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My journey as a writer began as a child. I wrote poems and short stories which were my way of dealing with various life changing events. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club. Follow me on Twitter @KarenIngalls1, www.facebook.com/KarenIngalls, and you can find my books at www.amazon.com. My first book is Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir which received two awards. All proceeds are donated to gynecologic cancer research. My second book is a novel Novy's Son, about one man's attempt to find love and acceptance from his father. This is an all too common problem in our society. My third book, Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is about the love affair between this great American sculptor and his model. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2016.

Friday, June 24, 2016

COCOON OR BUTTERFLY


                              THERE ARE SO MANY NEEDS IN THE WORLD...
                                          OFTEN THEY ARE RIGHT NEXT DOOR...
                                                   OR IN OUR OWN HOMES AND FAMILY.
Here is one story about a young mother who turned tragedy and sadness into a way of serving others. She now brings peace and comfort to those who have suffered the same loss as she did.

The young couple heard the words, hydrous fetalis for the first time. They had been celebrating the pregnancy of a little girl who they named Viviana Iris Acosta. Sonograms confirmed that Viviana's lungs and her head had filled up with fluid and were told the baby would not likely make it to term.
The choice of an abortion was not an option for this couple based on their Christian beliefs. However, Viviana's heart stopped beating by the seven month of pregnancy and was born Nov. 3, 2008.

Leaving the hospital without a sweet baby in her arms was a very traumatic experience and it was then that the idea of making boxes with keepsakes in them came about.


                                                  Viviana’s Memory Boxes

Each keepsake box contains the following:
  • “When Hello Means Goodbye” (a booklet on infant loss and grieving)
  • Handmade receiving blanket for baby
  • Bible scriptures and poems to help comfort the family
  • Plush Teddy Bear
  • Forget – Me – Not Seeds
  • Small photo album
  • New Testament Bible
  • Journal with ink pen
  • Tissues
  • Lip gloss
                        For more information go to: http://kalebkares.com


John Michael Night at 18 years old on Dec. 14 suffered a very rare stroke, in the brain-stem. This has left the young man unable to move anything but his eyes, yet his spirit is strong and vibrant. He went through intensive rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Received visitors, cards, and gifts from all over the world offering him prayers and encouragement.




The senior high student wanted to walk at graduation. And, he did with the help of his classmates and his own sense of will and fortitude. For weeks he practiced the simplest of movements that any of us take for granted. He can now hold his head up, swallow food, lift his arms, and even speak a few words. John's sense of self-will, tenaciousness, and faith made him a great LaCrosse player and now helping him to overcome this great challenge.

On Twitter he listed John 13:7 as the Bible verse he lives by: "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

              From an article in the Orlando Sentinel: ksantich@tribpub.com

I think of the woman who started Ovarian Cancer Women on Facebook as a place for support, encouragement, and information, and is now in hospice
...for a dear friend whose only child and her long-time pet died within 6 months of each other
...of another precious friend whose son died unexpectedly
...of all my teal sisters who are dealing with ovarian cancer
...of the tragic and senseless deaths here in Orlando on June 12
...for the hundreds who die in war, accidents, poverty, illness, or natural weather events

WHY? I have no answer to that question. Why do some people suffer more than others? I only know that whatever challenge that comes into my life I need to learn and grow from it. I try to be a better person.
                  As my coffee mug states: Just when the caterpillar thought the world
                                   was over, it became a butterfly...Proverb




Monday, June 6, 2016

TO HAVE SUGAR OR NOT

               SUGAR CAUSES CANCER...

                             OR DOES IT?

The question as to whether or not sugar causes cancer is a controversial one. The purpose of this blog is to present the scientific facts from some respectable researchers have done. I hope you read it with an open mind and come to a decision that is right for you as to the role of sugar in your diet.

                          Where does the myth come from?
"... spread by many cancer-related websites and reports. According to the myth, eating sugar feeds cancer making it grow faster. This myth has convinced many cancer patients to stop eating sugar hoping that in way, the cancer will stop growing. In addition, cutting sugar off your diet means that you eliminate also beneficial foods, such as fruits.
                            The reality behind the myth
What we know is that sugar doesn't make cancer grow faster. All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn't speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn't slow their growth.

This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET scan), which uses a small amount of radioactive tracer — typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy — including cancer cells — absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn't true.


However, there is some evidence that consuming large amounts of sugar is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. It can also lead to weight gain and increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, which may increase the risk of cancer.


