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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Touching story of Sarah and Santa

Grab a tissue!  This one will bring a tear. But it sure makes you appreciate life.

Santa and Sarah

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at the Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.

Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?'"

"Yes, Santa,' he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue. "She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to theboy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.

When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but.." the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.

"The girl in the photograph... my granddaughter well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes.

"Is there any way, Santa, any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "This is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital.

"Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day.

"C'mon.....I'll take you there." Rick said softly. Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa.

They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.  Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed.

The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son-- 9 years old -- gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear
the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "Thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year.

As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh, yes, Santa... I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you." he said. Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing, softly, "Silent Night, Holy Night....all is calm, all is bright." The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all.

When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own. "Now, Sarah," he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!"

He knew it was risky proclaiming that to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he "had" to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could -- not dolls or games or toys -- but the gift of HOPE.

"Yes, Santa!" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright. He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.

Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do."

They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.

"Hi, Santa! Remember me?!"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a "good" Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the "only" child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!"

Santa's jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy -- much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed --and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about -- this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CBC News - Manitoba - Man. firefighters to get breast cancer coverage

Firefighters have been known to develop many types of cancer due to the smoke and chemicals they inhale on the job. Usually this are cancers related to lungs, throat etc but as you can see from this news article it can impact the entire body.

CBC News - Manitoba - Man. firefighters to get breast cancer coverage

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October blues

Normally I love October!  I love Fall and I love Halloween.  But the days are getting darker, colder and shorter which always causes me to mellow and get a bit down.  The last several years there has been another factor that plays into my October blahs...  The two and half weeks between the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis and the anniversary of my mastectomy are always a struggle for me.  I try not to think about it but I will some times find myself reflecting on the blur of doctor's appointments, tests, crying, dealing with insurance, regrouping my obligations etc.  I rejoice in the fact that I am still here and going strong 4 years later but the memories haunt my dreams this time of year.  I guess it is similar to my friend.  She has nightmares and strange dreams for several weeks leading up to the anniversary of her mother's death.  I am glad it is basically only in my dreams that I stressing about cancer but dang I need some sleep and I am still a week away from my four year survivor anniversary.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fast and Furious Fall

The kids are back to school but that also brings homework, back to school nights, packing lunches etc.  Busy busy busy!  Additionally I am teaching a semester long class at Boise State on Tuesday evenings.  I am enjoying it even if I fall into bed exhausted when I get home after class.  Boot camp is up and running again!  Come join us!!!

I had blood work done last week and everything looks great.  I don't have to have anymore blood work or testing done until March!  WOO HOO!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Article from I-Village on the trendy Toning Shoes.

A month ago, I started wearing a pair of trendy "toning" sneakers. They have soles that are rounded instead of flat, forcing my legs and glutes to work extra hard during every step. In just two weeks, I noticed shapelier calves and leaner-looking thighs; by the three-week mark, you could almost bounce a quarter off my tush.

Except you couldn't. And I didn't notice anything. And nothing changed. My stubborn cellulite remained, my cankles are on a staycation. In fact, the only time I noticed a difference in my exertion level was while doing single leg squats one day in my snazzy sneaks, but the shoes came with a label specifically warning me from doing anything besides walking in them.

I’m not alone. In the past year, women have flocked to DSW to buy Skechers Shape Ups, MBTs (Masai Barefoot Technology) and Reebok’s EasyTones, all in the hope of looking like this.
But were our toning shoe shopping sprees all in vain? Yesterday The American Council on Exercise (ACE), in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, released the results of their latest study which tested the popular toning shoes. The study failed to find any evidence that the cult-like sneakers offer any enhanced fitness benefits over traditional athletic shoes.

"Toning shoes appear to promise a quick-and-easy fitness solution, which we realize people are always looking for," says ACE’s Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D. in a statement released by ACE. "Unfortunately, these shoes do not deliver the fitness or muscle toning benefits they claim. Our findings demonstrate that toning shoes are not the magic solution consumers were hoping they would be, and simply do not offer any benefits that people cannot reap through walking, running or exercising in traditional athletic shoes."

As for the soreness many consumers swear they feel after wearing these shoes? Study researchers explain that the shoe’s unstable sole design cause wearers to utilize slightly different muscles to maintain balance than they would while wearing normal shoes, resulting in temporary soreness that passes as the body adjusts.

Bryant did note that shelling out dough for special toning shoes could help you shape up simply because they motivate you to be more active. Bottom line? It's more important how much you move rather than what's on your feet.
Read more:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Organic or "Pretty"?

I have been researching organic foods lately.  For the most part they are most costly but they usually offer up better flavor than the fruits and veggies that have been sprayed with chemicals to help them look more appealing and stay fresh longer.  Right now I have some apples from Wal-mart and some organic apples in my fruit basket.  The ones from the superstore are the first ones my kids go from because the look better.   That said we should eat the organic first since they will spoil faster since they are not chemically treated, but presentation wins out with a lot of us in a lot of things.

The apples got me thinking about people.  Our society is constantly telling us that we have to be like the apples from the superstore - bigger, more shiny and longer lasting.  No longer is it a matter of being fulfilled by what is inside that apple - the sweet or sour taste, the juices etc.  It is more about how it catches our eye and how long will it last for us.  We need to be more organic when we look at people.  I am not saying we need to be hippies etc.  I am saying we need to "taste" what is inside because even if the outside is imperfect the inside might be the sweetest, most satisifying experience you have encountered.  (And unlike organic foods, these usually are easier to care for costwise etc than the chemically altered ones!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scary New York Times Artcle

This woman was misdiagnosed and underwent many unneeded.  Take the time to be sure (second opinions, research etc) before planning surgeries and treatments. New York Times Article

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why I decided to have a hysterectomy

Does tamoxifen cause cancers of the uterus?

Tamoxifen increases the risk of two types of cancer that can develop in the uterus: endometrial cancer, which arises in the lining of the uterus, and uterine sarcoma, which arises in the muscular wall of the uterus. Like all cancers, endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma are potentially life-threatening. Women who have had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) and are taking tamoxifen are not at increased risk for these cancers.

Endometrial Cancer

Studies have found the risk of developing endometrial cancer to be about 2 cases per 1,000 women taking tamoxifen each year compared with 1 case per 1,000 women taking placebo (1, 2). Most of the endometrial cancers that have occurred in women taking tamoxifen have been found in the early stages, and treatment has usually been effective. However, for some breast cancer patients who developed endometrial cancer while taking tamoxifen, the disease was life-threatening.

Uterine Sarcoma

Studies have found the risk of developing uterine sarcoma to be slightly higher in women taking tamoxifen compared with women taking placebo. However, it was less than 1 case per 1,000 women per year in both groups (1, 2). Research to date indicates that uterine sarcoma is more likely to be diagnosed at later stages than endometrial cancer, and may therefore be harder to control and more life-threatening than endometrial cancer.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding and lower abdominal (pelvic) pain are symptoms of cancers of the uterus. Women who are taking tamoxifen should talk with their doctor about having regular pelvic examinations and should be checked promptly if they have any abnormal vaginal bleeding or pelvic pain between scheduled exams.

I am waiting to hear back from my doc on the pathology results.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mama said knock you out!

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite fitness purchases so far. Pink boxing gloves and pads. For now I use the gloves myself with our punching bag or my daughter plays the role of my trainer and holds the pads etc. It is a great workout, especially after a stressful day!  Take that cancer!!!  POW!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Catching up

So the last few weeks have been up and down.  Last weekend, hubby and I celebrated 11 years married.  We had a nice mellow evening - no kids!  Tuesday our oldest son graduated from Borah High.  Also on Tuesday my doc and I decided it was time to book a hysterectomy.  That will be in July has I have many commitments already for June.

I was torn that we decided to not go camping over Memorial Day weekend.  We wanted to go but the weather report was iffy for rain and cold.  As the week progressed I got more excited about staying home with no set plans!  Things around here have fallen behind due to icky weather and too many places to be.  But the weather in the valley should be decent and soccer is over so I am hoping to get some yardwork and spring cleaning done.  It is time to pack up the sweaters in hopes that the weather will continue to warm up. 

I am also gearing up to go back to DC in a few weeks so I have several grant proposals to review.  I also need to take pictures of boot camp and all the new equipment I have been able to buy with my Prilosec money.  Especially my pink boxing gloves.  I also need to develop a new flyer for the summer bootcamps.  And additionally I need to work out - a lot!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Race for the Cure and Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there.  My day is consisting of trying to be low key - no major chores, no more workouts, no major work...  This isn't easy for me to do.  At least it is giving me time to blog but I feel like I should be out working in the yard.  I finally got some much needed rest too.

Yesterday was Race for the Cure and it was hectic leading up to the event.  It is always an emotionally charged day for me.  Happy, sad, thankful, overwhelmed etc.  I was exhausted afterward but so thankful that I am here to be a part of it.  I will post some pictures soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Active weekend and trying to focus

Well my weekend "workouts" have consisted of being the ref for my 8 year old daughters soccer game, yard work, house work, and running up and down stairs at home to help the girls stock and restock their lemonade/cookie stand. I wish I still had my Body Bugg to help me figure out how many calories that burnt! Now to stay away from the cookies.

Now to focus on Empowered Fitness and getting things moving. I am developing a survey for the survivors and other beginner boot campers so that I can find the best times and locations for sessions to help them.

Also I am going to work on a proposal to work with some of the patients at the hospital. We have two hospitals in Boise and one already has a trainer that comes in to work with breast cancer patients. The other hospital, where I received treatment, has some exercise classes like yoga but I would like to work with them to help more.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spymom by Val Agosta

I am hoping to get time to start reading this book in the next week or so.  It is the true story of a Boise woman who went from soccer mom to private detective while battling breast cancer.  Val's cancer returned and she passed away before the book was published.  Taking the time to read (and even laugh out loud) about her journey and her adventures is a wonderful way to honor her memory.  You can get the book at Barnes and Noble or order the book by clicking this link. Spymom

Life in the Fast Lane

Spring is really trying to appear around here but the almost daily snow flurries are keeping it at bay. But the calendar says spring and that brings us our family into bery busy times.  Trinity turned 8 at the beginning of spring break, soccer started for her, Easter bunny came and went, Geoffrey is home for his spring break and I am prepping to teach my criminal mediation class at BSU all weekend.  In addition to that, Al is studying for his next test to become a Microsoft Administer and so many other projects.  I have been back to the doctor for a third time in 6 weeks regarding my ears.  I still have some fluid in there and the cough.  Another round of meds and if it is still there then on to an ENT.  Could be worse though.  All of the illness and other obligations has greatly hindered my workouts though.  It is difficult to feel icky and tired and then make it worse with little to no exercise.  I feel like a blob!  Hopefully I will be back on track really soon - getting all the leftover Easter jelly beans out of the house should help too!  Not to mention I will be receiving my sponsorship from Prilosec OTC in a month or so and need to start prepping!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crazy week

Okay most weeks are crazy for me but last week had all kinds of fun and firsts!

On Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, Trinity had her first Irish Step Dance performances.  Three schools and three assisted living centers.  Then I still made her go dance for family and friends.   She was so cute!

Thursday night brought the Idaho Business Review's 2010 Women of the Year dinner.  I was one of 50 women honored this year.  My friend Kim Lewis was also selected.  And Michelle Ross, who nominated me, was honored as well.

On Friday it was announced that I was selected as one of the Officials of Prilosec OTC and had received sponsorship from them to grow my dream of working in the area of fitness for cancer survivors.

Now to gear up for our daughter's birthday this coming weekend and Easter the weekend after that!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I had blood work and a chest x-ray yesterday.  All clean!!!  Woo hoo!  There are a few other tests my oncologist wants done to ensure some issues are side effects and nothing of concern.  Better safe than sorry!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time to soul search

I am home sick today with a double ear infection and a perforated eardrum.  I need to go get my meds soon!!! 

But for now I am sitting here thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next month.  I can't believe it is March already.  Time has been flying by and I feel like I am not giving myself enough me time etc.  I need to come out of my hibernation and get my spring energy going.  I am actually looking forward to yardwork and outdoor workouts.  I need to make a section on my To Do list that is things I want to accomplish - not just chores.

Next week is also my 6 month check up and blood work with my oncologist.  There is always some nervousness in the days leading up to the tests.    This isn't exactly one I can study for.  I have little to no control over where I pass or fail.  But I always think positive and the results are always good!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Prilosec sponsorship

Currently Prilosec OTC is seeking people to sponsor to help them fulfill their dreams and live a life without heartburn.  I must say that Prilosec has been like my best friend for over three years.  Chemo has left me with permanent heartburn - Prilosec makes me forget that.

Anyway I am in the running for sponsorship for Empowered Fitness to receive funds to help us purchase more equipment for working with cancer survivors.  Part of the decision is based on public voting so please visit my story and vote for me every day!!!

Thanks!  I will let you know "when" I win! ;-) 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weightlifting After Breast Cancer


In the past, doctors advised breast cancer survivors with lymphedema to avoid heavy lifting because of the possibility of infection and symptom flare-ups. But a study, published in August 2009 in The New England Journal of Medicine, shows that weight-lifting may actually be beneficial and help reduce lymphedema symptoms, not exacerbate them.

According to lead author Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center, the study shows that participating in a safe, structured weight-lifting routine can help women with lymphedema take control of their symptoms and reap the many rewards of weight-lifting on their overall health as they begin life as a cancer survivor.

Removing lymph nodes alters the body’s ability to respond to inflammation, infection, trauma, and injury, Schmitz says, and “exercise, apart from this study, has been known for a long time to improve the body’s response to injury, infection, inflammation, and trauma.”

The year-long study involved 141 breast cancer survivors with lymphedema; half took part in a twice-a-week, slowly progressive weight-lifting program and the other half did not. The weight-lifting program included stretching, cardiovascular warm-up, abdominal and back exercises, and weight-lifting exercises. Women in the weight-lifting program began with very light weights and gradually increased by the smallest possible increments. During weight-lifting, participants wore a custom-fitted compression garment on the affected arm and were monitored by a lymphedema specialist throughout the study.

Strength training (weight-lifting) exercises—specifically training the affected limb—reduced the risk of aggravating the condition because these women had trained their arms in a way that they would be less likely to hurt themselves during daily activities, such as carrying heavy groceries or lifting a child. Women in the weight-lifting group also had greater improvements in self-reported severity of lymphedema symptoms and upper- and lower-body strength. They also had a lower incidence of lymphedema exacerbations as assessed by a certified lymphedema specialist (14 percent in the weight-lifting group had flare-ups versus 29 percent in the control group). In each arm of the study, however, the proportion of women who had an increase of 5 percent or more in limb swelling was similar: 11 percent in the weight-lifting group, and 12 percent in the control group.

But these results don’t mean it’s OK to throw all lymphedema precautions and activity restrictions out the window. Women with lymphedema should always be extra cautious when doing any strenuous activity or heavy lifting with the affected arm because of the increased risk of injury and added stress. When doing work where there may be injury to the skin, such as gardening, it is best to wear protective gloves. Women with lymphedema should also avoid getting I.V. lines, shots, or blood drawn in the affected arm and always be aware of any changes, such as heaviness, puffiness, fullness, achiness, or redness in a certain area, and see a doctor immediately if any of these occur.

“Those [traditional] guidelines are real and should always be used,” Schmitz says, “but the likelihood that [women with lymphedema] are going to hurt themselves with the occasional activities of life that require a lot of the upper body will be reduced if they will engage in upper body strength training.”

Breast cancer survivor Sharon Cowden, MD, helped create an exercise DVD, Strength & Courage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors, for survivors to use at home. Cowden underwent an axillary node dissection seven years ago, which put her at increased risk for lymphedema. She credits exercise and weight-lifting with helping her regain upper body strength and flexibility.

“I’m a pediatrician, so I lift kids all day—a lot of kids,” Cowden says. “Also, I’m a golfer, and upper strength and flexibility are necessary for a good game. My game has never been better. My handicap has dropped 10 points since my surgery in large part because of these exercises.”
Because up to 62 percent of all breast cancer survivors have some kind of arm or shoulder problem resulting from curative surgery, reconstructive surgery, or radiation therapy, Schmitz recommends survivors have a physical therapist evaluate their shoulder and arm for general weakness or changes in range of motion that may require treatment prior to starting an exercise program with the upper body.

“It would be a terrific safeguard to go see a physical therapist,” Schmitz says, “even if you don’t have lymphedema, even if you had few lymph nodes removed, or no lymph nodes removed.”

For some women with lymphedema, however, weight-lifting and strength training may cause more harm than benefit, Schmitz says. This includes women with a lot of symptoms and whose lymphedema is “really reactive. She has a lot of flare-ups and fluctuations, her limbs get bigger and smaller over the course of weeks, or she finds herself at the physical therapist often. She’s likely not going to do well with strength training.”

Although several previous studies have suggested weight-lifting is safe for breast cancer survivors, the recent NEJM study is the longest and largest to date.

Another strength of the study is its delivery in community fitness centers—primarily YMCAs that offer the LIVESTRONG program, a collaboration between the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the YMCA to develop programs specifically for cancer survivors—which will facilitate future dissemination of the weight-lifting program. However, this study had only one year of follow-up and lymphedema can sometimes develop 5 to 10 years after surgery.In addition to consulting a doctor and physical therapist, Schmitz offers a few tips for women interested in embarking on a new weight-lifting routine:

1. Start low, and progress slowly. Start with the lowest possible resistance with the weight. If you are using a dumbbell, it should be a 2-pound dumbbell or something very light. If using a machine, it should be set on the top plate. Progressing slowly means that you should do a couple of sessions for each upper body exercise before you increase the resistance. When you do increase the resistance, do so by a small amount. Increases in weight should be made gradually, and only after a week or two of doing the exercise at least twice a week to ensure you aren’t having any worsening of symptoms.

2. Listen to your body and respond to your symptoms. If you have a change in upper body symptoms that would be consistent with the symptoms of lymphedema—a sense of heaviness, fullness, puffiness, achiness, and/or redness in a particular area, that would be associated with a cellulitic infection, which means you should stop immediately and see a physical therapist.

3. Learn and use perfect form. Find a trainer who can teach you how to do the exercises properly. For example, back muscles are really big and wrist muscles are not, so if you try to finish a back exercise with your wrist, you will create inflammation in your wrist from doing too much with the tiny wrist muscles.

4. Ease back into it. If you take a break from exercise, either because you have a cold or are on vacation for a week, you need to back off on the resistance and rebuild again.

5. Get the goods. Always wear a well-fitting compression garment during weight training. Consult with a physical therapist or lymphedema specialist on how the compression band should fit and where to get one.

6. Find help. Find a lymphedema therapist through the National Lymphedema Network or a specialized trainer with the YMCA program to instruct you a few times before exercising on your own. If you can’t find a trainer in your area, check out Cowden’s Strength & Courage DVD, available online at

Sunday, January 24, 2010

DC Round 3

Many of you know for the past two years I have been going to Washington DC to help with peer review of breast cancer grant proposals for the Department of Defense.  I just got back from my third time there.  It is always an overwhelming and intense process but it is also so rewarding and inspiring.  As usual I met many wonderful survivors, even one that I knew previously on line... Vicki from had just sent me an email a few weeks ago saying I had been one of the winners of their New Years Resolution contest and my goodies would be mailed soon.  Next thing I knew she and I were in the same room together in DC to review proposals!  We recognized each other's names during the introductions and laughed about what a small world it was and if she had known I was going to be there she would have just brought my prizes with her.  We had breakfast together on the last day and began what I am sure willl be a long and wonderful friendship and a partnership to battle breast cancer.  I encourage you to check out pink link and all its wonderful resources.

Additionally one of the wonderful survivors that was on the same review panel as me has a great website call  At this site survivors post stories about how they have thrived in life after breast cancer.  Hayley compared it to a "Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul" kind of site.  Hayley has certainly made the most of life after her cancer and again I look forward to our new friendship and working together.  Check out her site too!

All these women are so amazing but I want to leave you with the story of the lady I went to the airport with.  She was a survivor of over 5 years and had done her first DC panel last summer.  In November she was told the cancer was back and went into fight mode.  Now just weeks after completing chemo and radiation she is back in DC again for another panel.  She is amazing and again I feel blessed to be able to spend some time with her (even if it was waiting in line to check bags and waiting in line for security etc.)  Apparently there was a reason the lines were so long and slow that Friday - so that she and I could chat and gain strength from each other!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Split personality

Lately I have been pulled in many directions and I have been feeling like I am seen differently depending on the situation.  I have been nominated for the Idaho Business Review's Women of the Year which makes me feel so honored.  But then people comment that it couldn't be based on my main job that I do because no one would nominate me for just that.  Ouch...I have never done what I do for the rewards.  I work, volunteer etc because I love to help people.

Another is the fact that I am not a person who focuses on needing the best of things.  If I am healthy and my kids and spouse are healthy that is all that matters.  I don't need a fancy house, car, furniture etc.  But lately with the declining economy I am feeling like "white trash".  I know in my heart that it is unfair for me to judge myself this way.  I know my life it this way because I work hard to help others and not to necessarily earn money.  I have friends who are stressing about keeping cabins, and RVs, and $400,000 houses.  I don't have any of those things and I worry about paying my medical bills, having enough money for gas and food.  So some days I don't feel worthy of my friends who have money to go out to lunch etc.  It is hard on the ego.

Friday, January 1, 2010


2009 ended pretty stressful so I am looking forward to 2010 and the holidays being over.  I still have lots on my plate and I am putting out fires all over but my overall health is good and that is most important!  I am planning to simplify my life over the next few months.  Time to purge!!!  Items we don't use, feelings I have allowed to fester, things I have had on the backburner or just ignored all together.  I have many goals for this new year and one is to keep things from overwhelming me. 

Happy New Year everyone!!!