About Me

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2 time ovarian cancer Survivor, Advocate for ovarian cancer awareness & research, Teacher of Zen Method Tai Chi, Blogger, sharing the wonderment and power of essential oils, proud fan of Cathe Friedrich's workouts, Reiki practitoner, A Course in Miracles student, paper crafter

Friday, November 11, 2011

1st Year Anniv

Happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy happy happy anniversary- to ME!

Exactly one year ago today I heard the beautiful word REMISSION from my gynecologic oncologist. (Here's how I felt last year on this day.)

Formerly-my Marine sent me 2 dozen beautiful roses about a week ago to brighten the celebration. He was so sweet to include peach roses in honor of my first diagnosis of uterine cancer. They were gorgeous, and I deeply appreciate his gift and poetic note. Thank you for remembering and sharing a piece of the celebration, wherever you are serving our country. 

This morning I was really emotional, and had a few crying spells. I cried out of relief for continued Remission. I cried out of feeling overwhelmed with all the things happening in my life that I can't control. I cried over Veterans Day... missing my Bapa (may he Rest in Peace) and missing "my" Marine. I cried for the Survivors that I care about that are in the Fighting stage and aren't feeling the joy of Remission yet. And I cried for those Fighters who will never know the joy of Remission. I cried out of guilt.

Today was a day to celebrate, though. So I shed my tears and then moved forward.

I celebrated by sleeping a bit late, honoring Veterans by doing an oldie but goodie Cathe Friedrich workout called Bootcamp (it's a circuit workout with 8 cycles of 1 minute of cardio, upper body, lower body and core exercises), studying for next week's securities exam, an extra long shower with luxurious shea butter salt exfoliation...

 a delicious lunch of divine twin lobster tails and a shared brownie macadamia nut sundae with the best Caregiver in my world at Bonefish Grill (thank you, Mom!), and topped the celebration off with finding the perfect pair of trouser jeans that I've wished I could fit into for a long time. An absolutely lovely afternoon of celebration!! I'm filled with thankfulness.

I thought it would be interesting to see how my look has changed from the beginning of my second diagnosis in January of 2010 to today... I hope to get back to this first picture soon... but I know that old me is gone. This post treatment look and feel is completely different, and I'm still learning to love and accept this as I strive improve my body and health.

Pre- dx 2 in October of 2009 back in South Florida.

I moved home to West Tennessee in May of 2010, after radiation. Relay for Life in Fayette county was the following weekend. My mom and I shared a big hug before the walk began. 

The day I started chemo, my nephew was born. He was so sweet to wait until my first treatment was over so Mom and I could be there for him and his mama.

A couple weeks later my hair started falling out. This was the short haircut I got to try to delay the process and deal with it emotionally. That didn't last long... This was the night my sister Heidi, my mom and I had a margarita party and shaved my head. 

An interesting look for me... I was so thankful to have a new baby to snuggle up to.

A couple weeks later I got a wig. I only wore it once. It just wasn't me. 

I was just getting used to going bald in public and around the house when this picture was taken in July. 

By the end of July I had accepted being bald fairly well. I only kept these eyebrows and stray strands for a couple weeks. 

My last chemo treatment was 9/15/10 and I got to ring the big bell.  I felt so weak and sick standing out there in the sticky heat, but I was thankful that chemo was over.

Last fall I looked like a ghost. 

Last Halloween.... 

11/11/10- Remission-ing in celebration cashmere.

By early December I had some fuzz on my head again, and I was so glad though I didn't really like how I looked during the re-growth. I was thankful to have eyebrows again.

By January I could sport a faux hawk. I'm wearing my celebration cashmere sweater again here. Yay for cashmere in teal!

By March (remember my trip to Vegas?) I didn't look so much like a chemo patient anymore, thankfully.

By May I had short dark curls that were finally starting to look good to me. This was last year's Relay for Life shirt that my sister and I designed for the Team her employer sponsors every year.

August of 2011... curls starting to grow out which is wonderful and awkward too. Can you believe how big and adorable my nephew is now!? So many changes in just a year for both of us... 

Here's how the 'do looks today... the curls seem to be here to stay though I am getting some length. I can put some hair into a ponytail now. There's one curl in the front that does this annoying Michael Jackson thing. I really really hope that grows out soon.

 I'm wearing a new cashmere sweater in celebration of my first full year of Remission. I hope to have a dresser full of celebration cashmere sweaters...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I couldn't sleep the night before my port a cath removal surgery. What if the surgery left a big hole in my chest that never healed? What if I can't work out again? A big case of the what if's. I gave myself a self-Reiki treatment, read a few affirmations from Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life, and watched (aka previewed so I'm a little bit mentally prepared for it) a few DVDs from Cathe Friedrich's new Low Impact Series

I woke up with an uneasy feeling in my gut about going through with the port removal. I called a dear spiritual  friend and asked for guidance. He knows me very well and knew the right questions to ask to guide me to a calmer place and form a plan. I decided to go, but ask the surgeon some questions and then decide whether or not to have the surgery. My body, my choice. 

Cancer treatment can take away a lot of power and choices in your life. I didn't want to get the port put in, but I didn't get much choice. So in having it removed I wanted more control.

