Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kathleen - My Favorite Witchy Poo!

Autumn 1982. That's where it all began.  The friendship between two kindred spirits. I landed my first job in early childhood education.  I was hired to be the teacher's assistant in a classroom for three year olds.  I remember being escorted to the room by the director. Children were playing and as soon as I was introduced to her, I felt an instant spark.  We began to chat, and discovered we had so much in common, it was uncanny.  We were like two peas-in-a-pod!  You'll learn more about Kathleen in my book, but she is my soul sister, for sure.

She moved away about two years after our first meeting, however, we remained close. You know that your best friend IS your best friend when you're able to pick up the phone and continue the conversation you'd left off with no matter how long it has been.  We've been there through good times and bad, and, we've led parallel lives - often at the same time of each other.

Like me, Kathleen loves Autumn.  We get energized with the season.  Her house is always decked out in style - soooo boosky and inviting!.

So, on one of our favorite holidays, I want to wish my favorite Witchy Poo, Kathleen, a wonderful day! Love ya, Girl!

And, Happy Halloween to all my little pretties! Don't eat too much candy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Give Away A Hug Today!

Lately, I've discovered that I am "hug-deprived!"  After years of being a Pre-K teacher and previously married woman, I got all the hugs I ever needed, and then some - children are great huggers!

Don't get me wrong, I still get hugs from my friends, but not as many as I did in the olden days.  My teaching days are over so as of today, I've decided to go in search of others to hug.  Don't worry -  I won't become a serial hugger and have my mug shot posted on the six o'clock news, but a hugger nonetheless.  That's how I met my dear friend, Junebug!  I was at a ladies luncheon and as she got up to leave, she came up to me and said, "You look like you could use a hug!' and she gave me a wonderful hug that made my day - we became instant friends!

Listed below are some ways to properly hug someone, in case you forgot how to give a good hug:

So, go out and hug someone who might need one today!  Here's a virtual hug from me to you -
<<<<<BIG HUG>>>>>  Did ya feel it?!

Monday, October 29, 2012


This morning, I am asking you to please take a few moments to share a story of hope, love and support for other cancer patients, survivors or caregivers by posting a comment at the end of today's post. (Located in the green box)  My wish is that you will inspire others with your thoughts and words. If you'd like to post a memorial to a loved one who you've lost to cancer and tell us a little bit about them, that would be wonderful as well.  What a great way it would be to start our week off! I am looking forward to hearing your stories ...

Lots of Love & Light

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nourish Your Soul ...

I've learned how to nourish my soul.  I implement good spiritual practices filled with prayer and meditation.  I set aside quiet time for reflection at the end of each day.
Nutrition became a number one priority to me when I got sick.  I try to make healthier choices and have cut back on processed foods.  I used to eat a lot of pasta and rice and potatoes.  I only eat them occasionally now.  I've learned to love baked sweet potatoes, no butter. (I hated them all my life as we never ate them as kids except at Thanksgiving and they were baked with brown sugar and marshmallows and I do not have a sweet tooth, so I never ate them ...Yuck!)  I will share some of my healthy recipes in future posts.
When I take my daily walks, I focus on my breathing and multi-task by using that time to pray or meditate as well.  It helps me to stay grounded and get exercise at the same time.
What do you do to nourish YOUR soul?  Please leave your practices and ideas below ...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Power of Words

Mary is another one of my Angels who came into my life after I moved.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society hooked us up, and from the first time we talked, I knew it was another case of divine intervention! She sent me this video ... it is so heart-warming! ENJOY!

Love you, Mary!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Another milestone!

Not only does today mark my anniversary with Fur-face, its also the official date when I was first diagnosed.  Three years of ups and downs.  Three years of hearing about my "death sentence." 

Words cannot express the joy I am feeling today. There were times when I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Now I ONLY see the light!

Today, call me T-H-A-N-K-F-U-L.

Me & My Girl ...

You've seen this girl in one of my earlier blog posts in September, but I had to write about her today as it is our official second anniversary of finding each other!