Cancer cells have receptors called insulin growth factors, which cancer cells can use to spread cancer. Excess sugar goes to the liver, which is then metabolized. When there is an overload of sugar in the liver, it is concerted to fat. This causes a buildup of belly fat and cytokines, which can increase your risk for cancer.

Sugar consumption in the United States is on the rise. Americans on average individually consume about 100 to 150 pounds of sugar per year. Based on these findings and other research suggesting a link between sugar consumption and cancer, the researchers advise a diet low in sugar. Other than cancer, sugar consumption is a major risk factor for the development of other health conditions such as obesity and heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, women should have no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, and men should have no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day. Many Americans consume about double that amount.
It is important to be able to spot the hidden sugars in food, as this is where many people don’t realize their dietary mistakes lie. Sugar isn’t just found within “sugar” on a food label. Sugar can be within a number of other ingredients such as fructose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, glucose, and dextrose. While it is unlikely you’ll be able to completely avoid sugar, it is possible to choose healthier, natural sugars such as agave nectar and honey. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided.
Let’s look at the evidence to find out whether sugar causes cancer to grow and spread more quickly.
                 It’s what sugar does to your waistline that can lead to cancer.
 ...being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases.

“Your body’s cells use sugar to keep your vital organs functioning,” says Clare McKindley, clinical dietitian at MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center. “But too much daily sugar can cause weight gain. And, unhealthy weight gain and a lack of exercise can increase your cancer risks.”

                                           Eat the right amount of sugar
So, how much sugar is safe to eat?  Women should have no more than six teaspoons per day (25 grams), and men should have no more than nine teaspoons per day (37 grams), says the American Heart Association. This equals to about 100 calories for women and 150 for men.

If you’re like most Americans, you actually eat more than double that much sugar in a day — about 22 teaspoons. That’s 260 cups or 130 lbs. of sugar each year.
Even worse, all that extra sugar breaks down to about 500 calories per day. That’s hundreds of calories with absolutely no nutritional or cancer-fighting benefit.
And, it’s not just sweets that are loaded with sugar. Pasta sauce, salad dressings and canned vegetables also have hidden sugars. Canned and processed foods are some of the biggest offenders.

Spot hidden sugars in food

Some sugary foods don’t include “sugar” on the ingredient list. That’s because sugar is often disguised under different names. Here are some hidden “sugar” words to look out for:
  • fructose (natural sugar from fruits)
  • lactose (natural sugar from milk)
  • sucrose (made from fructose and glucose)
  • maltose (sugar made from grain)
  • glucose (simple sugar, product of photosynthesis)
  • dextrose (form of glucose)
Opt for natural sugars
Natural sugars, like molasses, agave nectar, honey and maple syrup, are packed with antioxidants that protect your body from cancer.

Even though these sweet options are natural, they still have about the same amount of calories as regular sugar. So, it’s important to stick to the recommended daily serving for sugar.

Avoid artificial sweeteners
Do you prefer artificial sweeteners over sugar?
Some studies done with laboratory animals have found links between artificial sweeteners and cancer. But, no proof exists that says artificial sweeteners definitely cause cancer. Until more is known, your best bet is to avoid or limit artificial sweeteners.

Rein in your sweet tooth
Bottom line: sugar, when eaten in small amounts, can fit into a balanced diet. And, if you have a sweet tooth, it’s better to get your sugar fix from naturally sweet fruits than processed foods. 

"The current study investigated the impact of dietary sugar on mammary gland tumor development in multiple mouse models, along with mechanisms that may be involved," said co-author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine. "We determined that it was specifically fructose, in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, ubiquitous within our food system, which was responsible for facilitating lung metastasis and 12-HETE production in breast tumors."

The MD Anderson team conducted four different studies in which mice were randomized to different diet groups and fed one of four diets. At six months of age, 30 percent of mice on a starch-control diet had measurable tumors, whereas 50 to 58 percent of the mice on sucrose-enriched diets had developed mammary tumors. The study also showed that numbers of lung metastases were significantly higher in mice on a sucrose- or a fructose-enriched diet, versus mice on a starch-control diet.
"This study suggests that dietary sucrose or fructose induced 12-LOX and 12-HETE production in breast tumor cells in vivo," said Cohen. "This indicates a possible signaling pathway responsible for sugar-promoted tumor growth in mice. How dietary sucrose and fructose induces 12-HETE and whether it has a direct or indirect effect remains in question."
The study team believes that the mechanism by which dietary sucrose or fructose affects breast tumor growth and metastasis, especially through the 12-LOX pathways, warrants further investigation.

