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Strudel Blog

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We have known for a while of course that we probably would not be able to gather for EX 8 in Virginia Beach in mid- May. With the announcement of a “stay at home order” for Virginia until June 10th, we knew it was time to make it official. It is very sad of course - but, as Giulia said this morning about it -   "because we can't get together this year just means the next get-together will be that much more meaningful and precious."

This is what we wrote in an email to folks last night - 

 

“As most of you have probably expected, we have decided to cancel EX 8 as planned in mid May. The governor of Virginia has announced a “stay at home order” until June 10th. Even if that is changed, I think that it just is not a safe time for any of us to travel. 
Even trying to predict when this will get better would be difficult at this time. Therefore, in my opinion, it will be best (at this point) not to attempt to set a new date. We will have to wait and see....
Please contact the hotel to cancel your individual reservations. 
Of course in the overall scheme of things in our world right now, this is a small thing. However, I know we will all miss seeing each other! The really important thing is that we all stay safe during this very troubling time. 
Please take care dear friends! 
Love, 
Kathy, Laura, Brenda, and Jackie”

 

The song - “We Will Meet Again...” has always been a special to me - and I thought of it the other day in terms of missing all my friends. And now - thinking of missing seeing my dear EX friends - I am reminded of it again. The woman who made it famous in WWII - Dame Vera Lynn, turned 103 by sharing an inspiring message reminding listeners to 'keep singing'. (You can hear her voice at the end of the song.) 

“Music is so good for the soul, and during these hard times we must all help each other to find moments of joy. Keep smiling and keep singing."

(Hope that works - I don’t often post videos!) 

Strudel

Please join us!

Posted by Strudel Jan 29, 2020

Each year, since 2013, people who have met here on EX, have gathered informally. It has always been an incredible weekend of laughs and tears - of making new friends and of thanking folks we had met here for making such a difference in our quits and in our lives! I realize that for some of you the thought of traveling far from home to meet folks you have met online seems pretty outrageous! However, I can assure you, that you won’t regret it! 

 

 

I will post the details below. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

 

 

Dates - MAY 15 - 17, 2020

 

Place - Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Virginia Beach - Location - 2809 Atlantic Avenue Virginia Beach, VA 23451

 

Drive or fly into Norfolk, VA 

 

The rates given to us by the group sales person, Amy are listed below. You will also see the directions on how to book your room below. PLEASE, reserve your room as soon as possible. Rooms fill up fast at the beach in the spring. Amy has saved a block of rooms of both types for us....and she will hold those open for a while. These are refundable rooms - if canceled at lease 3 days before.  Also, many folks often pair up to share rooms. So, please feel free to do that. Or, you can discuss it on the site in order to find someone to room with. Of course also feel free to book your room through any other method - using any site or discount you may have. Or, you may choose to stay at another hotel. Sometimes folks who live in the area - drive in from home each day.

 

Once you have booked your room, please make a comment on EX - or send a private message to me. (Strudel ) - so that we can keep a list of attendees. Some people come for the weekend, others stay longer. Quite often folks start coming in on Thursday and stay until Monday. It is all up to you!

 

RATES for weekend of May 15-17 -  

Ramada Plaza - Oceanfront rooms Friday and Saturday - $159.00 and $139 for Sunday – Thursday

Ramada - Non-Oceanfront - Across the street - Friday and Saturday - $119  and $109 for Sunday - Thursday

 

Amy, the group sales person at the hotel has confirmed our block of rooms. Since they have changed brands, the oceanfront hotel is now called the Ramada Plaza and the non-oceanfront building is just called the Ramada. The reservation phone number for both hotels is (757-428-5370). Tell the hotel that you are part of the “Become An EX” group. If you would like an oceanfront room - ask for the Ramada Plaza and ask for the Ramada if they want non-oceanfront. Unfortunately, breakfast is no longer complimentary, but will be available for purchase from the ala cart menu in Shoreline Grill. As in previous years, we will use the Shoreline Grill as a gathering place. We will also communicate by text once we get there, as we have in the past.  

