Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A year of Blogging

Yesterday marked one year of writing this blog. I am amazed at all that happened in 2008.
At Terry's suggestion, here are some highlights.

Jan- I became a board member of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation
Feb - Visited Woodloch Pines with the Lapchaks
March - Terry's shower and a visit to Columbia, South Carolina.
April - Trip to DisneyWorld for the Epcot Flower Show.
May- This was a big month. On the 10th of May , Mathew graduated with honors from Virginia Tech and was accepted there for grad school and Theresa received her graduate degree in Applied Math from the University of South Carolina. On May 24th Theresa married Andrew in a wonderful ceremony.
June - Traveled across country to move Theresa to El Paso Texas. Missed the award ceremony for the Spirit of Courage Award (a beautiful glass lighthouse) I received from the Wellness Community of Central NJ.
July - Cruised to Bermuda with the Pics and Slics. Attended the LiveStrong Summit in Columbus Ohio and got to meet so many more fabulous survivors.
August - Was a member of Team One Reason and raised almost $1000 for the LiveStrong Challenge in Philly,
Sept - Appeared on Godd Day Street Talk (Fox News) to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer. Turned Edison, Woodbridge and CINJ teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Took a trip to Lawton Oklahoma to visit Andy and Terry.
Oct- Spent a few days in Asheville NC and visited the palatial Biltmore Estate.
Nov- Ok, this month s**ks in my book. I was diagnosed with a recurrence of Ovarian Cancer and had surgery to remove my spleen and resection my liver.
Dec - Kona, my 13 year old pug, passed on the 8th.( I still miss him.) Enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with all my children and friends.

Overall a pretty fantastic year with the support and love of my family and friends.

I hope 2009 brings happiness and good health to all I know.

Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, December 29, 2008

A good pre-chemo Doctor Visit and RU Bowl Game

Today I met with Dr Rodriguez my gynecological-oncologist and her nurse practicioner Mary Jane. I got the good news that my CT scan from last week showed no signs of disease. Hurrah! The physical exam results were also good so all we needed to go over was my chemo schedule. I'll have carbo and taxol again with the standard pre-meds. I will have chemo every 21 days and after 3 cycles I will have another CT. Since I don't have any visible disease right now we will follow the drop in CA-125 to know I am getting a response. CA-125 is normally elevated after abdominal surgery so we should see a pretty nice drop after my first treatment. I will have to deal with the hair loss, fatigue, drop in blood counts and neuropathy that comes with the chemo mix I am taking.

I will spend the afternoon watching the PapaJohn' Bowl game. I am a Rutgers alum so I will be cheering on the Scarlet Knights. Wish I could have been in Alabama for the Bowl.

Upstream Red Team!


Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Wonderful Christmas Day

As I sat in the pew at Christmas Mass yesterday, I looked at my husband, my daughter, my son and my new son-in-law and I thought back to December 2005. It was five short months after my surgery and I was in the midst of chemo. Back in 2005, I was pale, tired and a bit achy. Yesterday, 6 weeks after my surgery for a recurrence, I was pale, tired, and a bit achy. But in between these Christmas' I have enjoyed life. On Dec 25, 2008, I was here to celebrate the birth of Christ yet again.

I have been given the greatest gift of all - Life!
What a joy to share this holiday with my family!

Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, December 22, 2008

CT scan Number 10

Today I had the 10th CT scan of my life. ( May it really is the 30th since I have a chest , abdomen and then pelvic scan done every time I go for a scan.) This scan will provide the next baseline for my treatment which starts in January. I wasn't able to get an appointment at CINJ to access my port but Jean a nurse in radiology had time to accessed my port so I didn't have to have an IV for contrast. I had the scans and immediately knew something was different. When Theresa came in to start my contrast I asked her what happened to the "british" accent for the voice that tells you when to hold your breath. (I 've written about this voice in the past.) . Well it turns out the voice had an Australian accent not british and was the voice of the technician who installed the 128 slice machine.It seems that lots of people were confused when the voice said"Carry on breathing". So they switched it to a very "American" voice( that of the technician who services the machine now) that tells you to "take a deep breath" and then "continue breathing" . When the scan was complete, Margaret who was the nurse who helped with my PET scan, came in to flush the lines and remove my access needle. The scan took a little longer but the care was wonderful. I gave both Theresa and Margaret a hug and told them "Merry Christmas" and that I would see them in 3 months.

Then Nick and I went to the RWJH cafeteria for a bite to eat. At the entrance to the cafeteria was the decoration shown above. The Hospital ran a contest where departments decorated their door. The tree is made up of plastic forks, knives and spoons. Pretty neat! The winning door had a large Grinch which spoke as you walked by , a Christmas tree and stockings with the photos of all the people in the department. What a festive door!


Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Livestrong Day 2009

I read the Livestrong Blog almost daily and was happy to read that next year LiveStrong Day will be on October 2nd. (You can read the blog entry here.) I am pretty happy that it will be in October. Why? Not just because it is the anniversary of Lance's diagnosis but because by then I should be strong enough to organize a pretty good event with the Livestrong Army Central NJ. A May date would have been cutting it close to the end of my chemo treatment. Now I just have to put my thinking hat on to organize a good event.

Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Big 'C' - Poem by Kathy Cawthon

"The Big 'C'"
by Kathy Cawthon, Survivor

"The big 'C'" I heard someone call it.
Another just whispered the word.
That we don't even dare to say "cancer" out loud
Gives it power it doesn't deserve.

So I'm giving that letter new meaning
And refusing to give in to fear.
I'm reclaiming the power for you and for me
By saying these words loud and clear:

Let the "c" be for "cure" and "compassion."
Let it stand for the "candles" we light.
And a "chorus" of voices shouting "You 'can'!"
To all who will take up this fight.

Let the "c" be for "cash contribution."
"Credit" or "check" will work, too!
Let it stand for "commitment" and "check- ups"
and "cheer"
And the "children" "counting" on you.

Let it mean that we know our "Creator"
Is beside us each step of the way,
And remind us to "call" on His strength and His love
And to "celebrate" every new day.

To everyone facing this "challenge,"
I say it's a fight we will win.
Tell all who will listen that, starting today,
The "c" is for "COURAGE," my friend.

Roger and Kathy Cawthon
The Cancer Crusade

Back in 2005 when I was first diagnosed, someone sent me a link to the Survivor Movie. From there I signed up for e-mails from Roger and Kathy Cawthon, both survivors who founded The Cancer Crusade.Their most recent e-mail included the Big 'C' poem. I know I have older relatives who still call cancer the big C.

Every Day is a Blessing


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The past week and what lies ahead

I have been spending the last week or so getting stronger and working on my Christmas crafts. I am walking more( when it isn't snowing) and have made occasional short trips out to church and to eat and one run to Kohls and Michaels ( for more craft stuff). Since I couldn't get out much, I did lots of online shopping. So the UPS lady stops here almost daily to drop off packages.

Next Monday I will have my pre-chemo CT scan. Yup, we need to get a baseline before we start even though after my surgery there was NO visible disease. I see my gyn -onc at CINJ on the 29th for an exam and on Tuesday Jan 6th, 2009 I will start chemo. I am going with the Carbo / taxol duo. Since I am over 2 years out of treatment I will give those another try. I look forward to a similar response and remission time as I had when I was first diagnosed. My friend asked yesterday if I was sad about starting chemo again. Honestly it is not something that I am looking forward too but I am willing to suffer the lost hair , pain in my legs and neuropathy to insure that all the disease is gone. I 've got way too much traveling to do in 2009- Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Alaska.

I can't wait for my children to get home this weekend! I loved yesterday's snow.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kona 1995-2008

On Monday, we lost our family pet Kona to congestive heart failure. Kona was a pug who brought us 13 + years of joy.

