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    Toxic Risk: Cancer and Environmental Toxins

    June 1st, 2011

    Reader Krista wrote today’s thought-provoking post. She raises the concern that toxic junk surrounds us, and that it might just be causing our cancers. Aware of the recent cell phone/cancer conversation? That’s the sorta stuff Krista is talking about. Read on, and you’ll see. (And thank you, Krista, for sharing your words!)

    In many cases, some people believe the bridge between environmental toxins and health issues like cancer to be somewhat overstated. Unfortunately, this could not be more false. In everyday life, there are nearly 100,000 different chemicals being used all over the world. Of that 100,000, only a few hundred have actually been tested for their ability to cause cancer. In just the small amount of testing of those few hundred, there have been numerous ties to cancer-causing chemicals.

    The effect of chemicals and toxic materials on cancer cases can also be tied to the high amount of cases in elderly people. As people age, the body’s ability to metabolize and remove chemicals is reduced. These chemicals can stay around in an older body and cause more problems and health risks. Even though awareness should always be high for environmental toxins, the elderly should have an extra eye on the dangers.

    In 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel (an advisory group on cancer) called for more research on environmentally related cancer and toxins. They claimed that while there is some evidence of long-term effects, without research, the true burden of environmentally related cancer will be extremely underestimated.

    The panel pointed towards some ways to cut down on the risk of these toxins in the near future. This includes filtering tap water and not using plastic plates, as well as eating food without pesticides or fertilizers and processed meat. They claimed that cutting down cell phone use, reducing radiation exposure, and checking home radon levels as other important recommendations to reduce these health risks.

    The actual types of cancer are not to be taken lightly, and one of the most vulnerable places can be inside or around the house. Houses have been key spots for exposure to radon, asbestos, and as a result, mesothelioma. Radon can rise up from the ground, while asbestos material is a common fiber found in many older insulation and homes. These risks are not to be disregarded as there is no mesothelioma cure, making asbestos exposure highly dangerous.

    Some may come away from these reports and believe that they overstate or scare people about cancer. It’s not intended to do that, but it simply shows the importance of being aware and taking steps to help prevent any of these risks in the future. Emphasis on the panel’s recommendations will not only have a positive effect in cutting down environmental cancer risk, but also in improving health in general.


    Power of Words — 5 Bloggers Who Move Me

    May 25th, 2011

    Thanks to Trop50 for sponsoring my writing about fabulous bloggers. This year Trop50 is granting 50 Fabulous Wishes. Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to celebrate a friend with a refreshing attitude about looking and feeling fabulous!

    Fabulous bloggers, according to my definition, are folks whose well-written words and pretty photos inspire me to do better, be better, feel better. They are almost always women, and moms, and they work really hard at empowering others. They don’t pretend to be perfect (they sometimes eat donuts, skip workouts, raise voices, and let the laundry pile high). They strive for balance in their crazy days. They make me laugh. And the really, really good ones give away lots of free stuff. There are five fab bloggers in my world. Here they are:

    in HIS grace is a newbie to me, a blog I just recently stumbled upon, by way of a friend. WOW is what I have to say about Chrissie Grace, a way-clever, stay-at-home mother of four, plus artist, author, and poet. Chrissie chronicles her everyday life and amazing projects with few words and many photos (I love that!). Bonus: she links to her etsy shop, so all the rockin’ projects featured on her blog can be located and purchased with just a few clicks. One of my faves is this print:

    Click on image!

    Because she does pretty things with food, is tech/social media-savvy, and homeschools her kids (anyone who can do that for longer than half a day is, in my book, a hero), Christine and her ColorMePink blog rank right up there with the best of the best. I mean, the blog is pink, for one, and her presentation is slick, and there’s just such a wide variety of good stuff, I keep going back. And to think I might have never found this wonder woman had I not met her hubby, the money man at a Honda dealership, the day I bought a minivan. We talked blogging, he passed me her business card, and the rest is hisherstory.

