Book Launch

Once again, an amazing turnout from our great community.  Thanks to all who came out to support us and purchase the book last night at the RAC, and thanks to the RAC staff for putting on a great event.

I've heard from several people who were unable to attend, but please know the book is still available for purchase in the Thrive Boutique at the RAC, so that's the best way to get your hands on a copy ASAP.

Thanks to Kula and Grace for snapping some photos for me...and yes, before you ask, Erin did pick out my outfit...

Wednesday May 29, 2013

Well, I may not have a paying job, but I am managing to be quite busy.  (I figure if I keep commenting on my unemployment here, the perfect job will magically appear...)  Yesterday, I took a trip to the Twin Cities for a morning TV interview on Fox 9.  They helped me to promo the book, the foundation, and the upcoming book signing event in St. Paul.  It went well, and I have to say, I am feeling at ease in these interviews.  I can talk somewhat intelligently about Shannon, our journey, the foundation, and this book.  On some level, this publicity stuff is becoming routine.  But, on another level, I take each opportunity to share our story seriously.  

That's why I/we wrote the book.  Not so I could go on TV or be in the paper.  I did it to make Shannon's story eternal and to help or inspire others in any way I can.  I did it to make a difference in this world, just as Shannon wanted.  It's the best I can do to honor her.  I do feel self conscious about the publicity surrounding the launch of the book, but I feel better when I remember it's not about me.  I joked with a friend last night that she doesn't have to watch/read every interview I do.  I figure if you're doing that, you are probably going to buy the book!  The goal, obviously, is to reach new people and new audiences while still honoring and celebrating with those who have been following our story all along. 

That being said, you can hear me again tomorrow if you'd like!  I get another chance to share our story on the radio with Tracy McCray and the ladies on Broad Talk at 10:00am on KROC AM 1340.  You can listen live here if you'd like:

Tomorrow is a really big day in this journey.  We reach the day we've been waiting for since this book project began.  Tomorrow, people can finally buy the book.  Starting at 5:30pm at the Rochester Athletic Club, people will be able to have a copy of Shannon's story.  We are hoping for a big turnout here in our hometown, and we know that each time a copy of Determined to Matter is sold, it will help us fund our Shannon O'Hara Foundation endeavors.  All of that feels really, really good.

So, come join us tomorrow.  Buy a book.  Bring a friend.  There will be plenty of copies available, so buy two!  Dan, Erin and I will be there to celebrate with all of you.  Can't wait. 

Saturday May 25, 2013

It is Memorial Day weekend and we are home with little on the agenda, which is just fine.  Dan and I sat down and went through our calendars for the next month.  In the next 30 nights, Dan will be away from Willow Lane for 16 of them.  Add to that three book signing events and a St. Jude Golf Tournament fundraiser for both of us, and you'll understand why we are happy to be home this weekend.

Two years ago today we were taking part in the Med City 5K walk.  With Shannon.  That was the day we all wore the white shirts with the "I heart Shannon" on the front.  We tried to convince Shannon to wear a special shirt that said "I AM Shannon" but she vetoed that idea.

That was the day Shannon was interviewed by Cris Conte from KTTC, and she uttered the words that carry us through on our tough days: "My life is going to mean something to someone, somewhere..."  Those words are now on the back of a t-shirt and in the front of a book.

In many ways, time has moved quickly since that day.  Erin is a completely different person than she was.  We are all changed, but none of us more than her.  Photos don't even do it justice, but I'm going to make you look at them anyway...

 This goofy little girl has grown up, and for all she's lost, she's gained much, too.  It's hard to scare her.  She has a confidence because she's seen some bad things and felt such pain and loss, and yet, she's finding joy.  We are, too.

Yesterday's joy came from watching Erin play in a JV golf event.  She loved it and handled herself well, playing with two sophomore girls.  Of the 25 girls playing, Erin finished fourth.  Pretty dang good for someone who is supposed to be in 6th grade!  She likes golf and has set a goal to be good enough to be a regular JV player next year.  You go, girl.

Erin has final exams this week and 8 days of school left.  She's ready to be done.  It's going to be a fun summer for her - golf, volleyball, cabins, and Europe.  Dan and I will probably have some fun with all that, too.

Dan will not run in the Med City this year.  A balky foot is curtailing his running these days.  But, Memorial Day Weekend will always remind us of those races he's run - his first half marathon just one just a month after he got sober.  The one last year in memory of Shannon.

