Thursday, October 29, 2009

Travelin' Mom

Last Thursday, I got on a plane at Newark airport for Manhattan. No not the Manhattan across the Hudson from NJ but Manhattan, Kansas- home of the Kansas State Wildcats and my daughter and her husband. We flew first to Dallas and then on a small American Eagle flight to Manhattan.

Walking down the ramp to the runway- it is a very small airport- I left my cares behind.

I even surprised myself. Outside of posting some info about the slashing of DOD funding for Ovarian cancer research I did not think of having cancer or what it is like to be a survivor or when my next appointment would be.

I enjoyed each regular old day. I walked Silvio their cute pug around the neighborhood. When Silvio found a snake skin on the road, I wondered what type of snakes they have in Kansas. I am pretty sure some are poisonous . We checked out the wildflowers, sunflowers, that grow on the edge of Theresa's property . I used the Kansas Birds book to identify a red hawk that was flying overhead. I haven't used one of those field guides since teaching at St Francis.We picked and carved pumpkins. Terry showed me how she roasts pumpkins seeds. MMMM good. I even tasted a local Manhattan beer- a pretty good stout with a name like Buffalo Sweat. I loved the sunset you can see from her large dining room window. But I did have to come back to NJ.

So, yesterday morning on our return flight from Manhattan ,the captain announced" We are first in line for take-off" . I chuckled. We were the only flight in line for take-off... actually we were the only commercial airplane at the airport. Did I say the MHK was a very small airport?It is nice to be in a place where you are the only flight in line or the only game in town.( When we flew out of Newark we were 18th in line. )

It is difficult at times having children who live so far away. (Thank goodness for cell phones. ) But distance also gives me a chance or an excuse to visit any time they like . Well, maybe that really is, any time I like.

Those trips give me a new "normal" and a break from being a person who had cancer. I am just a travelin' Mom.


Every Day is a Blessing! I am blessed with the opportunity to travel to see my children.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I Chose a Clinical Trial

A few months ago I was asked if I wanted to talk to a reporter about why I chose to be part of a clinical trial. I agreed to be interviewed because I strongly believe that cancer patients as well as people with other chronic diseases should consider clinical trials at all stages of their treatment.This is how progress is made. Many people think that a clinical trial means being a guinea pig. Well I did have more blood tests than a person on standard chemotherapy. But the care I received and the feeling that I could be a part of something that could change the lives of other cancer patients made all those extra needle sticks ok.

My story became part of the Top Doc issue of NJ Monthly magazine . The article is called On the Cutting Edge- Patients in Clinical Trials of new drugs must weight risk vs reward.
Thank you Ken Terry for such a well researched and well written article.

Every Day is a Blessing!I am blessed to be a patient of Dr Rodgriguez and Dr Gibbon at the Cancer Institute of NJ.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Kaleidoscope

Here is some info from OCNA about a great TV show to raise awareness about women's cancers. IF you are in the DC area and are an Ovarian Cancer survivor you can order discounted tickets through OCNA.

Kaleidoscope is a holiday entertainment variety special featuring Olympic skating champions and GRAMMY Award-winning music artists. Viewers will be thrilled with the historic return of the legendary Scott Hamilton and Dorothy Hamill matched with fellow cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John.
Kaleidoscope addresses issues surrounding women and cancer through an extraordinary collaboration with 10 advocacy partners.
The LIVE event will be held Monday, November 16, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.
There is no charge for the tickets, but a $2 Ticketmaster convenience fee is required for each ticket ordered on line. To order your tickets for the live performance at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, click here and insert the passcode OCNA into the Promotions and Special Offers Box.
In an effort to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, if you and/or your family and friends are attending the LIVE event, we ask that you please wear TEAL. Hope to see you there!

The other causes supported by the show include- ASCO, NCCS,ONS, C3, GCF, OCNA , the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.


Every Day is a Blessing!