After returning from a family trip to Hawaii in 1995 we decided to get a dog. My kids loved the movie "Milo and Otis" a tale of a pug nosed pup. When we saw Kona in the puppy store we thought his fawn coloring reminded us of coffee with cream so we named him after the famous Kona Coffee from the big island of Hawaii.
Kona enjoyed watching TV. Any time we put on an animal show he would bark at whatever animal was on TV. We never watched the Westminster Kennel Club show in its entirety because he barked at every breed- big or small. He was great with Terry and Matt and all their friends ( except maybe Jason) and would bark at visitors until they stooped down to pet him.

Kona was a great companion whose black mask slowly changed to gray. Back in 2005 when I was recovering from surgery and having chemo Kona was always at my side. If I was upstairs in the bedroom - he would sleep by my side of the bed. If I was in the kitchen he would sit under the table. When I returned from the hospital last month he began again the ritual of staying by my side. If I was in the family room he would be right next to my chair.

Dogs are man's best friend and Kona was our family's best friend.


Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, December 5, 2008

Operation Bling- A new NJ non-profit with a wonderful mission

On Wednesday two friends, Lynn and Lynn, from the northern NJ NOCC stopped by for a visit. I was thrilled to see them and so moved by a gift they brought me - a beautiful necklace from Operation Bling Foundation .

Operation Bling was founded by Chris Ferdinand, owner of Ferdinand Jewelers in New Providence, NJ. Chris's mom had passed away from ovarian cancer in 1991 and this past February her friend Barbara was also battling the disease. Barbara confided in Chris how she missed wearing her "Bling" to the hospital and/or treatments. Chris ordered sterling silver and cubic zirconium rings for Barbara and delivered them to her in the hospital. Chris felt that if the "bling" gave so much joy to Barbara imagine what it could do for other women on the oncology floor.

In March 2008 Operation Bling Foundation became a NJ non-profit with a mission to bring "Bling" to in-patient and out-patient oncology patients at local hospitals. Right now the group delivers Bling to patients at Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ and Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, NJ. The Foundation hopes to expand to other hospitals in NJ and eventually nationwide. There are rings, bracelets , necklaces and earrings that individuals may purchase to bring to their friends/ family that are being treated at other hospitals. Every gift comes in a gift box with the poem- What Cancer Cannot Do.

Please take some time to check out their website and make a donation or tell your family and friends about their mission and purchase some bling for someone in treatment. For further information please contact Christ Ferdinand at 1-877-BLING-03. ( 6 South Street, New Providence , NJ)

Every Day is a Blessing

PS A special thanks to Lynn , Lynn and all the northern NJ NOCC members who have kept me in their thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Neat Gifts and Support the LAF

My friend Brian and his wife Kristy have found a neat way to raise funds for the LAF as well as offer friends and family some very nice gifts. Below is a note he sent me that I thought I would share with all of you.
"My wife Kristy is holding a Holiday Shopping Party next Sunday, December 7th at our home with four vendors. For those who cannot make it to our house and our friends out of state we are able to supply online shopping for one of the vendors, Pampered Chef.

You will find they have a great list of products to chose from and two best reasons for shopping Pampered Chef is a percentage of the party sales will benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation and all orders will arrive before Christmas. 10% will be donated to the LAF for party/online total sales of $599 or less. 15% will be donated to the LAF for party/online total sales above $600.

In order for donations to be made and delivery before Christmas you will need to place an order by December 7th. There is no better way to shop this holiday season. You can buy a gift for someone you care about and at the same time know you are helping support the fight against cancer.

How can you shop on line?

1. Go to
2. Click on ORDER PRODUCTS on the lower left side
3. Under “Already invited to a show and would like to place an order? type Lance Armstrong Foundation in the first box and click search for host.
4. Click on the hyperlink for Lance Armstrong Foundation / Kristy Dowd to start your shopping
5. When you proceed to check out you have a selection of shipping to Kristy or shipping directly to yourself. Please ship directly to yourself.

Please share this email will your friends and family. Thank you for shopping Pampered Chef and supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!"

I have a number of Pampered Chef items. I can suggest the stoneware , the bread knife is awesome and the bakeware is great.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

She was a fighter, spunky and funny

That is how I will remember Sharon who lost her battle today with Ovarian cancer. She fought hard through surgery, more chemo's than I can remember, an NIH trial and numerous other challenges. She never stopped looking for a treatment that would give her more time with her two daughters.
I first met Sharon at the CINJ Gyn Cancer Support Group. She was spunky and had the best sense of humor. Boy, could she make us laugh. We laughed about wigs, painting on eyebrows and got serous when talking about our kids.

She was a blessing in my life and I will miss her. Yup , this is the hard part of the sisterhood of OC survivors losing those we have grown to love.


Every Day is a Blessing

Monday, December 1, 2008

Real Disney Magic

This past February we made reservations to be in DisneyWorld this week. We have been Disney Vacation club members for over 10 years now and love visiting in May for the Epcot Flower Show and again in December to see all the Christmas decorations and hear the Candlelight Processional. Gary Sinise has been my favorite Christmas story narrator so far- but I digress.

I knew when I got up on Saturday morning that I was not strong enough to make the two day trip by car to Florida. ( We would have left this morning.) Now, believe me I am getting stronger every day but the thirty minute drive on Thanksgiving Day in the car was not fun for me so I knew 20 hours was not going to work. We had already discussed renting a wheelchair so I could get around the Parks.

So on Saturday, we called Member Services at the Disney Vacation Club and spoke to Brandy. We explained that I had surgery on the 13th and was not strong enough to make the trip. First, we tried to postpone the trip a week or two (figuring I would feel better ) but there were no rooms available in any of the Vacation Club villas or Disney Hotels. She offered us a week in January but I told her I wasn't sure of my chemo schedule so I couldn't book that yet. We were ready to put our points in an Interval International account to book a trip outside Disney for some time next year or sadly lose them all together. Brandy asked me to hold on. When she came back on she told me - "Well since you had surgery we understand that your cancellation is not something that you really want to do and is beyond your control so we will allow you to use these points next year so you can come back to visit us again" Well at this point I am in tears and wishing I could give her a hug through the phone. She also told me to be sure to ask for her next time we make reservations because she wants to see how I am feeling.
As corny as it might sound that small action on her part is really the Magic of Disney.

Thanks Brandy. I look forward to next year's trip. And I will be sure to ask for you when I call.

And on Wednesday night,when we were scheduled to attend the Candlelight Processional, I will listen to the Processional CD we purchased a few years ago and think about next year's trip.


Every Day is a Blessing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for....

I am thankful for:

My husband, Nick, who has been my rock for 30 years,

My daughter ,Theresa, son, Matt and son-in-law, Andy - who from hundreds of miles away were my biggest cheerleaders,

My surgeon who put me back in a position where I can say there is no visible disease,

My gynecological oncologists who has guided my journey and will start my chemo after Christmas,

Everyone who visited me in the hospital,

Everyone who sent me beautiful flowers and food,

Everyone who sent me cards and e-mails,

Everyone who visited me when I got home,

Everyone who called to say they were thinking about me,

Everyone who prayed an extra prayer for me and a God who listened.

Continuing to LIVESTRONG, Dee

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LAF video

I just wanted to share this LAF video with my family, friends and readers. The best line in it is
" We will kick cancer's sorry ass" - Yup that is me - doing some kickin' right now!


