About Me

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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 @KIngallsAuthor 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 2017.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Resolutions

The tradition of making resolutions began with the ancient Babylonians some 4000 years ago. Every spring in March they returned borrowed farm tools and promised to pay off debts. The Romans adopted this tradition with their mythical king, Janus, in 150 B.C., who was head of their calendar. Janus had two faces, one that looked back to the past and the other looked forward. The people made promises to Janus to be better and thereby hoped to be granted good fortune for the next year. When the Gregorian calendar was created, these acts were celebrated in January at the start of the new year.
Just as in ancient times, for me January is a time of reflection and hopes of improvement. For many years before I got cancer, I wrote down my resolutions for each new year in a special little notebook I carried in my purse. For some years I was able to cross out one or two accomplishments whether it was the typical resolutions to lose weight or exercise more. I still believe in weight control and exercise, but cancer taught me to look at myself more deeply; to be more of a light to others. Many of us need to receive love, caring and information especially when we are gripped with fear from hearing the word "cancer."
My main goal for the past three years has been to reach as many people as possible about ovarian cancer. I use every opportunity to share, educate and inspire women to be aware of the symptoms as well as be their own advocates.
I am in the final steps of getting my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, published. It should be available within the next two months. I found a publishing house (Beaver's Pond Press) where everyone has been supportive, encouraging and have worked closely with me. They have been my guiding light as I try to be the same for others through my book and blog.
I wish for each of you a most blessed and healthy new year in 2012.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Message

Sometimes we think kindness and friendliness do not exist in the world anymore. We cynically say to ourselves, "Who would help me?" Has the message of Christmas been lost? Is there a Santa Claus? But I  still believe in the story of love that Jesus's birth brought. I believe in the beauty of giving that our magical and mythical Santa brings. And I am confident there are more good samaritans in the world today than we hear about. All too often the media emphasizes the sad and bad things of the world.

A dear friend and neighbor, Harry, at the age of 92 years young fell in his garden at his rural farmhouse. He could not get up on his own so he was crawling towards a swing in the yard hoping he would be able to lift himself up. His wife was in the house and had no idea of what had happened. She did not hear his calls through the closed kitchen window.

A stranger driving down the road happened to see Harry struggling to make it across the yard. The driver pulled his car to a stop and ran over to help Harry to stand and walk to the house.  Harry has lived on that farm for over 70 years and said he did not know who the young man was. "I did not think to ask his name at the time I thanked him for his help."

The good samaritan did his good deed without any requirement for recognition or payment. He simply did it because another person needed help and he was there to lend the helping hand. He gave a gift: kindness (just like Santa Claus) and did it with love, which is the message of Christmas.

I wish you each a blessed Christmas and that the year 2012 will be full of happiness, peace, and health. Share your stories of Christmas and Santa Claus.


Friday, December 16, 2011

To Chemo or Not to Chemo

Some people have been surprised that I chose to receive chemotherapy after my cancer diagnosis. Others have asked if I regret that decision. There was a time in my life when I did not think I would ever let such a poison into my body. However, after discussing it with my oncologist, husband, and my own research, I knew I "wanted" and needed chemotherapy.

I was fortunate that my side effects from the Taxol and Carboplantin were relatively tolerable. Hair loss and weakness were the worst. While I received these toxic medications, and afterwards while I meditated, I visualized the medication's molecules acting like a "Pac-man" destroying the cancer cells; I visualized my healthy cells being strong and surrounded by a white light; and I used my breath to move healing energy through every part of my body. I follow the practice of daily meditation even today while I celebrate my third year of remission. I also believe that good nutrition, loving support, and humor were also important factors in helping my body defend itself from the cancer.

I respect and support the decision each person makes regarding to choose chemotherapy or not. There are many studies which provide data to help a person to make their decision. There are many success stories of those people who chose the natural, holistic, or non-chemo path. What may be right for one person, may not be right for another.

I welcome you to share your thoughts and experiences regarding the choice to chemo or not to chemo.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Days of Infamy

Yesterday we honored the memories of those who perished at Pearl Harbor. More flags were displayed in homes, parks, and memorial sites. There were some speeches and brief recognition by the news media. History and time have brought healing to most Americans. Since December 7, 1941, as a nation we have learned more about Japan's history, culture and religions. Some of us have come to understand how the pattern of aggression, greed and jealousy can lead to such attacks. Yet we do not condone the attack.

Basic physics teaches that for every action, there is a reaction. An unknown factor or action caused the reaction of my cells to become disorganized and multiply rapidly forming a tumor. Through research, information from my doctors and nurses, the experiences of other cancer patients, I have come to an understanding of cancer. I still do not like what happened, but I am at a certain level of peace.

Perhaps we can use the remembrance of Pearl Harbor and the memories of our own day of infamy (the day of our diagnosis) as times to grow and learn; to be more aware of another nation's characteristics and behaviors; to be more in tune with our own bodies' symptoms or changes; and to be more nurturing to nations, to each other, and to ourselves.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Giving Thanks Day

It was my first time to not prepare a large meal for Thanksgiving Day; to not have family or friends around us; and to not be busy cleaning the house. It was a relaxing, quiet, reverent day spent alone with my husband, Jim. We chose to celebrate this special day with a dinner at a nearby resort. We had a champaign toast and talked about our happiest Thanksgiving memory. We agreed it was a tie between our first one together some 23 years ago, and today's.

