Monday, October 31, 2011

Complimentary Therapies for Cancer Patients and Caregivers

The Elixir Fund is supporting a Bridges to Wellness program on December 10,2011. Spend a day learning how to reduce stress , relieve pain and improve sleep through the use of yoga, laughter and Jyutsu. Click on the photo above to enlarge and for more information or visit

Every Day is a Blessing

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reading Between the Lines- My Upcoming Presentation

Survivors and Caregivers are cordially invited to:

"Reading Between the Lines: What Does Cancer Research Mean for You?"
Cure For Cancer Found - News at 11!
What do the cancer research soundbites that you hear on the evening news mean for you? Learn how to read and interpret cancer research results from posters to journal articles . Find out which Websites are reputable sources of cancer research information.

November 8, 2011
Cancer Support Community Central New Jersey (Formerly the Wellness Community)
3 Crossroads Drive, Bedminster NJ, 07921
Call 908-658-5400 to register.

I am so happy to be having the opportunity to share with other survivors and caregivers what I learned about cancer research as a Research Advocacy Network Focus on Research Scholar. Using examples from the media I will discuss what every survivor and caregiver should ask themselves when they hear the latest cancer research news on TV or read about it online. I will also talk about clinical trials and the differences between experimental and observational studies. Attendees will be able to take home a list of sites on the internet that offer reliable information about cancer research.

I hope to see some of my followers on that Tuesday.

Every Day is a Blessing

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The Fall 2011 Oncolyte, a publication of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), contains an article I wrote about my experience at the ASCO conference in Chicago in June. Click here and then go to page 9 to find my article.

Thanks to CINJ for allowing me to share my experience.

Every Day is a Blessing! I have been blessed by the compassionate care of the gyn-oncs and nurses at CINJ.

Comfort Registry Survey for Patients and Caregivers

"The Elixir Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the comfort and care of cancer patients and their caregivers."

The Fund is in the process of developing a "Comfort Registry " for cancer survivors and caregivers. The registry would provide survivors and caregivers a place to create a wish list of amenities or services that would make their cancer journey easier. Suggested items include - spa treatment, massages, yoga classes, complimentary therapies etc.

The Elixir fund would like to hear your feedback about these ideas. Any cancer survivor ( you do not have to be ovarian cancer survivors) or caregiver, in treatment or finished with treatment can fill out the survey. Click here to go to the survey webpage.

If you are a business / organization that may be able to provide services or amenities for the program please see the Elixir Fund's website for contact information.

By the way, I've already filled out the survey.

Every Day is a Blessing ! Organizations like the Elixir Fund are blessings in the lives of cancer survivors.

Monday, October 24, 2011

For Jo - Not Just Ovaries

Yesterday, Jo, passed away from cervical cancer. Jo was one of my long distance British friends.

I started reading Jo's blog , Life in Windermere ( a few years ago. I was lucky to get to know Jo, her husband, son, soccer and The Royal Marsden Cancer Center even better through a group on Facebook. She was the cervical cancer survivor of the group and had been in remission for a few years until it recurred in 2010. (Thank you Sandhy for inviting Jo to be part of our little group.) I will miss how Jo, even in the midst of treatment or traveling to London, would always know just what to say to calm down one of her online teal sisters.

It doesn't matter if you live in the US or in the UK, countless women and their families are impacted by gynecologic cancers every day. And it is not just about ovarian cancer. Do you know the other gynecologic cancers?

Cervical Cancer
Endometrial Cancer
Primary Peritoneal
Fallopian Tube Cancer
Uterine Cancer
Vaginal Cancer
Vulvar Cancer

The Women's Cancer Network website is a wealth of information about ovarian and these other gynecologic cancers. For 20 years the The Foundation for Women's Cancer ( Formerly the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation) has increased awareness, offered education and funded research of gynecologic cancers. They also provide women with the opportunity to learn more about ovarian and endometrial cancers through their Survivor's Courses. On November 6,2011 in Washington DC the Foundation will be hosting The National Race to End Women's Cancer an 8K and 1 mile run to raise awareness and funds for research. On November 5th the foundation also will host ovarian, uterine and HPV/ cervical courses.

Every Day is a Blessing! Thank you Jo for being one of those blessings!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Smoke Free for a Healthy NJ

Yesterday, I attended the Mercer County Cancer Coalition meeting.

