Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Winter of Cancer

           To me
 Facing -and fighting- cancer was like watching seasons change.
 Before cancer I was going through life as if it were summer. Life was warm, happily filled with every day things. I took walks, I enjoyed family and friends, life was good.
Then came fall and the first chilly breeze. I had my first mammogram just after I turned fifty years old. It was November, Thanksgiving was in the air so I wasn't thinking anything at all about possibilities only getting the test over and out of the way and my getting back to living. Summertime was going to be a long way away. The last colors that had burst forth with Autumn faded away as I got the call that more images were needed. Unfazed and unworried I went in the day after Christmas to get the images done so my mother and I could hit the shops. We wouldn't hit the stores that day for the first time in years. After having multiple images taken, then going for an ultrasound the mood for shopping was gone. The cold of winter's reality was approaching, the clouds on the horizon growing thicker. Even before any confirmations the chill ran up my back, it was going to be a cold winter. I didn't need any weather predictors telling me that. When the confirmation came I was ready, as ready as one could be in those circumstances.

  As I progressed through the initially testing and questions I had donned a jacket of strength of will. The surgical biopsy had brought out the boots of determination. I would walk this journey and see it to the end. when the biopsy showed cancerous it was time to get serious. Winter's winds were blowing, but I was not to be swayed. After my surgery I dressed in the armor of one going into battle, preparing for the treatments to come.

 By now, the colors had every one faded to brown, most leaves haven fallen from the trees covering the cold, barren ground. Ever so often you would see a tree that had retained its leaves. I remembered hearing that some trees held their leaves so that the wildlife would have a place to find shelter from winter's cold and snows. I was going to need to seek out those special places for shelter during the coming winter season.
  Since my becoming a so-called adult, winter has never been my favorite time of year. Truth be told, I dislike the cold as much as one can dislike anything. Even that remembered fun in the snow is short lived when one has to attempt to drive in the mess around others who have no practice in the activity. Winter is a bland, grey, occasionally white time of year where color is sparse, I feel trapped inside wrapped in blankets and extra clothing. Breast cancer was my time of winter. The colors of laughter, song , and fun were shrouded in the extra layers of worry, fear, pain and concern over the unanswered questions. For me, winter is a lonely time, I spend most of the season hiding in the house. During my battle, I spent most of the time exhausted. Radiation treatments were deleting all of the energy that I had and replacing it with a tired feeling so extreme that it was all I could do to put one foot before the other. Every time I stretched out on that table and watched that monster of a machine move into position I closed my eyes and made ready for the cold reality. They were flooding my breast with radiation, supposedly one area, but could one be sure? How does one confine snow to one area? It is not a possible reality at this time, so how could confining radiation to one area be fully possible? Each treatment brought colder times, each moment on that table less color- how I longed for the warmth and color of spring. I hated the silence, I hated the loneliness, I so disliked the drab grey times and days.

  The day I had my final radiation treatment I walked slowly from the building, certificate of accomplishment in hand. It was accomplished, I had finished all of my radiation treatments. Winter was ending. It was however going to take a long while for spring to fully arrive. As the flowers slowly poke their first buds from the ground so did my strength return. The flowers of spring depend on the sunlight and rain, I depended on rest, good foods and exercise. The plants depend on fertilizers, and pruning, I depended on the love, prayers and closeness of friends. As spring's warmth and color returned, as life in nature renewed, so did mine.
  My battle, my season of winter in the year of 2008, not so long past that I have forgotten. Not so close that it disturbs my rest and thoughts. As winter returns, will my cancer? That I cannot say, but I do know that as one prepares for difficult times in the cold, so I have prepared to better my health. When freezing temperatures threaten one stores up water, fuel for heating, foods easy to prepare in case of power outages. I have removed the bad things from my diet and saved up the good. Processed foods is out and whole natural foods are in. Sodas are out and water is in. Exercise and stress relieving acts are in. Will the winter of cancer return? I hope and pray not, but if it does, I will be much better prepared and understanding of what is to come.

One thing that I did while fighting was join forces with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. I have learned much, made new and good friends and helped, in what ever ways I am able in the fight to end cancer. Relay welcomes everyone. It is a joining of forces, a joining of friends. We walk, we laugh, we raise awareness and money. Please find a Relay event to participate in. If you can't find a Relay in your area and would like to help you can always donate to the ACS on my profile page here:


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Going Green, its not just an Environmental Thing (colors of food)

   As one who loves photography, artistic endeavors, the explosion of Spring and the burst of fall foliage, I love color. I enjoy what it does to my photographs, on a canvas and yes, even on my plate. I am much more interested in eating and eating better if the meal before me is aesthetically pleasing. An important note here is that not only are colorful foods more pleasing to look at, they are good for you. Each color represents different nutrients held within. In an earlier posting I discussed red foods, today is obviously green, so lets go green shall we?