And always, we will remember this day in 2011.  The beginning of the support that we came to lean on over and over.  We still do.  The beginning of Shannon expressing her wishes - what she wanted and what she didn't.  We have the video.  We have the pictures.  We remember Shannon.  We remember.

Thursday May 23, 2013

The Shannon tree in our front yard bloomed this week.  It's blossoms made me feel melancholy for some reason.  I guess it's a beautiful, sad reminder of a change in another season, of time marching on, of getting further down the road from Shannon.

Erin is reaching the end of her 7th grade school year.  10 days to go.  She has grown and matured and weathered some stormy times this year.  It is fun to watch your kids grow up.  We were talking about the things we want to do together, and we are becoming good friends.  She told me on the way home yesterday, "I speak highly of you, mom."  That's a two way street, my girl.  (As an aside,  I definitely need to get a job to finance the trips that Erin and I are planning to take!)

It's still hard that we didn't get to see Shannon grow and mature.  That is a part of parenthood that's expected.  You put in the hard yards - pregnancy, sleepless night with an infant, countless diaper changes, and the terrible get them ready for school and send them off to help them get through middle school and spread their wings in high school and college... you do all of this so you can see the people they become and then you know you did your job.  I still feel cheated sometimes.  And, I of course understand that my relationship with Erin is they way it is partly because Shannon is gone.  There's no denying that.

But, we accept that which we cannot change, and we make the most of life going forward.  I can still feel gratitude for where I am at, even on the days I struggle.  Dan and I are good.  Erin and I are good.  Dan, Erin and I are good.  Plenty of things in my life for which to be grateful.  

Tonight I am on the local 5 o'clock news to talk about the book and the upcoming launch event on May 30th.  I know it will feel good and positive to share our story.  I always feel uplifted after I get to share a bit of Shannon with someone.  She's still here with me in many ways.  I do hold onto that.

So, I've got 10 hours to figure out what I'm going to wear on air...I'm sure my girlfriend, Erin, will offer some friendly suggestions...

Monday May 20, 2013

I was sitting down to write a joy-filled blog this evening, only to hear news of schoolchildren in Oklahoma who have perished in a tornado.  Awful.  So hard to accept the unexplainable.

But, I'm still feeling the love from a weekend of celebration.  Saturday's book launch party brought together friends and family to help us toast the publication of Determined to Matter.  My publishers even came to town to meet the characters they've been reading all about!

My parents came in from Nevada for the festivities.  They were proud, and I guess no matter how old you are, it still feels good to please your parents.  Erin was happy and proud, too.  If you can get compliments from your tween daughter, you have to consider it a pretty good night.

But, the whole point of writing this book is to help us remember Shannon and carry her with us as we move on.  Sure, it's nice to have people tell you "good job" and writing a book does feel like a big accomplishment.  Of course I hope we sell a lot of copies because that will help support the Shannon O'Hara Foundation.  But, in the end, I wrote this book to remember Shannon.  To remember her spirit and to hopefully help others remember to live a good life in the time you have here.

Shannon symbolizes so much good for those of us who knew her.  One of Shannon's cousins, Sean, couldn't be with us at the party.  He had a prior commitment - graduating from college.  Seanny has a giant heart, and he carries Shannon's spirit with him.  He even took her along to graduation.

Friday May 17, 2013

My brain has been in overdrive this week.  Much has been going on, and most of it is good.

The best news this week is that I have a full set of teeth.  Finally!  50 weeks after my initial tooth extraction, my dental implants are in place.  After 3 oral surgeries, countless narcotics, 5 days in the hospital, 30 days with a PICC line in, and 11 months without teeth, I am whole again.  No part of that was fun, except getting to the end.  So that's that.

Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I did my dental implants and my radiation oncology follow up appointments on the same day.  Dr. Laack is pleased with the healing process.  I have some scar tissue that's causing a little loss of range of motion and, unfortunately for this lefty, it's on my left side.  But, there are exercises and stretches and even further treatment for that if necessary.  All things considered, I am healing very well.  The next step in my cancer journey has me heading back to the Breast Clinic to start a regimen of the anti-cancer drug, Tamoxifen, in the next few weeks.

All in all, a good week for me at the WFMC. (World Famous Mayo Clinic)

Now we are gearing up for a very fun weekend.  Family and friends are coming to town to celebrate the publication of the book.  All these people who supported us and believed in me as I took on this project.  This is the beginning of my great book adventure.  I am so excited to share it with all of them.  It should be quite a party.

