Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Making New Memories

The past week has been hectic , exhausting and absolutely wonderful.
We moved to our new home. I love the floor plan especially the fact that the master bedroom is on the first floor. But I think my favorite room is the sunroom at the back of the house. It looks out on to a pond. I've already seen a rabbit, two mallard ducks and a single majestic heron- and we have only been here 4 days! We met a few of our neighbors , attended mass at St Anthony of Padua Church and spent lots of time unpacking. ( Don't ask how many boxes remain in the garage.)

I am looking forward to making many new memories here!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation 2.0

I admit right up front that I did not come up with that title.
It is taken from my son's Facebook status for today. He graduated for the second time from Virginia Tech. In 2008, he received his undergraduate history degree from Tech. This year he received a Masters of Art degree in History. Earlier this year he defended his thesis "The Devil in Virginia: Fear in Jamestown 1607-1622".

I remember wondering back in the summer of 2005 when I was first diagnosed if I would see Matt graduate from college. But I did. Now two years later, there I was proudly watching him graduate with his Masters degree. Congratulations Matt! Thanks for the wonderful day !

Every Day is a Blessing !

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NJ Ovarian Cancer Survivors- June 12th OC Cancer Symposium Info


Developing Synergies Among Organizations Fighting Ovarian Cancer in New Jersey and the Delaware Valley

Ovarian Cancer Organizations from throughout NJ and the Delaware Valley will come together for the first time on June 12 to coordinate efforts to fight ovarian cancer

Princeton, NJ, 1 May 2010 – The New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Cancer Control and Prevention (OCCP) is working along with several local ovarian cancer groups to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and promote fundraising efforts for ovarian cancer research. The 1st Annual NJ Statewide Ovarian Cancer Symposium will be held on Saturday June 12 from 9 am-2:30 pm at Educational Testing Service in Princeton. Capital Health is the gold sponsor of the event, along with silver sponsors, Cooper Cancer Institute, Educational Testing Service and The Teal Tea Foundation. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is sponsoring the panel discussion representing renowned medical professionals from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The event is free open to ovarian cancer fund raising organizations and foundations, ovarian cancer survivors, advocates, members of the medical community, and members of the NJ County Cancer Coalitions. Jean Shipos, an employee of Educational Testing Service, Executive Director of the Teal Tea Foundation and ovarian cancer survivor is the program chair. . Former NJ Commissioner of Community Affairs, ovarian cancer survivor, and CEO of Cooper Foundation, Susan Bass Levin, will serve as emcee. Panel speakers include: Dr. Gary Brickner from Capital Health; Dr. Lorna Rodriguez from Cancer Institute of NJ; Dr. Generosa Grana from Cooper Cancer Institute; and Dr. George Coukos from Univ. of Pennsylvania.

Leaders of each ovarian cancer organization attending will speak about their missions. Sandy Schussel, President of Brass Ring Coaching, will facilitate a group discussion about ways that all groups can more effectively coordinate efforts to find a cure for ovarian cancer. A statewide ovarian cancer events calendar will be unveiled on the NJ OCCP website. The calendar will be open to all website visitors and the medical community so that patients have access to fund raising events and resource references.

Twelve organizations have planned and are supporting One Force to Make a Difference, including: The Immune Therapy Initiative for Ovarian Cancer, Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, Maureen Fund, Mary Anne Mazanec Ovarian Cancer Foundation, Meghan’s Message, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition - Del Val & North Jersey branches, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Ovarian Cancer Subcommittee of the Gynecologic Cancer Workgroup of NJ, Teal Talk On Tour, Teal Tea Foundation, Teal Wings of Hope Foundation and Turn the Towns Teal®.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological cancers in the United States with over 22,000 women diagnosed annually and 15,000 losing their lives to the disease.

For more information contact Jean Shipos 267-994-6430

or email njovcasymposium@gmail.com


Every Day is a Blessing!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Helen, Dora, & Nettie

It's Mother's Day. Today I thought a lot about these three special women.

Helen was my mother. She passed away at the young age of 42. I was 5 years old. I don't remember her voice but know what she looked like from the many photos I have of her. She had reddish-blonde hair and a great smile. Even when others looked serious in the photo my mother always seemed to be smiling.

Dora is a very special aunt and I was named after her. She is my father's sister and she came to live with us after my mother died. She did everything my mother would have done to raise me. She permed my hair, made sure I did my homework, scolded me, listened to me, passed on her love of the Blessed Mother and taught me how to cook gravy. She taught me that you could work ( she worked at the Board of Beauty Culture for the State of NJ) and raise a family. In June this year she will turn 102 and she is still teaching me things. Just last week she was showing me how to crochet- and correcting me when I caught the wrong stitch.

Nettie is my husband's mother and my mother-in-law. I could not have asked for a better mother -in-law. She has 5 wonderful children and 5 grand children. Nettie loves the Jersey shore, The Daily News and her family. She always wants people to visit longer and of course to eat. She worries about all her children even now when they are adults with families of their own.

These women have given me my smile, my faith and a wonderful husband who helped me raise two fabulous children. Can't ask for better role models. Thanks Helen, Dora and Nettie.

Every Day is a Blessing! Today I am blessed to be the mother of two fantastic children and mother-in-law of a wonderful and brave son-in-law.