I believe in Angels among us. God blessed me with a sweet Survivor sister Angel as I checked in. I recognized her by her bright teal toenails. A sister in ovarian cancer Survival, Carol greeted me with a hug and asked what I was doing at West Clinic. She was there to pick up a CD of a recent test, so she had a little time. She met my mom and talked with us about the pros and cons of port removal. She understands the depth of such dilemmas. I felt much better after talking with her, and thankful that God always has His hand of love and comfort on me. 

I was foolishly surprised to get an IV stick. It hadn't occurred to me that port removal surgery would require an IV. Funny the things my mind thinks about and the things it completely disregards. Thankfully, the nurse only had to stick me once. Ouchie!! 

I waited with my mom for 90 minutes with the IV in my arm before I even got back to the surgery prep room. The nurse started the paperwork, and I asked questions. Apparently no one has ever asked these questions before, because she didn't know the answers. She asked a surgeon to come talk with me. She couldn't have been kinder or patient with me, and I deeply appreciate it. 

The surgeon was also kind and patient. He said there was no reason not to have it removed, and explained in great detail why and what would happen to my body after it was gone. There's no muscle involved, the port was subcutaneous (just under the skin). This is important info to me as a Cathlete. I didn't want to damage my hard earned muscles! I felt satisfied and decided to have it removed. 

As I started to undress I realized that I wore the wrong shirt. I wore long sleeve fitted shirt because it's a bit cool here. That was the wrong choice because it was painful and awkward to take off over my IV especially when I can barely move my arm. My mom had to help me. ha! 

I climbed onto a very narrow table that I'm surprised that I fit on. The nurse and 2 surgical techs got me and instruments prepped. I made jokes about blood spurting because they had my covered with blue medical paper and the CT scanner covered with a big shower cap like thing. Even though it was Halloween, no blood spurted out. I was given local anesthesia and something to help me relax, but I could feel pain-less pressure of the surgeon cutting out the port and was wide awake. Yep, that's right. It's an amazing and creepy feeling. The surgeon and I had a nice discussion about finance and in a few minutes I was free of the port. 

After it was out I felt the urge to see this port. The nurse cleaned it up and gave it to me to keep. It's like a cancer Survivor's medal of honor. Wanna see? 

Doesn't it look like a tiny computer mouse? It's about 8 inches long and it's about 1/2" thick. No wonder it stuck out of my chest so much! 

I'm relieved to have this foreign object out of my body, yet thankful for the service it provided to me during chemo. I'm going to keep it as a reminder and interesting show and tell piece. 

I'm counting down 10 more days until 1 full year of official remission. I have something fun and special planned for the blog that day. Meanwhile, here's a peek at how much my hair has grown since the last time I shared a picture. It's still dark and really curly, but I can almost put it in a ponytail. I have so much to be thankful for.... 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Big Remission Milestone

Hello again blogaverse! No, I haven't forgotten about you. My focus has been elsewhere, though cancer Survivor is still how first define myself. I'm hoping that one day that will shift, but it's one of those things that just takes time.

A couple of weeks ago I went for my 1 year post treatment CT scan and check up. I've been meaning to blog about it since, really I have... Honest. Fantastic news!! The CT scan showed No Evidence of Disease!! My smear came back 'within normal limits'. I was a bit surprised that there's anything left in there to 'smear' but whatever. My blood work all looks great. I'm deeply thankful and relieved to more into a full year of Remission.

November 11 will be the 1 full year of Remission anniversary. It seems unreal that a whole year has gone by already. My family and I have celebrated many little cancerversaries. Three months post chemo, six months, 10 months. Hair re-growth. Being able to exercise with the most awesome fitness instructor ever- Cathe Friedrich. Being able to eat normally again without everything tasting like a salt mine. Losing 20 pounds. Being there for my Peeps' birthdays. Walking in the Relay for Life with one of my sisters.

Tomorrow is a big day in the life of Survivor. I'm having my port a cath removed. I'll be glad to get it out of my body so I can comfortably sleep on my right side and the sweet smelling heads of my Peeps can snuggle up with me without causing pain at the same time.

This is a big deal because it means that my gynecologic oncologist believes that I'm deep enough into Remission that I no longer need it. While I completely understand that there are no guarantees this minor surgery feels like hope solidifying. My thankfulness continues to grow.

As thankful and relieved as I am to be adding to my days in  Remission, my heart goes out to my friends who are continuing to fight or have begun their second or third fight. My sweet friend, and fellow Cathlete, Virginia especially would benefit from you prayers and positive energy.

Post surgery update to come in a day or so...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1 Year Chemo- Free Cancerversary

Today is a special cancerversary for me. A year ago today, at exactly this time, I was getting my final chemo treatment. I was completely bald, and at the point having great pain in the bones of my legs, my feet were numb most of the time, I was very tired and very weak. Still, I was thankful that I had a loving family, especially my Mom who is the best Caregiver in the universe!!, a God who comforts, heals and loves me, sisters who made me feel confident in my beauty to be out in public completely bald and who kept me laughing, for my Peeps who showered me with their love and support in their own special and innocent toddler ways, new and old friends who cheered me on from near and far, and for the precious gift of life even though I was sick. 

