Monday, March 28, 2011

Proceed with Caution

Over the past five years I have read many articles citing new screening or biomarker tests for ovarian cancer . Then there have been the numerous headlines about new treatments based on preliminary test results. As a survivor it is easy to get excited about test results - especially when they might be hyped up on the nightly news.

Last year, I remember reading about the KRAS gene mutation and its link to ovarian cancer. In July, MiraDx announced it had developed a test PreOvar to help predict ovarian cancer and overall survival.

Well, here I am six months later, reading an article from the Society of Gynecological Oncologist meeting which states "investigators found no evidence of an association between the KRAS SNP and risk of ovarian cancer"
Since the PreOvar test was developed based on a single study, the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium decided investigate the KRAS mutation further. The new study included over 8000 cases of ovarian cancer versus 10,000 control . The investigators also found no relationship between the KRAS and overall survival .

If you would like to read more about this check out this MedPage Today article "SGO:Mutation link to Ovarian Cancer Disputed"

What does this incidence teach us? It teaches us to be cautious. Do not jump on the band wagon with the results of one test.

But remember too that just because something does not work that does not mean something important was not learned by the researchers doing the work.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Uhhh & Ummm

Today I was looking at flowers . There were these really pretty bright red clusters with these thick green leaves. What was the name? I grew these for years in the pots on my patio in Edison. They're called. Uhhh. Begonia's? No. Umm .


How long did it take me to remember the name? 16 minutes. Why do I mention this ? Why do I write everything down and make lists of lists?Chemo brain. I am not really complaining because the drugs that caused this have made me disease free twice. Just want everyone to know that it really is a condition associated with chemotherapy and with so many cancer survivors living longer there are many Ummms out there .

Check out this article in CURE magazine for more info.

The links on the page a pretty good too. I like the one Reclaim Your Brain.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Because She Makes Me Smile

Pets, dogs in particular, have been part of an on-going discussion on a number of ovarian cancer forums recently. Questions such as finding someone to care for your dog when you are in treatment, adopting a dog during treatment and adopting a dog when you are in remission were all asked.
Last September we brought a new puppy Amber, a mixed breed, into our home. Sure it wasn't easy having to train a two month old puppy or walk her when the snow was over her head but it paid off. How? She jumps up to greet me when I come in the room, fetches her toy ( even if she doesn't always want to "give" it up) and it getting pretty good at heeling when walking on a leash. And best of all she makes me smile - even when I am having one of those days.

I bet you are smiling right now.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A CockTEAL party - March 31st

Join the Delaware Valley Chapter

of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

for a...



Bogey's Club & Cafe in Sewell NJ

When: March 31, 2011
Time: 6pm to 10pm

What: A Great Evening of Cockteals, Appetizers & Desserts!

Join fellow NOCC supporters, ovarian cancer survivors,
medical professionals, caregivers, politicians and area locals
as we mix and mingle, support the NOCC and enjoy an evening out!

TICKET PURCHASE - call 215-997-8075 or email

$40 advance purchase / $50 at the door.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Message for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

The other day a friend posted a link on Facebook to an article on the Huffington Post. The article was Rethinking Societal Attitudes about People Who Get Cancer by Dr. Joseph Nowinski, a clinical psycologist. I thought the title sounded interesting so I read the article. Then I read it a few more times.

The article begins with a reference to 1978 when Susan Sontag wrote about myths surrounding cancer. Myths such as, we get cancer because we are angry and that diseases can be cured through will power. Then the article goes on to say that even today for some cancer patients, metastatic breast cancer in particular, there is still a social stigma. A stigma even though "cancer is not caused or cured by our personality." It went on to mention a patient with metastatic breast cancer who could not run a support group because it would cause fear in other patients, and who felt isolated because she had not "beaten" breast cancer because maybe she wasn't happy enough. The last paragraph states "perhaps the warrior metaphors we use to describe those whose cancer has been arrested are better replaced with images of possibility and tenacity."

I invite those metastic breast cancer patients to search for an ovarian cancer survivor to talk to. We may fight the battle with different chemotherapies and surgeries but we also know how to live with cancer. Live with not knowing if we will recur. Live with not knowing when we will recur. Live with recurring. Live with remissions - short and long. Live with not knowing if and when we will recur again. Live in constant chemotherapy. That is the life of an ovarian cancer survivor.

My gynecological cancer support group has newly diagnosed women , women currently with no evidence of disease , women in treatment for a recurrence and women in remission after a recurrence. Over the past 4 years we have shared our successes and our setbacks. We don't know why each of us was diagnosed with ovarian cancer but we offer each other support and hope. As one survivor's bracelet says - "Fight like a Girl ".

Metastatic breast cancer survivors you are not alone! There are ovarian cancer survivors with tenacity too!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pink or Blue I Love You

Forget about having a TEAL September this year. I'm going to have a PINK or BLUE one!
Yes, you read correctly. My daughter, Theresa, and her husband, Andy, are expecting a baby at the end of September. Nick and I are so happy for them and excited about becoming Grandparents. I can't wait to welcome the newest little member into the family. I wonder what Baby G will call me? Grandma? Granny ? Nanna? Nonna?

I'm so happy that Baby G will get a chance to sleep in the Bunny cradle my father made for me when I came home from the hospital over 50 years ago. The same cradle that Theresa slept in when she first came home from the hospital. How awesome is that?