Every Day is a Blessing

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Missing Out On all The Fun Things

I have been busy resting in the hopes of getting my strength back quickly. Over the past few days I find that I can move around a bit better, have been able to find more comfortable positions to sleep in ( boy, it helps to get a full night's sleep) and have been able to eat a little bit more each day too. All the phone calls, e-mails, cards and gifts that family and friends have sent my way, as well as Nick's great cooking, have also made things easier.

I really shouldn't complain but there is a tough part of all this recovery time. Since finishing my chemo in 2006 I have gotten back into the routine of pretty much doing everything I like to do. Now I am back in the "missing out on all the fun things" time again.

Yesterday, I missed the Rutgers - Army game. Ok, it was cold and I might not have lasted the entire game in the 25 degree temperatures but I would have given it a shot. It seems that RU may be bowl eligible again this year. I missed the first bowl in Arizona in 2005 when I was in chemo and am pretty sure if I start my chemo before Christmas I won't make a bowl game this year if they are invited. The two bowls that I did go to - Texas Bowl in Houton and International Bowl in Toronto- were lots of fun. We have a terrific tailgating group and traveling with them makes these bowl games so much fun.

At 1 pm today our friend's granddaughter Emily was baptized. Nick went to the baptism at St Matthew's and then to the small party after. Since I am still moving slowly and don't last more than an hour or two before I need a nap, I decided it best to stay home. So here I am writing this post , listening to my doggy snore and staying warm.

Over the next few weeks I will have time to readjust to having my schedule controlled by my doctors but when I think about it , it is a small price to pay for my health.


Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Avastin Increases Blood Clot Risk- NCI Bulletin

From the Nov 18, NCI Bulletin - Cancer Research Highlights

Bevacizumab May Increase Blood Clot Risk

"Bevacizumab (Avastin), the first FDA-approved drug designed to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels to tumors, significantly increases the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in cancer patients, according to a meta-analysis in the November 19 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pooled results from nearly 8,000 patients with a variety of advanced solid tumors in 15 randomized trials published since 2003 showed that patients taking bevacizumab were
33 percent more likely to develop VTE than those who did not. Incidence among those taking bevacizumab was 11.9 percent for VTE of all grades, and 6.3 percent for high-grade VTE. Those taking the drug had a 38 percent greater risk of developing high-grade VTE.

A dosage as small as 2.5 mg/kg per week was enough to pose a risk, which the authors believe "suggests that the so-called low dose of bevacizumab may already be reaching the saturation level to induce thrombosis." Based on the greater risk found in patients with mesothelioma and aerodigestive malignancies such as non-small cell lung cancer, the authors advised that patients with these conditions receive concurrent prevention for VTE.

"It may be appropriate to add a black box warning [to the package insert currently required by the FDA]," noted the study authors, led by Dr. Shobha Rani Nalluri and colleagues at Stony Brook University. Other angiogenesis inhibitors such as thalidomide and lenalidomide have also been shown to increase risk of VTE, and the authors warned that combining them with bevacizumab could compound the increased risk."

Avastin is not yet approved by the FDA for OC, but it is in use in a number of clinical trials.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy To Be Home in Time for my 30th Wedding Anniversary

I was released from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital late yesterday afternoon. The surgery went well. Even if the scar is longer than I expected the fact that there is no visual evidence of disease is awesome. I know that Chemo lies ahead but I 've "been there done that" and will do it again. I just need to pick up some more neat scarves and hats. Any excuse to buy!

It is great to be home. I couldn't wait to see my old dog, Kona. I don't miss waking up for blood pressure checks and x-rays at 4 am either. I spent the day today resting, finding the best places to sit and sleep, taking short walks around the house and going through all the snail mail and e-mail I received after 5 days in the hospital. We have a "boil Water" restriction in place due to a water main break in Franklin so I put off the shower until tomorrow.

Today is my 30th Wedding Anniversary. Nick picked up our dinners from Main Street Trattoria in Metuchen. I didn't eat too much but boy did the food taste delicious. We have had a wonderful 30 years and look forward to many more.

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and kind thoughts.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am Recovering Well from My Surgery

This will be a short note -It is tough typing with an IV needle in my hand.
Surgery went well. They took out all the diseased areas and there was no disease found other than what was on the CT's an PET. I am thrilled that everything came out so well and the disease was in localized spots.
I am am one happy survivor. I will write again tomorrow or when they release me from 6 north at Robert Wood Johnson Univedrfsity Hospital.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Am Ready for Tomorrow

I started the day by taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood and then spent the rest of the time preparing for my surgery tomorrow. I organized things around the house, wrote e-mails , packed my overnight bag , bought some songs on I-Tunes, loaded them on to my I-pod and of course did that wonderful phospho-soda prep. Note: Cranberry-apple juice does not make that phospho-soda taste any better. Having only a liquid diet is not my idea of fun but I must admit the vegetable broth was pretty tasty. I do not recommend this method for loosing weight.

I am ready to do the surgery mentally and physically. I had my support group at CINJ last night. Talking and laughing with the other wonderful women and Julie our social worker really gives me strength. So does all the snail mail cards, e-mail notes and phone calls I received today.
Tomorrow I will be in the very capable hands of Drs Gannon and Rodriguez and God will be by my ( and their) side.

I need to arrive at the hospital by 9:30 am for an 11:30 surgery time. As you can imagine, I will not be posting for the next few days. If a wireless room on 6 north in RWJUH is in my future staying in touch will be a lot easier.

I will LIVESTRONG. Thanks in advance for all your prayers and warm fuzzy thoughts.

Every Day is a Blessing and tomorrow I will be blessed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Fun 30th Anniversary Surprise Party

On the 19th of this month Nick and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary. Yup hard to believe that it has been 30 years since we exchanged vows on a cool Sunday afternoon at a Catholic Church in Elizabeth, NJ.

We have raised two wonderful children. I am proud to say they turned into pretty incredible adults. They are smart, hardworking and compassionate. In May we welcomed a terrific young man into the family when Andy became our son-in-law.

Even though we've lived in NJ the entire time we've been married, we traveled to some interesting places from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii to the beaches of Bermuda, from the cable cars of San Francisco to the Vatican in Rome and the beautiful Alps in Switzerland. And how can I forget all those DisneyWorld trips. Our friends Ron and Elaine introduced us to the Magic Kingdom back in 1987.

To help us celebrate our 30th Anniversary, Ron and Elaine hosted a surprise brunch at their home for us. They invited our Rutgers tailgating friends ( including my niece and her husband) , friends from church, neighbors who became friends and friends of friends who have become our close friends. The food was delicious and the company on a crisp fall day was the best. I am so thankful for all of them . We are truly blessed to have them in our lives.

"Thanks Ron and Elaine" - just doesn't seem strong enough for how much we appreciate all they did to pull this off. Even my hesitation since I didn't know when my surgery would be scheduled ( it is the 13th) didn't stop them from putting together such a fun time.

May we all share many more fun times together.


Every Day is a Blessing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Brooks Brothers, Town and Country Magazine, and The OCRF Holding Fundraiser 11/18

Brooks Brothers is holding a special in-store event to raise funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm

Location: Brooks Brothers Women’s Store
7 East 44 Street
(between Madison and 5th Avenue)
New York, NY

RSVP: 212.830.2982
or email

Every Day is a Blessing

Friday, November 7, 2008

Studies Assessing the Burden on HPV in the US

I received this info from the NJ Office of Cancer Control and the CDC.

"A new series of studies released online today indicates that 25,000 cases of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers occurred in 38 states and the District of Columbia annually during 1998-2003.

Featuring 22 articles that primarily use cancer registry data from the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program from1998-2003, the supplement assesses the epidemiology of cancers that have been shown to be previously associated with HPV: cervical, vulvar, vaginal,penile, anal, and some head and neck cancers."

You can find the studies here.