The first hour of the meeting was a presentation by Cathy Butler the Program Coordinator of Mom's Quit Connection . The Connection reaches out to pregnant and new mothers in NJ to help them quit smoking. Honestly before this meeting I didn't know this group existed.

The presentation called "Ask. Advise. Refer." taught how to deliver effective smoking cessation advice and how to refer others to Mom's quit Connection and the NJ Quitline . It also presented information about tobacco use in NJ , disease caused by smoking , second hand smoke and third hand smoke.

Did you know?
  • 14.4% of adults in NJ identified themselves as smokers.
  • Smoking causes cancer , heart disease, stroke and lung diseases.
  • Each cigarette contains 2 mg of nicotine
  • Nicotine stimulates dopamine release in the brain.
  • Smoking 16-25 cigarettes a day increases risk for Type 2 diabetes to three times that of a non-smoker.
  • Second hand smoke contains about 70 different chemicals.
  • Thirdhand smoke refers to toxins from cigarette smoke that stick to soft /porous surfaces.
  • All hospitals in NJ are now smoke-free.

Feel free to learn more about how to stop smoking by checking out these websites:

It is not easy to stop smoking but it will not get any easier the longer you wait.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Worthwhile Read

In July,at my support group meeting I mentioned that I had just finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and had written about it on this blog. Another survivor asked me if I had read The Emperor of All Maladies - A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. She told me that it should be the very next book I read.

I put my name on the reserve list for the book at my local library and I waited. But early last month I decided to not wait any longer and I purchased my own copy. I am so glad that I did.

Don't let its large size, 470 pages, stop you. The Emperor of All Maladies is a brilliantly written history of cancer. From the first description of cancer in Egypt in 2500BC to describing the discovery of the drug Gleevec and the Human Genome project, Mukherjee kept me engaged. The glimpse we had at the care he provided his patients was wonderfully linked to the history. Mukherjee presents complex microbiological and genetic processes in a way that is easy to grasp. As I read about the ras pathway I found myself wishing I had read the book prior to going to the ASCO conference in June.

I finished the book feeling that each research development described, some with more positive results than others, has given us a better understanding of cancer that ultimately will lead to - dare I day it - a cure.

I highly recommend this book.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

8th Annual Women's Wellness Day Princeton - Nov 12th

November 12th
8am -2pm
ETS, Conant Building, Princeton, NJ
$60 nonmembers, $50 members
Registration details on flyer above . Register online at

Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Women's Cancer Conference - Philadelphia 10/28/11

Penn Women’s Cancer Conference

October 28, 2011

7:30 – 3:30 PM

Hilton Hotel, 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Cost: FREE

The Abramson Cancer Center is pleased to present the 1st Focus On Women’s Cancers Conference featuring:

Ø Life After Breast Cancer

Ø Focus On Gynecologic Cancers

Ø Focus On Your Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer

This day is designed to address the personal and medical issues facing breast cancer and gynecologic cancer patients as well as those at risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Patient’s loved ones and caregivers are encouraged to attend as well. This conference is FREE of charge.

Please register for only ONE conference but feel free on the day of the conference to attend session at ANY of the three conferences.

View the full agenda and register online at or call 1-800-789-PENN (7366).

Unable to Attend?

Attend in person or via Livestream! We will be streaming the Focus On Gynecologic Cancers conference in its entirety Log on to watch and submit questions.

Additionally, conference will also feature a web-chat. Breast cancer and gynecologic cancer experts will answer questions about risk, diagnosis and treatment. Submit questions in advance at

Gynecologic Cancers Webchat, 10/28, 11:45 AM, EST

Breast Cancer Webchat, 10/28, 1:15 PM, EST

Thank you U Penn for holding this conference.


Every Day is a Blessing!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pink Sundays?

I watch a lot of football . Mostly college games. We've been Rutgers season ticket holders for almost 20 years now. But I also watch the pros on Sundays and Monday nights. I've followed the Jets since my honeymoon when my husband and I saw the Jets beat the Dolphins in the Orange Bowl. Yes, that was many years ago.
So how many of you noticed the pink gloves, towels, etc on the NFL payers this month?

Well the NFL has the "Crucial Catch" campaign in place for the month of October. From

The NFL, its clubs, players and the NFL Players Association are proud to support the fight against breast cancer. Our campaign, "A Crucial Catch", in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is focused on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older. Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins - all to help raise awareness for this important campaign. All apparel worn at games by players and coaches, along with special game balls and pink coins will be auctioned off at NFL Auction (, with proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society and team charities. This is an issue that has directly touched the lives of so many in the NFL family, and we are committed to helping make a difference in breast cancer prevention."

