Abbey’s Hope

Abbey’s Aunt Shauna is surviving breast cancer, and Abbey, trying to to raise funds to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, has created the limited edition “Hope” necklace for her jewelry line, Sprightly So. The necklace sells for $20, and 50% of the profits will be donated to BCRF. Interested? Know someone who might me? Spread the word, won’t you please?

Abbey’s got lots of other pretty stuff in her shop — take a tour when you can!

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College, Cancer, and Years Gone By

Had John asked me on our first date at Leonardo’s in Gainesville, Fla. what I thought I’d be doing in 10 years, I never would have said, “fighting cancer.” But that’s what I ended up doing, with him (and two little boys) by my side.

It’s been 17 years since John and I first got to know each other at Leo’s, and last night, we reminisced about it over garlic rolls, at the very same table where we sat all those years ago. Didn’t seem all that different. Well, except for Joey and Danny scrounging our food and the fact that we look way old in the hip hangout still populated by spunky college students.

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Creative Memories Giveaway

Got some snazzy supplies up for grabs, thanks to Mischelle at Creative Memories. Just leave a comment and share how you might use these goodies, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win them all. Yep, the Punch Ribbon Maker, Pink Specialty Paper Pack, and the Think Pink Embellishment Pack. Together, they total about $40, and, well, what are you waiting for? Leave a comment, like, right now! Well, first, you might want to keep reading for giveaway rules. Then, leave your comment. And best wishes!

  • Leave a comment and tell us how you’ll use your prize.
  • Leave your comment no later than 5PM ET on Monday, October 10, 2011.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 and older.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing via random.org.
  • One winner will receive the Punch Ribbon Maker, Pink Specialty Paper Pack, and Think Pink Embellishment Pack (value: $40).
  • Winners will be notified by email, so make sure to check next week to find out if you’ve won!

And finally, if you are so inclined to ever order any Creative Memories products, please consider using my friend Mischelle as your consultant — you can find her at http://www.mycmsite.com/mischellebaluyot. And if you order online any of the items featured in this post, a portion of the proceeds will go to breast cancer research.

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OMP (Oh My Pink)

OMP, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month! You know what that means, right?

Pink food. Pink drinks. Pink clothing. Pink jewelry. Pink golf balls. Pink baseball bats. Pink mugs. Pink ornaments. Pink sunglasses. Pink pens. Pink toilet paper. Pink … pizza boxes.

You  name it — pink, pink, pink.

And to recap what I’ve said before, there are certain reasons I don’t like Pinktober. I don’t care for turning items pink and marketing them under the umbrella of awareness in order to make a dime. I don’t love it when mere pennies per purchase go toward the cause. And, I am really bothered by how sellers slap pink ribbons on not-so-safe products while claiming to be hunting down a cure (Mike’s Hard Lemonade comes to mind — if you didn’t already know, as little as one alcoholic beverage per day is a breast cancer risk factor for women).

So, those are my beefs with pink. Otherwise, I’m not a hater. I like pink stuff. I have pink stuff. And, sometimes, I give away pink stuff. It’s not all bad. Just some of it.

What’s your angle on October?

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Almost Seven Years

Almost seven years ago, I found a lump in my left breast. It was cancer.

Almost seven years ago, my brother-in-law Jack put on a pink bracelet.

My cancer is gone, but the pink bracelet is not.

Thank you, Jack!

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Attitude is Everything

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and she noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said. “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did, and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror, and she saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “H-M-M,” she said. “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did, and she had a grand day.

The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror, and she noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said. “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.” So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day, she woke up, looked in the mirror, and she noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “Hooray!” she exclaimed. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

Attitude is everything.

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The Huffington Post, Published

Never did I think creating this blog would lead to so many great writing opportunities. I really only intended to share my story with family and friends so they could keep up with my cancer-surviving progress. Somewhere along the line, though, my little spot on the Internet turned into so much more. See that yellow “My Work” box to the right? (Scroll down a little.) Pretty much everything there was a result of folks finding me here and asking me to write in other places. My most recent “other place” is The Huffington Post / AOL Living:

Breast Cancer — How I Learned to Cope With Hope

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve retold that same story, from different angles,” I told my writer uncle after he complimented me on this piece. He assured me it never gets old, only gets richer with time.

OK, then. I’ll keep writing.

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Mammogram Done

It happens every year right around my birthday — the annual mammogram. It’s no big deal to me anymore, because I figure things are either going to turn out OK, or they’re not, in which case, I’ll know what to do, because I’ve done it before. So, I just submit to the routine, cross my fingers really hard, and accept all prayers that come my way (thanks, Katie Dain). And so far, ever since that day back in 2004 when cancer crossed my path, everything has been just peachy.
Today, things turned out OK.

