Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Late yesterday afternoon I drove up to Seton Hall University in South Orange NJ. This would be the second time I would tell my Ovarian Cancer story "Woman of Teal" to the student nurses and staff at the nursing school. I met with my cousin Marion, a Dean of the Nursing School, in her office and we walked into the room where I was giving my talk.
There on the left side of the room was my cousin Judy, her daughter Brittany and a family friend Agnes. They knew my story but came to support me just the same.
Then as we were setting up the computer and projector, in walked a former student of mine from St Joe's. Paul is a junior at Seton Hall and the last time we saw each other was at the Livestrong Challenge in Philly - he rode over 70 miles. He couldn't stay but I was pleased that he took the time to stop by and chat.
Then there was a tap on my shoulder and there stood my nephew Kevin. He and Alycia had moved to Kentucky in July but he travels back to NJ occasionally to work on the medical helicopter and with the Jets ( yes - those JETS!). We've spoken on the phone but this is the first time I saw him since they moved.WOW! And all this before I even started to talk.
I think the talk went well. The students and staff asked questions when I was done. Most questions were medical related and then one of the nursing instructors asked "How do you do it? How do you stay positive when you know the cancer can come back?" I thought a moment and said," I have a wonderful family and great friends to support me and that I truly believe that every day is a blessing " And that is the truth.
Every Day is a Blessing. And I had lots of special surprise blessing at my talk.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Yesterday, I received a pretty butterfly note in the mail from J., a former student. She wrote that she read the article in the Sentinel newspaper about the teal ribbons and awareness campaign that I had done in Edison and that I was in her thoughts and prayers.
How sweet is that? All these years later to still remember her teacher and to take the time to write. Thank you J.
Every Day is a Blessing.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
These are Carmella's kids- my cousins, my husband and two close family friends. We all got together this morning to participate in the last Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation Walk on the boardwalk in Avon, NJ. The walk raises funds for cutting-edge ovarian cancer research.
I got there early to help register people for the walk. This is my third year helping with registration so things were hectic, with lots of people still registering in person even though we have online registration, but it went smoothly. When I was done I joined my cousins on the walk. I walked around a mile and a half. Many of my cousins walked 5 miles. Hurrah for Erica,John,Jack, Brit, Fred, Chelsea, Morgan and Ali. After the walk we all went to Vic's in Bradley Beach for lunch. Now that is great thin crust pizza! As we walked out of Vic's I met a women who had done the walk and had put up teal ribbons in Metuchen. We had only e-mailed so it was nice to put a face to a name.
All I can say is that I am truly blessed to have my husband , cousins, as well as Marylou and Agnes (two very compassionate nurses and close friends) in my life. They really help me to LiveSTRONG.
Every Day is a Blessing. I was really blessed today by cousins and friends.
Friday, September 25, 2009
When my son broke his collar bone last month, Nick and I drove down to see him. Being in a brace and unable to move his right arm made it difficult for him to take care of his dog, Murphy. Murphy is a beagle / hound mix Matt adopted from the local pound . Being the dog lovers that we are , we took Murphy home with us. He spent the next 4 weeks having fun playing with our neighbors dogs, chasing the bunny rabbits in the back yard and running up and down the steps trying to keep his rope toy and a tennis ball in his mouth at the same time. With tennis courts at the end of our block,we had a steady supply of toys for him. Murph dog was a fun guest to have visit- even if it did meant we had to cut our Rutgers football tailgating short. With Matt healing and feeling stronger we knew we would have to return Murphy to his home in Blacksburg.
So on Thursday we left early in the morning and headed to Blacksburg. On the way down we stopped at our usual Mc Donalds at exit 298 off of interstate 81. We went through the drive-up window and ordered figuring we would eat in the car and then take Murphy for a walk. When we drove up to the window to pay they saw Murphy in the back seat and handed us some dog bones along with our change. That was really nice of them. Since it was a nice day we decided that instead of eating in the car we would eat at the outside tables they have. A gentleman wearing a McDonald's shirt walked by us to go inside then came back out and asked if we needed water for our dog. Very nice indeed. Murphy drew a lot of attention as people said how cute he was and how well behaved he was. I couldn't agree more.
Murphy was so excited when he walked into the apartment and saw Matt!