5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar are Best Friends

cancer_and_sugarPatrick Quillin, PHD, RD, CNS, former director of nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, OK, wrote: “It puzzles me why the simple concept ‘sugar feeds cancer’ can be so dramatically overlooked as part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan” (Nutrition Science News, April 2000). I agree.  Sugar is cancer’s favorite food.  There are at least five reasons that cancer and sugar are best friends.

1-Affinity

Cancer cells love sugar! That is why refined carbohydrates like white sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and soft drinks are extremely dangerous for anyone trying to prevent or reverse cancer.  Sugar essentially feeds tumors and encourages cancer growth. Cancer cells uptake sugar at 10-12 times the rate of healthy cells.  In fact, that is the basis of PET (positive emission tomography) scans — one of the most accurate tools for detecting cancer growth.   PET scans use radioactively labeled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumor cells.  When patients drink the sugar water, it gets preferentially taken up into the cancer cells and they light up! The 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine, German Otto Warburg, PhD, discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. He found that malignant tumors exhibit increased glycolysis — a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer — as compared with normal cells. 

2-Acidity

Warburg also found that cancers thrive in an acidic environment. Sugar is highly acidic.  With a pH of about 6.4, it is 10 times more acidic than the ideal alkaline pH of blood at 7.4.

3-Immunity

Sugar suppresses a key immune response known as phagocytosis – the Pac-Man effect of the immune system.  Consuming 10 teaspoons of sugar can cause about a 50% reduction in phagocytosis.  
Not only the amount of sugar, but also the frequency of ingesting sugar is relevant to immune function. In one study, research subjects were found to have nearly a 38% decrease in phagocytosis one hour after ingesting a moderate amount of sugar. Two hours later, the immune system was suppressed 44%; immune function did not recover completely for a full five hours.

4-Activity

In most people, when sugar in any form is consumed, the pancreas releases insulin.  Breast tissue, for example, contains insulin receptors, and insulin is a powerful stimulant of cell growth.  One group of Australian researchers concluded that high levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) may actually be causative of cancers of the breast, prostate, endometrium and pancreas. A broad study conducted in 21 countries in Europe, North America and Asia concluded that sugar intake is a strong risk factor contributing to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women. A four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 healthy controls. Sugar intake was associated with more than double the cancer risk.
5- Obesity
Sugar ingestion seriously contributes to obesity, a known cause of cancer.  Obesity also negatively affects survival.  More than 100,000 cases of cancer each year are caused by excess body fat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.  These include esophageal, pancreatic, kidney, gallbladder, breast and colorectal cancer.

Sugar Substitutes

Although I am against sugar, please don’t think I recommend artificial sugar substitutes! Sweeteners containing aspartame, saccharin or sucralose have been shown to contribute to bladder cancer, lymphoma and leukemia, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Good sugar substitutes are stevia (an all-natural herb from South America), barley malt, rice syrup, and palm sugar.  Even high-glycemic sweeteners like Sucanat, evaporated cane juice, molasses, honey and pure maple syrup are nutritionally superior to refined table sugar or HFCS, and you can avoid sugar spiking if you consume them in the presence of high fiber foods like ground flaxseeds.

Do I consume processed sugar? Yes, in very low amounts. A piece of Dove dark chocolate after supper is my main source of processed sugar. I use stevia when I bake, which is seldom. I believe in moderation in all things. 
Please comment about your thoughts on the role of sugar and cancer. We can all learn from each other.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

THANK YOU, VETERANS

                 MEMORIAL DAY is a special day and my favorite holiday.


              My most humble thanks to all who served, wounded or died so I might have

                                                 FREEDOM OF SPEECH

                                                 FREEDOM OF RELIGION

                                                 FREEDOM TO VOTE

                                                 FREEDOM TO BE ME!

These videos say it all: 

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK0T4pVHP28

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2RwRi2TjA0




My uncle was killed in World War II.
       Another uncle served in the Merchant Marines during World War II
              My brother-in-law was killed during the Viet Nam war
                     Another brother-in-law served in the Korean War
                           My son served as a Marine.

LET'S EACH TAKE SOME TIME TO PAY HOMAGE AND GIVE THANKS...
        YES, HAVE THE BARBECUES,
               GO TO THE BEACH,
                      HAVE FRIENDS OVER,
                              OR JUST RELAX AT HOME...

