Tuesday, November 23, 2010


BRISTOL, ENGLAND - According to the American Cancer Society,
“If hair loss does occur, it most often begins within 2 weeks of the start of treatment and gets worse 1 to 2 months after starting therapy." This is what you read in the brochures, along with an extensive list of helpful tips. Truly helpful – did you know that you can get a prescription for a wig, as the cost is often covered by insurance? Wonderful!

Way down toward the bottom of most websites lists of tips is to be careful with eyebrows, perhaps eyelashes too. From my perspective, once you have plowed through all the top-of-head hair loss, you are spinning with overwhelming info. You might miss that bit of info, like I did. I had a dear friend who tried to walk me through an installation of false eyelashes, and that had disastrous results. Helpful tip from me to you: if you are diagnosed in October, don’t just run out and buy the first set of eyelashes you find. Be sure to check to see if it has ‘Halloween special fright night length’ on the lash box. Ok, on to the story.

So I am a novice (at best) when it comes to makeup. I didn’t know I would lose my eyebrows, and that makes a huge difference. People can handle gals with really short or no hair (perky! cute! pixie! are words that spring to mind). But lose the eyebrows, and people have a hard time with that one. They blink, frown, and then it hits them. OOOOOOOHHHH she’s in treatment. And that must be a wig. Ooooooohhhhhhh.

So I am on twitter with my friend, Nick, from Bristol. Nick is a make-up whiz and was guiding a lady through how to pencil in some eyebrows when chemo had so helpfully removed them. I wanted to share his tips with you. Nick, thank you. For helping that patient, for reaching out and chatting with me, and for being so willing to share your expertise with others. I know that your Mum’s chemo starts in a few days; you will both be in my prayers.


* To get perfect brows, you can use a brow pencil or brow powder. You do not need to spend major money on this, Rimmel Londondoes a fantastic pencil with a few shades, and Body Shopsells fantastic powders. Use ashy brown colours, even if your hair is naturally black because black is very ageing. If you use a powder, then you need a good angled liner brush.

* Use a pencil or shadow brush as a guide. Lay it against your nose and point it up towards your forehead. Where your brows should begin is where the pencil hits your brow bone. Turn your guide so it meets the outer corner of your eye. Your brow should end at this point (on the bone).

* The highpoint of the arch in your brow should be just past the outer edge of your iris.

* If you create 3 'points' with your pencil, then you can create a basic shape for your brow.

* Use small 'feathery' strokes with the brush or pencil. Upwards until you hit the arch, then downwards from the arch to the outer point. This way, the strokes looks like hairs. If you draw a line, it looks unnatural.

* Soften it using an eyebrow brush along where you have put the colour.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


COLUMBIA CITY, INDIANA - Early for work, what an incredible turn of events this is! I’m driving along on my way into the office and see a police officer getting off of his motorcycle to give a speeding car a ticket. We all merge left, to give him some room. Then, about 5 minutes later, whoosh! They both go flying by - the crazy driver and the officer! The car takes a tight turn off the highway, and the motorcycle tries to follow. In my rearview mirror, I see him wipe completely out on the street!!!

I pull over to the side of the highway, dial 911 and start running to the accident. The car that caused this is now long gone, and another driver has gotten out of his car to help as well. I am running and talking to the 911 guy. I resist the urge to say 'send a bus' like they do on Law and Order:SVU but man, do I want to. Running in heels on the highway, what a way to start a Monday. I reach him as he is standing up, kind of wobbly but on his feet. Looks like he has injured his ankle, but wants to try to get back on the bike.

The 911 operator seems insistent that an ambulance come, but the officer says it's not necessary and the call is stopped. The other driver goes off to work, so I start to walk back to my own car. The officer drives off, but then pulls over immediately behind my car, about 1/2 a mile away. As I am walking, a red mustang pulls over and asks if I want a ride–it’s another police officer in stealth mode. HA! So I jump in (I’m tall, it’s a little car, but who would pass this up?) and we get to the injured officer. He’s now off the bike again and resting on the side of the road.

This is the best part, to me. The mustang cop says, "Let's take a look at the leg," and the first guy pulls up his trouser. And there it is. One of the prettiest boots I’ve ever seen-black patent leather with little ties, full to knee boot. "Oooooohhhhhhh, so pretty!" I say. They all look at me and stop for a moment, blinking. In the middle of all of this, is she really commenting on the footwear? (Clearly, never met me before) Then they all crack up. Much needed tension breaker, they say. "Um, yea, ok." But I was totally serious, where do you get them? Heh. They thank me for pulling over and staying with him, to which I reply – “Well, who wouldn’t?" Then the red mustang guy says “NO one. There have been 60 cars at least that have passed us. You and one other fella stopped. That’s it. Two out of at least 60.”

