Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

Casey and Kathy getting ready for sweet it is!!

A favorite saying in our family is "Better late than never!", which most certainly applies to today when I say to all of you, "Happy Thanksgiving!".  Had to say that, just so you don't read this with your forehead crinkled thinking we're nuts over here :)  I am attaching a picture of the three of us girls, after we all indulged in just a little too much Thanksgivingness :)  Notice how I (Casey) strategically positioned myself behind my mom...LOL. And as we all recover from too much turkey, stuffing, gravy, yummy oohey goohey sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce, I can't help but thinking about all of you who may be having a little trouble getting in the 'thankful' mood today.  Those who, like good family friends of ours, may be celebrating Thanksgiving in a hospital room--not sure of what the future holds.  Or maybe those whose sons, daughters, or spouses are deployed.  Those who have recently been given devastating test results, or those who just lost a loved one.  Those who find themselves sitting at a table with an empty chair where a loved one once sat.  We've been there.  Those Thanksgivings are hard.  Very hard.  Hard to slap a smile on your face pretending like nothing's wrong...pretending like you are feeling thankful...when to be quite honest, you're just not.   And that's okay.  In times of trouble, when you don't know what the future holds, just remember who holds the future.  When I was little and my mother was going through all of her treatments, I used to picture in my head the Allstate hands (except in my head they were God's hands), and my family snuggled right in the middle...resting comfortably in the palms of our Savior.  You are safe.  You are loved. 

With that  said, I would like to share with you the Unity daily devotion for yesterday:

"As long as I have breath, I have life.  As long as I have life, I am grateful.  I draw in deep, calming breaths that spread through my body, enlivening my senses.  I breathe in gratitude for all I see, hear, taste, smell and touch.  I am grateful for my loved ones, my home and for the myriad of blessings in my life.   With my next breath, I dive deeper into gratefulness, breathing in gratitude for my oneness in God--whole, beautiful and irrepressible.  With an energizing, amplifying breath, I breathe out any disquiet in my soul.  Poised in an elevated awareness of gratitude, I give thanks for all experiences.

"I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart."
                                                                                        ~Psalm 86:12

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving,
Casey, Kathy, and Kelly

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bio-identical hormones and breast cancer survivors

This past Friday night a fellow cancer survivor and close friend of mine, decided to brave the horrific traffic to catch up on some much needed girl talk. Rene, a beautiful brunette, is only 47 years old and has been declared cancer free for several years now. We opted to sit in a quiet and cozy booth at Hoolihans away from all the typical Friday night party-goers, so that our conversation could be heard without shouting across the table. But, when the question flew off her tongue--as though she were asking me what I was doing for Thanksgiving--suddenly it felt like we were the only two people in the room.  "What do you think about the doctor prescribing Bio-identical hormones for me? " The question seemed very natural to her. I had no idea she was even thinking about taking hormones.  And to be honest, the topic of Bio-identical hormones had never taken up much space--if any at all--in my cerebral cortex. I went through menopause at such a young age (38), I don't think I even realized what was going on with my body, until I was pretty much through with that life-changing time in our life.

Still reeling from the original cancer diagnosis, and the surgeries that followed, along with keeping up with my three and seven year old daughters--the fact that one bothersome detail of my life was periods, didn't really phase me. The truth is I happily embraced it.  So, when Rene dropped that question on me, it took me completely off guard. When I got home that evening I decided to check into this for her, our readers, and possibly myself. And just as I expected the verdict still seems to be out--at least that's the impression I received from the surplus of online materials I read.  But I'm attaching an article I found by one doctor--Dr. Pete Hueseman. 

So, with that said--the key word here is ONE.  As I've said countless times on our blog, this is a decision that only you and your doctor can make. But I can tell you one thing... Rene's eyes light up like never before when she describes the positive effects the hormones have made in her life after being on them for only one month. Maybe Suzanne Sommers is really right on target. Anyway,  I'm encouraged to ask my oncologist on my visit next month if he would give me the green light to try them.  I will get back to you with his opinion.  But then again--this will be one more doctor's opinion for just one of his patients.

Also, I'd like to thank all of you who follow us.  For some reason, the numbers don't show up, but as of today, we've had 4,300 visitors to our blog. I'm thankful that so many of you have contacted me personally for prayers and advice. I always welcome any questions or requests and we love to hear from you.  Thank you for hanging in there with us in spite of the 'drought' period when life got a little too crazy to post as often as we should have. May God continue to bless each and every one of you!Re

ad Pete Hueseman's last transcript 
Past History of Breast CancerPatients with past history of breast cancer should not have estradiol or estrone recommended for estrogen supplementation. These estrogens play a role in causing breast cancer by damaging DNA. Estriol is the protective estrogen that is high during pregnancy. It does not activate the estrogen receptor, but occupies the receptor sites so that it is not available for estradiol. Hormone balance is important, and testing of hormone levels is recommended prior to supplementing. For post breast cancer patients, many medical practitioners do not recommend hormone supplementation, except for progesterone, unless hormone levels are well below normal and symptoms are severe. Use of hormones should be carefully tracked by both patient and doctor.
E.mail Pete Hueseman directly. A toll-free number is provided on the resources page.

