Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Will You Join Me and Wear Teal on September 2,2011

I invite all my readers to wear teal on Friday September 2,2001 to highlight National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.

When people say" What a nice color" please tell them that you are wearing teal to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer and to honor the thousands of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States each year and the roughly 800 women diagnosed in New Jersey.

Don't forget to tell those you speak to that there are subtle symptoms-
B- bloating
E-eating less
A- abdominal pain
T-trouble urinating


Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What would you have packed?

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans back on August 23, 2005. A few weeks prior to Katrina, I underwent surgery, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and started chemotherapy. So I was home and watching TV coverage of the disaster. I remember watching and thinking if I was ever in that situation what would I take with me when I evacuated. I really could not decide because there was so much I wanted to bring.

As many of you know Hurricane Irene made landfall in NJ last Saturday. We sheltered in our home but wanted to prepare for the worst in case we had to evacuate if the pond beyond our home rose high enough to threaten our home. So, six years later, I actually had to decide what I would take. Everything had to fit in our SUV.
Here is what I decided was essential:
Amber and Murphy ( the family dogs) and dog food/dog dishes/ plastic bags
Bottled water
My medical records including CDs of my CAT scans
Prescription medication/ eyeglasses
cell phones / chargers
Checkbook/ credit cards/ passports
laptop computer
5 special pieces of jewelry
Theresa's wedding photo portfolio
change of clothes for three days( which was based on the time we might have to be away) toiletries
flashlight/ lantern/ blanket

Everything was packed and in a place so that we could easily pick up and take it out the door with us. I'm so happy we didn't have to put our plan into action and have been under a boil water advisory and water restriction.

You know it really wasn't so hard making up the list. I just kept asking myself what could I not live without. It might be that I am getting older but I think the past 6 years as a cancer survivor have cleared my vision as to what really matters. As much as I love my home, the TV or furniture do not matter. Nick, my children , family, friends and our dogs do.

What would you take if you had to evacuate your home?

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What a Week!

Along with all the people of NJ , I sure have had one heck of a week.

Last Tuesday , the east coast experienced an earthquake. I was outside at the time walking my dog so I did not feel it but many of my neighbors and friends did. Haven't had one of that magnitude (5.8) since 1944.

On Saturday, Hurricane Irene made landfall in NJ. The first hurricane to do so in 108 years. We sheltered in our own one-year old home in Hightstown, NJ . But my husband and I were ready to evacuate if the need arose and we did prepare for it but that will be the topic of another post.

Hightstown is the geographic center of NJ. I worried about the homes of my cousin on Long Beach Island and my brother-in-law in Ocean Beach and a friend's home in Long Branch. We filled the tubs with water, had batteries for our lanterns, had bottled water, dog food for our dogs, and non-perishable food. We were pretty well prepared. We spent most of the time glued to the TV watching the Weather channel & 6 ABC from Philly. I tried to sleep but when the power went out for the third time with a loud bang from a transformer blowing across the street , I realized there would be no sleep for me that night.

At 2:40 am the TV announcer said a tornado warning was in effect for my town from 2:45 to 3:15am. Since we don't have a basement,my husband and I along with our two dogs moved into our walk in closet in the center of the house for the next half-hour. The wind roared a few times as we listened to 101.5 on the battery powered radio. Thank goodness a tornado did not materialize. This half-hour sure helped me understand what my daughter and her husband experience every time their weather radio announces a tornado warning in their area of Kansas.

On Sunday morning we still had power, cable, phone and internet, but our combo oven/microwave was not working. We were and still are unable to use our water - for drinking, washing, bathing or even flushing our toilets but overall we were in good shape. The water issue was caused by our downtown area being under water and the water treatment plant being submerged . As you can see from the photo above, even the Weather Channel chose a photo of our town to use on its home page for a time yesterday. Many roads in our area were flooded and train service was cancelled.

Today there is not a cloud in the sky and the sun is shining brightly as the clean-up begins around the state. Hopefully the property of family and friends are ok.

Over the past few days ,I worried about the pond rising so much that our home would be flooded. I worried about loosing power and of having windows break due to high winds. But for the last few days what I did not worry about was cancer.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What will you do for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month?

In one week's time we begin the month of September. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Help spread the word about ovarian cancer by participating in some of these activities.

1. Learn the symptoms:
B- bloating
E-eating less
A- abdominal pain
T-trouble urinating
2. Hang a ribbon
contact Turn the Towns Teal-

3. Tie a teal shoelace
contact the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation-

4. Paint your toes teal
Check out the Teal Toes site for some great color suggestions

5. Drink some Tea
Set 17, High Tea with the Teal Tea Foundation

6. Walk or Run
Teal Wings of Hope's 2nd Annual Ovarian Cancer Feat for Hope

Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation Annual Walkathons
Sept 11 Morristown, Sept 18 Lyndhurst, Sept 24 Avon-by-the-Sea

7. Your idea goes here.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, August 22, 2011

High Five plus 1

As many of you know, last year I participated in the High Speed Chase for the Cure to celebrate my 5th cancerversary. I wrote about it on this blog in July and September. I walked to honor my doctors whose excellent care has helped me fight Ovarian Cancer twice.The High Speed Chase raises funds for the Cancer Institute of New Jersey through the CINJ Foundation. It takes place on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University.