In the process of doing the research for this particular writing the same phenomenon happened that usually happens. I was finding so many interesting pieces of information that I was having too much fun searching and forgetting that I was supposed to be writing. Learning however, is never a bad thing, especially when we are talking about what can help you be a healthier individual. One thing realized, while the sight of green mold on your food is not pleasing to see, most green foods are good to see... on your plate.

 Green  leafy foods, contain chlorophyll, something many of us learned in high school science class. This gives food their green color. There is a wide variety of nutrients to be found in green fruits and vegetables. Among the many nutrients, green leafy plants contain phytochemicals, compounds that help fight disease. Rich in fiber they help lower cholesterol, keep you feeling full longer, lower blood pressure and help with the slowing of absorption of carbohydrates.

I'll admit it, I love a good salad, especially one that I make here in my own kitchen. I know what I've chopped up in there.  Especially if I have grown my own vegetables or have green thumbed friends who share. That being said, let's build our own green salad bar.
 My husband is a die hard iceberg lettuce man, I will eat iceberg, but I know that Romaine is better. While Iceberg contains very few beneficial nutrients, Romaine contains five that helps promote better health. The five are fiber, folate - a B-vitamin; Cartenoids- an antioxidant; Vitamin C and Saponins- phytochemicals found in green leafy vegetables.
With those big bowls of lettuce filled lets start on the other smaller containers, we have a lot to fill as I love a salad filled with a variety of good things. Take cucumber, I have been known to eat more than my share of cucumber, especially if it is fresh picked from the garden. My love for cucumber was always based on taste, now I have more reasons to enjoy this favorite. Cucumber according to the web site contain lariciresinol, pinoresinol and secoisolariciresinol. These are three lignans that research has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types.
 Bell Pepper is next. While I enjoy all the colors of bell pepper and they all go in, we're discussing green. The green bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C containing more than found in an average orange. Green peppers also contain vitamin E and the antioxidant mineral manganese.
After that are the Brussels sprouts, small, but packs a heavy punch. The many nutrients in Brussels sprouts support three body systems. The detox system, its antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/ anti-inflammatory system. Providing many vitamin antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, and A.
Broccoli, steamed, broccoli can provide some cholestrol lowering benefits. Raw broccoli has this ability, but less so. It has a positive impact on the body's detoxification system. With vitamin A and K broccoli helps keep vitamin D levels in balance. Has unique anti-inflammatory benefits. Its many different nutrients and properties make eating broccoli a good cancer prevention strategy.
Kale: packed with vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron and calcium.
Honeydew melon: Good source of vitamin C.
Peas: contains, fiber, protein, iron, zinc, potassium and folate.
Avocados: VitaminC, K, folate, potassium,the antioxidant lutein and monounsaturated fat.
Kiwi: More vitamin C than any other fruit. High in fiber, potassium, and vitamin E.
Limes: Antioxidants including flavonol glycosides that help prevent hardening if the arteries and help fight cancer. 
Asparagus: Excellent source of folate and thiamin, fiber, iron, vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Artichokes: Vitamin C, folate and potassium.

The list could go on and on as there are many good "green" foods out there. Whole and natural foods that help the body and help our health. It is too easy to fall into the trap of convenience when it comes to using processed food products. Most of which anything actually nutritious has been removed. When you use natural foods that are not laden with chemicals or modified, then your health can improve. They provide a multitude of nutrients, that improve body functions, cut down on inflammation, help prevent cancer, help blood sugar and cholesterol levels, help with digestion, and more.
 I know from experience that once we are caught in the processed foods trap it is a difficult one to escape from. Ripping open a box, tossing the "meal" into a microwave and then presto- we have dinner convenience is much easier than taking raw vegetables and slowly from scratch preparing dinner. Better health though is worth it, well worth it.
 Once my cholesterol levels began to creep up a couple of years ago I pretty much stopped purchasing most processed foods. I do purchase frozen pizzas because I haven't bothered to try and make my own...yet. That is next on my list..I could start by learning how to prepare a spinach pizza..its green..
 Kermit the frog said "it isn't easy being green" and yes, sometimes it isn't easy eating and living a green lifestyle. But once a healthier way of life is adopted, one can and does adjust, and is all the better for it. I know that I feel much better, and I have less fears of my cancer returning.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Know your body and its reactions