Here's a look back at my very first post when I looked like a ghost. (That's right, I'm a poet too. ha!)

A year later and I've been in remission just over 10 months. I have a full head of very curly and darker brown hair. I still get tired sometimes, but it's happening much less often. I'm thankful for the energy level I have now, because I still clearly remember what it feels like to not have any energy. I'm still thankful for all the blessings in my life, and I'm grateful that over the last year that list has grown. I'm thankful to own my own business though I work hard and long hours, I get to choose the days and times I work. Sometimes I even get to work in my PJs! I also  get to choose who I work with and when, and I have the opportunity to be Leader and invest my energy into motivating other people to dream big and create wealth for themselves. I'm thankful to my body for amazing me as I completed Cathe's Shock Training System. I'm thankful that I get to spend  a day a week with 2 of my Peeps, and help my sister. 

I find myself with lots of tears today. Tears of joy. Some from the painful memories of chemo. Some for the people I know that won't get to celebrate a year free from chemo, or cancer. Some tears of guilt and confusion.Some of overwhelming thankfulness.  

And some of frustration with my body. About 3 weeks ago I had my first ever sciatica flare/issue/pain. For about a week it was excruciating to stand or walk, or do just about anything else.  Slowly, my body is healing thanks to 2 reflexology treatments and Young Living's essential oils. I haven't been able to work out, and it's extremely frustrating. Cathletes NEED their daily sweat and burn fix!!

Truth is that this sciatica issue, in my left leg, reminds me all too much of the pains of chemo. Instead of the crushing bone feeling, though, I have a burning cord feeling down the back of my leg. My left heel is partially numb. So even though I've come sooooooooooo far in a year, at this moment I'm not feeling it. There's a little voice in the back of head what's wondering if I'll ever be able to work out with Cathe Friedrich's DVDs again. Will I ever walk 100% normally? Will this numbness melt away? These are questions I was asking myself a year ago. It never occurred to me that I'd ask them again.

 I'm healing and I'm believing that I will walk normally again and have normal healthy body again. It happened once, right? 

Happy cancerversary to me! Here's to more cancerversaries to Fighters and Survivors everywhere!! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Overdue Results, as promised

I've been a proud Cathlete for last 12 years. My final chemo treatment- for my second round of gynecologic cancer in 2 years- was September 15 in 2010. Seven months later on April 11 I had recovered enough to start on a fitness journey that I had been longing to go on for years. Cathe Friedrich's STS, or Shock Training Program. Initially, it was 14 week, or 3 1/2 month, commitment. It became a 17 week process for me due to some travelling. It's a 3 stage strength training program- endurance, hypertrophy, and strength. It was an amazing and surprising journey!!

When I started my body was quite weak, but my Spirit was- and still is!- strong and enduring. I choose this program because I wanted stronger muscles, and I wanted to earn back the (self) title of 'Cathlete'. During my second cancer's treatment I wasn't able to exercise very often and I missed it deeply. I wanted to follow a strength training program to combat the damage that chemo and radiation treatment did to my bones. Did you know that chemo often leads to bone loss? STS was the perfect fit for my goal.

I'm also on a weight loss journey, but I felt like gaining muscle and feeling my physical strength grow was more important than focusing on shedding pounds. Cathe helped me lose 75 pounds 8 years ago, and 20 more pounds in the last year. I have 50 more pounds that I'm in the process of losing, and I have no doubt that I will reach that goal thanks to Cathe's ultra effective DVDs and very helpful articles about living healthy.

Back to the STS results... I actually have noticeable tricep and bicep muscles!! This totally thrills me!! When I started STS the heaviest bicep curl I could do was 16 pounds. The heaviest week of STS I was curling 45.2 pounds. Crazy awesome!! When I started STS I could only do push- ups from the easiest knee position, and after STS I can do 6 full reps from my toes!! Astounding!! When I started STS the most I could chest press was 14 pounds, and during the heaviest week of STS I was benching 60 pounds! Totally amazing!!

The endurance and strength that my legs built up is the most incredible to me, but harder to measure because I substituted other Cathe leg DVDs for the Meso cycle 3. Meso cycle 3 is mostly plyo moves and my kness can't handle that kind of impact since chemo. When I first started with STS I couldn't hold any weight in my hands during any of the paper plate lunges, and I had to modify the depth of the move. At the end of STS, I could do the full Pyramid Lower Body lunges using 16, 22 and 30 pounds. That's the best comparison I can put together. When I started STS the heaviest weight I could squat with was 25 pounds, and at the end of STS I could do the full PLB squats using 30, 35 and 45 pounds.

I've never ever been this strong, and I absolutely love it!!! I recently had a bone density test as a post-cancer treatment follow up, and I'm very grateful to say that my bone density is completely normal!

Thank you, Cathe, from the bottom of my heart, for creating such an awesome strength building program. It gave me something to look forward to during treatment, and helped me create the strongest body and mind I've ever had in my life. I know I'll reach my weight loss goals by continuing to follow your lead.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sarah's Thoughts behind the Art, a special guest post

Please welcome my dear friend, Sarah, who graciously wrote a Guest Post about her beautiful and meaningful artwork.... 