OCNA introduces Symptom Diary

Here is information that I received in an e-mail from the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

"In a bold effort to provide women and their doctors with better information about how and when to take the necessary steps to obtain an early diagnosis for ovarian cancer, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has taken the lead in posting guidance for diagnoses on its web site. The Interim Practice Guidance, endorsed by prominent specialists in the field of gynecologic cancer, marks the first time ovarian cancer diagnostic protocols have been made available to the public. In addition to the guidance, a Symptom Diary that helps women measure the persistency and severity of their symptoms (initially developed in the United Kingdom by Ovarian Cancer Action), has been reproduced in conjunction with the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, with permission for use in the United States.
For the full article and a downloable Tool Kit, visit"

This is a excellent way for women to record their symptoms and have those important conversations with their doctors,


Gynecological Cancer Awareness Weekend in DC

The weekend of November 6-8, 2009 is the first Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Movement Weekend and GCF’s half marathon/5K/1 mile walk.

Gynecologic cancer doctors will be able to attend a CME .
On Saturday November 7, 2009 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancer survivors and their families , advocates and friends will be able to attend concurrent survivors courses. (I have attended a Survivor Course in NYC and it was very informative. For survivor course info click here.

Then on Sunday November 8,2009 at 7am over 3,000 runners and walkers in Washington, DC will race for awareness of gynecological cancers. For race info click here.

I will be attending my son-in-law's sister's wedding so I will be unable to attend. It should be a wonderful weekend.


Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Cousin is Running for Town Council

My cousin Ronald Knecht is running for the Town Council in Kenilworth ,NJ. I am very excited for him and hope on election day that he is voted into office. He grew up in Kenilworth , lived for a time in Edison and moved back to Kenilworth. I think the small town feel is what drew him home again.
Here is an article about his campaign and the photo above is a flyer about the two Democratic candidates for Kenilworth.

Good Luck Ron!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dancing for a Cure

Want to learn to dance or just like to dance ? Check out this fun event and raise funds for the Teal Tea Foundation. The mission of the Teal Tea Foundation is to help raise ovarian cancer awareness and to support research efforts focused on early detection,treatments and a cure for ovarian cancer.

Dancing for a Cure
Latin and Ballroom Dance Exhibition and Lessons
Featuring Evgeny Dyachenko and the Siti Dance Studio
Sunday November 8,2009
1:00pm- 5:00pm
Nottingham Ballroom
200 Mercer Street
Hamilton, NJ

For ticket Info Contact
or Amy Cellini

Door Prizes
tickets $45 per person
$50 per person at the door
Premium Seating $75 per person
Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Last Saturday at 11:30 am my niece, Chloe, married Hans. The wedding was held at the Mezzanine in the National Newark and Essex Bank Building in Newark. Years ago it was where Aunt Mabel Minnefor, Aunt Dora Minnefor and Uncle Bruno Mancuso worked and/or frequented. The teller area was set up to be the bar. One side of the mezzanine was where the union took place , the center by the stairs was the cocktail hour area and the other side was where the reception was held.
Here is their wedding announcement in the New York Times and their website with readings from the day .

Chloe' is a poet so I thought I would capture the day in poetry.

Love .......
Wide, tall space,
Orange fall floral arrangements,
Artichokes and herbs,
Delicious heirloom yellow tomatoes topped fresh mozzarella,
Music filled the air.
"The Best is yet to come"



Every Day is a Blessing !

Thursday, October 8, 2009

February is Ovarian Cancer Month in NJ

We now have a second month to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer in NJ. We can be like prostate advocates where awareness months are June for NJ and September for National.

Here is the article from

Ovarian-cancer bill signed by Corzine

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

TRENTON -- Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Linda Greenstein, D-Plainsboro, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, to promote awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer has been signed into law by Gov. Jon Corzine.

The bill directs the governor to annually issue a proclamation designating February as "Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month" and calling upon public officials, private organizations, the health-care community and New Jerseyans to increase knowledge of the symptoms of the often-deadly disease.

"When ovarian cancer is found and treated in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate is 95 percent, but tragically most women who suffer from ovarian cancer aren't diagnosed until the later stages of the cancer when the disease has spread," said Greenstein. "Early detection and treatment often mean the difference between life and death, so it's important that we increase awareness of the factors that put certain women at a higher risk for the disease."