 Rose is the sweetest little girl and she keeps me laughing ... she can jump from the couch and catch a ball or toy in mid-air while doing a back flip, but toss a piece of popcorn to her and it boinks her in the head!  She loves life and has taught me how to slow down and be more observant.
I have a paw print magnet on the back of my car that reads, "Who rescued who?" Rose rescued me ... she is my Angel puppy!
You'll get to read all about her antics in my book, Living La Vida (Lymphoma).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Seven Lovely Logics ...


I had to share this with you!  Prior to the "L-Word", I was a control freak.  A chronic worrier.  Big-time people-pleaser.  Ass kisser.  Gotta-do it-or-have it-NOW freak!  WOW!  It's so funny what a difference two years makes!  I've come a LOOOOOONG way, Baby! Whoo-hoo!
Learning to relinquish all of the bad traits that I listed above was no easy task and I still backslide from time-to-time, but I no longer sweat the small stuff!  The only person I have to worry about is ME!  I try my best to stay on the path to wellness and to not stress out as much as I once did.  If I follow the Seven Lovely Logics, I find that I'm a much happier person!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You Are Beautiful!

Here's another great song that helped me remember that, although my outer beauty was distorted due to the cancer meds I was taking, I needed to release my inner beauty.  Read the lyrics as you sing along and remind yourself just how beautiful you really are!  You are NOT the shell of your body.  You are a beautiful Spirit who can spread your light and love no matter what.  Shine on!  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You are my sunshine ....

My mother loved to sing!  She wasn't a trained vocalist, but she played the piano and liked to have her family joinimg in with her.  One of her favorite songs was, You Are My Sunshine.  It didn't matter if she sang it in the dead of winter, I have so many fond memories of seeing her bathed in her own sunshine while she played her piano and sang - it always warmed my heart.  She passed away in 1991, but whenever  I think back to those times, I smile.

Sunshine is so healing.  If I'm having a bad day, I step outside to let the sunbeams recharge and energize me.  I breathe in the fresh air and it only takes a short time before I'm feeling better again.  Living with cancer sucks, I don't have to tell you.  Even though we can get stuck in the shadows at times, stepping into the light can bring about a re-birth in thought.  A change of heart.  A feeling of hope. 

So, whenever you find yourself feeling blue, step outside. Soak in the bright sunshine. Maybe even hum (or sing!) You Are My Sunshine until your soul has lightened again.  Step into the light, Beloveds ...
Here is a picture of my mother having a Mitch Miller sing-a-long with her friends!  My mom's friend, Dorinda Sheveck took the picture and seated from left to right:  Mom, Fran Korykora, Joan McClusky (deceased), Gail Antalek. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Laughter IS the BEST Medicine!

It's hard having to deal with health issues. But, just like forgetting how wonderful you are, you also may have forgotten how to laugh. That's right! I said the L word!

In order to pick myself back up again, I made it my mission to at least find something to laugh about each and every day. If you look closely, you can find humor in anything ... become a people watcher.  Go to the mall, the beach or some other public place, sit down and let the show begin! I betcha you'll find something to laugh about in no time at all.

 If people watching isn't your bag, rent a comedy or go to a comedy club. YOU NEED TO LAUGH! Although you are going through a bunch of crapola right now, you still have to live! Laughter IS the BEST medicine!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Believe In Yourself ...

Remember the old addage, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going?" Well, it IS true! Think back to times in your life when you were at a low point. Try to remember what you did in each situation to get through it. No one said life would be easy. We've all had our own trials and tribulations, but, we survived!   And, so it will be with your cancer diagnosis. There will be good times and not so good times but you WILL get through it. 

I've been a "Quote Keeper" since I was a young child.  I love words and the power they convey.  One of the things I did years ago, long before my diagnosis, was to make a sunshine jar. I wrote positive quotes and affirmations on slips of paper, folded them up and placed them in the jar. Then, whenever I needed a boost, I'd pick one and it was enough to lift my spirits and snap me back into "right thinking."  I have positive quotes and affirmations on small index cards and keep them in my purse or car. Another thing that helped me was to write affirmations on sticky notes and place them everywhere. I have them on my desk. On my computer tower. On my vision board. Seeing those positive words remind me that I am strong. I am beautiful. I will find my miracle. I will reach my goals. Believe in yourself ... the mind is a powerful thing!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Empowerment ...