 

The committee will be working on sharing information and ideas on activities while we are there. Folks are always free to do things on their own too. Things are very informal. We usually plan a big group activity on Saturday morning and then another on Saturday evening. Any ideas on activities - please let us know! Thanks! Kathy

 

PS - Be sure to visit and follow the group - EX Weekend 2020 - Virginia Beach 

Strudel

EX 8

Posted by Strudel Jan 14, 2020

As you may know, Brenda Brenda_M  recently conducted a poll to select the location for the EX 8 gathering. (This is an annual informal gathering of anyone from EX who would like to meet some of the friends you have met here. I can tell you that it is an amazing experience and I hope that many of you will consider attending.) Virginia Beach, Virginia was selected for our spring gathering.

 

We thought we would be able to attend during the weekend that the “Beach Music Cruise In” was taking place. We were given the dates of May 15-17 for that event. We contacted the hotel we have used for two previous reunions and we were in the process of reserving a block of rooms. Unfortunately, we have just learned that the folks who are planning the “Beach Music Cruise In” have changed the date to May 8- 10. Sadly, the hotel we are using does not have the block of rooms we would need for that weekend. We have had good feedback on that hotel - especially since it offers the option of staying across the street for a lower rate, which many of our attendees like. Also, the weekend of May 8-10 is Mother’s Day weekend and we felt that might be a conflict for many. Choosing a weekend earlier than that means taking a bigger chance of cool weather. After the weekend of May 15-17, we would run into Memorial Day and much higher rates.

 

SO, our little planning committee (Brenda Brenda_M, Jackie JACKIE1-25-15, Laura Michwoman, and myself Strudel) have made the decision to stick with the May 15-17 weekend. We are sorry that means we will miss the beach music - but, we know there will be plenty of fun things to do! We hope you agree! And, we hope that you will consider attending! So, please mark your calendars for MAY 15 - 17, 2020

 

The hotel has changed names. It is now called - Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Virginia Beach - Location - 2809 Atlantic Avenue Virginia Beach, VA 23451.

 

The rates given to us by the group sales person, Amy are listed below. You will also see the directions on how to book your room below. PLEASE, reserve your room as soon as possible. Rooms fill up fast at the beach in the spring. Amy has saved a block of rooms of both types for us....and she will hold those open for a while. These should be refundable rooms. Also, many folks often pair up to share rooms. So, please feel free to do that. Or, you can discuss it on the site in order to find someone to room with. Of course also feel free to book your room through any other method - using any site or discount you may have. Or, you may choose to stay at another hotel. Sometimes folks who live in the area - drive in from home each day.

 

Once you have booked your room, please make a comment on EX - or send a private message to me (Kathy - Strudel ) - so that we can keep a list of attendees. Some people come for the weekend, others stay longer. Quite often folks start coming in on Thursday and stay until Monday. It is all up to you!

 

RATES for weekend of May 15-17 -  

Ramada Plaza - Oceanfront rooms Friday and Saturday - $159.00 and $139 for Sunday – Thursday

Ramada - Non-Oceanfront - Across the street - Friday and Saturday - $119  and $109 for Sunday - Thursday

 

Amy, the group sales person at the hotel has confirmed our block of rooms. Since they have changed brands, the oceanfront hotel is now called the Ramada Plaza and the non-oceanfront building is just called the Ramada. The reservation phone number for both hotels is (757-428-5370). Tell the hotel that you are part of the “Become An EX” group. If you would like an oceanfront room - ask for the Ramada Plaza and ask for the Ramada if they want non-oceanfront. Unfortunately, breakfast is no longer complimentary, but will be available for purchase from the ala cart menu in Shoreline Grill. As in previous years, we will use the Shoreline Grill as a gathering place. We will also communicate by text once we get there, as we have in the past.  

 

The committee will be working on sharing information and ideas on activities while we are there. Folks are always free to do some things on their own. Things are very informal. We usually plan a big group activity on Saturday morning and then another on Saturday evening. Any ideas on activities - please let us know! Thanks! Kathy

 

PS - Be sure to visit and follow the group - EX Weekend 2020 - Virginia Beach 

Strudel

Delay on EX 8 Plans

Posted by Strudel Jan 10, 2020

We are having to double check the date for the “Beach Music Cruise In” - there is some conflicting info about it on the internet.  Also we are still trying to confirm the hotel rates - so please hold off at this point on making any firm travel plans. We should have things in place to begin making reservations early next week. Sorry for the delay!! 