There was a lot that inspired me to draw this picture. Originally, when I sat down with my sketch pad I intended to draw some sort of general "cancer support" something or other. So I started thinking about all of the people in my life that have battled cancer. Some have fought and won. Others have fought and lost. As I sat there thinking about all these people and trying to decide on what to draw, I received a text from my dear friend Connie. In that instant I knew it was a sign. I was suppose to create this for her. She is a cancer survivor. She is an amazingly kind, generous and all around awesome human being. Connie has done so many wonderful things for me. I knew at that moment this was suppose to be a gift to her to say "Thank you for being you and being my friend."

I am touched and honored by Sarah's drawing of me. Seeing myself drawn thin is really cool, and is helping me be able to see it actually happening. It's a much appreciated bonus. 

Sarah has drawn me as a strong athlete. This resonates in me because that's how I think and dream of myself, even though my body now doesn't reflect it. I know that all these Cathe Friedrich workouts are transforming my body day by day. 

The color selections in Sarah's piece are packed with special meanings. Purple for all cancer Survivors, and happens to be my favorite color. The upside down placement of the purple ribbons signifies a Survivor. I just learned that last month at an Ovarian cancer Survivor support group. So if you're a Survivor and wear a ribbon flip upside down! 

The  Peach tank top signifying my first cancer win over endometrial, otherwise known as uterine. That first cancer was subtle- much like the color. 

The Teal ribbon is appropriately wrapped around my lower body like a shield. I like that it's big and bold, because Ovarian cancer came into my life big and bold. It also changed my life in positive big and bold ways. 

Sarah even took great care in coloring my eyes green, and drawing my hair into crazy curls. 

I truly love this drawing, and I'm deeply grateful for Sarah's friendship and artistic talents. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Starting Again. Again.

Where to start? I have so much to share with my dear Readers, but haven't the time. Same ol' story, I know.

I'm working on refreshing this blog and bringing it back. Again. Please look on the right side of the screen... My dear friend Sarah drew this piece of me in celebration of Remission. She'll be writing a Guest Post about her inspiration for this beautiful piece soon!

I'm 18 days away from a full year since chemo treatments. I can't believe it's been a year!! I've glossed over many cancerversaries the past several weeks. Though they each have deep meaning to me, my focus has been elsewhere. I think that's a good sign. I've focused mostly on my business, but also on finishing Cathe Friedrich's Shock Training System (STS) and releasing negative emotions through Young Living essential oils and writing in my journal.

Remission is beautiful and full. I thank God every single day for this amazing life, even on the days when I'm not feeling particularly grateful because human life is sometimes challenging. Those are the times when it's most important to have a grateful heart.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cleaning it Up

I think it's time to shake up the blog a bit. My posts have been pretty heavy lately. Life isn't so serious. I make time for fun and yummies, too. In fact laughter and clean healthy whole foods are great for healing processes. But you already knew that, right? 

Last Sunday I took inventory of my freezer and pantry then sat down with my Clean Eating, Oxygen and Eating Well magazines and came up with a plan. I need quick dishes that are rich in protein and veggies because life is wonderfully full but I still want to eat healthy. I like lots of nutritional bang from the time I put into the kitchen.

I made the following 3 recipes in about 2 hours. Seriously, just 2 little hours. You have 2 hours to devote to eating healthier, don't you? 

Burger Mix (from Oxygen's Collector's Issue Summer 2005) (I quad'ed the org recipe for the week)
 16oz extra lean ground beef (I use grass fed)
2 cups brown rice (already had it cooked and frozen so it was super easy)
1 c chopped onion
15 oz can of no salt added diced tomatoes
I added a little big of Greek seasoning and ketchip too. Yum! 

My mom wanted me to try replicate a Garbanzo bean Salad she had at catered event last week.
2 cans organic Garbanzo beans
1/4 c unsweetened dried cherries
1 big can of artichoke hearts
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
1 clove of garlic 
4 oz goat cheese
1/3 c chopped walnuts
Then I whisked together organic oilive oil and organic apple cider vinegar to hold it together. Mom said I nailed it! Woot!! 

The last thing I 'cooked' today came from Eating Well's June 2010 issue:
Broccoli, Ham and Pasta Salad
6 ounces of dry whole wheat noodles
4 cups broccoli (I steamed a bag of frozen, because raw brocc doesn't work well at my house)
6 ounces nitrate free ham and turkey lunch meat (instead of diced ham)
large red pepper, diced
1/3 c red onion, finely diced
1/3 c raisins

Creamy Herb Dressing
1/2 c low fat mayo
1/3 c nonfat plain yogurt (I used Greek, and therefore could have easily halved or eliminated the mayo)
1/4 c lowfat sour cream
3 T rice vinegar (could sub white wine vin)
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1/2 T dried chives (or fresh)
1.5 tsp tarragon or dillweed
1/2 tsp onion and/or celery salt (I just used onion powder)
white pepper to taste
Mix it all up! 

I've got a little of the Burger Mix and Garbanzo Bean salad left to get me through the weekend. Which reminds me, I'll need to make a plan for next week soon. 