The good news is that our hero the police officer is ok. His buddies came and took great care of him. So here’s what I took away from my Monday morning. I don’t have to be sitting in an office to help someone. I don’t have to only help people in the world of breast cancer. All of us can do something pretty small every day to try to help someone, even if there isn’t anything you can really do, you can at least try! I still made it to work on time and got to see some great kicks. Just fyi – they are upwards of 400 bucks. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pink Elephants

ATHENS, ALABAMA - Last month, Athens Limestone Hospital hosted their third annual “Pink Elephant” breast cancer awareness fundraiser – and as always, it was a sold-out event. This year, I met a jewelry store that participated because they lost the family matriarch to breast cancer, and wanted to do something in her memory. I met a woman who had just been diagnosed and was just starting her treatment. She was amazing - she had attended this event before, and had always helped but of course never suspected that she herself would join this club.

They gave a portion of the proceeds right to the Vera Bradley Foundation; wonderfully generous. Then, a change of pace. They had seen the ‘pink glove video’ circulating out there and wanted to do something to match that theme. So we were all given pink gloves and they took our photo. Then we all went outside where a man was precariously perched on top of a ladder and we formed a ribbon for a picture. Let me tell you, 100 ladies telling a man on a ladder ‘now be careful’ is a lot of fun. Nothing like that many moms checking up on your safety!

This photo is of Kelli. She is one of the many people who attended the event. I love the image that shows her face- full of happiness but surrounded by the sea of pink hands. All ready to pitch in and do what it takes to find a cure.

Photo courtesy Athens Limestone Hospital

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

$270 Million

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - According to the Washington Post, the 2010 election cycle saw “Independent groups have reported spending $270 million so far, but that number does not include tens of millions of dollars more that were not disclosed to the Federal Election Commission."

I don’t want to wax the political philosopher here, but I would like to toss this out for consideration. The Fiscal Year 2010 Defense Appropriations Act provides $150 million to the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. Take a little look-see at those numbers, my friends. I don’t particularly care what party you are affiliated with, or if you are ‘red’ or ‘blue’ (Silliness, this is America. We are basically shades of purple, if you think about it.), those numbers are kind of a disparity to me. We spent so much for such fleeting dust in the general time/space continuum, when we might have been jacking up funding that can give a cure to an entire planet. A FOR-EV-ER cure.

I would like to respectfully submit that our newly and formerly elected politicians consider spending just a tad less on mean-speech ads and tell the independent groups to donate the money instead to breast cancer research. And then tell us you are doing that; you might be shocked at how many people vote for that kind of gesture. I could be wrong, but it’s it fun to live in a country that allows me to think such thought – and be allowed to put it in print! Whoo-hoo, yay America!!! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - “Dedicated to the cause of world peace” were the words used in 1938, designed to honor the end of World War I with a special holiday. After termed “Veterans Day”. Armistice means, basically, work out your differences – without causing further harm. Sometimes this means that battles have to be fought. Wars have to be endured. Nations have to buckle down and fight for what they know to be right, and help give others a taste of freedom.

This is a day set aside to thank and honor those who have served and are still with us, whether they served in war or peace. To thank them in a special way, what do you all say to acting with honor. To behave in a decent way. To suspend hostilities. The people you see pictured are brothers, cousins, friends, husbands, fathers and one great mommy. They have and some continue to serve all of us with their professions. Thank you for giving so much for all of us. Hopefully everyone reading this will take a moment to appreciate your efforts.

And perhaps take a Veteran out for lunch. They love a good lunch. :)

(Photos: Top, left to right: U.S. Air Force, Logistics Readiness Officer: Andrea Taylor; U.S. Navy, Master at Arms: Ralph Jerzy; U.S. Army, Combat Medic/SPC: Cody Floyd; U.S. Army, Unit Supply Sergeant: Seth Floyd; Bottom:Captain Nevin Bultemeier U.S. Army 1991-2001)

Friday, November 5, 2010


Chicago, Illinois - Hockey Fights Cancer is my next nod to the silent supporters in the fight against cancer. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions - the Chicago Blackhawks (I'm woozy just being able to say that in one sentence...) recently hosted HFC in their house. It was out in the news but didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved. This team quietly and diligently worked to insure that several cancer foundations all were able to receive incredible donations.

Their staff members are amazing - so kind, so generous. They worked well over 14 hours in one day to make it all happen smoothly and seamlessly. One gal told me 'You know, you work every day so hard but then you get a day like today. It all seems worthwhile when you get to give back.' Amen! The players wives came out on the concourse to sell pucks to raise money - that’s right, the players wives. Tell me how many wives of pro athletes would take the time to help out in such a public and open manner? Amazing.