    MizFit keeps me coming back, too. Recently named People’s Choice winner of the Fila Toning Real Women model casting call, this muscle momma is a rock star. She takes healthy eating and purposeful exercising and makes them seem so achievable.  She is smart, witty, beautiful, and she knows her subject well (before and after photos prove it). No surprise she has a dedicated following. Not just on her blog, though — the girl tears things up on Facebook and Twitter, too! She is a force, for sure!

    Then there’s fitness guru Fitz, who first met me in her home gym, where she brought me back from the brink. Still in treatment for breast cancer, she took my weak, dizzy, bloated, blah self and morphed it into something strong and healthy. She convinced me I could run, when I swore I could not, and then she joined me for a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K months later. Last year, I ran a half marathon, and yea, I think she had something do with major feat! OK, so back to the whole blog thing: Fitz has a blog, where she offers tips for optimal living, glimpses into the lives of fit celebs, and there’s never a shortage of giveaways (I just happened to win one — ChopKeeper cutting boards are all mine!)

    Click on image!

    Finally, my last fave: One in a Million, because I have a thing for the power of words, and this blog is full of words that make me smile. That’s the point, says blogger Sara Louise, who calls her little spot on the Internet, “a place to come when you really need to smile.” (Sara crafts her blog for herself and her mom, who has a rare cancer that can’t be cured.) *Be warned: the F-word sometimes appears on this site, but only in the most inspirational of ways, of course.

    Don’t forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to celebrate a friend with a refreshing attitude about looking and feeling fabulous. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.


    Relay for Life, an Honor

    May 21st, 2011

    My lovely neighbor friends honored me at a local Relay for Life event last night, and then, the crew posted this pic on my Facebook page.

    When I offered my thanks, the middle-schooler responsible for this kind gesture, said:

    “You’re Welcome!! They said we could do a luminaria if we knew someone and I thought of you!”

    Thank you, Alyssa.

    You made my day!


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    Gamma Camera Better Than Mammogram?

    May 19th, 2011

    If you are at all concerned about your breast health, you really need to watch this video. It will take just 20 minutes of your time, but it will leave you thinking for a lot longer than that. So — watch, and think, then share your thoughts in the comments.


    My Breast Cancer on Better Medicine

    May 18th, 2011

    A story I wrote in February 2010 is now live on, a health information site that launched in April 2011. A screen shot of the page is pictured below. Click on the image, and you’ll land at the whole story.

    Click on image for full story


    Peace, Please

    May 16th, 2011

    I think if I had just one wish, it would be for peace, so that I could be completely at ease about my health, my body, my kids, my job, my decisions, my mistakes, my — everything.

    Image: eszter, Flickr


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    Quaker Squares, Kid-Tested Thumbs Up

    May 16th, 2011

    If you’re like me, you probably want to eat healthier, and you might want to make it as simple as possible, and probably, you want some good stats to back your decision. Something like: the soluble fiber in oatmeal helps reduce cholesterol + 96% of your minimum whole-grain needs + no trans fat + just 200 calories with a 1/2 cup of skim milk. Well, I’ve got something for you: Quaker Oatmeal Squares, with a hint of brown sugar. (I don’t actually have them for you, just a recommendation.)

    Thanks to Quaker (and Clever Girls Collective, too), this pretty little package arrived today. Younger son Danny (he’s 7) tore right into a box, stating he likes his cereal “naked” — no milk necessary (which, incidentally, saves you 40 calories). First bite had him declaring, “Oh, I like the ones with sugar better.” He didn’t give up, though, and he went in for more. “Nevermind,” he told me. “They are good!” I agree, per the few I tasted. The rest, I’m saving for breakfast tomorrow. Planning for a banana on top.