Read More About Your Hormones

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Breast cancer and menopause

If there are any breast cancer post-menopausal gals out there who have  taken bio-identical hormones  - we'd love to hear from you. We are going to be exploring this topic in the coming week. 

This took my breath away!

Casey, what a beautiful and touching post!  Your words brought tears to my eyes and I'm sure others will be touched as well.  I believe that children of cancer survivors are a different breed...if they're not born that way...they quickly become that way.  They intuitively learn to appreciate and understand how precious life is - even if they're too young to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation unfolding around them... somehow on a deeper level they know. And they too learn how to live by faith. They too become strong...independent and resilient.  I also believe that the Lord helps them navigate these unchartered waters and fills them with the faith, hope and strength needed to meet the challenges that they are facing.  After all, He is our ever-present help in time of trouble.

 God truly blessed me with two beautiful girls - whose outward beauty is only surpassed by the beauty of their hearts.

Love you Sweetie(s), Mom

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Children of Survivors

My mother and I are occupying the same couch in our family room.  The house is quiet except for the hum of the ceiling fan.  The T.V. is off.  My sister is at a friend's house.  My dad is flying, and my grandparents are just a phone call away.  The sun is streaming through the floor to ceiling windows that are partially covered in drapes on the opposite side of the room.  Normally on a day like today, my mother would have kicked my sister and I out of the house.  Told us to play outside.  Gone with us on a bike ride, or driven us up to the Boerne river to feed the ducks a loaf of bread.  That is, on any other normal sunny Saturday afternoon.  But it isn't any other Saturday.  Not for us.  It is just my mom and I.  She on one end of the couch, and I on the other.  Our legs pass each others in the middle.  I have just had five teeth pulled by our orthodontist who insisted on speeding mother nature up.  I am in third grade.  I wear braces.  The gauze in my mouth still tastes like a mixture of blood and the numbing medication.  I am in pain, but nothing comparible to my mom's.  And so I just lie there watching her.  I try not to let my eyes drift to the tubes that are coming out of her.  Try not to focus on the bags that the tubes lead to.  Try not to focus on the grimmace on her face that paints a picture of the pain, more than words ever could.  She won't talk about it though.  I know that all I have to do is tell her how much my mouth is hurting, and she will be in the kitchen prying off the childproof cap to the bottle of pain medicine Dr. McCourt had prescribed so fast it would make your head spin.  Never mind her own pain.  And so I lie there quietly, and decide to wait until she wakes up from whatever little sleep she has managed to sneek in. 

For some reason, this picture is the one that is seared into my brain.  Twenty six years later this is the image that comes to mind when my mother's cancer is brought up .  When someone mentions the word mastectomy.  Why is this the memory I recall?  When my mother had over a dozen surgeries?  I wonder that myself all the time.  And I am almost embarrassed to give you my hypothesis. My meager attempt at self-analysis. I think it is because it the first time I had to be still.  Had to stop what I was doing.  Had to soak in my surroundings.  It was the quietness, the togetherness, the stillness.  I don't think that prior to this I had ever stopped moving long enough to realize what was going on with my mom.  Realize what she was going through.  My mom kept everything moving, perhaps as much for her own needs, as much as ours.  The distractions are what helped her NOT focus on the cancer 24/7. 

So what got me thinking about all of this now?

Last week, at my dad's annual 'Hallween Bash', a family friend posed a question that I have been pondering now for a couple of weeks.  Something I hadn't really given credence to in well over a decade.  Which is odd, given the nature of this blog, and our family history, or rather more specifically, my mom's history.  Before I even share what this question was, I need to give you a little back story.  You see, every year my dad's Halloween bash pretty much goes as planned.  The same people dress up, and the same people don't, we drink the same 'witches brew', eat the same pizza and lick our chops after we indulge in the same delicous pumpkin pie.  It is all very routine.  By the book.  No surprises (other than the costumes--which DO change every year :)  We enjoy the company of the same friends that have attended our Halloween Party for the past six years that we have been throwing it.  Except for this year.  This year we had a very special visitor.  A little girl I will called "Ann".  She was the guest of one of our close friends.  Their neighbor, to be more specific.  And the reason she was at our house this year?  Because her mom had suddenly passed away last month, her dad works weekends, and our close friends who have the kindest hearts, have graciously offered to watch 'Ann' while her dad works.  Our hearts broke for this sweet little girl.  And while she along with the other children, was upstairs playing, a couple adults got into the inevitable question, "I can't imagine....".  And I honestly couldn't imagine.  So therefore it surprised me when another close friend of ours turned to me and asked, "Casey, how did you feel when you thought you might lose your mom as a child?"

