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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.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


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                      
                                                  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.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I am pleased to welcome, Haley Dubin, an ovarian cancer survivor/thriver, who will share her thoughts and experiences with nutrition for healing. Congratulations on her 17 years of being cancer free.

Anti-Cancer Diet

     As a 17-year cancer survivor (this month!) and certified health coach, I am often asked which foods are best to heal one’s body after cancer. This always brings me back to when I completed treatment for ovarian cancer and asked my oncologist that very same question.  He pretty much told me to go back to the way I was eating prior to my diagnosis.  He said that changing my diet wouldn’t have much impact on me healing from cancer or preventing a recurrence.

     Somehow my intuition told me differently and besides longing to have some sense of control over my body and health, I wanted to gain my energy back so that I could keep up with my two-year old son.  Plus, I was willing to do anything in my power to ensure that I would never have to go through treatment again.

     All these years later, I feel better than ever and it has become my mission to help other’s feel the same.

What foods do I make an integral part of my diet?

After researching which foods have healing effects on the body, I came to understand that an anti-inflammatory diet (1) is crucial as cancer is an inflammatory disease. (2,3)

Here are some pointers:

·      Eat whole, fresh unprocessed foods (avoid packaged food)

·      Eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies (6-10 servings a day)

·      Incorporate healthy fats, emphasizing omega-3 fats found in wild salmon, cod and sardines. 

·      More healthy fats-walnuts, almonds, avocados, olives, flax seeds, chia seeds

·      Emphasize a plant-based diet

·      If choose to eat meat look for grass-fed (more omega 3-s) as opposed to grain-fed

·      Eat plenty of fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans

Start by enjoying this easy anti-inflammatory recipe!

Black Bean and Avocado Salad:

·      1 can black beans* (Eden Organic without BPA lining)

·      1 avocado* diced

·      1 medium tomato* chopped

·      ½ small red onion* diced

·      ¾ bunch cilantro* finely chopped

·      1 clove garlic* minced

·      ½ large lime

·      1 ½ tsp.  cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

·      Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, add the beans, avocado and chopped tomato.  Add garlic, onion and cilantro to bowl.   In a separate bowl mix together, juice of lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour on top of salad and toss gently.

* Cancer protective properties:
·      Black beans- contain folate, fiber & magnesium
·      Avocados-high in oleic acid (anti-inflammatory benefits)
·      Tomato-lycopene (protective anti-oxidant)
·      Onions and garlic-quercitin (protective anti-oxidant)
·      Cilantro-beneficial phytonutrients, detoxifying herb

Hayley Dubin is a certified health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and founder of reVIVE wellness.  She works with individuals who have completed treatment for cancer and have fear around recurrence.  She teaches her clients how to nourish their body, mind and soul so that they can feel confident in remaining healthy and cancer-free!

For more information and to get her “7 Top Tips For A Cancer Fighting Immune System”, please visit www.revivewellness.com.

Credits to:

Friday, June 12, 2015


     LONELINESS IS FAR TOO A COMMON PROBLEM, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE WHO ARE ILL. Do we know how to help them, understand their fears, how to be there for them?

     Loneliness is a feeling of not belonging, no involvement with a community (family, friends, a town or  job), and there is no sense of wanting to or even thinking about contributing to a community. Some of us socialize via the Internet on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media sites. We feel somehow safer communicating with others when we do not have to face people directly. This is can only increase our loneliness in that we do not experience any physical contact or commitment.

     Sometimes we experience loneliness for short periods of time, an hour, or a day. Many of us then turn to meditation, shopping, or lunch with friends to get us out of our slump. It is important to share with someone you trust about your feelings at the time.

Other times it might be a daily event from which we are not able to rise above.

     With such feelings of isolation we often develop depression, illnesses, drug or alcohol addiction. According to some studies it can raise our blood pressure, increase pain and fatigue, and poor eating habits resulting in too much weight gain or loss. Depression is often defined as anger turned inward and can make us feel like we are traveling in a universe separate from anyone else. Any type of illness can develop due to loneliness because our immune systems are depressed, we do not eat nutritiously, nor exercise on a regular basis.