What's your clean eating plan for next week?

I finished Cathe Friedrich's STS (Shock Training System) yesterday. I'm so proud of myself! I made fantastic strength gains on a few different levels, but that's the next post. 

Don't miss it! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Releasing & Healing

During the Wings Cancer Foundation's gynecologic Survivor's Retreat two Saturdays ago, I realized that I have more healing to embrace. This next phase of healing is emotional and mental, and so far I think it's harder than the physical. I've held onto negative thoughts concerning blame and the question of 'Why me?' long enough. I'll never know the answers, because there isn't one and they don't really matter anyway.

That cancer happened to me isn't important anymore. What IS important is what I create and gain from the experience. Cancer has been a catalyst to many wonderful new experiences and relationships, and it's perfectly okay to just accept those positives without supplementing any negatives. 

I'm also ready to let go of the guilt I've been feeling over 'getting' cancer twice in 2 years. I've blamed my abusive childhood. I've blamed my father. I've blamed myself for being overweight. I've blamed emotional eating and lack of willpower. I've blamed hormone interrupting plastics and chemicals that surround us. 

All that blaming hasn't gotten me anywhere good, though. My counselor gently asked me if it truly is important to assign blame. Up until this phase of healing it felt moderately important to me, but now that importance is fading. It feels like a new dawning.... 

I'm using 3 tools to help me release the blame and guilt:
1. Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol Truman
2. Writing in my new journal using the book Wings Foundation gave me at the Retreat Scribing the Soul by Kathleen Adams
3. Young Living's Essential Oils 

I'll be sharing details about each of these tools in upcoming posts. They all involve replacing negative energy (thoughts of blame and guilt) with positive energy (gratitude and Truth). I want to welcome all the positive Energy into my life as possible!!

Many thanks to Wings Cancer Foundation for the continued support as I heal..... 

If you're a Survivor who has been through the emotional healing process, please consider sharing a bit of that journey with me and my readers in a comment. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It started with a postcard in the mail, an invitation to the Wings Cancer Foundation's summer Retreat for gynecological cancer Survivors. It was a fun surprise to get that kind of mail. I immediately thought it was an awesome idea and wanted to go. Then after a day or so, I started wondering if I wanted to dredge up all those cancer emotions again. I am moving forward and creating a happy successful new life, and I didn't want to lose my momentum or trip myself up.

My soul told me I should go though, and I've learned to listen. So, I went even though I was a bit afraid. I pictured lots of hugging, sad stories and crying. While there was hugging, and we did share our 'sad stories' and some of us cried (yes me) it was a marvelous experience. I'm so glad I went despite my fears!

It was wonderfully comforting to be with women who have been though what I've gone through, understand how I feel about it, and get introduced to some new methods of emotional healing. I didn't know anyone there, but I left with many new Survivor Sisters.

I also started the next phase of my healing process. My body is mostly healed. I thought my emotions were mostly healed up, too. I was wrong. It happens every now and again. Surprising, right?

The Retreat started with a light breakfast and finding comfort with people who were as outside of their comfort zone as I felt. Amazing women. Inspiring women. Strong women. Beautiful women in different stages of Fight and Survivorship. We share a deep bond, even though we may not have realized it at first. We felt it... 

The first session in the Retreat was Yoga. The Yoga instructor artfully led us through 90 minutes of gentle and calming Yoga poses. Her Spirit is full of graceful Light. Through the session she reminded us to only do what our bodies could do today, and showed us many alternative moves. Yoga is so calming, centering, empowering and healing. I'm thankful that Wings offers so many free Survivor Yoga classes.

The second session was led by an inspirational writer and speaker with a beautiful calm energy who gently led us through some Journaling therapy. That 90 minutes unlocked the door to my next level of healing. I've always loved to journal. Since I was about 9 I've found peace, problem resolutions, stress relief, and self acceptance through journaling in the past. Ironically, sometime after my second diagnosis in January of 2010 I stopped journaling. The emotions and thoughts were too raw to face at the time for me. I thought that over time I had dealt with these emotions, and moved on from them but no. I buried some of them. It was a surprisingly and disconcerting realization.

It's time to start digging them up, looking at them, feeling them, and releasing them. Wings very generously gave each Survivor a beautiful blank journaling book and journaling therapy guide book. The book is absolutely amazing... if you enjoy journaling I highly recommend it. It's not just for Survivors, it can be applied to any and all issues. I feel so richly blessed...

We shared a tasty lunch and fabulous conversation. After sharing very personal and deep journal entries we were bonded and spoke like old dear friends.. and knew that we are indeed Sisters in Survival. 

The final session was laughter therapy. Do you know much healing power is in laughing? I think it's safe to say that everyone at the Retreat felt happier, and emotionally lighter after this final session. The speaker was absolutely wonderful, and is a 3 time Survivor herself. She knew what she was talking about... and made us laugh heartily. 

Thank you, Wings Cancer Foundation. You have empowered and soothed my healing process more than my words could ever say... 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crossing CrossFit


The day after I first published this post fellow blogger, Memphian and cancer Survivor Chris published an awesome CrossFit post. I felt like his post should be included. What Exactly Is CrossFit by chris beat cancer  offers a successful Survivor doing CrossFit perspective. You have my total respect, Chris. 

