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.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

CHARLES PORTER: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT




I am pleased to welcome, Charles Porter to my blog this week. He has an amazing story to share about his journey with cancer from which we can all learn. He has faced his cancer with dignity and through books, articles, and presentations helps others face their cancer or other life-altering diseases. We "met" through the website, "Anti-Cancer Club."





In April of 2010 I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was thirty years old and in what I thought was the prime of my life. I was in the best shape of my life. I had recently appeared in Italian Men’s Vogue or better known as L’uomo Vogue. I had a string of Independent films in the can and national commercials airing. The momentum was in my favor but my diagnosis completely flipped the direction of my career and life on its head and I was on a journey that I had never expected. Unbeknownst to me all of the physical training and dieting that I was doing for the craft had actually prepared me for what I would face almost a year later.

I was riddled with tumors from neck to thigh and many were in my bones, breaking ribs and eating away at my spine and pelvis. We attacked the cancer with many types of chemo finally settling on one that would bring me to my knees begging for mercy. There was no other choice, I had to get a stem cell transplant and salvage chemo coupled with full body radiation would take my levels down to the point where I would be a suitable candidate for success. The transplant was a success and after my thirty day stay I was released back into the world. I was given a fresh start on life.
For days I fought back against the fatigue that this new immune system brought on to no avail. Weeks later I was able to extend my walks from five to fifteen minutes.

Eventually I was up to half an hour or more. It took a full two years to get back into the gym and give it a good go at a challenging workout. My support team which was comprised of great friends ranging back to my middle school years, my family, and my then girlfriend and now wife. This team included people of many different cultures, backgrounds and religions and prayer was definitely at an all time high within my circle. All dominations and beliefs were welcomed, needed and appreciated. My mother, who is a registered RN made sure that food, particularly berries and salmon, was at the forefront of my treatment and recovery. I truly bought into the belief that if I could move then I can heal and I made it a priority to stay as active as possible even if it were for only a few minutes during a walk. I had to stay active. I had to keep moving.

I enjoyed a brief moment in remission and had a slight set back with a relapse in May of 2015. I was told that there was a trial drug for my disease that has been having wonderful results so I gave it a shot. The plan was 105 weeks of treatment and then reassess.

My first call when I was diagnosed, once again, as disease positive was to my friend and agent Joan who was also a two time cancer destroyer.

At this point my cancer circle had expanded, as they do, and unfortunately I had seen some come to an end in their journey of life. This left me with some fear, which is normal, so I sought out the encouraging words of a fighter who has lived to tell the tale. I also sought counseling from an oncology therapist. To top it off I have included the practice of meditation into my daily regiment consistently for almost a year to date. In my seven years living with this disease I have come to the conclusion that I must seek out and use every tool available in order to obtain the moments of joy that occur and that could be missed were I constantly in a fog or under the depressing cloud that can sometimes arise in our moments of doubt.

I am now at week 94 of 105. I remember how I felt when I stepped back into the clinic for treatment on week one. I am reminded because though the treatment has decreased tumor sizes or eradicated them completely, there are others who are on their first treatment of their first and hopefully only diagnosis. Those who have experienced cancer first hand know that when you see that I.V., port or bag hanging from the pole we are all in a fight for our lives. We are fighting for our loved ones, friends, careers, pets, and hopefully for our love of life. Whatever it is that gets us up to walk in and face the day and the potential side effects from this drug or that drug, we can all share in that cause. So as I write feeling healthy and strong just having made one year as a married man and with a baby on the way, I say to us all, keep living moment by moment grateful for each day and the possibilities of tomorrow. Love the ones that love you and give it your all. Every day may not be a great day but the ones that are great are worth living.

Walk when you can walk and run when you can run. Pay attention to what you eat because as cliche as it is, your are what you eat. Seek nature and therapy as you are not alone in your anxiety or fear but there are methods to help you along the way. Of course my dream to is to finish this treatment and live a happy healthy life until my dying day but that may not be in my cards. So I will play the hand that I am dealt and play it to win. I call this post, ‘Love At First Sight’, because that is what I feel for each one in the fight whether I know you or not.

