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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, December 22, 2016



A box full of laughter, which is the best medicine. As long as we have a smile, giggle, or uproarious laugh, life cannot get us down. 

Two boxes filled with positive, loving thoughts. If we think gloom and doom, our life will be such. No matter the challenge, think about what you can learn from it and become a better person.

Three (or more) healthy meals a day rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, fruits and vegetables. Cut down or eliminate processed foods and sugars. 

Exercise at least four times a week. Opening those four boxes will improve your heart health, body weight, stamina, and will put a smile on your face and happy thoughts in your heart.

Do deep relaxation or meditation at least five times a week. This is a way to calm stressful thoughts, relax the whole mind and body, commune and listen to your God or Higher Power, and find peace.

There is no better gift at Christmas (or anytime) than the gift of health. Our bodies are each unique and beautiful, packaged and wrapped just for us. They do need to be taken care of, cherished, and listened to for good health physically, emotionally/mentally, and spiritually.

I like to think that our bodies are God's gift to us, and what we do with them is our gift to God...and to ourselves.
        Wishing you each a most blessed Christmas and a truly 
                          healthy and happy New Year.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


For the last two weeks I wrote about gratitude and chains, which leads me to share this beautiful true story. I hope you will be inspired, learn something, and it will change your life (and perhaps another person's life) for the better.

One Sunday morning Robert was patiently waiting for his wife to join him near the entrance to their church. As he stood there and looked around, he saw a man standing nearby who appeared to have just come from the nearby woods. Robert walked up to the man with a smile on his face and said, "Hello." The man shifted his position and looked around before saying hello to Robert.

"My name is Robert. Would you like to come in with me for a cup of coffee?"

The man stepped back a little and shook his head as he whispered,  "No, thank you."

"Well, I would love to have you come in and join me. I am waiting for my wife who is over there talking to those people." Robert pointed towards his wife, Danielle a few yards away. "The coffee is free and you just might like it. It will warm you up on this chilly morning."

The man again shook his head, turned, and walked back into the woods.

The next Sunday, Robert saw the same man standing near the entrance to the woods. He went up to him, extended his hand and said, "Hey, man. It is good to see you again."

The man smiled a little and shook Robert's hand and said, "My name is Mike." That morning Mike did go into the church and had a cup of coffee. The following week he sat in the church next to Robert and his wife.

Over the next weeks and months, Mike shared how he became homeless, that he was from England but had lived in the U.S. for several years, was well educated, and still had contact with his mother in England. Mike was very thin and Robert and Danielle were concerned for his health. They took him into their home, fed and clothed him, and found medical care for him. They set him up with whatever financial and community support programs available to him.

Another parishioner at the same church, Phil whose wife had passed away six months prior to Robert and Mike meeting. Phil and his wife had been long time members of the church. He was quite lonely and felt overwhelmed living in such a big house for one person. When he met Mike at church a kinship developed and soon Mike was living in one of the spare bedrooms in Phil's house.

When I heard this story, I could not help but recall the two blogs: gratitude and chains. We each probably have so much to be grateful for: our homes, food, clothing, health, etc. And it is my hope that we can break the chains that are holding us back. Thanks to Robert, Danielle, and Phil the chains that kept Mike homeless were broken.


Thursday, December 1, 2016



There are times in our lives when chains might or need to be broken:

                     Chains of servitude: slavery of any type is immoral
              Of abuse and neglect: there is no excuse for either
              Poverty: we are all responsible to help those in need
              Illness: more research needed & sharing of medical
              Addiction: AA, NA, Al-Anon, and many more to help

Some chains have weak or missing links:
               Family: relationship between child & parent
               Friends: is there trust & honesty
               Professions, Jobs: is there integrity & respect 

Locks might hold some chains together:

                       Can be locks of love: unconditional love is a must
               Tradition: family, religious, cultural
               Or control/power: this is a lock that must be broken

There are chains of gold or silver:

                Keep riches in: greed is not acceptable
                For jewelry: if done with love, not pomposity

And others made of steel:

                Can be broken: must allow freedom
                Emotions: unhealthy to hold onto fear, resentment, etc

What are the chains holding you down? Are you being abused? Are you addicted to any substance including food? Are you fearful? Do you hold onto possessions to the point they are weighing you down? Is your relationship with your spouse, partner, child, parent one of control?
If we answer yes to any of these questions, we need to seek freedom by breaking the chains that are holding us back from a free, healthy, and fulfilling life.

