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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, 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.





Thursday, July 3, 2014

HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE


                                      1776, THE YEAR OF OUR BIRTH AS A NATION:
             

THE UNITED STATES IN 1776:
  • The colonies had already been in existence for 150 years under Britain's rule.
  • 60% of the colonists were from England the rest from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Africa, and Holland.
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence; it was later revised by the Continental Congress.
  • 56 delegates from the 13 colonies signed it.
  • In the North 10% of the population owned about 45% of the wealth; in the South, 10% owned 75% of the wealth.
  • It had farmers, artisans, craftsman, shop owners were part of a thriving middle class.
  • Doctors were paid very minimally; dentists were almost non-existent.
  • On a per capita basis, lowest in taxes and yet the wealthiest compared to the rest of the world.
  • Most families were large and everyone worked.
  • Apple cider was the popular drink for everyone.
  • Life expectancy was the mid-50's.

                                           A MAP OF THE UNITED STATES IN 1776

                    
                                               A BIG DIFFERENCE FROM TODAY

    I think of other countries who have become independent just in my lifetime. There are too many to list here, but here are just a few:
        1. Algeria                      7/3/62
        2. Antigua                   11/1/64
        3. Cameroon                 1/1/60
        4. Fiji                        10/10/70
        5. Belarus                   8/25/91
        6. India                       8/15/47
        7. Grenada                    2/7/74
        8. Solomon Islands       7/7/78
        9. Botswanna              9/30/66
        10. Israel                       5/14/48
Every nation has a rich history, wonderful traditions, and strengths and weaknesses.
    My life has been enriched as I have met and become friends with people around the world just
        through my blogs.
       
                               
       
            WE ARE ALL ONE: WE ARE HUMANS WHO SHARE JOYS AND SADNESS, 
                    SICKNESS AND HEALTH,  AND WINS AND LOSSES.

     THIS JULY 4TH, LETS PRAY FOR WORLD PEACE. IT IS A DREAM, BUT IT COULD COME TRUE IF EACH OF US REACHES OUT TO ONE ANOTHER WITH THE SAME LOVE AND RESPECT WE WANT FOR OURSELVES.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

COURAGE & SURVIVAL

     How does one define courage?  "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to do what is right despite fear."  Kathryn Chastain Treat is today's guest blogger and she writes that these words were from my doctor as I faced an upcoming hysterectomy and the very real possibility I had ovarian cancer.  He finished his note to me by saying, “You are a courageous woman.” 

          Karen Ingalls is the epitome of courage as she battles her second fight with cancer.

     I would need to find courage deep from within myself to survive and continue to fight.


     When I decided to return to work after a 17year hiatus from raising my daughters, I had no idea the direction my life would take.

      I battled one debilitating illness after another and stared cancer in the face.  I battled depression that came from chronic illness and the isolation from being a virtual prisoner of my own home due to multiple chemical sensitivity (also known as MCS) and mold allergies from a mold exposure in my work place.

       I was a victim.  I didn’t know anyone else like me.  I was angry!  Soon I discovered that I was not alone; there were many more like me.  Yet despite our numbers, MCS remains a much misunderstood illness in the general population, the medical community and the legal community.

       MCS is the inability to tolerate trace amounts of chemicals without developing horrific symptoms.  The difficulty is that those of us who suffer are not alike.  The amounts of chemicals that can make us sick and the way we react vary:  

                + I may tolerate newsprint ink without any symptoms.
                 +Another person may develop headaches, blurred vision or respiratory symptoms when handling a book or printed material.  
                 +My symptoms for chemical exposure range from losing my voice and having brain fog to coughing violently and developing neurological symptoms.
                  +I am no longer able to wear my contacts or color my hair, use make-up or scented products. 

      May is MCS Awareness month.  While I speak and use my voice for all who suffer daily, May is dedicated to our message.  I was a victim for far too long.  I allowed myself to stay in the victim role.  I wanted to tell my story, I wanted to yell at my workplace for making me sick and I wanted to yell at myself for returning to work when I didn’t really have to work.  One morning I decided that I needed to tell my story (and that of many others).  To do this, I had to become a survivor.  Yes, I am a victim of my work environment and all the chemicals the industry is putting into our everyday lives.  But, I am also a survivor!  I have survived by learning to live in a less toxic environment and not allowing toxins to come into my home.

       As a survivor, my message is to take a look at what you are exposing your body to on a daily basis.  How many layers of fragrance are going into your skin?  There are the chemicals in your:

                                                          **bath soap,
                                                          **lotion,
                                                          **shampoo and conditioner,
                                                          **laundry soap,
                                                          **perfumes
                                                          **air fresheners. 

       Think about what you are inadvertently doing to the person sitting next to you on the bus or standing in line at the grocery store who may have sensitivity to those chemicals.