If you've never heard of it, just don't know much about it, or if you need some fresh exercise ideas spend some time perusing CrossFit Exercises. Be warned- you could be there all day.

Amazing. Crazy. Ultra-challenging. Inspirational. Unfathomable at times. Awesome. And just a tad intimidating. Right?

I have a connection to CrossFit, if you can believe it. This past February through April I participated in an online bloggers body challenge hosted by Strong is the New Skinny bloggers Marsha and Adam. No, I didn't follow a paleo way of eating. No, I didn't do any CrossFitting. But I rubbed virtual elbows with some very cool paleo eating CrossFitters. Remember? It was inspiring.

Since I completed this challenge I've had a lingering curiosity about CrossFit and the paleo way of eating. It whispers to me, eggs me on. Taunts me. I felt pretty safe because I didn't think there were any CrossFit gyms (is that what they're called?) in Memphis. No, I didn't bother checking or searching. I just assumed, and you know how that goes. 

Then I went to my suburb's first farmer's market a couple Saturdays ago and found myself standing in front of a CrossFit gym. Then I found myself standing INSIDE said CrossFit gym. That's right- 

CrossFit Bartlett played a very big role in bringing a farmer's market into the community, and I'm very grateful. So on the market's opening day the gym was offering a free look-see and workout. I was so excited when the lady at the snow cone booth told me about it! (Yes, I'm aware of the irony.) Beyond excited, really. Crazy excited, and giddy. I couldn't wait to go check it out!! 

So my mom and my sister's 3 toddlers and I went in. That's right- all of us. Thankfully, this gym is fairly kid friendly and had some toys. I'm pretty sure there wasn't any A/C though. It was really hot and humid that day. 

It didn't look like any gym I'd ever seen before, but it was the coolest gym I've ever seen. It was also the scariest and most mysterious gym I've ever seen. I wasn't dressed for any kind of workout and had on the wrong shoes, so I was going to just observe. I was disappointed and relieved at the same time. 

The owner of the gym and one of the trainers talked with me for a few minutes. I found myself signing up for a free one on one introduction workout. One of the members- a very kind man- came over to me and explained how the gym worked. I appreciated that act of kindness very much!! I was pretty surprised (and disheartened) that none of them had even heard of Cathe Friedrich, though. 

I watched members perform exercises that I wouldn't think would be humanly possible. 

This is some version of a hybrid pull-up/core exercise. Seriously, I watched a guy jump up and grab the bar then pull his toes up to his fingers. My jaw was on the ground. I'm quite sure that I couldn't have even jumped up and held onto the bar. 

The longer I watched and took it all in, the more out of place and uncomfortable I felt. I felt weak and flabby-like an ugly scarred unpopular fat girl that didn't fit in. It was a bummer, because I had been looking forward to the CrossFit experience for quite awhile.

I had found out just a few days before this that I have an incisional hernia, and had been cautioned by my oncologist to wear a very stylish compression belt when I workout. It didn't seem logical that CrossFitting was to become a part of my life. Even more secretly, I wish it could be. 

I left before the exhibition workout started. The kids were antsy and it was really hot. I had to get out of there. I was ball of emotion, and was close tears. I can't do CrossFit workokuts, I knew it in my soul as I walked out the door. I felt very disappointed and frustrated with this body that has survived cancer twice. My oldest niece asked me why we were leaving, and I started crying when I told her the truth- Aunt Connie can't do this, honey. I hated having to tell her that truth. Since the end of chemo 10 months ago I've brought this body and mind a really long way (I thought), but being there made me feel like it wasn't good enough. I don't want to feel like I'm not good enough. 

I couldn't stop thinking about it, though. I had set an appointment, remember? I called my oncologist on Monday, asked the burning question and waited for a call back. My soul was right, I can't do CrossFit according to my oncologist. She thought it was pretty crazy to even consider it, actually. She's probably right, but I didn't like hearing it. 

I'm disappointing and frustrated about it, and a bit relieved too. I felt embarrassed writing the 'sorry I have to cancel my appointment' email to the owner and trainer, but they were both gracious and understanding. 

So, I came across CrossFit, and had to cross it out. 

Perhaps after I lose my extra weight and have the hernia repair surgery I'll be able to try it. I sure hope so. 

Are you a CrossFitter? How did you get into it? Share your experience with me! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Relief. Joy. Gratitude.

I bet you thought I forgot about the promise I made for a fresh post tonight, didn't you? It's ok to admit it. I almost forgot myself! 

I've been waiting for all the final results to come back before sharing about my last round of post-treatment tests, but I still haven't gotten a call back. I've learned to assume that no callbacks are a good thing for cancer Survivors, so I'm going to just flow with it.

I went through the most tests in the least amount time this go round at The West Clinic. It was wonderful to have so little time in the waiting room! A little bizarre, too.

My 9 month follow up I had tubes and tubes of blood drawn from my Port-a-cath, a chest X-ray, a CT scan and a pelvic exam. It wasn't as bad as it sounds.