When I got sick, life as I once knew it, unraveled before my eyes.  I was at an all-time low.  I got divorced after twenty-four years.  Moved.  First time living on my own.  Many changes.  But, for the first time ever, I started to live the authentic life that I was meant to live.  I know it sounds cliche, but each day is a blessing. A gift to me. 
I took my words and raw emotions and began to write my book.  It was theraputic for me and empowered me to stay on the path.  I am one lucky woman to be surrounded by such loving friends who want only the best for each other. We strive to lend support along the way.  I'm glad that I took those steps to move on.  I discovered that I've had this inner power all along.  But once I channeled it in a positive way, my new life began to unfold in all its glory.  I am blessed ...

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's In Your Hands ...

When dealing with a cancer diagnosis, you know first-hand that every day is like a poker game.  One day you may wake up feeling like you should fold, and the next day you want to up the ante.  So it goes with "normal" life as well, but, coupled with being ill, everything is magnified.

When I saw this saying, I knew it to be true.  Sure, we got a raw deal with cancer, but it is up to US to choose how we want to play our cards.  I've had plenty of solo pity parties on this journey, but I try my best to keep the faith and remain an active player.  (An active player in a poker game is someone who has not yet folded his / her hand.) If you intend to remain active in the hand, be sure to protect your cards.  In the end, you will come out a winner, too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Lymphoma Research Foundation

I want to continue to share other websites and organizations with you that will provide you with additional information.  The Lymphoma Research Foundation is a great site.

Here are some of the programs and services that they offer (taken directly from their website):

LRF assists members of the lymphoma community by providing comprehensive, disease-specific programs and services to more than 35,000 people each year, including:
  • Clinical Trials Information Service
  • Disease-Specific Publications and Websites
  • In-person Workshops and Educational Forums
  • Lymphoma Helpline
  • Lymphoma Support Network
  • Online Resources, Teleconferences and Webcasts/Podcasts
  • Patient Aid Grants
  • Professional Education
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Volunteer Chapter Network
Please check out this website and pass it on to others who you feel may benefit from it.

Remember, you are your own best health care advocate!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Healing ...

In my book, I talk about the joy of living.  We are here for a higher purpose. One thing I know for sure is this - if we reach out to others, we forget our problems and leave our worries behind us, even if only for a few minutes.  Healing starts from within.  It is about learning to love yourself.  Realizing that you can help others.  A simple smile or a hug can make a person's day. You never know how many people you may have helped in your lifetime, just by spreading your light. Your joy. 

Years ago, I was visiting a friend in the hospital. As I stood at the elevator, a patient who was walking the halls in her robe, came up beside me.  There she stood, looking defeated with her bald head.  I said, "Good Morning!"  She lifted her head and when her eyes met mine, I was taken in by them.  They were a piercing, bright blue.  I told her that I'd never seen such beautiful blue eyes before and finished by saying, "You are gorgeous!"  Her face lit up and she smiled.  Then as the elevator door opened, I leaned in and gave her a big hug.

Dick Post, who I wrote about in my post on 9 / 30, works as a volunteer in a hospital cancer ward.  He's a lymphoma survivor and yet he continues to give back to others.  When I spoke to him recently, he mentioned that there are times where, after he has visited someone for a good amount of time, they've asked him if he could possibly stay a little while longer, and he does.  Dick knows the value of loving, kind words and their ability to heal someone on a soul level.  He strives to make patients feel better each and every time he volunteers and says that he gets so much more back from them in return.  That, my dear ones, is the way we all should be.  Reach out to someone today and let them know that they matter in this crazy world.  I guarantee you'll reap the rewards ...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why St Jude Children's Hospital is so special ...

As you've learned, I love children.  I've made donations to St. Jude's Children's hospital for decades because this charity means so much to me.  The work they do in the fight against childhood cancers is outstanding.  Here's the history behind St. Jude's Children's hospital, taken directly from their website:

Danny's Promise

Danny Thomas at the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus
More than 70 years ago, Danny Thomas, then a struggling young entertainer with a baby on the way, visited a Detroit church and was so moved during the Mass, he placed his last $7 in the collection box. When he realized what he'd done, Danny prayed for a way to pay the looming hospital bills. The next day, he was offered a small part that would pay 10 times the amount he'd given to the church. Danny had experienced the power of prayer.