   One thing I have discovered about this new healthy lifestyle, not all healthy things are right for you.
   The doctor told me he wanted me to start a new healthier lifestyle. with my cholesterol levels creeping up and my being a cancer survivor I felt I needed to follow that instruction. One of the instructions was  to cut out as much processed sugar as possible. For a self confessed junk food junkie I've done very well. Once I would plow through an entire bag of chocolate candy in a day's time. Once I loved my sodas and sweet tea, I haven't drank a soda in weeks. While my sugar levels have always checked out fine, why take the chance? Especially when sugar is hidden under many different names in most of our foods. But, the other day I accidentally went too far.
  For breakfast every morning I prepare a bowl of regular oatmeal, to that I add just a dash of salt, a heaping teaspoon full of flax seed, a couple spoonfuls of crushed walnut and a dash of cinnamon. After stirring that I add what ever fruit I'm in the mood for. This suits my sweet tooth and lasts up until my first break at work.
  The other day after breakfast I finished getting ready for work and headed out the door and to the plant. I was fine right up until we started working. Then I began to feel a bit light headed. I tried to ignore it and work it off but it didn't go away, it only got worse. It went from being light headed to feeling flushed, to feeling nauseous, sick to my stomach and a trembling beginning all over. I have no shame is saying I was beginning to worry. So much so that I came within one number calling the doctor. Then I thought I knew the problem. Not waiting on the time I usually go for a break I grabbed some cash and letting my manager know what was going on, I headed for the break room. Usually I don't carry any money, I was definitely glad I was this day.  After purchasing a large sugar coated pastry and coffee with cream and sugar I sat down and began to eat. I could feel the difference almost immediately. With in a couple of hours I was fully back to normal. My blood sugar had dropped drastically and to obviously a dangerous level.
  I had heard that cinnamon lowered blood sugar, now I know it really does. Thing is, cinnamon can't tell the difference between high levels and normal levels, all it knows is do what it does well- lower sugar levels. So for now, the cinnamon has been moved and won't be seeing my oatmeal bowl for a long long time if ever.
 The point to this is, one must know their body and its reactions to different things. Especially the reactions to chemical things such as supplements. If you feel different, if you feel bad, think of the last things you took or ate. Know, what you can handle and what you need to stay away from. Read the labels and know what is in everything. Know the medicines you have reactions to, know what makes you sick, what makes you hyper, what makes you not everyone will have the same reactions, some may not have any at all. But you have to know for your own safety and peace of mind.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I don't live in the fear

 I do not live my life in fear. I do not jump at every sound, cringe at every shadow. Even as the knowledge is and always will be there, just in the back of my mind, the knowing, I had cancer. I am a survivor. I do not worry with each new day, will today be the day? When my yearly mammogram rolls around, I do not allow the question to take hold.. what if? But the knowledge is there, I had cancer, I am a survivor. By the grace of God, my cancer was caught early. The treatments less intensive or intrusive than for others.
 I do not, ask why I had cancer. Even as I may not know the reason in this life time, I do believe that at least part of the reason was so that I could share my journey from cancer back to health. It was an adventure that I didn't want, but one I was given anyway. I'm not a fighter, I play, I imagine, I dream, I create, hoping that I can see those dreams become a reality. This, was a fight I didn't want to participate in a nightmare I didn't want to endure...but I did. I awoke from that nightmare to a different reality.
I am a survivor.
 I do participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I signed up not long after my diagnoses, because it had then became personal. I was suddenly thrust into a fight for my life as I knew it. Even then, so early in, I wanted to do what I could to help others and to help in the fight to end cancer. Every day I learn more, even now, six years later I am still learning...and fighting.
 Over the course of time, I realized how I had worn blinders. I lived in a place where I ignored cancer. It was something that happened to others. If it happened to someone I knew, it was sad, but it still wasn't quite real. Now it is. Its amazing how one's perspective can be changed when it is something happening to them. Now, when I see friends fighting cancer, when I hear of another person diagnosed, when I see the expression on their face, it is real. I can't ignore it any longer, it is real. I've walked my walk, I know how it felt for me and still feels. I can't tell them I know how they feel, but I can understand all of the emotions that they will be facing.
 I don't hate, but I do hate cancer. I hate what it does to people, to friends, to family. I hate when someone loses a loved one to cancer. I don't know their pain, but I understand there is pain. I have lost loved ones to cancer. I hate that, I miss them, I miss their laugh, their jokes, their presence. The hatred I feel causes the determination to grow.
 I do what I can to continue to learn. I research what fruits and vegetables are best for what reason. This one helps fight this type cancer and that one fights a different one. Exercise helps as does meditation and relaxation.
  I look forward to the day when there is no cancer, but until then, I look forward to the time when I am able to dedicate even more of my time to helping in the fight. When I can tell them, if you need a ride to the doctor, call me. If you need a way to get your medicine, call me. If you're in need, call me. If you have a question, ask and if I don't know, I'll find out for you. In fact, you can do that now... I'll answer or I'll find the answer.
  We can discuss the different cancers, possible causes,  and treatments. We can discuss the programs that the American Cancer Society has, The ride along, Look Good Feel Better, HOPE house..we'll find the answers together. We'll fight together or I'll fight for you.
 We have all been touched in some way, shape or form by cancer. If you know me, you know I am a survivor.. I had cancer, breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and I had several lymph nodes removed. I underwent six weeks of radiation. There were days when I felt as if I could not put one foot in front of the other. I held onto things to stay upright, but I made it. I didn't miss but two days of work, the day of and the day after my surgery. I quit eating processed junk food as it made me feel worse, I even had to cut back to only one cup of coffee a day because my body couldn't handle the caffeine at that time. I felt the emotions, I fought the fear, I felt the cold loneliness because of those who didn't know what to say or how to act, but I survived.
and I fight................hard
for those who can not
for those who are still fighting
for those who are survivors.

