Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness: A Family story "God wanted her more"

It has been such a blessing to me to talk to others and get feedback about cancer awareness. I personally, have taken a lot of time to reflect on myself and my life, as I know it. I appreciate so much more in life and love people for who they are...
"You taught me everything Everything you've given me I'll always keep it inside You're the driving force in my life, yeah
There isn't anything Or anyone that I could be And it just wouldn't feel right If I didn't have you by my side
You were there for me to love and care for me When skies were gray Whenever I was down You were always there to comfort me
And no one else can be What you have been to me you will always be You will always be the girl In my life for all times
Mama, Mama you know I love you Mama, Mama you're the queen of my heart Your love is like tears from the stars Mama I just want you to know lovin' you is like food to my soul Yes it is, yes it is, oh, yes it is, yes it is, yes it is oh
You're always there for me Have always been around for me even when I was bad You showed me right from my wrong Yes you did
And you took up for me When everyone was downin' me You always did understand You gave me strength to go on
There was so many times Looking back when I was so afraid And then you come to me and say to me I can face anything
And no one else can do What you have done for me You'll always be, you will always be The girl in my life, ooh oh
Mama, Mama you know I love you Mama, Mama you're the queen of my heart Your love is like tears from the stars Mama I just want you to know lovin' you is like food to my soul
Never gonna go a day without you Fills me up just thinkin' about you I'll never go a day Without my mama Mama, Mama you know I love you Mama, Mama you're the queen of my heart Your love is like tears from the stars Mama I just want you to know lovin' you is like food to my soul
Lovin' you is like food to my soul, oh yeah You are the food to my soul, yes you are" - A Song for Mama by Boyz II Men

This song came to mind as I was thinking about a friend an co-worker of mine.  She sent an email in response to the story I posted on Laureen Meagher. She shared a story about her an her sisters. After I finished crying I asked her if I could share it with my readers. In the transportation industry, you tend to meet a lot of people via email and phone and become friends. Sometimes you go your entire career never meeting the folks on the other end of the computer or receiver. I did, however, have the pleasure of finally meeting Ms. Nicole after a year or so of trading emails. She has such a maternal spirit and a familiar soul about her. She has been like a sister to me since I met her and I'm so honored that she is allowing me to share her story.
To you, Nicole, and your sisters: You are all an extension of your mother and her love. I admire each of your for what you have been through and the sorrow that you muscled through to continue on. It never gets easy, saying goodbye or reliving the pain. It does however, become a little easier to understand as time goes on. Remember that Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal. You may have lost a wonderful woman in the flesh, but she lives in you through the Angel that Heaven gained. God Bless you all!
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This weekend my sister and I were on the internet and we came across a blog that Shanita Posted
Wow (Laureen)...how your story truly inspired my sisters and I.  I knew you were a cancer survivor but I never knew your story in detail...you are one amazing woman to say the least!
I wanted to share a little story about myself:
When I was 15 years old, my mother passed of cancer; she was 42 years old.  Although I know the cancer started in the lymph nodes under her arm, but, a lot of details were kept from me being that I was the youngest child.  I often asked my sisters "Why couldn’t the doctors help her?" "Why couldn't she be strong enough to beat it?"  And for many years after her passing I was bitter because I felt so cheated.  But with the guidance of my sisters I learned to accept what I could not change.  As I read your story, I cried and I said to my sister "Why couldn’t our mother have your strength, your courage, and perseverance, your good doctors?"
My sister turned to me and she said "Nicole she tried, God wanted her more, and when you read stories such as Laureen's; smile and say that’s for you MOM!"   
(Laureen) I truly appreciate you, your story and your strength
You are an inspiration to families that has lost a loved one to this disease and an inspiration to those who continue to fight it!
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Nicole...you and your family are an inspiration as well.  You show the raw emotion and let people know its okay to continue grieving as long as you continue living life the way your loved ones would want you to. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Laureen Meagher: A survivor's story - "Take that cancer!"

 Laureen Johnson-Meagher
Photo Credit: Kroutz Photography

This is the first of many survivor stories that I hope to feature during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 
When I first started working at my job I met a lady that always kept me laughing.  I later learned that she was dealing with cancer.  I was in awe of her after this because she is so full of life and personality.  She is always laughing and upbeat and has a can do attitude.  She has been such an inspiration to me and I know that after hearing her story, she will be an inspiration to you as well.  I initially asked her for some background and I was going to write her story, but after reading what she sent to me I just had to give you her words...I laughed and teared up throughout and I hope you feel the emotion that poured out of her words.  
There's a scripture that I love and in my opinion she lives it out
"Do not be discouraged, do not be terrified. Have I not commanded you? Be strong, be courageous. For the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you may go. -Joshua 1:9-10
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Hope this is useful …Its my story in a nutshell- heavy on the nut!

