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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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


     One of my favorite memories growing up in Southern California is that of walking on the beach and collecting sea shells. I loved to try to catch the perfect one as it rolled in with an incoming wave; wash the extra sand off; and feel my pockets or pail grow heavier with each added treasure.

Courtesy of tssphoto

Sand-dollars are my favorites. They get their name from sea shell collectors of long ago who thought they resembled silver coins. They are not the easiest to find in good condition because they are very fragile. Sea urchins live in them and travel across the ocean floor by moving tiny little hairs (cilia) and spines. In South Africa they are called "pansy shells" and are known as "snapper biscuits" in New Zealand.

Many sea creatures need shells to protect them from their prey. Sometimes other forms of sea life attach themselves to the shells. Do others rely on you? Do you make a difference in the life of another person?

 Just like seashells we humans come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. We also move through life in groups, alone, with the help of others, or as someone for others to depend upon. We use different "shells" to protect ourselves, to help us grow, or to just survive in. They might be shells of pride, power, anger, kindness, or peacemaker to name just a few. What are you doing with your life to help others?

When I was first diagnosed with cancer my shell initially was one of introspection; then I added determination; and now my shell includes gratitude. I move through each day thankful that I have another opportunity to share about ovarian cancer; to use my cancer experience to teach and support other women and their families; and to use God's gifts to me (the real me) to bring some peace and beauty to others.

What does your outer shell reflect about you? Are you growing? Are you moving forward? Does your inner beauty attract others? Is your shell like that of a mollusk, tough and big? Or are you more fragile like the sand dollar?

             From my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, I share the following:

      "I saw a young man walking up and down a beach after the tide had gone out.
        The young man would pick up a starfish, left behind by the tide, and would throw it as far as
        he could back into the ocean.
        'What are you trying to do?' I asked.
        'Make a difference,' he replied.
        'But the beach is covered with starfish! You can't possibly expect to make a difference for 
         them all!' I stated.
         As he picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean, he replied, 'I made a 
         difference for that one.'"
                             (Adapted from "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eiseley)


All proceeds go to gynecological research.


  1. Great post, Karen! Happy Halloween!

    1. Thank you, Hanna. Your support means a lot.

  2. All your shells are beautiful, Karen.

    1. Except for that particular sand dollar, I collected the sea shells photographed. I do have sand dollars, but I loved the photo of the ocean wave sweeping the sand dollar up onto the shore. I appreciate your compliment.