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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 2015.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

LOVE YOUR LADY PARTS

 I am very pleased to present this most informative article about gynecologic cancer written by Karen Carlson, Executive Director of the Foundation for Women's Cancers.            


           Love Your Lady Parts: Join the Movement to End Women’s Cancers


     95,000 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer this year – that’s another mother, daughter, sister, friend or colleague every five minutes. Too many are diagnosed in the late stages, and nearly a third will die.

     Far too few women – or men – know how to recognize the symptoms of these cancers, and where to turn for the best treatment and outcomes. Risks rise with age, weight and other factors.


We all applaud the great success and strides made by the breast cancer movement. The time has now come to think outside the bra and focus on our other lady parts – to raise awareness and research funding to defeat these less talked about, below-the-belt women’s cancers. It’s time to Love Your Lady Parts



The Foundation for Women’s Cancer urges all women to:

                   LEARN the symptoms
                   LISTEN to your bodies
                   ACT by getting regular checkups; reporting all unusual symptoms that persist          for more than two weeks; and seeking care from a gynecologic oncologist – specialists with an additional seven years of training – for the best outcomes.

What are the symptoms? They vary for the different GYN cancers: cervical, uterine/endometrial, ovarian, vaginal and vulvar.

Cervical
     **Bleeding after intercourse
     **Excessive discharge and abnormal bleeding between periods

Uterine/Endometrial
     **Abnormal vaginal bleeding
     **Bleeding after menopause; even brown spotting or a single spot after menopause should be checked

Ovarian
     **Bloating
     **Pelvic or abdominal pain
     **Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
     **Urinary symptoms: urgency or frequency

Vaginal
      **Bleeding
      **Pain
      **Problems with urination or bowel movements

Vulvar
     **Itching
     **Burning
      **Bleeding
      **Pain
      **New lump or ulcer in genital area

     For more information on risks, prevention and treatment of gynecologic cancers, please see How to Maintain Your Gynecologic Health on the Foundation for Women’s Cancer website.

     The National Race to End Women’s Cancer is the Foundation’s major annual awareness and fundraising event, supporting all our efforts. Held in early November in Washington, DC, this inspiring weekend unites survivors, loved ones, surgeons and other health providers, sponsors, runners and other supporters – gathered together with one voice to cast a bright light on cancers that have been kept in the dark too long.






Camille Grammer, Real Housewife of Beverly Hills and one-year survivor of endometrial cancer, lends her voice and celebrity as National Chair of the 2015 National Race to End Women’s Cancer. Join Camille and the thousands of other women – mothers, sisters, daughters, friends -- whose lives have been affected. Love Your Lady Parts and support this growing national movement to end women’s cancer. We warmly welcome you!






Karen Carlson has served as Executive Director of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer since 1991, leading the organization’s mission to support survivors, provide educational programs and resources, and raise awareness and research funding to defeat women’s cancers. Learn more and join the movement at foundationforwomenscancer.org. Register or donate to support the 6th Annual National Race to End Women’s Cancer on Sunday, Nov, 8, 2015 at endwomenscancer.org.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

MARCH: NATIONAL READING MONTH


The Importance of Reading to Children 
  
I am honored to have Janice Spina as my guest blogger this week. March is National Reading Month so it is only fitting to have an author and an advocate for children's literacy. Reading stimulates the imagination, provides information, and can help heal the body through this relaxing activity.


  Being an author of six children’s books I love to inspire children to read. All my children’s books (geared to preschool to grade three) are written in rhyme with life lessons with nothing that will frighten young children. My husband John, also my illustrator, and I work together to publish books under Jemsbooks.

    I have been writing since I was nine years old in the form of poetry and greeting cards. Rhyming has been my love because of its musical quality and cadence. Children seem to love this quality and listen more carefully when things rhyme. The rhyming makes stories more fun and entertaining to them.

    Children who have been read to by their parents or other family members have been known to do better in school and are more self-assured. My husband is a former grammar school principal and he saw evidence of this in many of the children who attended his schools through his teachers’ feedback.

    I am a former teacher aide and secretary in a school system where I spent many days working with children one-on-one in reading and math. I noticed children who knew some of the books I read to them and others who did not. I started some of my sessions with the children by asking them how many were read to at bedtime. There were always a few that did not raise their hands. I made sure that I spent more time reading to these children to help them catch up with the others. Their reading and writing skills were not as strong but improved as they spent more time reading along with me. I even recorded my voice reading books in one teacher’s class so that the children could listen to the stories as they turned the pages helping them to learn how to read by repetition.

