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My journey in surviving ovarian cancer has been a difficult one, and also rewarding. I have met many wonderful people, learned a lot about myself, and have a deeper appreciation for life. Follow me on Twitter @KarenIngalls1, www.facebook.com/Outshine-An-Ovarian-Cancer-Memoir, and you can find my book at: http://www.outshineovariancancer.com. Proceeds will be donated to funding ovarian cancer research. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2015.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SHE PASSED BY


                                     The more one lives, the easier it is to die.


A very special lady made her passage in the wee hours this morning. She took her last breath peacefully though physically alone, she was surrounded by angels and heavenly loved ones. She lived life to its fullest; her life was complete.

I did not know this fine lady very well though I met her for the first time about 20 years ago. She was gracious and kind to me, welcoming me into her life with a smile and pleasant word though the circumstances were difficult for both of us.

I saw her at family functions; had brief but loving conversations; and a smile never left her face nor mine. She was genuinely interested in learning about me.


If you could choose to come back for a period of time, what length would you choose? One year,  ten years, a hundred years?


I knew her best through her daughter and grandchildren...she was a wonderful role model to them and they are each examples of her love and spirit.

Over the years her independence declined from independent living, to assisted, and then to a nursing home. When family came to visit she would say, "Please pray for me that I might die in my sleep." With each morning she questioned why she was still here on earth. The answer often was, "Because God still needs you here."


               The more complete our life is, there is less anger or fear of death.


I believe she had these last weeks and months to teach us:
  1.  That there not be fear in dying.
  2.  That we each have a role to make the passage of the dying smooth and easy.
  3.  That love and forgiveness are the major lessons in life for each of us to learn.
  4.  And that dying is the natural part of living.
At 3:00 in the morning, my husband awoke with strong thoughts and memories of this gracious lady who had touched his life so deeply. This was just one hour after she died. He said, "Ardelle passed by."

                   A young man dying of leukemia said, "I don't think people are afraid of death. What they are afraid of is the incompleteness of life."                                              


This is a celebration and tribute to Ardelle and other people I knew who have passed on and passed by. Each of them have left their footprint on me. I have learned from them and hopefully when I pass on those left behind will feel my footprint.

So a little bit like in the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" the bells are ringing...Ardelle earned her angel wings on earth.


If by chance you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do this, I will live forever.


My thanks to Ann Landers, Lisl Marburg Goodman, Linda Deutsch, Bill Newcott, and the family of Ardelle Bryntesen.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

WALKING WITH GRIEF


How we live our lives is how we deal with grief. Life does have times of grief, but also heartfelt joyful times. 

Grief can come in many forms and stages lasting short or long spans of time. Our response to grief may also depend on the unexpectedness of the event. We grieve at the time of death or passing of someone; the ending of a relationship; the loss of a job or finances; and we grieve at the time of a life-threatening illness.


We go through the stages of life from early childhood, through our teens and young adulthood, to mature adults, and finally to our aged years. Some of us sometimes get "stuck" in a certain age group, not learning from life's events to move into the next stage. For example when we are supposed to move into the young adulthood, we might stay as a less mature and irresponsible teenager.

When I worked as a hospice nurse I saw individuals unable to cope with the coming death of their loved one. Some screamed and fought the inevitable in every possible way. At such times I watched the faces of the patients who were ready to pass on with peace and dignity. There were other families who were very supportive of their loved one's wishes and needs.

My grandmother used to teach me that when someone is dying, it is best to have the lights low, sounds hushed, and loved ones surrounding the patient. She would say, "The soul passes on easily when there is not the clamor of shouts and wailing." Now this theory does not align with all beliefs, but it fit Grandma's needs and wishes, as it does mine.

A friend, Carol, wrote to me about her 92 year old Mother's death. The hospital staff was very supportive, comforting, and never left the family's side. Carol described them "as the four angels who helped my dear mother make the final journey home."



Harriet Hodgson has written many books and given many presentations about the subject of grief. Losing her daughter and son-in-law within a short period of time propelled her to explore beliefs and information about grieving. I encourage you to go to her website and search out books that might be helpful to you. http://www.harriethodgson.com


From a young age we see around us that grief is mostly an affliction, a misery that intrudes into the life we deserve, a rupture of the natural order of things, a trauma that we need coping and management and five stages and twelve steps to get over. Here’s the revolution: What if grief is a skill, in the same way that love is a skill, something that must be learned and cultivated and taught? What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway? Grief and the love of life are twins, natural human skills that can be learned first by being on the receiving end and feeling worthy of them, later by practicing them when you run short of understanding. In a time like ours, grieving is a subversive act.


When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer I went through the 5 steps of grieving (denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance). We may go in and out of these stages according to our own schedule. The goal is to reach and stay in acceptance for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. www.outshineovariancancer.com 

ALL PROCEEDS GO TO GYNECOLOGIC CANCER. WWW.AMAZON.COM






Friday, July 31, 2015

RETREATS: SPIRITUAL, HEALING, LEARNING


When you hear the word RETREAT what comes to mind?
           Do you think of a military action when the troops retreat or go back?
           Or do visualize a person living alone, avoiding outside contact?
           Or a monk who lives a solitary life communing with and living solely for God?
           Or a group of people who gather together at a special place for a certain purpose?

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the value of attending a retreat to grow spiritually, heal physically, mentally, and spiritually with a group, and to learn some life lessons.

Some forty years ago I attended a "Marriage Enrichment" retreat, which helped my husband and I to see and understand some areas of communication we needed to improve upon. It was a growing and learning experience.


I was a counselor several times at "Church Camps" for the high school aged young people. It was a week long event of fun and games, trysts, and small group sessions. It was an opportunity for the youth to explore, discuss, and receive insight into their thoughts, opinions, questions, and behaviors. Over the years I would hear from many of them how helpful the church camp experience was for them to grow into healthy, happy, and well adjusted individuals.






A very dear friend of mine attends a Men's Retreat every year, and he has been attending it for over forty years (or could be longer). It is a prayerful time of silence and reflection. It is very healing as he communes intimately with God, receiving advice, encouragement, peace, and a new sense of renewal.






One of my "teal sisters"sent me information about a retreat called "Women With Cancer." We are teal sisters because we both have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It has never worked out for me to attend this event though I would like to someday. Here is information about it:

                             Women With Cancer: Spiritual Exercises and Prayer
                                                           Sept. 17, 2015
                         
                      Retreat begins Thursday at 5:30 pm and ends Sunday at 1:30 pm
               "A silent retreat based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, with a special 
                                  emphasis on Healing for women with Cancer."
                                                
                                                         REGISTER AT:
                   1200 Lantana St., Corpus Christi, TX 78407  361-289-9095, ext. 321
                                                                   OR
                                                     www.deepprayer.org
                                                                               

Retreats are very special ways to receive spiritual growth, healing, and learning experiences.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

THROUGH THE EYES OF GOD





I am proud and pleased to introduce Dr. Michelle Bengtson as my guest
blogger this week. She is a renowned and inspirational speaker who
shares her story of finding God in her life. 




If I asked you to describe yourself in three words, what would you say? Take a moment and write down your first thoughts without taking the time to think things through.

                          For most of my earlier years, I would have answered this way:
                                                        I am...
                                                                                                            A doctor
                                                                                                            A volunteer
                                                                                                            A writer

                   Does my answer really describe who I am? Or, is it rather what I do?

For as long as I can remember, I was a “do-er.” I saw my role in life as the person who jumped in and did more whenever times were hard or something went wrong. When my father passed away while I was a teenager, my family struggled financially so I jumped in to help.

It was during those times when I was the most vulnerable that I listened to the enemy of my soul as he whispered his lies.
         Lies like: “How can God say He loves you when He took your father from you?”
                    Or “Now that your father is no longer here, it is up to you to support your family."


           I began to believe that I could not depend on anyone but myself, not even God.

This thought process continued until I was devastated and bed-ridden by a life-threatening illness. I could no longer see patients and perform my duties as a doctor. Actually, I could not “do” anything because I could not get out of bed for months.

                                                      I no longer knew who I was.

           In the midst of an identity crisis, I was desperate for the Lord and cried out to Him.

While bed-ridden and stuck in a quiet room, I was finally able to hear the voice of the Lord. He said, I do not love you for what you do. I never asked you to do. I love you for who you are, because you are mine. I love you. End. Of. Story.

All those years, I had listened to lies instead of asking the Lord what He thought of me. At the same time, I realized that although I had been saved since a young child, I never really knew the Lord.

                         My identity was based on what I did, not who I belonged to.
                         I depended on myself instead of depending on the Lord.
                         When we depend on the Lord, we realize we were created in His image.

Have you ever asked Him what He thinks of you? Have you asked Him to let you see yourself the way He sees you? Are you willing to listen to Him, agree with Him, and let go of the way you see yourself?

                             Take some time each day and pray, asking God:
                                   To give you an accurate perspective of Him,
                                                        Show you how He sees you,
                                   And, to help you see yourself the way He sees you.

                 Search the Word for the promises that He uses to describe who you are.

He says you are secure. You are free from condemnation. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:1-2

He says you are accepted. You are His child. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” 1 John 1:12

He says you are significant. You are His workmanship. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

We were created in His image. When we stand on His word and the truth of how He sees us, we will reflect His image.
                             Are you ready to see yourself through the eyes of God?

Because of Him, Hope Prevails my friend,
Dr. Michelle Bengtson

For more hope, stay connected with me at:
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson (@DrMBengtson)
BIO:
Author, speaker and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is also a wife, mother and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com



Saturday, July 11, 2015

REGRETS: ARE THEY HOLDING YOU BACK?

                    "Regrets, I've had a few, 
                      but then again too few to mention.
                      I did what I had to do and saw it through without exception.
                      I planned each chartered course, each careful step along the byway
                     And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

These are some of the lyrics from the song made famous by Frank Sinatra, My Way.

Regrets are choices each of us made that we wish we would have done differently. And, such regrets can hold us back in all aspects of our lives...physically, emotionally/mentally, and spiritually. The best way to heal is to first forgive ourselves, and then take the next step, which is recognize, acknowledge and learn from the event or decision. 

I did things my way, which now means I assume responsibility and cannot put the onus on anyone else. As I take on responsibility, I forgive myself, and can move on to learning. Now my life can be fuller, richer, and healthier.

Too often I hear people blame others, society, or the legal system. This is not healthy or even necessarily the case most of the time.

I used to regret and blame others for my not going to the doctor right away when I developed the abdominal bloating. It was a completely different health manifestation I had ever experienced, and yet I rationalized it is "just post-menopausal." I have forgiven myself and used what I learned to try to teach women about "listening to their bodies."

According to Forbes, here are some of the most common regrets:

  1. Working too much at the expense of family and friends.
  2. Staying in touch with friends.
  3. Turning off the phone.
  4. Worrying too much about what other people think.
  5. Lacking self confidence.
  6. Not living my life as I wanted, but as my parents wanted.
  7. Taking life too seriously.
  8. Burying the hatchet with old friend or family member.
  9. Not trusting my "inner voice" more.
  10. Taking better care of my health.
Life is short, do not waste it on regrets. Forgive yourself and learn. It is never too late to make changes. Friends, family, counselors, and pastors are all people who can help and support you as you move into a healthier and happier life.


                     "There is only one success: To be able to spend your life in your own way."


**I invite you to go to www.watermanwellness.com sometime this month and watch my short interview for world cancer day. Would love to hear your feedback!

**My more recent article for "Hormones Matter" is now published at http://www.hormonesmatter.com/causes-ovarian-cancer/

Thursday, July 2, 2015

BLOATING: HELP, I LOOK PREGNANT!

My thanks to Haley Dubin for her recent guest blog about nutrition. I hope all will follow her website at www.revivewellness.com.      

I invite you to read "What Causes Ovarian Cancer"an article I wrote for Hormones Matter http://www.hormonesmatter.com/causes-ovarian-cancer/




I recently had a conversation with a group of women and somehow the conversation got around to our bodies…rather typical of women! This time it was not just about our increased wrinkles, gray hair, and “drooping body parts.” We started talking about our body parts below the waist. Of the five of us, three were in the 50-60 age group while two were 60-80 years old. It was the latter group who got quiet and only shared the amusing and uninformed ways their mothers talked to them about the birds and the bees. They admitted they did not have any better conversations with their daughters. The younger group were more informed and have done the same for their daughters. I believe that my granddaughters aged 14-30 are open and educated.
                                                 Let’s talk about the lady parts!



"Have I just gained weight? Am I distended? Am I pregnant?" Are questions any woman might ask when her abdomen gets larger.

                BLOATING OR AN ENLARGED ABDOMEN can be caused by:

                                                  Eating fatty foods                      
                                                  Stress or anxiety,                     
                                                  Irritable bowel syndrome                      
                                                  Constipation,                     
                                                  Lactose intolerance,                      
                                                  Celiac disease,

                                        OR IT IS A SYMPTOM OF OVARIAN CANCER

"An increase in my dress/pant size and looking like I was 3 months pregnant was my only sign for what turned out to be a large cancerous tumor. I thought it was part of being post-menopausal and even though I exercised more and ate less fattening foods, the bloating did not change."
    

                     SEE YOUR M.D. IF THIS SYMPTOM PERSISTS FOR MORE THAN          
                                                                   TWO WEEKS.
                             
                            Keep track on a calendar...an important step towards better health.




                                       RESEARCH YOUR FAMILY HISTORY FOR:
                                               
                                        BREAST, COLON, OR OVARIAN CANCERS 


Bloating is the most common symptom for ovarian cancer, sometimes accompanied by burping, passing gas or pain. The Gas-X commercial instructs the woman in the dressing room that all she needs to do is take Gas-X to relieve her bloating. If it is an occasional event that lasts only a few days, then yes, that might be one solution, but not if it lasts on a daily basis for two weeks!

According to M.D. Anderson: "Women often feel bloated after eating or drinking a lot, especially during their menstrual cycles. But a woman may have ovarian cancer, if she continues to feel bloated for more than two weeks or after her period ends." http://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/news-releases/2012/cancersymptomswomen.html.



Women, young and old, know your body and listen, then respond to its warning signs. Remember bloating is a common symptom for many disorders and diseases, but also for ovarian cancer as well.




"I am scared to go to the doctor." A friend recently said to me when I saw her for the first time after a few months. "It is nothing. I am just fat," she continued. I listened to her complaints of pain, how the swelling had increased over the past two months, and yet how she has decreased her caloric intake and tried to exercise more. 
We talked about how every organ in her body could be affected by this increased bloating and the importance of seeing her physician as soon as possible. Again she repeated her fears of what the doctor might say. 
By the time our visit ended she agreed to go see her doctor. I hugged her and said, "Now you have taken the first step in conquering your fear and taking control of your own health."



Most of us experience bloating at various times and it is the body's normal response to what we have eaten. However, my bloating continued for two months before I went to my doctor. The "honeydew melon" sized tumor was found. I waited two months too long because of fear and ignorance.

Learn more about ovarian cancer at www.outshineovariancancer.com.