My Port worked beautifully once again. Yay!!

I was hoping to get to lay down for the chest X-ray, but I didn't. I just stood there, turned, and turned again. I even got an initial 'all ok'. That's never ever happened. Bizarre, but in a good way. It certainly put me at ease. Just having to have a chest X-ray made me a little anxious. I understand that my oncologist is covering all the bases since I am a two time Survivor, though.

Then I was off to the CT scan waiting area. There were 2 ladies already sitting there. They were talking and giggling a bit. The kind of giggling you do when you're really nervous or scared but fighting through it. I thought they were sisters, but they were mother and daughter. The mother had just been diagnosed, and this was her first CT scan. We didn't sit together very long at all, but I did my best to share some Love and Light with her. The scan made her sick and my heart went out to her. Cancer sucks.

I'm very thankful that they have upgraded the chalky CT scan barium drink to one that tastes like plain water. There's less volume and it's much easier to drink.

During the scan I actually felt a little light headed and nauseous towards the end. That's never happened to me in my long history of CT scans. It passed pretty quickly. That short experience scared me a bit, and made me wonder if feeling a little sick in the scan meant something less than good. Intellectually, I couldn't see how but Survivors don't just think intellectually during tests.

On my way upstairs to my oncologist's office (gyn Survivors have a whole special floor), I stopped in the bathroom to collect myself. I let myself cry for a couple minutes because I needed the stress release. Just being at the West Clinic is emotional for me. All I smell in there is chemo drugs and it's so icky. Then I took a few deep breaths, gave myself a quick self Reiki treatment, and thought about all my blessings.

I figured I would be sitting in the waiting room for at least an hour, but nope. Three minutes later I was in the exam room. My mom was running a bit late, but thanks to text messaging and 45 mile per hour roads between her office and the clinic she slid into the room minutes before the oncologist. Is she good or what? Just another demonstration of her awesomeness!!

Thankfully, my nurse and oncologist noticed that I've lost 17 official pounds since the end of chemo! It was nice to get some recognition and kudos from my medical team. Yay!!

The oncologist went through my questions with me. I'm still not sure when I'll have my Port removed. My onc didn't make a big deal out of that at all, so I won't either. It doesn't hurt, and it's not like anyone but me is rubbing or otherwise feeling it. Once in awhile one of my Peeps elbow me in that one tiny spot, but that's about it. I did find out that removing it won't mess up the chest muscles I've been working so hard on building and strengthening. I was incredibly relieved to hear that good news. I was prepared to keep the Port forever if it meant cutting into my new muscles!!

Then it was drum roll time. My onc sat down at the computer in the exam room to look at my test results. This is the part where I was literally holding my breath, and I bet Mom was too.


However, I do have a small incisional hernia from all the scar tissue next to my belly button. And I have one really huge gallstones and a few smaller ones. Neither issue is causing me any harm right now,  so we're just going to watch and be aware. My onc did encourage me to buy a compression belt to wear while I'm lifting weights. So now I look even cuter when I lift. I'm extra thankful that I workout in the privacy of my own bedroom.

Relief. Joy. GratitudeFreedom to move forward with my beautiful life as a (now) 10 month Survivor. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Whaddya know?

Apparently this blog doesn't write itself... Hmpf. I wish I could just think a post and have it magically appear. On second thought, that may terrify everyone. Nevermind.

No, I'm not quitting or giving up this blog. Life has been beautifully busy, but short on hours.

Here are some upcoming topics (yes, soon):

A convention that changed my life.... My 9 month post chemo battery of tests and scans report...  My wonderful quality time with all 5 of Peeps this summer... Strength training pride... My first encounter with Cross Fit... Weight loss update... How essential oils are improving my life...

That should get the ball rolling again. Fresh post coming up on Wednesday evening. Pinky swear.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Day I Found Out, Part 1

Hello out there! I came home from my business convention so pumped up and excited about helping people and building my business (and physically worn out!) that I just haven't had time to blog. I'm working on a bit better balance from now on, though, because I love blogging about being a Survivor. I truly hope that my story and journey is helping other Survivors even if it's in just a small way. We're all in this Surviving and thriving thing, together from my perspective. 

I learned a lot about myself during my convention in Atlanta last weekend. The most important lesson I learned and practiced is my growing ability to be brave and bold while still being sincere and kind. 

Thanks to Twitter I found the awesome site- The Day I Found Out. It's a site where cancer Survivors  post the story of the day they found out they had cancer. Here's what the site is all about: 
"For many cancer survivors and their loved ones, this was one of the toughest days of their lives. These are their stories. This is a place where people with hope to spare can share it with those who need it most." 

Of course, I love this site. I was also a little afraid of this site, because it's powerful, emotional, raw, and brings back unpleasant memories. It's emotionally and almost physically painful to go back to those 2 days that completely changed my life. When I first found this site I wanted to record my video right away, but I couldn't get the webcam to work right and other stuff happened and I just let it go. A part of me was afraid to go back to that first day I found out as if something would break loose inside of me and not be able to be fixed. 