Every Day is a Blessing!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I'm really looking forward to this year's walk because my husband, cousins and friends will be walking as part of the team Carmella's Kids. Carmella, my cousin, also had cancer. It means so much to me that they honor their mother and support me.
You can still register or donate at www.kohnj.org . Choose the Avon link.
I will also get a chance to see MA again. I met MA in person for the first time today at the Wellness Community Central Jersey's "Patient Guide to Ovarian Cancer "program. My gyn-onc, Dr. Darlene Gibbon, CINJ, answered questions about ovarian cancer from the latest treatments to clinical trials. MA and I met on facebook as members of a group exclusively for ovarian cancer survivors.
Every Day is a Blessing! Today I am blessed to have such supportive cousins and friends and to have met MA in person.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
"In a study in mice, low doses of the drug, combined with a widely used chemotherapy called doxorubicin, shrank breast-cancer tumors and prevented their recurrence more effectively than chemotherapy alone."
FDA Clear's Vermillion's OVA1 Test to Determine Ovarian Cancer in Women with Pelvic Mass
Lab test that can indicate cancer prior to biopsy or surgery. Uses 5 assays in combination to determine whether a women should be referred to a gynecological oncologist.
Tate Creek Junior Donates Hair
The story of a 16 year old young lady from Kentucky diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.
Cyclist Rides to Fight Grim Cancer Prognosis
This is a special story for me. Ken and I were the New Jersey Delegates to LiveSTRONG Day in Washington DC in 2007 as well as LiveSTRONG Summit 2008 attendees. I have written on this blog previously about his Foundation - Cecile and Ken Youner Fund for Cancer Research.
Every Day is a Blessing!
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Today I attended the Super Luncheon in NJ. The luncheon was sponsored by the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) which raises funds for ovarian cancer research.
Survivors and advocates from throughout the state were invited to Drumthwacket, the Governor's mansion for a luncheon . Gov Corzine was not available to attend the luncheon and missed a wonderful event. There were a number of state representatives and state Senators in attendance including Barbara Buono from my district. Susan Bass Levin , ovarian cancer survivor and former Dept of Community Affairs Commissioner and current Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ spoke about her cancer experience , OCRF and the good work done by the "TEAL" organizations in the state to raise awareness and funds for research. We watched a short film from OCRF and then heard my gyn-onc, Dr Lorna Rodriguez, talk about the lastest in OC research and the clinical trials that are ongoing at CINJ. L'Oreal provided gift bags containing Hope cosmetics , a book mark and an OCRF band.
It was wonderful that so many survivors , advocates and representatives from Ovarian Cancer organizations in the state (many of whom are my friends) got to meet each other and celebrate the Ovarian Cancer awareness that has increased across the state. Now for a cure!
Every Day is a Blessing! Today I was blessed to be in the company of so many wonderful women whose mission is to find a screening test and a cure for OC.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
And now begin to really live. No prissy, half-hearted living like you were living before. That wasn't really living, and that you doesn't exist anymore. No putting off dreams until tomorrow. Carpe diem. Carpe diem. Carpe that diem now.
Go live your life. Become who you know you're supposed to be. No holding back this time.
In the words of Walt Whitman, "Now voyager,
sail thou forth to seek and find."
And don't you dare say it's too late. If you're reading this, it's not too late. It's only too late for the people who didn't wake up this morning.
Live out loud. Be outrageous. Love fiercely. Laugh and cry at the sheer beauty of it all. And thank whatever god you believe in that you have
another chance to get it right.
Every day, you get another chance.
If you want to read more about Roger and Cathy Crowthan and Cancer Crusader check them out online.
Every Day is a Blessing!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Janice and I met three years ago turning Edison teal. ( We were both diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005.) Since then we got together at the Olive Branch to raise funds for her Team JLO and the Sandy Rollman Foundation. We messaged each other on Facebook about hair and side effects of our chemos and the torment of waiting for those scan results. During our chemos this spring, Janice would always leave a message on my wall before I had chemo to say" good luck". We prayed for each other. This year she was in the hospital and unable to join in our annual ribbon hanging but her sons and their wives, an aunt, cousin and friends were there . Last night before going to bed around 12:30am I noticed a missed call on my cell from her son. I was hoping beyond hope that he was calling to set up a time when I could give Janice the Edison proclamation. But that was not the case.
