Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Pets and Painting From Diagnosis to Today - 15 years

As many of you know from reading this blog, on July 29, 2005 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I woke up from surgery and heard my gyn onc say the words, " I am sorry Dee, you have stage 3B ovarian cancer." Those words sent me down a road that I would have rather not gone down. A clinical trial consisting of nine carboplatin, taxol and selenium treatments followed that diagnosis. Then I faced more surgery and chemotherapy in 2008 when the cancer recurred on my liver and spleen. But somehow with faith, family, friends and treatments by the most talented, compassionate gynecologic oncologists, I am here today to celebrate my 15th Cancerversary. Thank you Drs. Rodriguez,  Gibbon and Song and the nursing staff at Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ for the excellent care. 

During most of the fifteen  years of survivorship, I have had a dog. When I was first diagnosed, a pug named Kona greeted me when I got home from treatments and slept on the recliner with me, most times snoring more than I was. Sadly, he passed right after I had surgery for my recurrence.  At the time, I wasn't sure how I could get through my upcoming chemo without a pug on my lap.

After a year and a half later, both my husband and I knew the house was too quiet without a dog. So ten years ago, an All American dog, Amber entered our lives. She was full of energy and loved to jump. So Joe who owned the kennel where we took Amber for puppy training, suggested we train for dog agility.  That has been so  much fun these past few years . I learned something new and I met lots of other dog lovers. It was also an activity in which I totally forgot about my cancer. Amber has been by my side in the ring and on our long walks around town. I hope this continues for many years to come.

Another activity has grown over the past 15 years too. During my initial chemotherapy my son's friend gave me an acrylic paint kit.  I had stayed home while in chemotherapy when my blood counts were low, just like now during the COVID -19 pandemic. Painting helped me pass the time, took my mind off of the side effects and kept me calm as if I was meditating. I started with quilt designs ( I can't sew very well at all) , then some landscapes but I found I enjoy painting dogs the most - big dogs, small dogs, agility dogs and family pets. 

So on this my 15th Cancerversary, I share with you my love of dogs through the paintings I have created during these past fifteen years. 

Kona -a magnificent pug

McCoy -a Viszla



Silvio - my grandpup

Chick- an agility dog

Sassy- an agility dog

Princess - a Brittany Spaniel

Bling - an agility dog

Walter - my grandpup

Cooper - an agility dog

Ginger - Bull Mastiff
Gracie - agility dog

Smitten- agility dog
Tim - grand pup ( The only watercolor painting of a dog I have completed to date.)

Amber - my best friend and agility dog


Every Day is a Blessing!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

2020 Blogger Challenge

I am pleased to once again accept Nancy Stordahl's invitation to take part in her  Bloh Hop and  Challenge. 

Staying close to home - and enjoying picking local strawberries.
2020 Blog Challenge Questions:
1. Who are you? Tell us whatever you want about you and your blog.
I started blogging in 2007, two years after I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. I had a hard time finding information and support so I decided to start to write about my journey and share important information with other women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

2. What has been your biggest blogging challenge during this pandemic, and how have you been tackling it (or trying to)?
I have only written 11 blog posts since March. I felt guilty writing about ovarian cancer news or personal posts when family, neighbors and friends were dealing with or worried about COVID-19.
It wasn’t until the virtual ASCO Annual meeting that I felt comfortable and I began writing again.  I was able to combine the two topics– COVID-19’s impact on cancer patients and survivors.  

3. What is something you’ve accomplished with your blog that you’re most proud of?
My blog opened doors for me. It led me to amazing opportunities as a patient advocate. Sharing my blog with a wider audience is what prompted me to  join Twitter ( @womenofteal) in 2012. It was the Twitter connection I made with Christina Lisazo  and some gyn oncs and a radiation oncologist that spearheaded the community for those impacted by gynecologic cancer with. Which led me to other advocacy oppo Christina and I created - #gyncsm ( . It also led to other opportunities – co-authoring a book, attending ASCO Annual Meetings and presenting at three medical conferences.

4. Share two of your best blogging tips.
First , it is ok to not click “post” as soon as you are done with writing. Save it, step away and come back to do some finishing touches. I do this because I have chemo brain. Many times, I am unable to find the right word so I usually leave blank spots and come back to it later.
Second, keep an ongoing list of interesting topics / writing prompts for just that time when you are struggling to find a good topic.

5. What is one of your blogging goals this year?
Review and update the pages on my blog.  

6. When things get hard, what keeps you blogging, even if not regularly?
Eventually a research study catches my eye or touches my soul and I say to myself – “You should share this.”

7. What is a dream you have for your blog?
My blog was a dream of mine, so I think it is more my dream of spending more time trying to explain my experience through art. I love to paint and sketch.

8. Share a link to a favorite post you’ve written that you want more people to read.
I wish more cancer patients, survivors caregivers would read about how to take part in Twitter communities and chats. There are so many awesome cancer communities ( #gyncsm , #btcm, bcsm, #lcsm, #ayacsm ) offering information , support and tips to their participants.

If you are a blogger - any  blog topic is acceptable why don't you join us.Check out how to take part in Nancy's post ( link above). And be sure to check out the other blogs in her list. 

Every Day is a Blessing!