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    Billions Raised, Zero Cured

    May 13th, 2011

    This, you have got to read: Let’s get real

    Because the facts within are sobering. Like these:

    • 1.5 million = women diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide this year
    • 500,000 = women will have recurrences (most will be counted as “cured” because the recurrence is more than 5 years after their initial diagnosis and research only tracks women for 5 years — of these second-timers, 1 in 3 will die of the disease)
    • $1 billion = annual amount invested in breast cancer research in the US
    • 830 = resolutions and bills with the words “breast cancer” introduced in the US Congress since 1991
    • 91 = number of breast cancer drugs under evaluatation by the FDA
    • 0 = number of women cured

    There are more stats, just as mind blowing.

    Read them.

    And what about those photos?

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    WOW, I’m a Mom

    May 4th, 2011

    iVillage published a snippet of a story I wrote.

    It looks like this:

    Click on the image to land at iVillage (I'm slide No. 7)

    And here’s the whole story:

    I first felt like a real mom after pushing a 10 pound, 9 ounce baby boy from my body, and I was reminded of my motherhood when baby boy No. 2 arrived, weighing slightly less, yet still more than 10 pounds. “WOW-I’m-a-mom” thoughts continued with every feeding, sleepless night, and overwhelming moment of love and tenderness. But nothing registered a bigger “WOW” than finding out I had cancer, and realizing that mothering two growing boys had more implications than I’d ever thought possible.

    Joey (the biggest boy) was almost 4 years old when a doctor revealed the mass I found in my left breast was malignant, and Danny (the smaller and younger of the two) was 18 months old. My first reaction after the dreaded phone call (“unfortunately, cancer cells were found”) was, “OMG, what if I die and leave these guys without a mom?” Nothing scared me more, and every time I looked at my precious bundles, my gut twisted and turned. Maybe I wouldn’t die, but how would I care for kids while puking and pouting about my bad luck. Cancer would probably be easier without kids, I decided in the beginning, and then I quickly changed my mind — my kids were the key to my fight, they would save me.

    And they did — save me. Their innocent, simple, and honest approach to life kept me peaceful (most of the time). “It’s only a haircut,” declared Joey while helping shave my head after hair started tumbling from my scalp. And Danny, too young to have a clue about my cancer crusade, helped me keep life as normal as possible. Playgroups, preschool, and family vacations (in the midst of chemo, radiation, and two hospital stays) were not uncommon, and I never did vomit or become as depressed as I’d predicted. Now, don’t get me wrong — cancer did suck. But so did birthing monster-sized children. The point is that life got better. The pain of having babies faded, and those beauties who tore through my body made it clear that the pain of cancer would become blurry, too.

    And blurry, it is. It’s been six years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Joey is 10, Danny is almost 8 — and “WOW, I’m (still) a mom!”


    Until Every Woman Knows

    May 3rd, 2011

    Mom probably gave you lots of advice over the years, and now, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, it’s your turn to dish out on some breast cancer wisdom to the moms (and other women) in your life. The gist of the message you should spread is this — not all breast cancers are the same, and not every woman with early-stage breast cancer needs chemotherapy. There’s a test (Oncotype DX) that helps patients understand if chemo is right for their type of breast cancer, BUT, 50% of women who are eligible never hear about this test. That’s why you should watch this video, and then pass it on.

    Love Facebook? Connect with Until Every Woman Knows for important information and updates on this initiative!

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    Happy Girls Are the Prettiest Girls

    May 2nd, 2011

    Maybe you need a gift for a survivor girl (or any girl), a present for yourself, or a little something for Mom (Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8). Well, then, may I suggest this inspirational piece? Are there really any better words for guiding one through life’s stumbles and tumbles? I think not. Visit MixedMediaMomma at etsy to order. Just $15.

    I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I love that!

    Click on photo!


    Cancer Crazy

    May 1st, 2011

    Sometimes I wonder if I should write about every little cancer thought that runs through this head of mine, because what if confessing everything makes me seem a little wacky to the millions (OK, hundreds) of readers who stop by each day. I guess that’s the point, though, isn’t it — to spill out every ounce of crazy so others can relate, connect, and realize they are not alone. There is always someone out there experiencing a very similar set of circumstances, and the challenge is to find that someone. Well, if worrying is your game, then you’ve found the right girl — me.