Two years later, Danny had achieved moderate acting success in Detroit, but he was struggling to take his career to the next level. Once again, he turned to the church. Praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Danny asked the saint to "help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine."

His career took a turn for the better, and soon he moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers. A few years later, at another turning point in his life, Danny visited a church and remembered his pledge to St. Jude. Again he prayed to St. Jude and repeated his pledge to build a shrine to the saint if he would show him the way.

In the years that followed, Danny's career flourished through films and television, and he became an internationally known entertainer. He remembered his pledge to build a shrine to St. Jude.

In the early 1950s, Danny began discussing with friends what concrete form his vow might take. Gradually, the idea of a children's hospital, possibly in Memphis, Tennessee, took shape. In 1955, Danny Thomas and a group of Memphis businessmen who had agreed to help support his dream seized on the idea of creating a unique research hospital devoted to curing catastrophic diseases in children. More than just a treatment facility, this would be a research center for the children of the world.

Danny started raising money for his vision of St. Jude in the early 1950s. By 1955, the local business leaders who had joined his cause began area fundraising efforts, supplementing Danny's benefit shows that brought scores of major entertainment stars to Memphis. Often accompanied by his wife, Rose Marie, Danny crisscrossed the United States by car, sharing his dream and raising funds at meetings and benefits. The pace was so hectic that Danny Thomas and his wife once visited 28 cities in 32 days. Although Danny Thomas and his friends raised the money to build the hospital, they now faced the daunting task of funding its annual operation.

To solve this problem, Danny, of Lebanese descent, turned to his fellow Americans of Arabic-speaking heritage. Believing deeply that these Americans should, as a group, thank the United States for the gifts of freedom given their parents, Danny also felt the support of St. Jude would be a noble way of honoring his immigrant forefathers who had come to America.

Danny's request struck a responsive chord. In 1957, 100 representatives of the Arab-American community met in Chicago to form ALSAC® with a sole purpose of raising funds for the support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Since that time, with national headquarters in Memphis and regional offices throughout the United States, ALSAC has assumed full responsibility for all the hospital's fundraising efforts, raising hundreds of millions annually through benefits and solicitation drives among Americans of all ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. Today, ALSAC is the nation's second largest health-care charity* and is supported by the efforts of more than 1 million volunteers nationwide.

Through striking improvements in the care of pediatric leukemias and numerous forms of solid tumors, St. Jude—which now has a daily operating cost of $1.8 million—has brought about improved health care for children all over the world. St. Jude's physicians and scientists have pioneered treatments that have helped push the overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.

From a promise of "Help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine" to the fulfillment of his dream, Danny lived to see his little hospital become an international beacon of hope for the catastrophically ill children of the world. The founder of St. Jude and ALSAC died on February 6, 1991, just two days after joining patients, parents and employees to celebrate the hospital's 29th anniversary. He was laid to rest in a family crypt at the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion on the grounds of the hospital. On July 12, 2000, his wife, Rose Marie, passed away and now lies with her beloved husband in the hospital's Memorial Garden. Today, their children, Marlo, Terre and Tony, carry on their parents' work and remain a driving force in fulfilling their father's mission. Danny Thomas is gone, but his dream lives on.

Please visit their website at  and make a donation today.  Every child deserves a happy, healthy and carefree life.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Do you believe in magic?

I LOVE wildflowers! I grew up in upstate New York and spent  my summers at my grandparent's cabin on Lake Champlain in the Adirondaks. To me, that's my favorite place to be.  It's God's country.  I was your typical flower child, (and still am!) who loved being outdoors -  picking flowers, making daisy chain crowns and necklaces, running, playing, and swimming all day long with my brothers, sister and cousins without a care in the world. This picture brought back memories .... I've used a few Queen Anne's Lace flowers as a magic wand in my time!

As an early childhood educator, I maintained that child-like innocence and, to this day, I've vowed that I will NEVER grow up ... even at the age of fifty! 