And then there was the golden moment. (Golden, get it? Golden ... jet ... ok, anyway ...) My son was put on the zamboni for the beginning of the game. This little boy who wasn’t supposed to make it this far, according to some. He had all that chemo in utero, who knew he would get this far? Who would have guessed that I would survive to see him do this fun thing? Now he and his sisters are in Chicago with the best hockey team on the planet. A big thank you to my friend Ashley and to the Chicago Blackhawks. Your hearts are all bigger than Lord Stanley's Cup.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The whole pink world - So I recently heard a conversation that had this juicy little tidbit in the middle 'We don’t want to say we want to find a cure for breast cancer, because that would just be silly.' It’s a zinger, right? I have been working on the mouth-filter my mom had so diligently begged me to employ so I sat silently whilst this was being tossed out there. But now, after ruminating a bit, I find that I need to post about it. As seems to be my modus operandi.

So let’s dissect this, want to? I know that we all have goals in our life. When you achieve them, do you then feel unbelievable satisfaction with a job well done? Or, if in the case of a job-advancement kind of thing – do you now have to worry about what to tackle next? Here’s how I see it (for what it’s worth) – if you climb and claw for something that will only bring you power and money, what do you do with that power and money? Do you go all-Emperor Palpatine and build yourself a big star to conquer the universe? And the bigger house, fancier car, does all that stuff make your heart feel better? I’m not being a smarty pants, I really want to know as I have no idea.

Barb and Pat, the co-founders of Vera Bradley, have said repeatedly (to my face, mind you, not in an inter-office memo situation) that their goal is to find a cure for breast cancer and find a new cause. Brilliant. Inspired. Mostly, however, hopeful. And in an unabashed sort of why-on-earth-not kind of a way. There is no reason to put hope aside for other gains, they can work in tandem. To be able to find a new cause, genius.

To let you know how possible this is, and within our lifetime, I’d like to share just a little historic nugget with you. In 1947, a child of Russian-Jewish immigrants began to work on a project that would find a cure for a horrific disease that was considered to be the most dangerous epidemic in recent history. By 1955, Jonas Salk and his team had found a cure for polio that is saved millions worldwide. As if speaking to all of us about power and glory, he was asked by Edward R. Murrow about who owns the patent rights to that immunization. His reply? “Well, the people, I would say," Dr. Salk replied. "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

He then spent the rest of his live quietly seeking a vaccine for HIV with his team. Yes, I know it seems big, this hope for a cure. And since breast cancer has been around so long, it might seem insurmountable. But that just means you haven’t met the researchers I’ve met. Or spent time in the labs at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Or perhaps you’ve just never met Barb and Pat. Wonder what they will tackle when this is done….

Monday, November 1, 2010


Worldwide - Someone I love and admire is struggling with Diabetes right now. More than one someone, actually. Statistically speaking, you can probably say the same thing. I have so much admiration for those that are on this journey, especially those that are children. I have had just one blip in the old health chart, and while it is a whopper, it is largely out of my hands. The cancer patients I know don’t have to inject themselves daily; some of us will take pills the rest of our lives but that about covers it. Most of us have chemo, radiation, more surgical scars then we can count, but then we’re mostly done. (YES, I know I am oversimplifying. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and not be so pedantic.) We eat as healthy as we can, but for the most part don’t have to worry about measuring things or keeping track of numbers on the ingredients lists of foods.

The lifestyle, and in some cases, lifestyle changes, of people with diabetes are remarkable. They are introduced to sudden and swift schedules for exercise and diet that are quite literally the difference between life and death. I can only relate to myself and let me just say this; if someone came to me and told me to do something that drastic my first response would be to soothe myself with chocolate cake.

I was asked recently to consider doing a mini-marathon. Assuming they meant ‘Help me plan, organize and come speak at this marathon’ I said well sure! Love to! Then the next conversation seems like an awful train derailment involving discussion of training and time lines. Ooooooh no, you didn’t mean actually participate (run?) in this event, right? Yes, she responds, of course we want you to. Breast cancer survivors running and making a statement of health after diagnosis, stuff like that. Oooooooh again. Mercy. I’m not your girl. I run after my children, my dog, and to catch a flight in the Detroit airport. Not on pavement with people watching.

After my trying to duck out of it (um, I am so sorry but I think I will be busy … that season … or year) I’ve decided to take a cue from my diabetic friends. Get out there and try it. Not only might it save your life, but it might make you have a little more get-up-and-go, as well. I’ve been advised by Lynda, my co-hort here at the Vera Bradley Foundation, just start slow, but start. So her advice I shall take. I’ll start running and thinking about all of those people with diabetes who work up the courage to run headlong into better health every day.