In Her Shoes

Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer

Come Let Us Adore Him


O come let us adore him

O come let us adore him

O come let us adore him

Christ the Lord


The strains of “O Come All Ye Faithful” echoed throughout the church on Christmas Eve. In the darkness, the candle flames flickered. As the solitary light streamed over the manger scene, a sense of awe settled over me. A solemn night. A joyful night, for Christ our Savior was born. Come, let us adore him.



On Christmas Eve, when I’m caught up in the wonderment of our Savior’s birth, it’s easy for me to say, “Jesus, I adore you.”



But what about the other seasons of my life? Am I as devoted to him when I’m struggling, hurting, or crushed beneath the weight of my circumstances? Is God still with me?



Two years ago, my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Several days later, I sensed the Lord whisper, “Walk her home.”



That year, I helped her take down her Christmas decorations. Though no one talked about it, we knew she wouldn’t see another Christmas. Over the next few months, I prayed for her and posted encouraging scriptures.



Five months after her diagnosis, we received word that she was rapidly declining. I drove six hours to be with her during her final days. God’s comfort surrounded me in the loss of my sister.



In 2006, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Chemotherapy triggered debilitating fatigue, sickness, and pain. I couldn’t focus to read, watch a television program, or even pray. How could I worship God? In my cries for mercy, he extended his grace to me throughout my season of cancer and chemotherapy.



My ovarian cancer journey stirred a passion for writing. My heart filled with gratitude when I landed a book contract for In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer. In times of rejoicing, God was with me.



Today I thank God that I am cancer-free. Through my cancer journey, God has changed the course of my life. I retired from my nursing career, and he plunged me into a writing adventure in which I had no experience. He brought new friends into my life, ovarian cancer survivors as well as other writers. I discovered even during times of transition, God was with me.



So, this Christmas season, no matter what circumstances we face—the silent nights, the uncertainties of life, the losses that echo in the hollow recesses of our hearts—we can rest on this truth: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.



He is Emmanuel. God with us.



Come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.



Not All Female Cancers Are Pink





Pink lights illuminate bridges, state capitols and city landmarks. Runners, walkers and strollers race for the cure. Pink ribbons embellish bags, jewelry, hats and t-shirts. Teas, brunches and banquets raise funds for breast cancer research. Even NFL players sport pink in October.


Think pink! Wear pink! Celebrate pink! October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We celebrate breast cancer survivors.


Breast cancer is the second most common cancer that affects women. The female cancer with the lowest survival rate, though, is ovarian cancer.


Are you aware that there is a connection between breast cancer and ovarian cancer?


I am an ovarian cancer survivor. We had no family history of ovarian cancer. My aunt had breast cancer after the age of 50. My personal risks for ovarian cancer included endometriosis, no children and obesity. In 2006, I rolled over in bed and felt a firm grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen. My ovarian cancer journey began.


As a breast cancer survivor, could you also be at risk for ovarian cancer?



Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer


BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations can cause cancer. Of all women with breast cancer, 5-10% carry these gene mutations. According to the Foundation of Women’s Health, a BRCA1 mutation carries a 39-46% increased risk of ovarian cancer. A BRCA2 mutation carries a 10-27% increased risk of ovarian cancer.


A personal diagnosis of breast cancer before the age of 45.


A close blood relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age.


A personal diagnosis of breast cancer before age 50 and a blood relative with breast cancer before age 50.


Two or more close relatives on the same side of the family with breast cancer before the age of 50.


Ashkenazi Jewish descent. 1 in 40 carry BRCA mutations.



Why Ovarian Cancer Has a Low Survival Rate



There are no screening tests for ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis greatly improves a woman’s chances of survival. But the vague symptoms often mimic gastrointestinal disorders that can be easily ignored or misdiagnosed. Many women are diagnosed in the latter stages and therefore experience a poorer prognosis.


What Can We Do?


Being aware of changes in your own body is your best defense for early detection of ovarian cancer. If the following symptoms persist for several weeks, please consult a gynecologist.




As we celebrate breast cancer survivors, let us remember that not all female cancers are pink. Do you know your risk for ovarian cancer? Listen for the symptoms that whisper.

