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My journey in surviving ovarian cancer has been a difficult one, and also rewarding. I have met many wonderful people, learned a lot about myself, and have a deeper appreciation for life. Follow me on Twitter @KarenIngalls1, www.facebook.com/Outshine-An-Ovarian-Cancer-Memoir, and you can find my book at: http://www.outshineovariancancer.com. Proceeds will be donated to funding ovarian cancer research. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2013.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE FIGHTER: BONNIE DONIHI


Before July 28, 1995, Bonnie and Tim Donihi would take morning walks, discuss the world’s problems and fantasize what they’d do with their time once they retired. Those dreams were put on hold 18 years ago when after a standard hysterectomy, the 47-year-old Bonnie was told she had ovarian cancer. Within 3 months of the diagnosis, the cancer was in 5 locations. The chemotherapy left her exhausted and dehydrated from the constant vomiting caused by her treatment. In January 1996, she was comatose for 10 days from dehydration. Tim and her three grown children were terrified.

But Bonnie is a fighter and wasn’t ready to die. She spent 2 more months on chemotherapy and then in March 1996, she was declared cancer-free.

Now her plans of a simple life were changed into a mission to positively affect others’ lives. She joined the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance in Washington, DC, where women from across the nation had a mission to spread the word about ovarian cancer, and advocate for more research, legislation, and education.

In November 1997, Bonnie did the same thing in the Orlando area where with a group of women, who were both friends and survivors, started the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida (OCAF). This local organization is now embracing a new name, Women & Girls’ Cancer Alliance, and has an expanded mission. A long-time advocate for women and girls’ gynecologic health, the organization has added as a part of its ongoing mission, breast cancer, because of its connection to gynecologic cancers.


The Women’s and Girls’ Cancer Alliance (WGCA) is the only organization in Central Florida that promotes and advocates for good gynecological health for both women and girls. Here are just a fews of their many programs:

**The Nurse’s Educational Initiative is a program facilitated by WGCA in partnership with nursing schools with the goal of reaching all nursing and medical career classrooms in Florida in order to make an impact in the way students view, and care for, patients with female cancers.

**Florida Ovarian Cancer Alliance Speaks (FOCAS) is a coalition of gynecological cancer groups throughout Florida mentored by WGCA. The group meets to share best practices and to present a united front for gynecological cancer issues including state funding for research, education, legislation and awareness.

**WGCA Speakers Bureau caters to those interested in learning about WGCA, gynecologic cancers, and breast cancer by providing preventative resources to at least 13,000 people a year for women and girls in our community.

**Through fundraisers and individual support, WGCA has been able to secure more than $100,000 in funding for Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health and UCF School of Nursing.

**Lowke’s Lunch Bunch is a social Dutch treat lunch for survivors, their spouses, family and friends. This group meets monthly to share journeys, laughter, conversation, and to give support to one another.

Bonnie has had two recurrences of ovarian cancer, but she is always the fighter and isn’t going anywhere. She makes sure everyone she meets knows at least one fact about ovarian cancer they hadn’t heard before. It’s her life’s mission to make fighting ovarian and other gynecological cancers a part of every person’s life. She wants each of us to know that any wife, mother, aunt, daughter, or girlfriend could be diagnosed with a gynecologic or breast cancer.



 Contact Bonnie at bonnie@wgcancer.org. She will be glad to answer any questions, welcome your interest in volunteering, or any contributions. 

My thanks to Bonnie for writing this guest blog and her tireless work in spreading the word about gynecologic cancers.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

THE BEAST: OVARIAN CANCER



         MANY WOMEN DESCRIBE THEIR JOURNEY WITH OVARIAN CANCER
                                   THE SAME AS FIGHTING OFF A BEAST.

It is a beast because it is lurking for months or years, awaiting for the prime time to attack...
        It "teases" us by giving us only subtle hints that it is there...
             And then, once its presence is found, it often reappears again and again...
                      Massive surgeries, chemotherapies, and radiation are the treatments of choice.

Does this sound like a fairy tale waiting for the knight in shining armor to rescue the fair maiden?

HERE ARE THE FACTS THAT EVERY FEMALE NEEDS TO KNOW WELL. PLEASE FORWARD THIS BLOG TO ALL YOUR FEMALE FRIENDS AND ASK THEM TO FORWARD ON TO THEIRS.

     1. Approximately 250,000 women in the world will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year.
         Most will NOT survive 5 years, because they are diagnosed in the late stages.

      2. There is NO reliable screening test.

      3. The subtle SYMPTOMS are:
               * Swollen abdomen
               * Pain in abdomen
               * Digestive changes
               * Frequent or urgent urinations
               * Change in bowel habits
               * Painful intercourse, spotting of blood, any unusual vaginal discharge.

       IF ANY OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS PERSIST FOR TWO WEEKS, GO TO A
                                     GYNECOLOGIST FOR EVALUATION.

     4. The RISK FACTORS are:
              * Personal or family history of breast, colon-rectal, or ovarian cancer.
              * Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
              * BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 positive gene mutation
              * Endometriosis history
              * Never having been pregnant
              * History of smoking
              * Infertility issues
              * Risk increases with age HOWEVER young girls (ages 9, 14, 17) been diagnosed.

Watch this video about a very brave 7 year oldhttp://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/09/03/girl-7-receives-rare-ovarian-cancer-diagnosis/


OUR KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR WILL APPEAR WHEN RESEARCH FINDS A RELIABLE SCREENING TEST, MEDICATIONS OR TREATMENTS THAT WILL ONLY DESTROY THE CANCER CELLS, AND WOMEN PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR BODIES WARNING SIGNALS AND ACT ON THEM.

Your body is the vessel that holds your soul. It is the only body you will have, so:
    * Keep your body weight within normal limits
    * Exercise
    * Smile, laugh, think positive
    * And live your life with love in your heart.

This is the first in a series of 4 blogs on ovarian cancer. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Again, please share this blog with every woman you know, and ask her to do the same. Information is a key to successfully defeating the beast.

There will be 10 copies of my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, will be given away this month. Go to www.goodreads.com/giveaway and enter your name for the drawing.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

SHAKE OUT OR SHIFT AWAY

     Several years ago I was putting a load of just washed clothes in the dryer. My sister, Joan, watched me just grab hands full and said, "Wait, you have to shake each piece out."

     "What? I have never done that," feeling a little indignant that my older sister had something to teach me after I had been doing laundry for some 40 years.

     She explained, "If you shake out each piece, it will not wrinkle, or very little. Therefore, eliminating any ironing." She had a big smile on her face, happy to share the good news that ironing might be one job I could forget about.


Lesson One: Do not take for granted that you know everything even if you have been doing the same task for an extended period of time.

Lesson Two: I sometimes grab things, people, or events, and "throw" them into my pile of life. I do not always listen, look at objectively, or participate in wholly. I need to slow down and appreciate the situation and make the most of it.



     I recently gave a talk to some cancer survivors about "shifting away" from their cancer. In other words, do not let cancer control their lives, but they be the ones in control. One lady shared, "I am new to all of this and I feel consumed by everything. My life is no longer mine."

     We talked about being sure to incorporate joyful things into our daily activities, exercise, eat nutritiously, journal, pray or meditate, laugh, and even shed some tears, and to face any fear which is often the biggest blocker to shifting away from cancer.


Lesson One: Incorporate those things that help you to shift away from whatever challenge you are facing.

Lesson Two: The more people are in control of their lives, the healthier they will be.



     We each need to shake out of our doldrums, fears, bad habits, or negative personality traits, and then shift away from our unhealthy life choices.



These are only some of the many lessons I have learned and share about in my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. Please share any lessons you have learned whether from a cancer diagnosis, divorce, financial challenges, empty nest syndrome, or any other life changing event.

www.outshineovariancancer.com
www.amazon.com

Thursday, August 21, 2014

HOW BIRDS GOT WINGS

              A fable about the way birds first got their wings:


 The story goes that initially they were created without them. Then God made the wings, set them down before the wingless birds, and said to them, "Take up these burdens and carry them."

The birds had sweet voices for singing, and lovely feathers that glistened in the sunshine, but they could not soar in the air. When asked to pick up the burdens that lay at their feet, they hesitated at first. Yet soon they obeyed, picked up the wings with their beaks, and set them on their shoulders to carry them.

For some time, the load, this burden, seemed heavy and difficult to bear, but soon, as they continued to carry the burden and to fold the wings over their hearts, the wings grew attached to their little bodies. They quickly discovered how to use them and were lifted by the wings high into the air.

                                            The burdens had become wings.





We each have burdens that we must carry until we learn how to carry them and tie them to our hearts.  We must not run from them...where would we go? To be bitter or angry about them...only makes the burdens heavier. To try to have others carry our burden...what would we learn? To deny the existence of the burden...we won't soar like the eagle.

                             "They will soar on wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:31)

Friday, August 15, 2014

YOU'RE SICK: WHAT CAN I DO?

                            HELPFUL IDEAS AS TO WHAT AN ILL PERSON WANTS OR NEEDS:

         1. Don’t wait on me to call you if I need anything.  

2. Let me experience real emotions.  Sometimes I will clown around and laugh, and others I might be tearful and sad.



3. Ask me “what’s up” rather than “how do you feel.” Let’s talk about life and what’s been happening rather than focusing on my illness.

4. Forgive me.  There will be times when the illness and its treatment make me “not myself.” I may be forgetful, abrupt or hurtful. None of this is deliberate.

5. Just listen.  Just listen and don’t offer solutions. A good cry releases a lot of stress and pressure for me.




6. Take pictures of us. I may fuss about a photo, but a snapshot of us can help get me through tough times.




7.  Sometimes I need a little time alone.  Just to be quiet and reflective.



8. My family needs friends. Parenting is hard enough when your body is healthy. My spouse could also benefit from a little time with friends.


9. I want you to reduce your cancer risk. stop smoking, lose extra weight, protect your skin from sun damage, and watch what you eat. Please go see a doctor for regular check-ups and demand follow-up whenever pain, bleeding or unusual lumps show up.


10. Take nothing for granted. Enjoy the life you have right now. Take time to jump in puddles, hug the kids, and feel the wind on your face. Marvel at this amazing world God created, and thank Him for bringing us together.


These are only ten suggestions from a variety of sources. There are many more that could be listed. Think about what you would want if you were the one sick. We are each uniquely beautiful and have different needs and personalities. Try to be in tune with those traits of whom you are friends.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

ABUSE: UGLY & SCARY

"Improper or excessive use or treatment," "to treat harmfully or improperly," "to speak insultingly or hurtfully," "to commit sexual assault upon."



Bullying is abuse no matter how a person might want to try to say, "We were only kidding." "He/she is such a nerd," "We don't mean anything by it. He/she should not be so sensitive," or "He/she doesn't care."


     Some of us become abusive with alcohol, drugs (street or prescription) or cigarettes. Others abuse their bodies through poor nutrition, obesity, fad diets, or eating disorders. The body you have is the only one you will have here on earth. You cannot trade it in for a new model. What you do with your body now is reflected on its health tomorrow. 



Animals are precious gifts for us humans to enjoy, take care of, and provide nourishment. A horse I had as a teenager had been abused by its previous owner with a pitchfork in the stable. "Babe" learned to trust only me. Any male that came near him stirred up the fear, anger, and hurt from the past.




     Any abuse means the abuser has control. Women who live with abusers need to be strong and leave the situation...take back control of their own lives. Children and animals are the saddest cases of abuse, because they do not understand "what they did to deserve this," they do not always have the resources to get into a healthier, loving situation, and they do not understand how to be in control or what it means.


     I was able to leave my abusive home at 17years. Yet, I was always scared my stepfather would find me, call me a liar, and maybe even kill me. Once I took Christ into my life, shared with a few trusted adults, I was able to forgive my stepfather and live a life of strength, love, and peace.



     I am pleased to recommend these two books for your reading. Both are written in first person from women who did suffer abuse in various forms. I am proud of their courage to speak out, and admire their strengths to turn their lives into positive role models.

Author, Megan Cyrulewski contacted me to highlight her book Who Am I?  How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again. The author is an ordinary person who has faced extraordinary challenges and now wants to inspire people and show them that hope gives them the power to survive anything. Who Am I? is about her journey into post-partum depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, visits to the psych ward, divorce, domestic violence, law school, and her courageous struggle to survive with her sanity intact—and how a beautiful little girl emerged from all this chaos.
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Am-Daughter-Taught-Again/dp/1626941513






     Another book I highly recommend is Transformed by Tragedy by Carmyn Sparks. A gripping saga exposing secret sins of a powerful West Texas family. Ms. Sparks will be a guest blogger this fall. She found the real Carmyn when she turned her life over to Christ. www.yoflife.com

    

    
THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO DO TO STOP ABUSE. Please feel free to contact either of the spotlighted authors or myself...find help for yourself...help others.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

HUMILITY & SERVICE: DEEPER WAY OF LIVING


                                How can I be a blessing to someone else?


                     PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK AND WATCH THIS VIDEO:

                             https://www.youtube.com/embed/uaWA2GbcnJU

     After I watched this most powerful video I thought about people who have spent their lives being of service to others. Those that I admire the most do not draw attention to themselves...there are no clanging bells, no spotlights, and little or no media attention.

     I think of the Orlando man who rescued a dog from a neighbor's burning house; the group of young men who subdued a man attacking a woman; the volunteers for hospice who give their time and hearts to families; and my neighbor who volunteers as a teacher's aide.

1. Do you smile as you pass people on the street?
   2.  Do you open the door for others to pass through?
       3. Do you let a car budge in front of you without getting angry?
          4. Do you greet people with a smile and "how are you?"
            5. When you hear a negative statement, do you try to make it a positive one?
               6. Do you listen to or spread gossip, or do you put a stop to it?

Let's each plant our own seeds of hope, kindness, or love...then bloom where we are planted.



                          Last week's blog we learned how plants have lessons for us.

Since being diagnosed with cancer, not once but twice, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is the gift of giving to someone else. Each and every card, phone call, visit, smile, or shared tear has been a gift to me...sometimes from total strangers. 

FROM AUGUST 1 TO SEPT 30, I WILL BE GIVING AWAY FREE COPIES OF MY "OUTSHINE" BOOK TO TEN PEOPLE. GO TO www.goodreads.com/giveaway, SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOOK AND ENTER TO WIN. THIS OFFER IS AVAILABLE INTERNATIONALLY AS WELL AS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.





From my book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir: "These wonderful women gave me a blanket they had made by each putting their talent to use. They gather together once a week to make such blankets, pray, and read scripture. They are doing the ministry of God."

www.outshineovariancancer.com