrepancies found,” Kimberly said. “If us sharing our story helps them think about something that makes things a little bit easier for them, then to me, it means it was worth it.”
For the second time in two years luxury boutique, Christian Louboutin, opened its doors for a “Shop for a Cause” event benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas. Attendees were invited to shop, enjoy champagne and desserts with 10% of proceeds from the evening going back to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was an honor to host the event again and almost $5000 was donated to LLS. Thank you to the Dallas Christian Louboutin team and those who came out to support.
Wrapped up a busy Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month by visiting with Eddie Powell to do his The 285 podcast. We’re Twitter friends, our profiles crossed years ago and then we realized we had something in common, multiple myeloma. He’d lost his father to the disease. He reached out and asked if I’d be willing to talk and of course I said yes. Click on the link to check it out! Be sure and follow his podcast on Twitter at @The_285.
Join me Tuesday, March 21st at 10:30 AM EST as I co-host a Facebook Live event for Standing in the Gaap. Be sure and like the African Americans Living With Multiple Myeloma Facebook page so you can tune in. If you’re unable to join us live, you can check back in for a link to the event.
On Saturday, January 14th, I hosted my first vision board event, something I never would’ve even contemplated about four years ago. Why? Because I thought vision boards were all hype. All overblown, woo-sah, ah-ha moment, feel good hype. But then, back in 2013, I decided to do something different for the new year and created a board. I’ve been hooked ever since. I get so into doing vision boards now that I plan on getting my old ones framed. I save magazines all year just to have great content to choose from. The messages on them not only resonate with me at the time, but even once the board has been retired, they serve as a reminder of where I’ve come from to where I am. I love that. That kind of reflection is beneficial, helps you keep yourself in check.
So after sharing a post on Instagram about how it was time to get started on my 2017 vision board, a few people commented that I should host a little gathering for others also wanting to make a vision board. I wasn’t really convinced so I thought about it for a few days knowing I’d need to find a venue and plan it, but time was ticking. I went to one of my favorite shops, Chocolate Secrets, and talked to my friend who is the owner. She told me to just pick a date and it would be handled. That’s when I realized I couldn’t say no! She had me pulling my calendar on the spot, and just like that I’d talked myself into hosting an event with less than two weeks to plan. Thank goodness I had a wee bit of experience under my belt. With the help of the Chocolate Secrets team, MISSION: Move the Needle, A Vision Board Shindig came to life.
Why Move the Needle? It’s a phrase that’s resonated with me over the past few months. I’d found myself saying it when referring to issues where I wanted to see change. Not just talk, but executed, completed. So when deciding on a theme for my vision board event, it was clear. Vision boards are effective in helping you visualize your goals and stay focused on things you want to change. Let’s go in to this wanting to move the needle to benefit ourselves, create a vision board to game plan and take action in areas that we are no longer satisfied with.
So these amazing ladies joined me on Saturday. After introducing themselves and honing in on what they want out of the new year, I turned the music up a bit and we got to work. We had a blast! Most importantly many of the ladies left with their vision boards complete and that was so important to me. While this was my first time hosting a vision board event, I can safely say it won’t be my last. One of my 2017 goals is to host more small events. And yes, I put that on my vision board.
If I had to describe this year in one word it’d be WHEW! Funny how 2015 came to an end and what I thought would happen didn’t. And that’s ok. What unfolded instead was a year full of meaningful experiences that I never saw coming which made them even better. Here are my Top 5 personal moments in 2016!
In December I had the honor of sitting on a panel to discuss my experience as a cancer caregiver and the importance of clinical trials. As a part of the Standing in the Gaap program, I was able to tell an audience of state representatives why it was important for them to take information about myeloma (the number one blood cancer affecting African Americans) and clinical trials back to their constituents.
In January, Bevy Smith invited me on her podcast to talk about widowhood, the part of married life no one ever thinks to talk about until it happens! I was nervous! But being transparent with her is easy and she helped make talking about the worst experience in my life a bit easier with the hopes that it’d help others.
When I was asked the chair this event I was excited, but scared because anyone who knows me knows I don’t half do anything. With the cause being near and dear to my heart, raising money for blood cancer research, I was totally dedicated. The group of candidate and my committee were amazing! I was so proud of all of them, especially the Man of the winner, Dr. Brian Berryman, my late husband’s oncologist and Shannon Ridley, my brother in law who raised over $60,000 on his own in memory of my husband.
Talk about an emotional roller coaster! When I was asked by Celgene to attend the dedication of a conference room they’d named in honor of my husband in their new building, I didn’t know what to expect. I was stunned!
While I looked forward to seeing my youngest son graduate from high school, what happened next is by far the biggest moment of 2016 for me! Less than week after he walked across the stage to receive his diploma, my son was drafted by the New York Yankees. We were both stunned when it happened, even though we knew a week prior it was a possibility.