The last two treatment sessions I had I sat next to first timers and I knew there was a reason. One was by herself and she was over sixty and set in her ways, the other was a teenager and the mother was so scared. The older one was mad because her life was set in stone and this completely got in the way of her routine. I said this anger is either going to save you or kill you. She laughed. The teenager was more accepting and I encouraged her to stay positive and eat well. We both were diagnosed with the same cancer and she felt inspired by my story as did the older woman. I saw the older woman the following week on a routine check up and she was smiling and said her numbers were down and the meds were working.The smile on her face made me smile. She accepted that this was happening to her and best not to deny but to move forward. She was settling into her new routine. That is our only choice in this matter. We Must Move Forward. It’s hard and that is okay. Life is about suffering while at the same time embracing the moments of joy whenever they appear.

Much Love and Never Quit.

You can also find support from blog post, hosted segments, and book clubs at anticancerclub.com

My Instagram is cfpgram
Twitter is   @neverquit

My books available on amazon.com are:
          









         Get To Know: Unlocking the Essence in You                        


            Choose Your Path
The third installation of my books of poems will be published and released in 2018.
 Thank you for your time and encouragement as we live this journey of life.



Sunday, April 16, 2017

THE EVOLUTION OF GRATITUDE



I was so impressed with this article that i chose to re-blog it from Reblogged from ALK3R: when it appeared on "When Angels Fly." I hope you find some information and lessons of life, just as I did.

                   THIS ARTICLE APPEARS TO ESPECIALLY APPROPRIATE AS WE   
                                              CELEBRATE EASTER TODAY


