Monday, January 19, 2015

The Only Constant in Life

is Change!

The most recent change which makes me feel happy and sad at the same time involves a person who has played an important role in my journey with ovarian cancer.

Early last week I learned J, a social worker at my cancer center, was leaving. I am happy because she is making a move that is so wonderful for her and her family. But I am still sad because I will no longer see someone who has made my cancer survivorship easier.

J took care of the gynecologic cancer patients and facilitated the Gyn Cancer Support group. She has been instrumental in the success of this group for more than seven years. Because of her expertise as a social worker, she knew just when a patient needed the support of others and that is when she would tell them about the  support group and ask them to join us.

She also was involved in a number of patient programs at the cancer center including Survivors Day.  I served on the Survivors Day Planning Committee with her for a few years so I was able to see her creativity, her efforts to make the day special for patients and how well she got along with other cancer center staff and other survivors.

J was always there for me. I used to call her J- 911. If there was an emotional need all you had to do was call J-911 and she would be there with all the advice you needed to get you through the rough spots.  She was especially helpful to me when the deaths of friends in the support group deeply affected me. After seven years she was more to me that just a social worker she was a friend.

I wish only the best for J.

Every Day is a Blessing! J was such a blessing to me. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

"Outshine"- A Must Read

Last month, I won a Wego Health contest in which the prize was an autographed copy of " Outshine An Ovarian Cancer Memoir "by Karen Ingalls, a stage II ovarian cancer survivor. Due to a very busy Christmas holiday I didn't get a chance to get around to reading it until New Years Day.

"Outshine" is a well written, easy to read book. For me, reading the book was as if I was having a coffee and chatting with a woman from my support group. Ms Ingall's not only shares her story with ovarian cancer but also provides information about the symptoms of the disease, diagnostic tests ( CT, MRI, PET) and treatment options. Helpful for newly diagnosed women is her advice regarding how she handled side effects of chemotherapy through standard medicine and complimentary medicine. She also discusses the important role her husband, family and friends played in aiding in her recovery. Ms Ingalls does not leave out the pain and anguish.  I could totally relate to what she was going through.  Rather she offers excellent advice on how she dealt with not only the emotional issues but also the physical issues of her diagnosis. 

This may seem odd but I couldn't wait to get to the end of each chapter. Why was I in such a rush? Because I couldn't wait to read the poem, scripture verse , saying or affirmation related to the chapter. Here is the one you will find at the end of Ch 15:

We can turn our backs on tomorrow
And live for yesterday.
Or we can be happy for tomorrow
Because of yesterday.- Anonymous

Over the past 9 years I've read a number of books by or about women diagnosed with ovarian cancer such as The Light Within  and Memoir of a Debulked Woman as well as other books by and for cancer survivors. "Outshine" is one of my favorites and its contents are of value to women diagnosed with the disease as well as their caregivers. I will be sure to share the book with women in my support group.

You may order the book on Amazon. More information about the author and the book may be found at the book's website.

Every Day is a Blessing! Blessed to have had the opportunity to read "Outshine".

Thursday, January 1, 2015

It is 2015 !

It is 2015, I'm here and I am thrill!
I look forward to March and my son's wedding. I love my future daughter-in-law and am so happy to have her join the family.
I look forward to June when I will celebrate a pretty special birthday.
And I look forward to July,well the 29th in particular, when I will celebrate a landmark "cancerversary" - my 10th.

Even with all these exciting things already planned for the year I still want to make my  annual aspirations.  I wrote about my aspirations for 2014 here. For 2015, I'm going to repeat some of last year's aspirations ( I never did make a trip to Maine) and update some others. Here they are:
  • Continue to visit my children and grandchildren every few months
  • Continue to advocate for ovarian cancer patients and research through this blog and the #gyncsm community
  • Post more frequently on this blog
  • Help my dog, Amber, achieve Excellent titles in Agility
  • Continue to increase my physical activity and flexibility so that I can be a better dog handler and improve my health
  • Continue to paint
  • Visit the state of Maine
  • Learn some Hindi words (New)
I wish for all my readers a Happy and Healthy and Joyful 2015.

Every Day is a blessing!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Seven Years a Blogger

Yesterday, December 30th marked the seventh anniversary of writing this blog.

I started this blog back in December of 2007 because I wanted to  share my experience and information about ovarian cancer with other women diagnosed with the disease in NJ. At the time I was not sure I would live to see my 5th "cancerversary". But next year, 2015, I will celebrate my 10th "cancerversary". My blog has also grown and now reaches women in the US as well as internationally ( UK, Germany, Russia, Canada France, etc.)

Some of my most popular posts this year were:

I know this year I have not posted at the frequency I have posted in the past. One reason why has been my increased involvement with the #gyncsm community. In late 2013, Christina Lizaso and I founded the community for women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers as well as their caregivers and health care providers. You may find us on twitter at @gyncsm . We offer monthly chats on topics of interest to the community ( 2nd Wed of the month 9pm EST) . Christina and I research each topic we discuss, develop questions, find reliable resources for our followers as well as guest speakers. I also continue to write for our blog ( which provides info about each chat, links to transcripts and resources related to each topic. In addition to the chat information, I have posted about clinical trials, World Ovarian Cancer Day and reported on the results of a survey we did of #gyncsm followers. In October this year,  we also partnered with Smart Patients an online platform to offer a place for our community members to discuss our topics in more the 140 characters.

In addition to being a patient reviewer for PCORI , a Survivors Day Committee committee member, volunteer with the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, and e-patient scholar at Stanford MedX I was  a busy wife, mom and grandma.

I look forward to continuing to blog (hopefully more frequently) in 2015.

I wish all my readers a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


 Wishing all of my readers JOY during this holiday season.

On Christmas Day. my home will be filled with my children and grandchildren. 
Their presence is the best gift of all!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Grateful For ...

Yesterday, I read a post in the ASCO Connection blog written by friend and #gyncsm chat Health Care Moderator,  Dr. Don Dizon. Dr. Dizon is a gynecologic oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. His blog post is titled Being Grateful. In the post, he states "if anything were to happen to me tomorrow, would there be a record of what I was grateful for" and then he went on to list all those things he was grateful for in 2014. At the end of the post Dr Dizon writes, "I encourage each of us to take a moment and reflect on the year each of us had, and to think of what it is we are grateful for. "

After reading that last paragraph I knew exactly what my next blog post would be about as we end the year. Here is what I am grateful for.

I am grateful for my husband of 36 years, who this year as in the past nine, has continued to provide love and support my efforts as a cancer advocate.

I am grateful for my children, their spouses and spouses-to-be and my grandchildren. They have brought me much joy this year even though they live thousands of miles away. Congratulations A on completing your Masters Degree and M for passing your comprehensive exams on your way to your PhD, and A on your new job. JT and TJ I love google chatting with you but love it better when we can visit.

I am grateful for family members who have gathered with me for lunch, listened to me, offered advice and gone shopping we me.

I am grateful for my friends both those I have had for 30+ years and the new friends I made at MedX in September this year.

I am grateful for Christina, my co-moderator and  co-founder  and the wonderful Health Care Moderators of the #gyncsm community. With their chat and medical expertise we have been able to share helpful information with women diagnosed with gynecologic cancers, their caregivers and healthcare providers to others.

I am grateful for my gynecologic oncologists who continue to treat patients with care and compassion while conducting research to find better ways to treat women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

I am grateful for my agility instructors.With their expert instructions, help and advice, I have had a wonderful first year at agility competitions.

I am grateful for my dog Amber. She has been a fun companion as we completed the requirements for novice and open Jumps With Weaves titles.

Yes, Dr Dizon this was a very easy list to compile.

I challenge my blogger  friends to post their very own I'm grateful list.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ovarian Cancer Facts for NJ

Today I made a presentation about ovarian cancer to the members of the Hunterdon Mercer Chronic Disease Coalition. I thought I would share some facts with my readers.

In 2011 there were 699 cases of Ovarian Cancer diagnosed in NJ.
  •  Hunterdon County  7 
  •  Mercer County 28
In 2011 in NJ there were 483 deaths due to Ovarian Cancer
  • Hunterdon County 6 
  • Mercer County 21
I found the information on the NJ Cancer Registry site at   
Information about how to use the site can be found here. It is a three frame window and takes some time to load. 
A link to a report of Cancer Incidence & Mortality in New Jersey, 2007-2011 can be found at

I appreciate the opportunity to present the information for all the Coalition members. 

Every Day is a Blessing!