7 Tips to Rebuild Your Life After a Winter Season




Sometimes my life seems to mirror the two seasons dominating Wisconsin—winter and road construction. For me, a diagnosis of ovarian cancer raised a stop sign and detoured me into a winter season.


Major life events can divert us into the barrenness of winter, loss of a loved one or a job, changes in finances or health, disruption of our marriage or home. Customary rites of passage such as moving, career changes, graduations, empty nest and retirement may also reroute us into a winter season.


But eventually winter yields to spring. We attempt to merge into the previous traffic patterns of life, but discover that the flow has shifted. Questions pop up like orange construction barrels. Who am I in light of these life changes? How do I re-engage? What is my purpose?


My Story


When I emerged from my winter season of cancer, surgery and chemotherapy, I reached a crossroads filled with questions. Who am I as an ovarian cancer survivor? What do I do now? How do I rebuild my life?


I sought out other ovarian cancer survivors, but found no support groups, Gilda’s Clubs or Facebook groups. Were there other survivors?


As I searched for answers, I joined a Christian writing group, Friends of the Pen. I started writing a book for women undergoing chemotherapy—the stories of everyday women with everyday lives interrupted by cancer, concluding each piece with a scripture and a prayer. My hope was to provide the help I desired throughout my own ordeal.


I finally met other ovarian cancer survivors at an ovarian cancer camp in Missoula, Montana, Camp Mak-A-Dream. Some of these survivors were involved in a program called Survivors Teaching Students (STS) in which they shared their stories with medical students and other health care providers. These presentations raise awareness for ovarian cancer in hopes of earlier detection, thus saving women’s lives. As a nurse and an ovarian cancer survivor, I was excited about joining the STS volunteer team.


While participating in STS, I met local ovarian cancer survivors. We formed an ovarian cancer group, “The Fried Eggs—Sunny-Side Up.” We meet monthly, sponsor speakers, plan fun outings and participate in fundraisers for ovarian cancer.


A cancer detour steered me into a new purpose and calling for my life—to write a book encouraging women undergoing chemotherapy, to advocate for women and educate regarding ovarian cancer.


Several new roads were paved into my life. I love the changes. If you find yourself in a construction zone following your own winter season, don’t lose heart. Instead, consider these 7 areas of focus as you reconstruct.


7 Tips to Rebuild Our Lives



1. Pray. Ask God what He has for you in this new season of life. Study Hisword. Ask Him for specific scriptures that define this season.


2. Identify Your Passion.What energizes or inspires you? Cancer awareness, pregnancy information, adoption, foster care, civic or church activities?


3. Dream Dreams.Are there dreams you have laid aside or new dreams you discovered? Travel, write a book, learn a language, play an instrument, own a home, start a business?


4. Try a Hobby.What activities do you enjoy? Music, photography, crafts, painting, gardening, traveling, biking, hiking, reading?


5. Use Your Talents.What are those things that come easy for you? Have others around you affirmed a particular gift or ability?


6. Try Something New.A job, class, mission trip or volunteer opportunity. When we attempt a new activity, we may discover a hidden talent or the ability to do something we never thought possible.


7. Connect.We often relate with people who have undergone a similar experience. In sharing our stories, we can make new friends as we help and support one another.



At the time of my cancer diagnosis, I could not imagine how God would rebuild my life. What began as a winter journey blossomed into a life enriched by the wonderful people I met along the way, including my Christian writing community and my fellow ovarian cancer survivors.



“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)



September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Do you know the symptoms that whisper?






Bucky On Parade Chronicles (Part VI)

August 3

On to Monona Terrace and “A Taste of Madison” Bucky, finely penned with Madison’s lakes and skylines.





“I Am Bucky” guards the entrance to Monona Terrace, reflecting us all in his mirror-like finish.





I head to the terrace rooftop and discover that in addition to finding “Bucky Lloyd Wright” created in honor of Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright, I had arrived at Dane Dances. I bypassed the music stage, grabbed a walking taco, found a seat overlooking Lake Monona and watched the boats float over the glimmering water. A nearby couple struck up a conversation, informing me that their daughter painted the iconic-bibbed “GameDayBucky.”