For more info on HPV- associated cancers check out this CDC site.


Every Day is a Blessing.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ovarian Cancer is On Social Security Compassionate Care List

In the past everyone applying for Social Security Disability Benefits followed the same application process. Recently SS has modified the process for 50 diseases that fall in the Compassionate Allowance Conditions.

The SS website said:
"Compassionate allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate allowances will allow Social Security to quickly target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical information that we can obtain quickly."

You can check to see if your disease is on the list. Ovarian Cancer is one of the diseases!


Stress and Ovarian Cancer - NCI Bulletin

This snippet is from the the November NCI Cancer Bulletin

Researchers have found that patients with ovarian cancer who experienced symptoms of depression and stress had elevated levels of an enzyme associated with the spread of cancer in macrophages, influential cells in the tumor microenvironment. The enzyme, MMP9, is a matrix metalloproteinase, which can induce cancer cells to invade and metastasize. The study included 56 women, and the findings appeared in the November 1 Clinical Cancer Research.

Dr. Susan K. Lutgendorf of the University of Iowa and her colleagues found that depressive symptoms, chronic stress, and low social support were strongly associated with increased levels of MMP9 in tumor-associated macrophages. Conversely, patients who had higher levels of social support had lower levels of MMP9 and VEGF, a growth factor that promotes the development of tumor blood vessels.

To look more closely at the mechanism by which these signals are elevated, the researchers exposed macrophages in vitro to hormones released during depression and stress, norepinephrine and cortisol, at concentrations similar to those found in vivo when a person is under stress. They found that this exposure increased production of MMP9 in the cells.

"These findings provide a new understanding of biobehavioral influences on the tumor microenvironment and may have implications for patient outcome and targeted pharmacologic and/or behavioral interventions for ovarian cancer patients," the researchers wrote.

Additional research on Stress in OC is being done by Dr Snood at MD Andersen.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rachel is "Woman of the Year"

Fellow blogger and cancer survivor Rachel Lozano has won Glamour Magazine's 2008 Woman of the Year contest.

From the Glamour website:

"In 2002 doctors told Lozano that she had a zero percent chance of surviving a recurrence of Askin’s tumor, an extremely rare form of cancer she’d been battling through her teens. But Lozano says what kept her going through surgery and chemo was the idea she’d be able to inspire other kids. She explains: “I realized I would become a brand-new statistic, a symbol of hope for every other person who will ever get cancer.” Now in remission, she’s studying to become an art therapist so she can work with sick children. And she’s become such an eloquent speaker about pediatric cancer that the Lance Armstrong Foundation asked her to meet with members of Congress about it. Says Lozano: “I still have many obstacles ahead of me—including the threat of a relapse. But I’m up for the challenge!” "

I am so happy for Rachel -


Every Day is a Blessing!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"Integrate Cancer into the Tapestry of Who You Are"

That is a quote by Rhonda Johnson, PhD ( Southern Illinois University School of Medicine).

I heard it yesterday at the 2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course sponsored by the Gynecological Cancer Foundation and supported by NYU Cancer Institute and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Dr Carmel Cohen spoke about the progress that has been made in treating Ovarian Cancer since the first surgery on Christmas Day 1809. MS Jane Todd Crawford was one brave,tough woman.

Dr Judith Wolk spoke of the relationship between stress and Ovarian cancer and the study on stress undertaken at M.D. Andersen.

Dr Ron Alvarez discussed novel approaches to treating cancer from new chemos like trabectedin to angiogenisis agents like Avastin to targeted therapies like PARP inhibitors to immunotherapy agents. He also spoke of more individualized treatments based on the cell structure of a women's cancer.

Dr Carol Brown spoke about CA-125 and its use in monitoring response to treatment.

Dr Linda Dyska gave a very informative talk about managing recurrent disease and I found it parallelled what my doctors had told me.

Dr Stephanie Blank gave us pointers about how to talk to our doctors.

I am hoping that GCF will post the slides from each talk on their website so that those who could not attend could still benefit from the information.

Thank you GCF, OCRF and NYU for supporting Ovarian Cancer survivors by having this course.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Friday, October 31, 2008

No Longer Dancing with NED

Well, NED my dance partner for over two and half years has decided to find a new dance partner for a while.
My recent CT scan shows new growth on my liver ( confirmed by the PET) so I will be having that removed sometime in November and will begin chemotherapy again after that. Physically, I feel great and am still trying to walk every day. I know I will need to curtail some advocacy activities over the next few months which has me a bit bummed but I will be back out there with everyone as soon as possible.

I am positive NED will see what he is missing and will be back on my dance card very soon.

Thanks to all my friends in advance for their support and prayers.

I will continue to LIVESTRONG


Every Day is a Blessing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2009 Challenge Dates

Save the Dates for next year's LIVESTRONG Challenges. I am particularly fond of the Philly weekend. See you next year.


Every Day is a Blessing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Delayed Smoking Restrictions in Atlantic City

Last night, I received this information from the ACS NJ advocacy team.

"....despite our best efforts, tonight's vote was 5-4 in favor of delaying the smoking restrictions for a year. The mayor signed the legislation and the suspension will go into effect 20 days from now.

This means that casinos may again be filled with secondhand smoke beginning on November 16.

Atlantic City leaders need to know they did the wrong thing. And we need your help once again.

Please help us send a strong message to Mayor Scott Evans that he made the wrong decision for the health of Atlantic City casino workers and patrons. "

The council cited that a ban on smoking would hurt the casinos economically in an already tough time.

I have spent every President's weekend for the past 20 years at a resort in the Poconos called Woodloch Pines. A few years ago they banned smoking in their night club because of the concerns of their employees and guests. I can't tell you how happy we all were to be in a smoke-free resort. Now if only the casinos in AC would show the same concern!

Every Day is a Blessing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Only One Spot

I saw my doctor today to discuss my PET scan. It turns out that there is only one spot that shows unusual activity on my scan. ( One spot is pretty good news. Multiple spots would have been bad news.) This spot matches what was seen on my CT scan and is small (less then 1 cm) in size.

The plan is for me to see a surgeon who specializes in liver surgery, remove the lesion and then move forward based on the pathology of the spot.

I like having a plan to investigate what is happening and am relieved that I didn't "glow" in more places. I am ready to LIVESTRONG through whatever tests or chemo that lies ahead because I have way too much living to do.

I am looking forward to Beckie and Morgan's wedding. And have been having a blast with Theresa and my grandpuppy Silvio and am looking forward to Andy's arrival.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Half-life of F-18 FDG is 110 Minutes

Just figured I would throw out that random piece of information from my PET scan experience today.

I had the second PET/CT of my life today at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. I arrived to admitting around 8:30 am , at 9 am Margaret started an IV , then Samir administered the radioactive isotope and I laid there listening to my i-pod for an hour. Then it took about 35 minutes to complete the actual PET of my chest,abdomen and pelvis. They sent me to eat and drink and I returned in an hour to have the last scan which took about 10 minutes.

The hardest part of this scan is having to be still with your arms over your head for 35 minutes. I had a hard time bringing my arms back down. Ok it really wasn't that bad since I admit that I actually fell asleep and Samir had to wake me to move my head back in position.

Now I have to patiently wait until Friday for my next appointment and the results.

Terry and Silvio and Andy are coming to visit so I will be busy.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A New Book- What Helped Get Me Through

Dr. Julie Silver,a breast cancer survivor and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School wanted to write a book to "provide hope and reassurance for those who are struggling with the cancer experience". She approached the American Cancer Society,set up an online survey and contacted cancer organizations and their members to share how they got through their cancer diagnosis and treatment. She enlisted quotes from leaders in the oncology field and well-known cancer advocates like Lance Armstrong and Carly Simon. Hundreds of survivors filled out the survey which lead to the newly released book
What Helped Get Me Through- Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope

Since I filled out the survey my copy of the book came in the mail the other day with a nice thank you from Dr. Silver. She chose five of my quotes to include in the book.