                 BUT REMEMBER TO GIVE THANKS TO OUR VETERANS TODAY
                                                              AND EVERYDAY

                                     BECAUSE THEY HAVE KEPT US FREE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

HOME SWEET HOME

Have you ever revisited the home you grew up in?

      What are your favorite memories of your home?

            Does it seem smaller than you remember it being?

                   Did you share a bedroom with a sibling?

                        What did your bedroom look like? Posters? Books or toys?

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel had a most interesting and nostalgic article when he revisited the home in which he grew up. His parents were downsizing and they were moving. The kids came home for one last night to sleep there.
He talked about the kitchen table "where my mother always insisted all five of us gather for dinner." He remembered every step that would creak when he was trying to sneak in after curfew.
           "My parents are older. Downsizing is simply an inevitable, if emotional, chapter in the book of life we all write for ourselves."

Jim and I downsized when we sold our St Paul, MN home to take up permanent residence in Florida. It was an emotional and exhausting move, but it was time to make such a change. I remember every detail of that home we lived in for twenty years.

My memories of my childhood home from 9 to 16 years old are clear and real. About 15 years ago my sister and I revisited that home and I could not get over how much the front yard had shrunk! Truth be told, it did not shrink, I just grew up.

Mr. Maxwell concludes his article with a wonderful tribute to his parents, both of whom were positive and caring people. The kind of role models every boy or girl should have. "But if that final night taught me anything, it was to strengthen my resolve as a father and husband myself. So that when I finally leave my own house, I might also leave behind a legacy for which my children will be as grateful as I am for the one my parents left us."

The message in my book, Novy's Son is about passing the Iron John concept on to our children. This theory was popularized by Robert Bly in the 1970's from his book, Iron John.  Murray who is Novy's son searches for love and acceptance from his father. It is based on my father's life and other men who I had counseled when I worked as a nurse therapist.

Yes, a home is more than it's size, number of bedrooms, or how much the staircase creaked. It is about the people in it. Home Sweet Home should be more than a structure where people only exist, but a place of peace, harmony and love.

My thanks to Scott Maxwell (maxwell@orlandosentinel.com




Novy's Son is available in Kindle or paperback at Amazon. (www.amazon.com/Novys-Son-Selfish-Genius

Book of the Month winner through Rave Reviews Book Club





Saturday, May 7, 2016

CREATING A NEW ME

                                        May 8th is World Ovarian Cancer Day.
                                       May 8 is Mother's Day in the United States.
           Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is Rave Reviews Book Club "Push Week" book.
                
                  I was named the winner for this story How I Can Create A Better Me.

The lights from the recovery room were very bright as I drowsily awoke from the anesthesia. I peered through my half-open eyes and saw my surgeon standing next to my bed. He reached over and took my hand. Just then my eyes quickly searched for the clock on the wall. “Oh, no,” I groaned. The clock read 4:35 pm. I had been in surgery far longer than the two to three hours I had hoped to be. I knew that the longer the surgery, the greater was the chance that I had cancer.

Dr. Boente squeezed my hand and gently said, “I am sorry but your tumor was cancerous.” Tears began to flood my eyes as he went on to say, “However I feel confident we got it all.”

Thus began a new life. No longer a healthy sixty-seven year old who only took one prescription medication, which was for insomnia. I was a retired nurse enjoying life living in Minnesota part time, then spending the winters in Florida.

From that day forward in June 2008 I would be living with ovarian cancer as my constant companion. Twice I would lose my hair and go through chemotherapy for three months and then again for two years. Many were the visits with physicians, numerous blood tests, and scans. I live with side effects and monitor everything about my health.

I read several books and many articles about this lesser known cancer. I was a Registered Nurse and had no knowledge about ovarian cancer. The only thing I did know was that there were very few survivors.

During the early weeks of this new life I began to ask God some questions: What am I to do with my life for whatever time remains? How can I best serve Him? What lessons am I to learn? In other words, “Will I be creating a better me?”

I know there are areas of my life where I need to be a better me. It is not always easy to admit them to myself, let alone anyone else. However, it is a mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy thing to do.  Two such areas are: one is the need to let go of regrets; and secondly to be a more worthy child of God.