    Spending time with your children is not only good for their health but yours too. It forms a strong bond and children feel safe, loved and confident.

    I will continue to write books that will entertain, delight and introduce children to a love of reading that will help them grow and become more confident and one day help them to lead more rewarding lives.

    My motto is Reading Gives you Wings to Fly. My logo is Jemsbooks – books for all ages. My goal is to encourage children to read.

The title of my books are: Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish, Lamby the Lonely Lamb, Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose.


My books are available here:
Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/janicespina7             


LAMBY THE LONELY LAMBRECEIVED THE SILVER AWARD FROM MOM'S CHOICE AWARDS! http://momschoiceawards.com



Thank you, Karen, for having me on your blog. It was a sincere pleasure to spend time with you and your readers.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

FOG: A METAPHOR OF LIFE





Yesterday morning the fog was thick as it hung over the lake in front of our house. I watched a fishing boat slowly drive from a nearby canal going deeper into the fog until it disappeared. There are days when we each might travel in a metaphorical fog (depression, fear, ignorance, sadness, etc.)



I grew up in Southern California two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Many were the nights I would fall asleep to the calming sound of the fog horn.

One time my sister and I were on our dad's boat making our way up the coast from San Diego to Long Beach. The fog came in quickly and unexpectedly. Dad had each of us stay in the pilot room and watch out for any danger. Suddenly my sister yelled out, "I see a rock just ahead." How often are we met with an unexpected injury, illness, financial downturn, job change, etc.


Life's events are often like the fog. Sometimes we cannot see what is coming, but if we travel slowly and cautiously the sun will come out to reveal our path. When I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I did not know what my life's path would be. For the last 7 years, I have lived as a cancer survivor, an advocate, and a volunteer. I love my new life!


When we are in "the fog" we rely on the experiences and advice of others. They are like the foghorn to guide us to safety. The many ovarian cancer survivors, who I have been privileged to meet, have been a wealth of love, inspiration, and advice.

And, we all need family, friends, mentors to help us when we are lost in the fog. They help us to see any dangers ahead, guide us to new acceptance and understanding, and help us to be strong and avoid the rocks of self-pity, fear, and loss of hope. I am blessed to have so many people who have helped me steer away from the rocks.

The oncologist today said there was No Evidence of Disease from my recent CT Scan, but will keep me on Avastin for 3-6 months to be sure all cancer cells are destroyed. Hearing that was a "rock in my path" until my husband and I talked about the benefits for long term protection. The fog from disappointment cleared once we let the light of hope shine through.


I titled my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, because I knew from other life experiences when the fog was surrounding me, that I needed to believe in the gift of outshining any negative event or person. It is the warm rays of the sun that burns away the fog. It is our use of positivity, humor, exercise, good nutrition, and a faith in a God or a power greater than us.

All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research. Ovarian cancer is the most deadly and is the 5th leading cause of death for women.

Friday, March 6, 2015

FEAR: A BLOCK TO CHANGE

                                     WHY DO WE FEAR CERTAIN THINGS?

       Somehow I developed a fear of roller coasters or anything that goes fast. I have had this fear as long as I can remember.
        I am fearful of snakes and spiders.

                                      Was I born with these fears, or learn them?
     
We learn our fears sometimes from the very earliest days of our lives. My older sister was afraid of spiders and I might have learned from her.

Some people are afraid of change, yet life is full of changes: weather, politics, people, health, finances, jobs, and many more.

Fear can be a propelling force that motivates us; or it can cripple us to the point of doing nothing. Fear can release large amounts of endorphins that give us courage and energy for a short time only. Otherwise fear can and will deplete our energy, can create negative thoughts, and increase anger.


I learned from my grandmother that what we fear is something to conquer or to learn from. She would tell me how LOVE is the answer. I watched my grandfather drink too much and have no friends out of fear that someone would learn of his past. As a teenager I feared that my family would learn of the abuse I suffered from my stepfather.  The first person I told was the priest at the Episcopalian church. He assured me it was not my fault and we prayed for me to find the strength to forgive him.

When we face the fear, accept the consequences we quickly learn that the fear was greater than the thing we feared. We now have more control of our lives because of love.

