Friday, December 24, 2010

My Extreme Christmas

I have to admit that Christmas hasn't always been my favorite time of year. In fact, I'll confess that in years past, I've been a bit of Grinch. But not so in 2010. I made a concerted effort to pull out every bell and whistle in my storage closet, deck the halls with balls of holly, and do Christmas right!

It started with Christmas cards. I did the letter, the photo and sent cards out to twice as many people. I made sure my third cousins in Norway got a card. I reached out to my long-lost cousins in Palm Desert, California. Then I searched every nook and cranny of my house to make sure I found ALL my Christmas decorations. I took inventory, threw out the bad and ugly, then shopped for some more Christmasy stuff. As I entered and exited stores, I stuffed the Salvation Army red bucket with cash, which gave the bell ringer a smile. (I heard business was down.)

After the shopping, I had a Christmas party. And trust me, I pulled out all the stops. No slaving hostess in the kitchen would I be. I got me a fine caterer, who brought poached salmon, prime rib, a ham and the best mashed potatos I've ever had. That caterer sure made me look good, because my guests left this house smiling with a wrapped-up plate of food.

My party guests included an ex-boyfriend who helped me buy my current townhouse that' he hadn't seen before. I invited former job colleagues that I hadn't seen in years. And of course there was my brother and all my friends. The last guest left at 1:30am! That tells me my soiree was a success. As much work as it was, it felt good gathering everyone together in my home to celebrate the season. I plan on having more gatherings.

Today is the grand finale. I will make Christmas Eve dinner for my brother and three nephews. It will be a bittersweet evening because last year both my parents were with us. This year, my dad is dead and my mom decided to stay in Florida. But all five of us are still going to perform the candle tradition I started last year. We each hold a candle then pass the light around the dinner table. As we each light our candle, we give thanks for what we received this past year and express what are dreams are for the coming year.

My final Christmas present to myself? I'm going to see the Broadway play, West Side Story in New York City on Sunday afternoon. It's a musical that I've always adored and have wanted to see live on Broadway for years. Can't wait. Like Elizabeth Edwards--and myself--say, keep on living life to the fullest.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The End of Love

Falling out of love with someone is bittersweet. It's a wistful feeling--that intense fire inside you has suddenly flown outside of your heart like a butterfly dancing around your head, that you can't catch and put back again. After three long years of holding a man inside my entire heart, I realize that sacred space he filled inside me is vacant. It is not something I willed. If that were the case, this feeling would have happened a year ago. Obsession and desire just fades out. In its place comes contempt, indifference and sometimes even hatred. It's sad.

You can't stop yourself from falling in love with someone nor can you stop yourself from falling out of love. As Woody Allen once said: "The heart wants what it wants." A year ago, I prayed to God that I would stop missing him, stop thinking of him. Now it has happened. And for some strange reason I miss the longing.

Of course, actions were taken that precipitated the death of this love affair. One wrongful doing after another builds animousity and bitterness. Those negative emotions build like a snowball rolling out of control down a hill. I suppose when you consider that we choose good or bad actions that effect a relationship, you do have some control over your heart.

All I know is that I'm tired of being taken advantage of. I am tired of being this man's ATM machine. I have lost all respect for him. Right now, I just want to get rid of all that is negative in my life. And that includes him. I miss having love in my heart, but it hurt to damn much. An empty heart that is lighthearted, free and open to new possibilities is better than a heavy, broken heart.

This week my heart released Joe-joe. There's nothing I can do now but listen to what my heart says. It says turn away from the past, look to the future and move on.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Battled Breast Cancer With Class

Today we lost an admirable woman who battled breast cancer since 2004. Elizabeth Edwards epitomized a woman who fought this horrible disease with true grace. She was dealt blow after blow, a child dying tragically at 16, a philandering husband that bore a child out of wedlock and then of course, her recurring breast cancer. Yet throughout it all, she held her head up high.

I will never forget during her recent interview with Larry King, she said to others suffering from terminal cancer: Simply live each day to the fullest. Like Elizabeth, I was diagnosed with stage 3, breast cancer. And the fact that it came back and ultimately killed her, scares the hell out me. Today I cried for Elizabeth's passing. But I suppose I am also crying for me. I am crying over the fear of the unknown.

A couple years ago, when Joe was living with me, I awoke in the middle of the night and said to Joe: Why did you tell me I would die at 56 years old? He replied, I said no such thing. Than I realized he told me that in a dream.

Elizabeth Edwards' passing reminds all of us cancer survivors that we can never take life for granted. Take her advise: Live each day to the fullest.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Create A Sanctuary

As the cold blast of winter sets in, we all begin to retreat indoors. Now more than any other time of year, my home becomes a sanctuary of creature comforts. It's a place to soothe the stresses of the day, nestled on the couch with a cozy throw blanket, a hot drink and a burning fireplace.

To put a positive spin on a bad situation, if you happened to be going through cancer treatment, it's not a bad time. I went through chemo in the spring and summer. I couldn't wear the expensive wigs I bought because sweat would constantly stream down my face. So I ended up wearing cotton handkerchiefs topped by straw hats instead (a la Alicia Keys). My brother's ex-girlfriend, who also had breast cancer, was bald in the winter and said the wigs and wooly hats actually kept her bald head warm.

When you are sick in bed recovering from a chemo treatment, you can enjoy a Sex & The City DVDs or a Rocky marathon on TV--you're doing what everyone else is doing during down time in the winter. At least you're not sitting home sick while everyone is at the beach.

So as long as you are stuck home, you might as well make it nice. Create a luxurious sanctuary for yourself where you can recharge your batteries and heal. Candles, sumptuous pillows, mirrors and beautiful artwork in my living space works for me. I finally finished redecorating my powder room bathroom. I got a new granite top vanity, and I had the walls painted in this golden-yellow tuscan finish. It reminds me of my vacation last summer touring the Tuscan countryside outside of Florence, Italy. Just walking into that bathroom brings back great memories.

My home is a private place--and not just anyone can come in. It is only for those who are truly special in my life. Make your home a sanctuary that is surrounded only with people, pets and things that give you true joy. It will help support the healing of your body and soul.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Marry You?

Last Saturday, my on-again off-again boyfriend asked me to marry him. I wish I could tell you the moment was filled with candle light, romantic music and preceded by a great meal in some fancy restaurant. Instead, it was at 4:30 in the morning after this guy persistently rang my door bell and woke me up out of sound sleep.

I reluctantly let him inside and he proceeded to help himself to a drink and flopped down into a chair in my living room.

"I've been thinking about getting married," he announced. "I really need some stability in my life."

I nodded silently, thinking that if this was his way of proposing, so far I wasn't impressed.

"So who were you thinking of marrying? I asked.

"Well, I have a couple people in mind," he replied.

Before I could ask who these people might be, he said that he had gone to some court deposition that had to do with money he owed. For reasons I didn't want to know, his ex-wife was at the court house and so was this girl he had dated before me that has since had a child from some drug dealer in Bridgeport.

"My ex-wife really looked hot--you know I married her twice. And Stephi's kid came running toward me. That kid needs a father," he said.

"So you were deciding if you should marry your ex-wife Joanie, or your ex-girlfriend, Stephi, is that it?" I asked.

"Well not exactly. My first choice would be you."

At that moment, I felt like this man was at a car dealership where he knew he wanted a certain car model. The question was, what color to choose? I was his first color choice, but just in case that color wasn't in stock, he could just as well buy his second color choice--the blue one, his ex-wife, or the black one--his other ex-girlfriend with the toddler on her hip. It was as if he was going eeney, meeney, miney, moe.

To add insult to injury, he had brought some food over that I assumed was a gift, and asked me to write a check for the boxes of steaks and crab cakes he stuffed in my freezer. At that point, I just wanted him out of my house, so I scribbled out a check for $109.00. As I handed the money over to him, he said: "Marcy, will you marry me?"

"Tell me, if I married you, what would I get out of the deal? You're homeless, you're broke, and you're a hopeless drunk. Where's the fun in marrying someone like that? I think I'll pass." That was my answer.

He dropped his head. "Okay, so I'll marry Stephi then. I can offer her something. Her kid needs a father," he shot back.

"I'm sorry, but I don't see you as the kind of guy that likes to change diapers," I said.

"Damn right. I'm not changing any diapers, but I can do other things, like play catch with the kid," he answered.

"Whatever." I said.

"So I'm going to marry that girl, and you have to step up to the plate and support me on this, because you're my friend," he insisted.

"I don't have to do shit. Now get out of here."

He sulked out the door and walked back to his truck in the gray mist of dawn.

Leave it up to this guy to make a marriage proposal feel more like a slap in the face. Well, at least I can say I'm still marketable marriage material. I was getting worried about that. It's something I can put on my bucket list and cross off: 7. Get a marriage proposal. Check.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Love New York

Last Sunday I spent the day in a place I used to call home--New York City. I went to see the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Whitney Museum. As soon as I stepped into that exhibit, I was overwhelmed by stunning paintings of a gifted artist. That's what NYC does. It bowls you over with all the
pent-up talent that it so lovingly nurtures. The obvious places to find that talent are on Broadway, in Greenwich jazz clubs or museums. But look closer. That buzz is also on street corners, in all the parks and in the subway. In NYC, the drive for creative expression is everywhere.

As soon as I arrive in my beloved NYC I do a private ceremony--I look for a brick building, a light post or even an iron-gate railing. I kiss it, and silently whisper: I missed you my love.