I've just started reading the book and appreciate reading all the survivors quotes.

Thanks Dr Silver and ACS for publishing this book.


Every Day is A Blessing!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

OCNA Video on my blog

Just wanted to let you know that on the left hand side of my blog you can watch video from OCNA.
Check out the video of Kathy Bates discussing her OC diagnosis.
Thank you Kathy for helping make women aware of this not so silent disease!

Plan to post a few more interesting items tomorrow.


Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanks Panera Bread for Supporting CINJ

For Breast Cancer awareness month, Panera Bread is featuring the Pink Ribbon Bagel. This bagel is baked with cherry chips,dried cherries and cranberries, vanila ,honey and brown sugar and is shaped like an awareness ribbon.

A portion of the sales of Pink Ribbon bagels sold at 36 Panera Bread shops in northern NJ will be donated to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. I just visited the Panera Bread on Route 1 south in North Brunswick and the pink aprons being worn had "pink ribbon bagel" and "CINJ" embroidered on them. Over $5,000 was raised for CINJ last year.

Thanks Panera Bread!

Every Day is a Blessing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course NYC 11/1/08

Last year, Nick and I attended this course and found it very informative.( From NJ it is a train ride and relatively easy walk cross town.) I've already registered for this year's course. Dr. Carol Brown, Memorial Sloan Kettering, who I met at the Good Day Street Talk shoot is participating.
Here is the info from the GCF:

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation is proud to present the
2008 Ovarian Cancer Survivors Course
Saturday, November 1
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
NYU Langone Medical Center
Farkas Auditorium
550 First Avenue at 31st Street
New York, New York

We are pleased to offer this FREE, full-day course for cancer survivors, friends, family members, and others. Leading experts in ovarian cancer will discuss the latest information about ovarian cancer research, treatment, and management. The course will also include panel discussions, questions and answer sessions, and the opportunity to meet, greet, and network with other survivors.
Register online today! Visit


Every Day is a Blessing.

More about Ovasure

From Thursday's ( 10/9/08) Wall Street Journal article by Melinda Beck

The Food and Drug Administration warned clinical test giant Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings that it was marketing an ovarian cancer test in violation of the law, vindicating skeptics of the assay who worried it wasn't ready for prime time.
OvaSure, developed by researchers at Yale School of Medicine, measures six proteins in blood samples and calculates the chances that the woman has ovarian cancer.
LabCorp, as the Burlington N.C., company is known, made the $220 test available in June,
under a provision that exempts tests developed and offered by a single lab from the usual
FDA review. But in a letter dated Sept. 29 and released Tuesday, the FDA determined that because the test was developed at Yale and that parts of it were manufactured elsewhere,
it must meet the agency's usual premarketing approval requirements, which could take
up to a year.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Asheville Trip

I just returned from a fun trip to Asheville, NC.
We arrived at the Grove Park Inn on Sunday in the dark so we did not see the mountain view until the next morning. The location of our room overlooked the golf course and mountains.

We spent one day at the Biltmore Estate. This is the largest home in the US with 230 rooms. Built in 1895 it had electric lights , elevators and a 9 ft deep pool in the basement. After doing the audio tour of the home we walked around the gardens and then drove over to the winery for a tasting.

The next day we went downtown and walked through many craft shops and galleries. We visited the lovely Asheville Art Museum and had fun at the "Good Eating" exhibit since we saw paintings of 2 NJ diners.

That night we had dinner with friends who moved to Asheville almost 5 years ago.It was great to catch up with them.

On the way home, we stopped in Blacksburg to see Matt. After dinner we met up with his friends Dan, Amy, and Tom at Bourdeux's. What a fun time we had catching up with him and his friends.


Every Day is a Blessing

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bloomingdale's & Estee Lauder Event to Benefit KOH

Get beautiful and help raise money for Ovarian Cancer research!

Bloomingdale's and Estee Lauder invite you to a special Breakfast and a Master Class to benefit
Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation
( The mission of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation is to raise funds for ovarian cancer research and to raise awareness of the disease.)

Saturday October 11,2008

9 am - 11am

La Provence Restaurant

Bloomingdale's , The Mall at Short Hills

Tickets are $50 and are redeemable for product purchase on the day of the event with $5 donated directly to KOH. In addition ,10% of all purchases made during the event will benefit KOH.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Carry on ... Breathing" ( With a British Accent)

That is is the recording that I hear when the CT machine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital(RWJUH) is finished. Today I went for a CT scan ( chest, abdomen, pelvic) . I go every 6 months. I once again had my port accessed at CINJ, my CT scan and then my port flushed at RWJUH in record time . Thanks to Fanina, Victoria and Dennis.

Now comes the tough part waiting to hear the results.

Also over the past few days we have taken down all the Teal Ribbons that we put up in the beginning of September. It was a bit sad seeing them go down but I know we will see even more of them next September.

Every Day is a Blessing.

DoD Appropriations Bill signed by President Bush

On September 30,2008, President Bush signed the DOD Appropriations Bill that includes $20 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program.
Thank you Congress and President Bush.


Monday, September 29, 2008

DoD Appropriations Bill passed by House and Senate

The DOD Appropriation Bill is awaiting President Bush's signature. The Senate passed the bill on Saturday. The House last Wednesday.

Included in the bill is $20 million in funding of the Peer-Reviewed Ovarian Cancer Research Program and $6 million in funding for Gynecologic Cancer Research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center .

Every Day is a Blessing

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family In the News

Both my son and my sister were in the news this week. Check out their stories.

Matt's article is entitled"Women's Club Crew becoming a Team Effort at Tech" and is found in the Collegiate Times. I especially like the photo gallery connected to the online article. I've loved crew since my days on the banks of the Raritan as a coxswain for the Rutgers men's lightweight crew team. I am so proud of Matt, a grad student and head crew coach at VT.

Melabee's article " Trick Photography" is found in the Star Ledger. Mel is an awesome photographer. She is collaborating with an interior designer on "Can't Fail Window Treatments," a DIY book to be published by Creative Homeowner next spring.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Michelle's Law (S. 400) Passes the Senate !

Just wanted to share this info from the ACS about Michelle's Law:
We would like to share with you the exciting news that
Michelle’s Law (S. 400)unanimously passed the US Senate
yesterday! This bill is now moving on to the President’s
desk to finally be signed into law.
Thank you to all who took action and emailed your Senators
about this very important bill for college students. We have
heard from a number of Senators’ offices of how impressed
they were with your commitment to see this bill become
law. This week’s victory further proves the power of your
voice to fight cancer.
Because of you, thousands of college students will be able to
remain on their parents’ health care plan should they be
forced to take time off from school due to a serious
injury or illness such as cancer.

Thanks to all my friends who wrote their
We have made Cancer a National Priority!


Last KOH Walk

Tomorrow, Saturday Sept 27th is the last KOH walk. It takes place in Avon -By-The-Sea a beautiful shore town in Monmouth county NJ. The location of the walk on the beach is wonderful. I am hoping the rain moves out before registration begins at 8am tomorrow.
Please join us to raise funds for ovarian cancer research.