One of the blessing of having had a serious illness, is that each day is truly appreciated. I do not say this as a cliche, but as a fact, because our gratefulness for the gift of each day has not decreased. We have learned ever more deeply to be thankful for the moments we share, our friends we enjoy, and the family we love. We no longer waste our time and energy talking about what we don't have.

A dear friend is dying after fighting the good fight against bone cancer. He is a miracle to live five years longer than the doctors had predicted. For the past two months he has reached out to others asking for forgiveness; seeking special time with friends; and putting his life in order. I am sure he is thankful for these past five years; for five more Thanksgiving days to celebrate; and time to live and love. I give thanks that he has been in my life for the past eight years.

Positive thinking, happy memories, forgiveness, and love enrich my life and for which I am thankful. And I thank you for reading this blog; thank you for your support; and thank you for your comments.




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Support Groups

Yesterday four of us who are ovarian cancer survivors gathered for support, laughter, food, and fellowship. The name of our group is Bodacious Ovarian Diva Survivors (B.O.D.S.) whose "membership" changes when we gather every two months. Since our last time together in September, four  women had passed on. We talked about their bravery, journey, and impact on each of us. We know that the rate of recurrence is 85%, which is a pretty staggering figure. The main reason for recurrence is because the diagnosis is usually so late, Stages III or IV.

Know the symptoms: bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, urinary frequency, fatigue, painful intercourse, appetite changes. They are vague, but PERSISTENCE of the symptoms is the key. Please see an gyncology-oncologist if you do have the persistence of any of these symptoms.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Honoring a Survivor

An active member of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida passed away yesterday after battling ovarian cancer for the past 11 years. I did not know Jeanne Lowke very well, but it is thanks to her that I became involved in two support groups from the Orlando area. The two times I was in her presence I was impressed with her outgoing, friendly, and positive outlook. She served on the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida board, working tirelessly to educate women about this too often fatal disease. She supported women and their families through her volunteer work.
It is my mission to also reach out to the public, because it is through increased awareness that more women will be diagnosed sooner; a more reliable form of testing will be found; more funding will be available for research; and a cure will one day be found. That is why I wrote my soon to be published book.
Ovarian cancer was the silent killer; today we refer to its whispering symptoms; perhaps soon we will say cancer no more.
Let me hear your feedback. I would appreciate your comments and thoughts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Joyful news as I got another clean bill of health from the oncologist. He is encouraged that I have been free of any relapse even though my ovarian cancer cell was Malignant Mixed Mullerian Tumor (mmmt), which is an aggressive sarcoma.
I continue to work on my book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, which is now in the hands of the book designer. I hope to educate and inspire women and their partners about the signs, tests, and treatments for this cancer. There is so little information out there so we need to speak out.
My journey with cancer has been as much a spiritual one as it was physical and emotional. God became an important part of my life when I was a teenager, and I have not lost sight of Him since. I cannot imagine going through the challenge of any cancer without a strong belief and trust in God. I have leaned on His shoulders many times.
I welcome you to share your story about ovarian cancer, because we can all learn from AND be supportive of each other. God bless you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Facing Ovarian Cancer

It might be raining outside, but I am full of sunshine. My CA-125 test result was 9.0. Next month I will celebrate my third year of remission after diagnosis and surgery for ovarian cancer. I was Stage IIC.
I have learned so much about this deadly form of cancer that I want to share my limited knowledge with EVERYONE. I feel great responsibility to educate women and their partners about those whispering symptoms: bloating, abdominal pain, change in bowels and urine, full feeling quickly or difficulty eating, fatigue, painful intercourse, or menstrual irregularities. Persistence of these symptoms is the key. See your gynecologist and request a referral to an oncology-gynecologist.

I am a retired registered nurse and my symptoms of bloating and constipation did not alert me. I just figured I needed to exercise more and eat less (except eat more prunes)! What a surprise when I went for my annual PAP smear and the tumor was palpated. From there it was the nightmare of CT's, MRI's, and an appointment with an oncology-gynecologist. Surgery and chemo followed to destroy the sarcoma (mmmt) that had invaded my body.

My experience with ovarian cancer was, and continues to be, not only a physical/emotional one, but a very spiritual one. I have often used journaling as a tool to help me in the past. It continues to fill an important role for me even today. Blogging is one way of journaling...it does not have to be in a spiral bound notebook.

Friends and family asked to see my journal, which is now in the process of becoming a published book. It is my hope that this book will educate, encourage, and support not just those of us facing cancer, but anyone facing a challenge.

I invite you to share your experience with ovarian cancer, because the more informed we are the more we can learn. We need to be supportive of each other in a positive, loving way. So I request that we avoid negativity or unsubstantiated information. I only say this because when I was in the early stages of searching for information, I found a few blogs that were not providing accurate information.