Thursday, July 28, 2011


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - I can tell you the EXACT day that I started to care about footwear. And location, if you care.

First, you should know that I never cared much before that. I mean, I've loved looking at pretty shoes since I was little (by that I mean young, I'm kind of tall), but never realized what an important part they play in the crazy world of self-esteem.

My blog featured a little series titled "In her shoes" for the same reason I now love great kicks; very few women like the way they look. Complimenting one's choice of footwear is always safe and reliable.

When I was in chemo, and as recently as this February (when I had my mastectomy), people were frequently looking me up and down, and that was disconcerting.

Oh, you can hardly tell that's a wig? (Really, just by virtue of the fact that you've said that means you can tell. Thanks ever so.)

Oh, you can hardly tell you had surgery. Are you done, or are you going to have implants? (Ok, yes I opted for implants. And I'm actually all done. Again, by you asking I clearly didn't go with a satisfactory increase. Geesh.)

My defense mechanism? Shoes. If you've got some sweet foot candy going on, nobody ever looks at your ... well, anything really. It suddenly goes from a potential discussion of scar tissue, scarf tying or the pros and cons of silicone to something infinitely more yummy.

The quintessential patent-leather-ankle-tie-cork-wedge. Sky high and built for subterfuge. Here's to distractions, and the cancer patient's art of the ruse.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


USA – We could talk for hours – days, really – about medical care across the world. Debate it, hash it out, maybe even come to an agreement. What most people fail to realize is that the cost of "health care" that receives the most focus is the immediate need. For cancer patients, that involves things like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, etc.

There’s an interesting turn of phrase that was being discussed in my cancer center last week and I’d like to share it with you. The official term is "continuing care." The ladies in the chairs across from me called it "life." :) They didn’t have any handy-dandy charts or graphs, but they had bank statements and knowledge. They all had great insurance (thank heavens!) so what they were discussing were the little bills (their words, not mine) that drained their accounts. It’s the ongoing, everyday costs of cancer that people neither know about nor discuss openly. We just joke about it in the waiting room then clam up when the nurses walk in.

… Cancer types with longer survival, such as female breast, have a higher percentage of expenditures for patients in the continuing phase of care. So what that means is, in reality, very good. You get to live longer than other cancer patients. The bad news is that you’d better be hoping for a money tree in the backyard. Ha! Government studies have revealed that it costs 3.2% MORE to live after you have had cancer than when you actually go through treatment.

This isn’t a complaint, please know. I love my doctor and I’ve been blessed with great insurance at my job. I only wrote this for the ladies at the cancer center this week. They said "Why doesn’t someone write about this, tell people, just for informational purposes?" So I’m writing it, girls. I don’t have any solutions in mind, but I want you to know that I’m trying. Stay well, my sassy cancer center friends. xoxo

Editor's Note:
Look what just came through to my Inbox "GiveForward Helps You Crowd-Fund Medical Expenses"!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


FORT WAYNE, INDIANA - I have friends in myriad industries, all forms of employment across the world. It’s funny that one word can mean something so different to so many. Let’s use "infusion" as today’s example.

My chef friend facebook messaged me a "must try" recipe of a chicken with a lemon-basil infusion. Doesn’t that just sound yummy-licious? Yea, I thought so too, until I actually looked a the recipe. Single chef friends with no children apparently have hours to spend massaging poultry and hand-dicing vegetables. Not gonna happen. Next example, please?

Another dear one of mine is a "textile specialist." She tells me that in her world, the word infusion is always used with color as a prefix. Always. "You can use components to provide a color infusion to your environmental pallet." Seriously, that’s the kind of sentences she uses when we are just having a regular conversation. Imagine how she must ramp it up to speak with people who actually have a clue what she is sayinG ... next example?

My infusion world involves people in little chairs with nurses hovering like protective mommy eagles, always there and quietly peeking down to see if we are all ok. Infusion is the word that the cancer community has seen fit to use a replacement for the word "chemo room." Infusion Center – there, now doesn’t that sound a great deal more relaxing and peaceful? Ahhhhh, nice. Maybe not so much, actually. It’s the best it can be, though. It’s better than it was just five years ago, this world of infusion. More hopeful, more positive, more happy endings. Infusion: your new word for today. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


WARSAW, INDIANA - Because he was only 12 years old, it makes me mad. Because it doesn't matter if the doctor says "brain" or "breast" or "cervical" or "liver" - if the word "cancer" follows, it makes me mad.

That this disease in its myriad forms feels permitted to touch children, and take them from adoring families, it makes me mad. I don't want any more families to be mad, either. I will always be mad at you, evil cancer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


COLUMBUS, OHIO - If you saw her walking down the street, you would have NO IDEA that this little peanut could flip upside down and fly all around - all while on skates. You would say to yourself "Oh, what a sweet mommmy/daughter they are. Darling." And you would have no idea about her magic.

Or her mama's magic, and that's the big one. This little Miss N has a pretty remarkable mommy, and it's all tied to little Miss N. See, her mommy was told that she would probably never have children after her bout with breast cancer as a young woman. So N was a gift, a blessing. But what her mommy decided to do was a blessing to all of us.