Today brought us some solemn moments, though.  We attend the funeral of a woman gone too soon.  Breast cancer took Carla at the age of 50.  Her son Jordan is an only child,  and they had a beautiful relationship.  The love between mother and son, and the way they took care of each other is inspiring.  I hope he can carry on her spirit.  I think he will.

So I left the church today mindful of trying to live a good life.  Each time someone leaves this earth, I am reminded to enjoy my time here on it.  And each time I go to a funeral, I think about Shannon.  We can't know how long we will be here, so do it right each and every day.  Carla did.  Shannon did.  And I'm trying.

Wednesday May 15, 2013

It has been such a good stretch of days here and we have all been in good spirits.  Particularly Erin.  She has been feeling good and has just been a joy to be around.  We have evolved into this family of three, and we have found we can still have fun.  We weren't sure that would happen, so this feels like progress.

Erin is settling in to her place in our triangle, and I think she is finding her comfort zone.  She makes us laugh, and we share inside jokes with her just like we do with our adult friends.  Right or wrong, we often treat her like the third adult here in our house.

But, she still is just a 12 year old girl.  The other night, she asked me if I would play Mario Kart with her on the Wii.  An hour later, we had played not only Mario Kart, but several other games, most of which Erin won handily!  As I tucked her in that night, she thanked me for playing and then said, "Even though I'm mature, I still need a playmate sometimes."  Of course you do...

That made me realize that the improvement in Erin's mood has coincided with her being busy with friends and activities.  She has become very good at organizing her social life, and it's rare that we have to say no.  See, the cold hard truth is, with only one child, there is rarely a conflict that prevents Erin from doing what she wants.  She is my first priority, and, for better or for worse, I am at her beck and call.

But, I am happy to be there.  And, after what she has been through, I don't think Erin will ever fall into the spoiled category.  She has too much awareness of life's ups and downs to ever take anything for granted.  Some of her youth was robbed from her, but she is finding her way.

16 school days left until summer vacation.  Now that will make her really happy! 

Determined to Matter

OK, Rochester peeps - another self promoting post here:  the deadline for reserving your copy of the book for the kick off event at the RAC is just two days away.

To reserve your copy, email:
In the subject line:  book order
In the body:  specify hardcover or paperback and how many copies

Please reserve by May 15th - that's Wednesday!

Happy Mother's Day

Today I am thinking about the best job I've ever had.  I will spend the day with Erin and Dan, playing a round of golf and doing a little shopping.

And, of course, missing the one who isn't here.  Sweet Shannon made me a mother for the first time and, honestly, I didn't know what I was doing.  But, we figured it out together, and we did all right.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.


Friday May 10, 2013

It's been a good day for Team O'Hara.  Heck, it's been a pretty good week.  Dan had a successful sales week, I had a productive week around the house, and Erin clicked off five more school days which bring the total days left in the school year down to 18.

My productive week involved not so glamorous jobs like cleaning out the water softener brine tank and starting a riding lawn mower with a dead battery.  More than once, I might add.  See, I got it started with a jump from my trusty ol' mini van, but then when the mower ran out of gas, well, the battery didn't have enough juice to start again.  So, I had to push the lawnmower from the back yard down to the garage in order to use the van to jump start it again.  Nothing but glamour here on Willow Lane...

But, today was a good day.  My author copies of Determined to Matter were delivered this afternoon.  I have seen versions of the book along the way, but to see it in it's finished form is pretty damn cool.  I must admit that caused me to shed a few tears.  But, pride and joy came along with those tears, so I headed off to golf practice with Miss E feeling pretty good.

The best was yet to come.

We were hosting a meet at home and we had our 12 girls lined up to play varsity and JV.  It turned out that the other schools involved in the meet couldn't field a full JV, so we needed 5 more girls to step in and play today.  Guess who got a chance to play?  E was a ball of nerves, and waiting and watching 14 groups tee off first only added to her stress level.

But, when her turn came, she stepped up and ripped one off the first tee.  Playing with a junior and a sophomore, Erin handled herself just fine and got around nine holes with a score of 66.  She was so excited and proud.  So were Mom and Dad.

I had a moment out there with Coach Myhro as we watched Erin play the ninth hole.  We both recognized a bit of deja vu.  Seeing Erin out there doing that was wonderful.  Two years and seven days ago we were standing there watching Shannon do the same thing...

