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You Just Never Know…

21 Oct

I know that everyone who knows me knows this story, but it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month… and it’s a happy story… so why not tell it again!

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You just never know what’s around life’s corner…

In June of 2010, I was busy being a wife and mother when I was given news that would change my world as I knew it. I was blindsided by a second breast cancer diagnosis. (The first diagnosis was 14 years earlier.) Thankfully, both were caught early (stage 2 in 1996; stage 1 in 2010) by my being diligent and having yearly checkups and mammograms.

Since this was my second diagnosis, there was no doubt in my mind that I would have a double mastectomy. I had a young son and a husband (who needed me!), so I was going to do everything in my power to not have this happen again. That would mean surgery, chemotherapy, Herceptin, and 5 years taking the drug Arimidex.

But my cancer story would take on an interesting and amazing twist.

While I was in the hospital, my husband read about a documentary feature film project called Life In A Day. Producers were asking people from all over the world to film their day on July 24, 2010 and send in their footage. This was an experimental documentary time capsule directed by Kevin McDonald (The Last King of Scotland) and produced by Ridley Scott documenting one day on Earth.

July 24th, “filming day,” happened to be the day I came home from the hospital following the mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. My husband Bob was hesitant about participating in the film project, but I reassured him that I was fine with documenting our personal day. I thought it sounded like an incredible project and right up his alley. (He’s a Video Editor/Producer). We thought it would be a great family project and something positive to focus on that day.

Neither of us realized at the time though, the positive impact it would have on our family. Our footage was chosen to be a central storyline in the film! We were flown to the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere, to Berlin Germany for the Berlinale Film Festival, and to London for the European premiere. Considering that we’d never been out of the country (and our son Bobby hadn’t been anywhere besides Wisconsin), it was beyond amazing for us to now be world travelers (and in a movie!)

During our film tour, we met many people who were impacted by our story of a family dealing with cancer. Many women approached us to thank us for sharing our story and they shared their cancer stories with us. The message of the movie was further evident to us when talking with families all over the world: Everyday, we all share common bonds as human beings no matter where we live on this amazing planet.

Looking back at this time in my life, some very important life lessons come shining through for me:

1) Take care of yourself by having annual checkups and mammograms. It can save your life and is as easy as scheduling an appointment. I never skipped a yearly checkup and I get chills thinking of the “what if’s”…

  • What if I didn’t have a breast exam in 1996 because I was only 37?
  • What if I had decided not to see the surgeon after the doctor felt my lump and said “I’m not worried, but I’d like you to see a surgeon.”
  • What if I had decided to skip my yearly mammogram in 2010 because I had been cancer free for 14 years
  • and what if I was just too busy being a mother?

2) Be your own advocate. If you think something doesn’t feel right or if you’re not happy with your doctor’s advice, seek out a second opinion. Go with your gut feeling because it’s telling you something important. I was blessed with incredible pro-active doctors but that’s not always the case. I’ve sat next to people during my chemotherapy treatments and listened to some heartbreaking stories in which people wish they had done just that. Listen to your heart and take action.

3) There is always a silver lining. Don’t let adversity stop you from living life to the fullest. We could have decided not to film our day, but we didn’t. We decided to keep living our lives by saying “yes,” and in return, our lives were enriched and immortalized by this incredible experience. Not only did it give us amazing memories of a lifetime, but it brought our family closer. And on a larger scale, we formed bonds with human beings all over the world—and had the time of our lives doing it!

I am a cancer survivor. I traveled the world, met amazing people and walked a red carpet with my family at my side. When I heard the word cancer again in June 2010, I could have never imagined the positive things that were ahead of me… but isn’t that the amazing thing about life?

You just never know what’s around life’s corner!

January 2011

January 2011

October 2013

Sweet Home Chicago!

30 Jul

June 29, 2011

Today Life In A Day officially premiered in theatres around the country! This little experiment that was supposed to live happily ever after on YouTube after its Sundance premiere has instead taken the world by storm. And how thrilling that we were able to travel with it from country to country–and then enjoy it right here in our hometown with our family and friends. We had a wonderful Life In A Day Chicago week…

The pre-screening at the Museum of Contemporary Art downtown…

Reuniting with the brilliant, fun, and absolutely delightful Kevin Macdonald and Joe Walker again…

While back at the ranch, the air conditioning at our hotel wasn’t working…

Lunch the next day with Kevin and Joe at the Cheesecake Factory. When in the U.S., eat BIG. And that we did…

I don’t think Kevin or Joe ate again for a week.