         Kathryn’s story of self-doubt, loss of identity, and the pain of skepticism – from the medical and legal profession – is a heart-wrenching journey of endurance, hope, and hard-won triumph.  Her experience with mold exposure gives her a unique perspective on the physical and emotional effects of mold exposure.  Read her story and learn how she was able to overcome these many obstacles to become an advocate for her own health.


My book, Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope.

Available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  

Signed copies and links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble are available on my website http://kathryntreat.com/

You may also follow me on my blog http://allergictolifemybattle.wordpress.com





"I read Kathryn's book with some skepticism because I was not sure that chemical sensitivity was as prevalent or true as I soon learned. I have become more conscious of any perfume, lotion, or hairspray I use when I am going to be out in the public. 
I encourage you each to read her book and follow her blog. You will learn a lot and most importantly, you will be helping those with MCS."    (Karen Ingalls)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

ANIMALS: WONDERFUL GIFTS FROM GOD

                          "UNTIL ONE HAS LOVED AN ANIMAL, 
                                A PART OF ONE'S SOUL REMAINS UNAWAKENED" 
                                                             (Anatole France, poet, novelist, journalist)




Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most beloved and recognized saints. He proclaimed it was the duty of man to protect and enjoy the beauty of nature and animals. According to folklore he stopped along a road to preach to the birds perched in the trees and that they surrounded him and listened to his words. He is always shown in paintings and statutes as having a bird on his hand.




Science is learning more every day about the gift certain dogs, cats, and some birds in detecting cancer or the onset of a seizure. It is by some instinct or sense which we do not yet fully understand. Read this most interesting article: http://pets.webmd.com/features/pets-amazing-abilities




We as humans have been blessed with the help certain animals have given to the sick, blind, or paralyzed.  Studies have shown the powerful healing that can occur when someone is engaged with an animal. The stimulation just from touch can relax muscles, increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, alleviate depression, and pain is often relieved.






                             Animals are used by law enforcement and rescue agencies.

In the Bible we are compared to sheep because we sometimes easily follow others, are harassed, helpless, get lost, or have the innocence and vulnerability of a lamb. Jesus is called The Good Shepherd. Be thankful for God's gift of animals. We need to treat animals and each other with love and kindness.

For many of us there is just the pure joy of petting, playing with, or being responsible for an animal. There is a certain discipline children learn early on when they have pets...to feed, care for, and love.



I always have had pets except for the last ten years when retirement, allergies, and illness has changed my lifestyle such that there are no pets in my life now. I have great memories of my several Siamese cats, St. Bernard dog, a few mutts, gerbils, guinea pigs, horses, and even a white rat. One year I tried to "potty train" one of the cats to use the toilet...that was a miserable failure. My Husky loved to run...but he ran too far and we got phone calls about her found miles away at a neighboring farm. The gerbil got out and we heard him running along the pipes. The white rat was a lab rat on which I did a vasectomy for the biology lab in college. We called him "Charlie Rich."

What animals have touched your life in a special way? Share your stories about your pets.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

FATHERS AND SONS


     Sunday, June 15th, Father's Day is celebrated here in the United States. It is a day that often involves neck ties, shirts, and other such gifts for the man of the house. The family often will gather out on the deck or patio while Dad barbecues brats, hot dogs, or hamburgers. It is a happy day when the kids tell their dad how much they love and appreciate him.

                                                     Or is it?


         How many American homes have a father or male role model in them?
                Fathers, do you pass on the "Iron John" to your sons?
                        Did you learn about being a man, a father, a husband from your dad?

 


    In the early 1990's, Robert Bly wrote the book Iron John, where he writes about "a new vision of what it is to be a man." He expresses concern about the absence of men in the family unit, and the loss of male initiation rituals into manhood. He talks about the eight stages of male growth, and that masculinity is both protective and centered, emotionally. This is a book I recommend for everyone, male and female, to read.





 
Another book I recommend for a lighter, funnier look at fatherhood is:

Bill Geist and his son Willie have written a wonderful book with humor and deep insight about their father-son relationship titled,  Good Talk, Dad. I encourage you to take a look at it.


 


 In my recently published book, Novy's Son, The Selfish Genius, I present the main character as a man searching for the "Iron John" by getting love and acceptance from his father. It is a compilation of men I have known in my life from fathers, grandfathers, sons, and husbands, and the men that I counseled over the twenty years I worked as a nurse therapist.

www.amazon.com
www.outshineovariancancer.com

                 This Father's Day I send special good wishes and love to five fathers:

        **To my husband, Jim, who is a wonderful father to his son, 2 daughters, and
                  three stepsons.

        **To my three sons and stepson, who know the true importance of fatherhood.

                          Happy Father's Day to every father out there.

                           Your role is very important and appreciated.