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths and the eighth most common type of cancer in America. About 20,000 women in the United States annually learn they have ovarian cancer, with about 14,700 dying from the disease.

In New Jersey, the rate of new cases of ovarian cancer annually has been 13.3 and the mortality rate 8.6 for every 100,000 women.



Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brighton Power of Pink benefits CINJ and The Wellness Community

My sister Roberta had breast cancer. So way before I knew anything about TEAL I thought of things in pink.

Brighton is honoring Breast Cancer Awareness month with the Power of Pink. Two of my favorite organizations - CINJ and the Wellness Community of Central NJ will benefit from the sale the Pink bracelet and the Badge Clip. The promotion runs until October 31st.

North Jersey friends visit the Brighton Store at the Mall at Short Hills. Ten dollars for each piece purchased will go to the Wellness Community -Central NJ

Central Jersey friends visit the Brighton Store in the Woodbridge Center Mall . Ten dollars will benefit the Cancer Institute of NJ.

The limited-edition bracelet features Brighton's signature heart charm, which slides open to reveal the words "Trust your journey" and "Everything is possible." Brighton designers crafted these sentiments in order to remind the wearer that there is a gift to be found at the end of every journey. The badge holder/lanyard features a breast cancer awareness ribbon adorned with 15 sparkling pink Swarvoski crystals.


Every Day is a Blessing! I was blessed by another beautiful fall day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Honoring my Lifesaver!

On Saturday night Nick, my sister-in-law, Denise and I attending the Cancer Institute of New Jersey Foundation's Award of Hope Gala and Benefit Auction.

One of my lifesavers, my gynecological oncologist, Dr Darlene Gibbon was honored with the Leadership in Patient Care Award. Sheri McCoy, worldwide chairman, Pharmaceuticals Group of Johnson and Johnson was presented the Award of Hope. The black tie event was held at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick.

Two other ovarian cancer survivors, a caregiver and I had been filmed in August for the video part of the presentation. John R., the film maker,did an outstanding job capturing the essence of Dr Gibbon's care of her patients. None of us had seen the finished product. I must admit it was very moving to say the least - and I had heard most of what we had said. By the end of the video all four of us were on stage to ask Darlene to accept her award.

How does Dr Gibbon practice medicine? Her patients are treated as individuals each with their own special needs and Darlene combines the science of the medicine used to treat ovarian cancer with compassion and hope . Thank you Dr Gibbon.



Every Day is a Blessing! My life has been blessed by my doctor, Darlene Gibbon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Inspiring LiveSTRONG Day

My Quilt Piece

I volunteered to help with the LiveSTRONG Day Survivorship Quilt project at the Cancer Institute of NJ ( CINJ). The project was developed by the Survivors Advisory Board, a part of the Center for Cancer Survivorship at CINJ. The project has been going on all week from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in the lobby of the center. I helped both yesterday morning and this morning, LiveSTRONG Day 2009. We asked survivors or their family to take a fabric square and draw or write what cancer survivorship means to them. I am in awe of what so many survivors, from toddlers to adults, shared on their squares. There were hearts and stars, angels and awareness ribbons, motorcycles and cars, trees and mountains. There were words like courage , love, and hope . Survivors I met these past two days touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

J. a young boy took his square and some bright color Sharpies with him to treatment . About two hours later, looking very tired he handed me his clipboard- he had drawn balloons and smiley faces .

An older woman in a wheelchair came by and asked for the brightest colored square and Sharpies. She started to draw flowers on her square and told me she was a 25 year cancer survivor. When she handed us back her clipboard she had filled the square with flowers and thanked God for a wonderful life.

A teen wrote - and I will paraphase- If all my troubles would go away ... how could life teach me anything!

A toddler who was 2 years old and her mom came by after the toddler's treatment. Her mom sat down and she jumped up on her lap . She took some markers colored in a heart her mom had drawn for her and then made big blue and red circles. She was smiling the entire time.

When I left at noon today we had over 60 squares. I can't wait to see the finished quilt.

What does survivorship mean to you?

My square says it all!