One year when I was teaching, I arrived to school on my birthday.  My friends and co-workers, Betty and Lidia secretly had the children make cards and decorations for me, as well as a birthday crown made out of construction paper.  Then, one of "my" kids came up to me and told me to close my eyes. She opened up my hand and placed something in it. When I was permitted to open my eyes again, I found a popscicle stick that had a four inch piece of pink string tied to the end of it. As a teacher or parent, you hope to be able to make correct guesses at times like these, and I'll admit, I was stumped on this one. Before I was forced to ask what it was, this angel child blurted out, "Miss Jodi, it's your very own magic wand!  See! This is how it works ..." and she began to move it over my head, telling me that anything I ever wanted, all I had to do was wave my magic wand and it would appear!  I'll never forget the smile on her face.  She was so proud of her handiwork.  I still have my magic wand and birthday crown tucked away for safe-keeping! 

And YES! I DO believe in magic!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We Are Family ...

I am ecstatic this Sunday morning!  I've worked hard at trying to keep this blog going, and, YOU, my friends, have kept me going.  When I see those numbers on the "ticker counter" at the bottom of this page, it helps me to realize that maybe I am making a difference in other's lives.  That is my goal.  My dream.  I promise to continue to provide you with a daily dose of inspiration and motivation.  Thank you so much for your support! 
The love is there ...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Climb ...

This song inspired me in the midst of the whirlwind. If you've never heard it before, grab some tissues! Keep climbing ...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fly ... Be Free!

This is a painting by the artist, Melissa Harris. I love butterflies. Seeing them fluttering all around a woman with outstretched arms signified freedom to me. The first time I saw this painting, was in my friend, Karen's office. I knew that we'd be instant friends.  Karen is another one of my special angels. I don't know where I would've been without her. She saw me at my worst. Thanks to her, I found my inner will to survive. I was a shell of a person when we met, going through so much all at once. I didn't know how I'd muddle through it all. Karen was there as a mother-sister-friend to guide me in the right direction, and for that, I am eternally grateful. This painting symbolized my re-birth ... I was letting go of an old life, old beliefs, and was preparing to live my authentic life.  Thank you so much, Karen. I love you!

For those of you who may be interested in seeing some more of Melissa Harris' beautiful works, please visit her website at .

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Big C - About The Big C Season 3

Don't know if you've ever watched this series, The Big C .. if not, I hope that you will! I LOVE IT! Kathy's character is my alter-ego ... the way I wish I could be some times throughout this journey. Her character keeps it real! This show has been a great release for me. There are moments of sadness, but the comedy far outweighs the heaviness. A great show!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lymphoma Survivor, Dolphin Trainer Helps Kids Fight Cancer ...

Isn't Joy Clausen Soto an awesome woman? She has turned her experience with lymphoma into a way to help others. Thanks so much, Joy for all that you do!  What a great story!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dolphins!  Many years ago, I worked as a summer camp counselor. One afternoon, we visited a marine life center.  In one part of the park, there was a raised pool which allowed visitors to interact with two dolphins. Trainers let the children take turns feeding them fish. I fell in love with the interaction between these awesome creatures. At one point, I noticed that the dolphins would congregate on one side of the pool where one of my favorite summer campers, Chuck was standing. The dolphins swam around the perimeter of the pool, but it appeared that once they got to Chuck, they'd stop and stick their heads out of the water to let him touch them ... I was jealous - I wanted to pet a dolphin, too! I made my way over to where he stood and asked him why he thought they were coming to him. Chuck leaned forward to let me in on his little secret. "I know that dolphins are attracted to sonar, so I set the timer on my waterproof watch and then stick it under the water and they come to me when it goes off. Would you like to hug a dolphin, Miss Jodi?" Would I?! Well, Chuck set his timer and a dolphin swam right up to me and stayed upright enough for me to lean over and hug it. As soon as I looked into those eyes and felt it's wet skin, I had an out-of-body experience that I cannot explain. It was as if I could see it's intelligence and "knowing" far greater than I will ever see again. The hug lasted about a minute and it was the best hug EVER! I was elated and I turned to see good ol' Chuck grinning at me from ear-to-ear. I complimented him on his intelligence and he replied, "Well, you know, Miss Jodi, I AM going to be a rocket scientist and work for N.A.S.A. someday!" Out of the mouths of babes ... thanks, Chuck - wherever you are!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One ..

One is a popular number.  Many songs and phrases contain the number one -  Numero Uno. One in a million. One small step. One of many. One for the road. United as one. 

