Thursday, April 18, 2013

Praying for the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings and Waco Plant Explosion

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who were affected by the Boston Marathon bombings this week along with those affected by the Waco, Texas plant explosion.  This is a sad week for Americans, and we stand together to pray for strength and wisdom as our leaders seek to find those responsible.  The images seen on T.V. are heartbreaking and there are simply no words to convey the tragedy and sadness felt for all the innocent victims.  Our prayers are with you all.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Faith in the face of Tragedy

Dear Readers,
My mother received a letter from one our followers recently and we wanted to share her powerful story with all of you.  It is an amazing example of how blessings can come from great tragedy and loss.  Today is Palm Sunday, and in church we studied Matthew 16: 21-28.  This is the passage that talks about when Jesus is telling his disciples that he must go back to Jerusalem where he will suffer 'many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."  Peter, like most of us I am sure, immediately has a response of, "Never, Lord!  This shall never happen to you!"  Jesus famously responds, "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."  Like Peter, we are human, and we cannot see the big picture like God can.  Peter couldn't see the entire picture because it hand't unfolded yet.  He had a human response--the response of someone who does not want to see someone they dearly love --suffer, much less be tortured and murdered.  Jesus knew however, that he had to do this--to make the ultimate sacrifice so that all of us could one day enter into the gates of heaven.  We all know that NOW.  But to Peter, the things to come were incomprehensible.
Most of as some point in our life are going to be able to relate to Peter.  Relate to not being able to see the big picture.  But the amazing faith of so many of you is inspiring.  Scarlett's story I am sure will inspire you like it has us.  Please keep praying for Scarlett H. and her family. 
March 2013
Hi Kathy,
Thank you so much for all the prayers . I will pray for Karen H so that God can heal her too.
My story is just unfolding but God has already shown me his power.  I was diagnosed last December when I was pregnant with my second child.  I had the lump a year before when I was pregnant with my first child but two surgeons discard it as a benign cyst.  Because of my pregnancy the lump grew bigger and I demanded a biopsy. I lost the baby to a chromosomal defect called trisonomy 13, but I know he was the angel that came to announce to us that I was in danger.  We named him Angel. If God hadn't sent him I might still be walking undiagnosed. For years I had tried to get pregnant without success.  I feel that God wants me to pray for others and give his faithful testimony.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hi Everyone,
A friend of mine sent me this email and I want to share it with everyone.  I have been preaching this from the rooftops for the past 26 years because I believe this might have played a huge factor in why I developed breast cancer.  Please take time to read every word of this article--it could save your life or the life of someone you know!
Wishing everyone health and happiness!