I do not live my life in fear, even as I know, somewhere in the back of my mind the thought lingers. I live my life determined to do what ever I am able, how and when I am able to help others. It is my dream that I will see an end to the fight against cancer in my life time. It is my dream to see this finished.  Join me in the fight, help us finish the fight, help us create more birthdays. It isn't just raising money for the American Cancer Society. It isn't just an excuse for an all night party. Its a way to get attention to the fight, its a way to raise awareness, it is a way to raise money for research, for the programs, for the fight. Find a Relay for Life event near you, or join with me. Be a part of putting the finishing touches on the fight, to ending this once and for all. Because the world needs more survivors, who even though in the back of their mind they remember, they don't give in to the fear-- they fight.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

(One of) the Worst Feelings

Alone. The very worst feeling, was feeling alone. Like there was no one out there who understood. Of course there was people who had an understanding of what they endured, but no one can ever fully comprehend your feelings and struggles because they are yours.
 From the moment of diagnoses, how ever you handled it when you were told that you- or a loved one- had cancer. There is no wrong way to handle that information. You either accept it and decide to fight and survive, or you scream or cry or grow angry...and then you fight and survive. There is no wrong feeling. We are designed to have emotions, they help us deal with the blows and storms that come with this life. Without them we are robotic in our existence, going from moment to moment without action or reaction. With feelings, we are living, breathing, analyzing data and deciding on a fight strategy and survival tactics. We reach out to others for help or to help. We cook meals, we give rides, we sit quietly, we hug, we cry, we laugh, we pray, we support, we fight on, never giving up.
  As we prepare for the beginning, that first surgery, whether it is the only one or the first of many. We answer thousands of questions and the same questions repeatedly. We wonder just how many people we will have to talk with, how many different tests and procedures we will have to endure. But endure we will. We know we will deal with those who are compassionate, those who truly care and we will deal with those who are all business or are in a hurry to get their day finished. Even in this, we will show our strength.
  When the treatments begin, unless you are one who has a caregiver who is able to go along with you, to make sure you have transportation, who sits with you until you alone must walk back, then you sit there feeling the feelings of alone. You can hear the laughter and the whispers of those around you. You can hear the chatter of those who administer the treatments, but you are for the moment... alone. But you aren't.
   So many, too many have sat in that seat before you. So many, too many have fought similar battles before you. So many, too many will follow along behind you. Facing the battles, the fears, the anger, that feeling of being alone even when surrounded by others.
  It was the only time during my personal battle when I felt the tears threaten, when I felt alone. I knew people were praying for me. I knew that my Lord and Savior was with me. I knew that my family and friends supported me....but in that one moment, sitting in that waiting area for my next radiation treatment I felt very much alone.
 That, is one of the reasons among many that I do what I do. I became a part of Relay for Life not long after my diagnoses. I participated in my first all night Relay not long after I finished my radiation treatments. Many thought that I couldn't make it all night...but I did. It was lonely at times, I did cry as I walked that Luminaria lap, the light from the candles burning the only light on the track. I read the many names as I walked, too many names on too many bags. At times it was almost too cold to bear, I had my son bring me another bigger blanket and jacket as I fought the night, the exhaustion and the feelings that attacked from all sides. I made it that night, and every Relay night after that. I walk, for those who cannot. I walk in memory of those lost, in honor of those who are survivors. I walk in the hopes of raising money to help in the fight, to help in research, to help in the many programs that the American Cancer Society has for those fighting. I do what I try and find ways to show others, that they are not alone.
 Please help support the ACS and Relay for Life..if you can't find an event in your areas will you please support me with a donation? Following is the link to my profile page on Relay, there is a link to my team HEART for a cure there..feel free to sign up, you don't need to be local, all you need is a heart for a cure.. (Honoring Everyone Affected Recognizing The caregiver)