My mammogram was normal.

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Defeat Cancer Without a Cookie Cutter

Image: cancerbooksource.com

I have a new book, and it’s called “Defeat Cancer: 15 Doctors of Integrative and Naturopathic Medicine Tell You How.” I grabbed this Connie Strasheim paperback from my mailbox one day just as I was taking my boys to flag football practice. In the car went the book, and when I finally plopped down in my red football-mom chair, I cracked open this insightful resource, which kept me reading and wanting to alert anyone who would listen that cancer treatment can involve so much more than cutting, poisoning, and scorching.

I didn’t alert the masses that day, just my husband, who sat captive next to me in his own folding chair, but I intend to share some wisdom right now. So, keep reading, then pass it on.

I guess I should start by saying that I, myself, was cut, poisoned, and scorched. And if I had to do it all over again, I think I would follow a similar path, because ditching conventional treatment altogether just makes me nervous, and I’m afraid the result could be tragic. That’s not to say I don’t believe there’s a place for alternative methods of healing, and that’s why I like my book — it offers 15 different views on conquering cancer, some hard-core anti-traditional ideas, some not so drastic, all eye-opening. Consider these few points:

  • Cookie-cutter treatments do not work for most patients, but that’s kinda what we get in most cancer centers and hospitals. I know I did, and it’s partly why I fired one oncologist and hired another — the first one told me I needed X, Y, and Z, because that’s what the research said I needed. Doc No. 2 said I didn’t need all that she had prescribed. She was a statistics person — if the computer spit out a recommendation, she took it. He was an intuition person. He reviewed my options, shared his thoughts, and together, we picked what seemed most effective for me. It seems to be working, because I’m alive six years later, even after declining a scary drug I knew I didn’t want to take.
  • While conventional medicine has proven useful for treating some cancers, for most types, it doesn’t do so well. More than 250 billion dollars have been spent on cancer research over the past 60 years, and the cure rate hasn’t improved much since 1960. Clearly, something is not right here.
  • Even when traditional treatments are used, they are typically inadequate and lack a holistic approach. What about dietary modifications, for example? Why don’t docs talk much about eating for health and healing?
  • Cancer represents a failure of the immune system. Boosting this system through diet — because we are a far more toxic and nutritionally depleted country than every before — and immune support (oral and IV) can make a difference, maybe even provide a cure.

There is so much more packed into the pages of this book, and I can’t possibly do it service here in this post, which is probably getting a little long, right? Might I recommend you grab yourself a copy, and see for yourself how complex the world of cancer treatment really is. Then, alert the masses, or, well, maybe just whoever sits next to you at your kids’ next sporting event.

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No Cancer, Another Birthday

You know that Ricky Martin commercial, where the singer belts out a peppy happy birthday tune and states his wish for less cancer and more birthdays? Well, Ricky will be pleased to know that tomorrow — more than six years after cancer — I get another birthday! And while the big 41 won’t take effect until I wake up in the morning, the grand celebration took place tonight. It was a family affair, and there was a whopper basket of goodies.

And a delicious mom-cooked gluten-free dinner (sorry, forgot to snap a shot of my taco salad), plus beautiful cookie bars, which were not gluten-free, but everyone else loved them, and all I wanted was fresh fruit, which I got!

And things really knocked up a notch when my oldest child, who had banned all swimming this summer decided to take the plunge, because it was evening and he didn’t need sunscreen.

And then there was his silly cousin and her fancy pool hair, which looks something like a toupee, and a lot like Princess Leia when she parts it down the middle, which she did right after this pose.

And have I mentioned that I got a rockin’ camera for my birthday, which happens to be responsible for all these pretty pics? Yep.

I love my camera.

I love my family.

I love my birthday.

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New Tune — Bangs Be Gone

It seems sorta silly of me to complain about my hair, because I have hair, and having hair is a whole lot better than not having hair. I should just suck it up and be OK with the fact that I got bangs back in January, but as much as I thought I would like them (I did actually feel a fondness for them for a few days), the truth is that I really and truly prefer hair of all one length. So, I found some inner strength for the grow-out process, I purchased a few clips+headbands+other stuff, and for a while now, I’ve been blending and securing the shorter hair into the longer hair. It’s not my ideal look, but it’s holding me over, until the day comes when I can let it all flow. And on that day, I will vow — one more time — to never. ever. again. get bangs.

Oh, and the blond — yea, I’m not sure how that happened. Who knew the blond I lost, which was replaced with the darkest of dark curls, would, over time, head back to blond — and almost straight (flat iron takes care of the remaining wave, which really isn’t all that much anymore).

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Toxic Risk: Cancer and Environmental Toxins

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.

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