Cure Breast Cancer By
Avoiding All Milk Products

By Prof. Jane Plant, PhD, CBE
The Daily Mail - UK (5-27-00)
Why I believe that giving up milk is the key to beating breast cancer...
Professor Jane Plant is a wife, a mother, and widely respected scientist, who was made a CBE for her work in geochemistry. When she was struck by breast cancer in 1987 at the age of 42, her happy and productive existence seemed destined to fall apart. But despite the disease recurring a further four times, Jane refused to give in. As she describes in an inspiring new book, [Your Life In Your Hands] serialised by the Mail this week, she devised a revolutionary diet and lifestyle programme that she believes saved her life and can cut the chances of other women falling prey to the disease.
Her theory remains a controversial one - but every woman should read it and make up her own mind. Today, she explains her personal breakthrough...
I had no alternative but to die or to try to find a cure for myself. I am a scientist - surely there was a rational explanation for this cruel illness that affects one in 12 women in the UK?
I had suffered the loss of one breast, and undergone radiotherapy. I was now receiving painful chemotherapy, and had been seen by some of the country's most eminent specialists. But, deep down, I felt certain I was facing death.
I had a loving husband, a beautiful home and two young children to care for. I desperately wanted to live. Fortunately, this desire drove me to unearth the facts, some of which were known only to a handful of scientists at the time.
Anyone who has come into contact with breast cancer will know that certain risk factors - such as increasing age, early onset of womanhood, late onset of menopause and a family history of breast cancer - are completely out of our control. But there are many risk factors, which we can control easily. These 'controllable' risk factors readily translate into simple changes that we can all make in our day-to-day lives to help prevent or treat breast cancer. My message is that even advanced breast cancer can be overcome because I have done it.
The first clue to understanding what was promoting my breast cancer came when my husband Peter, who was also a scientist, arrived back from working in China while I was being plugged in for a chemotherapy session.
He had brought with him cards and letters, as well as some amazing herbal suppositories, sent by my friends and science colleagues in China.
The suppositories were sent to me as a cure for breast cancer. Despite the awfulness of the situation, we both had a good belly laugh, and I remember saying that this was the treatment for breast cancer in China, then it was little wonder that Chinese women avoided getting the disease. Those words echoed in my mind. Why didn't Chinese women get breast cancer? I had collaborated once with Chinese colleagues on a study of links between soil chemistry and disease, and I remembered some of the statistics.
The disease was virtually non-existent throughout the whole country. Only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it, compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries.
It is not just a matter of China being a more rural country, with less urban pollution. In highly urbanised Hong Kong, the rate rises to 34 women in every 10,000 but still puts the West to shame.
The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have similar rates. And remember, both cities were attacked with nuclear weapons, so in addition to the usual pollution-related cancers, one would also expect to find some radiation-related cases, too. The conclusion we can draw from these statistics strikes you with some force. If a Western woman were to move to industrialized, irradiated Hiroshima, she would stash her risk of contracting breast cancer by half.
Obviously this is absurd. It seemed obvious to me that some lifestyle factor not related to pollution, urbanization or the environment is seriously increasing the Western woman's chance of contracting breast cancer.
I then discovered that whatever causes the huge differences in breast cancer rates between oriental and Western countries, it isn't genetic. Scientific research showed that when Chinese or Japanese people move to the West, within one or two generations their rates of breast cancer approach those of their host community.
The same thing happens when oriental people adopt a completely Western lifestyle in Hong Kong. In fact, the slang name for breast cancer in China translates as 'Rich Woman's Disease'. This is because, in China, only the better off can afford to eat what is
termed 'Hong Kong food'.
The Chinese describe all Western food, including everything from ice cream and chocolate bars to spaghetti and feta cheese, as 'Hong Kong food', because of its availability in the former British colony and its scarcity, in the past, in mainland China.
So it made perfect sense to me that whatever was causing my breast cancer and the shockingly high incidence in this country generally, it was almost certainly something to do with our better-off, middle-class, Western lifestyle.
There is an important point for men here, too. I have observed in my research that much of the the data about prostate cancer leads to similar conclusions.
According to figures from the World Health Organization, the number of men contracting prostate cancer in rural China is negligible, only 0.5 men in every 100,000. In England, Scotland and Wales, however, this figure is 70 times higher.
Like breast cancer, it is a middle-class disease that primarily attacks the wealthier and higher socio-economic groups - those that can afford to eat rich foods.
I remember saying to my husband-- 'Come on Peter, you have just come back from China. What is it about the Chinese way of life that is so different. Why don't they get breast cancer?'
We decided to utilize our joint scientific backgrounds and approach it logically. We examined scientific data that pointed us in the general direction of fats in diets.
Researchers had discovered in the 1980s that only l4 % of calories in the average Chinese diet were from fat, compared to almost 36% in the West. But the diet I had been living on for years before I contracted breast cancer was very low in fat and high in fibre.
Besides, I knew as a scientist that fat intake in adults has not been shown to increase risk for breast cancer in most investigations that have followed large groups of women for up to a dozen years.
Then one day something rather special happened. Peter and I have worked together so closely over the years that I am not sure which one of us first said: 'The Chinese don't eat dairy produce!'
It is hard to explain to a non-scientist the sudden mental and emotional 'buzz' you get when you know you have had an important insight.
It's as if you have had a lot of pieces of a jigsaw in your mind, and suddenly, in a few seconds, they all fall into place and the whole picture is clear.
Suddenly I recalled how many Chinese people were physically unable to tolerate milk, how the Chinese people I had worked with had always said that milk was only for babies, and how one of my close friends, who is of Chinese origin, always politely turned down the cheese course at dinner parties.
I knew of no Chinese people who lived a traditional Chinese life who ever used cow or other dairy food to feed their babies. The tradition was to use a wet nurse but never, ever, dairy products.
Culturally, the Chinese find our Western preoccupation with milk and milk products very strange. I remember entertaining a large delegation of Chinese scientists shortly after the ending of the Cultural Revolution in the 1980s.
On advice from the Foreign Office, we had asked the caterer to provide a pudding that contained a lot of ice cream. After inquiring what the pudding consisted of, all of the Chinese, including their interpreter, politely but firmly refused to eat it, and they could not be persuaded to change their minds. At the time we were all delighted and ate extra portions!
Milk, I discovered, is one of the most common causes of food allergies.
Over 70% of the world's population are unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose, which has led nutritionists to believe that this is the normal condition for adults, not some sort of deficiency. Perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we are eating the wrong food.
Before I had breast cancer for the first time, I had eaten a lot of dairy produce, such as skimmed milk, low-fat cheese and yoghurt. I had used it as my main source of protein. I also ate cheap but lean minced beef, which I now realized was probably often ground-up dairy cow.