Strudel

Be sure to vote!

Posted by Strudel Nov 4, 2019

Some of the blog below is copied from last year’s blog about attending the annual EX gathering: 
Each year for the past several years, many of us have met and celebrated our freedom and the special friendships we have here at EX! 

 

We have been gathering since 2013. That year we met in Las Vegas. Many of EX'ers have attended every year since then – 2014 in Orlando, 2015 in Nashville, and then 2016 returning to Las Vegas. In 2017, we met in Virginia Beach, VA. In 2018 the group went on a wonderful cruise! In 2019 for EX 7, it was back to Virginia Beach. These are informal gatherings of EX'ers -and the experience is amazing! Personally I have attended 6 of them.

 

Each year we are hope to get as many “new “attendees as possible! We have all bonded and made lifetime friends – so many of us will be attending once again! However, we want to meet YOU!!! This is not only a wonderful way to meet folks from the site, put faces to avatars, thank those who have helped you along the way, have others thank you for your contributions here – it is also a perfect way to cement your quit!

Be sure to vote on the location for EX 8.....Brenda has created a poll found at - EX 8 - Pick the Place! 

Strudel

Lung cancer 5 K

Posted by Strudel Nov 1, 2019

I am walking in a 5 K in the morning to raise money for lung cancer research. For those who don’t know I was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer back in February. I didn’t have any symptoms- but decided to have the “low dose CT lung scan” recommended as a screening for former smokers. I smoked for 40 years.  (That is the reason for this blog - to remind others to consider this test. Please discuss it with your doctor.)

 

The scan showed a suspicious nodule which was then tested further with a PET scan which showed that it was cancer. They removed the right lower lobe of my lung where the cancer was located. That was 7 months ago. Although I still have some discomfort on that side of my chest, I feel fine overall - and I am back to walking 2 or 3 miles regularly. 


When I met my oncologist back in May he mentioned this lung cancer 5 K. He said I would be a perfect candidate to participate - since I like to walk and I am in good shape. (Having quit 9 years ago made a huge difference!)  Many of his lung cancer patients aren’t as lucky. I am very thankful that I had that screening test. So often lung cancer isn’t diagnosed until it is Stage 3 or 4. 

 

I picked up my packet and my shirt for the walk this afternoon. On the back of the shirt it says - SURVIVOR! That’s me for sure! 

Strudel

Nine Years

Posted by Strudel Jun 12, 2019

Although I am sure that 9 years quit sounds like a long time to many here, I can still remember 9 hours, 9 days, 9 weeks, etc. I can still remember the fear of doing this - and the uncertainty. After 40 years, it seemed almost impossible at first. But, I came here and hung on tight! I stayed close, I kept reading. I found the most remarkable community! I listened to the folks who came before me (thank you to all of those beautiful people!!) and learned from those struggling at the same time I was and continue to learn from those who have come here since. Because I was successful and felt overwhelming joy at the freedom - I became passionate about staying here and trying to encourage others. 

 

Not only am I forever grateful to this site and the wonderful people here for helping me to quit and stay quit - I am also grateful for advice I read here. As many know, I had a “low dose CT scan” on my lungs back in February. This was strictly a screening test - I had no symptoms. The scan led to a PET scan which then led to the discovery of cancer. I had the right lower lobe of my lung removed about 10 weeks ago. The really good news - it was found early enough - Stage 1 with no lymph node involvement. (I will need to continue to be scanned.) The other really good news - although I didn’t quit soon enough to prevent the cancer, I quit soon enough that after 9 years quit I was in good enough physical shape to have the surgery. That would not have been the case if I had still been smoking. 