Friday, February 14, 2014

first responders

            In the past few days I have read some very interesting articles on how to be prepared in bad weather. Amazing how those pop up when you're in the middle of bad weather and not so much before when you would have time to actually follow some of that advice. The thing is, some of that same advice can be applied to other things as well. Like fighting cancer.
              When storm warnings go out, certain people go into action. The weather teams set up their command centers, the police, the firefighters and paramedics make sure everything they use is ready, in good shape and prepared for all possibilities. The people who are paying attention make sure they have all they need for a worse case scenario. In some cases the doctors and nurses of hospitals, the employees of nursing and assisted living facilities have to stay at the facility to make sure that there are enough personnel there to take care of all the needs of the patients.
             What does that have to do with fighting cancer? I'm glad you asked.
             It is suggested that in winter, that every car have an emergency preparedness pack. In it could be a variety of items that would be handy to have in case of an emergency.. such as a slide from the road and becoming stuck and having to await rescue. In it should be a wool blanket, extra socks, a flashlight or one of those bands that fits over your head with a flashlight attached, (LED bulbs last much longer) water to drink, snack crackers, a first aid kit, something to read, what ever the individual prefers to have that would come in handy in case of having to wait. It is also recommended that you keep the gas tank as full as possible and your cell phone charged at all times. 
            Cancer......a disease that doesn't really give much warning. While meteorologists have all manner of radar and computers and charts, graphs and team work to spot the storms approaching, cancer doesn't have a team. Cancer lurks like a shadow in the dark, hidden and unseen until. But there is a group that is and has been working on that for a while. The American Cancer Society is actively fighting and striving to put an end to the battle once and for all.
            When one is preparing for a storm, they need information, what type storm? how soon will it arrive? How severe and dangerous is it? What do we need do to weather this?
            When one has been diagnosed with cancer, they ask similar questions. What type? How far along? How severe is it? What do we need do to beat this?
            Weather prognosticators will tell you everything that you need to know to get through a storm.
             Doctors, will walk with you step by step to help you get rid of the cancer within and beat it.
             The ACS is staffed with people ready, willing and waiting at the other end of the 1-800-(227-2345) number or at There you can get answers to your questions. They can and will send out informational pamphlets. They cannot diagnose, but they can offer in general information.
            Police, firefighters and paramedics are there to help prevent people from doing more damage after the storm, to get to those in need during the storm, to take care of damage the storm may be causing.
           Doctors and their staff are there to remove the cancer and its damage. To give the patient the needed medicines, to calm the mental and emotional storms.
            The ACS has programs ready for the patient in need. The HOPE house is there for people who must have treatments away from home. The Look Good Feel Better program for the patient. to help them with wigs, scarves and make up. The rider program to get them to their doctor appointments.
           The weather forecaster will tell you what is to come, and what you need stock up on, what you need to tie down, what needs to be wrapped or left dripping.
            The first responders will come for you should the storm be more than you bargained for. They bring ladders if you're in a high rise, they bring boats if you're in the water, they bring blankets if you're cold.
              The ACS will be there for you in the form of your local Relay for Life. The teams, the committees are made up of local people from your own neighborhoods. The folks next door, down the street, from work, from church, from the grocery store.. all joined by a common cause. To finally put an end to the fight. To beat cancer, to assure Survivors of more birthdays.. to win.
              That is why they gather, that is why they fund raise. To raise money for research. To raise money so that the information is current, ready to share and that there is always someone there to share it. To raise the money to fund the programs, to help with the training. To be there, when they are needed.
            there are many storms in this life. Cancer is not a storm to play with. But we can beat this. We can put an end to cancer. We can help more survivors celebrate more birthdays. With your help. Please find a Relay event in your area. If you cannot find one, will you consider helping me as I participate in ours? A donation of any amount will go a long way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I would donate but...........facts, figures and more..

"Well, I would donate but.......
  "I don't know where the money goes."
  "How are all of those dollars spent?"
   "I can't donate much, so why bother?"
   "Its all a big business, it has to all go in the corporation pockets. They can't actually be putting much into the fight."

 Do you recognize any of these questions? Can you think of others that you may have heard or even had yourself concerning all of those dollars raised? Well drag up a chair and lets discuss money.
 Just last night (Feb.10th, 2014) we had a team rally meeting. During that meeting we discussed this very topic and were even given sheets that held the details. Details that I will share with you now in the hopes that you will have a better understanding of how all of those dollars are spent.

The thumbnail facts are these-

How the money was spent:

$160Million on Cancer Research

$304Million on Patient Support.

$153Million on Prevention Information and Education.

$97Million on Detection and Treatment

$59Million on Management and General Expenses

$218Million on Fundraising Expenses

Where the money came from:

62% from people like you with, special gifts, personal gifts, corporate gifts, Bequests, etc.. (almost all of these donors were individual who gave an average gift of just $50 to help those affected by cancer.

5% from grants and contracts from government agencies

33% investment income

How were people helped?

Staying well: Change grants provided thousands of screenings to people in under-served communities. ACS nutritional and physical activity guidelines illustrate how weight, nutrition and activity affect cancer risk. In 2013 ACS reached its goal of recruiting 300,000 participants for cancer prevention study-3.

Get Well: Provided free lodging at our Hope Lodge facilities for more than 41,000 patients and caregivers. Cancer information specialists provided free information and support to nearly 1 million callers (800-227-2345). 32,000,000 unique visitors to for credible cancer and health-related information.