In order to cope with the chemotherapy I received for my fifth case of cancer, I had been eating organic yoghurts as a way of helping my digestive tract to recover and repopulate my gut with 'good' bacteria.
Recently, I discovered that way back in 1989 yoghurt had been implicated in ovarian cancer. Dr Daniel Cramer of Harvard University studied hundreds of women with ovarian cancer, and had them record in detail what they normally ate. I wish I'd been made aware of his findings when he had first discovered them.
Following Peter's and my insight into the Chinese diet, I decided to give up not just yoghurt but all dairy produce immediately. Cheese, butter, milk and yoghurt and anything else that contained dairy produce - it went down the sink or in the rubbish.
It is surprising how many products, including commercial soups, biscuits and cakes, contain some form of dairy produce. Even many proprietary brands of margarine marketed as soya, sunflower or olive oil spreads can contain dairy produce. I therefore became an avid reader of the small print on food labels.
Up to this point, I had been steadfastly measuring the progress of my fifth cancerous lump with callipers and plotting the results. Despite all the encouraging comments and positive feedback from my doctors and nurses, my own precise observations told me the bitter truth.
My first chemotherapy sessions had produced no effect - the lump was still the same size.
Then I eliminated dairy products. Within days, the lump started to shrink. About two weeks after my second chemotherapy session and one week after giving up dairy produce, the lump in my neck started to itch. Then it began to soften and to reduce in size. The line on the graph, which had shown no change, was now pointing downwards as the tumour got smaller and smaller.
And, very significantly, I noted that instead of declining exponentially (a graceful curve) as cancer is meant to do, the tumour's decrease in size was plotted on a straight line heading off the bottom of the graph, indicating a cure, not suppression (or remission) of the tumour.
One Saturday afternoon after about six weeks of excluding all dairy produce from my diet, I practised an hour of meditation then felt for what was left of the lump. I couldn't find it.
Yet I was very experienced at detecting cancerous lumps - I had discovered all five cancers on my own. I went downstairs and asked my husband to feel my neck. He could not find any trace of the lump either.
On the following Thursday I was due to be seen by my cancer specialist at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
He examined me thoroughly, especially my neck where the tumour had been. He was initially bemused and then delighted as he said, "I cannot find it.' None of my doctors, it appeared, had expected someone with my type and stage of cancer (which had clearly spread to the lymph system) to survive, let alone be so hale and hearty.
My specialist was as overjoyed as I was. When I first discussed my ideas with him he was understandably skeptical. But I understand that he now uses maps showing cancer mortality in China in his lectures, and recommends a non-dairy diet to his cancer patients.
I now believe that the link between dairy produce and breast cancer is similar to the link between smoking and lung cancer. I believe that identifying the link between breast cancer and dairy produce, and then developing a diet specifically targeted at maintaining the health of my breast and hormone system, cured me.
It was difficult for me, as it may be for you, to accept that a substance as 'natural' as milk might have such ominous health implications. But I am a living proof that it works and, starting from tomorrow, I shall reveal the secrets of my revolutionary action plan.
Extracted from Your Life in Your Hands, by Professor Jane Plant, to be published by Virgin on June 8 at £16.99. © Professor Jane Plant, 2000.
Jane Plant's conviction that dairy products can cause cancer arises from the complex chemical makeup of milk. All mature breast milk, from humans or other mammals, is a medium for transporting hundreds of chemical components.
It is a powerful biochemical solution, designed specifically to provide for the individual needs of young mammals of the same species. Jane says: "It is not that cow's milk isn't a good food. It is a great food- for baby cows. It is not intended by nature for consumption by any species other than baby cows. It is nutritionally different from human breast milk, containing three times as much protein and far more calcium.'
Breast milk, like cow's milk, contains chemicals designed to play an important rote in the development of young cattle. One of these, insulin growth factor IGF-1,causes cells to divide and reproduce.
IGF-1 is biologically active in humans, especially during puberty, when growth is rapid. In young girls it stimulates breast tissue to grow and, while its levels are high during pregnancy, the hormones prolactin and oestrogen are also active, enlarging breast tissue and increasing the production of milk ducts in preparation for breast-feeding.
Though the concentration and secretions of these hormones in the blood are small, they exert a powerful effect on the body. All these hormones are present in cow's milk. IGF-1 is identical in make-up, whether in human or cow's milk, but its levels are naturally higher in cow's milk. It is also found in the meat of cows.
High levels of IGF-1 in humans are thought to be a risk factor for breast and prostate cancer. A 1998 study of pre-menopausal women revealed that those with the highest levels of IGF-1 in their bloodstream ran almost three times the risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who had low levels. Among women younger than 50, the risk was increased seven times.
Other studies have shown that high circulating levels of IGF-1 In men are a strong indicator of prostate cancer. Interestingly, recent measures to improve milk yields have boosted IGF-1 levels in cows. Could IGF-1 from milk and the meat of dairy animals cause a build-up in humans, especially over a lifetime, leading to inappropriate cell division? Though we produce our own IGF-1, could it be that the extra amounts we ingest from dairy produce actually cause cancer?
Jane Plant already knew that one way the high-profile drug tamoxifen, used in the treatment of breast cancer, is thought to work by lowering circulating levels of IGF-1.
IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization, but critics argue that it is destroyed by digestion
and rendered harmless. Jane believes the main milk protein, casein, prevents this from happening and that homogenization, which prevents milk from separating into milk and cream, could further increase the risk of cancer-promoting hormones and other chemicals reaching the bloodstream.
She also believes there are other chemicals in cow's milk that may be responsible for
sending muddied signals to adult tissue. Could prolactin, released to stimulate milk production in cows, have a similar effect on human breast tissue, effectively triggering the same response and causing cells to become confused, stressed and start making mistakes in replicating their own DNA? Studies have confirmed that prolactin promotes the growth of prostate cancer cells in culture.
Another hormone, oestrogen, considered one of the main risk factors for breast cancer, is present in milk in minute quantities. But even low levels of hormones are known to cause severe biological damage. Microscopic quantities of oestrogen in our rivers are powerful enough to cause the feminisation of many male species of fish. While oestrogen in milk may not pose a direct threat to tissues, it may stimulate the expression of IGF-1, resulting in long-term tumour growth.
Jane, who has found growing support for her theories from cancer specialists, stresses
that she is not setting out to attack more orthodox approaches. She intends her dietary programme to complement the best therapies available from conventional medicine, not to replace them.
Pure But Deadly - Is Milk Potentially Fatal?
Dairy-free diet and breast/colon cancer
IOA Archived Discussion Forum May 2000
Posted By Leslie Dungan on June 19, 2000 at 17:40:01:
The following review appeared last week in the Irish Times.
Has anyone out there opinions or experiences relevant to Prof Plant's approach? British scientist Jane Plant, who believes a dairy-free diet helped her recover from breast cancer, talks to Katie Donovan