                THE EVOLUTION OF GRATITUDE


Bildergebnis für Gratitude
How did gratitude evolve? Researchers are starting to trace this common human emotion all the way back to primate behavior.
“Thank you.” Two simple words, among the most repeated on a daily basis. When I travel to a foreign country, it is one of the first phrases I learn, just after “hello.” When children start making verbal requests, their parents quickly teach them to say “please” and “thank you.”
Plenty of research shows the benefit of saying thank you, as well as of other expressions of gratitude. Gratitude is one of the fundamentally important parts of human life, and comparative psychologists like myself are always interested in where these things come from, in the grand scheme of things. How did we as humans end up as a species for whom gratitude is as much a part of our social relationships as gossip?
It turns out this question is centuries old, with Darwin himself suggesting that humans and other animals share the “same emotions, even the more complex ones such as jealousy, suspicion, emulation, gratitude, and magnanimity.” And—at least for gratitude—some initial research by my colleagues and I suggests that Darwin might be right.
Searching for gratitude in primates
Chimpanzees
Chimpanzees foshie / CC BY 2.0
How do you systematically look for evidence of gratitude in species that can’t say “thank you”? Since you can’t ask them how they’re feeling, you observe behavior—and the behavior that we researchers believe reflects gratitude is called reciprocity.
Reciprocity is the exchange of goods and services between two individuals over time, often characterized as “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” This kind of mutual arrangement can be beneficial to both parties, making them more likely to survive.
Robert Trivers, who introduced the theory of reciprocal altruism in 1971, suggests that gratitude is the emotion that regulates our response to altruistic acts by others (and motivates our response in kind). As gratitude researcher Michael McCullough has explained, the positive feeling of gratitude can alert us to the benefits we’ve received from others and inspire us to show appreciation, which will in turn make others more likely to help us again in the future. In this way, gratitude helps build social bonds and friendships between individuals.
This means that reciprocity may have been fundamental in the evolution of gratitude. In humans, with our ability to express our emotions through language, reciprocity and expressions of gratitude often go together.
For example, researchers set up an experiment where half of the participants thought they received money from a partner, and the other half thought they received it by chance. In the next round of the study, the participants were given $10 and allowed to divide it up between themselves and the partner. Not surprisingly, individuals who thought their partner had given them money were more likely to distribute money back to their partners than those who had received it by chance. When asked why they donated money, they most often said, “to express appreciation.” In this experiment, the participants could not see or interact with their partners, so the only way to express their gratitude was by returning the favor. We may be seeing a very similar phenomenon in our primate relatives—they can’t express gratitude verbally, so returning favors may be the best way for them to do it.
Bildergebnis für thank you on the beach
good deal of evidence suggests that some of our closest relatives, the other primates, engage in reciprocity in food sharing and other domains. For example, in one study we gave chimpanzees a task that required two chimpanzees to pull in a tray of food. It was set up so that the chimpanzees could come and go as they pleased, which meant that one chimpanzee was often sitting there waiting for a partner to arrive. We predicted that passing chimpanzees might just choose to help out their friends, or perhaps the chimpanzees that were the best at solving the task. Instead, the chimpanzees were more likely to help another chimpanzee in need of a partner if that chimpanzee had also helped them in the past. Reciprocity seemed more important than friendship and skill in their choices.
Unlike our closer chimpanzee relatives, capuchin monkeys and humans last shared an ancestor approximately 35 million years ago. This makes them great subjects to see just how far back we can trace the tendency to engage in reciprocity, particularly since they’re highly cooperative. In one task, we gave one capuchin monkey a choice between a prosocial option that rewarded themselves and a partner, and a selfish option that only rewarded the chooser. In this context, they were prosocial about 60 percent of the time. But when we gave them the opportunity for reciprocity, by alternating the roles of chooser and partner from task to task, they were significantly more prosocial, now nearly 75 percent of the time.
Capuchin monkeys
Capuchin monkeys kansasphoto / CC BY 2.0
Even more compelling, we found that capuchins are highly attuned to whether a situation is reciprocal or not. In one variation, we didn’t actually let the second monkeys choose; we chose for them, but mimicked past choices that the second monkeys had made. The first monkeys moved back down to a similar level of prosocial behavior as when they were the only chooser, suggesting that they can clearly identify when another monkey has helped them and reward that monkey for doing so.
Finally, recent research suggests that capuchin monkeys and four-year-old children engage in upstream reciprocity, or “paying it forward,” in a remarkably similar fashion. In upstream reciprocity, receiving a favor makes individuals more likely to donate a favor to someone else in the future. In the case of the monkeys and children, after one individual donated a favor to another, that individual was taken out of the testing area and a new partner brought in. Surprisingly, both the capuchins and the children were more likely to donate a reward to the new partner, if they had recently received a reward themselves. They had no opportunity to repay the individual who had rewarded them before, but instead chose to pay their good fortunes forward. Some researchers have suggested that gratitude is the motivation behind paying it forward in humans, and this might also be the case in capuchin monkeys.
Do monkeys really feel grateful?
I would be remiss not to point out that although it entails high levels of prosocial behavior characteristic of gratitude, reciprocity itself doesn’t necessarily have to involve gratitude. It can occur as a transaction achieved by keeping track of benefits given and received and result in feelings of obligation or indebtedness rather than gratitude. However, there is good reason to believe that something else is going on with other primates.
First, if reciprocity were driven by indebtedness rather than gratitude, primates would have to be keeping track of costs and benefits over time. A lot of researchhas shown, though, that this level of calculation and memory is really not realistic for us or our primate relatives; in reality, these exchanges are more likely to be driven by emotional responses, which are easier to keep track of. Grateful emotions reinforce the relationship between two individuals, and individuals with close relationships are likely to provide favors for each other in the future, no questions asked.
Bildergebnis für Gratitude
Further, if you take away the ability to ask people why they are helping, experiments of gratitude in humans look very much like experiments of reciprocity in other species. What is measured is the propensity to return favors, with gratitude as the motivational mechanism proposed that drives that behavior. When the similarities are this great, it becomes difficult to argue that what we see in nonhuman primates is fundamentally different from what we see in humans. We may not be able to ask primates to fill out a survey, but the similarities in how they act are compelling.
A number of questions could still be answered to make a stronger case that nonhuman primates really do feel gratitude, or some evolutionary building block of gratitude.
First, a great deal of evidence in humans suggests that gratitude is important for forming new relationships, but not so much for maintaining existing ones. If the opportunity arose to study a newly formed group of primates over the long term, we would expect to see reciprocity diminish over time.
Along the same lines, we should also expect to see more reciprocity among non-kin than kin. Since helping your family also increases your genetic contribution to the next generation, reciprocity is not really necessary for motivating that kind of helping behavior.
Finally, all of the research to date uses repayment of favors as the purported way to acknowledge a past favor done. While this is likely the best, most observable measure we have, it is quite different from a verbal thank you given from one human to another. There may be a subtle expression, gesture, or some other communication that other species use to acknowledge kind acts. The trick will be for us to develop a deep enough understanding of other species’ communication systems to discover it.
The GGSC’s coverage of gratitude is sponsored by the <a data-cke-saved-href=“http://www.templeton.org/” href=“http://www.templeton.org/”>John Templeton Foundation</a> as part of our <a data-cke-saved-href=“http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/expandinggratitude” href=“http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/expandinggratitude”>Expanding Gratitude</a> project.
The GGSC’s coverage of gratitude is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation as part of our Expanding Gratitude project.
We’ve come a long way since Darwin first proposed that gratitude may be a universally experienced emotion. Although we are not yet at the point where we can “speak chimp” well enough to understand their expressions of gratitude, the behavior of our closest relatives certainly suggests that we humans are not alone in the importance we place on gratitude. The research suggests that, in all likelihood, our propensity for gratitude really does have deep evolutionary roots, and it will be up to us to find out how deep they go.
We often blame our worst tendencies, like aggression and competition, on our evolutionary history. It’s important to remember that some of our most positive qualities like empathy and gratitude are also a part of this history. When we discover these traits in our closest relatives, it’s a powerful reminder that the “good” in human nature is deeply rooted, as well.
Bildergebnis für Gratitude
(This article is originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). Based at UC Berkeley, the GGSC studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being, and teaches skills that foster a thriving, resilient, and compassionate society. Malini Suchak is an assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology, and conservation at Canisius College. Her research on gratitude was supported through the GGSC’s Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude project.)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