One is powerful! Now, think about this. When you were born, even though you relied on your parents and family to support you in your upbringing, you still had that one special thing inside of you that belonged to only YOU!  A special gift that you bring to the planet each and every day. Even though you're one person, you have a story to tell. You are here for a reason.

I love the quote shown above. It reminds us that it only takes one thought to change our lives from moment to moment. It can be as simple as changing what you normally eat for breakfast ... Cheerios and a banana every morning? Nah! Today I'm having eggs and toast! *** I learned this the hard way. I was never a risk taker. My parents instilled in me the importance of staying in a job with benefits, etc., which is important and I know it to be true. I taught Pre-K for over 20 years and LOVED it! Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mother and a teacher. The first wish never came true, but I had the best of both worlds. Each school year, I had 25 little ones to love and nurture during the day. I was their surrogate mother. It was very rewarding. However, almost every other month, I lived on antibiotics because I was around all those germs. I hit rock bottom in 2005 when I developed pneumonia. I took a hard look at the situation - although I loved my job, I knew that I couldn't stay on the hamster wheel of getting sick all the time. That's when my "shift" occured. I needed benefits, but I researched other options. I made a list of things I wanted to find in an ideal job. Within a month, I found a job in the tourism industy!  I met interesting people.  Traveled to all of the major resorts and attractions. I set up itineraries for international travel agents who wanted to come visit the county and I was their personal escort. It seemed, that once I let go of any negative thoughts or fears, and I immersed myself into my new way of thinking, everything fell into place.

Then I got sick and took another leap of faith by moving and starting my life over. I still live with the same attitide. Change is good! I'm in control of my every thought. If something negative pops into my mind, I have the power to turn it back around.

So, when you're faced with a difficult situation, take a moment to sit and just BE! Give yourself a pep talk or whatever it takes to carry on. Life is full of choices ... which choice will you make today?

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Am ...

When you're in the midst of the initial chaos that a cancer diagnosis brings, you may suddenly feel detached from your body. There were times when a whole day would pass, I'd climb into bed at night and wonder if the day had even happened. I was on auto-pilot and trudged through each day like a soldier, fighting to survive. A few weeks later, I realized I needed to get a grip and re-group. I forgot that my body, mind and spirit were connected. I knew that I had a choice to make - either fight or flee. I've never been a quitter, so it was an easy choice for me. Once I made that mental shift in my thinking, I got my mojo back. My love and zest for life. I discovered strength that I never knew I had before. You are NOT the label of C-A-N-C-E-R ... you are a special person who is strong, loving, and caring. Someone who WILL get through this!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Wish For You ...

When I saw this, I had to share it with you, my faithful readers. Even though we may never meet face-to-face, our hearts are intertwined by an invisible cord. We're on this journey together and we'll help each other along the way. I welcome any feedback on this blog. Your thoughts and ideas can help others, too. I wish you a peaceful Sunday filled with lots of love and relaxation ...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Search For Others ...

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. ~Author Unknown ******************** I love tea. I've been drinking tea since I was a little girl. It comforts me and I have fond memories of sitting around the kitchen table drinking tea with my family and friends. Every morning, I sip tea as I write. I couldn't imagine a day without it. When I moved to St. Augustine, I looked for a cancer support group. I went to one such place before I relocated and knew of the benefits. Getting diagnosed made me feel isolated at first, until I sought out the solace of others who shared a common bond. I discovered support at my local hospital, . They offer many wonderful classes which include painting, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, humor therapy and journaling to name a few. One of the galas that this caring hospital staff provided for us was a tea party! I wrote about it in my book. It was such a heart-warming experience that brought so many of us together, and made us forget our commonality for a few hours. If you are feeling lonely and are in need of the company of others, please call your local hospital to see if they can assist you. The  can also point you in the right direction. There's no need to be alone.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Light The Night Walk 2012

What is Light The Night? Here is the description taken from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's website, :

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk funds lifesaving research and support for people battling cancer. Friends, families and co-workers form fundraising teams and millions of consumers help by donating at retail outlets. These efforts culminate in inspirational, memorable evening walks in over two hundred communities each fall across North America. Anyone can take part - children, adults and seniors are all welcome. This is a casual fundraising walk with no fitness requirements. There are many ways you can help. You can register to walk individually or as part of a team; just make a donation online; or become a volunteer or sponsor/partner. See local walk sites for time and date information. Every walker is encouraged to become a Champion For Cures by raising $100 or more to help support the work of hundreds of the world's best and brightest researchers in their search for better therapies and cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Learn more about Light The Night Walk.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is such a wonderful organization. I've personally recieved financial and emotional support from them and they rely on events such as these to raise funds to continue their great work. Please go to to check out their site. We're all in this together ...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Advice For Care Givers ...

