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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gratefulness and Respect

I'm gratefully approaching my official 2 year post ovarian cancer Remission anniversary. Each year of remission is big deal to all cancer Survivors, but particularly ovarian cancer Survivors because there is often a higher risk of recurrence. I only have a 10% risk of recurrence, which is really low but still a risk. Click here for a chart from the Journal of National Cancer Institute to see the recurrence rates in ovarian cancer at different stages. 

It's humbling and shocking data, yet reminds me to stay in the flow of thankfulness for my current good health. It also gives me a sense of urgency to advocate for more research dollars that will lead to a Cure and educate women on ways to listen to and care for their bodies. Women shouldn't suffer or die from ovarian cancer any longer. Women deserve an early detection screening to find ovarian cancer at the earliest possible stage and preserve their lives. 

Oh, didn't you know that there is NOT an early detection screening for ovarian cancer? Shocking, isn't it? 

So how would you know you have it? By listening to your body, knowing your family cancer history, and paying attention to these symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance created a free App- and printable symptom diary- to help women track these symptoms. App link Symptom Diary Link Studies about ovarian cancer symptom link.

Ladies, dear ones, please pay attention to your body. If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms- even just one, yes- for couple weeks or more please go see your gynecologist. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has fantastic information about detection. Read it carefully and then tune into your body. Take care of yourself, don't just wait & see. 

This past Thursday I went to my gyn oncologist for my 2 year pelvic exam and blood work to determine my CA 125 level. A normal CA 125 is 35 U/ml or less. Mine was 3 U/ml 6 months ago, which is amazingly wonderful. I'll get results from Thursday early next week, and I'm expecting good news. 

I wasn't feeling much anxiety until I got to the parking lot on Thursday. My affirmations and flowing thoughts of gratefulness keep me in a healthy and positive place mentally and emotionally. I've been focusing on ovarian cancer advocacy, not so much my personal journey through ovarian cancer. Yet pulling into the parking lot brought up a bit of fear and anxiety, and I could smell the chemo before walking in the building. 

I called my friend Angella, who is the creator of The Zen Method that I'm training to become certified in, and she listened for a few minutes and then talked me through 3 cleansing and grounding breaths. Connecting with your breath is a powerful calming tool. 

My blood draw was easy and thankfully the first stick stuck. My veins were slow to share but we got 3 vials out. This is the only time I ever miss my Port-a-cath, but I get tougher with every stick. 

I was prepared to be there for awhile since I had an afternoon appointment which usually means the oncologist is behind schedule, but I was called back quickly. I got to be in the 'upgrade' room with the more comfortable chair with stirrups and joked about it with the nurse. She went through the usual round of questions.

My oncologist came in quickly and we got down to business. That 'upgrade' chair made the exam much more comfortable. Yay! Then I got hear the words I needed to hear from her- everything feels fine. Relief floods in. 

She then checked the computer for my blood work- except CA 125 which takes longer- and more good news. Everything looks good. More relief and gratitude joins the flood. 

She wants me to have a mammogram just because it's been nearly 2 years and it's a smart thing to do for a gyn cancer Survivor. Though, I'm not thrilled about it I am thankful that breast cancer HAS an early detection screening process. As I think that, there in the stirrups, I feel a pang of sadness for ovarian cancer patients as I wish we had an early detection screening too. So I agree to get a mammogram. 

That's my official 2 year post ovarian cancer oncologist follow up appointment results. Everything looks good, I'm doing great. I can wait 6 months for my next follow up. I'm relieved, and full of gratitude.... 

I get on the elevator and check my email as a mental break from being at The West Clinic.  There's a brand new email about a friend, a Teal Sister, who is in treatment. The email tells me that She also saw her gyn oncologist that day, but didn't get good news. I got in my car and bawled for both of us for a few minutes, because it ovarian cancer sucks.

I called my Mom to share my good news, sent out a text to my closest friends and sisters, and posted on Facebook, Then I stepped out of my own personal ovarian cancer journey and back into my new role of Advocacy and supporting my Teal Sisters. 

Please send your Love, Comfort and Light to this dear Teal Sister- to all my Teal Sisters... and to all Survivors. 





Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Official Start Time

Today I officially started the training process for the St. Jude half marathon next December. I've talked about it a lot, meditated on it, said a lot of positive affirmations to myself, asked for guidance from dear friends who are seasoned runners and then realized there was only 1 thing left to do. Take action by actually starting to run.

For the first part of my training, I'm using the popular Couch to 5K. I've got the app for my phone which makes it very convenient. The weather is finally good for running in Memphis, and I'm so thankful. This is a 9 week program where I'll be doing run/walk intervals for a total of 30 minutes. This means that I'll finish this program right before Christmas. I didn't plan that, but I think it's pretty cool how the timing works out. I'll be able to run a 5K by Christmas, which will be an amazing gift to myself.

The first day run/walk felt good. I haven't run since the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation's 5K at the end of September due to a sciatic event that occurred shortly afterwards. I'm healed now, and have learned from that injury. No more full out running down hill, my core needs strengthening, and stretch really well.

Today I started off feeling really strong, and felt almost easy. By the 6th of the 8 intervals my body felt the challenge. I talked myself through it with gratitude. It's truly amazing to me that I can run. It's even more amazing that I want to run. I'm deeply grateful that I can run. I imagined me and my friends at the St. Jude half marathon... all of us running together and drawing strength from each other. I'm so grateful to have friends are willing to travel to run with me.

I'll be running Tuesdays, Thursdays and either Saturdays or Sundays. On Tuesday and Thursday I'll add on upper body- including core- work, too. Mondays and Wednesdays I'll do low impact Tabata (intense intervals for 20 second followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat) or HiiT (high intensity interval training which is short bursts of energy followed by short rest repeatedly about 10 times. I'll also add in, cautiously, Turbo Barre or floor work for my lower body. Fridays and Sunday or Saturday will be rest days.

I'll also continue daily with the Crane Dance created by Inner Peace for Inner Tough's Angella Hamiliton. (You can get a free download of this 6 minute calming yet powerful unique combo of Tai Chi and Qi Gong here.) This short 6 minutes is truly bringing more peace to my life.

Putting together a workout plan for the next 9 weeks feels really good. Having a physical goal that I'm able to work towards is a miracle.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bravery & a 5 Day Road trip

Brave. Adventurous. Creative. Miracles. Friends. Magnificent. Delicious. Fun. Healing. Comfy. Decadent. Welcoming. Love. 


These words are the essence of my recent 5 day road trip to the North. On my way to my first destination, I meet Sandra Ahten, creator of The Reasonable Diet. I was running late, partly due to road construction and partly because I forgot how long the state of Illinois is, but we just rolled with it. She's every bit as authentic and awesome as she is appears online. We talked like old friends, and I got some insight and education about how to apply the Law of Attraction to my desire to reach a healthy weight. She hit a spiritual nerve so right on in that topic that I cried spontaneously. 

Onto Chicago- as in the city part of the city, not the burbs. I've never stayed in a big city apartment before, but my friend Rae made me feel very welcomed and right at home. Her apartment/loft is above stores and has a very funky cool sleek industrial yet homey feel. And she has the same couch I had when I lived in Florida. She's a graphic artist and web designer- as well as a musician. We worked on her huge screen computer in our jammies on shirt designs for the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundations' new Zazzle store

One of my favorite from the new line!

We worked so well together, and had lots of fun. I'm so thankful for you, Rae, and your mad graphic skills! You totally rock, and I'm honored and grateful to get to spend time and creative space with you.

I met with 2 Facebook friends later that night in the 'burbs. Traffic was crazy. And the tollway was expensive. Though it was a bit irritating, I didn't mind much because I was so excited to meet my friends! Laura and I connected immediately and share many of the same Spiritual experiences and way of thinking... we talked for hours and are old friends now! I have a feeling that we're going to be connected for a long time, and in a really cool way one day. Then Nancy joined us, after a long day of work. We've been friends for a long time thanks to Facebook and it was wonderful to make a real life connection. I got some good advice from this awesome seasoned runner and fellow Cathlete... and made some plans for running a half marathon next December.

Then it was time for me to visit the city where I did most of my growing up.... that holds hundreds of thousands of happy memories of family and friends... and some very dark scary memories of abuse. That abuse held me prisoner on many levels for over 2 decades, and kept me away from that city. I've been through years of therapy, hypnosis, and journaling to heal and cope but have avoided going to that old home city for 21 years. Then I rekindled friendships with some very special friends that still live there... and even made a couple new ones there thanks to Facebook. I wanted to spend time with them, meet them all over again and crush the fear that I attributed to that place.