Since I was a child, I dreamed of living in New York City. And for seven wonderful years that's exactly what I did. I was in my 20s, it was during the '80s and I will never forget how exhilarating it was to step out of my apartment into a world that was vibrating with energy 24/7. Every time I go back to the city I get a flood of nostalgia for those years. In fact, during one visit I started scheming how I would sell my place in Connecticut to move back to New York City. After I got back to bucolic New England, my fantasies about going back to Manhattan faded out into the mundanities of everyday life.

I grew up in Minnesota, spent three years in Florida, and have been to many places in this country. I believe if you were to impress a foreigner, take them to San Fransico--it's the crown jewel in this nation because of its sheer, natural beauty. But NYC is the very heart of our country. Its energy makes you feel more alive as soon you step on that small, over-crowded island called Manhattan. It's not always pretty, but it's got personality, culture and style that's unparalleled. The music, the arts, the fashion, the shopping and the exqusite food puts you on sensory overload. Mohegan Sun casino puts me on sensory overload too, but not in a good way.

One of the reasons I stay in Connecticut is because I can't bear the thought of being too far from the city that got me where I am today. I love Connecticut too--but that's a whole other story. It's comforting to know the city so close to my heart is but an hour away.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


One of the newest buzz words these days is the term, transparency.

Throughout the past three months leading up to yesterday's election, politicians kept yelling: we need TRANSPARENCY in this current administration!!! It seemed like they wanted to stick the word on a badge and pin it to their lapel. By doing so, that would let voters know instantly this guy was trustworthy. And that alone is good reason to route for his team.

In the dictionary transparency means: Lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making. In short, full disclosure--regardless of good or bad consequences that disclosure may reveal.

Sounds good to me. I recently met with someone and decided to be transparent regarding my breast cancer. Up until then my feeling about my double mastectomy has been: what someone doesn't know won't hurt them. But now I'm finding that you gain power by being transparent.

How's that? When you tell someone what the real deal is--good or bad--their reaction is like a litmus test that reveals their true character. If they are taken aback and push away--now you know that person isn't worth your time--you can walk away BEFORE you invest too much energy on the situation.

By the same token, if they react in a way that you consider positive--you may find a person that's really worth getting to know. After all, you can't always judge a book by its cover. To my delight, that's what happened to me. Someone from my past that I had overlooked about 10 years ago, has reappeared--thanks to finding me through this very blog.

When we reconnected, I discovered this person has grown personally, professionally and emotionally. His comment about me being a breast cancer survivor was: "I always knew you were an amazing women, but now you're so much more amazing for how you handled what you've gone through." For me, that was the deal clincher. I knew right then and there this was someone I REALLY want to get re-aquainted with.

So you see, those politicians knew what they were talking about. Transparency is a good thing. It can bring some unexpected gifts into your life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thank You

I would like to thank Jennifer Lynch and her staff at for naming this blog as one of the "15 most inspiring breast cancer blogs" on the internet. was ranked #7 on the list of 15.

The review stated: "This blogger provides inspiration and a touch of humor to give breast cancer patients and survivors, like herself, something to smile about." That was precisely my mission just over a year ago when I created this blog. I wanted women to see the hilarity of trying to cover a bald head, and how much fun it is to milk the perks of battling breast cancer by pulling out what I call my Amex cancer credit card. Unfortunately, I lost card membership when my hair grew back.

This honor motivates me to keep on blogging and eventually turn all this rambling commentary into a book!

Visit to view other inspiring breast cancer survivor blogs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breast Cancer Rising Among Women Under 40

The comment I received today from a woman who is only 40 years old and about to have a mastectomy, made me ask this question: Why is breast cancer rising among younger women? Dr. Ott-Young told me that one of her more recent cases is a young mother with an infant that is only 28 years old--that also just had a mastectomy. Said Dr. Ott-Young: She should be nursing her baby with her breasts, not losing them." She firmly believes the rise of breast cancer among women in their 30s and even 20s is a result of our environment.

The question is, what's in the environment that's doing this? Is it the water? The air? I recently found out there was landfill underneath my townhouse, which my condo association says is one reason the building is moving. But now I'm wondering if that's why I got breast cancer. After all, the woman who lived across the street from me died of ovarian cancer just three years ago.

Since I can remember, my mother told me there was no way I would get breast cancer because we had no history of it in our family. Clearly, all of us can throw that theory out the window.

We've got to implore all the breast cancer research organizations that we support to get to the bottom of this enviromental mystery. Maybe then we can change this scary trend. Maybe then women with a whole life ahead of them won't have to undergo the exhausting battle against breast cancer.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Remember Where You Came From

My hometown is Minneapolis, Minnesota. For most of my life, I managed to get back there about every five years. Usually, it was for a family wedding. But this year, I got back home in May for a wedding, and again this month for a high school reunion.

I could have easily passed up on one or the other event--like many people did--and blame the economy. But I didn't because after breast cancer, I realized the importance of maintaining relationships. If you've got a group of family and friends together in one place, it's important to make an effort to see them as much as you can.

And if it's back in your hometown, so much the better. Everytime I go back to Minnesota, I am reminded of the the humble and helpful nature of my people. Not that I don't like New England, my neighbors just aren't as down to earth here. When you are in a bedroom community of New York City--where making it big is the be all and end all--people learn to toot their own horn for survival.

But Minnesotans just want to make a decent living, raise good kids, and unwind up north at their cabins on the lake--which most everyone can afford. It's a different mindset. And now that I've been gone for so many years, I can appreciate the simplicity of that lifestyle so much more.

Going back to Minnesota nourishes me emotionally and spiritually. Spending time with cherished family and friends makes me feel that if I left this earth, my life has mattered and I would be missed. Just breathing the crisp, pine-scented air of the northern lake region reminds me of my idylic childhood there--which sustains my soul. Nostalgia can lighten your heart with happiness.

So whenever possible, go back home--you will leave more grounded and feel good about reconnecting with the people that knew you way back when. They are the ones that knew you and loved you before you became what you are today. Therefore, they understand the essence of who you really are--without all the smoke and mirrors. Going back to Minnesota is like slipping into an old pair of Minnetonka moccasins. You forget how good they felt walking in them until you try them on again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Choosing Happiness

I recently bought a plaque that sits on a small table right in front of my bed that reads: "It's doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up." I believe it was a quote from the last Rocky movie.

This slogan is exemplified in Terry McMillan's recent novel, Getting To Happy, which is a sequel to her bestseller Waiting To Exhale. Her four main characters are now in their early fifties dealing with divorces, job losses, financial instability and the loss of a husband. McMillan shows readers how her characters' mutual friendships help them to move on and heal without getting stuck in the trap of bitterness. And that's no easy task when you're middle-aged.

Each woman has a coping mechanism to deal with their pain. One uses shopping as an escape, another one eats to numb her grief. Still another character just keeps popping pills. It is their love and support for one another that forces each one them to face the fact that that their behaviors have been barriers to finding happiness.

McMillan's message is clear. You must look at yourself--and not blame others--for your lack of happiness. Shit happens. Just face the crap with integrity and you'll get beyond the tragedy.

If you are a woman in your fifties--like me--I think you will identify with Terry McMillan's voice in this wonderful book that has an important message to baby boomers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Have Courage

As a breast cancer survivor, its all too easy to let yearly check-ups slide by the wayside. After all, you've been through the mill with endless MRI's Cat scans and blood tests to last the rest of your lifetime.

Your knee-jerk reaction when it comes to visiting doctors is to stick your head in the sand and reason, I'm not up for bad news, so let's just ignore the whole thing and carry on with life like normal.

I managed to do that all summer, when I finally got up the courage to call my general physician--who origninally found the malignant tumor in my breast two and a half years ago--and get an annual check up.

It was funny how she reacted to my new breasts--which are now implants. She gingerly pressed on them the same way she did the examination back in 2008 till I reminded her that there was no breast tissue there anymore, so she needn't worry--my days of annual mammograms are over.

Still, doesn't leave anything to chance. After a thorough investigation of my blood work, she found my liver wasn't working properly and ordered a sonagram. Knowing what I do about how breast cancer spreads, the first thing I thought was: This is it. The breast cancer spread to my liver.

After the sonogram, I had three anxiety-ridden days waiting for the results. Turns out, all I have is a fatty liver--typical for someone who's cholesterol is off the charts--344!

She got me on Crestor, and I have to make a concerted effort to lose weight and exercise. After three months, I have to recheck my blood work, which will hopefully yield more positive results.

So now I'm going to Weight Watchers and doing my best to exercise most everyday. But, it could be a hell of a lot worse. You see, I have some control over these current health issues. Two years ago, that wasnt' the case. I am just grateful that I can steer my health in a better direction through choices I make everyday. I am not a victim of some scary disease--cancer--where so much more drastic measures need to be taken.

So I did it. I went back to the doctor that found my cancer and asked her to give me an update. The good news? My cancer hasn't come back. The bad news? I have to lose weight. And that's not exactly a huge news flash.

My decision to face the music--good or bad, put my mind at ease because now I know the cancer hasn't come back. What's more, it's forced me to be proactive about my current state of health. It has forced me to deal with the fact that I need to take better care of myself to keep any bad news at bay.

Lesson learned? Once you're done with treatment, keep going to the doctor for updates. Your courage will pay off by making you more proactive about your health. What's more, if you're going to get bad news, when it comes to cancer, it's ALWAYS better to get it sooner, than later.

Eric Stevenson's Guest Blog on Breast Cancer

Eric Stevenson recently emailed me and asked if he could be a guest contributor to my blog. Of course, I was happy to do so. Here follows his blog.