The following advice that I am sharing comes from my own personal experience with the caretakers who have been there for me along this journey. To me, they are known as my A-Team (Angel Team). Without them, I wouldn't be here today. You will learn more about them in my book, but I'd like to share a few tried and true tips that may help you with the care of your loved one. I've been on both sides of the caregiving spectrum, not only as a caregiver, but as a patient. Here are the Do's & Don'ts as I see it:

CAREGIVER DO'S: * Whether you are a friend, family member, neighbor or co-worker, try to maintain the same kind of relationship you've had with your loved one. The organization that I worked for was so thoughtful and caring and my co-workers called each day to see how I was doing. They were THE BEST! I worked from home but hearing their voices made me still feel connected to them. * Offer your assistance no matter how little you think it may be. Make a daily phone call to check in on them. Send a card, letter or email. My best friend, Kathleen, though four hours away, mailed a card to me every other day. She'd mail care packages of herbal teas, motivational material to read, etc. It was her way of keeping us closer and I looked forward to it. Every day, my friend Betty would call me and ask, "What can I do for you today?" A simple question that meant so much to me. Most days I'd thank her and, other days, I'd let her help me with whatever I needed. My other friends would call when they got home from work. Having cancer can make you feel isolated and a simple phone call can be all it takes to make your loved one feel special. * Volunteer to take them to their doctor appointments or other important meetings. My dear friend, Judith went with me to two such appointments and was so helpful in asking questions that I had forgotten to ask. When struggling to stay alive, as well as dealing with medical treatments, a person's brain might be a little foggy. Offer to be their health advocate if need be. * Cook a healthy meal for them or their family. Or, take them out to eat. My friends, Betty, Lidia, Debbie would kidnap me and we'd spend an afternoon or evening together for a meal or go shopping. It felt good to get outside. * Offer to walk their dog or clean out their cat's litter box. * Provide some humor therapy if they are up to it. Laughter IS the best medicine! Go to the movies or rent one. Go to a comedy club. Or, do what my friend, Linda Lou and I did. She was dealing with her own major health issues at the same time I was. We'd talk on the phone everyday and share stories of our klutzy mis-doings, funny situations that happened concerning our care and it helped us both get through such a difficult time. Due to our chronic neuropathy, we'd laugh about tripping and falling on our asses, at our own expense - always joking that it was another story to add to "our book!" We turned our everyday doldrums into a virtual sitcom and it got us through to the next day! * Help run errands. My friend Lidia's husband, Chester helped me move all of my belongings into a storage unit in preparation for my move. He also became my chauffeur when I fell and dislocated my right elbow and broke my arm in two places. Since I drive a stick-shift, he drove me to my local oncologist's office as well as to my other doctor in Miami. I couldn't have done it without him. * Sit and talk. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, your first instinct may be to avoid them because you simply do not know how to deal with the situation. That may be an internal mechanism to protect "yourself" from YOUR fears and emotions. Though hard. please try to push forward to be there for them. Take their hands in yours. Look them in the eyes. Tell them your true feelings ... I'm so angry this happened to you! This is not fair! You don't deserve this! It's okay to admit your raw emotions. Chances are, they may be experiencing those same exact feelings. To feel just the touch of a hand or a warm hug is like winning the lottery. It entwines two souls together and makes things better! * Music soothes the savage beast, it also can help to soothe someone who is in pain. If you (or someone you know) is musically inclined, maybe you can offer some of your time to entertain your loved one. Take them to a concert or musical. Turn on some quiet, relaxing music for them to listen to while they rest. * Be one with nature. Sit by the water. Take a walk. Get out and smell the fresh air. Sit in the sun, or by moonlight. Doing this made me feel grounded. * Offer to pray for them. I had so many prayer warriors on my side from all religions. Knowing that others were out there sending out their prayers and well wishes made me feel loved.
CAREGIVER DONT'S: * Don't abandon them in their time of need. They are just as afraid as you are. Now is the time that you are needed the most. * In the same token, don't try to force yourself on them. Allow them to maintain as much independence as possible. It will empower them and make them feel in control of their life despite their diagnosis. * Don't be a Debbie Downer. Fighting for your life is bad enough. Then add more doom and gloom into the mix and you've got one depressed friend who would rather you be there to support and motivate him / her than to bring them down even more. * Try to remain calm. Being a caregiver is a stressful job. You are a constant witness to your loved one's struggle. You feel helpless. You may have to deal with someones crabbiness or depression. Your loved one may say things out of pain or frustration and they are not meant to hurt you intentionally. No one teaches a caregiver or a patient how to behave. * Try not to force them to eat what others in the same household may be having. Chemo, radiation and other cancer treatments can wreak havoc on a person's appetite. It is important to eat, but a cup of soup or a piece of toast may have to suffice until their appetite returns. Check with their doctor if you are truly concerned about their nutritional habits. * Take care of YOU!!! When you are focused on your loved one 24 / 7, that leaves little or no time for you. Allow a friend or neighbor to provide you with a break. Even if it means only an hour or two a day. At least it will get you out of the house and give you some time to re-group. Call Hospice to see if your loved one qualifies for assistance. I hope these tips will provide you with some ideas on how to be a caregiver. It's a big job and it can be rewarding for you as well as the patient. If you have any other words of advice, or tried and true tips that I may have omitted, please leave a comment below. Thanking all of you caregivers in advance ... the love is there ...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

