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    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

    1 Comment "

    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

    1 Comment "

    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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    I Am Unremarkable

    March 21st, 2011

    Arrived at Cancer Center at 7:45 AM. First up was blood work — one needle stick, three tubes filled, one pretty blue wrap.

    Then, to an exam room for vitals (yes, everything is low, but that’s OK, it’s just because I run).

    Next, a makeshift gown, because the real deal was nowhere to be found (I kinda like this version better ).

    And finally, a visit with my oncologist and a med student, who both agree I am still a healthy girl, or, in medical speak — I am unremarkable. I love how that sounds.

    Departed Cancer Center at 9:45 AM.



    He Can’t Remember Cancer

    March 20th, 2011

    I was reminding John today that I have my oncology follow-up tomorrow morning, and 7-year-old Danny said, “What’s oncology?”

    I told him it basically means cancer, that I have a visit with my doctor to make sure I still don’t have the disease. Then the conversation went like this:

    Danny: “What if you do?”

    Me: “Then I’ll treat it.”

    Danny: “Will you tell us if you have it?”

    Me: “Of course, I’ll tell you.”

    Danny: “Can I touch you if you have cancer?”

    John told him that yes, he can, that cancer is not contagious.

    Funny, because I’ve already had cancer, but Danny was so young (18 months old when I was diagnosed) that he has no real memory of the whole ordeal, which I happen to think is pretty cool. It’s like it never even happened to him. That makes me happy.


    5K Every Day — Didn’t Go My Way

    March 19th, 2011

    My 5K challenge (5K a day for two weeks) got cut short by something like, oh, nine days. It wasn’t a lack of motivation or stamina or anything glamorous (like a warrior-like injury while sprinting) that took me out of the game. Nope, it was a pair of size 2 little-boy Skechers, placed strategically right where I stepped down last Sunday from kitchen to garage. Those darn velcro shoes caused my entire foot to turn on itself. We’ll just call it a sprain, because I never did get an X-ray (one expert said I probably couldn’t walk so well if it was a break), and we’ll just hope it’s on the mend. It should be — the bad bruise is pretty much gone, so is the swelling, I’ve been icing a lot, and while I am not actually sitting still and elevating it (can moms really do that?), I do sense I’m making comeback.

    I was hoping to show up at my Monday oncology check-up having run 43 miles over the course of 14 days, but, well, that’s not gonna happen, so I’ll just continue healing and set out on a new challenge once my hobble turns back into a walk and that sharp sticking pain goes away. No biggie, I guess. I mean, there are worse things that can happen, right? Like cancer.

    Big shout-out to my college roommate Ericha, who is one day from completing — actually, crushing — the challenge. (The girl ran 4, 5, 6+ miles on some days.) Way to run, my friend!


    Small World, Big Hope

    March 10th, 2011

    Ericha was my college roommate, the girl with whom I was randomly placed when I decided to stop commuting and moved into a residence hall at Kent State University. We hit if off, had a lot of laughs, got in little bits of trouble (noise violations, just noise!), and we managed to stay connected over the years. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her, but our Facebook chats leave me feeling like not much time or distance separates us.

    Ericha is joining me in my  5K challenge (she runs in Ohio, and I run in Florida), and for the past few days, we’ve been posting on each other’s FB walls about our progress. We’ve inspired a few others who have decided to pound the pavement, and we’ve got lots of friends commenting on our respective strides. I love it. I especially love that Ericha linked to my blog in one of her posts, and this morning, her friend Cindy wrote to me. Here are her words:

    I live near Ericha, and our children attend school together. Though we have never been close, we talk from time to time at school functions, and now on FB. Over a year ago, I had a lump removed from my breast (stage 2). Being a single mom to 4, with no other family, I was petrified I would leave my children without a mother. I had also just lost my mother, a non-smoker, to lung cancer only a few months before. My grandmother had died from breast cancer, my dad, sister, and best friend all to cancer. I began researching everything I could online. All of the articles were basically the same, but then I came across a blog — a blog I could relate to, a blog that gave me hope. But after a car accident, being pronounced cancer-free, other minor stressors, and life just “happening,” I forgot about the blog. Last night I pulled out my old laptop that I hadn’t used since November, and started cleaning out the files. Lo’ and behold, there was the blog. Curious as to what was happening with the author, I opened it. Immediately I realized it was the same blog Ericha had posted on her FB wall! It was YOU! I just want to thank you for getting me through a very difficult time in my life. I had you on my church prayer list, and prayed for you daily. I am sure I’m not the only one who was encouraged and motivated by your words. Not only did you motivate me to keep on keeping on, you prepared me for what was yet to come, and gave me HOPE. Without hope, we have nothing. THANK YOU! God bless you and your family.