August 17

Despite the heat and rush hour traffic, I exited my clinic appointment and sought out a few more remaining Buckys near campus. I pulled into the circle of a campus building, flashers blazing. Thankfully, I only encountered, “We Are Bucky” decoupaged with program covers, ticket stubs, newspaper headlines and photos of fans.





I plugged a meter at the Kohl Center and located “And On Wisconsin” Bucky, representing past, present and future band members.





Beads of perspiration clung to my forehead as I set out for Campus Mall and “Pucky” Bucky, ready for hockey season along with superhero, “Superbuck.”








In front of the UW-Madison Police Station, I joined the line of cars parked under multiple signs stating “No Parking, Police Order.” Today was the unveiling of “Crazylegs Bucky” named after the 1969-1987 UW athletic director Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch. His running style gained him fame while playing half back from 1941-1942. The annual Crazylegs run is named after him.




Across the street “Bucky Alvaraez” is ready to coach Badger football at Camp Randall Stadium. 




On my way home, I stopped on North Shore Drive and walked along the path toward “Strike Up the Band Bucky” featuring glow-in-the-dark fireworks showering the Capitol.





August 22

Off to Verona to snag my last two Buckys On Parade! Hidden behind the clubhouse, “The Long Drive Dominator” Bucky is ready to tee off.





In lumberjack attire, “Border Battle” Bucky wields the Paul Bunyan Axe, epitomizing the rivalry between Wisconsin and Minnesota.






In my quest for Bucky, I plugged greedy meters, drove on probable footpaths, parked in permit-only lots and flipped my flashers in “No Parking” zones. I circled the Capitol, trekked through campus and climbed stairs equivalent to a stair-stepper workout. A Fitbit would have logged a record number of steps. I trolled Facebook, elicited phone support, dodged raindrops, trudged through mud puddles and swatted mosquitoes. I was even expelled from a building, Through many detours, I ferreted out the covert Buckys tucked away from public viewing until I succeeded in locating all 85 Buckys in Bucky on Parade.





Bucky On Parade Chronicles (Part V)

July 27

A cool, partially cloudy day motivated me to track down the Buckys at the Wisconsin Capitol. I swung into a parking space on the square, plugged the meter and started my quest. “Full Fatigues” Bucky at the Veterans Museum represents every branch of the Armed services with his fabric collage created by veterans.






On State Street, “Enlightened Bucky,” covered with butterflies, represents enlightenment.






Across the street, “Razzle Dazzle” Bucky reflects the sunlight like a disco ball in his armor of silver sequined fabric.





I stopped and consulted my map. A bearded man sitting on a bench called out to me, “Are you looking for the Buckys?”

I nodded. He pointed. “Well if you walk that way, there are a couple of Buckys and then you continue around the outer rim of the Capitol. After that you go around the inner edge and there’s more Buckys.” His plan turned out to be good advice.


Symbols of Wisconsin are drawn on an all red Bucky entitled, “When You Say Wisconsin, You’ve Said It All.”





Caps from medication vials blanket “Vial Caps For The Cure” Bucky with “Garding Cancer” emblazoned across his chest. UW basketball Coach Greg Gard and his wife founded Garding Against Cancer in honor of his father who passed away from brain cancer. It is one of the charities that will receive the proceeds from the Bucky auction.






“Vintage Gridiron” Bucky sports a 1920’s style football uniform.





“Spark A Dream” Bucky represents our diverse population pursuing their dreams along the various Wisconsin pathways.





In the lobby of a nearby hotel, “5thQuarter” Bucky, decoupaged with sheet music and surrounded by real band instruments, marches with the UW band to the beat of his drum.





Farm animals, zoo favorites, and pets remind us that “Animals Need Bucky, Too.”





With a peck on the cheek, “Bucky On Guard” embodies Madison traditions and landmarks including a huge wedge of Wisconsin-shaped cheese emblazoned on his back.





Four thousand paper mache signatures from various community members are plastered across the body of “Signature Bucky.”





The artist of “Ringo” Bucky dedicated his creation to a close friend nicknamed Ringo, a former UW hockey player with stage 4 cancer.






“Bucky Energized” represents sunshine, solar and electric power.





Black and white cows graze in green pastures on “Wisconsin Colors” Bucky, a Wisconsin map stamped on his forehead.