On Sunday (July 24), we headed out to Rosemont with friends to see the special Anniversary showing at Rosemont 18…

It’s a real movie… right up there with Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter!

And if that wasn’t enough to keep our 15-minutes-of-fame clock ticking, we were asked to come to the NBC studios in Chicago to be interviewed for a segment on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams…

We didn’t end up on the cutting room floor either! Below is the segment that aired on Thursday night, along with an article in today’s Chicago Tribune…

NBC Nightly News – July 28, 2011

Chicago Tribune – July 29, 2011

So there it is. Life In A Day has come full circle for us. A little sad, yes… but the beauty of a circle is that it never really ends. Our Life In A Day journey will be with us forever!

July 24, 2011

24 Jul

July 24, 2011

Last year on this day I was thrilled and relieved to be back home after four days in the hospital following my mastectomy.

It was a happy day. I felt good and we had a fun project to focus on. We were taping our day for an experimental project called “Life In A Day.”

Fast forward one year. The experimental project called “Life In A Day” became an amazing, powerful documentary that is getting world-wide attention. It’s a film that gave our little family a year like no other. A year that changed us, healed us, and will be in our hearts forever.

As I’m sitting here one year later–July 24, 2011–I can thankfully tell you that I’m cancer-free! I’m filled with optimism and a deeper appreciation for life. I’m looking forward to spending this day with my family and later tonight, with friends as we watch the US premiere of Life In A Day together.

I couldn’t say it better than Arsen Grigoryan did as he kicked off this magnificent film called Life In A Day…

THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!

One Year Later...Same Pajamas!

Highlights From Our Last Few Days in London…

7 Jul

July 7, 2011

Wednesday, June 15 through Sunday, June 19

The premiere was over and Life In A Day was gracing theatres throughout the UK, but we still had a lot of London left to see!

On Wednesday we were treated to a wonderful tour of the Google office by the gracious Kate McKeown (pictured) and Sarah Speake of the Marketing team…

We ate tasty food…

Toured their amazing office space (how can a meeting ever go wrong in a place like this?!)…

Found candy galore.  Everywhere you looked, there was candy and ice cream… and Bobby found most of it…

And had the chance to see friends we met while in Sundance, Anna and Lee…

A huge thank you to Kate and Sarah for a great afternoon!

The next day we met up with our LIAD family at a local Japanese restaurant…

Then walked over to Greek Street to see where Life In A Day was created. Right here, above Pizza Express, Life In A Day was born!

We continued our walking tour of London and found ourselves on Carnaby Street, as visions of Twiggy danced in my head…

A stop at Hamley’s toy store was a must (thank you to Lisa Forrest for heading us in this direction!)…

And we left with the coveted red thumb…

A frisbee break…

A trip to Kensington Palace to see if Wills and Kate were home. They weren’t…

But we found another prince inside…

A trip to the Science Museum…

The London Eye…

A local pub…

And the icing on the cake of our wonderful trip was a lovely English breakfast at the home of LIAD co-producer Jack Arbuthnott and his charming wife Gerry…

Where Bobby amazed his captive audience with a few magic tricks…

And left London without giving away his trade secrets. A true magician he is!

So, the Liginski World Tour has come to a close but memories of the places we’ve been will be in our hearts forever. This was the most amazing adventure our family could have ever dreamt of being on and we are so grateful to everyone who made this such a fairy-tale year for us.

Now it’s on to the United States premiere of Life In A Day…

Stay tuned…!

The People’s Premiere!

5 Jul

July 5, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We woke up to another beautiful sunny day–a perfect day for a premiere! Unfortunately though, we slept through the morning as jet lag finally set in. Oh well, knowing that we only had a few hours until we needed to get ready for the screening, we decided to stay close to home and explore Notting Hill. First stop was lunch of course… and we found that dough balls can really get your day off to a great start…

After taking in the sights of Notting Hill we went back home to get ready and meet up with the gang. A quick group photo and we were off to the theatre…

Some Red Carpet fun before the movie began…

And one of the interviews we did. (We come on at about 8:30)…

Life In A Day – The People’s Premiere

Once in the theatre, we settled in to watch the movie. Even though this was the third time I’ve seen the film I never tire of it. In fact, I always find something new, beautiful, funny, or touching that I hadn’t noticed before. I’m still in awe that we’re a part of this amazing film.