Battling Breast Cancer
Statistically, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Almost everyone has a friend or family member that has or will have the disease. Science has come a long way in treating breast cancer, so this diagnosis is no longer fatal in every case. The prognosis for a more favorable outcome begins with detecting breast cancer early and choosing to battle breast cancer in your own way.
Taking a proactive approach with regular checkups, self-exams, and a family history of breast cancer will help you and your physician detect breast cancer early and select the right treatment options. The same is true with other cancers, like mesothelioma. For people exposed to asbestos, especially from the 1930s through the 1970s, it is important to have regular checkups and let your physician know you may be at increased risk of developing this rare cancer.
Methods of Early Detection
Caught in the earliest stage, the prognosis for surviving breast cancer is good. More treatment options are available, and continuing to lead a normal life is possible. You can help yourself to notice the early signs of breast cancer, using these methods:
• Monthly self breast exams
• Yearly mammograms
• Regular medical checkups
• Participation in local free health fairs
• Genetic testing

The first four methods for early breast cancer detection are self explanatory. Most women are aware these methods are available. Genetic testing, however, is a relatively new procedure developed to determine if a woman is more likely to develop breast cancer in her lifetime. The test is not recommended for every woman. But, for a select few, the genetic testing is a lifesaver.
The Mayo Clinic wrote an article about the social and emotional impact of genetic testing, explaining that, while genetic testing is not right for every woman, those with a significant history of breast cancer within the family are appropriate candidates for this type of testing. For example, a sibling or daughter of someone who has had breast cancer may opt to have the test and discover if she too carries a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. This knowledge provides information that helps patients and physicians fight breast cancer, as well as a serving as a potential tool for earlier detection.
Battling Breast Cancer Your Way
Individuals do not have to be breast cancer survivors to take up the cause in battling against this dreaded disease. Increasing breast cancer awareness and raising money to help fund further research or help offset a patient’s medical expenses can be a fun way to draw the community together for a common goal.
On the blog, Battling Breast Cancer with Class, a group of men recently decided to walk a mile in high heels and dresses, as a means of improving breast cancer awareness. The idea is a pun on the expression “walk a mile in her shoes”. It is a humorous way to fight a humorless issue, while encouraging the community to get involved.
Others have donated their hair to an organization called Locks of Love, as a show of support for women who have lost their hair to cancer treatments.
Early detection of breast cancer can mean a better prognosis and allow survivors, friends, family, and the entire community an opportunity to battle breast cancer together.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Support Your Local Businesses That Recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I am so impressed by some of the local businesses in my area that have thought up creative ways to raise money for breast cancer this coming October--which is breast cancer awareness month. One of my customers is participating in a fundraising event called: Walk A Mile In Her Shoes. Carl and many other upstanding citizens from Seymour, CT are going to walk a mile dressed in high heels and a dress. He is asking for donations in the name of Breast Cancer Research so people can laugh at his expense.

A local beauty salon is offering clients a pink streak in their hair for 8 dollars. All proceeds go to breast cancer research. I will be the bartender serving up pink bellini martinis at a cocktail party on October 20th at the Blue Lotus Nail Salon & Spa in Shelton, CT where a variety of vendors will showcase their merchandise and give five percent of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Fund.

I like to participate at the grass roots level when it comes to breast cancer fundraising to encourage local businesses to keep on giving to a worthy cause. These business owners are doing this from the goodness of their hearts, so please support your local businesses next month as they step up to the plate to fight breast cancer. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Answer to Jeanne's Question

Dear Jeanne:

Dr. Ott Young has done fat injections during my reconstructive surgeries to help fill out and flatten scars left from surgery as well as to help plump up areas of your breast so both breasts look more symmetrical.

For example, my left breast had an indented area even after the reconstruction that was due to all the radiation. In order to make it more symmetrical to my right breast, I had minor surgery last June where she took fat from my waist and injected it into the flattened area.

In short, Dr. Ott-Young's uses fat injections to tweak the results of your reconstruction surgery so your breasts will look more symmetrical and natural. There is absolutely no harm in it.

The good news is that wherever she takes the fat, you will most likely look slimmer in that area. Since it's your own tissue, you body will not regect it either.

Dr. Ott-Young did tell me that the fat she moves has the "memory" of where it came from. For instance, She used my belly fat to build back my right breast. (I do have an implant in that breast as well.) If I were to lose weight, the fat in that breast would go first since I always lose weight in my waist first.

I hope that answers your question.

P.S. Dr. Ott-Young is an amazing plastic surgeon. People can't believe what a great job she did on me. As I've said before, had I known the end result of how my breasts would look today, I wouldn't have sweated the reconstruction process like I did.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Had I Known Then What I Know Now

I am a breast cancer survivor and proud of it. Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer—back in March 2008—I never thought I’d wear that title like a war metal. But after one year of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation followed by a second year of three reconstructive surgeries, I realized battling breast cancer took me to a new place—in a good way.

When I was forced to eliminate all but the bare essentials of my routine just to get through the day, life took on a new perspective. After things finally got back to normal, I realized I didn’t need all that extraneous stuff anyway. At the dawn of my breast cancer journey, I lost sleep over the prospect of having no hair. Once the inevitable no-hair days came to reality, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined. My doctor was right when she said: You’ve been walking this earth for 51 years. So when you look at the big picture, living with no hair for six months isn’t that tragic in the grand scheme of things.

She was so right. I went to a breast cancer support group at the Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center in Fairfield, CT and balked when a five-year breast cancer survivor proclaimed getting breast cancer was a blessing. Are you kidding? I didn’t buy that for minute. As far as I was concerned, being nauseous, and seeing me in the mirror with no hair, eyelashes or brows was far from a blessing—it was a nightmare.

Thanks to the support and kindness of others, even the way I looked didn’t matter. What mattered was getting better. And little by little, I did get better. When all was said and done, two years later, I remembered all the fear and anxiety I went through. It occurred to me, if I knew then, what I know now, I wouldn’t have been such nervous wreck. If someone had walked me through each scary step and told me how to handle it, I would have been able to get through those two years with a little more serenity and style. That’s the very reason I created my blog,, which is the inspiration for this book.

Thanks to early detection, breast cancer is one of the most treatable of all cancers and has a high survival rate. I would rather not get into statistics—you can find them anywhere. I wrote this book to help other women battle breast cancer with dignity, humor and style. Yes, you’ll lose your hair, you’ll get sick, you may lose your breasts, and your illness will challenge all your relationships. But, you can choose to handle this with a good attitude or a bad attitude. If I were you, I’d choose the good attitude. You will get through this, so why not do it like a lady? Why not inspire your co-workers and friends with your positive outlook in the face of adversity?

That’s what I did, and it’s still paying off on so many levels. You can take your bad fortune and work it to your advantage. Let me show you how……

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coping with Financial Challenges During Cancer

This article is courtesy of Cancer Care

A diagnosis of cancer can create added financial challenges and stress for the person diagnosed and his or her loved ones. CancerCare will help you find assistance and offers helpful resources, including:

The Financial Edition of A Helping Hand, the Resource Guide for People with Cancer, a directory of more than 400 national and community organizations that can assist with cancer-related expenses. Order your free copy today.
An online database of financial assistance providers through the Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC), which helps patients and their loved ones connect with organizations that offer assistance. CancerCare is a proud member of CFAC. Search the CFAC database.
CancerCare's informative fact sheets, Financial Help for People with
Cancer and Sources of Financial Assistance , provide tips and guidance.
CancerCare's financial assistance program provides limited funds to eligible families for expenses related to treatment including transportation and child care. To find out more, call 1-800-813-HOPE (4673).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Demystifying Breast Reconstruction

I found this breast reconstruction scrapbook on Shutterfly and felt compelled to share it on this blog because it shows how wonderful the results can be after all the surgery. As the author of this book noted: "had someone showed me these pictures before I started on my breast reconstruction journey, I wouldn't have been so frightened by the process."

Really! As you can see the end of this journal has a happy ending.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The New Normal

Here I am, sitting secure in the saddle of life as I knew it--pre-cancer. Once again, I'm dealing with how to keep my fine blonde hair fluffy in the humidity (didn't have that issue two summers ago!) and lamenting that boarding a sale a day during the work week sometimes feels like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

The difference between now and two years ago, is that when I go through the mundanities of life, I will never let a day go by without taking a moment to revel in pleasure. I savor the taste of farmer's market corn and tomatos. I look forward to having the swimming pool all to myself on weekday evenings and float like an embryo in the temperate water until I feel all the stress and muscle aches of the day dissapate.

I watch what I want on TV and only go to bed when I'm tired. Conversely, I try to sleep until my body tell me it's well rested. Yes I am more content, but I am also more focused on what I want to accomplish in this lifetime.

I know when to go with the flow, but I also know when it's crucial to aggressive and go after what I want. I am trying to temper my reputed impulsiveness and embrace the trait my family says I've always lacked: common sense.

When I want to act on a impulse: I consciousless pull myself out of the moment. And tell myself, wait, take time to think this through. It's been tremedously liberating.

Not that I want to completely abandon my easy, breezy ways! I am planning to go to Brimfield, Massachusetts right after to Labor Day weekend, to experience the buying frenzy of perhaps the biggest, flea market/antique show in the country. Can't wait!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Golden Friendships

There are perks to this high-tech society we live in. A close friend I lost touch with some 15 years ago found me on Facebook today!!! Not that I wasn't looking for her. But it so happened she remarried and changed her name, so it was impossible to find her.

It's so fun to catch up with someone that was once such a big part of your life and revive an old but cherished friendship. Now more than ever, I value each and every friendship that I have.

Had it not been for my solid network of friends, I don't think I would have been so strong battling breast cancer. Friends can help you soldier through a breakup, a job loss, or an illness with so much more grace than if you did it alone.