Find Cures: Pioneering research, In 2013 a 47th Society funded researcher won the Noble Prize. Annual cancer facts and figures publication presents the most current trends in cancer occurance, survival, prevention, early detection and treatment. Spent an estimated $160.1 million on research and health professional training.

Fight back: Granted $25Million to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to ensure lawmakers make cancer a top national priority. Relay for Life engaged 4 million people in 6,000 communities across 20 countries. Our making strides against breast cancer walks engaged 1 million people who raised $60million.

I also know that there are programs available for cancer patients such as the Look Good feel better program which helps those fighting cancer learn how to make themselves look good even as they fight. They learn about wigs, scarves and accessories to make one look good.. and when you look good, you obviously feel better.
 There is also the program where volunteers will using their own vehicles give rides to cancer patients to their doctor's appointments and treatments. Making it easier on the patient who doesn't have to wait on public transportation and the ride with a thousand stops along the way.

 I know for a fact if you call the 800 number with a question, there is someone there to answer. They do not hesitate to send you information pamphlets when requested. In all of the many times I have called they have always been polite and helpful.

For those of you reading this here in North Carolina, with the number or teaching / research hospitals in the area, a portion of the money raised in Relay events goes to them meaning it remains in the area.

You are in a position where you would like to donate but you are on a strict budget and could donate very little. How could  only a dollar make a difference? I'm about to suggest one of my darkest nightmares. Lets do some math.

If you donate one dollar.. I know, I are frugal with your money.. you are very careful in how you spend it due to other responsibilities. That leaves you with one dollar to donate.. but its only a dollar.
you, person A..$1 = $1
person B...$1 + your $1=$2
person C...$1 + Your $1 and B's $1=$3
person D..$1 + your $1 and B's $1 and C's $1 =$4
Person E is feeling generous and donates $5 + your $1 plus B's $1 and C's $1 and D's $1 = $9
A large crowd has gathered to watch the tossing of $$$s into the bucket. They get into the spirit of the thing and each donate $1. The crowd total was 500 (I said it was large)
500+5+1+1+1+1= 509...that's 509 dollars. One dollar at a time. And of course with each addition even at a dollar the total goes up, growing ever dollar at a time if need be.

One dollar joining together with others can and does make a difference- *see above list.

One person joining together with others, sharing talents, sharing responsibility, sharing time, material goods, ideas, determination.. can and does make a difference. The cancer death rate is on the decline. We may find that difficult to imagine if we have recently lost a loved one to cancer.. but that is all the more reason to join in the fight.. to help finish the fight and put an end to cancer. Won't YOU, donate that dollar?

my Relay profile page with link there to the team (HEART for a cure) page.

And while we are discussing donations, we were reminded at the team rally that the team that brings in the most money, in cash and or online will earn a $1000 would you consider.. please (I said please) donating and helping my team earn this bonus? thank you in advance for all you do for Relay and the fight to end cancer..

Thank you American Cancer Society for the above facts, figures and information.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Before and after Cancer

The worst part of my journey was not long. The hardest part of my battle- compared to the battle of others- not much of a battle at all. And yet, that one segment of my life has changed me forever. My bout with cancer does not control my life, for currently I am healthy with no signs of my enemy. It did however effect how I perceive things.
            Before cancer I was skating along, going about this business of living. My family and I were going to country music concerts, we would travel to some degree and we had very little worries about money. My husband was a workaholic who put in many over time hours, the bills were paid and the entertainment options were many. My eyes were only on the things we could do or the things we could have. I rushed about from adventure to adventure, work to home to store and back again without taking time to really see or experience.

 Before cancer I had blinders on to many things. Having breast cancer opened my eyes in many ways. I slowed down.

 During the time of my cancer fight my husband found himself unexpectedly out of work. I found myself fighting cancer and helping him find another job. My days entailed taking care of all the things work related, interrupted by things cancer related and then home to take care of home and my husbands looking for work related needs. He is less computer literate than I am so he would do the phone calls and in person things and I would help him by doing the searches and filling out the online applications. This made for long tiring days. He was on his way for a job orientation the day I found out I had cancer. The day I had my surgery he was on his way to have his DOT physical for his CDL license. But through it all, even when he wasn't able to be there, I wasn't alone. I had my faith and my friends always near.

 Once my surgery was out of the way the treatments began. I was extremely blessed in that I did not need chemotherapy. I did however go through six weeks of radiation treatments. Radiation may help burn away the cancer, but it also for me anyway burned away any energy that I possessed. Some days I felt as if I were slogging through a bog of thick peanut butter. My feet nearly impossible to lift to take another step, and yet I made it. One thing that amazed my husband, was that I would go in to work fifteen minutes early, leave fifteen minutes early to go for the treatments and then once I got home I would take to the woods for my walk. A nice, slow, even stroll just me, my camera and my Savior walking with me, showing me new things every day that I would ordinarily not see. There were flowers and plants growing and blooming along the path that I had never realized were there. I found insects that amazed me in their appearance. There was always- always something new and different to find even though I walked along the same route every time. I did this just in case something happened my family would know where to look for me. These walks brought me wonder, brought me calming peace, brought me to understand that there is a special beauty to this place that we will see, if we slow down and bother to actually look for it.