I was diagnosed 8/24/07- - a lump that I discovered 3 weeks prior. Size of it felt like a martini olive.  I had surgery to remove the lump, surrounding tissue and 9 lymph nodes on my right side- this is done to see if and how far the cancer had spread. It was (only) the main lymph node so I became the winner of Stage II Estrogen Positive Carcinoma.

One month after surgery I had my first round – of 6 rounds - of chemo.  My goal during this time was to keep things as normal as they possibly could be.  My daughter had just started Middle school; the world was supposed to revolve around her, not me.  A very vivid memory from the first few weeks of diagnosis is scheduling my surgery as we boarded a boat to Catalina for Labor Day weekend.  I had to get off the boat and stand on the dock (better signal on the dock) with my day planner in hand scheduling my surgery date, and all the pre-op appointments.  Little did I know at the time that this was going to be my new normal.  My life revolved around doctors and appointments for the next eight months.

My last round of Chemo was at the end of January 2008 which didn’t come a minute to soon.  After the first round, chemo became fairly predictable. Five hours of Infusion on Thursday, back for a nasty shot on Friday to force my body to make red blood cells, down for the count on Saturday and Sunday, and come Monday a small light at the end of the tunnel. There was one positive outcome of the chemo…the complementary body wax!!  Getting ready for work was a breeze! No hair to wash, dry or style; no legs to shave, no eye make up to apply.  It was kinda like being a dude for a few months!!!
I had a couple weeks to rest and get some strength back before I had to start the seven weeks of daily radiationtherapy. It was during this time I took six weeks off of work and allowed myself some time and space to heal.  I napped every day.  It was grueling having to go for treatment everyday.  Cancer was up in my face all the time, no way around it.  I returned to work mid April with a swingin' flat-top hair do!!  I kept a pretty good sense of humor through all of this - for me it was the only way to survive.  I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me.  I was blessed with the most incredible support group!  My family, friends, coworkers, gym- partners, doctors, nurses- heck, even random people would offer a hug or “thumbs up”.
Cancer made me mad  - it really pissed me off.  The nerve to invade my life, screw up my plans AND take a nice chunk of money- - that is a side story in itself!!

That is why I became an active fund raiser in the cancer community.  I have been part of a cycling team for two Livestrong events-the first in June of 2009 in San Jose CA and then 2nd, this past  June in Davis Ca. Each ride was a team of 6- 3 of us are Survivors. Cycling 70 miles with fellow survivors, caregivers and supporters is an incredible experience. I’ve also participated in two Relay 4 Life events through the American Cancer Society  - these are great- its a large party celebrating life.
Being a Survivor has opened so many opportunities for me, if there is something I’m interested in I don’t hold back.  I’m still cycling ( we ride 50 miles on Sundays-for fun), I earned my Motorcycle license (I will be buying a motor scooter after Thanksgiving), I became certified as a Stand-up-Paddle boarder and I participated in my 1st Triathalon this past July!
Down side of survivor-ship: I am still on daily medication as part of my treatment and will be until April of 2013.  I see my Oncologist every three months; at this point, we are pretty much dating!! I do love him; he’s great, he gets me!  That is actually one of the first pieces of advice I give to newly diagnosed survivors; LOVE your Doctor they will be with you for a looonnngg time!! The medication I am on has some intense side effects, one of them has impacted my bones.  Last May I was diagnosed with osteopenia…just a step under osteoporosis! Now I’m pills for this and that’s a party in itself.
At the beginning of everyday, as I put my 2 feet on the floor, my first thoughts are “ Thank you God for getting me up today”.  During chemo, you realize how blessed you are to be able to do what you want, when you want!  Exercise is a precious gift and I know what it’s like to physically not be able to move off the couch because everything hurts so bad, it makes you cry.  I also learned the sheer beauty of human touch; a hug, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on or to lean on for support.  I also learned the value of laughter; that is what has propelled me through the past 5 years. Take that Cancer!  I laugh in your face...Every damn day!!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Liebster Blog Award


So, I was looking at my comments this morning and I saw that I was nominated for a Liebster Award for newish/up and coming Bloggers who have less than 200 followers!  How awesome is that?!?
The idea is that people win the award and pass it on to other Bloggers who are in the same boat. My research - which isn't really mine at all since I copied the research rules from my nominator:) - tells me that the rules are;
  • Each person tagged must post 11 things about themselves.
  • They must also answer the 11 questions the tagger has set for them.
  • They must create 11 more questions to ask bloggers they have decided to tag.
  • They must then choose 11 bloggers to tag with less than 200 followers.
  • These lucky bloggers must be told.
  • There are no tag backs
Here we go...