That's because behind closed doors, you can get out all your rage, and ugly behavior within the safety net of buddies. Then, when the door opens, you can saunter back out in public with your held high. You can act like the classy gal you truly are. That's why I will always collect more friends and take care of my existing friendships. My buddies are treasures that no amount of money can buy.

As the Girls Scouts say,

Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Dream Come True

For the longest time I had wanted to go on a Mediterranean Cruise and now I finally did it! For eight days, I cruised on the Jade Norwegian cruise ship and hit these ports: Barcelona, Spain; Monaco, Cannes and St. Paul, France; Florence and Pisa, Italy; Rome, Naples, Pompei, Sorrento and Capri Italy. Our final port was Palma, Mallorca, Spain. My favorite place was Capri, and there was a moment when I was tempted to just stay there and let the ship leave me behind. If I had my luggage with me, I might still be there!

Not only were the ports fabulous, the people we met on the ship were inspirational. Like myself, there were some who had battled cancer and were taking the trip to celebrate their victory over the disease.

I will never forget a couple from Los Angeles, Michelle and Jim. I knew Michelle had cancer because of her peach fuzz hair. Sure enough, she had just finished chemo last March. Her husband, Jim, is blind, and it was so touching to watch Michelle describe the beautiful Italian scenery to her husband. He said he was enjoying the experience just like everyone else, through the smells, the sounds and the taste of the wonderful food and wine in each country.

Then there was this family of five from Long Island. The husband looked like Kevin Costner and the wife looked like Michelle Phieffer. They have four children: two boys and two girls ranging in age from 17 years old to 7 years old. They have a beautiful blonde,nine year-old girl, who looks like a Barbie doll, but they also have a son with autism. Their teenage daughter always pitched in to help with her younger siblings. And it just so happens the mother has a club leg, but her limp didn't take away from the fact that she was a knock-out.

The people I met on the Norwegian Jade were as much a part of the experience as the beautiful sights. What I realized more than ever is that everyone has some kind of handicap. It's not what life hands you--it's how you HANDLE what life hands you that makes the difference between joy and misery. And you should NEVER let misfortune stop you from realizing your dreams.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Bucket List

I watched Elizabeth Edwards on Larry King Live recently, and when Larry asked Elizabeth what advise she would give to other terminally ill victims of cancer, she replied simply: Live each day to the fullest.

Good advise--I get it completely. It's been two years since my cancer diagnosis. Elizabeth Edward's tumor in her breast was the size of half dollar. My tumor was the size of a baseball. Her cancer came back. So far I'm fine, but I'm keenly aware that could change any time.

So I made a list of the things I want to do before I die. Here it is:

See Sting in Concert--Check! Did it!
Go on a Mediterranean Cruise--Leaving this Friday
See Madonna in Concert
See the Pyramids in Egypt
Write a Book

I hope to check off the rest of these things within two years. And after that, I have an even more grandiose list. But for right now, I'll just try to check off this list.

When you realize time is a precious commodity, the saying, "seize the day"--which sounds better in Latin--Carpe Diem--takes on a whole new meaning.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breast Cancer and Work

This article was written by Betsy Lee-Frye

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying on so many levels, not the least of which is how the disease and treatment will affect an individual's ability to work. Not only is income a necessity, but often, so is the health insurance provided by the employer. Before divulging the diagnosis, take the time to research the company's policies, including medical leave and flex time. It may also make sense to find an office mentor who has already navigated the maze of accommodations and disability pay.

Telling the Boss and Colleagues

Typically, sharing life news with those at work isn't difficult, but when talking about a breast cancer diagnosis, the words can get caught in your mouth.

First, don't rush it. There is no reason to talk to the boss or colleagues so soon after receiving the news. Wait until it feels as comfortable as possible.

There is no right or wrong way to divulge a cancer diagnosis. Some people might feel more comfortable talking to their boss or supervisor first, avoiding the miscommunication that can stem from the office gossip mill. Consider setting up a meeting or a lunch, so you can be sure to have his full attention. Also, remember that discussions between a boss and employee are protected. A supervisor has a legal obligation to keep the information private. However, co-workers do not have the same obligation.

Talking to colleagues about a cancer diagnosis isn't a necessity; however, co-workers can be an unexpected source of support. According to a survey of human resources managers conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, a nonprofit organization based in Brookfield, Wisconsin, colleagues often organized volunteer support for those with breast cancer. Twenty-seven percent of the office managers surveyed said co-workers had provided personal assistance to the woman with breast cancer, 19% organized a fundraising campaign and 15% donated vacation days.

Be prepared for questions. Colleagues might inquire about treatment plans and side effects. Don't feel obligated to share information you'd rather keep private. A supervisor or boss might want to know what accommodations might be necessary. The American Cancer Society suggests having a plan in mind before talking to your boss. But for those who aren't sure yet, don't be afraid to simply say, "I'm don't know yet. Can I get back to you?"

Asking for Accommodations

Employers are required by federal law to provide "reasonable accommodations" for anyone with a disability. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), cancer qualifies as a disability when the disease or its effects of treatment hinder an individual's "major life activities." See the following section for more about the qualifications of cancer as a disability.

These accommodations can vary greatly, depending on a person's need. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), examples of accommodations include:

Time off for physician appointments and to recover from treatment
Short breaks during the workday to rest and recover
An altered work schedule
Temporarily assigning some job tasks to another employee
Changes to the workplace environment, such as temperature changes or workstation changes to insure comfort
A work-from-home arrangement
According to the EEOC, the word reasonable is key. Employees with breast cancer can't make requests of their employer that would cause them "undue hardship." The term "undue hardship" is different for every company. But according to a 2006 survey conducted by the University of Iowa's Law, Health, Policy and Disability Center, nearly 75% of employers reported that accommodations for individuals with any disability, not just cancer, cost them less than $500 per year.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans' survey, which focused on women working with breast cancer, found that employers were typically more than willing to provide accommodations. With regard to scheduling, the survey reported that about 85% allowed an employee with breast cancer to reduce her hours, 79% permitted a flexible schedule, 47% made telecommuting an option for the employee and 62% agreed to short breaks during the day for resting and recovering.

Employers said they also made arrangements to alter the employee's workload, including assigning different work (58%), altering deadlines or other previously agreed upon schedules (60%) and job sharing (28%).

Legal Rights: Disability and FMLA

Under the ADA, cancer qualifies on a case-by-case basis. The act protects individuals from losing their jobs due to disability and sets guidelines for employers regarding required accommodations. The U.S. EEOC, which enforces the ADA, offers the following example of a woman with breast cancer who would qualify for job protection under the act.

"Following a lumpectomy and radiation for aggressive breast cancer, a computer sales representative experienced extreme nausea and constant fatigue for six months. She continued to work during her treatment, although she frequently had to come in later in the morning, work later in the evening to make up the time, and take breaks when she experienced nausea and vomiting. She was too exhausted when she came home to cook, shop or do household chores and had to rely almost exclusively on her husband and children to do these tasks. This individual's cancer is a disability because it substantially limits her ability to care for herself."

If you feel your rights have been violated or you've been dismissed from a job due to your diagnosis, you need to file a charge "within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action," according to the EEOC. The EEOC can be reached at (800) 669-4000.

Many companies offer disability pay for seriously ill or injured employees, but often these plans require an employee contribution. Talk to a human resources representative about disability pay and how to collect if your employer offers a plan.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 also protects the jobs of people with a cancer diagnosis. However, not everyone qualifies for FMLA protection. An employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months prior to the FMLA request and have worked more than 1,250 hours in that calendar year. In addition, employers who have fewer than 50 employees do not have to follow FMLA regulations.

If protected by the FMLA, you can to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work. The act allows employees with serious medical illness, such as breast cancer, to use their leave "intermittently." This means an employee could take off 1 day each week or take 2 weeks off to recover from surgery, while saving the remaining weeks to use during radiation or chemotherapy treatment.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm Alive

Today I called Dr. Anke Ott-Young's assistant to schedule a final procedure in which Dr. Ott-Young will fill in a dented scar on my left breast with fat to perfect my cleavage. Dr. Ott-Young promised me she would take care of this before I embarked on a Mediterranean Cruise, July 9th. "You deserve this vacation after all you've been through and I want you to look great in a bathing suit on the cruise," she exclaimed.

When I asked her about her own vacation plans, she said she would not be able to take time off this summer because she had too many new breast patients. Linda, her assistant, confirmed this as she tried to squeeze me in. Apparently, Dr.Ott-Young has taken on 10 new breast cancer patients in Connecticut alone--and all of the women are under 40 years old. One of her new patients is only 28 and still nursing a baby.

Never mind the fact that Dr. Ott-Young has two daughters under eight years old, a high-powered financier husband and two ailing older parents living in Germany. Every day, Dr. Ott-Young puts her cancer-stricken patients first.

I am so grateful to all my doctors. Dr. Mary Pronovost, my breast surgeon, had to be the bearer of bad news and tell me a mastectomy was necessary for my survival. She taught me to think long term and not fret the immediacy of my treatment. She told me to trust the process and everything would work out. She was right. That 10 months of treatment went by in a snap. I covered my bald head for all of eight months--not much time for someone who's lived 51 years.

The humble, Harvard-educated Dr. Neil Fischback, mixed a chemo cocktail so unique to my particular breast cancer, that he has been written up in several medical journals for completely obliterating a tumor the size of a baseball in my left breast. Dr. Susan Dunbar, my radiation doctor, told me: "Do you realized how famous your case is because of what Dr.Fischback achieved?" According to Dr.Dunbar, when they "bread loaved" my left breast tissue, it was completely void of even the tiniest microscopic cancer cell.