Friday, May 7, 2010

President's Cancer Panel - Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk

The President's Cancer Panel released a new report called Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk- What We Can Do Now. I have read through the Preface, Chapter 1- Contaminants from Industrial and Manufacturing Sources , Chapter 3 Contaminants Related to Modern Lifestyle and Part 3 Taking Action. The report is over 200 pages.
It concludes that:
  • We need to determine the full extent of the environmental cancer risk
  • A national policy on environmental health is needed
  • Children are at higher Risk and should be protected
  • Continued Epidemiological and other Environmental Research needs to be done
  • Radiation exposure from medical source is under-appreciated
  • A Environment Health paradigm for latent disease is needed
  • Stronger regulations for Environmental Contaminants are required
  • Medical professionals need to consider occupational and environment when diagnosing illnesses
  • Workers with known exposure and the public needs full disclosure of knowledge about environmental cancer risk
  • Military needs to aggressively address toxic exposure it has cause
  • Safe alternatives to current chemicals are urgently needed
Then, I read through The Majority of Cancers are Linked to the Environment in the NCI's Benchmark Vol 4 Issue 3 from 2004. This page links to Cancer and Environment a paper by the NCI , NIH & NIEHS, At 47 pages it is a good read. It says "Most epidemiologists and cancer researchers would agree that the relative contribution from the environment toward cancer risk is about 80-90 percent. " The environment includes "...both lifestyle factors such as diet, tobacco, and alcohol, as well as radiation, infectious agents, and substances in the air, water, and soil." Tobacco causes 1/3 of all cancer deaths. Obesity/ inactivity causes 25-30% of all major cancers. The NCI paper goes on to say "The other causes of cancer (medicinal, occupational, viral, radiation) fall in about the same range of 10 percent or less ." And then we can't forget the ~ 10 % risk of cancer due to genetics.

The Panel's Report states that cancer prevention has focused on issues such as smoking and lifestyle changes. And rightly so because the largest cancer risks are due to tobacco, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases ( think Human papillomavirus ) , UV rays and obesity.

The Panel's Report also states that currently in this country "instead of taking preventive action when uncertainty exists about the potential harm a chemical or other environmental contaminant may cause, a hazard must be incontrovertibly demonstrated before action to ameliorate it is initiated."

Everyone learned the scientific method in school- Research, Hypothesis , Experimentation , Conclusion. One can present a hypothesis but until you run experiments , gather data and reach a conclusion you can not say your hypothesis is true. This prevents us from jumping to conclusions. So lets make sure that what conclusions we draw are based on good scientific inquiry.

The Report also states that environmental risks should be higher. Again until we run studies we don't know if the risks are higher or not. So I strongly agree more research on the effects different chemicals and environmental exposures cause to cell structure and DNA would be beneficial. I feel any knowledge on what will trigger a cell to become cancerous is important data to have.

(I think my scientific background in Chem Engineering and Material Science is showing. )

Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wings of Hope - Butterfly Release

I wanted to share this information from the Wellness Community Central NJ website. It should be a marvelous National Survivors Day event.

10:30 a.m. – Noon

(Program and butterfly release at 11:30 a.m.)

Rain date Sunday, June 13th at 3 – 4:30

Join us at The Wellness Community of Central New Jersey for a beautiful celebration as we release 120 majestic monarch butterflies to symbolize the "Wings of Hope".

We invite you to celebrate life by honoring, memorializing or celebrating a loved one. For a donation of $10 (small) or $25 (large) the name of your loved one(s) will be inscribed on individual die-cut butterflies made of a special paper that is embedded with flower seeds. Click here for donation form. Each beautiful cut-out butterfly will be attached to flowing fabric which will be proudly displayed at the event. These butterflies will be available to be take home and planted so that you can enjoy a flurry of butterfly-attracting flowers.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fun Times at the Teal Tea

Yesterday, I meet up with my friends Ann and Linda and we had a blast attending The Teal Tea Foundation's 4th Annual Teal Tea at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton, NJ. Last year, when I attended the Tea I was pale and tired and wore a scarf to cover my bald head. This year my hair is back and I enjoyed the good food, delicious teas and wonderful company of other survivors.

All three of us sat at a table captained by Ariel. She is the one who designed that lovely New Orleans themed centerpiece you can see above. Each table's captain created a table which had a unique theme. One table were swing dancers, another the roaring 20's , there were characters from Alice in Wonderland , a prayer fountain, and a backyard swing set. The table winner was "A Night at the Movies" - complete with bowls of popcorn made of flowers and an assortment of candy. Of course teal was the prominent color many of the floral arrangements used on other tables.

I was able to take chances on a number of wonderful prizes at the silent auction. Sadly, I did not win the stain-glass window or the Vera Bradley bag. There were teal t-shirts and jewelry for sale and even specially made teas.

The guest speaker was Dr Wendy Warner who spoke about reducing stress and learning resiliency. We even had time to practice a relaxation technique. I dreamed I was back in Alaska look up at Mount McKinley. Then the Keynote speaker Suzanne Garber, COO of the Americas Region for International SOS Assistance Inc, and ovarian cancer survivor had the audience clapping their hands , laughing and cheering. Mrs. Sharon Parker , Owner of Boehm Porcelain and a cancer survivor unveiled the special vase and porcelain flower created just for the Teal Tea Foundation. It was beautiful!

What a fun day and way to raise funds for ovarian cancer research especially when those funds will be used to support research at the Cancer Institute of NJ.
Great job Jean, Shari and your Teal Tea Committee for a pleasant afternoon.

Every day is a Blessing!