Life is like rock climbing. We take baby steps at first, clinging to each ledge or rock crevice. If we look down we can be proud of how far we have come. When we look up at our goal to reach the top it might be a long or short ways. There are safety ropes that prevent us from having the fear totally take over our lives. These safety ropes are family, friends, and God. As we climb up the cliff we have people around us, encouraging us, and ready to help us when we begin to lose our grip. The more we have such support, the easier it is to face our fear.


       We can adjust our sail, but cannot control the wind. 

      We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.  (Anonymous)

                                           

From having had two bouts of ovarian cancer, I have learned to face my fears of the unknown world of cancer, chemotherapy, and a myriad of tests. Yes, I still fear roller coasters, and not like spiders and snakes...still lessons to learn.




All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

AFTER A STORM, A RAINBOW APPEARS



Once a storm has passed, assessment, clean-up, and new beginnings start.

        We all remember the devastation after September 11th, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the tsunami that hit Japan, and many other natural disasters.
                                                                       

         
A fewer number will remember the fear, destruction, and horror of Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima,
                   and the war zones from World War II, Korea, and South VietNam.

         The assasinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King continue
                                                   to live in our memories.

We each can share a personal story of our own storms...
        Divorce,
           Death,
              Cancer,
                 Financial ruin,
                    to name a few. 
                    Each story has its own unique challenges...but we will survive and 
                      be better if we have... 




Recently I used the quote from Helen Keller, "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." Sometimes our blinders of self-pity, anger, depression, and resentment get in the way.

             Or, as Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."



Some dear friends of mine have been in their own personal "storm" for six long years with no resolution yet in sight. Every morning they start the new day with prayer, devotions, and a smile. They have learned many lessons along this journey and have the faith of Job that their prayers will be answered. They believe the rainbow will appear when the time is right in God's plan. They are an inspiration.

                Faith, hope, and love are necessary to find the rainbow after a storm.


Friday, February 13, 2015

DO I DESERVE THIS?

This guest blog is written by Robin Maupin, a long time survivor of ovarian and endometriosis cancer. She talks about "survivor's guilt" which is a common reaction many men and women experience after being "cured" or in long term remission. My thanks to Robin for sharing her thoughts in a most poignant manner.




   I’ve been extremely blessed to see four of my granddaughters born since my diagnosis of ovarian and endomemtrial cancer in 1997. 


                                       I’ve survived 16 years after my diagnosis. 

   In those years, I have lost countless friends in the cancer community. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about why I am here and they aren’t. When we’re diagnosed, we ask why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Similarly, when we survive, I think it’s normal to ask why? Why did I survive when so many have not?

    Statements have been made to me by well-meaning people whose explanation for it is simple:       “God has a plan for you”, or “You must’ve done something right.” As if I were more deserving to live than anyone else? I don’t accept this. In fact, there are little niggling thoughts that come into my head that say, “you’re undeserving." “What have you done to deserve to still be here?” “How do you justify your survival?” 

    Have I always made healthy choices physically, emotionally and spiritually these last 16 years? Absolutely not. It’s called survivor’s guilt. Yup. I have it. It’s not commonly discussed among survivors. I think it’s because it seems somewhat self-indulgent. The unspoken message is “just be grateful and move on.” Not so simple.

   So, is the word “deserve” even appropriate here? Deserve implies some reward for something done. According to the dictionary deserve means to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation. Am I deserving? I’m just a flawed human being – albeit somewhat more enlightened now – trying my best to be a good person. 

   
Cancer, just like life, doesn’t really have any rhyme or reason. Some die, some don’t. Surviving cancer, while it’s something to be very grateful for, is not like winning a game, being a victor. At least not for me. I came through a war. I survived. I lost comrades. There were fallen warriors along the way. The losses are too great to celebrate victory. I’m here. I’m neither more or less deserving to live than they were. We all had lots to live for and the desire to survive, especially the young women with their whole lives ahead of them and young children to raise. I’m here. They’re not. There is no reasoning.

   All I know is that living my life as best I can is a memorial to all you have passed on before me, and I will never walk away from the cause. 

    I do it for them. 
     I do it for myself. 
     And I do it for all of the women who have yet to be diagnosed
      And who will be where I was---      
         Fighting for their lives.
          Do I deserve this? I absolutely do,
             But so did all of the other wonderful women who didn’t.


Thank you, Robin, for your very informative, touching, and inspiring message. Your words are a blessing to many. 

Certified Professional Cancer Survivorship Coach
Womens' Cancer Connection