    My concern of the day — fatigue. Unexplained, can’t-keep-my-eyes-open weariness. Now, I’m not talking major issue here. I’m in the early stages of feeling tired (translation: yesterday was my first day), but knowing that mysterious sleepiness sometimes registers as a symptom of cancer has got me thinking. I’m thinking it is so strange that while talking to my mom on her back porch yesterday afternoon my eyes were so heavy like lead that I quickly returned home, where I confessed to my family, “I have to sleep!” and headed right for my bed. I was out in an instant and slept for nearly three hours. You’d think I’d have trouble sleeping that night, but I didn’t — I was out cold for nine hours.

    Nothing leading up to my extreme fatigue was strenuous, and I didn’t even exercise yesterday, so I can’t blame physical exertion. There was some emotional elementary-school drama throughout the week, a good amount of boy bickering, and the usual work and home balance challenge. Still, I can’t remember when I was so beat I couldn’t function. That’s what worries me.

    I’m hoping this is all a fluke, and I’m just waiting now to see how the next few days measure up. (I won’t judge today, though, because Danny and I did walk 16 dogs at the Humane Society in 90-degree Florida heat, and I know the wiped-out feeling settling in my bones is completely justified.) Chances are I will not be back complaining about my worn-out state. This is probably just a moment of cancer panic, sure to pass, making me look a little looney for even giving it a second thought. But that’s what my cancer head does — it spins what’s likely just normal stuff into “what if?” woe. Same thing happened with a headache that lasted for six days, a bump inside my mouth, and a dozen other symptoms that have led me to doctors, dentists, and always … this blog.

    Fellow cancer survivors, this confession is for you. Let it serve as a reminder that you are never alone.



    Heart of Haiti — Because Moms Rock

    April 27th, 2011

    She was the first girl to to calm my fears when I found a lump in my breast. “It’s probably nothing to worry about,” she told me (because that’s what moms do), and she was the first one to race over to my house when the surgeon who performed my biopsy called and told me, “Unfortunately, cancer cells were found.” She was the one who sat by my side prior to surgery, camped out in the hospital lobby waiting for the outcome, and announced at my beside after I was all stitched up, “The cancer didn’t spread!” She sat with me for every chemo infusion, watched my kids for every radiation treatment, hauled me into the cancer clinic when I could barely stand up, and then escorted me to my own private room, where I spent five days with blood counts numbering in the 700s. She was back with me for the second hospital stay, too, and really, whenever I needed her, she was there. She is a woman who truly helped me — and she still does, like every day, because I have two little boys, and who doesn’t need assistance with that madness?

    Yep, my mom is a special girl, and I honor her always — especially on Mother’s Day, which is coming up real soon, you know? May 8 is the big day!

    Wanna appreciate your momma? Here’s an idea for doting on mom and helping other women in need, also — all at the same time:

    Shop the Heart of Haiti Project (HOH), an endeavor founded by Willa Shalit (daughter of Gene Shalit) and her company, Fairwinds Trading. HOH offers artisan-crafted decorative arts and jewelry for sale, and all income derived from sales of the products on the HOH site enhances an artisan’s family’s nutrition, educates children, and brings access to healthcare and dignity. Macy’s is a partner in this venture, and you can shop the HOH collection in its entirety at

    BONUS: Special 15% discount for YOU when you purchase a Mother’s Day gift from the Heart of Haiti and Rwanda Path to Peace collection between 5/3 – 5/8. Just use promocode: CLEVERGIRLS.

    Will my mom be getting something special from HOH?

    Stop reading here, mom!



    And it might look something like a certain pendant pictured to the left.

    Which one will it be? Gosh, I like them all. Can’t decide on a favorite just yet.

    What’s your fave find on the HOH website? Share in the comments. And if you do splurge on mom while shopping around, name your pick so we can check it out.