 I was reminded that as most photographers know, lighting matters, time of day matters. The bright sunlight of day washes out colors. The bright glare of living life in the fast lane hides many things. (and you don't have to be among the super wealthy to live life in the fast lane. The fast lane is the place where you are simply too busy to experience life to its fullest beauty) When you see life in the early morning or late afternoon light.. colors are different. when you see life through the clouds, you see the full richness of the colors. When the clouds, or snow covering mute many of life's busy sounds, you can hear the real music of the land. You can hear the beauty of the quiet moments.
                                                                    (late afternoon)
                                                                 (mid day- same flower)

  There have been times when I was walking that I would come across  wildlife. I have been watched by the deer, I have been watched by owl and raccoons as I have stood and quietly watched them. I have photographed turtles, tree frogs and praying mantis, wondering at their simple beauty. Squirrel are abundant here and are hilarious to watch and a challenge to photograph unless you run across the young curious ones who wonder about the crazy human that flashes that bright light..

  Before cancer I was in such a hurry.
  Even though while I was going through all that my fight entailed, I never asked "why me" maybe, just maybe it was to slow me down so that I would see, feel, experience and understand the gifts that are given. Maybe, just maybe, it was so that I could share what I find so that others will slow down and find the gifts that are waiting for them.
 After cancer...I am so much more content..for I know I am blessed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For the Love of Red Foods

I am not an expert on anything but myself and even there I am still learning. Who and what I am, is simple. I am a person striving to educate myself and share the lessons I am learning. I am a person who has experienced a few battles and came out on the other side a survivor. Because of some of those battles, I spend time working on being healthier. It is an ongoing battle as this aging body enjoys being sedentary. Yet, the fact that I am still in a time of my life where I need to be and can be more active means dragging myself up and getting busy.
Some exercise can be done sitting down. Exercising the brain and seeking information as I have done here....

Every time I hear about someone I know having cancer, it hurts. I cannot possibly know their pain and struggles, but I remember mine. No matter the fight, no matter how early the cancer may have been caught, or how far it has spread, it is a battle. A battle against an enemy invader in your own body. A battle to maintain what good health you have as you try to rid yourself of this disease and then return to a healthier state. We all have cancer cells within our body, different things will set the cells to multiplying.
  If you are, or were a smoker.
  If you do not get enough physical exercise.
  If you are under a great deal of stress.
  If you do not eat the right types and amounts of food, or if you eat too much of the wrong type foods, think sugar.
  Of course the above is only a partial list, as the causes of cancer are many and continue to be discovered.

As a cancer survivor whose cancer was caught early I try to eat healthy. When I was undergoing my own cancer treatments certain types of foods increased the problems that the treatments caused. Radiation treatments destroyed all of my energy levels. If I consumed processed sugars it made it worse. If I drank more than one cup of coffee, it made it worse. I did not get the rush of energy and then the crash, I suffered only the crash. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other at times.
  I've said it many times. I'm not bragging, I'm actually trying to say that if I can do it...anyone can do it. I am a serious junk food addict, which is an ongoing battle for me. Now, with my improved diet,  I do tend to get teased at work. I just smile, but all the while, I'm thinking that my cantaloupe, banana, strawberries, etc... along with my salads are going to do a lot more for me than that corn dog or what ever that other thing was you just purchased from the machine. While due to time constraints I tend to be a purest and merely slice the fruit I'm taking to work, there are many healthy ways and recipes to eat fruit. Raw, as I usually do, blended into smoothies, baked, such as apples,or added to other recipes. One can add fruit to some main courses and add to the flavor of any meal.
 Its the same with vegetables. Eaten raw when possible is great, but steamed, baked, or combined with other recipes as long as there are no added sugars or fats.
  As an example, I make my own spaghetti sauce. I start with about a pound of lean ground beef, brown and drain. Add to that a can of diced, low salt tomatoes (fresh when in season) and a can of diced seasoned tomatoes. Then add a dash of cinnamon, a medium cut up onion, a small can of tomato paste, a small can of mushroom pieces- drained. There is a multitude of various spice blends available and I add one that has basil, garlic, parsley among other seasonings one usually finds in Italian dishes.Then once it has simmered for a while I add chopped bell pepper of various colors. Allow this to continue to simmer as the spaghetti cooks.
  For a salad I begin with various greens, (iceberg lettuce is mostly water and has very little nutritional value so I add Romaine and purple cabbage) add to that carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, cauliflower and broccoli along with mushrooms. Making  enough salad to last, I leave this in a large bowl with a lid in the fridge to get a serving from every morning to take for lunch. I can add to this as the belly hungers. Adding tuna, egg, cheese, olives or cottage cheese, just to name a very few. Some not quite as healthy as others but the amount added is low. As far as salad dressing goes, I only add maybe a tablespoon. I want to taste the vegetables not the dressing. Its colorful and its good.
  Its obvious that fruits and vegetables are colorful, we can see that without anyone telling us. Each color has its own benefits. The colors each a representative of various nutrients, which are good for us.  While some are more nutritious when eaten raw, others are better when cooked as heat releases the nutrients locked inside.
  Red is one of my favorite colors, but why should my diet include red items? What punch does the red carry that offers healthy benefits? Many red (as well as blue and purple fruits and vegetables) contain things such as ellagic acid, a phytochemical, or plant chemical that is antiproliferative and is an antioxidant. it has the ability to inhibit the DNA binding of certain carcinogens, and slow the growth of certain tumors. It has been known to cause cell death in laboratories, and said to reduce heart disease, liver problems and more. Ellagic acid is in blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, walnuts, pecans, pomegranates and more.
 Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments that gives plants their color. It is an antioxidant that acts as an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory. While more testing is needed, it has shown signs of protecting against heart disease and cancer. It may prevent damage caused by bad cholesterol and reduce high blood pressure. Quercetin is found in apples, onions, teas, red wines and cranberries to name a few.
 Hesperidin is a plant chemical. Classified as a bioflavornoid it is found in citrus fruits. Studies have shown it may reduce inflammation, most often used for blood vessel conditions and to treat lymphedeme which involves fluid retention a possible complication of breast cancer surgery.

