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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Mary Ellen Ryder is a Boise State professor who died in a major fire here in Boise last night. She was a two time breast cancer survivor and wrote the following.

Ryder wrote a poem about her experience with cancer in 2005:
Mirror, Mirror—I always hated my body.
My mother hated hers.
It’s an old family traditionhanded down
motherto daughter
along with the genes
of hefty Yorkshire farmwomen
and strong Irish washerwomen.
“Your body is a temple!”
Ha!mine was just a pedestal
to put my beautiful brain on
and not even good at that.
a routine mammogram
five white dots
small at the first glimpse
of bombs dropping from a clear sky
“—abnormal calcificationusually indicate cancer cells”
my body abnormal
of course
“—exceptionally luckyto be given such an earlier warning”
my body?
again I look at the dots
spelling help a message from a castaway
hoping I would notice in time
and in timeI did.
I hug my lovely body.
thank god I say
thank god we’re in this together.
—Mary Ellen Ryder

Monday, August 25, 2008

Women exposed to negative life events at higher risk for breast cancer

Happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease, according to a study by Professor Ronit Peled, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
An article on the study titled "Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women," was just published in the British journal BMC Cancer (8:245, August 2008).
In the study, researchers questioned women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis. Researchers used this information to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and breast cancer among young women.
A total of 622 women between the ages of 25 and 45 were interviewed: 255 breast cancer patients and 367 healthy women. "The results showed a clear link between outlook and risk of breast cancer, with optimists 25 percent less likely to have developed the disease. Conversely, women who suffered two or more traumatic events had a 62 percent greater risk," Peled said. "Young women who have been exposed to a number of negative life events should be considered an 'at-risk' group for breast cancer and should be treated accordingly."
The researchers indicate that women were interviewed after their diagnosis, which may color their recall of their past emotional state somewhat negatively. However, according to Peled, "We can carefully say that experiencing more than one severe and/or mild to moderate life event is a risk factor for breast cancer among young women. On the other hand, a general feeling of happiness and optimism can play a protective role."
"The mechanism in which the central nervous, hormonal and immune systems interact and how behaviour and external events modulate these three systems is not fully understood," Peled states. "The relationship between happiness and health should be examined in future studies and relevant preventative initiatives should be developed."-American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tony Snow's Testimony (long but worth it)

Tony Snow's Testimony....
"Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, - in my case, cancer. Those of us with potentially fatal diseases - and there are millions in America today -find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence "What It All Means," Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.
The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the "why" questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out. But despite this, - or because of it, - God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life - and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non believing hearts - an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, and exuberantly - no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease,- smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, - but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension - and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
'You Have Been Called'. Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter,- and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our "normal time."
There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, - for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples' worries and fears.
'Learning How to Live.' Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.
I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. "I'm going to try to beat [this cancer]," he told me several months before he died. "But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side."
His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity, - filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, - and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up, - to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God's hand."
T. Snow

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update on Christina Applegate

I wasn't surprised to hear that she is BRCA positive. I am glad she took action. The footnote I have to this link is that just because the surgery removes all the cancer doesn't mean you don't need treatment. Being cancer free is very subjective!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Catching my breath and updates

This is the first weekend in months that I don't have packed with events and chores. I still have plenty of chores and yard work to do but there isn't the same level of pressure this weekend. Being so busy has caused me to be MIA for bit but I am still here with plenty of thoughts, opinions and experiences.

First off, I have always like John Edwards, but last week I lost respect for him. Cheating is bad enough but doing it while your spouse is fighting for her life is an even bigger slap in the face. And then there are those out there defending him, saying he is just a man etc. Well the reality is he is still a married man and needs to honor his commitment or get out altogether. Obviously this strikes a nerve with me. I am impressed that Elizabeth "forgave him".

I meet with the plastic surgeon yesterday. We will wait about 3 months before trying to rebuild the side that didn't completely take. He will also perform other revisions at the time so that means one more surgery. BLAH!!!! Hopefully my new saying will be "Eight is Enough!".

I have decided to change up my meds a bit to try to help control the hot flashes. So far it seems to be helping but the new meds made me pretty sick the first few days.

Finally, and most importantly, my grandma had surgery again yesterday. She is a 3 year breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at 93 and opted for only a lumpectomy. Chemo and radiation would have wiped her out. Well it appears the cancer is back. They removed another lump yesterday and we are waiting for the test results. The doctor is pretty sure it is cancer based the appearance of the lump. Once again she will not undergo any additional treatment. Her doctor wants her to take Tamoxifen but I don't think she could tolerate the side effects. I am struggling with the side effects of it and I can't imagine her 98 year old body dealing with hot flashes, aches, weight gain, etc. She is a fighter though and we will just take it one day at a time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I finally was able to swim with my family at my cousin's family swim night. I haven't been able to since this time last year. It does feel a bit strange to do the breast stroke but it felt great to be able to do some laps etc. Not to mention the joy of playing with my kids and my hubby. We raced, had water fights, threw each other around etc. It was a great summer evening.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Football is back!

I know this is way off topic of my normal posts but I am getting so excited for the upcoming football season. BSU's first game is at the end of the month and NFL Sunday night football is on tonight. I have to swallow my BSU pride and say that Colt Brennan is doing a stellar job with the Washington Redskins! I can't wait to draft our fantasy team - might have to swallow the pride again and try to draft Colt!!! GO BIG BLUE!!!! And GO JAGUARS!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Last Lecture

Randy Pausch passed away a week or so ago. He was an amazing man who wouldn't let cancer define who he was or impact his love of life! His teachings will live on in The Last Lecture. I encourage you to watch at least parts of it, if not all of it, or read the book. He will inspire you! Randy will be missed by so many.