11 Things about me:
  • I love soccer and played for over 20 years until my asthma and allergies flared up and stopped me for a while
  • I'm an advocate for advocates and love to help pepole have a voice for a cause
  • I'm a Christian - no where near perfect - but God loves me anyway
  • I have a very sarcastic sense of humor
  • I love to laugh and sometimes laugh at inappropriate times
  • I'm blessed to still have both sets of my grandparents living and in my life
  • Most of my family is from New Orleans and I love the Southern life
  • My "Person" and hubby (to be) is from NOLA as well and I love him so much
  • I have become a Pinterest addict over night
  • I'm hoping to have a baby by or before I turn 32
  • I played the Tuba in elementary just to be contrary :)
11 Questions from my nominator: Jo Lane: Loving Life in the Fab Lane
1. If you could go anywhere in the world to visit, where would it be?
       Australia & Puerto Rico
2. Do you read? If so who is your favorite author?
       Yes. I can get into just about any book.  But to realx my mind for just a good read, I enjoy Zane ;)
3. What is your occupation?
       I work for an Intermodal company as a Customer Service Rep. and I'm a freelance journalist for the High
       Desert Daily
4. What inspired you to blog?
       Turning 30. Writing has always been my passion and turning 30 made me realize I needed to get back to
       basics and do what I love
5. Who is your fashion Icon?
       I'm not really big on fashion.  But I do love Kimora Lee Simmons and Tyra Banks
6. What is your favorite store to shop for clothes?
       Well if you've read my "Confessions of a Chubby Chick" editions then you know I'm not shop at any store
       kinda gal lol.  I have found much comfort and wonderful clothes at Mode Plus...love that place.  I should
       own stock! 
7. What is your favorite store to shop for cosmetics?
       I don't wear much make-up. But when I do, it's either Mary Kay or Sephora
8. Where do you live? USA? UK? Other?
9. Favorite tv show?
       Gee just one?  It's a tie between Breaking Bad and Grey's Anatomy
10. If you could only choose 1 cosmetic to use on your face, what would it be?
       Oil Mattifier - I'm super oily all day!
11. Have you ever met up with a fellow blogger?
       Aside from my BFF - who I technically knew before she started blogging - No I haven't but I would really like to one day :)

Here are my nominees:

Questions for my nominees:
What motivated you to start blogging?
How long have you been blogging/Writing?
Who are your top 3 favorite bloggers?
What other hobbies do you have?
What would your first purchase be if you won the lottery?
What do you feel is your best quality?
What is your current occupation?
What is your favorite professional sport & team?
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress
What's your upcoming New Year's goal?
Teall us a secret about you (that won't be so secret anymore lol)

Enjoy the questionaire ladies and gents.  Thank you again to my nominator Jo Lane: Loving Life in the Fab Lane...You are awesome!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness: 30 Tips

It's been a while...Sorry for the Gap.  But I'm baaacccckkk :).  So in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I decided I want to dedicate several days to posting awareness & prevention tips.  I'm also hoping to interview some survivors and feature their stories on my blog.  If you or a loved one is a Breast Cancer survivor please contact me here I would love to talk to and honor you!

Today's Tips come from http://www.breastcancerwellness.org/assets/30tips.pdf

  • Tip # 1:
Eat fresh, organically grown fruits
and vegetables- especially cruciferous
vegetables every day.
These plants, particularly those in
the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower,
cabbage, kale) are filled with a
variety of nutrients, vitamins, and plant
chemicals that act as powerful medicines
against breast cancer.
Tip # 2:

Eat organic whole grains every day.
Whole grains are rich in cancerfighting
antioxidants, vitamins, trace
minerals, fiber, and lignans.
Tip # 3:
Avoid all health-destroying fats. Consumer
health-promoting fats every day.
Saturated animal fats, trans fats,
partially hydrogenated fats, and hydrogenated
fats fuel breast cancer, wheras
healthy fats- especially omega-3 fatty
acids found in flaxseeds- offer protection.
Tip #4:
Eat 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds
every day.
Flaxseeds are the richest plant
source of omega-3 fatty acids, are high
fiber, and contain one hundred more
cancer-fighting lignans than any other
known edible plant.
Tip #5:
Eat soy-based whole-food products
several times a week.
Women who eat the most whole soy
foods, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso
have a 30 to 50 percent lower risk of
breast cancer.
Tip #6:
Eat Maitake mushrooms or take
them as a supplement.
Maitake mushrooms stimulate the
immune system, and stop tumors from
growing, cause them to shrink, and prevent
them from spreading to other areas
of the body.
Tip #7:
Drink green tea every day or take it
as a supplement.
Women who drink green tea have a
much lower risk of breast cancer and if
they get breast cancer, their chances of
surviving are much greater.
Tip #8:
Consume turmeric every day.
Turmeric, a potent antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory is considered the #1
anti-cancer spice.
Tip #9:
Eat at least one clove of garlic several
times a week.
Garlic is extremely high in antioxidants
and selenium, boosts the immune
system, lessens the formation of carcinogens
in the breast, prevents toxins from
damaging our DNA, and stops breast
tumors from growing and dividing.
Tip #10:
Include Wakame or Mekabu seaweed
in your diet.
Wakame and Mekabu seaweeds are
high in the mineral iodine, which research
shows is more effective at killing
breast cancer cells than many common
chemotherapeutic drugs.
Tip #11:
Take a vitamin supplement every day.
Certain vitamins, especially vitamin
B12, folate, vitamin D and vitamin E,
help to crush the growth of breast cancer.
Tip #12:
Get adequate amounts of selenium
every day.
As little as 200 micrograms (mcg) a
day of this antioxidant lowers your risk
of breast cancer and most other types of
cancer by 50 percent.
Tip #13:
If you are over age thirty-five, take
supplemental coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
every day.
CoQ10 is a natural vitamin-like
substance and powerful antioxidant that
is essential for the production of energy
in our cells. It also stops the growth of
breast cancer and dramatically shrinks
Tip #14:
Take an herbal anti-inflammatory
several times a week.
Research shows that women who
take an anti-inflammatory an average of
three times a week, especially one that
inhibits the COX-2 enzyme, have a 50
percent lower risk of breast cancer.
Tip #15:
Nix red meat.
Women who eat the most red meat
have an 88 to 330 percent higher risk of
breast cancer.
Tip #16:
Avoid refined sugar- use a natural
sweetener such as Stevia instead.
Sugar is cancer’s favorite food. The
more of it you eat, the faster the cancer
will grow.
Tip #17:
Keep your body-fat low.
Fat cells manufacture estrogen,
notably after menopaumenopausal
breast cancers.
Tip #18:
Rarely, if ever, drink alcohol.
Even half a glass of alcohol a day
increases your risk of breast cancer, so
it’s best to avoid this dangerous beverage
30 Tips to Lower Your Risk of
Breast Cancer by Christine Horner, MD
Tip #19:
Never smoke tobacco products.
Research shows that women who
smoke or inhale passive smoke have as
much as a 60 percent increased risk of
breast cancer.
Tip #20:
Don’t take birth control pills or hormone
replacement therapy (HRT), except
in rare circumstances determined by
your doctor and only for a brief time.
Long-term use of birth control pills
has been shown to increase the risk of
breast cancer. HRT increases the risk of
heart disease, strokes, blood clots, gallbladder
disease, endometrial cancer, ovarian
cancer and invasive breast cancer.
Tip #21:
Use only nontoxic cleaning products
in your home and office.
Cleaning supplies are almost always
filed with health-damaging chemicals,
so use nontoxic cleaning instead.
Tip # 22:
Toxins are everywhere--in your water,
clothing, furnishings, construction
materials, dry cleaning, personal care
products, lawn and garden products,
insect repellant, flea collars, paints,
wallpaper, tile, particleboard. Assume
that everything is toxic unless it is labeled
otherwise and choose its nontoxic
solution instead.
Tip #23:
Take a week or two, once or twice a
year, to purify your body.
Detoxing works! Just one five-day series
of the Ayurvedic purification procedures
known as panchakarma has been
shown to cut your load of toxins in half.
Tip # 24:
Go to bed by 10:00 p.m. and get up
before 6:00 a.m.
Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is a
powerful antioxidant that arrests and
deters breast cancer in many ways.
Staying up past 10:00 p.m., alcohol and
electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) cause
melatonin levels to drop.
Tip #25:
Minimize your exposure to electromagnetic
fields (EMF’s).
All electrical appliances and wires
produce breast cancer-promoting EMF’s -
all you have to do is stand just a few feet
away from them to avoid them. Hair dyers
produce more EMF’s than any other
household appliance, so use a low EMF
hairdryer instead (www.lowemf.com).
Tip # 26:
Embrace thirty minutes of aerobic
activity every day.
Just thirty minutes of aerobic activity
three to five times a week can lower
your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50
Tip #27:
Practice a stress-reducing meditation
every day.
Stress has been found to contribute
to about 90% of all illnesses, including
breast cancer. Research shows that the
daily practice of meditation, called Transcendental
Meditation or TM can lower
your risk of all diseases by as much as
50 percent.
Tip #28:
Practice stress-reducing breathing
techniques every day.
The regular practice of special breathing
exercises called pranayama improves
stress-hormone balance, blood pressure,
and heart rate, and lowers cholesterol.
Tip #29:
Take an herbal adaptagen every day
to lower your body’s response to stress.
Certain herbs called adaptogens,
for example ginseng, ashwagandha and
holy basil lower your body’s response to
Tip #30:
Take care of your needs:
Research shows that women with
breast cancer tend to give too much at
the expense of their own needs. So take
care of your needs first, stay healthy, and
then you’ll have more to offer others.