She used her considerable talent as a skater, networker and most importantly, a fundraiser - to help all breast cancer patients. She funds research. Research that happens in a few hospitals, in a few states and with a few researchers. She is a wonder to behold. A true force of nature, the most passionate fundraiser I have ever been blessed to know. Every year she puts on a remarkable show called Skate for Hope and it is breathtaking. She handles hundreds of big-time Olympic stars, volunteers, teeny tiny skaters, requests, tantrums, tears, flight delays, costume changes and even flowers. She does it all for a good reason, and we all get to reap the benefits.

She does it so her darling little Miss N never has to worry about having the same disease as her mama. I love you, Carolyn, and your passionate heart. Thank you for helping all of us, by helping N.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


PALM DESERT, CALIFORNIA - This is not the obligatory memoriam for Mrs. Ford that you might suspect. They are all over cyberspace, you’ll be able to find 50 thousand today if you look around. Mine is one of fear, intimidation.

Here’s why; Betty scared me. I saw her when I was young, on television. She stirred emotion from everyone I knew, on all sides of the political spectrum, both sexes and all nationalities. Look at that photo, does she look like someone that would intimidate anyone? No, but at the time, when I was just a little girl (little being figurative, of course, I have always been ridiculously tall :) she was intimidating.

She scared me because she said EXACTLY what she was thinking. Feeling. Suffering. Put it right out there, black and white and hard-stamped. Here’s the situation of the day, she basically said, and here’s how I’m going to try to tackle it. To the whole world! Blatant honesty, bold and brash! Unheard of.

I was the girl who’s mom whispered "cancer" on the phone when she told me she was sick (I had been in college all of two weeks when she called to tell me). She couldn’t even say the words "breast cancer" even though it was just the two of us. Betty said the words, though, years before. And still, some people considered it a shameful situation that required whispering. Now my mom was brave, don’t misunderstand me. She was a rock, and a woman that has been unmatched in the universe, as far as I’m concerned. But, she found that saying "breast cancer" might be unladylike, and my mama was a lady with every fiber of her being.

Betty didn’t care about ladylike, or at least not when courage was being discussed. Take your fight public, she encouraged us with her actions, just get out there and tell your story. The whole of it, the entirety, the good, bad, funny, sad, just say it.

So I do, Betty, in small part due to you. And I do, mama, in very large part due to wonderful you. Struggling to be open and candid, but still managing to cross my legs at the ankles because I am a lady. But I still say "breast cancer" out loud. And often.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


WARSAW, INDIANA - She was 10 years old when I picked her up early from school that day, and she had no idea why. She jumped in the car and said "Where are we going, mama?" and smiled with her whole face. Nowhere, honey, I just have something to tell you. And it was the something I never wanted to tell her. In the long list of things I've had to tell her that are difficult, that I can't explain, that I hate hearing come out of my mouth, this one is really high up on that list.

I told her I had cancer. She was little, but she knew full well what that meant. She didn't have a grandma because of cancer; we did all of those walks, those runs, those activities to help put a stop to it. But we didn't stop it before I had to tell her those words. How do you explain to a 5th grader that we might be ok, including the baby inside me? How do you tell a 5th grader who's eyes just say "Don't leave me, mama!" but her shaky little voice says "What do we do now?"

She beat you, cancer. Even though she didn't have it herself, like anyone in a family that has this disease, she fought it just as much. She came through it as she always does - like a shining star. She has spoken at events to keep fighting you, she has been to cancer centers across this whole country and isn't afraid to hug every single patient she sees. She turns 17 today, and I am ferociously proud of her. And will be for as long as I get to live on this earth - and even beyond that. Happy birthday, my angel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


USA - It's National Daughters Week, did you know that? For those of us that have these little flowers in our lives, this is a moment to stop and enjoy them. So here's to you; not necessarily in order of importance or preference. :)

Gift. Precious. Sturdy. Strong. Confusion. Independent. Soft. Gentle. Ferocious. Impertinent. Caring. Everlasting. Heart. Song. Smile. Tears. Frill. Make-up. Sporty. Tall. Short. Round. Thin. Blonde. Redhead. Brunette. Bald. Calm. Angry. Sweet. Sisters. Mamas. Sassy. Brilliant. Wonderful. Fiery. Song. Literary. Amazing. Daughters.


OHIO - I was sitting at a dinner table with a handful of people; thingswere going great. Fun conversation, wonderful company, awesome food.

Then one person says "You know, I HATE being called a survivor. Who made up that phrase, anyway? Someone who never had cancer, I'll bet!"

We were all silent for a moment. We were all either patients or physicians, and we all just looked at her. Then, it started ...

"Me too!" "Gosh, that makes me so mad!" "Why do they think we consider ourselves done? Don't they know we still deal with it every day?"

The outpouring was impressive - I think we all just assumed we were theonly ones who thought that way, the only one who had to take meds daily, who have to wrap our arms to stop the endless swelling, the only one who knows that pain medicine is useless against bone pain. But there we were,all coming to the same realization at once.

Just because we had it once, be it 5 years, 5 months or 5 weeks ago - some of us aren't finished. We still have it hanging around and we wake up to do battle every morning.

Here's to my fellow warriors. Battle on, friends!