About Me

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My journey as a writer began as a child, but my first published book came as a result of my ovarian cancer diagnosis. The title is Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir which received two awards. All proceeds are donated to gynecologic cancer research. 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. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2017.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Friendship

My best friend from fourth grade to tenth grade was MaryAnn Meyer. We promised each other that we would never end our friendship. We used to laugh and say "When we are old we will still be friends and talk about our kids, husbands, and life in general." We thought we were inseparable until one day I moved to live with my dad some fifty miles away. In the 1950's that was a long way away and our contact became more distant. In those days we had the telephone, which meant an expensive long distance call, or a hand written letter with a 3 cent stamp. We were also young.

I have just moved 1500 miles from my Minnesota friends of 20 to 45 years to Florida where I have wonderful friends from 1 to 10 years! All these people have been there for me through life's many adventures including my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I think I have been there for them too.

I am so grateful that I have lived long enough to be computer-savvy; to be on Facebook; to take advantage of the Internet; to Skype and to email. However, friendships take effort. Someone has to be proactive to communicate, invite to, or to demonstrate caring about the other. Some friendships are deeper in that they are intimate where what is shared are soul-level thoughts, concerns, and revelations. With other people it may be at the level of caring and concern; or it may be someone to just have fun with because of shared interests; or he/she is a good listener and lets you do all the talking.  Whatever the level of friendship it is a give and take relationship with many rewards. I don't know where MaryAnn is today. By the time I left the state for college, we had stopped communicating. I hope she has a friend(s) that she can talk to about her kids, husband, and life, because I have been blessed with many friends in Minnesota and Florida, plus a few scattered around the country.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Birthdays

Today is my birthday. June 20th marks the 4th year since I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I recognize it because it created a new me. I believe I am a better person since June 20, 2008. I am filled with so much more gratitude; I am closer to God; and I am living with a new mission in life.

I am inspired by the most amazing women who I would never have met were not for this cancer. I have been able to write, lecture, and teach about a subject I once knew so little. I have opened my eyes to God's wonderful gifts of the spirit; to truly see His work in people and nature; and to feel His love.

A friend sent an email today that in one part said: "Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live." So, today I will celebrate my 4th birthday without balloons, a cake, or presents, but with prayerful thankfulness and excitement to see what each new day brings.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Advocate

Are you a strong person? Assertive? Do you ask questions until you have a clear understanding? Do you seek out information? Are you independent? I consider myself to be strong and assertive, and somewhat independent. When I told my gynecologist about my symptoms and when she could not get the speculum in because something was blocking it, I am glad that she was assertive, strong, and sought out answers to her questions. She immediately ordered scans and blood tests; then 3 days later sent me to a gynecology-oncologist surgeon. Her ego did not get in the way to send me to another physician.

Too often women with ovarian cancer have been misdiagnosed or ignored by physicians, because the symptoms were subtle, or too similar to other medical issues. When a woman experiences  abdominal bloating, pelvic or low back pain, changes in urinary or bowel habits, or difficulty eating or feeling full quickly for more than 2 weeks, she needs to be assertive and see her family physician.  The more written documentation of symptoms and family history of diseases, the better the doctor can make a preliminary diagnosis.

No one knows your body better than you. We often "sense" when something is not right. If a woman is not satisfied with the doctor's diagnosis, or lack thereof, that is when she must be her own advocate. My suggestion is that she seek out a gynecology-oncologist surgeon. When I read about women who were diagnosed with advanced cancer, I get angry that either she did not listen to her body and act accordingly, or that her physician was too casual about her symptoms. It is far better to be a nuisance by insisting, demanding, or screaming for appropriate tests and examinations by a specialist, than to not get the immediate attention one deserves. Be your own advocate.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Positive Thinking

This past week I experienced an event that caused a lot of stress and negativity for all of us involved. It can be so easy to slip into negative thinking about the who, why and what of an event, rather than looking to find what was beneficial or healthy.

I have never liked negative thinking or behavior in myself or in others. Since early childhood my grandparents were role models of positivity as compared to my parents. Fortunately I chose to model myself after my grandparents. By my early teens I was reading books by Albert Schweitzer and Norman Vincent Peale.

When I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I was angry and was convinced that my life was over. Those feelings only lasted a couple of days and I began to look at my new life, my new reality, as a challenge. There were lessons to be learned; opportunities for new growth. I knew that the best way to help my body heal was to have a positive outlook; not bury my head in the sand; cooperate with medical advice and treatment; and not do a pity-party. I used prayer and meditation, exercise, good nutrition high in antioxidants, and tears to express any emotion. I believe that when we let tears flow, we let love in.

I incorporated these same techniques, for lack of a better word, and the stressful issue of last week was resolved by all parties. I learned some important lessons and believe I am a better person for it. As the saying goes, I made lemonade out of a lemon!