     Loneliness often occurs after a major change in the person's family due to death, divorce, illness, abandonment, or an empty nest. In each of these situations an individual needs support, attention (good listening), and sometimes professional counseling during their process of grieving. When we grieve we through various stages as outlined by Elisabeth Kugler-Ross. They are denial or shock, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. We each move in and out of these stages at our own pace and time frame. When we reach acceptance then we are now able to live with the tragic or sad events that we have had to experience.

     We all have felt lonely and abandoned at various times of our lives. I believe even Jesus felt lonely in the Garden of Gethsemane. When I entered college as a freshman 1500 miles away from home, for the first day or so I was lonely, but I soon made friends, got familiar with the campus, and quickly saw my new life as an exciting challenge.

      My sense of aloneness from my ovarian cancer diagnosis disappeared once I got involved in a support group, communicated on the Internet with various individuals and organizations who were somehow involved with this disease. The more I read and learned about ovarian cancer, had doctors I highly respected and trusted, and opened my life of cancer to others, loneliness never reappeared.

     There are many organizations and groups out in society to help anyone through a difficult time. Contact such places as The American Psychological Society, local churches, The Loneliness Support Group, Campaign to End Loneliness, to name a few.

     We as members of society have a responsibility to be aware of the symptoms of loneliness and be there to help people in our families or neighborhood or among our friends to be there for them. Let them know they are loved and appreciated.

My thanks to Mark's Daily Apple for input into this blog.
Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-impact-of-loneliness/#ixzz3cVtmSzGQ

Thursday, June 4, 2015


         Flowers have lessons for us also. Here are two stories that are beautiful, thought-provoking, and can teach us some things.                                 

                                                     A WHITE ROSE 

     Out from the weeds and bushes emerged a white rose as white as the driven snow. Because of its location, the white rose could not see its own beauty even though those around it marveled at its sweet sense, its glistening beauty from the morning dew on its petals, nor her perfection. 
     One day a young girl is walking by and saw the white rose which was starting to wilt from lack of rain. She gently picked it and took it home. She put it in a vase and placed it by the window so it could get some sun.
     "Is that me?" the rose asked itself as it gazed at its reflection. The rose began to stretch its leaves and raised itself up towards the sun. "I was so blind to all around me, I did not see my own beauty." The rose had never known who she really was.

MORAL: If you really want to know who you are, forget everything that's around you, and just look into your heart. 
(In collaboration with Rosa Marie Roe. http://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/white-rose)                                                

                                                     THE THISTLE

    A dusty and long path to Jerusalem was lined with flowers of every color, shape and size. There were daisies, pansies, roses, petunias, tulips, and chrysanthemums to name a few. They chattered among themselves ignoring one flower that stood quite tall and lonely. It had thorns, big leaves and a fat stalk. 
    "Oh, why must he be among us? We are so tiny, delicate, and pretty while he is ugly and just green."
    A dainty violet was under its shadow and complained, "His thorns sometimes brush up against me when there is a breeze and it hurts so much. Oh, I wish he would just wither and die."
    The very prim and proper rose said to the thistle, "Don't you know why we are all here, and who we are waiting for?"
    "Yes, I do," replied the thistle. "And that is why I am here too. I hope he selects me."
With that all the flowers started mocking and laughing at him. 
     This went on for two days until they saw Jesus coming down the dusty road. They preened and shook the dust off of them, spread their petals and leaves, and stood straight and tall with their faces towards the sun.
     The thistle could not shake the dust off, but kept the top of his head facing upward now crowned with beautiful purple flowers.
     Jesus bowed and marveled at each flower as he walked by, and then stopped and placed his hand on the thistle's head. "You stay strong, beautiful, kind, and confident despite unkindness around you. For that you are the most beautiful flower along the road here." 