You've Recieved Your Diagnosis, Now What?

Finding out that you have cancer will most likely be the scariest thing you'll ever encounter in your life. Your mind may become inundated with so many thoughts and emotions. Chances are you'll feel overwhelmed. Where do I begin? Will I be able to juggle family, work AND cancer? Who will take care of me if I need help? And the biggie ... Will I die? Cancer is a big freakin' deal! I've mentioned it before - You have to be your own health advocate first. Once you have taken on that alpha-role, you'll need to do research and establish what's "out there." The American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society offer many resources for you as a patient, as well as for your friends, family and caregivers. They will guide you and assist by offering options and suggestions that you may not have thought about. Call your county's informational hotline to see what community services they offer. When I was first diagnosed and too weak to drive, I discovered that there was a bus specifically used to transport patients to and from the doctor's offices or hospitals for a minimal fee. They picked me up at my house and brought me back home. I had to get pre-approved, but it only took a few days to do so. They were a blessing to me. Hospitals in your area may offer support groups for cancer patients. It's important to seek others who could use some help, friendship and hope like you. ********** Read! Read! Read! I don't care if it's via the internet or your local library. Arm yourself with a wealth of information. This is YOUR life and you are facing the biggest battle EVER! Here are some books that I found helpful: Getting your diagnosis may make you feel as if you're drowning. It is important to know that there are many resources out there for you to utilize. Even if you feel lost right now, know that there IS life on the other side of cancer. If you need any advice, I'm here for you ...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Lumps, My Lumps ....

What did my lumps look like? These pictures were taken by my dear friend, Betty. My oncologist wanted to document them and use the pictures for presentations that he did at various lymphoma conferences. I didn't include the picture of my stomach for reasons of vanity. I also had a lump on my ankle. Several lymph nodes were enlarged as well. It's hard to see in the photos, but each lump ranged between 3-7 centimeters in diameter and were raised.
My right shoulder ...
Base of my skull ...
Here are some symptoms of Lymphoma: * Painless lumps in your neck, armpits or groin (My lumps were tender to the touch) * Weight loss (I dropped twelve pounds in a week.) * Fever * Excessive sweating at night * Itchiness all over your body * Loss of appetite * A feeling of weakness * Breathlessness * Swelling of the face and neck * Excessive coughing ** If you experience several of these symptoms or feel that you may have lymphoma, please see your doctor. Only a medical professional can properly diagnose the cause of your symptoms. Stay nformed.

Monday, October 1, 2012