Recently, I received an e-mail from the Foundation which said" Due to a major construction project on Livingston Campus, we are not able to host the event this year, but hope you will still wish to support the patient programs and research at CINJ that this event has funded for the past 8 years."

Instead this year the High Speed Chase for the Cure is going virtual. I've decided that once again, I want to honor the doctors & nurses who have been my "lifesavers" for six years. Funds raised are used for patient programs like the Gynecologic Cancer Support Group which attend and for cancer research.

I've formed a team called "High Five Plus 1"and will be raising funds virtually. But I also plan on walking through downtown Hightstown and around Peddie Lake on Sunday, September 18th . I'll be leaving my house around 9am. (Please note that I will postpone this walk if Baby G arrives early.) If you want to walk with me on the 18th sign up to be on my team by going to the High Five plus 1 team page.

If you can't join me on the 18th, please consider donating here to help me reach my fundraising goal. Thanks for helping me help further Ovarian Cancer research.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

No Berry Smoothie Flavored Readi-CAT for Me

Yesterday I stopped by the radiology group where I get my CT scans done. I was there to pick up my drinks for next month's CT scan. These drinks are Barium sulfate suspensions . It coats the inside of your esophagus, stomach and intestines to allow those organs to be seen more clearly in a CT scan.

I take the ReadiCAT- 2 suspension product by EZEm products. The past two times I had a CT scan I was lucky to have the Berry Smoothie flavored product. The flavoring made the thick , not so delicious ( and that is being charitable) drink a bit more palatable. So yesterday I asked the technician if I could have the Berry Smoothie flavored. He said he was sorry but Medicare and the insurance companies are not reimbursing for the flavored version of the product any longer. They will only reimburse for the no-flavored version. Why ? The flavored version costs more. So in trying to hold costs down for the patient my radiology group is only ordering the non-flavored version. They suggested I add Crystal Light to the solution to make it taste better.

I tried researching the cost of the products online but did not see any costs listed. I wonder what the cost difference is?

I guess I will go out and get some Crystal light. I will miss my Berry Smoothie.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hipec treatment

Hipec = Hyperthermic interperitoneal chemotherapy

On August 11th , the NY Times published an article discussing surgery and hyperthermic interperitoneal chemotherapy for appendix, colon and ovarian cancers. The article

Hot Chemotherapy Bath: Patients See Hope, Critics Hold Doubts includes photos of the invasive surgery.

After reading the entire article and looked at the photos I have some concerns. There has only been one clinical trial ( 10 years ago) using this process for appendix cancer. What dosages of chemotherapy are the doctors using? In the case of ovarian cancer, is the dosage the same as that used in interperitoneal therapy? Is the temperature they are heating the chemo to the optimum level? Is one chemo drug better than another? Will patients still need to have IV chemo after the treatment? Would heating IP chemotherapy drugs ( since there are numerous clinical trials with this process) have the same result as this flushing process?

There are many unanswered questions and I hope there are plans to design some trials to answer those questions.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Prostate Cancer Clinical Trial - Selenium

You may remember that I was in a clinical trial using Selenium with Carboplatin and Taxol for treatment of ovarian cancer.

Research into selenium and various cancers continues at CINJ. I received this e-mail about a clinical trial at CINJ that will study selenium to reduce the risk of prostate in men.

Healthy male volunteers needed

Researchers at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) are studying the role of the mineral selenium in reducing one's risk for prostate cancer. Consider taking part in this study...and join the team!

CINJ researchers are trying to see if selenium yeast or selenomethionine lower
prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and prevent other markers related to the
development of prostate cancer in healthy men of different age groups.

Participants will be asked to take over-the-counter selenium supplements or a placebo
for twelve months.Five visits to CINJ are required during the study, where blood and urine samples will
be taken.

Compensation is provided.
You may be eligible to participate if you:
Are a healthy male between 20 and 79 years
of age
Have no evidence of prostate cancer
Are a nonsmoker
Can visit CINJ five times over twelve months.

To see if you are eligible for this study,
contact Michelle Orlick at 732-235-6048 or

Every day is a Blessing!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms video - Australia

Ovarian Cancer Awareness month is next month.
Do you know the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

This video says it all .

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Different Kind of Girls Night Out

Tuesday was a busy day filled with lots of friends.

The day began with Girls Night Out (GNO) with a twist. Instead of meeting at a restaurant for dinner, all the ladies in my GNO group met at one ladies home at the Jersey Shore. It is an annual August event for us. We met other when our children were in grade school together. I've only been in the monthly group since 2003 but I have known these wonderful ladies for years.

Girls Day at the Beach began with lunch and a short walk to the beach. Bathing suit on, sitting in our folding chairs, we gathered together in a big circle and chatted. We spoke about our children & grandchildren, about our tax bills due at the end of the month and about the latest book we read. In this group there is no jealously, every single woman is genuinely happy for the good news we share with each other. But we don't only share the good we share our painful experiences too and offer advice.