MORAL: Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. (Author unknown)

I pray that we each can see the beauty inside and outside of ourselves and all those around us. We are each a part of God's creation...which means we are to love each other just as God loves us. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


TREES clean the air by absorbing certain gases and trapping them on their leaves and bark;
         They cool your homes and streets with their canopies of branches;
                   They provide homes for birds and squirrels to nest;
                          Like a pine tree some offer beauty with their greenery in the winter;
                                 Others provide fragrant smells and beauty in the spring;
                                     Many insects find shelter and food, hiding in the deep grooves of a tree;
                                          At Christmas time we decorate the branches of various pine trees;
                                             And our delicious fruits and nuts come from trees.

   One of my favorite trees is the live oaks so common in the south. When they sprawl their long branches freely, without boundaries, it is like a magical fairyland underneath. Their roots are long and spread outward giving them a large base to stand on.

      If I were to be a tree, this is the kind I would be!


     In St. Augustine, Florida, there is a palm tree growing out from an oak tree. It is called the Love Tree because they are intertwined like lovers in an embrace. The myth is that you will have everlasting love if you kiss beneath the Love Tree.

    These trees teach us that we need to protect, nourish and help one another. When we stand alone with selfish, anger, disrespect or even hatred, we only hurt ourselves.

   With trees we build houses, buildings, fences, docks and piers. If lost in the woods, we can trim its branches to build a lean-to shelter. We cut twigs and logs for a fire in our fireplace, fire pit, or open campground. Some of us use wood to build furniture, make toys, or create sculptures. From trees we get paper on which to print, write, and create photographs, paintings, and origami. Trees provide fun for climbing on, swinging from, playing hide-n-seek, or using our imaginations for most any game or activity.

    I watch the willows, palms, and cottonwoods gracefully bow and bend in a storm, swaying with the challenge they are facing. With cancer, I have learned that I too must not fight against the wind of disease, but use my faith, strength, and spirit to go with it so as not to be broken. There are other times I must be like a sturdy and strong redwood tree and face the disease with new resolve by deepening my roots so that this storm will not uproot me.   

   When I look at a tree standing tall and strong I see its arms reaching out to embrace me, raising its trunk and main branches upward as if in prayer to God, and its roots running deep and wide into the earth like a foundation of knowledge, love and faith.  I want to be like a tree...helping, protecting, providing, and loving others...just as God does for me.


                            AND FROM WHICH I LEARNED ABOUT LIFE.



Thursday, May 21, 2015


    A few weeks ago my blog was about wellness tips with the intent of helping you become the healthiest and happiest you can be. Not perfect! We are mortal beings with our flaws but it is up to us to take the best care of all parts of who we are.

     I have always found relaxation a very healing time. It is when a person goes into a meditative state creating peacefulness, guidance from God, and a state of unconditional love. 

     There are also relaxing activities that are provided by God's work in nature and to marvel at the beauty of God's accurate creations.

      When was the last time you walked along a beach or shoreline? Felt the sand beneath your feet? Thought about the wonder of the tides and how the moon affects them? The human body is more than 60% water; blood is 92%; brain and muscles are 75% and bones are about 22%. Does the sound of waves relax you? Waterfalls bring you peace? If you have positive past experiences with water, then those same emotions can be recreated.

     I love to watch butterflies flit from flower to flower; dragonflies darting around as they catch small flying insects; or to watch animals sleeping peacefully, not having a care in the world. Animals do not toss and turn or walk the floors at night worrying about anything. The joy of animals to love, care for, and enjoy watching are gifts from which we can promote healing.

    Do you remember as a kid watching the clouds in the sky? Did you imagine people or animals in their formations? Did you marvel at the various colors and shapes they were? Why not take time each day to enjoy the clouds and get lost in your imagination?