Afterwards, a Q&A with members of the audience…

Then off to the premiere party…

Marek and Bob with the beautiful and talented Liza, producer of Life In A Day…

What a day! What a year! We are so incredibly thankful for this experience. People thank us for sharing something so personal with the world but we believe we’ve received far more than we’ve given.

As we were leaving the theatre after the London premiere, a family came up to talk to us. They were a family just like us (a mother, father, and young son) who had been through a similiar experience as ours. It was the first time Bobby had the opportunity to connect with another little boy who had gone through the same thing as he had. They talked and laughed, even shared funny “bald” stories, and I could see in Bobby’s eyes just how wonderful this was for him. A little bond between two little boys. What an incredible gift. Connecting with people who have been touched by this disease has meant so much to us and we’ll cherish these moments forever.

So, as another Premiere day came to a close, we returned to our Notting Hill “home” to relax, reflect, and revel in our beautiful memories of a beautiful day.

Ahhhh… and what a day it was…

On The Road Again: Our Life In A Day Adventure Continues…

4 Jul

July 4, 2011

I’ve wanted to go to London for years.

Ever since Bridget Jones wrote her diary, Jemima J. lost her weight, and Rebecca Bloomwood confessed she was a shopaholic, I’ve been dreaming of a trip to London… and on June 11, my dream came true. Our family was invited to attend the U.K. premiere of Life In A Day. Of course we jumped at the chance to see our Life In A Day family again, be a part of the premiere festivities, and experience London.

Saturday/Sunday, June 11-12, 2011

We left on Saturday evening…

And arrived on Sunday morning. Our hotel was an 1850 Victorian five-story townhouse which sat on a picturesque street in Notting Hill Gate. It was a Meg Ryan/Julia Roberts chic-flick come to life… and I was in heaven!

The view from our 3rd floor room…

We were told that Stella McCartney lives across the street so when I saw what I thought could be Stella, her children, and possibly a nanny, the paparazzi in me came out…

What do you think? Is it her?

We were reunited with members of our Life In A Day family…

Then decided to do a little exploring with Dave, our friend and co-contributor. While on our way to Covent Garden, we found a familiar face right there in the Tube station…

Having arrived safely after our first Tube ride, we spent the first of many rainy nights taking in the sights and sounds of London…

Monday, June 13, 2011

We woke up Monday to a beautiful sunny sky and headed to London’s West End for press interviews. As we waited for our turn in front of the camera, we sat outside talking, eating, and sipping cappachino… another chick-flick moment come to life!

We can never resist dragging Kevin into a photo with us…

And here’s the finished product… our interview for Sky News:

Doco Shows Drama of Real Lives on Earth

With our interview concluded, Bob, Bobby, and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful sunny day to tour traditional British landmarks…

We weren’t sure what this was but it was big and old so we stopped…

Our Chip off the Old Block…

You can’t leave London without a picture in front of Buckingham Palace. Lucky for us… the Queen was in! We were trying to imagine what she was doing inside her “house” while we gawked outside. Was she watching Real Housewives, HGTV, Jeopardy???? One can only imagine…

And of course a stop at the Palace gift shop. Bobby loved spending his pounds…

Off for more sightseeing but first a call home to check on Fluffy and Al…

And then on to Big Ben…

Wait… I thought the Queen was at home watching the Real Housewives but we found her walking along the streets with us commoners. I guess even the Queen needs a little fresh air every now and then…

Lunchtime. What’s a trip abroad without traditional British McDonalds?

After lunch it was a visit to the London Film Museum where we ran into a few friends…

And a few enemies…

Then a walk over the Thames River…

Sealed with a kiss…

Ending the day with dinner in a Notting Hill cafe…

Back home again…

And time to call it a night…

We tucked in bed for much needed rest as our first magical day in London came to a close.

To Be Continued…

New Video: Bobby’s Life In A Day Adventure

23 Mar

March 23, 2011

I wanted to share this video that Bob just finished.  It brings back such wonderful memories! Only a few more months until the movie opens in theatres!

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