The city didn't cause the abuse. It's just a place, a city like many others. I've grown spiritually so much these past few months that it felt so good and right to go there again. I was determined not to let old fears reign over my joy in the now. I needed to go back to complete the circle of healing for myself.

I paused on the outskirts of the city to collect my thoughts, breathe, meditate and remind myself that it's just a place and no one can hurt me there anymore. I reminded myself that I'm a grown up now and have control over my body and mind. I also told those dark memories that they were not welcome, and asked God to open my mind to any good memories. I also gave myself permission to leave if it didn't feel good or right in any way.

Cities go through big changes in 21 years. Though I came in on what I thought would be an old familiar highway, I recognized very little which was good because it made things easier. A couple of those good memories popped in... the place where I took the only dance class of my life that I completely forgotten about... my old nursery school which looks exactly the same... learning to drive my Mom's old Renault stick shift in my old high school parking lot...

And one of my family's favorite restaurants. I met my friend Rocky there even though I was staying at his house that night, to take the whole 'going home again' thing slowly. Again, I paused in my car gathering my thoughts and courage. He saw me first, busted! ha! We hugged like dear old friends and I felt welcomed, loved and safe. The restaurant, also, has changed a lot... the food wasn't nearly as good as I remembered but I ate one of my Grandpa's favorite meals- lake perch.

Rocky patiently drove me around the city, avoiding spots with bad memories, and we reminisced and laughed so hard. There's now a big beautiful lake beach there now!! It was crazy... if you didn't know it was a lake you'd swear it was an ocean. Seriously.


Rocky, Me and Margol
Me, Brenda and BF 
That night Rocky threw a party for me and my Racine friends complete with a nacho bar and great wines! I was deeply moved by how many people came to visit with me... felt like a rockstar!! It's truly a miracle to have such lovely Light-filled friends... My brain still can't comprehend it all, and I am humbled by the Love that surrounds my life in so many ways. And my soul is grateful. My friend Margol said something very wise- 'you never have friends like the ones you had in high school'. So true, and after hearing her say that and experiencing the joy of reconnecting I'm so glad I choose to be brave.

Me and Lisa
I have conquered and kicked out all the negative energy and bad memories from that city I grew up in, and replaced it with new friends, rekindled friendships, laughter and Love. I'll definitely be going back someday.

The next morning...which came too early after all our celebrating the night before... I headed even further North to my Great Aunt & Uncle's home. After all, it was their 65th Wedding Anniversary- and my Great Uncle's 90th birthday- that sparked this whole amazing trip. Their house is so cozy... I relaxed and enjoying being with my extended family. Catching up...sharing memories... looking at pictures... connecting in a fresh way now that I'm 'grown up'. (I don't feel grown up.) 

I also watched how the 4 sisters- my Great Aunt and Uncle's daughters- interacted and learned a lot. Their age range is wide, their lives are very different but the love and care they have for each other is strong and beautiful. They know each other well despite not all living geographically close or getting to spend a lot of time together. It was quite obvious to me that the sister relationships they have came from effort, desire and work but mostly Love and acceptance. I asked 2 of the sisters, my second cousins who feel more like Aunts to me, if they had a secret to sisterhood. They both said-  listen to each other and don't try to fix things for the others. That seems simple enough, doesn't it? Very powerful and profound, too.

I truly hope that my 2 sisters and I can create relationships that strong to last for our lifetimes. We feel distant lately... busy with our own passions and lives... which is understandable at this early and mid 30's part of our lives ... but I truly hope that this simple but deep lesson I learned from my cousins stays with me and passes onto my sisters. 

There was a big party that evening and I got to meet some second and third cousins for the first time, played some beer pong (which was bizarre and wonderful fun), shared my special memories of my Great Aunt & Uncle, and created new memories and fresh connections to the only extended family I have left now... 

My Great Auntie Jo, me and Great Uncle Harvey
This 5 day road trip is quite possibly the most fun, adventuresome, powerful, free-ing and profound trip of my life- so far, at least. I can't wait to see what the next trip brings!!