The question caught me offguard.  Not because the question was offensive, or out of place.  But it took me back all the same.   And I have been spending the last couple of weeks trying to figure out why.  And today, watching my three year-old son, completely oblivous to the world around him, playing with his leggos, it suddenly occured to me why the question startled me.  Because as  a child I never even considered the notion that my mom wouldn't be alright.  Never thought for a second that my prayer requests every day of  my entire year in 3rd grade in Mrs. Tabaka's class would go unanswered.  It just wasn't on my radar.  And this is not to say that my faith was that great, or that I was naive (which I clearly was), but I believe most children have the amazing capacity of looking beyond what others might consider overwhelming odds, insurmountable challenges and see the bright side of the situation.  The silver lining.  Call it "naivity", "ignorance", or whatever. But it is a coping mechanism nonetheless.  And while I don't know why sweet Ann, and others like her, have to lose their mom so young, when other children, like the 7 year-old child I was, are incredibly blessed to have their mothers around for years to come, I do think there are a lot of mothers out there battling breast cancer, who have young children, and wonder what their children are thinking.  How they are handling it--how they are coping. And now, as a 34 year-old mother of two young children myself, I can give you somewhat of an answer with the little bit of clarity that 26 years can bring.  Did I have the occasional nightmare?  Absolutely.  In fact, I had my fair share of them. Many nights, unbeknownst to my mom, I would stay up till she went to sleep, just so I could check in on her to make sure she was okay.  Did I have some level of anxiety operating on a conscious level that things might not be okay?  Sure.  But children will amaze you.  And while all children and their feelings are unique, (as a disclaimer I must admit that I have occasionally been told that I have my head in the clouds), I do know that children are astoundinly resilient.  Dreamers.  Survivors.  Just like their moms.

Here's to all of you moms out there who are currently waging the most important battle of your life.  Fight the good fight.  And keep the faith!  We are all rooting for you.

Wishing you all happiness, health and healing,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coconut Oil

It was 6:45am this morning, when I realized the topic for my blog. Unintentionally, I have been keeping a little secret for the past several months, but was now ready to spread the word! After showering (still half asleep) and getting dressed for work, I quickly scrambled to the kitchen to make my usual protein shake. (I say scrambled, because of course I was running late.) Mmmmmm…. little fruit, whey protein, and coconut oil, truly makes for the perfect breakfast!  While enjoying my shake, the hint of coconut consumed my taste buds compelling me to share the health benefits of this tasty little treat with all of our followers.

I’m sure the majority of you have heard of coconut oil. But, are you aware of the amazing benefits of incorporating this unique food into your diet? It can aid in weightloss, improve cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is even great for hair and skin and may even help dementia.

Please feel free to click on the following links for more detailed information:

Time to get back to work before my boss catches me. ;)


Win a Breast Cancer Wig by Follea

Hi Everyone!
My mom recently received an email about a Wig Giveaway contest by Follea.  We know that some of our readers are currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments and may be interested in participating in this contest.  Please read Candice's email below with instructions on how to enter to the contest. 
Praying for health, happiness, and healing to you all,
Casey, Kathy, and Kelly
Dear Kathy,
Since many women struggle with hair loss due to chemotherapy, we believe Follea's Breast Cancer Wig Giveaway on Facebook will be of interest to your readers. Participants who share their inspirational story will have the chance to win a Gripper-2 wig, a beautiful Tres Chic wig or a super-soft bamboo sleep cap. To view the Follea video "A Woman's Spirit is Unbreakable: A Tribute for Breast Cancer Awareness Month", visit

Here are the Follea Breast Cancer Wig Giveaway instructions, which can also be viewed at

1. There are two different ways that a woman with breast cancer can be submitted for a chance to win these prizes:

• A woman with breast cancer can create and submit a short video about her journey with breast cancer, how it has affected her life, and how she is dealing with it.

• A friend or family member of a woman with breast cancer can submit a video about how their loved one who has cancer inspires them.

2. Submit video by Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm PST.

3. All winners, including grand prize, second place and third place winners, will be determined based on the number of votes a contestant receives, in comparison to their competitors. Voting closes Friday, December 14, 2012, at 11:59 pm PST. :

• The grand prize winner will receive her choice of either Follea's Gripper-2 Sport or the Gripper-2 Cool, from Follea's innovative and luxurious 2012 Gripper-2 Collection. The winner will select from one of five standard sizes and available standard color and length specifications.

• five second place winners will receive one of Follea's beautiful, short-style, premium European-hair Tres Chic MM6 wigs.

• 50 third place winners will receive one of Follea's super-soft bamboo sleep caps.

4. Follea will announce the winners on December 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm PST.
Also, every Friday through December 14, Follea will conduct a random drawing of all of the contestants' names, giving all participants the chance to win one of Follea's bamboo sleep caps every week.
About Follea: The company's 2012 collection includes wigs and hairpieces that are specially designed for women with little to no hair such as the Gripper collection, which is light, breathable and stays securely in place with affixed medical grade silicone tabs. Follea has ICARe representatives and ICARe salons around the world, so women can get hands-on help choosing just the right wig or extensions to suit their needs.
Would you like to receive any additional information?
Candice Cousins
Lisa Elia Public Relations
1285 Barry Avenue, #302
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: 310-479-0217
Fax: 888-548-5950

To read Lisa's blog: