Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saving Bobbette - Donate Life

As some of you know, my best friend of eleven years, Bobbette, is facing a kidney transplant. This her not her first organ transplant. She received a liver transplant at the age of 3. Her parents were told that she MIGHT live to be 7. She is now 30. Unfortunately, the medications she has taken during her lifetime to keep her liver functioning have destroyed her kidneys.

We are now beginning the search for a kidney donor for Bobbette. A living donor is her best option. A kidney from a living donor will last twice as long as one from a cadaver. With this being said, we were also informed that at her young age, this will be one of two kidney transplants that she will be facing in her lifetime. A kidney transplant is only a method of treating kidney disease, not a cure. We were told by Margot Chaffin, RN, BSN (Bobbette's transplant coordinator at Vanderbilt) to "open the gates," to ANY and ALL potential donors. The best way I know how to do that is word of mouth. And those of you who know me know that I have a very loud mouth when I need to get a point across.

While we do not have all of the criteria for a potential donor, I'm going to give an overview of what was explained to her. Any questions you have after that, her sister, Annette, will be happy to assist with at the following email address: She will probably be referring you to Vanderbilt University Medical Center's toll free # for donors: 1-866-748-1491 (you will pick option 3).


1. You must not be on medication for high blood pressure.
2. Cannot have any heart conditions.
3. Cannot have been treated for any type of cancer within the past 2 years. If you have had radiation or chemo, you are ruled out.
4. Must have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 35% or less.
5. Cannot have diabetes.
6. If you are A or O blood type (+ or - doesn't matter), you can donate a kidney or blood. If you are NOT an A or O type, you can still help Bobbette. If you truly want to be a donor,then get tested to see if you match another recipient on the kidney waiting list. If you are a match for someone higher on the list, Vanderbilt participates in the nation wide swap program. Bobbette would move into their spot on the list. Example: Bobbette is #150 on the waiting list (it's hypothetical, don't know the actual #) but you get tested, match #75, donate to them, then Bobbette moves up to #75.



Annette has set up a Caring Bridge site to give people that may not know Bobbette more information on her and this medical journey.You can follow her progress and show your support.Visit the website in two easy ways:

1. Visit her CaringBridge website by clicking the link below.


2. Enter the website name, janisbobbettemiller, at

When you visit you’ll be asked to log in because she has chosen to keep the site private.

Let me take a minute for some personal thoughts: Bobbette has been my best friend for 11 years. When I first moved to Nashville, she was the only person I knew. We have been on many road trips together, lived together, and made so many memories that are priceless to me. We have spent holidays and birthdays with each other's families. She has taught me more about forgiveness and love and grace than almost anyone else in this world. She has held me on the floor while I cried, laughed hysterically with me, and held my hand through a lot of life's ups and downs. She is one of the strongest people I know, and I will fight for her life in any way possible.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and, hopefully, pass it on.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I Learned in 60 Miles - Part 1

Preface: For those who are unaware, I walked the Komen 3 Day in Boston this past weekend. It's 60 miles of walking over 3 days, plus fundraising, sleeping in a tent, showering in a truck, port-a-potties, medic tents, etc. If you haven't done it, it's very difficult to explain. Physically, it's the toughest, most exhausting thing I've ever done. But these next few blogs are going to cover the mental & emotional aspect of it, which is something I wasn't prepared for.

Being Proud

60 miles is a long walk, no matter how you break it down, especially when you aren't allowed to have your earbuds in. Sure, you talk to your teammates, other walkers, crew, etc., but after a while, you get tired of talking. You just want to walk. That leaves you with only yourself.

It was somewhere around the last 2 miles of Day One that I got lost in my own head. It had been raining. My legs and feet were hurting. Sweep vans were beginning to pass by me with more frequency. And while two of my teammates were walking with me (and I wouldn't have made it without them), I really felt like a different version of myself was walking in front of me, backwards, taunting me. "You can't do this. You might as well get on the van. Who do you think you are to walk 20 miles in a day? Just get on the van already. You're just going to fail anyway. Get it over with early." The good thing about sweating that hard is that people can't tell you're crying.

I refused to look up... for several reasons. I was seriously afraid that I would actually see myself talking to myself. I know that's a horribly incorrect sentence, but you know what I mean. I didn't want to see how far I had left to walk. I didn't want to risk anyone looking me in the eyes and knowing that something was wrong. I didn't want to answer the questions they might have because I knew that if I opened my mouth to speak, I'd lose it. I didn't want to lose it. I just wanted to finish.