KEEP YOUR FACE TO THE SUNSHINE




                          "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, Helen Keller 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 heard the words, "You have cancer" wanted to retreat
      into the shadows. We could not see the sun or rays of hope 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 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.

      The two tumors returned in Oct. of 2016. Two weeks ago I had surgery to remove the 
      abdominal tumor and will start radiation to the tumor in the lung.

      

No matter what challenge we face...divorce, financial ruin, job loss, death of loved ones, 
      etc. I believe we are to keep our face to the sunshine. Or, look up to God for strength and
      guidance. I believe we are to learn from each experience and become stronger. 

                  *I think of Mr. M., Mr. W.,  Mr. B. to name but a few, who have lost their wives
                    to cancer.
                  *I think of dear friends, Marilyn, Marsha, and Donna who buried their loved ones.
                  *I pray for those facing divorce.
                  *I rejoice for friends who found peace and joy though their world had been turned
                    upside down due to financial losses.
                  *I pray for friends who daily face health difficulties due to long term illnesses.

                       All of these people turned their faces to the sunshine and proved to
                                     have the same strength as Helen Keller did.

                                            Enjoy this video and let it lift your soul:
               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIucRL4iQTI&feature=player_embedded


 
                 My thanks to each of you who have been inspirational role models to me.


            **Don't forget that anytime my book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir"
                           all proceeds go to gynecologic/ovarian cancer research**