**My thanks to Shutterstock and photos at "photos of chains."

Sunday, November 20, 2016


At a recent luncheon for women who have survived gynecologic cancers, the hostesses led us in a discussion on... 

I share them now this week before Thanksgiving when as families, friends, and a nation we come to celebrate those things or people for which we have gratitude.

Seven Principles for Cultivating Gratitude:

   1. Gratitude is independent of our objective life circumstances.
   2. Gratitude is a function of attention.
   3. Entitlement precludes gratitude.
   4. We often take for granted that which we receive on a 
        regular basis.
   5. Gratitude can be cultivated through sincere self-reflection.
   6. Expressing gratitude, through words and deeds, enhances
       our experience of gratitude.
   7. Our deepest sense of gratitude comes through grace, with
       the awareness that we have not earned, nor do we deserve
       all that we've been given.

I wish to share with you one thing for which I am 
very grateful...and that is Rave Reviews Book Club,
which has done so much for me as an author
and an avid reader.
Today I am very proud to share my book trailer for my newest
book, Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
This is a story of my great-grandparents.
I invite you to view it, leave a comment, and be eligible
for one of two exciting prizes.
I am grateful for the lesson of unconditional love that
Davida & Augustus taught me.

                                   CULTIVATING GRATITUDE

As you work to incorporate the lessons from the Law of Attraction into your everyday life, a running theme will be your attempts to maintain a positive attitude. Cultivating gratitude is a powerful way to fight negativity, as well as anxiety.

When you focus in on the things that make you feel happy and lucky to be alive, you radiate an infectious optimism that attracts only the best from the world around you. Here are six exercises and habits that can help you become a more grateful person.

1. Keep A Gratitude Diary
Find a notebook with a beautiful cover (or design that cover with your own images), and use this as your designated gratitude diary. You can write in it every day, every second day or even just once a week, but it should contain only notes about things you’ve experienced or considered that make you feel truly grateful.
Psychologists note that this practice can boost daily energy and reduce focus on pain. Remember that you’re not just looking for big events, like a marriage proposal or a new job. You should be aiming to add all the little things that make you feel good, like a hot bath that soothes muscle pain, hearing your favorite song, or cuddling your pet.
The point of this exercise is to avoid taking things for granted, and to find joy in everyday experiences.
2. Practice Gratitude Affirmations
You may already be reciting affirmations that connect with your major goals (such as finding love, developing your career or increasing your self-esteem). However, it’s worth adding in an affirmation that helps you turn into your gratitude.
It might be as simple as saying “I am ready to receive the day, and I will be grateful for all the beautiful things I encounter” or “I am grateful for all of life’s exciting opportunities.” If you’d prefer, design your affirmation to reflect specific things that inspire gratitude, such as your loved ones, health, financial stability or talents.
3. Make A Photo Collage
Try assembling a collage of photos that connect you with your feelings of gratitude. One obvious way to approach it is to use images of yourself and loved ones, but you can be as creative as you like. For example, you could cut symbolic pictures out of magazines, with each image representing a source of joy in your life.
However you approach the collage, make sure you assemble it in a place that you’ll see it on a daily basis. You might want to put it on the first wall you’ll look at when you get up in the morning, or perhaps near your workstation (at home, or in the office if you have the freedom to do so).
4. Thank People
While there’s a lot of power in the everyday “thank you” (said in the stores, during a commute or when a stranger helps you), you might also want to try communicating your deeper sense of gratitude towards people who have made a lasting impact.
Think about the people who have shaped and changed your life for the better, and consider some ways to communicate how thankful you are. Some people might be especially moved by a letter enumerating all the things you appreciate, while someone else might prefer a brief word of thanks paired with a gift (such as an engraved piece of jewelry).
5. Find The Positive
When you have a spare hour to reflect, try an exercise that finds the good in some of life’s most challenging moments. Write down 5-10 of the things you appreciate most—for example, relationships, experiences, possessions, or even just life lessons that serve you particularly well.
Then, next to each item on the list, write down at least one difficulty that, had you not had to face it, would not have helped you appreciate that item more. Keep the list as a reminder that every seemingly negative event can lead to something incredibly valuable and important.
6. Give Back To Society
Sometimes, what inspires most gratitude is an awareness that you enjoy many basic things that others unfortunately lack, such as a safe place to stay, enough money to buy food, and the knowledge that people are looking out for you.
When you’re thinking about this type of gratitude, why not do something to give back to the world around you? You could take up regular volunteer work, go and deliver flowers to an elderly care home, or make a donation to a cause that’s close to your heart.
The main idea here is that making a point of reflecting on the things that are easy to take for granted can not only help you realize how lucky you are but also give you an opportunity to improve the lives of others.
My thanks to Katherine Hurst from her article "Six Ways To Cultivate Gratitude."
And, thanks to Eileen Biscombe, Latanya Ruiz, and my teal sisters from Waterman Lunch Bunch.