Dressed in Badger lederhosen, Bucky “Gemütlichkeit” encourages friendliness.





Inside the Capitol, “Every Veteran Is A Story” honors our armed forces and includes a real patch from a member of the 101stAirborne Division.





Across the rotunda, a nautical wheel, nuts, bolts, timepieces and town labels related to tourism, dairy and manufacturing decorate “Sconnie B. Goode” Bucky referring to a Chuck Berry song.





With so many exits, I checked my map to find the correct door leading me to “Lucky Bucky” composed of 11,759 heads-up Lincoln pennies. But can you find the four tails-up designs: wheat, Union shield, Lincoln Memorial, Lincoln bicentennial, 2009?





Onto “Bucky. EXE” painted in a grid of triangles. I wonder what computer file he is ready to execute.





Once again, I examined my map to verify that I had tracked down each of my intended Buckys. But I had overlooked one. I backtracked to “Class Act” Bucky decked out in his tux for a night on the town.





I walked toward the library, setting my sights on “Bright Idea Bucky” representing new ideas.





I pulled into one more place, hit my flashers just as another car pulled in behind me and followed suit. The previous week, road construction had hindered this stop. We drew near “Black, White and ‘Read’ All Over” Bucky, his chest puffed out in his red and white striped sweater etched with Bucky cartoons featuring Wisconsin sports.







Bucky On Parade Chronicles (Part IV)

July 19

I anticipated an uncomplicated day ferreting out Bucky—snag Bucky at the zoo, swing toward Lake Monona, then head east. I should have realized that expediency would not be the order of the day when I discovered that Bucky was not outside the zoo, but inside. Once again, I was challenged by lack of parking, but a car backed out and I slipped into his spot. I traipsed down the hill toward “Pieces of Wisconsin” Bucky, a roadmap of farms, lakes and industry.





Since I was close to the polar bear exhibit, I thought I could finally catch a glimpse of the polar bear. Once again, no polar bear in sight. I trudged back up the hill toward another favorite, the lions. Exhibit closed.



I checked my Bucky map and headed down Park Street toward the listed address that coincided with the UW Space Lab. Rain trickled on my windshield as I verified the address and pulled in front of the building. No Bucky. I entered the building, but no one was in sight so I headed downstairs. I yanked on the door handle to the Space Lab. Locked. I heard voices down the hall and stumbled upon a classroom of children. I edged along the wall and entered the Space lab. No Bucky. A young man stopped me and told me I wasn’t supposed to be there. I explained how I was told Bucky was there and my map said so. He hadn’t seen Bucky. As I left the building, I passed a closed office with a sign on the door, “Bucky is located by McDonalds.” But where is McDonalds? By the time I found McDonalds, rain splatted my windshield. I grabbed my umbrella and crossed the street, spotting “All Hands on Bucky” spattered with handprints courtesy of children from the Milwaukee Sign Language School.





At the Goodman Pool, “Bucky in Bearadise,” sports swim trunks and an inner tube, but found little company amid the drizzle.





The pitter-patter of rain failed to discourage the various bikers in Olin Park. I asked several cyclists. “Where is Bucky?” They shrugged. “I don’t know.” Having driven through the whole park numerous times, my aggravation meter teetered near the red zone. I grabbed my phone and dialed the park service. “Where is the Olin Park Bucky?”

A man replied, “By the lake.”

“I don’t see it.”

“You have to walk along the path.”

Okay, could they not make Bucky more visible??? Raindrops tapped at my umbrella as I walked down the asphalt path along the lake. “It Takes Two Wheels” Buckystands on a bike tire and highlights the area’s bike trails.





At the boathouse on the North Shore, I once again asked for directions to Bucky. I’m directed to “Bucky on Ice” ready for ice fishing season, minus his sabotaged fishing pole. 





I backtracked through road construction to Brittingham Park in search of “Rugby Bucky” celebrating UW rugby since 1880.





I continued my mission to McPike Park. Blinked twice and missed it. I turned onto an asphalt path and drove to the far end. At least the brass instruments painted on the body of “Music Man” Bucky wouldn’t rust in the rain. A couple with a dog strolled along the path I had just entered. Whoops. I think I drove on a walking path. I swung around the loop and exited.