After about an hour on the beach the rain began. We laughed as we sat there initially in a light drizzle saying it would blow over. Well, the rain got harder and we heard a clap of thunder so we picked up our chairs and walked the short block back to the house. Once inside we lamented about how the rain was wrecking our day at the beach but as the conversation restarted we forgot all about the rain. Who ran into whom. Whose car was in the shop. Who is looking to buy a new home. What we have on our bucket list. What wonderful conversation. As the clock struck 4:30 I sadly bid my farewell. How I love these women. Women brought together by our children, who remain friends even as our children have children of their own.

After a bite to eat at home I went to my cancer support group. I have been going to this group since 2007 when it formed. It is moderated by a wonderful social worker. These women are brought together by their gynecologic cancer diagnosis yet we have become friends. We have ovarian, endometrial, uterine and vulvar cancer survivors. Some women , who are BRCA1 & 2have had both breast and ovarian cancer. Some ladies are newly diagnosed and in treatment, in active treatment for a recurrence and some are in remission. We gather for an hour and a half once a month to share our stories and how we feel both mentally and physically . Most of us are from my cancer center yet we welcome with open arms others like ourselves from other hospitals and cancer centers. We have all become close friends.

These friends know diagnostic test names, how to interpret test results, chemotherapy drug names & numerous treatment options. We discuss the pros and cons of different types of ports. But it is not always an easy group of friends to be with. I say that because in this group we hear what some would say are scary things and very sad things. We hear when cancer has returned. (I've had to share that news once already.) We hear a friend's cancer is growing and not responding to a drug. We hear about serious reactions to the drugs that are making us better. We hear about transfusions and low blood counts. We hear about drug shortages and postponed treatment. We hear when the decision has been made to stop treatment and spend time with family.

But we hear good news. We hear a tumor is shrinking, we see when a friend's hair is growing back and the scars that are healing. We hear about trips to Colorado, Alaska & Florida and get excited about future trips to Italy. We share photos from our children's graduations and weddings. We celebrate the birth of grandchildren. We raise awareness of ovarian cancer and attend survivor's day celebrations together. Sometimes our social worker has to almost kick us out the door because we want to talk more to each other. So many times we continue our conversations and updates by e-mail.

Some people will ask me why I still attend a support group since I am in remission. What they don't understand is that the women in this group are my friends. We just have a different kind of Girls Night Out.

Every Day is a Blessing! I am bless to be friends with some very special women.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Informative Libby's H*O*P*E post on the Cancer Genome Report on Ovarian Cancer

For the past few years I have been following a blog written by Paul C. called "Libby's H*O*P*E- *Helping *Ovarian Cancer Survivors* Persevere Through* Education. He began the blog as an effort to help his cousin Libby , diagnosed at the age of 25 , find information about ovarian cancer.

On August 5th, he wrote a post on the recent Ovarian Cancer Genome Report. If you want to learn more about the subtypes and demographics of ovarian cancer, the cellular pathways that cause and influence the disease & potential treatments , you should read this post. It is a long article but the explanations are well- written and worth the time.
Feel free to contact Paul if you have any questions.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, August 8, 2011

There Are Other Chronic Diseases

This blog has concentrated on cancer, ovarian cancer in particular with a few dashes of breast, prostate & pancreatic cancer information. I've written about my experience with ovarian cancer, about ovarian cancer awareness activities, cancer research and fundraising opportunities in NJ. Why? Because many members of my family and friends have been affected by cancer.

A week ago Sunday I learned that my younger cousin C had passed away. C did not have cancer. She had pulmonary fibrosis. " Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. It is also described as "scarring of the lung".(wikipedia) " On MedPage Today I read the article "Pulmonary Fibrosis and the End of an Era for Jerry Lewis and the MDA".

In July, a bill was introduced in Congress called the "The Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act".The bill would expand research and awareness, create a National Pulmonary Advisory Board and a National Pulmonary Fibrosis Registry. Some of the latest research into pulmonary fibrosis has found a link between the disease and gastroesophogeal reflux. The current level of research funding for lung diseases - other than cancer- is $ 1.269 billion annually. There are many chronic illness that also deserve those valuable research dollars.

Check out the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation site for more information.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, August 5, 2011

For Men over 40 - Free Prostate Screening

I am usually writing posts for women with ovarian cancer but I want to share something for the men in our lives.

FREE Prostate Screening New Brunswick, NJ

Monday, September 19, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 pm - 8 pm

Screenings are free, but an appointment is required.

To schedule your appointment for a screening, please call1-888-MD-RWJUH (1-888-637-9584)

Screenings will take place at
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany St., New Brunswick, NJ 08903

For more information, please visit
or call 732-247-2050

Thank you CINJ and the RWJUH for offering this screening for over 10 years.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Awareness Day at a Somerset Patriot's Game

Here is a fabulous opportunity to support ovarian cancer awareness in NJ and have a fun day at the ball park. I've gone twice in the past and it really is a fun family time. Bonus - fireworks!

Every Day is a Blessing!