Since a little girl around nine or ten years I had found ways to deal with some not so pleasant things. In the 1940’s my parents divorced and both had remarried. I was angry that I could not say, “My mom and dad” in one sentence as all of my classmates did. I rarely saw my dad. We moved out of the only home I knew and to a different city far from my dad and grandparents. My stepfather betrayed my trust through sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. I was angry and hurt that my mother chose to stay with him and send me away. She did not protect me. I went to live with my dad, but again it meant a new school, distant city, and a different home.

Early on I found solace, answers, and a sense of hope by journaling, writing poems, short stories, and even a novel. I never shared them with anyone. I did not trust that people wouldn’t laugh at me. I had no self-confidence, but I kept writing just for me.

I learned from my grandmother about healthy exercise, good nutrition, laughter, and positive thinking. Over the years they were lifestyle choices that kept my mind and body in optimum states.  They each release endorphins, improve blood circulation, and increase the body’s immune system. I have always strived to be healthy and it is still true today.

Growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s girls were looked upon as tomboys if they liked to compete in sports or exercise. I always loved to walk and play volleyball and those were acceptable types of activity. Today I walk, exercise at the YMCA, and play golf.

My grandmother in particular taught me about vitamins, minerals, herbs, and good nutrition. She would say, “Do not eat much red meat, but eat lots of fruits and vegetables.” With her encouragement I replaced processed sugar with honey and gave up sodas and caffeinated beverages. I have never had a weight problem or been on a diet. I have always incorporated complementary medicine into my daily life. I used massage, herbs, acupressure, Reiki, yoga, and deep meditation to enhance my body’s ability to tolerate chemotherapy and improve its effectiveness.

Laughter viewed as the best medicine was popularized by Dr. Bernie Siegel. When we laugh or smile gray clouds disappear and the sun shines brightly. Our spirits are lifted and we believe we can overcome any obstacle. I recall the day when I had my head shaved for the first time. My husband rubbed my now baldhead and kissed the top of it. I cried and then laughed and said, “Grab the camera and let’s take pictures of me with different hats, scarves, the wig, and bald.” I was soon making different faces or standing in a variety of poses. Then I posted them on Facebook and sent emails to friends and family.

Closely related to laughter is the power of positive thinking. When I read Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking so many years ago, I knew this was an important part of being a better me. When I learned I had cancer I certainly went through the stages of grief, but I quickly took the attitude what can I learn and use to make me a better person?

I did bring intentional prayer and meditation ever more deeply into my daily life. There was one particular prayer of St. Francis of Assisi that brought clarity, peace, and purpose:
                        Lord, help me to live this day quietly, easily
                        To lean upon thy great strength trustfully, restfully
                        To wait for the unfolding of Thy will patiently, serenely
                        To meet others peacefully, joyously
                        To face tomorrow confidently, courageously.

            My spiritual life is a central part of who I am. I know that God and His angels are always with me. I try to always be open to their guidance and help. Yet, I know I fall short. The most important spiritual lesson I have learned is that of forgiveness. To forgive my stepfather and mother have been powerfully healing.

            I wrote in my journal throughout my cancer journey. I trusted a friend to read my journal upon her request. When she returned my journal she said, “Karen, you must get this published. You have an important message for everyone with a serious illness or a life-altering challenge. And, you are a gifted writer.” I was shocked by her enthusiastic response. She had been a friend for a long time and we shared everything. I trusted her and somehow knew that this was a scary step I needed to take. The result was Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, which won an award. It has opened many doors for me to speak to groups of women, nursing and pharmacy students.

The better me is an eight-year ovarian cancer survivor who has since published two more books. One of which is the novel I wrote when in my twenties. I have two blogs I write in every week. One reaches out to the general public and the other for readers and authors. My purpose in life is to bring awareness about ovarian cancer; to be supportive to those with cancer; and to bring information, hope, joy, and comfort to others through my writing.

Am I a better new me? Yes. I am more fulfilled and happier because I know that I am trying to do God’s will. I chose to not let cancer take my life. I chose to let my life be richer because of it.

I also know that creating a better me is a process. It is part of life’s journey. A favorite quote is “You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.” (David Emerald from The Empowerment Dynamic)
             
            Life is a beautiful gift that should never be taken for granted. Every minute is an opportunity to create a more beautiful and better you---and me.




My book is available at www.amazon.com/Outshine now at a reduced rate for the Kindle version. A limited time offer.
All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research.


My thanks to Rave Reviews Book Club for all it does for us authors. I encourage all authors and avid readers to join this fine organization.