Monday, October 31, 2016



SISTERHOOD is defined as the sisterly relationship. 
            I have been blessed to have two sisters. I am the middle daughter; Joan was the oldest, and Denise (NeeNee) the youngest. We had our different roles and strengths.We each have had deep and lasting relationships with one another.

                  During our childhood, my perception is that Joan was the mother-figure who watched out for her two younger siblings. Being that I was the middle child, I felt I did not get the same attention and therefore tried even harder to be the most successful student, the best behaved, and tried to achieve the most. And,my younger sister was the "princess" which she denies to be true. 

                   The value of having sisters is someone with whom you can share, laugh with, cry on each other's shoulders, and just be together. As we share memories we sometimes wonder if we grew up in the same house! I love my sisters, miss Joan who has passed away, and treasure every moment with NeeNee.

SISTERHOOD is also the close relationship among women
           I am blessed to be surrounded with wonderful friends. Some of them I have known since college in the 1960's; or friends I met when we moved to MN and we are still in touch with one another since 1969; and an equally wonderful group of ladies I have met here in Florida for the past twelve years. 

               Each woman brings a special gift to our sisterhood. It might be their hugs, prayers, smiles, or the gift of being a good listener. They share their stories from which I gain a new and richer respect as I know they do from me. 

               Some of these sisters are nurses I met through work. We share the same philosophy about caregiving as nurses and our shared personality traits as nurses as solidified our friendship. Each of them have volunteered to help me in any way I need when I walk the cancer path.

                 Other women share my love of golf and games in general. They like the camaraderie, friendly competition, and the laughter. Some of us play golf at least once a week; others play Cards & Marbles once a month; and others play cards or games as often as possible. 

SISTERHOOD is women with shared experiences or concerns
                   I have become a member of a group of women who share the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. We meet for lunches or just gather to share. I have met many women through various Internet groups on Facebook.

                   We share our concerns, ask questions, support each other through prayers, and try to just be there for one another.

                   We join each other arm in arm at rallies, marches, and fund raisers. We hug, run, shout, and jump for joy for every survivor. We join hands and pray for those who have gained their angel wings.

 Sisters are special people and I am very blessed to have so many women who are part of my sisterhood.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


              In the daily, weekly, or longer challenges of life...
                                are they as big as a fruit fly?

Do you fret and get angry over any of these events?
              **A slow driver
              **Someone who budges in front of you in traffic
              **A long line at the store
              **Television commercials
              **Computers answering your phone calls
              **Or any other myriad of daily events that frustrate you.

Do you clench your jaw, tighten your hands, raise your voice, increase your blood pressure?

Well, my husband and I have had an epiphany and we laugh and say, "Is this as big as a fruit fly?"

A few weeks ago we had a lot of fruit flies due to fruit left out of the refrigerator. They were a nuisance, but not as much of a problem as when Hurricane Matthew was threatening our home, when my husband had three surgeries in a two month time, when I was rediagnosed with ovarian cancer, when unexpected medical bills came due, or other more important issues than fruit flies! We did eliminate the fruit flies and now keep our fruit in the refrigerator.
We survived Matthew, my husband is recovering well, I am being treated with chemotherapy, and the bills are getting paid!

I want to introduce you to a remarkable woman who has not let the "fruit flies" of her life rule her. She has faced some unbelievable challenges with strength and faith. Her name is Gwen Plano, an author extraordinaire. 

I encourage and invite you to read her book, Letting Go Into Perfect Love. 
Visit Gwen at her web site: http://www.gwenplano.com/

        Life is not about the small things, like fruit flies!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I found this Internet piece so uplifting I had to share it with all of you. I do not usually do my blogs in this fashion but I found the information so good and the ending so true, I had to share it with you just as I received it.

                               NOW ENJOY & SHARE:

If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner.
The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet.Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.
------------------------------ ------------
The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place.
If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air.
Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
------------------------------ ------------

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out.  It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom.  It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
------------------------------ ------------
In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up!
That's the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem....
Just look up!
Sorrow looks back,
Worry looks around,
But faith looks up!
Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly, and
Trust in our Creator,
Who loves us.

