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Ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 1 of 72 women; 14,000 will die. Please know the symptoms and risk factors: read Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. Books at www.amazon.com. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writer's International Society of Authors, and Patient Leadership Council for Tesaro, Inc. I WILL NOT USE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN CONTACTING YOU DIRECTLY. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2018.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seeds of Life

Have you ever paid any attention to the size of a grape seed? They are small and yet think of what each seed produces: wine, grape juice, jams, jellies, oils, and extracts, all of which have healthy benefits. On our recent trip to northern California we marveled at the thousands (maybe millions) of acres of vineyards in the narrow Sonoma and Napa Valleys and the vast San Joaquin Valley. It was Italian immigrants, who came to this area of California with their precious vines, and found the perfect soil and climate. Red wine has more flavonoids than white, but both are rich in Vitamin E.

I believe the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds with a radius of 1millimeter. According to Kundan Pandey, "They activate biochemical processes of the body and encourage healing....the seeds help to keep us healthy and fit." (Buzzle) The seed can be ground to form a spice, oil, or the very popular condiment mustard. Such a small seed produces a tall plant of which 90% is used.

When I was about 10 years old my grandmother gave me a necklace that was essentially one mustard seed set in a round magnifying glass. She referred to the Bible verse: "You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20 New Living Translation)

A human comes from an even smaller "seed"; the union of the sperm and the egg. We are each a miracle, blessed with our unique bodies, personalities, and abilities. Just like the grape and mustard seeds we can and do affect the lives of everyone with whom we come in contact. So, some important questions for me to ask myself are: Do I affect people in positive and loving ways? Am I living each day to its fullest? Do I give back as much as I receive? Do I have a faith that gives me strength and peace; that can move mountains?

I invite you to share your thoughts, because we can learn from each other. We are all connected. Without the seed, there would be no plant and vice versa. So it is true for the human, we cannot exist without other people. Read Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir to learn how I experienced more connectedness to people and grew in my spirituality.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Highway 1, Northern California

Map of Highway 1, California:

"Why don't you drive the rest of the way to Monterey?" my husband asked. We had driven 14 miles from San Simeon to Ragged Point, CA, where we stopped for a delicious breakfast. Jim did not want to drive the winding, narrow road of Highway 1 for the rest of the trip that day. Despite the fact that we were on the mountain side (going north), and he did not have to look down a sheer cliff to the rocks and sea below, he held the car door with a white knuckled grip.

I have blogged about fear before. Fear in itself is not always bad, but sometimes it does "stop us in our tracks." If we remain in a constant state of fear it will adversely affect our health by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, respirations, and mentally/emotionally depress us. For two to three days the ovarian cancer diagnosis caused fear that kept me in its power. Then I faced it through learning about the cancer, trusting my doctor and nurses, and most importantly, giving the fear to God.

                 Try to relax and enjoy the scenery," I said, but the fear of heights was strong and Jim was only able to relax when the road straightened and was not so close to the edge. No matter the degree of fear, it can prevent us from enjoying certain aspects of life or to rationally face certain situations. As beautiful as the scenery of Highway 1 is, it is a road that can test the patience, reflexes, and good driving skills of tourists and natives alike. Rock slides, earthquakes, and car accidents are not unusual.

But, Jim did not let his fear stop him; he trusted my driving skills; and we both prayed for God's angels to guide and protect us. Our reward was to spend two days in the beautiful and charming areas of Carmel and Monterey. It is an area that is one of God's masterpieces. Thank you, God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Challenge to Survive

From the 2012 Ovarian Cancer Survivor's Course in September these facts were presented. First, roughly about 60 to 70% of patients have advanced (metastatic) disease at diagnosis. Secondly, surgery and platinum-based chemotherapy are effective at producing clinical remission for 75% or more of patients. Finally, roughly 2/3 of patients in remission relapse with disease within 5 years, and require multiple ongoing interventions. These facts make it all the more imperative to encourage women (and some physicians) to respond to the body's subtle warning signs. In Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, the subtle symptoms and risk factors are discussed. Proceeds from the sales of the book go to ovarian cancer research.

Like the turtle in the photo, it symbolizes how many of us who  are facing ovarian cancer feel. Just like the turtle we have to make decisions that will help us to survive. Will the turtle slowly move back and try to get away in the grass or under a log (should I do lots of research, get second opinions, try alternative medicine); should the turtle just sit there, hoping the alligator will lose interest (if I do nothing, will the cancer go away); or will the turtle go into its shell (should I get surgery and chemotherapy as soon as possible)? Actually, the turtle's best defense mechanism is going into its shell. According to "Scienceray" only alligators, killer whales and large sharks can penetrate its hard shell. However, the turtle is not a gator's favorite choice of food because of the challenge in chomping through some turtle's shells.

So I believe that just from the medical perspective, to give women the best chance to survive ovarian cancer is two-fold. One, get an early diagnosis by responding to the symptoms; and two, have an gynecologic-oncologist surgeon do the necessary surgery and provide the chemotherapy regimen. Recognizing the symptoms is such an important, yet difficult, key; therefore, I ask you, my blog readers, to talk to the women in your lives about this cancer's whispering symptoms.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fountain of Joy

The good news is the following statistic: in 1975, the survival rate for ovarian cancer was 9 months, but in 2012 it is now 5 1/2 years. I learned this at the 2012 Ovarian Cancer Survivor's Course last week in Orlando. I celebrate the progress that has been made, and I am optimistic that the future holds great promise for all cancers.

I like the image of a fountain of joy. I see a beautiful area in nature with a fountain of clear, sparkling water that sprays droplets of joy into the basin below into which I can dip my hands; drink the water; or splash water onto my face. Last week we talked about the power, vastness, and importance of water, and today I am using it as a symbol of happiness. A cold glass of water refreshes your dry and drenched throat on a hot summer day; the relaxation a shower or bath provides on a sore or tired body; the overwhelming feeling when the ritual of baptism is performed; or the peace that comes from just watching the rhythmic waves of an ocean. These are all examples of the fountain of joy. Can you think of others?

Several times at the Ovarian Cancer Survivor's Course, I wiped away tears of joy: learning from the professionals who are dedicated to the cause of finding answers to the suffering of others; listening to some survivors share their stories; hearing about the tireless work of OCAF and its volunteers; and I bathed in the warmth of love, acceptance, and earnestness. While on our afternoon break I was told that a dear friend was being removed from life support. "In times of care and sorrow, keep a fountain of joy alive in you." (Dietrich Bonhoffer) I went to the fountain to shed my tears of sorrow and also be refreshed by splashing the water of hope that the Survivor's Course provided.