Had it not been for these dedicated and talented doctors, who knows where I would be today? One thing I know for sure, thanks to them, I'm alive.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Father's Day, Dad

This is a belated tribute, to my dad--Happy Father's Day.

We didn't have a lot in common, but we did share music. I love this jazz rendition, Song For My Father. I dedicate it to you, dad.

Mom, Tom, the boys and I miss you so much, on this day that celebrates fathers.

Love you, Marcy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama, Have Mercy

Okay, enough is enough. Every time I turn on the T.V. I have to endure the pain of watching those plumes of raw oil blasting into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I have repeatedly changed the channels but I can't keep ignoring this catostraphic disaster.

Tonight, I fiercely hoped that the leader of our nation would come up with a solution for this epic problem that has continued for some 53-plus days.

Instead, all he could do was preach to the American public about how we have to come up with alternative energy solutions, and PRAY for the debaucle in the Gulf of Mexica.

HELLO, we all know about alternative energy solutions, thanks to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. What we needed to hear from our fearless leader is how he was going to STOP this oil spill, pronto.

He didn't even come close to giving us a solution. Let's fire him, now.

I am so dissapointed in him. This isn't a terrorist attack that Bush has to deal with, this is a natural disaster, and our president is clueless.

Shame on you, Mr. President. tonight, you have lost all your credibility with me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Congratulations Alex!

Last week my nephew, Alex, graduated with a 4.4 average from High School.

As his godmother, I remember all the stages of his childhood. For years, around his birthday, we had a tradition of spending a day together. Sometimes we would carve pumpkins or I would take him to a movie. I took him to his Broadway play, Wicked.

About six years ago, our tradition of spending a day together for his birthday stopped. But I understood, he had bigger and better things to do. He got involved with Habitat For Humanity and has traveled to Chicago and Puerto Rico to build homes for the homeless. By giving of himself, my nephew discovered spirituality.

That spirituality has served him in good stead over the past couple years, as he's moved to a different part of the country and shuttled back and forth between his mom and dad.

Alex has a bright future ahead of him. He wants to be a doctor and is going to a college with an outstanding pre-med program, Elon University in North Carolina. My mom, brother and I can't wait to see how Alex will blossom and grow over the next four years as he crosses the bridge to adulthood.

He has proven to be an academic overchiever throughout school and it will be pleasure to see him move into a career that saves people's lives.

Congratuations, Alex, we are so proud of you!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Proud To Be A Survivor

There is nothing more exhilarating than to be among a group of women that traveled through the same dark tunnel you did, and came out better on the other side. Today, for going through that harrowing journey, many of us were treated like queens at the Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure.

This morning, us breast cancer survivors of Connecticut paraded through Bushnell Park of Hartford and were greeted with enthusiastic applause. I felt like a rock star. Mom was there, cheering me on and braved the heat and humidity to walk with me.

At the Surivivor's Breakfast, I even won a $50,00 gift certificate. This is something I will do every year as a way of showing my gratitude for all the doctors, family and friends that got me through my battle with breast cancer. It was truly a priviledge to be standing along side fellow survivors that felt the same way I did--stronger and more grateful for life. We did it!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do What You Love

One of the best lessons I learned from Joe is to honor your creativity.

During the time I was going through cancer treatment and spending way too much time sick on the couch, I would watch in amazement how Joe would come home, eat dinner, and spend the rest of the evening either painting, drawing, writing, playing the guitar or composing music. He was religous about it.

I asked him, how you can you be so disciplined about doing something creative everyday? His response? "I don't do it because I have to, I do it because it's my way of unwinding at the end of day. I do it because I have a drive to express myself. It's not that I'm forcing creativity, I'm simply letting it flow."

Then I realized he would get irritated when I turned on the T.V. and vegged out for the rest of the evening. So through his urging, I turned off the T.V. and participated. Soon, we were writing song lyrics together, dreaming up story plots for novels. Singing harmony to his guitar.

He helped teach me that when you have an idea, write it down, work on it. Don't wait, because before you know it, the inspiration will pass, and you missed out on a magical moment to express yourself. Seize the moment, let it flow.

Tonight he showed me all his latest drawings, and played some of his new songs. He is a perennial creative soul. Thank you Joe, for teaching me not to put my creativity on the shelf as though I was saving it for a rainy day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Newsweek Review of Suzanne Somers' book about curing cancer

BREAKING: Health Author Suzanne Somers Mostly Wrong About Science, Medicine
It’s the book every medical writer in the country wants to ignore. Suzanne Somers’s latest “health” tome hit the bookstores this week, and this time she's offering her advice on how to cure and prevent cancer. As if people with cancer don’t have enough problems. When the review copy arrived, we decided to give it a once-over—so you don’t have to.

The gist of Somers’s argument is that conventional cancer treatments—surgery, radiation, chemotherapy—take a destructive approach and that chemo, in particular, is overused. Long an advocate of alternative therapies, Somers argues that it makes more sense to build up the body to fight cancer than it does to tear it down through radiation and chemicals. She is particularly enamored of nutritional “cures.”

Of course, Somers has had no formal medical or scientific training, but considers herself an authority—in part because she’s survived breast cancer after choosing not to have chemotherapy, and because she’s a regular on the alternative-medicine circuit. This book, like her others, consists mainly of transcripts of her conversations with various alternative-medicine doctors, as well as lots of details about her own experiences and prevention regimen, which she has spelled out many times before, most notably on Oprah earlier this year. It’s noteworthy that her promotion of the book began by publicly blaming Patrick Swayze’s recent death on chemotherapy, rather than his pancreatic cancer. (She has since apologized to his family.)

Cancer is a highly emotional topic, particularly since the war on cancer isn’t going particularly well. As my colleague Sharon Begley recently put it, “Cancer is on track to kill 565,650 people in the United States this year—more than 1,500 a day, equivalent to three jumbo jets crashing and killing everyone aboard 365 days a year.” The fact is that modern medicine is far from understanding everything we need to know about cancer, and the most effective treatments available often come with nasty side effects. We all wish there were more effective and less toxic options, and we need to stay open-minded about new discoveries and alternatives. Maybe some of the doctors Somers interviewed in her book will eventually prove to be on to something.

But there is a big difference between staying open-minded and tossing aside treatments that have been proven effective after rigorous testing in favor of new “natural” therapies that have undergone much flimsier scrutiny. If you’re someone who needs answers now, and want to make health decisions based on solid scientific findings rather than wishful thinking, there’s not much in Somers’s latest book to help you. The basic problem with the book, says Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer, “is that it’s really inaccurate” when it describes the science behind current treatments and lacks a basic understanding of the scientific method. Not all research findings are equally authoritative. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean it works. “Some people confuse what they believe with what they know," Brawley said.

Even if some patients are cancer-free after following a certain treatment plan, that doesn’t prove that it was the treatment that cured them, especially if no control group was used for comparison. “We’re finding that about 25 to 30 percent of some cancers stop growing at some point,” Brawley says. ”That can make some treatments look good that aren’t doing anything.” Until doctors figure out how to identify which patients have cancers that won’t progress, he said, the only option is to treat everyone.

Somers relies heavily on patient testimonials, but any scientist knows that talking only to those who benefited from a treatment can give less than objective results. A case in point: she lavishes praise on the research of Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, who uses a combination of enzymes, massive amounts of nutritional supplements (130 to 175 a day—yes, you read that right), a strict diet, and daily coffee enemas, which he says can cure pancreatic cancer. However, just about two months before Somers’s book was published, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published the results of a controlled observational trial of Gonzalez’s protocol vs. chemotherapy for patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and enrolled 55 patients who met strict clinical criteria. A year into the study, 56 percent of those using chemotherapy were still alive, compared with only 16 percent of those who chose the enzyme therapy. In other words, those who picked chemo over the alternative treatment lived three times as long. Interestingly, the study was concluded in 2005, yet Somers doesn’t mention this in the book.

Somers also shines the spotlight on Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski of Houston, whose controversial cancer treatments have resulted in years of battles with the FDA and the courts. Over the past 30 years, despite government investment, he has failed to provide compelling data that his expensive treatments work. More recently he expanded his research efforts into anti-wrinkle creams. (Side note: it is more than a little ironic that Somers is touting the work of Burzynski, who synthesizes peptides from human urine to create what he says is a cancer cure. In the books she’s written about hormones, Somers has expressed nothing but disdain for FDA-approved hormones synthesized from horse urine.)

Another treatment that gets the sign of approval from Somers is mistletoe extract, which is a popular treatment in Germany, and which she credits with keeping her cancer-free for years. There are some intriguing studies, but good science requires looking at all the studies, not just the ones that support your opinion. When German scientists published a review of the data on mistletoe as a cancer treatment in 2008, they found that the evidence was “weak.” Other reviews have concluded that there were quality problems with many of the studies and that more research is necessary.

Not all the recommendations Somers makes in the book raise eyebrows. She says eating healthy and exercising, reducing stress, and getting a good night's sleep may reduce the risk of cancer. That's true, but it's not news. She’s right that not every woman with stage I breast cancer needs chemo. Few doctors would argue. In fact, they have the technology to calculate the size of the likely benefit, and agree that sometimes it’s quite small. Most doctors offer it as a choice to women who want to do everything possible to prevent cancer’s return.

