Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Friend's Hobby and Mine

My friend S has been sewing quilts for years. This past winter S was telling me about working on a quilt for her grandchild. She showed me some of the pieces she was creating. They were beautiful, a marvelous combination of colors and patterns.

When I was at the local library a book of quilt patterns was for sale.I decided to buy it for S. At home I skimmed though the book and found a pattern called the Martha Washington Star Block. Now I admit I am not a great sewer but I since my diagnosis I love to paint. So I thought how about painting a Life Quilt piece. So I started sketching different ideas in the pattern of the star. I tried showing places I lived, places I visited, my RU Scarlet knight connection, my interests and then sketched one related to my cancer diagnosis. It took me a few months but I finally finished my Life Quilt piece which I call "Hope" in teal of course!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spending Time

For the past few days I have spent hours in church. Not just the normal one hour Mass on Sunday but the services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday known as the Easter Triduum. Attending those services gave me time to reflect on my cancer journey and my faith.

On Thursday I attended the Mass of the Lord's Supper. The Mass was bilingual, Spanish and English and I loved listening to my fellow parishioners singing hymns in both languages. I watched as the chrism for the Anointing of the Sick sacrament was brought to the altar by a parishioner with very little hair on her head but a look of reverence on her face. I thought of the times I received the sacrament. I was anointed with chrism before both of my cancer surgeries. Sitting in the pew on Thursday, I once again felt the grace and calm of the anointing. There might not be a scientific study to prove that grace from the sacrament calms and strengthens . What I do know is the calm and strength I felt facing my surgeries.

Friday afternoon I attended the Passion Service with Nick. We walked into church as the dark clouds and drizzle began. Was that what is was like as Jesus hung on the Cross? After reading the Passion, a group of parishioners walked a large wooden Cross to the altar. Holding it upright the group invited parishioners to come forward. Row by row parishioners- young and old and some in wheelchairs and walkers came forward and genuflected or gave the Cross a light kiss or gentle touch. The church was full so it was a long wait to get to the front of the line and revere the Cross. I expected that I would start to get antsy waiting. But not this time. The waiting was OK. I thought of times after my cancer diagnosis that I needed to wait - for my chemo to begin, to see my doctor, for my scans, the hour I layed in the PET scan machine having my test done, for the pains in my legs to stop, for my fingers to feel less numb, for my appetite to come back. Sometimes you can't rush the process you just have to wait - patiently. And so I sat. I thought about My Uncle Bruno, my Aunt Dora, a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and another two friends who have had their ovarian cancer recur. I felt sad and once again in church my eyes filled up. And I prayed for all of them. And I continued to wait.

I thought about my clear scan results, my future grandson, being accepted to a special cancer advocate program and the speech my son, the crew coach, gave at his crew dinner. Life can be tough- Jesus knew that but it can also be very good. So I said a prayer of thanksgiving. It was my turn. Well worth the wait! Two hours later we quietly walked out of church.

We decided to attend the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night which meant spending even more time in church: 2 and a half hours to be exact. Not really a long time when you think about the time I was in treatment and was in bed due to fatigue. Two days per cycle I never left my bed. Two times fifteen cycles ( if you include my recurrence) makes thirty days. Those thirty days equal seven hundred and twenty hours. During those hours and many more the chemotherapy drugs were killing off the cancer cells. Two and a half hours celebrating the Easter Vigil was my spiritual medicine.

Happy Easter!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

5th Annuual Teal Tea

This is where I will be on May 1st! It is a fun way for me to support the research done at the Cancer Institute of NJ.

Support the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer

The Fifth Annual Teal Tea to raise awareness of ovarian cancer one tea at a time, will be held Sunday, May 1st from 2 pm to 5 pm at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, NJ. The tea will feature a silent auction and light refreshments. In addition to the live auction, the event features table decorating competitions, a parade of hats, a Mr. or Ms. Teal Tea competition, and a performance by A Cappella Pops. This year’s tea will also feature Jenny Allen, a highly regarded actress and writer. I Got Sick Then I Got Better is a comic riff on her personal story following her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The keynote address, Teal Talk on Tour, will be delivered by Anne Gutos. Tickets are $60 per person and are available online through pay pal on the Teal Tea Foundation’s events page:, or through email

Organized by Educational Testing Service employee and ovarian cancer survivor, Jean Shipos with her family and friends, The Teal Tea Foundation is a non-profit, fund raising organization dedicated to raising awareness of and research for ovarian cancer. The Foundation was incorporated in November 2008. Its mission is, “to help raise ovarian cancer awareness and to support research efforts focused on early detection, treatments, and a cure for ovarian cancer. The Foundation membership is dedicated to helping all women with their quality of life and long term recovery.”

The Foundation has raised over $14,000 for ovarian cancer research performed at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick and close to $20,000 for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Members send cheery tea baskets to women undergoing chemotherapy, and freely distribute bookmarks printed with the warning signs of ovarian cancer. If you have noticed teal ribbons tied around your town’s trees in September, chances are that they were the work of volunteers from the Teal Tea Foundation in support of the national Turn the Towns Teal® campaign. The Foundation holds monthly fund-raisers to support its awareness campaigns, including translating the warning signs into Spanish and distributing these free at community events, but The Teal Tea is its premier event. The Tea attracts over 300 men and women, many with a personal link to ovarian cancer.

