Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Another year has come and gone and I can't help but take a moment to reflect on what I did and didn't accomplish in 2011. I look at my bucket list and see I checked off a few things--like taking two trips to Florida to reconnect with old friends Maggie and Allison. I had wanted to take my mother to Egypt but given the political upheaval that took place there this year, that wasn't going to happen. It terrified me watching that CBS news reporter recount getting raped in the midst of a crowd on 60 minutes during Egypt's revolution. No....... Mom and I won't be going there anytime soon.

It wasn't on my bucket list, but I did spend a week in Aruba, with mom, my cousin and aunt and got to know my neighbor Debbie better, since she lives in both Aruba and next door to me in Connecticut. Dawn and I did a weekend trip to scour the Brimfield flea market in Massachusetts and mom and I got up to the beaches of southern Maine in July. I stepped up to the plate and took care of my brother by taking him up to Boston three times in August to Mass General to address issues with his bad leg.

I'm going to pat myself on the back for being a good friend, daughter and sister this year. The home improvements that I wanted to do were put on hold because the foundation of the building I live has to be corrected. We are facing a deep slope that has eroded. Consequently the building is moving about an inch a year. The condo association has to put a retaining wall along the back--which they say they will do this spring. If I were to replace windows and cupboards, they would end up being crooked after the movement of the building is adjusted.

In terms of my health, I was lucky to get picked to participate in the Yale exercise hope study.  I have definitely gotten more fit. But my weight? Let's just say I'm going to have to work harder on that. I only had one surgery this year in connection with my breast cancer. It was to make my left breast more symmetrical with my right breast, which was slightly larger. Dr. Ott-Young simply inserted a larger implant into my left breast and I think that's about as good as it's going to get. You can't erase scars so I can't complain. All my blood work this year showed no signs of cancer recurrence. I will be coming up on four years cancer free this coming March, so I just keep crossing my fingers.

Two fortuitous events that came about unexpectedly was that I got a new job last February and a new car just last week. I continue to see more of my friends and cousins lose either their mom or dad. Since I'm going to be 55 years old next month, that's what you can expect as you get older. Just this week alone, my second-cousins mom died, my ex-husband's father died and my friend Carol's mom died.

Knowing my own mother's days are numbered since she is 77 years old, I am glad I took the time this year to take her on two trips. We just finished a wonderful Christmas season together, too. I took her to The Nutcracker, I and we watched some good movies together. 

On a sadder note, I said goodbye to Joe-Joe last March--the boyfriend that stood by me during my days of cancer treatment. He can't seem to shake his addiction to alcohol. I tried to help him for a long time, but at one point, I had to cut my losses and move on. He will always have a place in my heart. Sometimes, the dreams you have for your future get shattered. I had to face the reality of the situation, let go of a dream and look toward a new future. For a while it really broke my heart.

For the most part, 2011 was good to me. There were no deaths in the family, no major tragedies, unless you count the tree that fell down in my front yard as a result of Hurricane Irene. About 10 years ago I got into a car accident that totaled my car, but I walked away with nothing more than a stiff neck. I remember the police officer saying to me as I sat shell-shocked in the wreckage:"Lady, it's just a car. Count your blessings."

That's what I'm doing today. To all of you, I wish you a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


It's that time of year again when stress brings many of us to our knees--including me. Despite all my efforts and strategy plans to keep that overwhelming feeling at bay it has given me the old one two punch. 

Of course, it didn't help that my VW Beetle started bleeding oil and died on the side of the road early last week--just five days before Christmas. Suddenly, I had the added responsibility of finding and buying a car fast, before a weekly car rental would make me broke. 

I made the mistake of tracking all the way down to the Bronx, NY, to check out a Mini Cooper that was in my price range. When I gave the car a test drive and said I wanted to buy, the manager suddenly hiked up the price $6,000. Long story short, the manager has gotten repriminded for bad customer service and 10 days later, I  got my deposit back. 

I am proud to report, I got the car I wanted, in the color I wanted in the price range I wanted and got a 3-year warranty too! I did this all without even once confiding in a man. Yup, I've come a long way baby.

Lesson learned? Don't let some used car salesman think he can treat you disrespectfully just because you are a woman. I'm not sure, but that guy may have even got fired. If I'm spending my hard-earned money, I demand to be treated with respect. Ladies, just remember, there's power when you got a fistful of cash.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

28-year old Beauty Queen Dies of Breast Cancer

Eva Ekvall, former Miss Venezuela, dies of breast cancer at 28

Eva Ekvall was crowned Miss Venezuela at age 17.
Eva ekvall
Eva Ekvall poses in her evening gown during the Miss Universe 2001 Presentation Show at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, on May 6, 2001. (Patrick Pather/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall died this past weekend of breast cancer. She was 28.
Ekvall's family told the Associated Press that the former beauty queen died Saturday in Houston.
Ekvall won the title of Miss Venezuela in 2000 when she was 17. She went on to be the third runner-up in a Miss Universe pageant the following year and worked as a model, actress, television news anchor and author.
Read more from GlobalPost: Miss Venezuela takes the crown
She was diagnosed six months after the birth of her first child, a daughter, ABC News reported.
Her book, "Fuera de Foco" or "Out of Focus," was about her struggle with breast cancer, and it brought her battle with the disease to the public eye.
After the book came out with photographs of her with her head shaved, she told El Nacional: "I hate to see photos in which I come out ugly... But you know what? Nobody ever said cancer is pretty or that I should look like Miss Venezuela when I have cancer."
She later told BBC: "It's absurd that there should be a taboo about breast cancer in a country of breast implants, where women have few reservations about showing off their surgically-enhanced breasts."
Ekvall leaves behind a husband and 2-year-old daughter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Shopping Adventures at Walmart