“And she’s right when she says that only some leukemias, lymphomas, and testicular cancers can be cured with chemotherapy,” Brawley says. “We admit that many conventional treatments are not as beneficial as we would like. But that doesn’t dismiss evidence that screenings have reduced the death rates of breast and colon cancer, or that the lives of other patients with cancer can be saved with early treatment or that chemo prolongs lives. Even in cases of stage IV breast cancer, or lung or prostate or colon cancer, when the cancer has spread throughout the body and particularly into the bone, we can’t cure people with chemotherapy, but we can prolong life and increase their quality of life. In her book, Somers completely rejects the idea that chemotherapy has any of these benefits.”

When I interviewed Somers earlier this year, she said that she gets irritated when the media identify her as the former ditsy blonde from the TV sitcom Three’s Company. She would rather be identified as an author; after all, she’s written 18 books, most on the topics of weight loss (even though she’s admitted to Larry King that she’s used liposuction) and hormones (she recommends treatments most hormone specialists and oncologists describe as potentially risky.)

For her next book, we’d like to suggest a topic she knows very well: media manipulation. You have to love the fact that the only blurb on the back of the book (“Ms. Somers writes with the passion of the prophet”—) comes from a review trashing an earlier book. Somers’s real specialty is understanding that when a celebrity writes a controversial book, it doesn’t matter how much mainstream doctors and serious researchers attack it, or whether people’s health is put at risk. Attacks bring publicity, and publicity sells books. Here’s hoping that this time the public proves her wrong.

Wingert is a NEWSWEEK correspondent and the coauthor of The Menopause Book.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Someone Stop Suzanne Somers

So Dawn, her daughter Val and I had a our own Sex & The City 2 Preview party on Friday night and went to the movie. I loved watching all the amazing clothes, courtesy of famed NYC stylist Patricia Field. But if I had a 10 million dollar budget, I think I would have done a good job, too.

What upset me was when Kim Cattrell's character, Samantha, carried on about taking biodentical hormones because she read Suzanne Somers' book, Breakthrough. Samantha Jones had breast cancer in the TV series. And if you've had breast cancer, you don't touch hormone therapy with a 10-foot pole. Someone was NOT doing their research for that movie--and it pisses me off.

This movie is sending a message that it's okay to keep pumping estrogen into your body after breast cancer--even though estrogen is often the culprit that starts breast cancer in the first place!!!!!

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, I read Suzanne Somers book, Ageless, in 2006 and bought into biodentical hormone therapy hook, line and sinker, Just like Samantha Jones in the latest Sex & The City movie, all I wanted was to feel younger and sexier. Come to find out a year and a half later, it was not worth the price. I was actually feeding the malignant tumors in my breasts and making them grow faster! Who knows, had I not taken biodentical hormones, maybe I would have just had to have a lumpectemy instead of a double mastectomy.

I have emailed Suzanne Somers and Oprah Winfrey about this subject and I have been ignored.

PLEASE, someone stop this Suzanne Somers. She is creating a risk for breast cancer to countless women all over the world. They need to know the full story!!! It could save their breasts, it could save their lives!!!

Had I not followed her advise, I could still have both of my real breasts today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Minnesota on My Mind

This past weekend I got a chance to dip my feet into the cool, fresh water of Medicine Lake and breathe the dank .air right in front of the house that I grew up in. A flood of memories came back to me, which was made all the more powerful as my childhood friend Trish drove up to greet me. Right after her, cousins pulled up, one by one. I hadn't seen some of them in 30-odd years.

Suddenly I felt as though I was 18 years old again, living on that lovely lake with its gently lapping waves that caressed the sandy beach. It was that tranquil sound too, that pulled me back to the past--when my family spent summers sailing, skiing and swimming on that lake. Medicine Lake was the center of all that was joyful in my childhood.

As everyone gathered to remember my father on the beach of that lake, I realized how lucky I was to live there. I had come home to Minnesota. The Midwestern twan in the voices of my extended family soothed me.

The day before, I drove along the Mississippi River in Red Wing and it made me think of the song my Grandma Bruch sang to me about an Indian Maiden looking for her lost warrior on a cliff overlooking the river at night--"When the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing, the moon is beaming, the maiden's weeping."

I may live in Florida, New York City, Connecticut and any other place on this earth, but Minnesota will always be home. You can take the girl out of Minnesota, but you can NEVER take the Minnesota out of the girl.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Save The Date--Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure, June 5th

For any of you breast cancer survivor babes living in Connecticut, save the date, June 5 to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for The Cure in Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT. The survivor breakfast begins at 8:30am and the races begin at 10:00 am. It's a great way to partake in an event with fellow breast cancer survivors while walking or running for a cause held near and dear to your heart. I participated last year, and it was a great experience. It was my way of expressing gratitude for beating this disease. For more information visit, And if you would like to donate for my walk, simply go to that website and do a search for my name.

I Am Not My Hair

I had to pull out my driver's license today and started to look at the picture of myself taken a year and four months ago. My hair was extremely short, brown and curly. Two months before that, I had finally taken off that wig.

Dr. Pronovost was right. When you consider the amount of time you have to endure bald in the name of a cancer cure, it's nothing more than a quick snapshot of time in your life. It was two years ago this week that my hair was flying off my head at the mere blow of the wind. That's when I realized I had no choice but to buzz it off.

Finally, I have some sense of a hair style, and thanks to Barry at Guy Salon in Stamford, my platinum highlights look just right. Gone is the pale palor of my skin. I'm strong again, moving furniture, cleaning and doing what has to be done without falling on the couch from exhaustion.

I kept looking to this day, and it has finally arrived. It's spring, my favorite time of year--I'm healthy and doing just fine. Joe is sober. What more can I ask for?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Merry Month of May

This is my favorite month of the year--May. Yesterday, I pulled my car off the side of road and pulled a bunch of lilacs from a bush that looked free of anyone's property. Now they are sitting on my dining room table in a crystal vase and filling my home with the fresh, clean scent of early spring.

I visited the Elephant's Trunk flea market for the first time this year, and reveled in the frenzy of the fast-talking negotiations between the dealers and visitors. I love the hunt for a treasure I have no idea I want until I see it sitting ever so humbly on linen-covered table. That's when the dialogue begins with a vendor and I discover just how much the object of my desire means to me.

I left the flea market a mere 12 dollars poorer yesterday, but on other days the damage to my wallet has been much greater.

I love walking or biking along the Housatonic River Walk between Derby and Ansonia on Sunday mornings and taking in all the budding trees, inhaling the sweet blossoms. Whether in Minnesota or Connecticut, it doesn't get any better i n the month of May

Saturday, April 10, 2010

It's Always Something

When I was in the midst of breast cancer treatment, a envisioned a day like today when I could say that I felt perfectly healthy and strong. I thought once I got through the battle, my life would finally be perfect. But of course it never is. Last fall, I watched Joe fight valiantly for sobriety. Now he's six months sober and acts like a different person--but in a good way.

But now I have my brother to worry about. His leg that they radiated on for sarcoma cancer has given him his eighth infection. He's had a fever for two weeks and his toe has turned black. Apparently, the knee replacement he had last December has done little to keep the blood flowing all the way down his leg. The vascular veins have shriveled up due to the cumulative effects of radiation. I'm taking him to Mass General in Boston next week, but I fear the worst, that his leg will have to be amputated.

There's nothing I can do but be supportive, and help make his life more comfortable. So you see, the diagnosis of cancer sometimes comes back to bite you in unpredictable ways.

I can already see that my mother will adopt to being a widow perfectly. She wasted no time clearing my father's clothes out of the closet and donated all of it to The Cancer Research Fund. She's on her way. It's just my brother I worry about. He's extremely depressed. Please pray for him.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goodbye Dad

My father died peacefully on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. Here's my eulogy
My Father's Eulogy

My name is Marcy, and for those who don't know me, I am Ron's only daughter. That said, I was probably responsible for most of my dad's gray hair.

I'll admit that for awhile I had a reputation as dad's wild child. Of course, that label stood in stark contrast to the way friends and family viewed my father. Whenever people spoke of my dad's character, they would often use the word, integrity. I looked up the term and according to Webster's Dictionary, integrity is the quality or state of being of sound moral principle. A person with integrity is honest, sincere and his actions are consistent with what he says. That would be my dad.

For as long as I can remember, my father would tell me you can do anything you want in this world, but you have to work hard for it—you HAVE to make sacrifices. He told me a dream come true wouldn't be joyous if it was simply handed to you. He said good decisions were the bricks that built good lives. On the other hand, if you made bad decisions and didn't live up to the expectations put upon you, there would surely be consequences.

I experienced that first hand when I was eight years old and my father shook my second-grade report card in my face and exclaimed that a D in math was simply unacceptable. I tried to reason with him by saying, I hated math, but I did like to read and write, and promptly noted the Bs I received in those subjects on my report card. I told him I wanted to be a writer, so what was the point of learning math?

He retorted that sometimes you have to work at things you don't like, because a well-rounded education would be essential to my success when I grew up someday. Since my teacher told him I failed to learn my multiplication tables, he made it his mission to teach every multiplication table--backward and forwards--that weekend. From sun up on saturday morning to late sunday night he drilled me with flash cards. 6X6 is 36is 24 blah blah blah. By Monday morning, I felt as though all those multiplication tables were branded into my brain for all eternity

About four years ago I was faced with a career transition, and I had to move from the world of publishing to the profession of sales. And when you're in sales, you've got to know how to increase numbers. I interviewed for a job with Reed Exhibtions and part of the hiring process entailed that I take a two hour test without the use of a calculator. I sailed through the reading and writing part. When I got to the math questions, my brain went into auto pilot and I answered the questions with relative ease. As it turned out, I got the job. That's when I realized dad was right. You have to have a modicum of education to get ahead in this world.