Tempted by a cream bun, you talk yourself out of it with thoughts of all that unhealthy fat clogging up your arteries. You opt for a low-fat yoghurt instead, with skimmed milk in your tea, congratulating yourself on your sensible self-control. Think again. According to a ground-breaking new book about breast cancer (which kills over 600 women in Ireland annually), dairy products, whether low-fat or full cream, should be off everyone's menu overnight. (They are also culpable with regard to prostate cancer, so that really means everyone).
Prof Jane Plant CBE, author of Your Life in Your Hands, was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago. She was 42, a successful geochemist (she is now chief scientist of the British Geological Survey), and led, she thought, a healthy life. There was no history of breast cancer in her family. She discovered that "only five to 10 per cent of breast cancers are the result of inherited genes, and the disease may not always develop, even in those carrying the mutated gene." Bamboozled by jargon and frozen with panic, she fell back on her scientific training to try and figure out how she had developed the disease, and how best to cure herself.
She went on the Bristol diet, she had a mastectomy, she had radiotherapy, she had her ovaries irradiated (to induce menopause and eliminate oestrogen), she asked questions and did lots of research. To no avail.
By the time of the cancer's fifth recurrence (it spread into the lymph), she was given a course of chemotherapy and three months to live. She had an egg-sized tumour on the side of her neck.
Brainstorming one night with her fellow scientist husband about why, in the West, one in 10 women get breast cancer (one in 14 in Ireland), while in China it's only one woman in 10,000, the pair came up with the simple answer: Chinese people don't eat dairy products.
Plant eliminated all dairy products (including goat and sheep) from her diet. Six weeks later, the tumour had disappeared.
When I meet her she is a youthful-looking woman in her mid-fifties, quaffing mint tea and eating a tuna sandwich (no butter or mayonnaise). She has stayed on her dairy-free diet and has remained clear of cancer.
Giving up dairy products was only part of a healthy regimen she had been following throughout her cancer, including taking folic acid and zinc supplements, drinking filtered water and never consuming anything that had been packaged in plastic (phthalates, harmful carcinogenic chemicals, leak from soft plastic into food).
In spite of her best efforts it was only after she gave up all dairy products that the cancer disappeared. Sixty-three other women who had breast cancer and who came to her for advice, also recovered after giving up dairy products.
So how, I ask, can dairy products-- beloved of both the Irish and British alike, not to mention the Americans whose diet is 40 per cent dairy-- have such a lethal effect? "Milk is designed as the perfect food for newborn animals. They can't eat ordinary food, they are dependent on milk to keep development and cell differentiation going. But milk contains a chemical-- insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1 -- which girls have naturally as teenagers
to help their breasts develop. This chemical-- which is designed to stimulate cell growth-- can send the wrong signal to adult breast tissue."
She quotes studies in the US and Canada in 1998 which found that pre-menopausal women with the highest IGF-1 concentration in their blood had a far higher risk of developing breast cancer (similar studies have found a link between IGF-1 and prostate cancer). The drug Tamoxifen, prescribed for women with breast cancer, is thought to work by reducing circulating IGF-1 levels.
"Over 70 per cent of the world's population are unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose," she observes. "Lactose intolerance may be nature's early warning system: perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we're eating the wrong food." Homogenization apparently only enables cancer-producing chemicals to reach the bloodstream quicker.
Plant has done her homework: "Epidemiological studies have indicated a positive correlation between dairy product consumption and breast cancer risk going back two decades. Studies have found an increase in breast cancer risk among women who consumed milk (especially whole milk) and/or cheese."
In 1977 scientists examining the incidence of breast cancer in Japan found "a significant increase in both the consumption of dairy products and the occurrence of breast cancer in urban areas".
She quotes more research to suggest that "free oestrogens"-- found in commercial pasteurized whole cow's milk and in skimmed milk-- may stimulate expression of IGF-1 resulting in "indirect long-term tumour growth".
She lists dioxins and other damaging environmental chemicals, some of them carcinogenic, which are often fat soluble and end up "particularly concentrated" in milk.
As for the argument that we need dairy products because they contain calcium, Plant quotes the World Health Organization's finding that countries which have low intakes of calcium do not have an increased incidence of osteoporosis: "Scientific studies into calcium absorption have shown that only 18 to 36 per cent of the calcium in milk is taken up by the body."
Now that we're convinced, what should we be eating instead? Plant recommends soya milk, herbal tea, humous, tofu, nuts and seeds, non-farmed fish, organic eggs and lean meat (not minced beef, which tends to be dairy cow) and plenty of fresh organic fruit and vegetables (in salads, juiced, or lightly steamed).
But how can the average woman afford the time and energy it takes to source and prepare such food? "Your priority should be good food, not glop," she stresses. "Put organic food first. Your health is more important than a new car. Anyway, I don't find it too costly-- after all, I don't buy any processed food, which is very expensive."
Her husband and two children have no problem following her diet. And although she travels a lot for her job, she finds that she is able to manage-- she includes many tips in her book about what to bring with you on a trip (dried soya milk, herbal tea bags, kelp tablets for iodine, etc).
She is about to start writing a new book, a guide for busy women who want to stay healthy.
She advocates thorough and frequent self-examination of your breasts, and, if you do develop breast cancer, self-empowerment by working with your doctor "as a partner,
not as a victim".
She is not a fan of the Louise Hay You Can Heal Your Life philosophy: "I do believe in positive thinking, but I'm also a scientist and I wanted a rational explanation. I have friends with diseases like MS who have read Hay's books and feel guilty because they can't adapt their mental attitude; or, if they have adapted, and the disease doesn't go away, they become distressed."
Plant, who is an advocate of acupuncture, has varying opinions of alternative therapies. She is suspicious of aromatherapy, found visualization didn't work, but took much comfort from cognitive therapy and hypnotherapy (both of which helped her to reduce the stress and anxiety caused by having cancer).
Overall, however, it was her professional research as a geochemist into the links between disease and trace elements (such as selenium) in the environment in China and Korea that led to her insight about the role of dairy produce in her cancer. She finds the medical profession particularly shortsighted about the influence of environmental factors-- such as pollution and industrialization-- on disease: "I think public health has done a lot for the elimination of infectious diseases, but looking at the environment and nutrition could do the same for a lot of degenerative diseases."
Plant started writing Your Life in Your Hands for her daughter Emma (now 25). Emma's teen years were dominated by the fear that her mother was going to die: "The book's original title was What I Want My Daughter to Know," recalls Plant. "The 63 women with breast cancer who followed my diet and survived their cancer encouraged me to publish the book. I was reluctant at first-- I knew I'd get flak for it, because science is an
adversarial process.
But morally, I felt if I had done the research and I had the information, I should share it with others. Men and women have the right to know what I know, and to draw their own
Your Life in Your Hands by Jane Plant is published by Virgin at £16.99 in UK
Leslie Dungan,