Lately, I find myself looking at baby clothes and accessories, cribs, car seats and high chairs online at Baby's R Us, Target, and Macy's. So where in NJ is the Carter's outlet? Don't worry I'll google it. Watch out, UPS delivery man , you will be a busy guy over the next few months. I promise I'll try not to spoil this baby but you know, this is going to be way too much fun!

In the meantime I'll keep praying- thanking God for this special blessing.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It Really is About Attitude

Last year at the wedding of a dear friend's son, I met our friend's niece, Nicole. Her hair was short but her smile was infectious and she spent lots of time out on the dance floor.

This is her story. It appeared earlier this week in the Gloucester County Times. ( Double click on the image to make larger.) Nicole is 28 years old and she is battling a rare form of small cell ovarian cancer. She takes life 3 weeks at a time and continues to teach and travel whenever she can. She is one strong Woman of Teal , supported by a loving family and just one more reason we need to find a cure!

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Another Women of Teal

I'm really sad that I have to write yet another post about a loss. That makes three ovarian cancer losses for me in less than one month's time.

Woman of Teal, Jayne Armstrong , lost her eight plus year battle with ovarian cancer this morning. Jayne's blog, Shopping Karma was one of the blog's I made a habit of regularly reading. She didn't sugar coat anything she was going through- not the numerous surgeries, the pain, the use of medical marijuana or entering hospice. But she wasn't all doom and gloom she also spoke about her love of horses, snowboarding, bike riding ,her loving husband, Jimmy and Blue Belle and Tonto , her dog and cat. She gave me links to groups that train service dogs . I'd love to do with Amber what she did with Bluebelle. When I recurred in late 2008 she was one of the first to give me support and cheer me on.

Here is the latest post on her blog by her husband.

CJ / Jayne I will miss you !

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One of a Kind

I have tried to write this post for the past three days. I started it two times , thought about what to write a number of times and even changed the title at least three times. Why is this so difficult? How do you write about an Uncle, 95 years old, who passed away? Should be easy but it is not. Uncle Bruno was the only surviving sibling of my mother. He was one of a kind and I want to be sure I catch the essence of a man who I love and was such an integral part of my life.

Uncle Bruno was tall. I have always had to look up to my Uncle. Sometimes climbing on a chair to give him a hug. When I was little, he and my Aunt Lillian ( in the photo above) would invite me to stay at their house in Totowa. Patty, their daughter, and I are almost the same age. Since Uncle Bruno was so tall that translated into having big shoes. I think they were wing-tip shoes and size 13 or 14. They sure were heavy.

Uncle Bruno was handsome with a thick head of wavy hair that was dark brown and slowly turned gray. I remember in high school studying the early Roman empire and thinking to myself as I looked at drawings, images of gold coins and statues that my Uncle Bruno could be a Roman. Well really no surprise here since his family was from Italy.

Uncle Bruno made me feel safe. When we would go to Green Pond I never hesitated going in the deeper part of the water by the dock because I knew he would be able to just reach in and pull me to safety.

Uncle Bruno had a deep voice . I would think to myself that if he wasn't a banker his voice could surely get him a job on the radio or as a TV announcer.

Uncle Bruno was a gentleman and always dressed like one. Suits and ties and khakis and polo shirts.

Uncle Bruno enjoyed playing golf. He and Aunt Lillian spent winters in Florida. He golfed multiple times a week. And won a tournament at his club when he was over 70. He was a great example on how to stay fit and active when you retire.

Uncle Bruno played the ukelele and sang. There is that voice again. Our families would get together and sing. I love to sing too and learned how to play the piano. Maybe those are the Mancuso family genes .

Uncle Bruno made me feel special. I would love how he would call out "Dee, Dee" . When he was talking to me I knew I was the center of his attention. When I was in the hospital he always called or sent flowers.

Uncle Bruno loved Italian food. We took many a trip up the Garden State Parkway for Sunday dinner with Aunt Lillian, Uncle Bruno , Patty and Matthew. I would never know what caciocavallo cheese was if it wasn't for Uncle Bruno.

Uncle Bruno made my kids feel special. He developed this special handshake and taught all the kids in the family how to do it. So when Uncle Bruno entered the room it was never an ordinary handshake but this special pinkie handshake with words only the kids knew.

Uncle Bruno had a great smile. In the photos I have of my mother they are exactly the same smiles. So looking at him was like looking at my mother smile.

I'll miss my Uncle that is for sure and I thank God for giving me such a special man in my life.

Every Day is a Blessing!

It's the Little Things

I got a package in the mail from my son Matt. Inside was this shirt and a sweet note that brought tears to my eyes.

It sure is great knowing my son is by my side - even though he is hundreds of miles away. Thanks Matt.

Every Day is a Blessing! I am blessed by a family that is always ready to support me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Team JLO Teal Night For Life- April 16

Join TEAM JLO in the fight against Ovarian Cancer at this year's

Saturday, April 16 · 8:00pm - 11:00pm
The Olive Branch Bar and Restaurant
New Brunswick, NJ

This years TNFL will feature:
90's Cover Band "Cant Slow Down"
TNFL Prize Raffle
TNFL 50/50
OC Education Station
Great Food and Drink Specials

100% of the $10 cover charge goes to support TEAM JLO's 2011 fundraising campaign with the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation.

For more info go to

My friends, the Lopez family, created team JLO to honor their mother, Janice. Last year team JLO raised over $8000 for the Sandy Rollman OC foundation. Won't you help them raise even more money this year! By the way, the food at the Olive Branch is tasty so you really don't want to miss this fun way to raise funds for ovarian cancer research and meet a pretty incredible family.

Every Day is a Blessing! I'm blessed to know the Lopez family