 

I am doing fine since the surgery. Before I typically walked 3 miles every other day and did water aerobics 3 days a week. I am now back to 2 miles (I plan to soon move up to 3 miles again.) And last week - I went back to the pool! Since I do deep water exercise which involves wearing a flotation belt, I ran into a glitch. The belt, which must be worn tightly, turned out to be way too uncomfortable around my mid section because of surgery soreness. After that first day, I was discouraged - but I knew I would find a way! I decided to use a noodle! (You know those kid’s noodle toys for the pool...) By straddling that I can easily stay vertical in the water in order to do the workout. Yay! 

 

And - yay me for 9 years! Thanks to everyone here - you are all amazing and so important to my quit! 

Strudel

Sharon (Smorgy’s) Obituary

Posted by Strudel May 26, 2019
Strudel

EX 7 - Virginia Beach

Posted by Strudel May 25, 2019

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the EX gathering in Virginia Beach. EX 7 was wonderful! There were 21 EX’ers in attendance and 5 of those were first timers. We are always so happy to see first timers! The folks who came had quits ranging from about 5 months on up Giulia’s 13 years! 

 

There were also several guests in attendance - including our EX administrator - Mark, along with Dr. Amanda Graham. 

My sister, Chris, and I drove from North Carolina. (She lives in Denver, CO.) We arrived on Friday afternoon. We had dinner that night with most of those in attendance, although we didn’t actually see everyone until Saturday. 

 

On Saturday morning we all met in the hotel. I wrote an earlier blog about the theme - “Message In A Bottle”. We presented “Paper Plate Awards” to the first timers. SkyGirl invented that idea. Although she couldn’t be with us, she asked me to read a blog of hers to the group. We were all touched by her words and we all missed her more than I can say..... We also carried on another Sky tradition, started at EX 1 - “reading of the blogs”. We did that again with the first timers. Later everyone wrote a message and put it “in a bottle” and then we shared each other’s words of wisdom. We also shared some special gifts - beautiful handmade soap from Missy Mandolinrain, “NOPE” buttons from Barbara Barb102, cookies from Daniela Daniela-3-11-2016....and a souvenir small bottle and a special cupcake made by my neighbor. Hope I’m Not leaving anyone out....here - there were so many things being shared! Laura, Michwoman wore special cat ears in honor of our dear Sharon (Smorgy) who passed away on Tuesday. Laura and Sharon wore special ears during the entire cruise last year for EX 6. 

 

Giulia wrote a special song for us to sing! “We’ve Been Working on Our Quittude” - to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. It was perfect and she accompanied us on her guitar! We have a video of that - hopefully Mark can share that on the “EX 7 Weekend” group page. You will also find other blogs about EX 7 there. 

 

We all went out to dinner that night at Murphy’s Irish Pub - great time! On Sunday we did yet another Sky tradition - created at EX 5 - “The Great Balloon Toss” - we had a blast! There should be a video of that coming soon! 

 

The entire weekend was incredible! It is hard to describe how people who have met on the internet and often have little in common - can come together like this and become such great friends! 

Laura is working on the photo album. 

The following EX’ers were there:

Rick_M

pir8fan

Patty-cake

djmurray_12-31-14

JACKIE1-25-15

shashort

Brenda_M

Jennifer-Quit-05-01-14

ShawnP

Sootie

DonnaMarie

Stac2

Valerie30

elvan

jojo_2-24-11

Barb102

Giulia

Mandolinrain

Michwoman

Daniela-3-11-2016

Strudel

 

We are currently in discussion about EX 8 - including having EX events in other parts of the country next year. Be sure to “stay tuned” - if there is a way you can attend some day - I promise you won’t regret it!! 

Strudel

Theme of EX 7

Posted by Strudel May 22, 2019

 

I am still trying to catch up on “at home” things. However, I will write a blog about the experience of EX 7 in the next day or two. It was incredible! 

Since Jackie mentioned the theme - I thought I would explain a bit. Here is what I wrote about comparing the message in a bottle concept and our EX experience. (It also obviously fit with being at the beach!) 

I will be back soon with that blog! 