Thank you to those of you who kept up with me during 2016! I didn’t blog as much as I’d hoped, but I had a few good excuses. In 2017 I will be here more! Happy New Year to you all! I wish you nothing but peace, prosperity and positive thoughts!!! See you next year! xo
September is a meaningful month for me because it’s Blood Cancer Awareness month. It’s no secret that I welcome any reason to engage in conversation about blood cancer and share information, especially Multiple Myeloma. With events like the North Texas Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Blood Cancer Conference coming up on September 10th, and so much more, this month will be have me busy. There’s also the Meet Us at The Bar event I’m hosting to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on behalf of Off the Field. But as I get all fired up over those events, I have to admit that last month was remarkable too, quite to be honest.
August was the best kind of blur. I spent the start of last month jumping headfirst in to an event I’d always wanted to attend, but never had the opportunity to, the National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) convention. This year it was a joint convention, they’re partnered up with the National Association of Hispanic Journalist (NAHJ) making Washington D.C. quite to hub for media folks for several days.
As a newbie, I game planned, wanted to be a sponge, put myself out there and take it all in. I came back to Dallas inspired and feeling invigorated…as well as preparing to hit the convention again in 2017 when it’s in New Orleans. The opportunity to learn from and meet some of my industry favorites let me immediately realize importance of attending the conference. I’d always wanted to, but life happened. The week my youngest was set to graduate from high school a tweet about the NABJ conference just happened to pop up on my timeline. I immediately went to the website, booked my trip and the rest is history. I call it in investment in myself, I trust me, won’t miss another one.
This year Bar Method Plano is partnering with Off the Field, Players’ Wives Association to support our registration push for the St. Jude Walk/Run To End Childhood Cancer. Show up in your yoga pants and socks and be prepared to sweat it out for a great cause! We’ll be there getting our legs ready for the big event!
The Bar Method is famous for creating long, firm thighs, lifted seats and flat abs. It is a fun, high intensity, no-impact 1 hour class combining isometrics, interval training, dance conditioning and physical therapy. Your muscles will become more toned, sculpted and elongated, and your stamina and flexibility will increase.
Reserve your spot today and 100% of the proceeds will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. There will also be information for you to sign up for the Walk/Run to end Childhood Cancer taking place on Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Victory Plaza.
Bandier, the first curated luxury fitness, fashion, and music boutique located in Highland Park Village, will be on with a pop up shop and special offer to registered attendees.
SPACE IS LIMITED!!! Register today and get your space at the bar saved at the Early Bird rate of just $45!
The registration fee will increase to $60 once the reserved early bird spots are snapped up.
While digging through a box I came across a dvd I hadn’t laid eyes on in six years. It contained a few video clips from my husband’s NFL playing days, between 1993-2001. I popped it in the disc drive and waited for the memories to come flooding back. It was great to seeing him in action. The video had no sound making the images more powerful. I studied him.
Back then I knew less about football. I understood the basics, but in all honesty it was just his job to me. I hated being asked, “What’s it like being married to a football player?!” My answer was always the same, “Well I’ve never been married to anyone else so I don’t have anything to compare it to.” I was honest. I didn’t. Since that time my football IQ has raised significantly. When we were in the thick of things I didn’t get it, had no real appreciation for where we were in our lives or where we’d be going. Chalk that up to youth.
During his time with the Denver Broncos when he went to work, I went to school. I was studying journalism at the University of Colorado, I wanted to be a news anchor. We got married between my junior and senior year, so while my classmates got out of class and went to hang out with friends, I drove home to my husband. My concerns? Making sure dinner was ready and knowing all about who the Broncos would be playing on Sunday. That was it. HBO’s Inside the NFL was my favorite form of reality TV.
I’ll never forget one of my professors standing up in front of the class to tell us what to expect after graduating with a degree in journalism. He ran the list down just like this:
I did my internship at the NBC affiliate in Denver later that year. After it ended I couldn’t watch a local newscast without picking it to pieces. It was due in part to something I heard while manning the phones in the newsroom, “…if it’s not dying or bleeding, I don’t want to know about it.” Ughhh. Hearing those words from the news desk editor made my zeal for being an anchor wane. Needless to say, my dreams of being an anchor all but ended there. Elijah’s job meant I didn’t have the flexibility to establish myself in the news industry and I wasn’t sure if that was the right path for me anyway. I put my career aspirations on the back burner and focused on our family without regret.
I felt like if ever given the opportunity to jump into journalism like I’d originally wanted to, becoming an investigative reporter would suit me. I’d want to tell the story from top to bottom, identify the good guys from the bad and learn what makes them tick. Unlock mysteries. Solve problems. Oooh.
To find this dvd, reminding me of our football life just days before I head to NABJ, is a bit symbolic, perhaps a sign. It reminded me of what was and will always be most important, family. It also let me know that some endings aren’t endings at all, they’re detours. Maybe I needed to live some life to make me a better storyteller. Maybe I needed some depth. Whatever the reason, I’m embracing it. It’s time to pack my suitcase and prepare to dive in.