But dad wasn't all about teaching stern lessons to his kids. He had a lighter side, too. One of my first memories of my dad was of him taking me home from my grandparents house on one of those bitter, cold winter nights that Minnesota is famous for. The heat was blasting and the radio was in full volume.We listened to the Grand Canyon suite and he narrated the symphony, telling me the story of a donkey plotting up and down the canyon and finally racing back home. Then he'd change the channel and we'd
both sing along to Frank Sinatra's tune, It Was A Very Good year.

Dad loved music of all genres. He loved it when I'd play The Beatles song Michelle on the piano, and mention that he'd originally wanted to name me Michelle but there was already a Michelle in the Bruch family. He never got over the fact that I took Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water album to Florida and claimed it was his.

More recently at my home in Connecticut, I found him sitting alone in a dark living room singing along to Linda Rondstadt's rendition of the song What'll I Do. In that respect, he was just like his own father. In fact, over the past seven years when my mom and dad spent summers with me, I'd catch glimpses of both my grandmother and grandfather in dad's behavior. He could watch the History Channel solitarily for days by himself, which was just like his mom. Then he'd go out and have a cigarette in the front yard and do a meet and greet with the neighborhood. A radio announcer came to the door offering tapes of rare Norwegian music to my dad. The little boy next would always ask me when he was coming back to visit. That's when I saw Grandpa Bruch in Dad.

When I posted the news that my father passed away on Facebook, I received three heartfelt messages from our cousins in Norway—Ivar, Torleif and Randi. Randi message read: We are very saddened by your father's passing—we have many fond memories of him. Like my grandfather who got off the train in Denmark and was greeted by grandmother's family like a rock star, my dad reveled in the companyof my mother's Norwegian relatives.

Dad always wanted to lend me a helping hand in Connecticut. I would bring home Ikea furniture and he'd spend days putting together a bookshelf or hanging a light fixture. He was very slow and deliberate, reading the direction putting together a piece, then going out for a cigarette. 10 days later the project got done, but Mom would say hey it got done and it was done right. My dad's mantra was that of a turtle: slow and steady wins
the race.

One of the last memories I have of my dad was last December when we brought my brother back from Boston after his knee surgery. Tom and mom when in one car and dad and I drove in the other. Once again it was a cold winter night and the radio was on full blast, but this time I was driving. He started telling me stories of my great grandmother Bruch, who I had never known. He told me about grandpa Bruch's eccentric sister Aunt Clara, and Uncle Slim. He reminisced about spending summer's with his beloved grandma Christiansen and Grover as a child. By the time we got back to Connecticut, I felt blessed to have spent that three hours with him in the car.

During the last trip dad took to Connecticut last Christmas he told me about how he had become engaged to my mom right before he left for Army training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He bid a farewell to my mother at the airport. It was September and one of the top hits on the radio was September Song.

For those of you that attended my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, they sang September Song together and we've got the tape to prove it. I told my mother we should play it at his memorial service. I chose the Willie Nelson rendition because it has slowww, and steady tempo that is so characteristic of my father. Here's my father's letter to my mom.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hello Spring

I love Spring. When I see the daffodil buds breaking through the thawing ground, and savor the taste of the first crop of asparagus and strawberries, I feel a sense of renewel. I want to discard my black slacks and wool sweaters and wear the colors of spring blossoms: fuschia, hycanith, and yellow.

It's time to open the windows and let the March winds sweep out stale air. Spring hales the awakening of nature. And with that, I can't help but want to change along with the the season. Out with the dreary days of cold. In with the fresh scent of spring!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time Out

10 Ways to Cut Yourself Some Slack
Give Yourself Permission To Recover During Treatment
By Pam Stephan, Guide
Updated April 01, 2009

Any type of treatment you have for breast cancer can wreck havoc on your schedule. Going to treatment sessions, having additional tests, and keeping track of the paperwork makes dealing with cancer like having a part-time job! Meanwhile, you may still be working, taking care of your family, and keeping up other commitments as well. You need a break -– no, make that several breaks! Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to take special care of yourself. Here are some suggestions, several of which came out of my breast cancer support group.
While in treatment and recovery, give yourself permission to:

1. Just Say No
Saying "No" may make you feel guilty. You may be one of those people that gets asked to chair a committee, give a baby shower, or go out on the town. Perhaps you want to do all these things, but it's crucial to save your energy. Just say no to anything or anybody that will use up strength you need to cope with treatments, side effects, checkups, and recovery. You'll feel better if you rest and take good care of yourself.
Proton Cancer Treatment

2. Take Snooze Breaks
Take naps when fatigue hits. Set up a space for napping with comfortable pillows and covers. If you like, make a sign for the door that says: "Executive Nap In Progress - Do Not Disturb!" Try playing meditation tapes or soothing music to block out distracting sounds. Take that stuffed toy that someone special gave you and curl up for a rest. Let fatigue float past, while giving your body and spirit time to recover.

3.Veg Out
Maintain a healthy diet and let someone else cook. During treatment, eat the best diet you can. Go ahead and raid the health food store for organic choices, and be sure to check out their freezer for prepared meals. Remember to go easy on red meat and potatoes, but load up on cruciferous veggies, fruits, juices, legumes, and fish. Drink plenty of sugar-free fluids, and stay well-hydrated.

4. Get Away
Take a day or evening off and do something really enjoyable. Visit a spa, a garden, or take in a concert. Going for a weekend trip, even to a local hotel can lift your spirits. Sometimes a change of scenery or a visit with friends and family can make a nice change. It's a nice way to focus on nature, people you love, or places you enjoy, rather than thinking about your treatments.

5. Be Real
Just be sick without pretending you're actually fine. Summon your support people, hand over your usual chores, and go lie down. If you place few demands on your body during recovery from treatments, your inner resources will have a better chance to recoup and repair your body. You will feel better, and the folks who keep offering to help get a chance to step in and take care of you.

6. Ask For It
Ask for help with laundry, housekeeping, and driving. It may be hard to ask, but people really do want to help you. Laundry can go home with Louise, housekeeping can be done by Harry, and Doug or Diane can do your driving. Greta can shop for the groceries and pick up a movie or library books for you, too. If you have neutropenia, you don't need to be out in crowds anyway. Get a strong friend to do the heavy lifting and gardening. Your job is to fight cancer and recover. But your friends may need you to ask them to do this, or they might not know that it's just that simple to help out. Go ahead -- ask for it.

7. Go With The Flow
Cry when you feel like it with or without a sympathetic shoulder. Get out the tissues and go ahead and let the tears flow. It can be cathartic and renewing to have a good cry. Maybe you've been the strong one thus far. But if you're dealing with cancer, you may have thoughts and emotions that just naturally overwhelm you. If your best buddy or a good sympathetic person is nearby, let them comfort you. It's a good release for both of you.

8. Keep Good Vibes
Avoid negative people and situations –- now and after you finish treatment! You know who I mean: the people with breast cancer horror stories, the ones that say, "My cousin just passed away from that last week." Let those attitudes and lack of sensitivity stay with them; don't absorb their negative vibes. Either let loose with some good snappy comebacks or your own, or develop selective deafness. Better yet, appoint someone else to answer your door and screen your calls, admitting only those you choose to interact with.

9. Party On
Celebrate small victories, and rejoice when you have a good day. If your blood counts are close to normal, if your appetite is good, or your energy levels are bouncing back, celebrate! When you get any kind of good news, rejoice. Share your good news with family, friends, and supporters. Enjoy every day that you feel well.

10. Feel The Love
Show love to those whom you truly love. Be willing to receive love from those who care for you. If there's someone that you care for, but have never told him how much you love him, don't hold back. Say those special words now. Write that letter, put together a scrapbook, place that phone call. Tell them, show them, love them now. Make every day count.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Zumba Rocks

So in my quest to gain my pre-cancer fitness, I decided to start elbowing my way into the ever-popular Zumba classes that take place at my health club. I knew I was on to something big when I got kicked-out of the first class because I failed to register the previous day at exactly 5:00am on the website.

It turns out the only way you can get into these classes is if you get onto your computer promptly at five minutes before 5:00am the day before a class. You have to register within five minutes, otherwise you're kicked on to the waiting list. That's the only way I got into the class today.

What I love about these classes is the diversity of women lined up like they are in rehearsal as back-up dancers for a rock concert tour. Seriously, in front of me was your typical 20-something size four babe with blonde hair extensions. Right next to her was a plus-sized black woman. Behind me was a group of gray-haired ladies that were clearly grandmothers.

And then there was me, a middle-aged blonde sporting a blue-and-white Nike sneaker on my left foot and orange-and-white sneaker on my right foot. When I noticed some class mates staring at my feet, I just smiled and said: I'm trying to start a trend. Hard as I try, the dizzy blonde in me still comes out.

Oh, and for the record, Christina Applegate was right. Reconstructive boobs are like embedded granite rock cemented into your chest. They simply do not bounce or jiggle no matter how much you jump and down. And I think that's a good thing. Dr. Ott said I didn't have to wear a bra. But old habits die hard. When I saw her I had a bra on. She said: That's okay, they'll just stay higher longer over the long haul.

Anyway, as a former ballroom dancer, I brushed up on my latin dance moves, with cha-cha, mambo and meringue routines. It was a blast. When it comes to burning calories, the eliptical machine just doesn't compare.

So if you want to burn fat and have some fun, check out a Zumba class!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cancer Changes Everything

The first two months of this year have been very stressful due to the demands of my job. I'm in sales, and, unless you've been living in a cave, the recession is still alive and well in this grand country of ours, the USA. If you happened to be selling advertising, it's one of those extraneous expenses for businesses, that is the first to get cut when times are tough. Now I'm spending twice as much time to simply maintain the numbers I had a year ago.