    And that is why I will continue to blog.


    5K Every Day

    March 7th, 2011

    I don’t know what made me commit to running a 5K every day for two weeks, but I think it has something to do with the oncology follow-up I have 14 days from now. I’ve known for a while I need to get my butt in a better gear (because slow and slackin’ haven’t been producing the results I like), and I tend to motivate better when I have a goal. A clear stop date is important, too. So, my next visit with my favorite doctor on March 21 will mark the end of my personal challenge. It will also hopefully be the day I hear I’m still cancer free, and then, maybe — just maybe — I’ll be fired up enough to run some more!


    50 Best Cancer Blogs

    March 1st, 2011
    Photo: ~Xu Trang Nguyen, Flickr

    Thank you for landing at my blog! While here, I hope you’ll find plenty of information, inspiration, and hope. But don’t stop with just my site, because there are so many great nuggets of goodness out there on the topic of cancer, and the fantastic folks at have complied a list of the 50 best blogs for cancer support. All for you. And me. And anyone who needs a one-stop shop for locating lots of wisdom.

    So, take a tour through my place, and then start connecting with all the others out there who have powerful stories to share.

    1 Comment "

    Kent State Rock Turns Breast Cancer Pink

    February 19th, 2011

    Today, my friend Nicole, her friends Amy and Pam, and Nicole’s two Beagles, kicked off an 8,500-step training walk by painting a famous rock at Kent State University. The rock is the only place on campus where graffiti is allowed, and for decades, the thing has been painted over and over again, sometimes several times per day. Often, colorful Greek letters are splashed across this hunk of Earth located near Main St., but today, it’s a pink ribbon making a powerful statement. It says that Nicole and her pals are stepping into the ring with the disease that took the life of Nicole’s mom, Amy’s cousin, and countless other loved ones.

    Nicole and gang will walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For the Cure July 29-31 in Cleveland. Ohio. They’ll trek  20 miles over the course of three days, and while math isn’t exactly my thing, I am able to figure out that these girls will conquer 60 whopping miles, and let’s just agree that this is a serious undertaking.

    Serious fundraising is also in the works for this monumental challenge — participants must raise $2,300 — and so, if you have a few bucks to spare and/or could use a 2011 tax deduction, head on over to Nicole’s donation page and sponsor the girl I first met at Kent State’s Stopher Hall (we lived on the same wing in this residence hall), and who, nearly 10 years later, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, became one of my most loyal and hopeful supporters.

    Thank you, Nicole, for all you do. You rock!


    Illusion — A Short Film

    February 4th, 2011

    A short film by Nikki Mackey and Connie Finn. Music from VNV Nation and Metropolis Records.


    Back to Bangs

    January 25th, 2011

    For much of my life, and much to my dismay, I had bangs. I kept them around not because I wanted them, but because I never felt equipped to grow them out — too many funky stages on the path to all-one-length hair, so I resigned myself to the reality that I’d have them f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

    Well, reality changed. I got cancer, and I got to lose all my hair. Devastating, it was, maybe even worse than the cancer itself and its treacherous treatments. There was one little silver lining, though — the bangs were gone. And the golden opportunity presented itself: I could grow my hair all over again, and I would not cut bangs — never, ever, again. And for six years, I didn’t. Until today, when I went to my hair stylist and told her, “I want bangs.”

    It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the best one. My bangs are longish, and I’ll sweep them to the side — these are not your traditional straight-across variety. I like how they frame my face, how they add some style, how they look warm and chocolate-y with some new chunky highlights, how they’ll hide the wrinkles that will inevitably appear more visible on my forehead. I like them. I just do. Which is a good thing, because, well, I still don’t think I have it in me to grow them out.