Then I went to a convention in the very big city (with horrible traffic!) of Atlanta alone with 60,000 like-minded people and found a new level of braveness inside me. This braveness gives me a confidence and boldness so that I am able to help other people despite my own fears. That's what my career is all about- helping people improve their lives. 

That's also a part of what this blog is about- being brave, facing fears, using words as swords, and offering supportive hope to other Survivors.

 So, after a little encouragement from one of the Tweeters behind thedayifoundout.com I set my mind on recording my Part 1 Friday morning. 

And here I am in my first ever Vlog: 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And Now, My Sister Sally Shares...

Hello, I'm Sally White, Connie's sister. I'm not a blogger so I'm just going to jump right in. Like I said Connie is my sister, a two time Cancer survivor, a Cathlete and my best friend.

 Connie has inspired me to eat healthy and exercise, if she can do it so can I.

I am a mother of three wonderful children and I have a great husband. I am blessed to be able to stay at home to raise our kids which doesn't leave me a lot of free time to exercise. I have recently found my balance, I workout at night after the kids are all asleep and everything is picked up. 

I enjoy cooking healthy meals for my family. We have gotten the kids addicted to fruit and veggies. These rare children would rather eat apples than pizza!!

I tried to workout when our oldest was a baby, but I couldn't wrap me head around it with going to college, being a new mom and everything that went with it. Although I did enjoy exercising with my sister and sometimes our mom. 

It didn't help that I was very unhappy with the way I looked. I was a size 6 before I had Zoey, and I gained over 80lbs while I was pregnant, which was awful. I just wanted my body to snap back to normal, but of course that didn't happen. The more I did try the more I got mad at myself, I told myself that it wasn't working nor was it worth it... I was stuck in this body and nothing I did would change it.  I just gave up. I regret that now, but I can't go back. All I can do is focus on now.

So here I am 5 years later and I'm giving it my best shot. Connie got me into Cathe Friedrich and I love her! She makes me work, sweat, "feel the burn" and it hurts so good!!! I am still very new to working out and its HARD, but so worth it. I can now do Cathe's Travel Fit DVD, which I never thought I would do. I rotate Travel Fit and Low impact- Total Body Sculpting, and I also run after the kids (it's exercise, I swear ).

I don't want these exercises to become "easy" after a few more weeks I would like to move up to something harder and eventually do STS.

For now, I am happy that I can do any of it!

Guest Post- Holistic What?

My friend Tricia wrote a special Guest Post for me. Tricia is a fellow Cathlete, fellow Reiki practitioner, fellow blogger (http://mercade.wordpress.com/), Southerner at heart, my Beachbody Coach and is an encouraging and all-round wonderful person. Love and Light shine brightly through her. Read her post, you'll see. 
Tricia, you have my deepest gratitude and respect!

          I became a Reiki practitioner back in 2004 or 2005. I can’t believe it’s been that long!  I hadn’t really heard about holistic healing at the time.  A friend brought it up at work one day, just because she had seen a listing for a class through a community school.  She did some research on it and wanted to take the class.  She had a background in crystals already, so had some insight into the field of holistic energy. I’d never heard of the practice, nor was I versed at all in holistic medicine. I wasn’t really all that excited about it, but it sounded intriguing. I told her I’d take the class with her. 

            After 2 weekends of classes and my first attunement, I became a Level 1 Reiki Practitioner, able to give self-treatments and work on family and friends.  I liked how the treatments made me feel. It wasn’t an immediate feeling.  It took time.  Reiki is a slow healing process, not a quick fix.  I enjoyed getting together with a small group of people and giving and receiving treatments once a month.  Who knew this would only be the beginning of a journey into holistic wellness.

            About a year later, I received my attunement for Level 2 and a year after that, Master Level.  I can now give attunements to anyone who wishes to become a Reiki practitioner.  The title is something of a misnomer as no one every really becomes a master at it! There is always something to learn from and share with others.

            After a time, I attended another workshop, just a demonstration really, on reflexology.  I fell in love with it!  I began looking into the different modalities, for there are many different schools of practice in reflexology.  I found one that I liked and met the instructor.  I felt connected to her, so registered for her course. 

            You might think that I’m a full time holistic practitioner now, but that is not the case.  I still only self-treat with Reiki and give reflexology treatments to my husband who loves them! The treatment with reflexology is done on the feet and he just loves that!

            After that first introduction to Reiki, I became a firm believer in holistic medicine.  I started taking workshops and classes on everything I could. There’s a lot I still want to learn and do, but time and money, especially money, have become an issue over the last couple of years.  So, I wait, as patiently as I possibly can until I can start back up again!

            If anyone asked for a treatment, I wouldn’t hesitate to give him or her one! It’s something that must be experienced and can’t really be explained.  The practice can be described, but the experience of a treatment cannot.  It’s different for everyone.  Someone very sensitive and in tune with themselves may notice a difference during their first treatment, but others may not. I would recommend everyone try a treatment at least once for the experience. Doctors and hospitals are bringing these practices into their offices and patient rooms.  There is a basis for the power of holistic treatments. It is not mumbo jumbo, but a respected and widely used practice to assist in the healing of people with and without ailments.  Everyone can use some healing, whether to relieve stress, increase relaxation, improve sleep and much more!
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