Annual Avon/Monmouth County Walkathon
Time: Registration and warm-up, 8:15 - 9:00 AM
Announcements, Speakers: 9:00 AM
Walkathon Begins: 9:15 AM
Celebration: 10:30-11:30 AM
Place: 600 Ocean Avenue, Avon-by-the-Sea Boardwalk, Avon
Distance: One, 3 and 5-mile routes
Sorry, no dogs are allowed on the boardwalk
Directions: From the Garden State Parkway: Take Exit 100-B (Rte. 33 East). Take Rte. 33 East all the way to the end, which is the traffic light at Main Street in Bradley Beach. Take a right and follow Main St. for about 1.5 miles into Avon. Take a left onto Woodland Avenue and stay on it to Ocean Avenue.

You can register online at

or the day of.

I will be working registration so be sure to stop by and say "Hello".



Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

OC Lecture at Sloan Kettering - Monday Sept 29,2008

Memorial Sloan Kettering will be presenting a free lecture regarding the latest research and treatment news on ovarian cancer on Monday September 29,2008 from 1:30 - 4:00 pm. Some of MSK's leading physicians will be speaking including Dr. Barakat, Dr. Sabbatini, and Dr. Spriggs.

Reservations are required call today- 877-253-6062.
Arlene and Arnold Goldstein Auditorium
430 East 67th St ( between York and First Avenues)
Date and time:
Sept 29,2008 1:30- 4:00 pm
Coffee at 1pm


Every Day is a Blessing

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Fun Trip to Oklahoma

I recently returned from a fun trip to Oklahoma to visit my daughter and her husband.

The flight from Dallas to Lawton was interesting since it is the first time I have ever flown on a American Eagle ( Audi made) propeller plane. It was not as rough as I thought it would be. And I did not feel as claustrophobic as I imagined I would feel when I read that there were only 12 rows on the plane. But we landed safely at the Lawton / Fort Sill Airport, a very small - 1 gate - walk down the steps off the plane type of airport.

While in OK we got a chance to visit the Wichita Mountains, the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, Old Fort Sill and the Apache cemetery which is where Geronimo as well as some of his wives and children are buried. There was beautiful countryside outside of Lawton . There were buffalo ( the black dot on the left photo) and pretty lakes and wildflowers. I kept imagining that the Lone Ranger would come riding over the hill. Good thing we didn't see any rattlesnakes.

By visiting Oklahoma, I was able to get closer to my goal of visiting all 50 states. I am more than half way there- only 19 more to go.

Of course the best part of the trip was spending time with Terry, Andy and their new puppy, Silvio. What a blast we had. I was a bit sad when Terry dropped us off at the airport. I really did try not to cry. Good thing they will be back east in October.


Every Day is A Blessing!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Loehmanns Shopping Day for OCRF

I received this in an e-mail from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

"On Thursday, September 25, Loehmann's will host a nationwide Shop & Share day to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. The event will take place in all 65 Loehmann's stores during regular store hours.

Shoppers can donate $5 to OCRF at the register and instantly receive 15% off their entire purchase that day. Loehmann's also will donate 5% of all Shop & Share purchases to OCRF.

Loehmann's offers a collection of current, in season designer sportswear, shoes, accessories and more at 30% to 65% less than department stores. Find a store near you at and be sure to shop there on September 25.

We'll see you at Loehmann's!

The OCRF Team "

There is a store in East Brunswick I plan to visit.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Seton Hall University Student Nurses Association Raises Awareness

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the campus of Seton Hall University. I had been invited by the Student Nurses Association and my cousin who is an Assistant Dean of the Nursing School to tell my story and raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer. The students had participated in the Turn the Town Teal campaign this year as you can see by the wonderful bulletin board at the entrance to the school.

I put together a PowerPoint presentation of my story and ovarian cancer facts/ statistics that I called "Adding Teal to my Wardrobe". Fifty student nurses ( both male and female) and faculty attended the talk. I spoke for about 40 minutes and I was touched to look out at the audience and see a handful of young ladies who wore teal to classes that day. At the end of my talk Jacqueline, the president of the association presented me with a framed certificate thanking me for raising awareness on the Seton Hall Campus. That certificate means so much to me.

They served some soda and cookies in the lounge. A number of the students stopped by to chat a bit more and ask questions about my port, genetics and risk factors. I must say that interacting with the students was wonderful. I'm thinking I might take my show on the road to some of the other nursing schools in the state.

Thanks Marion and all the nursing students at SHU for raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer.

To the student nurses I met yesterday: I am sure that you will all make a difference in the lives of your patients!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Morris KOH Walk a Success!

Yesterday morning I drove up to Morristown to participate in the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation's 9th Annual Walkathon in honor of Gail MacNeil, one of our founders who lost her 10 year battle with the disease.

It was foggy and overcast when I got there but by the time the walk started I needed my KOH cap because the sun was shining and the temperatures were rising.

I walked the three mile course with a fellow board member Maureen in 1 hour and 2 minutes. The most amazing part was seeing all the yellow shirts that read "Gail's Team". Gail was certainly smiling down at us yesterday. I was also impressed with the over 40 members of the Randoph girls soccer team that walked the course and all the teams and indivuals walking in memory of or support of their wife, mother, sister, friend.

We raised an awesome $70,000.

Thanks to Gerri, Karen and Janet for a wonderful event!

There are two more walks - Lyndhurst Sept 21st and Avon Sept 27th. You can register online now for both these walks. I am working registration at the Avon walk so if you are there stop by and say hi!


Every Day is a Blessing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NJ Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan

The NJ Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan ( 2008-2012) is now available online. I have place a permanent link on the left side of this page.

A happy CCCP workgroup member

Friday, September 12, 2008


Michele Fischer , CINJ media relations specialist called me Tuesday morning and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed on Good Day Street Talk a Fox 5 public affairs show. They wanted a survivor and gyn-onc from CINJ. All the doctors were in surgery that day but they still needed a survivor. I was a little nervous about going it alone but agreed that it would be a great way to raise awareness.

Yesterday, I boarded the train into NYC to film the segment for the show. On arriving at the studios on 67th street Isaura, the show's assistant, took me to the green room where all guests were assembled. There were representatives from Prevention magazine and a kidney donor organization. I was told to arrive camera ready but I guess that one and a half hour train and taxi trip necessitated a makeup touched-up by a very friendly Ellen. I said hello to Ronica Harris the show's producer who I had spoken to on the phone. I also meet Dr Carol Brown , gynecological oncologist fromMemorial Sloan Kettering who would be presenting the medical information on the show with me. I had actually met Dr. Brown last year at an Ovarian Cancer survivor's day at NYU. She knows Dr Gibbon and Rodriguez and the research they do at CINJ.

The studio was an interesting place. Only one camera had a camera man. All the rest were run robotically. I was mic'ed up by Mike ( no pun intended) and spoke for a minute to Dr. Sapna Parikh, the shows host, and handed her a KOH teal awareness pin which she wore on my segment of the show! Dr Parikh introduced the show on camera and then I waited quietly while she interviewed Dr Brown about the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Then it was my turn. A chair was placed on stage between the two doctors, they sound checked my mic and filming began. I didn't know which camera of the 6 were filming me because I faced and spoke to Dr. Parikh. I was a bit nervous since this show films as if it were a live show with no chance for retakes. I think I answered the questions about my symptoms and journey to surgery pretty well. I even had a chance to mention Turn the Towns Teal and show the ribbon we used. Once our segment was done we handed in our mics and were able to leave. I walked to the corner of 67th and 3rd with Dr Brown and we agreed to catch up at this year's survivor course in November.

The show will air on Fox 5 on Saturday September 13 at 6 am ( yes- you might want to TiVo or tape it!)

I can't thank Ronica Harris and Dr Parikh enough for taking the initiative to add Ovarian Cancer to the GOOD DAY STREET TALK schedule and for raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer in the tri-state area. Thanks too to Dr Brown for her work with ovarian cancer patients and for calming my nerves right before taping.