They are auctioning off items the athletes were given to wear during the games on this site. The least expensive bid I saw today was a $65 sideline cap worn by Randy Stark. The most expensive was a Ray Rice jersey whose bid was $4009. I am a big fan of Ray Rice since he played at my Alma Mater, Rutgers, so this high bid made me smile. There were also many bids for various dollar amounts on shoes, jerseys, towels and caps. All profits go to the American Cancer Society. Last year the NFL donated over $1 million to the American Cancer Society.

The NFL Pink site also has a link to the NFL and American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Awareness and Youth and High School Initiative Toolkit , a link to a mammogram reminder and a link to the ACS site about healthy living. The Toolkit provides information about the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program and provides ideas for how community or high school football games can raise money for the program.

First, I am not totally adverse to the NFL using pink to raise awareness or funds for breast cancer research or to provide mammograms for women who can't afford them. My sister passed away from breast cancer and many of my friend's have been diagnosed with breast cancer and a friends father was diagnosed with breast cancer. Did you know there is a genetic link between breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1 and 2 mutations)? I am not adverse to having NFL football teams raise awareness for various illnesses or chronic conditions.How about raising awareness of heart disease or diabetes? Wouldn't one weekend in October be enough to make the point to women and the significant male's in their lives the importance of mammograms , healthy eating and exercise?

Why doesn't the NFL provide awareness for other cancers? What about raising funds for research to develop biomarkers or screening tests for those cancers that don't currently have those tests-such as ovarian or kidney?
I don't have answers to these questions.

I did find an article by Aaron Gordon on the Good Men Project that seemed to provide some answers to those questions. His post "Why Does The NFL Care About Breast Cancer" raises some interesting points regarding marketing.Have you noticed all those pink and woman-sized clothes on the NFL shop site. A study done in 2006 showed that 69% of all attendee at NFL games are male so maybe the NFL wants to increase women's attendance at football games and increase revenues . Interesting points.

On a more personal note to the NFL,
Women have ovaries too!
I challenge you, the NFL, to run a public service announcement / TV commercial explaining Ovarian Cancer risks and symptoms next September during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Thank you in advance.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Keep Track of Symptoms

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance has developed an app easily accesible on your mobile phone to help women keep track of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Watch this video for more information.

Go to
on your phone and sign-in to get this free app.
Works on iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android and all desktop computers

Every Day is a Blessing!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Often Ask Myself

As a six year ovarian cancer survivor I often ask myself these questions.
" What makes my cancer different from other women with the same type ovarian cancer?"
" Why have I responded so well to the chemotherapy treatments?"
"Why have so many other women I have come to know during these past six years with the same type and grade of ovarian cancer been unable to go into remission and pass away from the disease"

I know that ovarian cancer is not one disease but that it has many types and subtypes. Some ovarian cancer is cause by a broken pathway , some by genetic mutation and some by ways we are just learning about. I know a lot about my disease , stage , tumor grade,tumor type , whether or not I am estrogen positive or negative, whether or not I am progesterone positive or negative, whether or not I am Her-2 positive or negative. I also have had genetic testing and know whether or not I am BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive or if I carry the gene for Lynch syndrome or colon cancer. How many of my readers (survivors or caregivers) know that information about their tumors or genetic background?I know a few ways my care has been different because of this information.

As the state of medicine changes and we learn more about the causes and treatments of different cancers and pathways to cancer development maybe we should all be asking these questions. There are some who are taking the lead on a more personalized approach to medicine. Here are two I recently learned about . ( If you know of others please leave a comment and let me know about them.)

The first, a GE Healthcare-sponsored website, www.IsMyCancerDifferent, was launched on Sept 19. Through videos and downloads they are educating others about the benefits of asking for more personalized cancer treatment.

The second is called Cancer Commons. Their goal is an "open science initiative for physicians, scientists, and patients engaged in personalized oncology. Its goals are to: 1) give each patient the best possible outcome by individualizing their treatment based on their tumor’s genomic subtype; 2) learn as much as possible from each patient’s response, and 3) rapidly disseminate what is learned in time to help the next patient." .

I suggest that you visit these sites to learn more.

Every Day is a Blessing!