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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Please pray for Scarlett

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I received a prayer request for a young woman named Scarlett.  She asked for prayer since she was just diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36.  There is power in numbers, so we can each make a huge difference in her life.  Also, please pray for her to have a peace that passes all understanding and wisdom for her doctors in treating her.  A friend of mine recently told me about a book that has really helped her: Outsmart your Cancer, by Tanya Harter Pierce.  Definitely sounds like a good read!    A big thank you to all,


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My six month visit

Yesterday was my 6 month visit to my oncologist, and as I sat patiently waiting in the exam room my thoughts began to race. How many times had I sat in this exact room, this exact chair over the years? The soft cotton blue gown covering only my upper body.  I glanced up at the pictures of deer in brown wooden frames. My doctor was a fisherman, but I don't think he is a hunter.  The one to the right of me had a picture of three deer-bucks I'm guessing-because the caption under the pic said "The Buck Stops Here."  How clever, for a moment my thoughts were distracted.  Trying hard not to listen to the conversation taking place in the exam room directly across the hall (which happened to be my favorite exam room), their muffled conversation was reminiscent of the ones I'd have when my ex would go with me.  I mean, I can literally count on one hand the number of times that happened.  I felt myself quickly sliding off the nice cushioned blue and green striped arm chair onto the proverbial  pity pot, but  instantly I scolded're alive...stay don't need someone sitting in that empty chair next to you.  I sat straighter and uncrossed my legs. Listening again to the hushed tones across the hall.  My favorite exam room...why was that I pondered?  Well, maybe it has something to do with the pictures plastering the walls of my favorite NBA team, the Spurs, along with their cute mascot the Coyote. The Coyote  always made everyone laugh, cheer and basically get into the game. When I was in that room I'd automatically take myself to one of the games...the electricity of the crowd, the music, the laughter...the excitement. Being at a game always makes me feel so alive.

In some ways today's visit wasn't any different than the countless ones before, but in another way the contrast was huge....stark.  Today my heart was pounding a little bit harder and my pulse was racing a little faster. Today I was going to find out the result of a pelvic ultrasound that was performed to check on a noticeable lump to the left of my navel. My internist thought it might be ovarian cancer.  Yikes! I'd never thought that I could get ovarian cancer because when I was 19 years old, I had all of one ovary and most of the other one removed due to advanced endometriosis.  They had kept a very small 'particle' of that ovary because of my age, the surgeon had informed me at the time.  The day I had the sonogram done I remember looking up at the dimly lit room while the young sonographer ( if this is really a word) informed me that my little particle of an ovary had actually grown over the past ten years.  I didn't even know that was possible - hence, the source of my complacency and total lack of fear regarding ovarian cancer.  However, I learned at that moment that now I actually have a normal size ovary and the risk could very well exist.  But as usual, she couldn't tell me anything and I would have to wait and talk to my doctor. Gone were the days when the radiologist would come and talk to you, reassuring you that everything was okay. 

 Now,  as you know by now, I'm one that believes in believing for the best but preparing for the 'less than best' outcome.  All you survivors out there know exactly what I'm talking about. The shuffling of feet going up and down the hall, the voices of the nurses handing out prescriptions wasn't helping my already rapid heartbeat. Closing my eyes I decided to practice my deep breathing techniques, shutting out all the sounds and chatter around me.  Breathe in slowly through my nose, hold my breath while counting to 5 and then exhale slowly through the mouth. Again. And Again.  I'd just barely finished my 3rd relaxing breath when the knock came at the door. Now, I have to tell doctor exhuberates kindness and that alone, as we all know, helps you to relax right off the bat. After the usual greetings and how have you been for the past 6 months, he looked me in the eyes and told me  the words that every cancer survivor loves to hear-it's benign-you have nothing to worry about.  A huge smile immediately spread across my face and I couldn't resist giving this bearer of good news a big hug. And, he continued, all your blood work looks great, so my dear - you're good to go for another 6,000 miles...or 6 months, which ever comes first.  I'm sure the laughter could be heard all the way to the front receptionist desk.  Relief swept over me like a warm ocean wave.

 But I'd come prepared.  Ready to be strong. Ready to fight. Ready to hear whatever came out of his mouth. The day before my visit,  I had gone to lunch with a friend of  mine who has gone through her second bout with ovarian cancer. She was in effect preparing me for the other words I might hear. The other possible outcome.  I was ready to fight whatever battle might be waiting up ahead for me.  But I knew that no matter what, I'd  pick myself up, dust myself off and once again turn it all over to the Lord.  All the worries, all the fears and yes, all the healing. Forever hopeful, yet forever prepared. Those words have become my motto, my way of life for the past 26 years.