Last stop, Monty’s Blue Plate Diner featuring “Bucky De Los Muertos,” or Day of the Dead, a Mexican celebration honoring their departed loved ones.






July 24

I headed to Middleton for a monthly luncheon with my ovarian cancer group. From a photo on Facebook, I knew Bucky was near a historic clock. I drove around downtown Middleton toward the old railway tracks until I stumbled upon a few neighborhood boys. “Where’s Bucky?”

Finally one of them said, “Across from the library.”

Standing in front of the 1856 clock, full-bearded “Bucky the Builder” sports a hardhat and tool belt.





July 25

After a couple of appointments, I took a detour to MATC. I pulled into the only available parking space right next to the meter police. Seeing a possible ticket in my future, I plugged the meter, walked down the sidewalk and up the stairs with the sun beating on my face and snapped “Bucky Bot,” a superhuman futuristic Bucky in his mechanical suit.





I wound my way to the Goodman Center for “Our Hearts Belong To Bucky,” a mosaic pattern overlaid with red hearts.







Bucky On Parade Chronicles (Part III)

June 26

A luncheon in Fitchburg prompted the next leg of my Bucky quest. I wanted to track down the Buckys before the rain.


“Biotech Bucky” donned in safety glasses and a lab coat provides inspiration to budding scientists.





Sporting a bike helmet, “Bike The ‘Burg’ Bucky” displays scenes from traditional Wisconsin countryside encountered by bicyclists, including orchards, flowers and a barn.





As I headed home, I spied Bucky “Between the Lakes” and swerved into a nearby parking lot. Bucky proudly displays the Wisconsin Capitol on his chest and on his backside the Capitol amid a sea of tulips.





At Warner Park, “Broadcaster Bucky” is always ready to update us with the latest news, weather and sports.





June 28

After an evening band concert, I took another pass through campus, determined to find the elusive Buckys. Once again I wound around Observatory Drive, detouring off in search of the School of Veterinary Medicine. I pulled into a parking lot, rolled down my window and asked a couple if they knew where I could find Bucky. They exchanged dubious glances. No, they had come to drop off their dog. Back on the street in front of the vet school, I spotted “America’s Badgerland” Bucky, a Holstein cow plastered on his chest. I swung into a 24/7 permit-only lot, jumped out, snapped Bucky and headed to Henry Mall.





I slid in next to a dumpster behind a building, unsure if I was in an actual parking space. I followed my gaze toward “Blooming Bucky,” depicting Wisconsin prairies and wildflowers, overlaid with large pink blossoms.





I hopped back into my vehicle, thankful for no ticket and headed toward Bascom Hall. I started to turn onto an asphalt drive, but soon discovered this was probably a walkway and not a drive through. I backed out and slipped into another 24/7 permit-only lot behind the building. While searching for Buckys on campus, I had refused to climb Bascom Hill, a steep incline that winded me in my twenties and would certainly challenge my cardiac system today. I crossed the hill, locating “Graduation Bucky” complete with cap, gown and diploma.





I wound around Observatory Drive and noted the Bucky stationed at the fountain had returned from the Bucky hospital. A car parked beneath a “No parking” sign pulled out. I whipped in, hit my flashers and snapped “One Leg Up Bucky” showered with pink flamingoes.





As the sun sank into the horizon, I decided to make one more Bucky pass— the Edgewater Hotel. As I pulled into the lot, my headlights shone on the elusive “Golden Bucky.” I glanced around for a parking space, spotted a “No Idling” sign, and slipped into the spot. I rationalized, I’m parking, not idling. “Golden Bucky” gleamed against the backdrop of a lemon sunset shimmering in the waters of Lake Mendota.





But where was the Edgewater Bucky? I asked an employee and she directed me to a series of tortuous stairways leading to the pier. The dizzying heights spurred a detour into the hotel, down the elevator, through the cocktail lounge and out to the pier filled with patrons enjoying the music and the sunset over the lake. As the water lapped the pier, I caught an unappetizing whiff of algae and dead fish. “Friday Night Fish Fry” Bucky had returned with his catch, standing on a base resembling a relish tray.





July 7

While shopping in Sun Prairie, my sister joined me on my Bucky adventure to Cannery Row, posing with “We All Fit Together” Bucky splashed with colorful three-tipped figures on white. Across the street, we spied “Buck Y Badger” sporting antlers, a tribute to Wisconsin deer hunting.







July 9

My mom, sister and I headed to Lake Monona for a pontoon boat ride. We spied “Hip Buckster” with a bandana headband and a tie-dyed bullseye peace symbol centered on his chest. A “no-wake-zone” nixed our ride. We continued our Monona Bucky tour, although according to my 90 year-old mother, Bucky was a poor substitute for a boat ride.





At Olbrich Gardens, from his deep root system, “Grow” Bucky sprouts grass and bright red flowers stretching toward the sky.





A park in Monona displayed “Farmer Bucky,” a tribute to the 68,000 farms dotting the Wisconsin landscape. Grasping a shovel and a set of plans, “It’s Always Construction Season” Bucky features snippets of Madison life interspersed with scenes from Wisconsin’s fifth season, road construction.







Bucky On Parade Chronicles (Part II)

June 22

Overcast and 70 degrees, I got the perfect day for a campus Bucky stroll. On my way, I pulled over to check out “Sunburst Bucky,” recently discharged from the Bucky hospital after being tossed in Lake Mendota. Near the corners of his eyes, tear-shaped sailboats float along the horizon.




At the University Bookstore, I snagged a Bucky map and ventured into Buckyland. I met other Bucky seekers at the Union Terrace including several young ladies from Poland. We checked our maps, offered directions and exchanged cameras for photo shoots.


“Sunset” Bucky reflects the colors of a sunset over Lake Mendota while holding on to the best seat in the house.




Clad in his classic red and white striped sweater, “Retro Bucky” features various renditions of Bucky through the years.




Centered on his basketball platform, “Baller Bucky” suits up for a UW basketball game.




Football Saturday would not be complete without the red and white striped bibs worn by “GameDayBucky.”




Flexing his muscles and baring his teeth, no one messes around with “Visible Bucky.”




A vacant platform stands next to the fountain at Library Mall. Where is “One Leg Up Bucky?” Malicious graffiti had sent him to the Bucky hospital.


“Bucky Come Se Picasso” invites us to partake of the artistic feast at The Chazen Museum.




I continued my trek up State Street to“1st And 10” Bucky sporting shoulder pads and a football jersey, ready to take on any opponent at Camp Randall Stadium.




“Bucky At The Terrace” depicts a summer day at the Union Terrace, with its iconic metal chairs overlooking the sailboats gliding across the lake.




Madison-themed designs are tattooed across “Ink’d Wisconsinly” Bucky.




“Vintage Postcard” sends greetings from Madison featuring the downtown, Capitol and lakes. Nearby, a few bills littered the open guitar case of a street musician singing his off-key ditties. I had to contribute.




The Capitol, a flamingo, and of course Wisconsin cheese grace “Madison Traditions” Bucky.




Captain Bucky dons his aviator glasses and flight wings as “Bucky How’d You Get So Fly.”




“Grateful Red” shoots hoops amid cheers from the student section.




From campus, I headed to Picnic Point where “Goodnight Bucky” depicts the joys of camping.




I zigzagged through a UW 24/7 monitored parking lot for a close-up view of “Major Bucky” leading the band, baton in hand.




I wound my way back through campus in search of several more Buckys, but no matter what the map indicated, I couldn’t find them.


On my way home, I spied another Bucky and swerved into the “No Parking” circle and hit my flashers. A field of flowers dotted with flamingos cover “Flamingo Bucky,” symbolizing a yearly UW tradition of planting plastic flamingos on Bascom Hill.




One more Bucky to wind up the day. I swooped into a 15-minute parking spot at Union South and circled the building to “Leckrone’s Stop At The Top” Bucky named after UW band director Michael Leckrone who created the band’s signature step “Stop At the Top.”







Bucky On Parade Chronicles (Part I)

May 25

All lanes of traffic halted. I glanced at the dashboard clock. I was teetering on late for an ovarian cancer presentation to medical students. To make better time, I veered off, snaking around Observatory Drive. To my right, I spotted Bucky Badger, the UW mascot, overlooking Lake Mendota. Despite my time crunch, I hopped out for a closer look. Swirls of glow-in-the-dark paint coated a Bucky titled “Celestial Bucky”— my introduction to Bucky on Parade.