    I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.


    Borrowed Wig Back Home

    April 26th, 2011
    "Underhair" from

    It makes me happy to send off my wigs to friends in need, but it makes me happier to get them back — not because I need a cover-up (please, let me never lose my hair again!), just because it means those once lost in cancer crises are all done covering their bald heads. Sporting their new sprouts, they box up the blond locks and return to sender.

    Back to my bedroom closet goes this hair — until someone else needs it.

    (Thank you, Tina, for your sweet note. I am so thrilled by your progress.)


    Breast Cancer Bag for Barnacle Boo-Boo

    April 24th, 2011

    This is the pretty pink bag that holds all the stuff to care for my littlest boy’s newest boo-boo:

    Read here for the whole sad story, which happens to be turning out just fine.

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    The Magnificent Morning Mile

    April 19th, 2011

    The following post appears on all of my blogs (this one, Braving Boys, and Square One), because the topic is just too good not to share over and over again. I know it’s not about breast cancer, but there’s a good amount of pink in the photos. Does that count?

    Mingling at the Morning Mile

    The Morning Mile is the kind of event that gives you goosebumps, said my friend and fitness maven Fitz Koehler today at a Hidden Oak Elementary School post-run press conference, where she addressed parents, school officials, and partner executives from AvMed, all of whom were gathered to marvel at the success of this school exercise program.

    Michael: 100 miles completed

    Goosebumps is right. I felt them when student Michael stepped up to the podium to be honored for running a grand total of 100 miles since the program launched at Hidden Oak this past November, and I felt them as I watched hundreds and hundreds of kids, their moms and dads, and the officials and execs, too, log laps on the field behind the school at 7:15 this morning. The day was foggy and gray, but the spirit that filled the outdoor space was not — the energy was electric as camera men snapped away and shouts of excitement were captured for TV. It was inspiring.

    Fitzness International’s Morning Mile is a before-school walking/running program offering children the chance to actively start their days while enjoying fitness, fun, and friends. There’s some competition, too, because that just makes life more exciting, and kids earn necklaces, plus a colorful sneaker charm for every five miles completed. It’s a big deal, and it could be exactly the fresh start you need at your school. Think focused energy, positive self esteem, obesity prevention, and in-shape kiddos, and this program should be just a little bit enticing — right?

    Time to explore your Morning Mile options. Goosebumps, remember? Goosebumps.

    Post-run pose

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    My Life After Cancer

    April 15th, 2011

    I don’t even remember submitting this photo, but out of 800+ pics featured in a New York Times online photo collage called “Picture Your Life After Cancer,” it’s one of 200-250 selected for publication in a book to be published next year by the American Cancer Society.

    So, there I am to the right. And here are the other 883 survivors: Picture Your Life After Cancer

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    Gracie’s Best Friends

    April 12th, 2011
    Gracie (right)

    “The fun doesn’t stop just because Gracie has stage 4 breast cancer,” says Gracie’s friend, who emailed me today to share about her buddy. Here’s what else she says:

    “She is going on her 6th year of stage 4. We are a tight knit group of girlfriends. We love her, support her, laugh with her and keep her spirits up. We have even planned a girls trip in September to go to Forks Washington. We are huge Twilight fans too!”

    “We are a creative group and we built a website in Gracie’s honor. We even came up with a breast cancer jewelry line to honor our friend. We wear our jewelry proudly. It is a reminder of our best friend and all she has to endure. Together we stay strong.”

    Check out Gracie’s friends’ websites here (and if you have a story to tell about breast cancer, leave me a comment):



    March 27th, 2011

    My oncology follow-up was almost one week ago. Today, 10-year-old Joey said, “Congratulations on not having cancer anymore! Sorry that’s kinda late.”

    Hey, I’ll take it!


    Paul Rudd Donates His Birthday

    March 22nd, 2011

    Ooooo, I like this!

    Rudd mentions his CrowdRise page —  here it is:

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