Janice passed away yesterday afternoon. Janice was a wonderful wife , mother, grandmother and friend. She had this great smile and I envied her earring collection. Janice knew how to enjoy life. She delighted in every one of her children and grandchildren. Back in April we agreed that in 2010 we would both be walking together in Fairmount Park with Team JLO. I can't even describe how sad I feel about not being able to plan for that time together.
I was blessed to have Janice in my life.
Every Day is a Blessing! I have been blessed by the Lopez family.
Friday, September 4, 2009
LiveSTRONG Day is the Lance Armstrong Foundation's one-day initiative to unite people affected by cancer in raising awareness of cancer issues on a global level and in communities across the country.
All proceeds will go to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
WHEN: LIVESTRONG Day is Friday October 2, 2009 - 5:00PM-9:00PM
WHERE: The Beach Bar is located at 28 Boardwalk Seaside Heights, NJ 08751
WHAT TO WEAR: WEAR YELLOW! If you already have LIVESTRONG t-shirts wear it, if you do not have LIVESTRONG t-shirt and would like to purchase one or more please visit http://www.store-laf.org/ or you can always just WEAR YELLOW - ANY yellow shirt will work.
The Fun Evening will include:
- FREE food and SPECIALS on drinks,
- A remembrance wall to sign to honor those fighting cancer or in memory of someone you lost to cancer,
- Bracelet links to create a GIANT yellow chain around the bar,
- LIVESTRONG wristbands will be given to all who make a donation,
- 50/50 and Door Prizes.
CONTACT: For more information, contact Lori at Lori_Ditzel@horizonblue.co
Every Day is a Blessing!
Looking forward to seeing more products displaying TEAL!
Every Day is a Blessing!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Every Day is a Blessing.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
This morning for the third year in a row, Mayor Jun Choi called a press conference to proclaim Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in Edison. Below is a draft of the speech I gave at the press conference.
Thank you Mayor Choi, for giving me another opportunity to talk about ovarian cancer. I am pleased to see Edison be part of the Turn the Towns Teal campaign for the third year in a row.
Why do I come back each year to hang teal ribbons?
My answer is - Sharon, Lyn, & Thelma.
Sharon, Lyn, & Thelma are three friends who lost their lives to ovarian cancer since last September. Then there is Gail - KOH founder and a driving force behind the Turn the Town Teal campaign. Sadly she passed away last year after an eleven year battle with OC.
Then there is Janice and I.
Janice and I are Edison residents and survivors of recurrent ovarian cancer. OC affects not only the women who are diagnosed; but the families and the communities these women are a part of. Janice is unable to be with us today because she is in treatment. Raising Awareness is the reason why the Lopez and Sparacio families and friends return each year to hang Teal ribbons.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In 2005, I along with over 21,000 other women in the United States was diagnosed with OC. Of those ~21000 almost 700 women were diagnosed in NJ.
OC causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer and it has no screening test. A Pap test does not test for ovarian cancer but rather cervical cancer. It is this lack of a screening test that makes OC awareness in Sept so important.
Research has shown that there are subtle symptoms associated with OC but they are vague and mimic other disorders and diseases. When women see these teal ribbons they should think about these symptoms
Abdominal or pelvic pain
Difficulty eating and
If those symptoms occur daily for more than a two weeks women should see a doctor, preferably a gynecologist.
I had some weight gain before I was diagnosed but the most predominant symptom was abdominal pain. I mentioned the pain to my gynecologist at my annual physical and after reviewing the results of tests I had she sent me to the gynecological oncologists at Cancer Institute of NJ in New Brunswick. In July 2005 I had surgery and was diagnosed with stage 3 epithelial ovarian cancer. Two weeks later, I entered a clinical trial at CINJ and after 9 cycles I was told I has no sign of disease.
Last October after more than 2 and half-years in remission my cancer returned; this time on my liver and Spleen. Last November I had surgery and in January began chemotherapy finishing in April after having 6 treatments.
Over the past 4 years I became active with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the northern NJ National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and became a board member of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, which raises funds for ovarian cancer research.
Members of KOH, NOCC their family and friends are making a difference by hanging teal ribbons and raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer throughout NJ.
Every Day is a Blessing.