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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 2013.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

AFTER A STORM, A RAINBOW APPEARS



Once a storm has passed, assessment, clean-up, and new beginnings start.

        We all remember the devastation after September 11th, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the tsunami that hit Japan, and many other natural disasters.
                                                                       

         
A fewer number will remember the fear, destruction, and horror of Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima,
                   and the war zones from World War II, Korea, and South VietNam.

         The assasinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King continue
                                                   to live in our memories.

We each can share a personal story of our own storms...
        Divorce,
           Death,
              Cancer,
                 Financial ruin,
                    to name a few. 
                    Each story has its own unique challenges...but we will survive and 
                      be better if we have... 




Recently I used the quote from Helen Keller, "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." Sometimes our blinders of self-pity, anger, depression, and resentment get in the way.

             Or, as Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."



Some dear friends of mine have been in their own personal "storm" for six long years with no resolution yet in sight. Every morning they start the new day with prayer, devotions, and a smile. They have learned many lessons along this journey and have the faith of Job that their prayers will be answered. They believe the rainbow will appear when the time is right in God's plan. They are an inspiration.

                Faith, hope, and love are necessary to find the rainbow after a storm.


Friday, February 13, 2015

DO I DESERVE THIS?

This guest blog is written by Robin Maupin, a long time survivor of ovarian and endometriosis cancer. She talks about "survivor's guilt" which is a common reaction many men and women experience after being "cured" or in long term remission. My thanks to Robin for sharing her thoughts in a most poignant manner.




   I’ve been extremely blessed to see four of my granddaughters born since my diagnosis of ovarian and endomemtrial cancer in 1997. 


                                       I’ve survived 16 years after my diagnosis. 

   In those years, I have lost countless friends in the cancer community. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about why I am here and they aren’t. When we’re diagnosed, we ask why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Similarly, when we survive, I think it’s normal to ask why? Why did I survive when so many have not?

    Statements have been made to me by well-meaning people whose explanation for it is simple:       “God has a plan for you”, or “You must’ve done something right.” As if I were more deserving to live than anyone else? I don’t accept this. In fact, there are little niggling thoughts that come into my head that say, “you’re undeserving." “What have you done to deserve to still be here?” “How do you justify your survival?” 

    Have I always made healthy choices physically, emotionally and spiritually these last 16 years? Absolutely not. It’s called survivor’s guilt. Yup. I have it. It’s not commonly discussed among survivors. I think it’s because it seems somewhat self-indulgent. The unspoken message is “just be grateful and move on.” Not so simple.

   So, is the word “deserve” even appropriate here? Deserve implies some reward for something done. According to the dictionary deserve means to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation. Am I deserving? I’m just a flawed human being – albeit somewhat more enlightened now – trying my best to be a good person. 

   
Cancer, just like life, doesn’t really have any rhyme or reason. Some die, some don’t. Surviving cancer, while it’s something to be very grateful for, is not like winning a game, being a victor. At least not for me. I came through a war. I survived. I lost comrades. There were fallen warriors along the way. The losses are too great to celebrate victory. I’m here. I’m neither more or less deserving to live than they were. We all had lots to live for and the desire to survive, especially the young women with their whole lives ahead of them and young children to raise. I’m here. They’re not. There is no reasoning.

   All I know is that living my life as best I can is a memorial to all you have passed on before me, and I will never walk away from the cause. 

    I do it for them. 
     I do it for myself. 
     And I do it for all of the women who have yet to be diagnosed
      And who will be where I was---      
         Fighting for their lives.
          Do I deserve this? I absolutely do,
             But so did all of the other wonderful women who didn’t.


Thank you, Robin, for your very informative, touching, and inspiring message. Your words are a blessing to many. 

Certified Professional Cancer Survivorship Coach
Womens' Cancer Connection

Thursday, February 5, 2015

LOVE IS LIKE A BUTTERFLY...



               "Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and pleases wherever it goes."


                                                    WHAT IS LOVE?

An intense feeling of deep affection. We recognize it when we experience it...and we know what it is not.

My grandparents had it...
     It is what I feel for my husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchild...
         I feel it for God and know He feels it for me.
              I love myself.





       SHOW LOVE EVERYDAY TO THOSE IN YOUR LIFE...
Love is not just about hearts, flowers, jewelry and chocolate on Feb. 14th.




   

                               SHOW LOVE TO YOUR NEIGHBORS...