But today was about Erin, as it should be.  She's already hoping we can play a round of golf together as a family on Mother's Day.  Sounds good to me.

Sunday May 5, 2013

Dan and I are up enjoying coffee and sunshine.  Erin is taking advantage of the chance to sleep in.  She has been keeping quite the social calendar - she had a friend over Wednesday, a different friend over Thursday, out to a movie and sleepover with yet another friend on Friday.  To keep her streak alive, the three of us headed out to dinner at a friend's house on Saturday.  Erin is enjoyable and entertaining in all these settings, and we feel as though we continue to settle into our life as a family of three.  It's not too hard considering Erin is pretty comfortable hanging out with people ranging in age from 12 to 65...

Dan and I are very conscious of Erin and her needs.  With the publication of the book, this month is going to involve public appearances and lots of "Shannon stuff", for lack of a better term.  While the book and the foundation is really about all of us moving forward, to Erin it's a little bit stifling to have Shannon so present in our everyday lives right now.  Erin deserves the chance to live and laugh and be who she was meant to be.  We are doing our best to let her know that's all we expect.

Yesterday's radio interview went well.  While I'm not a medical expert, I am an "expert" on our journey and Shannon's battle.  I can converse easily about these things, and I do believe those dates and memories will be with me forever.

I was thinking yesterday that I don't cry as much about Shannon any more.  I don't know if that's a good thing, but it just is.  Maybe it's that I feel something positive right now with the book launch.  Maybe it's that we're further away from Shannon's death.  Maybe it's progress.  

I still feel a deep, painful heartache when something reminds me of her - a song on the radio, a game on TV, a story about her popping to mind.  Dan and I watched her tribute video this morning, and I can feel it in my gut when I hear her voice.  

But, we are grateful to have those things - pictures, videos, stories, memories.  I guess that's how we keep Shannon with us as we move further and further down the road...  

Friday May 3, 2013

If you don't live in SE MN, you might not believe the day we had yesterday.  Unless you saw us on the Weather Channel.  Over a foot of snow fell.  On May 2nd.  Schools were closed due to weather.  On May 2nd.  It was the heaviest, wettest kind of snow, and trees and branches were snapping off.

Luckily, Dan made it home safely from his travels.  Then, he proceeded to try and kill himself by attempting to save our arborvitae - this involved him climbing a ladder and getting up on the roof to do some snow removal.  I had to bite my tongue and try really hard not to mother him...

So, we are hoping for warmer temps and a weekend of melting.  Not much on our agenda, except for one radio appearance.

I don't want this blog to become all about publicity for upcoming events.  The great thing about this venue has been that I can share whatever is on my mind.  A chance to release some of my anxiety over things by sharing it with you.  That's a good thing.

But now, so much of my mental energy is focused on these book events.  I don't know if you all will find these things interesting, but I guess I just need to have confidence that you are rooting for me - for us - and hope that you can feel a part of the upcoming interviews/readings/etc.  This is where our journey is headed.

I do feel driven by Shannon's memory.  This is her story.  I want her attitude and perseverance to inspire others.  But, in order for others to know the story, I have to promote it.  I guess the end justifies the means.

At the heart of it is that I'm self conscious about what's ahead:  "listen for me here" or "watch for me there" or "read about me in that".  When I say "me" I mean "us" - our family, our community.  This is about all of us.

So, with that caveat, tune in this weekend to here "me" on Medical Edge Radio with hosts Tracy McCray and Dr. Tom Shives!  Here's how:

Saturday, May 4th from 9-10am Central Time

In Rochester, tune into KROC AM 1340
KROC AM is also available on the I Heart Radio app
Or, you can stream it live here:

Finally...The Book!

I have been impatiently waiting for May to arrive so I could finally say this is the month the book comes out.

So, folks, here it is - after a year long process, Determined to Matter is being published, and by the end of this month, you will be able to get your hands on it if you'd like.

The first chance to buy the book will be at the RAC on May 30th here in Rochester.  This event is open to the public, so come one, come all.  Invite your friends and tell them to invite their friends. The more, the merrier.

To make sure you can purchase the book that night, please reserve a copy.  See the important details in the red circle on the flyer.  Do it right now so you don't forget!!

In all seriousness, we are very excited to share our story, and we hope you can join us.