Message In A Bottle
On EX, when we write a blog, start a discussion, make a comment, or send a private message, it is similar to sending a message in a bottle.
We have no idea where it will end up or who will read it....one person or many.
Because of our passion for helping people to quit, we are hoping to use the right words and to make a special connection.
Friends are made from total strangers.
We can make a powerful difference because of the special magic in a 
“message in a bottle”!
Strudel

Good news

Posted by Strudel May 13, 2019

Today I met for the first time with the oncologist, following my surgery for lung cancer. It has been 7 weeks since surgery to remove my right lower lobe. (In case you missed my earlier blogs, I didn’t have any symptoms but went for a screening test called a “low dose CT scan” of the lungs. It indicated a suspicious nodule and a PET scan showed that is was cancer. This screening test is recommended for current or former smokers with more than 30 pack years. That would be the equivalent of 1 pack a day for 30 years - or 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc. I smoked for 40 years which obviously qualified. This test saved my life! And since I heard about it here - this site once again saved my life!)

 

I really liked the oncologist. He said that the cancer is Stage 1A and that I won’t need chemo or radiation! Hooray! I will need to have a scan every 6 months for 2 years. Then I can switch to one scan per year. Sounds good to me. He also wants me to participate in a 5K walk in the fall for the “Lung Cancer Initiative” here in NC. 

 

So - I had to share this great news! Thanks again for all of the prayers and support! 

 

See those attending EX 7 soon! 

 

Kathy

Strudel

Another update

Posted by Strudel Apr 26, 2019
The ultrasound sound of my thyroid showed that it is a “low risk” nodule - which is great news! I return in 6 - 12 months to recheck. (The nodule showed up just be chance with when I had the PET scan for the lung cancer.) So - I am thrilled with these results about the thyroid.
I continue to heal from the lung surgery. Thanks again everyone!  For those attending EX 7 - see you soon in VB! 
Take care, 
Kathy
Strudel

Post Surgery Update

Posted by Strudel Apr 16, 2019
Greetings friends! Thank you all for the love, support, and prayers! It has been 3 weeks since I had my surgery - here is an update: 
 
I met with the surgeon’s P.A. yesterday. She took out the sutures and we discussed various restrictions and the lifting of one....driving! Yay! So, I am driving again as of today. Still can’t lift though. I return to the surgeon next Thursday to further discuss things. He has referred me to an oncologist and I see him on May 13. That will be to follow things from here. (I was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer and they removed my right lower lobe. I assume I will need to be followed in the future to make sure nothing else shows up in other areas of my lungs.) 
Today I saw the endocrinologist. He said the nodule in my thyroid (which lit up during the PET scan of lung) is most likely not cancer - but they will need to do further testing to rule it out. He also said that if it is cancer, it is not related to the lung cancer. And, it is very small. I will have an ultrasound of the thyroid and they will go from there. If those results indicate a higher chance of it being cancer, they will then do a biopsy. But, if the ultrasound doesn’t show an increased chance - then they will probably have me repeat the ultrasound in 6 - 12 months - and no biopsy at this point. 
So, a lot going on - but, I do feel better to now have met with the the endocrinologist. Thank you all again! 
I will once again mention the “Low Dose CT Scan” which led to all this. I feel that it saved my life - I most likely would not have known about this cancer until it was much more advanced and I actually had symptoms. And, since I heard about it here - this site has once again saved my life! 
Please do a search on here for “Low Dose CT Scan” to learn more and talk to your doctor if you think you would consider doing it. 
Thanks again for all of the love, prayers, and support!
Kathy  
Strudel

EX 7 - Important Info

Posted by Strudel Apr 15, 2019

I have just sent an email to those attending EX 7 about making sure Best Western has all of the reservations made through the group process. They will be releasing the rooms in our block after tomorrow. I have already found several errors in the list they sent me. I have emailed the group sales woman and will call her tomorrow to follow up. PLEASE LET ME KNOW AFTER YOU CHECK THE EMAIL IF YOUR RESERVATION IS MISSING! Thanks! 

Strudel

Another Update

Posted by Strudel Apr 9, 2019

Greetings dear friends. I have not been here as much lately. I hope to be back more often soon. 

My surgery for stage 1 lung cancer was 2 weeks ago. They removed my right lower lobe.  I am still in recovery mode...pretty sore. But, I plan to continue to recover and I plan to be at Virginia Beach! Thanks for your continued love, support, and prayers! 

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