I feel as though even if I worked around the clock, 24/7 I would still just keep my head above water with my performance. As a cancer survivor, my health has become a big priority. I'm trying to build up my immune system, which means I need lots of sleep.

The stress has me tossing and turning all night. When I am sleep deprived, I am not as on top of my game during the day. It becomes a vicious cyle. I'm not performing well and I lose sleep. The next day I can't perform well because I'm sleep deprived.

Come Friday night I crash at 9:00pm on the couch, and don't wake up until 11:00 am on Saturday. Perhaps I should have taken disability during my cancer treatments. I am tired, worn out and in desparate need of a vacation.

I want to honor my health after this two-year ordeal with cancer. I sometimes wonder if I would be better off taking a less demanding job with a salary so I can continue to heal.

What if my cancer comes back due to all this stress? I would be very angry for choosing to cave into the pressure of work over taking care of my health. Before I had cancer, this dilemma wouldn't exist. Cancer changes your priorities, your outlook, and that in turn changes your decisions.

Is it better to put your financial security or your health first?
Right now I'm pissed that all these demands have been put on me. I desparately need to get off the race track and take stock. I deserve it after what I've been through. But I can't say: Stop. I can't do this anymore. This much I can do; when the weekend rolls around, I sleep, and let fun take precedent over house work if I feel my spirit needs it. At least then I can focus on letting my body heal.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How To Boost Your Immune System After Cancer

How to Boost Immune System After Cancer
By Valencia Higuera

eHow Contributing Writer

Article Rating: (0 Ratings) Boost Immune System After Cancer
Flickr Living with cancer is devastating; oftentimes, cancer and cancer treatments weaken the immune system, and sufferers become prone to infections. However, there are different ways to boost the immune system after cancer. By boosting the immune system, the body produces additional white blood cells, which in turn help the body fight infections and diseases. Here's what you should do.

To boost the immune system, eat small frequent meals every three hours, increase vitamin C intake and try to relieve stress. Here are additional tips:

Step 1 Get plenty of rest. Lack of sleeps weakens the immune system. In turn, you're more likely to develop a cold or flu. Find ways to reduce stress (regular exercise, natural herbs), and strive to sleep at least eight hours a night.

Step 2 Adopt healthy eating habits. Fruits and vegetables contain plenty of antioxidants, which are necessary to improve the immune system after cancer and fight infections. In addition, protein (found in beef, chicken and eggs, to name a few) promotes a healthy immune system, wherein a diet low in protein weakens the body's defenses.

Step 3 Lose body fat. Being obese or overweight slows the production of white blood cells, which can weaken the immune system. To improve your immune system after cancer, attempt to maintain a healthy body weight. Decreasing your body fat by 5 to 10 percent makes a significant difference and increases the production of antibodies.

Step 4 Limit your sugar intake. Excessive sugar suppresses the immune system, and the body cannot effectively fight infections. Improving your immune system after cancer improves your overall health. To accomplish this, choose healthy snacks over candy and other sugary treats; drink water or natural juices instead of sodas.

Step 5 Take vitamin supplements. If unable to boost your immune system with diet and healthy eating, consider vitamin supplements. Supplements include vitamins E and C, zinc, omega-3 and selenium, which are proven to improve white cell production

Diet That Supports Health and Healing During Cancer Treatment

Diet to Provide Nutritional Support for Cancer Treatment and Recovery

If you are a patient undergoing cancer treatment, it's more important than ever to eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Your body is working overtime to fight the cancer, plus it's doing extra duty to repair healthy cells that may have been damaged from chemotherapy and radiation.

Cancer treatments - especially chemotherapy - can take a toll on your body, draining your strength and appetite. To help build back your immune system incorporate delicious whole foods, which are easy to digest, with their rainbow of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Foods that are rich in their cancer-fighting antioxidant values. Start by eating lots of protein. You can get it in a variety of tasty foods. Also include foods rich in vitamin C, D, E, carotenoids, selenium, soy isoflavones, amino acids, folic acid, l-glutamine, flavanoids, calcium, and other nutrients. It's also important to make sure you drink lots of water and get enough calories in your diet. Your nutritional needs may change during treatment. After surgery, or radiation to the abdomen, head or neck, you may need to adapt to a liquid diet and work your way towards a soft food diet before getting back to your regular foods diet. You may also need to adapt to a lactose-free diet, and or high protein diet during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Great Herbs and Spices to Eat to Support Pre and Post Chemotherapy & Radiation Patients:













Great Foods to Eat to Support Pre and Post Chemotherapy & Radiation Patients

Since cancer treatment may dampen your desire for food, you will want to eat tantalizing and nutritious, whole foods that will spark your appetite. They'll boost your energy and sense of well being while giving you the important nutrients you need to help in your fight against cancer.

Vitamin C (Protects cells, prevents certain cancers)

Cabbage, red
Kiwi fruit
Peppers, bell, red
Tangerines & other mandarins
Vitamin E (Neutralizes cell damage)

Brazil nuts
Sunflower seeds
Vitamin D (Preventative)

Carotenoids (May inhibit the growth of cancer cells, research shows that cancer patients respond very well with vitamin A)

Acorn squash
Collard greens
Corn, fresh
Peppers, sweet
Sweet potatoes
Selenium (Is a powerful anti-oxidant)

Brazil nuts
Rice, brown
Sunflower seeds
Soy Isoflavones (May protect against hormone related cancers)

Soy products

Folic Acid (Is essential for proper synthesis and repair of DNA)

Beans, dried
Bok Choy
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage, savoy
Peas, fresh
Lycopene (Inhibits prostate cancer)

Grapefruit, pink

Fish Oils (Reduces inflammation)

Ginger (Promotes circulation and energy. Aids in digestion and absorption. Is an anti-inflammatory and helps greatly with nausea)

Flaxseed Oil (Reduces inflammation)

Flavanoids (Helps stimulate enzymes in the body that combat cancer cell growth)

Grapefruit, white
Catechins (Neutralizes free radicals)

Green tea
Calcium (Reduces the irritant effects of bile acids and fatty acids in the colon)

Beans, dried
Bok Choy

Please use this as a list when you go grocery shopping!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Breast Cancer Doesn't End Romance

Dating With Breast Cancer
Courtesy of

A breast cancer diagnosis doesn't have to mean sitting on the sidelines. In fact, it's healthy to stay socially active, as long as you get plenty of rest. Women should simply have a plan about sharing their diagnosis and handling the ups and downs of dating while undergoing treatment.

First, experts recommend becoming comfortable in other social situations before going on that first date. By taking a new class or joining a new club, women can practice telling strangers about their diagnosis.

Spend some time thinking about how and when to tell someone. For some women, talking about the diagnosis on the first date might be imperative. Others may choose to wait until a sense of companionship has developed. But don't wait too long. Waiting until the relationship has become sexually intimate can create feelings of distrust and tension.

As for the actual words to use, there is no right answer. It may help to practice before the actual disclosure. Just remember to be honest about everything from the treatment regimen to your emotions. Failing to tell the truth about an upcoming lumpectomy or mastectomy, for example, can lead to mistrust and hard feelings down the line.

Does the whole thing seem exhausting?

Try a different route. Joining a local cancer support group or using a dating service for people with cancer can be a great way to meet people with similar experiences. National dating services include and

Whatever the choice, your treatment and sense of self-worth should come first. Keep in mind that not every date turned into true love before cancer. If dating is dragging you down instead of lifting your spirits now, it's just not worth it.

In a Long-Term Relationship

Tackling the diagnosis with a significant other has its own challenges.

For women in a relationship, communication is key. According to a study of 147 patients and 127 partners published in Psycho-Oncology, "mutual constructive communication was associated with less distress and more relationship satisfaction for both patient and partner."

A good place to begin is by discussing treatment decisions and talking openly about fears. Don't make assumptions about the other person's feelings. It may even help for each person to independently journal thoughts and feelings and then share the entries with one other.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, supporting each other can also include accepting help from friends and relatives when it is offered, allowing each other to have alone time, and making sure both people eat well and get enough rest.

The good news is that facing a serious disease together strengthens many relationships. One Canadian study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that more than 40% of couples surveyed said that breast cancer brought them closer. And the divorce rate among couples who've received a breast cancer diagnosis seems to be no higher than in the general population.

Sex and Intimacy

Regardless of whether a woman undergoes chemotherapy, radiation or only surgical procedures to treat her breast cancer, sexual intimacy can be a source of newfound worry.

According to one study of about 550 women, ages 22 to 50, about half reported self-esteem and body image issues. The women participating in this study made the choice to undergo chemotherapy, mastectomy or both.

The same study reported that among the sexually active women, 28% say they have a "definite or serious" sexual problem. These problems range from the concrete, such as vaginal dryness, to the more abstract, such as difficulty getting a partner to understand their feelings. These side effects, previously taboo, can and should be discussed openly with your doctor. More treatment centers are even offering programs that focus on sexual side effects.

The Cancer Survivor's Network, an American Cancer Society support program, advises women with breast cancer to open up dialogue with their significant other as soon as possible after diagnosis. Couples and those in new relationships are encouraged to discuss the intimacy challenges cancer treatment can bring, how these challenges may impact the relationship, and what they can do to improve intimacy.

Keep in mind that treatment may affect a patient's desire for intercourse, but not their need for physical closeness. Sometimes, there's no substitute for a hug, a kiss or gentle hand-holding.