Friday, February 15, 2013

As I am typing this, there are ten minutes left till the most 'romantic day of the year' winds down to a close for another 364 days.  Today, against my will I might add, I battled the ridiculous lines at the grocery store, wedged between two baskets filled with all the usual valentin'ey' things.  You know, delectable and intricately decorated chocolate covered strawberries, heaping vases filled with roses of every color, a box of chocolates, and yes, the occasional 'I Heart You' balloon, towering above someone who looks as though they just want to dash to their car in total anonymity as quickly and quietly as possible.  Me?  I've got none of that in my cart.  Instead, I've got toilet paper, cat food, milk, cereal, sliced turkey (for my 10 year-old's lunch because she cannot stand another day of buying lunch at school--ever so dramatic :), the myriad of ingrediants to make potato soup (for my sister who is under the weather),and medicine for my four year-old who is also in the cart with red eyes, a runny nose, and a cough that has other shoppers keeping their safe distance from the possibly contaminated child.  And as I am wedged in this line of romantic shoppers, I am silently scolding myself for procrastinating yet again, thus putting myself in this predictament to begin with.  Only me to blame--sigh. 

Tyler and I make it through my grocery store trip, and as I am driving home I  think about today--and all of those people who may not have a certain someone in their life to do Valentin'ey' things with.  My mom approached this subject last week in her "Happy Early Valentine's Day" post, and I thought I might expound on that for just one more time.  I know a lot of readers are in happy marriages with supportive spouses which is an amazing and wonderful blessing.  But, I also know that there are many of you who have had to battle through the toughest times of your life alone. A good friend of mine who is now in remission, was battling non-hodgkins lymphona a couple of years ago--not alone, but single.  My mom has a close friend who battled breast cancer--not alone, but single.  And my mom has battled most of the hardships in her life--not alone, but single.  I want to emphasize not alone, because we are never alone.  We have family, friends, and even when those are few and far between we have God.  But sometimes, no matter who we have in our life, we just feel a-l-o-n-e.

I was reading in my Daily Word this morning the devotion dedicated to Valentine's Day.  And I would like to share it with you all:

"Today is Valentine's Day, but every day can be a day of love, and every day I can choose to be loving.  The more love I give, the more love I get.  So today, I begin a love cascade.  I close my eyes, connect with Spirit and focus on all I am grateful for--from the tiniest blessing to the biggest.  I feel gratitude and love grow in my heart.  As I allow the spirit of God to express through me in loving ways, I feel love grow.  I smile at a stranger, open the door for someone I meet, run an errand for a neighbor and say a kind and caring word to a friend.  As I continuously give love, love is returned to me beyond measure.  "Let love be genuine;...hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.-Romans 12:9-10. 

So many times, we get hung up on the chocolates, the roses, the  balloons, or lack thereof.  And we (myself included) forget about all those languages of love that don't cost us a dime.  Love doesn't need to celebrated one day out of the year.  Love, love for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, love for one another as family, friends, and neighbors needs to happen 365 days a year.  And I know I tend to forget that.  Tend to get mired down in things that really don't matter.  So I was greatful for today's message in the Daily Word.  And hope that maybe it helped some of you to have a better day too.

Hoping that all of you feel the love of Christ today and always.  We are here for you if you need to talk or someone to pray with.  Happy Valentine's Day!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy Early Valentine's Day!

Well, it's almost here again...the day that we as American women either look forward to with ecstatic enthusiasm or dread almost as much as our annual  visit to the gynecologist...VALENTINE'S DAY! Ever since Bobby Tuttle put his handmade Valentine's Day card in my white paper bag in Mrs. Jones 4th grade class - not one single day has meant more to my chronically-romantic nature and I must add long suffering heart than this most cherished day.

Now, what I have to say next is sure to come as a shock. ...I know by the emails I have received from many of you that you think I am in the throngs of a happily- ever- after marriage.  But no - I have been dipping my toes in and out of the murky dating pool for almost 11 years now and  trust me - I do mean murky. These have been probably the toughest years of my life - emotionally speaking.  During these past 11 years, I've buried both of my parents - which were the absolute two hardest days of my life.  There were days, when honestly, I didn't know how I could get out of bed much less put one foot in front of the other. Unbearably tough times. And for some reason I'll never understand why I had to go through those times alone. In spite of the fact that I'd been in and out of relationships - serious ones at the point that I was engaged several times- I was still left to face my parents death alone. And I don't think there is a more alone feeling in the world than sitting in the ER, the ICU and finally hospice - alone. Especially as an only child.  I've heard that we really never grow up until we lose our parents.  And I believe this to be very true.  But then again His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are above our thoughts.  So, there's obviously a reason for things happening the way they do. And maybe one day I'll find out what that reason was. Looking back on those days; however, I realize that I was never really alone.  The Lord was with me, and He was carrying me when I was too weak to stand. He was the reason I endured.

Okay, back on track...Valentine's Day.  Awww...Truthfully, the last two Valentine's Day were probably two of the happiest days of my life. A dozen red roses, a romantic candlelight dinner and a beautiful engagement ring. Life couldn't get much better than that. You know what I'm talking about.  We've all had those kind of Valentine's Days - the perfect ones  - the ones that make  the world look so bright, so beautiful.

But that was then and this is now. Reality set in not too much long after the last Valentine's Day and I was forced to see that behind my proverbial knight in shining armor was a very wounded little boy who had control and jealousy issues. Not that I'm perfect - oh no, not by a long shot.  But WOW! I'm seeing a pattern here - I  keep attracting the same type...will I ever learn?  So, after 7 months of nurturing my once again broken heart and trying to pick up the pieces of yet another shattered dream - I'm facing the other kind of Valentine's Day in a mere eight days.  I've been bracing for this day for the past month....trying to prepare myself. There will be no romantic candlelight dinners, no red roses, no 8 by 10 card with a picture of this blissfully happy couple on the front. Instead, this year I will be in Austin with my youngest daughter who is having surgery. But just today the thought occurred to me that there's no other place I'd rather be on February 14, 2013 - than by her side. After all, she is one of the greatest loves of my life. And if my so-called dream relationship hadn't ended when it did - the chances of me being by her side would be slim.

So, here's to all you single ladies out there on Valentine's Day. My wish for you is that you love yourself and realize that God loves you more than you can imagine. Remind yourself of  that  fact. He will never forsake you. He'll never leave you alone when you're facing the greatest trials of your matter what those trials may look like.   Whether it's  another surgery, the loss of a loved one or an unbearable heartache. He'll be my your side.

On this Valentine's Day take time to discover a new appreciation for your friends and family. After all, that's where you're the most likely to find true love....lasting love. The kind of love that always lifts you up when you're feeling down and hopes for and believes in the best for you. Unconditional love.

So on February 14th, hug your child, your children, your grandkids, then go out and buy yourself a red rose, a dozen roses,  a box of candy and the CD by Whitney Houston that has one of my favorite songs on it- The Greatest Love of All, turn up the volume and  sing out loud to the top of your lungs. Light a candle, bask in it's soft glow,  draw yourself a hot bubble bath and sip on that glass of wine or champagne.  Here's to you. Today is your day. Will you be my Valentine?

Friday, February 1, 2013

To all my fellow insomniacs

So it is 2:30 in the morning--correction, 2:41 in the morning.  And with less than four hours till my alarm clock goes off to start another day, I find myself having trouble shutting this day down.   Like my mother, and her father, I am a night owl--lately this phenomenon has been tempered by the sheer exhaustion that accompanies following a very active but adorable four year old around--but tonight my insomniac night owl syndrome happens to be in full swing.  You know the kind--where your to-do lists keep swirling around in your head to the tune of psycho playing on in the background (sorry-had to throw that in after seeing Hitchcock the other night--good movie if you haven't seen it).  Oh, speaking of which, another good movie is Silver Lining Playbook.  Sorry, apparently ADD is kicking in tonight as well.  So, after trying for an hour to go to sleep I throw back the covers and decide to heck with it.  If I'm not going to sleep I might as well try and figure out this social media thing.  Now, I know I am fairly young (well not really, I just still like to use the term :), but I am not so old that I should be that far removed from the social media world.  I mean ALL my friends are doing it.  When you run into someone at the mall, instead of exchanging contact information, I get the 'I'll find you on facebook and we'll have to get together' speel.  And when I tell them that I'm not, nor have I ever been on facebook, their mouths gape wide open as if I just told them I'd just been released after ten years in prison.  I mean, am I really the only one who has been dragged into this century of iphones, ipads, twitter and facebook accounts kicking and screaming?  Am I the lone holdout in this era of texting, liking, or whatever it is people do these days?  I guess so.  Which is why starting up this blog with my mother has been extra challenging--topped off with a couple extra layers of frustration.  I don't have the patience, nor the time, to try to connect.  Our point was to let others know that there is hope in the face of domestic abuse, metastatic cancer, depression, alzheimer's, all the lonely and terrifying roads my mother (and we as a family) have been down.  We wanted to share this message of hope and faith.  And from emails my mother receives from so many wonderful women who have been encouraged and empowered through her story, I know we are already doing that.  But, I know that with a little social media know-how we could reach so many more.  So, that is what I have spent the past two hours trying to do--in vain I might add.  It appears that I am totally and hopelessly inept social media wise.  I mean, I can't even figure out how to like people back on facebook for pete's sake!  I have sent out an SOS to my sister tonight. So hopefully in-between scouring over hundreds of applications, answering a ton of emails, and overseeing yet another orientation, hopefully she will have a small window to help out her inept sister.  In the meantime, we appreciate everyone's patience as we figure all this out together.  Please feel free to connect with us by posting a comment, 'liking us on facebook', following us on twitter, or whatever you like to do :)

In the meantime, we will be here as always.

Goodnight everyone!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beta Blockers To Treat Cancer?

I just came across an article this morning on twitter that I thought we should share.  Apparently, it looks like beta blockers, medications commonly used to treat conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines, might also play an important role in certain types of cancer, including some forms of breast, lung and ovarian, among others.  The theory came about after studies showed a lower death rate among individuals taking beta-blockers over an extended period of time to treat other conditions.  The study is being led by Professor Anil Sood at MD Anderson right here in Texas.  Another reason I sing the praises of MD Anderson--they seem to be at the forefront of everything.  The article does caution that cancer treatment using beta blockers is a little ways away, until they figure out how the side effects of the beta blockers effect cancer patients.  If you'd like to read more about this study, click on the link below!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why Didn't I think of That?