“The Tea is a wonderful, inspirational afternoon.” says Foundation Founder Shipos. “It is an opportunity for survivors to encourage each other, for us to motivate women currently undergoing radiation or chemotherapy and fighting this disease,

and for those who have lost someone special to honor her. This year we’re delighted to have Anne Gutos, an ovarian cancer activistand survivor, as our keynote speaker. Ms. Gutos faced her own struggle with ovarian cancer when she was

24 and pregnant with her first child. Young women need to hear her story so that they understand that ovarian cancer is not an age-related disease. It can happen to anyone.”

The theme of the Fifth Annual Teal Tea is “Turn the World Teal, Cities of the World.” Volunteers will compete in table decorating contests featuring cities around the world. “If you want to visit Moscow, Venice, Kyoto, Detroit, New Orleans, Sydney, come to the Tea on May 1. “ says Jean. “When you walk into that ballroom you will be in awe of the decorating skills of our competitors. I totally believe that someone will show up with the Eiffel Tower as a centerpiece!”

For more information about the Teal Tea Foundation, its monthly events schedule or its campaign against ovarian cancer, visit the Foundation’s webpage:

Ovarian cancer activist, Anne Gutos, is the keynote speaker at the Teal Tea Foundation’s

Fifth annual Teal Tea at the Hyatt on May 1.”


Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs 2010 Report

The Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) is a program that funds research to eradicate diseases like cancer and to support those who fight for the US. Part of the CDMRP is the Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

The 2010 Annual report highlights the programs supported by CDMRP including Ovarian Cancer researchers like Dr. Zhen Zhang and Dr Nicole Urban.

Visit for more information about the Ovarian Cancer Research Program ( OCRP).

The funding bill for 2011 should be signed into law soon. These researchers have made progress in fighting the disease and I look forward to seeing even more progress in the future.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chicago Here I Come

I'm thrilled to have been accepted as a Scholar in the Focus on Research program developed by the Research Advocacy Network. That means that I will be traveling to Chicago in early June to attend the ASCO Annual '11 Meeting.

A special thank you goes to the Center for Cancer Survivorship at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey for agreeing to be my dissemination partner.

I have papers to write and online classes to take before I go to Chicago but I am looking forward to meeting other research advocates and to learn the latest in ovarian cancer research.

Every Day is a Blessing! I am blessed to be given opportunity to become a better OC advocate.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Enough already

I have had enough of wearing black and crying and visiting funeral homes.

We had a wonderful celebration of Aunt Dora's life this past Monday and Tuesday. So many wonderful memories shared with so many family members and friends who came from near and far. But there have also been tears. Tears during the playing of "On Eagles Wings" . Why did I pick that song for the funeral mass? Tears when I saw a honey pot and spoon ( like the one I bought her) and again when I walked past the cookie mix we would make together. I admit crying in the grocery store was a bit embarrassing. There were more tears when I went back to her house for the first time and found a ceramic planter that my sister Bert made for her. I should have bought stock in Kimberly -Clark.

Then we learned this Friday night that my husband's godmother, Sylvia passed away after complications from kidney surgery. She was 90. She and her husband were such good friends to Nick's parents that for the longest time I thought they really were related. In lieu of flowers Ric and Sylvia's children wanted donations to St Jude's Sylvia's favorite charity. Just like Aunt Dora. Tears again. We drove down to Tom's River this afternoon for the wake and more tears. We won't be going to the funeral because I have a CT scan tomorrow. The same CT scan that I had to postpone from last week due to Aunt Dora's funeral. What is going on?

I really haven't had much time to be anxious or worried about the scan during the past week except for having to drink the drink tonight which is a new Berry flavored Read-i-cat.

I hope to be able to post a bit more this week with some good news and good CT results.

Every Day is a blessing!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

102 Years and 9 months

That is how long my Aunt Dora Minnefor lived on this great earth. In the early morning hours of April 1st, she passed into the loving arms of God. She was an incredible woman. She was independent yet was always there at any time to help others . She was my father's sister . When my mother passed away when I was five years old, my dad didn't even ask her Aunt Dora just moved in. She took wonderful care of my sisters, Melabee, Roberta and me.

A few years ago Aunt Dora went through the stage where she told everyone not to buy her gifts - not birthday gifts - no mother's day gifts - no Easter gifts - no Christmas gifts. As we were looking through her address book yesterday, I came across something I wrote to Aunt Dora for her birthday when she didn't want a gift. I had forgotten that I wrote it until I opened the paper. It holds true today!

Dear Aunt Dora ,
I promised not to buy you a gift but I wanted to share these thoughts with you.

Your Gift To Me

While making gravy,

Working outside the home,

Or taking care of those you love,

You showed how all these things are done

With never a complaint.

Gladly sharing stories of how things used to be

And using them to show us how to be

The best that we could be.

I only hope that I can share with others

What you have shared with me-

Simple acts, yet precious gifts

Forever in my heart.

Happy Birthday !!!!

Love, Dorinda

Every Day is a Blessing! For the past 55 years, I have been blessed by the guiding hand and love of Aunt Dora.