           Treat them with the same kind of love you want to receive from them.           


        BRING LOVE INTO YOUR DAILY LIVING...That is part of healing ourselves and others.


SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS ENCOURAGING & SHOWING LOVE:

                  McDonald's special "pricing" through Feb. 14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq2Sm2XGv_s

                  Elderly people with one sentence words of how to live (Dodge wisdom) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpRvMT9aUb0
                   


FOR THE LAST FEW WEEKS WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT HEALING FROM WITHIN...PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND SPIRITUALITY. TO HEAL, BEGINS WITH      

                                             LOVE


LET'S EACH BE LIKE THE BUTTERFLY THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY AND BRING LOVE TO EACH PERSON, EVENT, AND TO OURSELVES.




Thursday, January 29, 2015

HEALING FROM WITHIN

   


     Today I am emphasizing how we each might heal from within, no matter our age, present living situation, or our sex. I am borrowing some ideas from an author and nurse, Elizabeth Scala and in her book Nursing from Within. Her  experiences as a nurse led her to seek ways for being more healthy in the workplace as a nurse. Her suggestions apply to all of us in our daily living. Here are just a few:

Problem Solving:
     "Band-aids do not work." Example: "I am always late" for everything. Solutions: Talk to a counselor to find out what is the underlying cause(s). Learned behavior from family? Incorrect thinking it brings positive attention to me? I do not realize the consequences?

     Family issues are unfortunately abundant. There may be jealousy, anger, or even hatred between two or more family members. Talk about the issues, forgive or say "I'm sorry" are a must to have self-growth.

      To fix problems we often have to change our old-age thinking process which maybe worked for a period of time. Time to challenge yourself to seek out new ways to think or respond to issues.


Change yourself:
     It is not always easy. Some people may be critical of the new choices and behaviors you are choosing. For example: change how you react to stress. Let it flow through and out. Or as I wrote in a blog "step to the left" of it.

     Learn from yesterday's events and just plan and/or dream for the future. You only have TODAY!

     Don't keep reliving a negative experience; only the positive ones!


Follow your dreams:
     First of all, we must believe in our dreams. Listen to your heart; knock at or open doors that might lead you on your path.

***When we are angry, depressed, frustrated it does affect our ability to heal from within because of the hormones: adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol.  When they are released for extended periods of time they can decrease immune system, libido and increase blood pressure and sugar production. They are destructive to the body physically, spiritually, and mentally.

Begin the practice of "Healing from Within." Apply the principles and examples from Ms. Scala's book in your everyday life at work or home.



Spiritual Practice Nurse, Elizabeth Scala, transforms the profession of nursing from the inside out. Individuals typically enter nursing with a desire to provide compassionate, heart-based care. Challenged by regulations, financial pressures, and technological advancements today’s nurse struggles to balance the art with the science of nursing. Elizabeth inspires nursing teams to reconnect with the passionate and fulfilling joy of their career. http://elizabethscala.com/





Nursing from Within is an innovative and uplifting guide for nurses at all levels of the profession. Learn how to shift your inner perspective so you can enjoy the work of helping others, regardless of how stressful or challenging the environment you are working in may be. Are you ready to rediscover the joy and passion of nursing? ‘Nursing from Within: A Fresh Alternative to Putting Out Fires and Self-Care Workarounds’ is available now. Get your copy today by visiting Elizabeth Scala’s site, or purchase directly from Amazon.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

RESOLUTIONS FOR A HEALTHIER ME




I had a health challenge in 2014 that is continuing into the new year. I have learned and relearned some important lessons from the experience when my ovarian cancer came back.

Beautiful lessons:
  • I am blessed to have so much love and support from family, friends, and even strangers.
  • Only brief "pity parties" are of value; otherwise, "happy parties" are just that: HEALTHY
  • Eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meat provide the body with necessary vitamins and minerals. 
  • A "spoonful of sugar" is okay in my diet. I know this is a controversial subject, but it works for me if kept in strict moderation.
  • I learned that living for today is most important...use yesterday as a lesson and set goals and dreams for tomorrow. 

Resolutions for 2015 are to continue the ones from 2014, and add: 
  • More exercise, which is saying get back into daily walks and yoga. 
  • Spend more quality time with friends and family.
  • Learn to enjoy the little things even more...there are so many of them (birds chirping, waves on the lake, sunshine, smelling flowers, etc). Did I say "little things"? They are little only from the respect that I have too often taken them for granted.