Over the years, the older I get, the more "Why on earth didn't I think of that?' moments I have.  And this past week when I stumbled upon the following article about a daughter who is petitioning Victoria's Secret to create a line of bras specifically for breast cancer survivors, I had yet another one.  A huge one.  I mean, this idea should have had flashing lights as bright as Vegas!  As the daughter of a 26 year-metastatic breast cancer survivor and former employee of Victoria's Secret (granted my vicky days were a long, long time ago in a galaxy far far away :), how could I not have thought of this! I have been bra shopping many, many times with my mother, and have witnessed firsthand the frustrations of trying to find a bra when you have had a mastectomy.  And if you are lucky enough to find one that will somewhat work it's never the one with the sparkles--the one displayed on the mannequin at the front of the store when you walk in.  The one that oozes femininity, sexiness, self-confidence.  No, of course not.  Rather, the one that fits (well, somewhat fits with the help of inserts and additional tweaks) is usually the one that is stuffed away in the drawers in the back corner of the store.  Tucked away with all the other bras that only come in your standard black/white/nude variety.  And my mom was a young survivor.  I was seven and my sister was three.  My mom was 35.  Didn't she deserve the sparkly bra that coordinates so beautifully with the matching panties?  Doesn't she (and all the other women out there in her situation) deserve the most beautiful bras the industry can offer?  So, today's post is entitled, "Why didn't I think of that?".  Well, maybe I didn't, but I am so grateful for the someone who did.  And so, I am asking all of our sweet readers to please sign the petition requesting that Victoria's Secret start a line of 'survivor bra's' for women who have had mastectomys.  What a wonderfully brilliant and long overdue idea.  As we all know, there is power in numbers.  So, let's all show those executives over there that there is a demand and great need for 'survivor bras'.  And I don't want them to just create something overnight and slap it on the shelves.  There needs to be research--for as we all know--all mastectomys are not created equal.  They are as unique as each survivor.  There needs to be thought, feedback, studies, input, and other variables for this to work.  Women who had a mastectomy twenty years ago are going to need a different design than the ones who had their surgery more recently.  And you know what? It will absolutely be worth the time, effort and money. Speaking on behalf of all daughters of survivors out there, if Victoria's Secret does start a 'survivor line', I will be more than happy from now on to shop for my bras exclusively at Victoria's Secret (well, I already do--but this will seal the deal!) simply to show my appreciation.  It will be another round-a-bout way for me to support my mother.  So, click on the link below and sign away.  Looking forward to seeing all those pink-ribbon bras at a Victoria's Secret near you. 

Psst...don't forget to click below:


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Sunsets of our Lives

It's been a while since I've 'posted' and I truly just seems like the time is flying by so fast.  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that this year will be a healthy and happy one for all of you!

 I love these kind of days. Where the crisp air is chilly enough that you actually need a sweater to venture outside. These kind of days in south Texas are rare and so I decided to take full advantage of it and go for  a short walk.  Soon enough it will be hotter than blazes and we'll all be staying inside - hiding behind our air conditioners. It felt so good to be outside..twlight  is my favorite time of day... when the sky turns into  brilliant shades of pink, purple and gold.  The birds sharing  their own unique song before settling in for the night. And the stars begin to peek out from behind the clouds. The walk helped clear my mind.  I had asked God to tell me what to blog about tonight.  And so before I came back inside, I just stood in my front yard -eyes closed, soaking up the gentle rays of the warm sun before it drifted out of sight. Another sunset. And suddenly I knew. Today's Daily Word was about divine order. I quote:"I move through change with ease. Divine order is a continual process.  I know that when the sun sets on one side of the world, it is rising on the other. When I consider my life in this way, I see my own sunsets from a new perspective.  I accept and honor the transitions in my life. I allow what was once part of my experience to pass and to wait patiently for what is next. As I move through change, I am not alone. The love of God is my assurance and support.  With God, I gain a deeper understanding of my life.  I know that after every sunset, I will experience a grand sunrise."

This morning, I was on the way to my doctor and Casey, my daughter, called to tell me about a young woman who has been blogging about her battle with  breast cancer for seven years now. On Wednesday,the 26th of December, Bridget posted what in her words would be her last. So, while I was sitting in the waiting room, I decided to pull up her blog. - My Big Girl Pants - to find out more  about the life of this brave young woman. I have to tell you that her story is completely heart-wrenching. There is no other way to describe it.  I don't think Bridget will mind that I'm mentioning her blog or her story because I feel as though I've already met this courageous and beautiful young woman through her own words. She was only 21 when diagnosed with breast cancer. She had her whole life in front of her. The strength, determination and courage she displayed throughout  her journey is nothing short of remarkable. She is a hero in every sense of the word.  Her hope was that she would be remembered.  How could anyone possibly forget her if they've  read even just one of her posts, much less her last?

We all know that when we begin this journey, that there are two possible outcomes. And we do everything in our power to help us achieve the right one. Sometimes though, inspite of all our best efforts, things just don't work out the way we'd hoped and prayed. Sometimes life doesn't seem fair. Period. And we'll never know why some things happen the way they do. No rhyme or reason. Why someone so young, beautiful and full of hope like Bridget won't be around to see her little niece grow up or  have her own beautiful children one day. News like this makes us all want to pound our fist on the wall and cry out...why God...WHY?  It doesn't make sense and it makes you question your own faith. It reminds me of one of my close friends who lost her battle to breast cancer at a young age. I couldn't wrap my head around why God didn't heal her.  But then we have to pull ourselves back up and remember that God is still in control. There is so much in this life that we will never understand.  We just have to give thanks that Bridget's life was a gift to us all. She was the embodiment of hope, and courage. Strength and determination.  Her life was an example of the beauty and tenaciousness of the human spirit.

So, as I was standing outside, my face being warmed by the sun I thought of Bridget.  I have no idea how she is doing since her last post.  But I do know that whenever the sun does set on her beautiful life, she will experience a grand sunrise.  And God will welcome another angel home.  Please put Bridget and all of her family in your prayers.

And God shall wipe every tear from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow or crying, neither shall there be any more pain...  Revelations 21:4