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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, 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





Thursday, July 24, 2014

RESISTANCE OR ACCEPTANCE

    Chaplain Bennett states "Resisting change leads to illness. Accepting change brings about 
                                              peace."

Whenever some kind of a change comes into our lives, we go through some level of grief.

                            Shock/Denial                 Anger                    Bargaining

                                          Depression                      Acceptance


Each of these levels will vary in intensity, length of time, and there is no particular order,
               
                    EXCEPT ACCEPTANCE IS THE LEVEL OF HIGHEST HEALTH.


When I was abused as a child, I went through four of the levels back and forth for many years,

                            UNTIL COUNSELING & ACCEPTING GOD'S LOVE
                                        HELPED ME TO REACH ACCEPTANCE
                                      FROM WHICH I HAVE NEVER WAVERED.


While going through a divorce I had many issues to deal with: financial, family dynamics, a move out of my home, a new relationship with friends, and a new identity as a single woman

                            ANGER AND DEPRESSION WERE MY MAIN EMOTIONS.
                                   COUNSELING AND KNOWING GOD'S LOVE
                                       HELPED ME TO COME TO ACCEPTANCE.

Cancer can bring a person "to his or her knees." It brought me to my knees in prayer and meditation.

                     I FLUCTUATED BETWEEN ANGER, DEPRESSION, AND ACCEPTANCE.
                            DENIAL & BARGAINING WERE ONLY FOR A FEW "MINUTES."
                               FAMILY, FRIENDS & GOD BROUGHT ME TO ACCEPTANCE.


                    To accept "I have cancer" was one of the healthiest things I did.

          The positivity of acceptance helps build the immune system, decrease any pain, increase blood flow, relax muscles, and spur the production of endorphins.

          A person is able to be exercise more, eat better, enjoy life's precious moments, smile, laugh and have a perspective of hope with the knowledge that

          "the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer...."
                         (Quote from Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir)
                                      www.outshineovariancancer.com

My deepest thanks to Georgia Hurst whose guest blog was well received. It was informative, personal, and came from her heart. Thank you, Georgia, for all you do to bring important information about Lynch syndrome to the public.

Friday, July 18, 2014

LESSONS FROM PLANTS



    I recently read about a young woman who watched a man step on a daisy that had worked its way through a crack in the sidewalk. The woman was saddened as she looked at the now frail and bruised flower. She wondered if the man purposely stepped on it, or if he was so preoccupied in thought that he did not see it.

Sometimes I have felt like that daisy when divorce, childhood abuse, and cancer has "stepped on me."  

    The next day the woman was walking down the same sidewalk and was pleased to see the same daisy raised up facing the sun. A couple of petals were missing and the stem was not perfectly strong, but with effort the daisy was determined to live that day with joy and pride. Its face almost seemed to be smiling and saying, "I was knocked down, but I am back up again."



    There is the legend about the flowers along a dusty road that Jesus was to walk on a particular day. All the beautiful flowers along the road to Jerusalem primped and took great pride in their beautiful colors, smells, petals and strong stems. The lonely thistle plant with its many thorns was left to stand among the other weeds far from the flowers. As Jesus walked by he smiled and nodded to the flowers, but when he saw the thistle he stopped and marveled at it. "You are the most beautiful flower, which has struggled to bloom surrounded by a crown of thorns."

The first time I had cancer and lost my hair, I felt like the thistle, too different and not acceptable. My husband, family, and friends showed their love for me without hair. I learned to love myself despite "my thorns."


   The Last Leaf is a wonderful O'Henry story about how a struggling and elderly artist saves a neighbor's life who is convinced that she will die when the last leaf falls off the ivy plant outside her window. While she sleeps through what she thinks will be her last night, he paints a leaf on her window during a very cold and rainy autumn night. The man paints his finest work of art only to die from pneumonia a few days later. The woman recovers fully and lives with a renewed faith in life.

Too often we humans give up on whatever challenge we are facing. Sometimes we need the helping hand of a neighbor to help us see our life as it is meant to be.

I hope you enjoyed these stories and lessons from the plants.  We each have so much to learn from the plants and flowers which God created for us. I am in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN visiting family and friends. The trees and plants are different from those I am accustomed to seeing in Florida, but they all bring me peace, joy, and fill my soul.






Thursday, July 10, 2014

LYNCH SYNDROME



     Georgia Hurst states, "I have Lynch syndrome" a deleterious gene mutation which may increase one’s chances of developing cancers of any of the following:

                  colon,
                    stomach,
                      small intestine,                                           
                        liver,
                         gallbladder ducts,
                           upper urinary tract,
                            kidneys,
                              bladder,
                                pancreas,
                                  brain,
                                   and skin.

     Women with this syndrome are also at higher risk for developing cancer of the endometrium, ovaries, and breasts. It was highly recommend that I undergo a prophylactic hysterectomy since I was finished with childbearing in order to prevent malignancy to my reproductive organs – I was 40 at the time.

      Ovarian cancer are the two words feared most by a woman with Lynch syndrome as screening measures for it are currently very poor; it is usually detected when it is too late, hence the recommendation for the prophylactic oophorectomy.

      The enormous challenges I faced following the hysterectomy and oophorectomy were devastating and horrific; doctors minimized what could become of me and as a result, I spent a great deal of time and energy resenting and regretting my decision to have surgery.

    The negative consequences of my Lynch syndrome diagnosis, coupled with forced menopause, were the impetus for my website:

                                    www.ihavelynchsyndrome.com

    I blog about the emotional aspects of having Lynch syndrome and other related issues. Writing has been a tremendous catharsis for me and my Lynch syndrome advocacy has introduced me to some of the world’s most amazing and bravest, inspirational souls. With that said, I frequently read about their amazing stories with cancer, especially about women who have experienced and survived the hells of ovarian cancer. The emotional and physical depths of darkness which many survivors seem to find their way out of never ceases to amaze me; this in turn has helped me reconcile my feelings toward my hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and my diagnosis.

   
  

Outshine; An Ovarian Cancer Memoir by Karen Ingalls is an inspirational book, which gave me tremendous pause and made me realize that the challenges following my surgery were infinitesimal compared to what Karen endured with her battle with ovarian cancer. Reading about her story gave me a new perspective about my situation; this in turn helped me reconcile the aftermath of my major surgery. Furthermore, it helped ameliorate many negative attitudes I held towards my decision to have prophylactic surgery.

     
                    
                               Her story resonates with me on various levels:

                **we have much symmetry regarding familial dysfunction and
                   alcoholism,
                **we both have “adopted” family members,
                **we are both spiritually devout -- she is Christian, I am a Buddhist,
                 **most importantly, we both possess a strong desire to live and to do
                   so mindfully.
   
     She also utilizes alternative therapies, as do I, to deal with her physical and emotional challenges. Karen’s book is filled with all kinds of inspirational quotes and sentences. She provides historical perspective on medical treatments, offers a plethora of advice for dealing with cancer-related issues, and goes into great detail about her surgery and treatment for ovarian cancer. She also talks about death – a subject, which I believe, is not discussed or addressed nearly enough when we talk about cancer, or life in general. I do not want to give away too much of the book because I want you to read it yourself. The book is well written and concise – it is only 102 pages.

         The one quote that I am particularly fond of from her book is as follows: 

 “The moral of those stormy days was to live each day fully with love, do what I believed to      be good and healthy for my body, and not to worry about tomorrow.”

      And this is exactly how I try to live my life every day with Lynch syndrome.


With gratitude,

Georgia Hurst


I am a wife, mother, environmentalist, vegan, and Lynch Syndrome advocate extraordinaire! I love my dog, Sid, biology, the Great Apes, stellar quotes, obscene quantities of espresso, books, Buddhist philosophy, rap music, orchids, and epiphytes.
I collect Buddha statues, rocks, fossils, and anime toys.
You will find me happiest when I am besieged by family, friends, and nature.
There is enough misery in the world; I try to make a concerted effort not to contribute to it.