Yesterday was in fact a GOOD DAY!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Star Ledger Article

I was interviewed by Susan Epstein for this Star Ledger article.

Survivor Joins Fight For Ovarian Cancer

It appeared in yesterday's Sunday edition of the paper and was put online today.



Where do Obama and McCain Stand on Cancer

Thanks to the LAF Blog and a note by Brian D. I can share the links to statements regarding each candidates stand on fighting cancer.

You can find OBAMA's here.

You can find MCCAIN'S here.


Stand Up to Cancer Show

CORRECTION -Fran Drescher did talk about gynecological cancer early in the show. 9/10/08

Overall , I enjoyed the Stand Up to Cancer Show. The stories told were poignant .

I was a bit disappointed that Ovarian Cancer a mention other than across the bottom of the screen. Considering it is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month I would have thought that there would have been a few minutes devoted to a cancer that kills 15,000 women a year. Why wasn't the genetic connection between breast and ovarian Cancer mentioned?

Just means our work is cut out for us in making more of the country aware of this disease.


Ovarian Cancer - Any Woman,Any Age...Listen to Your Heart / Sept 4

On Thursday I attended an interesting program on Ovarian Cancer that was part of the Healthy Programming at Hackensack University Medical Center ( HUMC) and was sponsored by the Maureen Fund.
The program began with Dr Smith, gynecological oncologist and vice-chair of the Theurer Cancer center at HUMC talking about the Ovarian Cancer and the work they do at HUMC.

Dr McNamara spoke about "Novel Chemotherapy Treatments". She spoke of Avastin trials and dose dense trials. She also spoke of two vaccine( abagovomab) trials - MIMOSA , CALYPSO and GOG 213 which uses farletuzumab. It will be interesting to see the results of these trials.

Dr Goy talked about how gene mutations cause cancer and then the importance of tumor banks and molecular profiles.

Lastly DrLitkouhi spoke of robotic surgery and his experience with the Da Vinci robot. He even showed us part of the surgery.Many people in the audience couldn't watch but it was facinating. I felt like I was watching the old movie Fantastic Voyage.

Thanks to everyone at the Maureen Fund and HUMC for this informative evening.

Every Day is a Blessing.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stand Up to Cancer Show and Launch a Star

Just wanted to remind everyone to tune in to a show I mentioned first in June. Stand Up To Cancer- is a live one-hour show that will be simulcast on abc, cbs and nbc tomorrow at 8pm to raise funds for cancer research.

I noticed on their website a link called Launch a Star. For $1 you can name a star after someone diagnosed with cancer and it will be added to the Constellation.

All funds raised by Stand Up to Cancer will be administered by the American Association for Cancer Research and will by awarded by a Panel of scientists and patient advocates.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

OC Awareness in the local news

The Home News and Tribune published an article today about the Turn the Town Teal campaign in Edison and my roll as a an OC advocate.
Edison Turns Town Teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness is also found online on the website.

I also spoke to reporters from the Star Ledger and Sentinel newspapers today and had photos taken with my gynecological oncologist, Dr. Lorna Rodriguez and KOH founder Lois Myers at the Cancer Institute of NJ. I'll post links when and if the stories/ photos are published.

A special thanks to everyone who is supporting Ovarian Cancer Awareness throughout NJ and the country.

LIVESTRONG - and wear teal

Every day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Edison and Woodbridge Turn the Towns Teal and Local TV

At 1 pm today, Edison's Mayor Jun Choi proclaimed September Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The event was filmed by Edison TV outside the Municipal Building. I had a chance to speak for a short time about my ovarian cancer experience and advocacy work( LAF, KOH, NOCC) . A special thanks to the Mayor and his staff for making this happen for the second year in a row and to the Lopez family for all their help hanging ribbons and raising awareness.

After that event, I was interviewed by Edison TV for a segment called Edison Make a Difference and Volunteer Program. I spoke about the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation and the northern NJ NOCC and why I volunteer. Both segments filmed today will be presented on Channel 15 on Cablevision in Edison during the month of September. I was caught a little off guard with the second interview but Mike the the camera man said it went well considering I did not know the questions that were going to be asked.

At 6:30 pm, I was with the Lopez Family once again this time in Woodbridge Township for their Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Proclamation. Mayor Mc Cormac read the proclamation and then asked Phyllis, a Woodbridge resident whose sister passed away from Ovarian cancer 15 years ago, and Chuck also a Woodbridge resident to speak. Chuck gave a moving speech about his involvement raising awareness of ovarian cancer because of his mom's experience as a 3 year survivor. Thank you Mayor McCormac, the entire Woodbridge Town Council and Woodbridge Township TV ( 35) for their support of Ovarian Cancer Awareness.

Today was a real blessing - beautiful weather and an chance to raise awareness - perfect together.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Turn the Town Teal - Edison, NJ

Today was a beautiful day in Edison, NJ. This afternoon I helped to turn Edison teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. We received approval to hang the ribbons a day early so that some of us could attend the Rutgers -Fresno St football game on Labor Day. The Turn the Town Teal Campaign was spearheaded by Gail MacNeil , co-founder of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation.(KOH) who passed away in June of this year . KOH, collaborated with the northern NJ NOCC and Atlantic Health to turn over 120 towns in NJ teal. That is three times the number of towns as we had last year.

Nick and I, together with Janice another Ovarian Cancer survivor from Edison and her family, put ribbons on over 30 trees leading up to and around the Edison municipal building and parking lot. Once we were done there we drove over to Amboy Avenue in the Clara Barton section of Edison and put up a few more ribbons. We will finish hanging ribbons there after the Fall Festival ( Sept 13,14).

On Tuesday Mayor Choi will present us with the town's Proclamation of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Special thanks to the Mayor's staff, Jerry, Lori and Jennifer for making all this happen.

Continuing to LIVESTRONG,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Walkathons to Raise Awareness of Ovarian Cancer

There will be a number of walkathons in central and northern NJ to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and funds for research.

Sunday Sept 14th:
Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation Walkathon ( Online registration will be available shortly.)
In Memory of Gail MacNeil
Loantaka Brook Reservation
Morristown NJ

Sunday Sept 21st:
Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation Walkathon ( Online registration will be available shortly.)
Richard DeKorte Park
Lyndhurst ,NJ

18th Annual West Orange Downtown Classic
(Registration online)
"Mayor's 5K Run/Walk to Break the Silence"
Benefits the Northern NJ NOCC

Saturday Sept 27th
Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation ( Online registration will be available shortly.)
600 Ocean Avenue( On the Boardwalk)
Avon , NJ

So bring your walking shoes and walk for a good cause!



Ovarian Cancer in the News

The September issue of the Ladies Home Journal has an article WOMEN'S "SILENT" CANCERS. There does not seem to be a link to the article online.

This past Sunday in the Courier News was the article Two Central Jersey woman spread the word about ovarian cancer awareness . It features two women from my Northern NJ NOCC group. You can find the very informative, complete article here. Good Job- Ellen and Lynn!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

President Proclaims National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, 2008
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we remember those whose lives have been affected by this deadly disease, and we underscore our commitment to battling ovarian cancer for the sake of women around the world.

Each year, thousands of American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Many will lose their lives to this disease. Because ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, it is vital for women to make regular visits to their doctors for screenings and to discuss risk factors and warning signs. Early detection is the best way to help doctors diagnose cancer before it has a chance to spread. It also makes treatment more effective and increases the chances for survival. I encourage all women to learn more about preventive measures and screening options that may help to save their lives.