Trees are one of my favorite plants. Some stand so tall and regal...like a Queen palm; others spread the limbs out wide as if they are ready to wrap me up in a hug; some produce beautiful flowers after a long winter; and others have such fragrant and colorful flowers from which delicious fruits come.
    I love to be beneath the limbs of the oak tree so common here in
Florida and the trunks are low enough inviting me to climb up them.
Their acorns provide food for God's little creatures.

     For some relaxing moments, take a blanket and sit under a tree; close
your eyes, let its shade cool you, and its limbs protect you.

When was the last time you smelled a flower? Have you seen a flower growing from a crack in a rock or sidewalk? Did you wonder how it got there? Marvel at the difficult challenge it overcame? Do you have a favorite flower? Is it fragrant? Is it the color or shape?

   An exercise I find healing is to look deeply into the center of a rose. See yourself as the rose that started out as a bud just as you started life as a baby. Over days the rose unfolds more and more of its pedals; the human grows from babyhood to an adult hopefully opening up more of themselves. As we look deeper into the center of the rose, so should we be looking deeper into our very being, our soul.

    Meditation and relaxation are important components to our everyday health. Looking at the beauty of God's work, appreciating it, taking it all in, listening to the wind, feeling the grass beneath our feet, smelling the flower, tasting the apple, and marveling at the wonder of nature's beauty.




Thursday, May 14, 2015


     Face it, hearing a friend has cancer is never easy.  However, the words we utter and comments we make can have a profound effect on your relationship and her healing.  Many of us have heard things like “maybe if you had breast-fed your kids you wouldn’t have gotten it” or “hey, they’re just boobs and heck, now you get a free boob job” or “everything happens for a reason”.  Even something like “what is your prognosis, or what are your odds?” can strike a cord—believe me, if she wanted you to know that she’ll soon be kicking the bucket, she’d share that news with you. Our loved ones mean well, but they often make these comments out of fear, awkwardness or often just for a lack of something to say. So what’s a friend to do?


  1. If you haven't had cancer or don't have a crystal ball, don't day things like "I know how you feel" or "you will be fine" or "don't worry, it will be okay." 
  2. Don't put on your "expert hat". Everyone does cancer in their own way, so please do not be an armchair quarterback or even comment on her chosen path for treatment. Offer your support, your love, but keep your advice to yourself.
  3. Don't tell her you know someone who had cancer and died.
  4. Don't say anything that begins with "at least"--as in at least you have the "good kind of cancer" or "at least it was caught early."
  5. Don't say "If there's anything I can do, just let me know." such a statement involves action on her part, not yours.
  6. Don't offer help if you don't intend to follow through.
  7. Don't tell her to have a positive attitude. While having the affirmation to beat cancer is a good thing, being required to be happy about it is not.
  8. Don't show up to visit with a brood of kids for her to feed, and don't expect her to entertain you.
  9. Don't avoid her because you can't deal with the situation.
  10. Don't expect her to reassure you that she will make it through.
  11. Do not expect a thank you note or even a response to an email...seriously, this is her time to heal, not your time to feed your ego or "feel good" hormones.


    1.     Offer to accompany her to the doctor.
    2.     Offer to field phone calls so she can get some rest.
    3.     Offer to pick her kids up at school and drop off dinner.
    4.     Send her notes, emails and texts to let you her know you are there for her
    5.     Invite her to go for a walk with you if she is up to it. Or you can offer just to sit and listen, really listen.
    6.     You can say, “I don’t know what to say” and give her a hug (see above—don’t avoid her— she needs you now).
    7.     Acknowledge that she is not just her cancer; she is a person with cancer who might like to talk about something other than her cancer.
    8.     Once treatment is over, acknowledge to her that there is no going back to the old normal. There’s nothing quite like a cancer diagnosis to challenge your inner core. We will hear, “but I thought you were done with treatment?” As if our lives are normal again post formal treatment. The truth is, nothing for her will ever be the same.
                            ~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

     Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. She empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. 
      Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. 
     She hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for Beat Cancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. 
     Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/