Friday, September 30, 2016


                          "Keep your face to the sunshine, 
                         and you cannot see the shadows."
                                      (Helen Keller)

       What a beautiful and very meaningful philosophy. To think that such a quote from a 
      woman who never saw the sun shine. Perhaps her eyes physically did not see the 
      beauty of the sun's rays, her soul/spirit saw them. At a deep level that many of us
      do not reach, she knew that seeing shadows was self-destructive and unhealthy.

      Those of us who have had to hear the words, "You have cancer" wanted to retreat
      into the shadows. We could not see the sun for a period of time. For some of us it 
      might be only for a few days, others months, and a few never step out of the shadows.

      When I was diagnosed for the first time in 2008 with ovarian cancer, I went into a cocoon
      for a couple of days grieving and adjusting to what was now my new life. I asked questions. 
      I researched. I prayed. I leaned on the shoulders of friends and let the hugs from them
      and family help me to lift my eyes up to the sunshine.

      In 2014 I was diagnosed again with two tumors, one in the lung and one in the pelvis.
      I was shocked because I felt so good and had no symptoms. I was put on chemo-
      therapy for two years. I continued to live each day to the fullest trying to follow
      God's will. Still I researched, prayed, and had the arms of family and friends to
      embrace me.

      Three days ago I learned that once again I have a cancerous tumor. I will be having
      extensive surgery and probably chemotherapy. I know that your love, support, and
      prayers will help me outshine the cancer. My faith in God is strong and I know that
      He is with me every step of the way. As long as I keep my eyes on Him (on the sunshine),
      I will not be in the shadows of despair and fear.

No matter what challenge, disease, or cancer 
we face, we must never lose



Friday, September 23, 2016


                 What is recent research discovering about 
                             ovarian cancer treatments?
               Here are a variety of articles that you might find       
             informative, and may even answer some questions.

The Lancet study also used CA125, but in a different way. Instead of declaring a certain level abnormal, the researchers developed a mathematical formula that took into account a woman’s age and the degree of change in CA125 over time, and calculated a risk score.
An advocacy group, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, issued a statement that called the study promising, but said much more data analysis was needed to determine whether the test would be useful.

Ovarian, Fallopian Tube, and Peritoneal Cancer: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2016
Doctors are working to learn more about ovarian, fallopian tube, and peritoneal cancer. They are looking for ways to prevent them, as well as looking for the best ways to treat them and provide care to people diagnosed with these diseases.
The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. As mentioned in the Clinical Trials section, most ovarian cancer trials now include patients with fallopian tube and peritoneal cancers.
Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.
  • Screening. Screening is used to look for cancer before a person has any signs or symptoms. There are no effective screening methods for these diseases suitable for the general symptom-free population. A screening method that uses serial CA-125 blood tests and pelvic ultrasonography for detecting early-stage ovarian cancer has been completed, and it is not clear whether this approach will produce an improved survival rate. 
    Although some have recommended that women at high risk for ovarian cancer because of their family history or presence of BRCA1 or BRCA2 or other high-risk gene mutation(s) (see Risk Factors) should be screened with CA-125 blood tests and transvaginal ultrasound, this approach has not been shown to improve survival or detect cancers at an earlier and more curable stage.  Therefore, if a high-risk gene mutation exists, the recommendation is to remove both fallopian tubes and ovaries preventively (prophylactically) after the completion of child-bearing, in most women by age 40.
  • Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Some targeted therapy drugs are directed at specific genes that might be found with abnormalities in certain types of epithelial ovarian cancer. 
    Anti-angiogenesis inhibitors. Drugs called anti-angiogenesis inhibitors block the action of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These drugs have been shown to increase the cancer’s response to treatment and delay the time it takes for the cancer to return. VEGF promotes angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapies is to “starve” the tumor. Bevacizumab (Avastin), an antibody that binds VEGF and prevents it from being active, has been shown to be effective in ovarian cancer.  FDA approval was given in the United States for its use in combination with selected chemotherapy for patients with platinum resistant recurrence 
    PARP inhibitors. Researchers are evaluating another class of drugs, called PARP inhibitors, for ovarian cancer. These drugs act on DNA repair in cancer cells, making it difficult for them to replicate. The BRCA genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) are normally involved in DNA repair, and a mutation in these genes interferes with this pathway function. PARP inhibitors make it particularly difficult for cells that otherwise have a BRCA mutation to grow and divide.  
  • The FDA approved the PARP inhibitor olaparib (Lynparza) for recurrent disease in patients who have the inherited BRCA mutation and who have received 3 or more lines of chemotherapy. 
    Many other new targeted treatments are now in clinical trials. Increasingly, doctors are learning about each patient’s individual tumor's biology through direct molecular testing. This information may be useful in matching patients with a clinical trial for a specific targeted therapy. Learn more about the basics of targeted therapy.
  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is usually designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight a cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to bolster, target, or restore immune system function.
    Researchers are examining whether drugs called checkpoint inhibitors may boost the immune system's ability to destroy cancer cells. Examples of these drugs target PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA4 and they have been shown to cause shrinkage in other cancer types such as melanoma and some lung cancers, as well as having some activity in patients with ovarian cancer.
    Cancer vaccines are another type of immunotherapy researchers are testing for use against ovarian cancer. Some approaches called “adoptive cell therapy” use killer T cells found as part of the immune system in an individual patient. Researchers grow them in the laboratory and train them to attack certain targets, such as MUC 16 (CA125), that are found on ovarian cancer cells. Doctors then give the T cells back intravenously to the patient.  Clinical trials are opening for ovarian cancer.  Learn more about the basics of immunotherapy.
  • Hormone therapy.  For treatment of recurrent or later-stage ovarian cancer, tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Soltamax), aromatase inhibitors, and enzalutamide (Xtandi), a blocker of the androgen receptor, are being used.
  • Gene therapy. A new area of research is discovering how damaged genes in ovarian cancer cells can be corrected or replaced. Researchers are studying the use of specially designed viruses that carry normal genes into the core of cancer cells and then replace the defective genes with the functional ones.
  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of standard cancer treatments, to improve a patient’s comfort and quality of life.