As we fell in to a single file line next to the small orange cones in the road, orange shirts and hands appeared in the corner of my eyes. Several of the safety crew had lined up to cheer us on the last few yards. They weren't just cheering because it was their job. They were cheering because they were genuinely proud of what we had accomplished that day. As the entrance to camp came closer, I heard singing. The Men With Heart were lining the entrance to camp, dancing and singing 'Pretty Woman', handing out bracelets, hugs and high fives. Now let me just tell you, after walking 20 miles in the heat and the rain, you feel anything but pretty. I had to break down & smile though because to those guys, we really were pretty. It had nothing to do with what we looked like (trust me, I know what I looked like at that moment) and everything to do with what we had accomplished. They were proud of us. And when they scanned me in to camp, I was proud of me.

Find Out Who Your Friends Are

That same evening, I hobbled around 3 Day Village. I remembered that there was place to pick up mail, if anyone had chosen to send you some. Thinking I might have a piece or two, I started digging through the alphabetized basket. I plopped a couple letters that weren't mine back in, then started laying the ones with my name down on the table. The stack kept building and soon the other people getting their mail started watching as my mouth fell open. I had 13 pieces of mail. That alone started the waterworks again.

While the rest of my team waited to be called for karaoke, I started to read my letters. And let me say that these weren't just letters or cards that had been signed & tossed in the mail. Several of them were works of art. It was very obvious that each one had taken effort, thought and emotion. I was a blubbering mess after just one card. By the third, I could barely see. I'm pretty sure that I had to lay my head on the table by the seventh card. The last three really did me in. When you get a card from someone you've met once and the entire inside of it is filled with beautiful words written in blue ink, it gets to you. And when you open two more that are from people you've never even met telling you what an inspiration you are to them... well, that's something that can't be described. Your feet suddenly don't hurt so much. That blister that you just got bandaged? It's not so bad. Stiff muscles? They loosen up.

Heading back to my tent, I pulled out my phone and began going through all the text messages and tweets I had gotten that day. Again, blubbering mess. I wanted to lock them all in my phone, but that left me no room for new messages. That's a lot of messages.

As I laid down to sleep, I started thinking about the people who had sent me all of the cards, letters, texts and tweets. It struck me that a lot of the people I call my 'friends' weren't in that list. To be honest, they'd been somewhat absent since I had made the decision to walk The 3 Day. They didn't donate. They didn't help motivate me. Yes, they were there whenever I took the initiative to get together with them and they seemed interested in updates whenever I would offer... but there was definitely a disconnect. Snide and sarcastic remarks had been tossed around a few times when we'd hung out about being 'graced with my presence'. They didn't seem to be very understanding of the schedule I had to stick to for training. There were no letters or words of encouragement from them.

Looking up at the top of my pink tent, I became okay with the fact that there are circles in my life. And some of the people who I had let in to the Friend Circle needed to be moved out of it. Not because they're bad people, but because at that moment in time, I needed friends who showed initiative and understanding. They knew what I needed. They knew that while I probably could have suffered through without their encouragement, I'd benefit more if I had it. They didn't assume that I knew they were proud of me or rooting for me. They let me know in no uncertain terms that I wasn't doing this alone.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

For Lori

Even though this isn’t very long, it’s taken me weeks to write this because of emotion. And it may only be meaningful to one person, but that’s all I’m aiming for. This is for Lori.

My dear Lori:

You’re leaving in a few days, bound for California. More than that, you’re bound for a new start, a refreshed life. I’m not sad. I’m ecstatic! I can hardly wait to see what you do and the life you create. You are not simply a woman. You are a force, and when the smallest opportunity presents itself, I know you’re going to take it and fly with it. And know that you’re not leaving behind… you’re taking with.

Thank you for standing back up and continuing to live. I know you’ll say that you had no other choice. You had to do it for your girls, for your mom, for your brothers. You had to do it because there was no one else to helm the ship. But you could just as easily have stayed on the floor, curled in a ball. Someone would have stepped in, but the result would have been disastrous. Your girls will be better women because you stood up and took a step forward each day. It has been my honor to help you hold the wheel when you felt tired.

I wish I could make this letter longer, but the fact is, I'm not telling you goodbye. You're not leaving me or our friendship. You're simply moving on to the next chapter, and I'm staying around for the entire book. Everything else that I want to say here can be said simply in the next few sentences.

You are the definition of ‘friend’. Thank you for seeing things in me that I did not see, and sometimes still have trouble seeing, in myself, and for not letting up until I opened my eyes. You are truly ones of my heroes. You are a blessing, an inspiration, and a role model. I love you.