 Lycopene, a powerful anti oxidant. A powerful fighter of free radicals, those molecules that roam around inside the body disrupting cells and promoting disease. While tomatoes contain the most, lycopene is also found in apricots, guave, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruit red bell peppers and red carrots among others. Lycopene may lower the risk of heart disease, macular degenerations and may help prevent some cancers such as lung, prostrate, stomach, bladder, cervix and skin cancer.

  One of the pieces of information that I ran across was that lycopene is better absorbed by the body when it is heated. One of my favorite ways of heating tomatoes, is in chili. Brown one pound of lean ground sirloin and one pound of venison, drain excess fat then add one can of seasoned beans, one can of light red kindey beans (drained and rinsed) dried pintos that have been cooked preferred but canned will work, a can of diced no salt tomatoes- fresh when in season, diced fire roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, chopped onion, your favorite seasoning to bring out the fire. Or if you prefer your favorite peppers.  Lycopene is reportedly better absorbed when paired in a meal with a low amount of fat.
  As I progress with my quest for better health and hoped for prevention of cancer's return, I plan on sharing in the hopes of helping others, and better cementing the information within my own mind. Better health, in mind and body, a not impossible mission.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What if.... For Want of a Dollar..

Even the flowers wear ribbons

What if, for want of a dollar..
   Researchers were unable to finish the testing of a new medicine that showed great promise toward fighting cancer? All of the testing that they had been able to perform so far had been successful, but they weren't finished. They knew that they were oh so close, but had ran out of money..
  What if, among the many possible ideas that had been placed on the table, there was the one thing that could potentially be one of the best, if not the best weapon against cancer. However this idea was one page too low on the list..and they had ran out of money. All of the money budgeted for new testing had been promised...
  What if, the cancer latest victim of cancer sat in the darkened room, ashamed of their looks? They had been told of a program where they could get wigs, scarves or hats. Where they were shown how to apply make up and how to wear the scarves in various ways so that not only would they look good, but they would feel better as well. But, for the program had ran out of money...
  What if, one who had just been diagnosed made a phone call to a 1-800 number, only for the call to go unanswered. Or for the one who answered be unable to help. There was no information available to send to them. No pamphlets printed, no helpful guides, no -- no-- no- nothing that could be shared, because there was no money to do it with..
  What if..
 What if someone had to go to another place for treatment? What if it were too far to travel back and forth and they needed a place for themselves and their caregivers to stay? They had been told of a place, a place of Hope.. but now, this place was not available. Unable to remain open due to lack of money. Funding was not there.
 What if...
 It was you who were in need? What if, it was a member of your family, a neighbor, a friend down the way? What if..the fight was so very close to being ended...but the battle was lost, for want of a dollar?
  How many different ways do you spend a dollar?
  There are those dollar menus at fast food places.
   Coffee is well, more than a dollar depending on where you get it and exactly what it is..
  That snack machine down the hall from your office,

 How many times do you stop for that fancy cup of coffee or that quick meal at your local drive thru? How many lottery tickets do you take that chance on? What passed up on that one fast food meal, or fancy coffee and made a donation? Its all about saving lives, its all about celebrating more birthdays, its all about finishing this fight once and for all. And we really don't want to battle to continue and more people to be diagnosed, for more people to hear those words or find out that a loved one has been told the words that they have cancer..... simply for want of a dollar..