    Scientists continue to study the genes responsible for familial ovarian cancer. This research is beginning to yield clues about how these genes normally work and how disrupting their action can lead to cancer. 
    Research in this area has already led to better ways to detect high-risk genes and assess a woman's ovarian cancer risk. A better understanding of how genetic and hormonal factors (such as oral contraceptive use) interact may also lead to better ways to prevent ovarian cancer.
    Vintafolide (EC145) is a newer drug that targets the folic acid receptor. This receptor is found on some ovarian cancers. In one study, it helped stop the growth of cancers that had the folic acid receptor.
    Another approach is to develop tumor vaccines that program the immune system to better recognize 

    cancer cells. Also, monoclonal antibodies that specifically recognize and attack ovarian cancer cells are 

    being developed. These antibodies are man-made versions of the antibodies our bodies make to fight

     infection. They can be designed to home in on certain sites on the cancer cell. Farletuzumab is a 

    monoclonal antibody that is directed against the folic acid receptor, which is on the surface of some 

    ovarian cancer cells. It has shown promise in treating ovarian cancer in early studies. Another 

    monoclonal antibody being studied in ovarian cancer is called catumaxomab. It binds to a protein that is 

    in some cancer cells and some immune system cells. When it is administered into the abdominal cavity, it 

    can help treat fluid buildup (ascites) that can occur when cancer is present.

    Is ovarian cancer still possible after a hysterectomy?
Answers from Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.

Yes, you still have a risk of ovarian cancer or a type of cancer that acts just like it (primary peritoneal cancer) if you've had a hysterectomy.

Your risk depends on the type of hysterectomy you had:

Partial hysterectomy or total hysterectomy. A partial hysterectomy removes your uterus, and a total hysterectomy removes your uterus and your cervix. Both procedures leave your ovaries intact, so you can still develop ovarian cancer.

Total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy. This procedure removes your cervix and uterus as well as both ovaries and fallopian tubes. This makes ovarian cancer less likely to occur, but it does not remove all risk.

You still have a small risk of what's called primary peritoneal cancer, which may result from ovarian cells that migrated to the peritoneal area during each menstrual cycle before your ovaries were removed. These cells can become cancerous later on. Alternatively, since the peritoneum and ovaries arise from the same tissues during embryonic development, it's possible that cancer could arise from the cells of the peritoneum.

Currently, there are no effective screening tests for ovarian cancer in women with an average risk of the disease. If you're concerned about your risk, discuss your options with your doctor.

Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.

                                KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
                   IF PERSIST FOR 2 WEEKS, ACT ON THEM

  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Abdominal pain                            
  • Digestive issues
  • Painful intercourse
  • Back pain
  • Change in bowels
  • Change or frequency of urination
  • Unusual vaginal discharges
  • Fatigue