Being a healthy person involves physical, emotional and spiritual health. My belief is that these three aspects certainly do interact with one another and therefore are interdependent. 
The healthier me relies greatly on keeping my spiritual self strong. My faith in God and living life as He would have me live it is essential. 

I wish for each of you a healthy and happy new year. You each have made my life more healthy and beautiful...your prayers, love, and support are the greatest gifts I have received all year long.

I invite you to read "Nursing from Within," which is a book by Elizabeth Scala that could also be called "Healing from Within." Next week the blog will be about how each of us can and must heal from within so our lives are happier and healthier. I borrowed ideas from Ms. Scala for this and next week's blog. www.elizabethscala.com









Friday, January 16, 2015

CERVIAL CANCER: THERE IS HOPE

WHEN SHOULD WOMEN BE SCREENED?
  1. Get Pap test no later than age 21 and be retested every 2 years ages 200 and 29.
  2. If older than 30 every 3 years if they have had 3 normal Pap tests in a row.
  3. Women 65 and older can stop Pap tests if they have had 3 normal results in a row.
                                                                            (U.S. Preventative Services Task Force)

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
  1. Irregular menstrual periods
  2. Vaginal discharge with unpleasant odor
  3. Watery vaginal discharge
  4. Vaginal discharge tinged with blood
  5. Back or pelvic pain
  6. Painful sex                                                      (Cancer Center of America)


HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS (HPV) VIRUS: 

  1. A group of more than 150 related viruses.
  2. More than 40 types can be passed from one person to the next through sexual contact
  3. High risk HPV is major cause of cervical cancer
  4. Gardasil and Cervarix are two vaccines for prevention of HPV; 
  5. It is recommended that both males and females between ages of 9 and 25 get the Gardasil or females between ages 9 and 25 get Cervarix
                                                                                   (Medicine Plus)

  HEALING FROM WITHIN:      

         "Treat your body like the temple that it is...it is the house of your soul."
        "This is the only body you will have; it cannot be traded in for a new model."
    "Have a positive attitude, practice forgiveness, meditate or pray on a daily basis, and laugh and cry every day."




Some of us who are gynecologic cancer survivors are supporting the movement to have Coca-Cola cans be in teal for the month of September 2015. We ask for your help by writing them a letter and sending it to: Voices of Teal, c/o Ashley Altman, P.O. Box 247, Lebanon, GA 30146. She will send them all together in a packet to Coca-Cola. Thank you for your help.  






In my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, you will learn about hope and healing from within. Available at www.amazon.com. 

All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.





Thursday, January 8, 2015

CELEBRATING A NEW YEAR

When we think of celebrating a "New Year" we usually think of resolutions, parties, the New York City ball coming down at midnight on the eve of the new year. I do find that setting resolutions helpful, but I also like to take the time to celebrate people who have contributed positivity to my life.

Resolutions are promises to ourselves to make a positive change, or to stop a negative behavior.

This tradition has a long history:
  • The ancient Babylonians promised to pay old debts and return objects.
  • The Romans started each new year by making promises to their god, Janus.
  • The "peacock vow" was made in Medieval times by knights renewing their vows to chivalry.
  • Christians pray and make resolutions at midnight church services on December 31st.
  • Judaism has a rich history of seeking forgiveness for past wrongdoings; and to forgive others.

I am celebrating some good news that came out in 2014 for ovarian cancer:
  • New drug, Lynparza (olaparib) approved by the FDA
  • Excess weight gain linked to increase risk of developing ovarian cancer
  • Experimental vaccine for ovarian cancer continues to gain momentum
                     http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/categories/ovarian_cancer

I am also celebrating and honoring those who have made our world a better place:
  • Pope Francis, a champion of social justice.
  • All the medical researchers who are finding cures and help for all or us.
  • Xiao Meili, brought attention to sexual abuse in China and the world.
  • Katherine Chastain Treat, author about environmental allergens.
  • Stuart Scott, sportscaster who taught us how "you beat cancer by how you live."
The list could go on, but the real question is: what do you and I do to make this a better world? We can only start with ourselves, and then on to our family, friends, and neighbors. Loving and positive acts could apply in any relationship, so let's resolve to be kinder, wiser, and forgiving to others.


                 "If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much, 
                                         and most of all yourself." (A. Neilen)

Sources:
http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/12118296/stuart-scott-espn-anchor-dies-age-49