America leads the world in medical research, and my Administration remains dedicated to the fight against ovarian cancer. I signed the "Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act of 2005," or "Johanna's Law," that helps to raise awareness among women and health care providers about female reproductive cancers. Additionally, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are conducting important research to help make the innovative advances we need in order to eradicate this disease. NIH's Cancer Genome Atlas is also helping researchers gain a greater understanding of the genetic sources of cancer. Together, we will continue building on our progress until there is a cure for cancer.

As we observe National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we honor those who have fought this disease. We also recognize the compassionate caregivers, doctors, and researchers who are dedicated to preventing, detecting, and treating ovarian cancer.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2008 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I call upon government officials, businesses, communities, health care professionals, educators, volunteers, and the people of the United States to continue our Nation's strong commitment to preventing and treating ovarian cancer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


I look forward to all the activities coming up in September in honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month from hanging ribbons to walkathons to conferences.

Friday Sept 5th is Teal Day so please wear teal and check out the early morning talk shows for lots of women in teal.




Monday, August 25, 2008

A Fabulous Philly Challenge

What a weekend! The weather was good and the fund-raising even better. Almost $3 million was raised for the LAF's fight against cancer.

I had the unique opportunity to attend the Fundraising Appreciation Dinner on Saturday night. It was held in Constitution Hall in downtown Philadelphia. What a nice venue for the event to honor those who worked so hard to support the LAF and to make cancer a national priority. We heard Dr Harold Freeman speak as well as Lance and Doug. There was an award given to a woman( I don't recall her name.) from team LoveStrong who had over 600 separate donors and an award to the team from Calgary Canada who had 30 members spend the last two weeks cycling to Philadelphia to ride in the Challenge. The winning fundraiser was David Wilson ( $54,000+) and his team MBA ( over $65,000). I got a chance to see Brian and his wife, Rob and his mother , David and his wife and Alexis. (Thank you Eric R. and Brian for giving me the opportunity to be part of this wonderful event.)

I walked this Challenge in my Nike LIVESTRONG sneakers. All those mornings spent in Donaldson park and the long walk home from New Brunswick last week paid off. I walked the 5K ( 3.1 miles) in 45 minutes and 6 seconds. I know the Challenge is not a race but I wanted to walk faster than last year and I did and that made me very happy. Walking faster and getting handed that yellow rose as I walked through the survivor's chute brought tears to my eyes. I got teary eyed again as Kevin rode through after his 10 mile bike ride. 2 Survivors- 2 Challenges priceless.

Team 1 REASON raised $5800. It included 3 bikers( Kevin- 10 miles, Dennis- 40 miles and Chuck- 100 miles) , 1 runner ( Rob) and 7 walkers ( Alycia, Linda,Mike, Jeremy, Kelly, Caitlin and myself). Kevin has special shirts printed up for our team. They said "Team 1 Reason" on the front and "Supporting the Lance Armstrong Foundation " and "In memory of Erin Gorman" on the back. We thought of Erin as we started off our walk and the announcer said, " There goes team 1 Reason. Walking in memory of Erin". Actually as I picked up the pace I knew I was walking with Erin by my side.

I had the opportunity to see two of my former students on Sunday. Tim G. celebrating his 5th year as a leukemia survivor and his dad walked the 5K. Paul L. rode 70 miles in honor of family members and friends. I was happy to be able to cheer Paul on as he approached the finish line. I am so proud of Tim and Paul.

Thanks to everyone who supported me, Team 1 REASON and the LAF. Unity is strength and together we can make cancer a national priority.

Remembering that every day is a blessing!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

LiveStrong Challenge Weekend

I am getting ready to leave for the LiveStrong Challenge in Philly. I am proud to say that so far I raised over $800 for the LAF. Our team - 1 Reason - has raised over $5000.

Thanks so much to everyone who donated to the LAF. Together we can make a difference. The country will look at what we will do in Philly and all the other Challenge locations and we will make cancer a national priority!

I will LiveStrong....


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Some Good Things and New Information

I'll begin with a new piece of information and then get in to the good things that are happening.

New Ovasure Information:
It has come to my attention through a posting on the Ovarian Cancer Alliance Support Community that the new OVASURE ( Yale blood test ) being used by LabCorp is not meant to be used by women without ovaries. This test looks at the levels of 6 markers, in addition to CA-125, found in the blood. ( I wrote about this in June and July . ) It was previously recommended for women at high risk and those at risk for a recurrence.

So I checked Labcorp's online information and it has now changed to include this line
"OvaSure™ is not indicated for a patient who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, who has had both ovaries removed, who is pregnant, or who is lactating. "

Since many women with ovarian cancer have their ovaries removed they can not use this test to indicate a recurrence. Guess we are still stuck with the CA-125 test for those of us without ovaries. Glad I didn't spend the $200 to have the test done. It might have just confused my follow-up care. More research is needed!

Edison Will Turn Teal!

Along with Chuck Lopez, I will be hanging teal ribbons again this year in my town Edison, NJ. Mayor Choi is hoping to have a press conference during the first week in September in which he will read the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Proclamation. Thanks to Jerry Barca, the Edison Communication Director and the Mayor's Assistant , Lori Williams for all their help with this. The Turn the Town Teal Campaign is sponsored by the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, the northern NJ National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and Atlantic Health.

Woodbridge will be Teal too!
As a Board member of Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, I was asked to speak at the Woodbridge town meeting on September 2nd about Turn the Town Teal and Ovarian Cancer. Chuck Lopez and a number of volunteers will hang the ribbons on Main Street in Woodbridge, NJ.

Wachovia Highland Park Branch to display Ovarian Cancer Awareness Information!

In September my local branch of Wachovia will provide space for me to display information about ovarian cancer and symptom cards in the lobby. A huge thanks to branch manager Valerie for providing me this opportunity.

St Paul's Bulletin with Ovarian Cancer Information

The Sept 7th weekly bulletin for St Paul the Apostle Church in Highland Park will contain information about Ovarian Cancer. Thanks Dee C for finding space for this important information.

I've raised $760 for the LAF!

Only $240 to go to reach my goal of raising $1000 for the LAF. The team 1 Reason lead by captain Kevin Walty has raised over $3000 so far. With a few days yet to go I am positive we will raise even more. To donate please visit-
I can't wait until Sunday to walk with my LAF friends.

So although I have not posted recently I have been a busy person.

LiveStrong and remember that Every Day is a Blessing.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Last Year's Challenge - This Year's Challenge

I am sitting here by my computer not sure what to write. I pick up the framed photo that has sat next to my computer for the past few months. It is a photo of our team from last year's Philly Challenge. We were team 3 Beat Ca to celebrate the three of us who had survived cancer. The team included Kevin a testicular cancer survivor and his wife, my niece, Alycia, and Kevin's friend Rob; Erin , Alycia's long-time friend and bile duct cancer survivor and her parents, aunts and another one of Erin's friends and myself an ovarian cancer survivor. What a fun group, we laughed as we walked drank water and ate pretzels. Erin and I had a special bond being diagnosed only months apart in 2005. We spent time talking about her future liver transplant and chemo brain . We talked about Alycia's wedding in 2006. Both of us had finished chemo just a few months before. We finished the walk getting our yellow survivor roses at the same time. We hugged and as Kevin came through the chute to get his yellow rose the three of us embraced. This year will not be the same.

Erin passed away yesterday, August 14th.

This year our Philly team is named 1 Reason- to fight cancer. Erin was a fighter. We will continue the fight for Erin. We will remember Erin and Cousin Charlie, my sister Roberta, my Mom Helen, my Dad Robert, my Aunt Lillian,my Aunt Lee, my Uncle Tommy, my cousin Tony ,my Cousin Carol , my friend Marie and countless others.

We will make this disease a national priority.We will not forget why we walk. We walk for Erin.