After our presentation, we gathered around “Dream Bucky” encircled with drawings created by children at The American Family Children’s Hospital, representing their hopes and dreams.



I had inadvertently stumbled upon Bucky On Parade, a total of 85 Buckys created by various local artists. For four months the Buckys would be displayed around the city and afterward many would be auctioned off for charity.


From this point on, my vehicle automatically diverted to Bucky sightings. My car had caught the Bucky Bug.


 June 7

A Facebook post clued me into my next Bucky sighting. “Funky Buckingham” is stamped with patterns created by household items such as potato mashers and bubble wrap. The “W” stamped on his chest features Bucky’s face, basketballs, footballs, hockey sticks and pucks. Ticket stubs lay strewn across his base.



June 19

At Hilldale I captured “Jump Around Bucky” plastered with photos of fans at Camp Randall Stadium. At the other end of the mall, hand painted Russian folk art embellished “Bucky in Red.”




On my way home, I spotted the hardhat and yellow vest worn by “Work Safe Bucky,” inspired by the artist’s occupation. In order to inspect Bucky, I trudged through mud, dodged puddles and swatted mosquitos.




June 21

Scrolling Facebook, I spotted a photo taken in UW Health at The American Center featuring “Golden Bucky,” the only Bucky who pops up every few days at a new non-disclosed location. Despite a day stacked with appointments from the Westside to Waunakee, I drove to Sun Prairie, determined to find the treasured “Golden Bucky.” I asked the UW Health receptionist, “Where is Bucky?”

“Golden Bucky” had been dismantled and transported to his new location thirty minutes prior to my arrival. Would I ever find “Golden Bucky?”




My Quest for Bucky



“You’re not supposed to be here,” the man said. I glanced around the basement hallway.

“But Bucky is here.”

“There is no Bucky here.”

 “But this is the address on my map,” I said, waving my Bucky map.

As I headed out, I passed an office with a sign on the door, “Bucky is at the corner near McDonalds.”


My quest for Bucky started by accident. To avoid a traffic jam, I detoured onto Observatory Drive and discovered a UW mascot, Bucky the Badger, overlooking Lake Mendota. I swung over and examined the Bucky titled “Celestial Bucky” painted with glow-in-the-dark celestial bodies. I continued to UW Health to give a presentation to medical students and discovered “Dream Bucky” plastered with drawings created by the children at The American Family Children’s Hospital representing their hopes and dreams.


I had inadvertently stumbled across Bucky On Parade, a total of 85 Buckys created by various local artists. For four months the Buckys would be displayed around the city and then auctioned off for charity.


My car now automatically diverted to Bucky sightings. I had caught the Bucky bug.


In my search for Bucky, I accosted total strangers. “Where is Bucky?”

“Bucky? I don’t know. I just brought my dog to the vet.”


I stopped cyclists dodging the raindrops on bike trails. “Where is Bucky?”


I phoned the park service, “Where is the Bucky at Olin Park?”

“By the boat pier.”

“I don’t see him.”

“You have to walk a ways along the bike path.”

 Rain pelted my umbrella as I hoofed down the path toward another obscurely placed Bucky.


In my Bucky quest, I exchanged cameras with visitors, met three young ladies from Poland and waylaid strangers, asking them, “Where is Bucky?” I tossed a bill into the guitar case of a street musician singing his off-key ditties and crashed an outdoor dancing event at the Monona Terrace.


I drove on what were probably foot paths, plugged greedy meters, dodged tickets in permit-only lots, parked in a “No Idling” zone, and beneath a “No Parking, Police Order” sign, my flashers blazing.


I circled the Capitol, trekked through campus and climbed stairs equivalent to a stair-stepper workout. A Fitbit would have logged a record number of steps. I trolled Facebook, elicited phone support, dodged raindrops, slogged through mud puddles and swatted mosquitoes. I was even expelled from a building. Through many detours, I ferreted out the covert Buckys tucked away from public view until I succeeded in locating all 85 Buckys on Parade.




Joanie with water bottle
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