Is it me or are the shoppers at Walmart just a little bit off? I swear, some of the get-ups people wear to this store are shocking, comical and quite original.  I often wonder if Walmart shoppers bother to look in the mirror before they leave the house. In a perverse way, it's quite entertaining to go to my local Walmart. I like to think of it as our community's gathering place for social outcasts, would-be criminals and those teetering on the edge of insanity. Walking through my Walmart is like walking through a zoo.

While I'm waiting in line, I will often zero in on one zany Walmart shopper or the other and try to figure out what their story is. There's the woman with a T-shirt saying "Biker Bitch" incessantly screaming at her kids to quit grabbing the check-out candy. There's the bleached-blonde Malibu Barbie wanna-be in a pink-velour, sequined jogging suit with overflowing cleavage. Then there's the guys in their super-sized cowboy hats, pot bellies and plaid shirts that strut through the aisles like they own the joint.

God forbid you get two guys standing next to one another in line--one with a Red Sox baseball cap, the other with a Yankees cap. They just glare at each other while everyone holds their breath hoping a brawl doesn't break out. It happens at the local watering holes all the time. If Walmart started serving beer, I'm sure that's how many of those encounters would end.

And let's not forget about the Walmart employees. Once this toothless cashier scanned a box of condoms I was buying and announced rather loudly: "Looks like you're going to have a little fun, huh?" I was speechless. The employees at the electronics counter take the word geek to the next level.  The guy I depend on to fix all my cellphone malfunctions needs a serious brush-up. His hair is disheveled, his eyeglasses are crooked and it looks like he's rabid because he drools. Don't get me wrong, all of the employees are really quite nice. They just need to be cleaned up a little.

Then again, who's to say someone isn't sizing me up? While I haven't actually gone to Walmart in flannel pajama pants and Uggs like so many die-hard shoppers do,  I have been known to go there after I've rolled out of bed in a cap and oversized sunglasses to hide my make-up- free face. When I top it off with a hap-hazard poncho I suppose others would categorize me with all the rest of Walmart's finest shoppers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Getting Financial Assistance While Undergoing Cancer Treatment

To all of you who are struggling financially while going through breast cancer treatment, I have provided some links, below, that are all national foundations.  I am not providing local foundations because you may not qualify if you don't reside in the same state as the foundation. I sincerely hope this helps. I want to provide a more comprehensive list in the future.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Go Girl! Giuliana's Public Decision Will Help Save Lives

Giuliana Rancic To Undergo Double Mastectomy: What Are The Challenges?

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The Huffington Post   First Posted: 12/ 5/11 12:47 PM ET Updated: 12/ 5/11 03:04 PM ET
Giuliana Rancic, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, announced on NBC's TODAY show that she will undergo a double mastectomyafter learning that previous treatments did not work to completely rid her body of cancer.
Rancic told TODAY anchor Ann Curry that her desire to have children was a big part of her decision tohave a double mastectomy. She had previously undergone a double lumpectomy (where just the tumor is surgically taken out of the breast, so that the entire breast does not have to be removed) but it was not completely successful.
"If I had chosen to just do another lumpectomy and then do radiation and then do anti-estrogen therapy, which means two to five years of medication, that basically puts me into early menopause, then I would have to put off having a baby for several years," Rancic said on TODAY. "So that was something we took into account. But to be honest, at the end it all came down to was just choosing to live and not looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life."
NBC Washington reported that if she had just had another lumpectomy, with radiation and anti-estrogen therapy, the chance of cancer returning could be as high as 40 percent, while a mastectomy would reduce the chance to less than 1 percent.
Christina Applegate, star of NBC's "Up All Night," also underwent a double mastectomy in 2008 in order to prevent the return of breast cancer. Actress Wanda Sykes also underwent a double mastectomy earlier this year because of breast cancer.
Mastectomy, or surgical removal of the breast or breasts, can be done both preventively -- for women who know they have a high risk of breast cancer, and don't want to take any chances -- or, in Rancic's case, as a treatment for breast cancer.
During a mastectomy, doctors remove all breast tissue from the breast. A doctor may recommend mastectomy over lumpectomy and radiation if a person has breast cancer has returned after previous radiation treatments, if you're pregnant and you can't undergo radiation, if you have a high genetic risk for returning breast cancer, if you have more than one tumor in different areas in the breast, or if you have an extremely large tumor that doesn't leave behind much healthy tissue, among other reasons, according to the Mayo Clinic.