Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Wellness Story

Okay, folks, I'm going to get "real" here and share what's been going on with me, health-wise.

About a month ago, I discovered a lump in my breast. Needless to say, I was alarmed. I immediately scheduled an appointment with my OB-GYN. She then sent me to an imaging center for a mammogam and ultrasound. My hope was that it's simply a cyst. No such luck. It was solid. Next step: fine-needle biopsy.

The results of the fine-needle biopsy revealed atypical cells. What does this mean? Well, it doesn't necessarily mean cancer, but that couldn't be ruled out. Next step: a consult with the surgeon. I met with the surgeon and after she examined me, it was decided that I would have a lumpectomy and sentinal lymph node biopsy.

I had the surgery on a Thursday, went home that evening and spent the next few days recovering and waiting on my results. I finally heard the good news from the surgeon: benign and no pre-cancerous cells found. I do have Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS), though, which while not cancer, greatly increases my risk of cancer.

Now, I'm likely making this sound like a quick process, but it took more than a month for all of the tests, procedures and results. The waiting induced such worry and anxiety. I found that waiting for the results made me feel far worse than the actual procedures.

Next steps? Regular MRI screenings, rather than standard mammograms. And, apparently I'm a good candidate for Tamoxifen, a drug that has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk. I meet with the doctors tomorrow to gather more information on this treatment. I then have a follow-up with the surgeon on Thursday.

So, why I am telling you all of this information? Because if I can convince at least one woman to do a self-exam and seek treatment early, then I've accomplished something - at least in my little world. In today's age, with early detection and the technology available, many forms of cancer can be treated and people can go on living long, productive lives.

Moral of the story? Ladies, regularly examine your "girls." Guys, regularly examine your "boys." Live long. Be happy. Cherish everything!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Diana: A Celebration

From now until mid-January, the Frazier History Museum in Louisville will host Diana: A Celebration, the traveling exhibit from England. There are nine galleries with more than 150 objects that once belonged to Diana, the Princess of Wales. Included are 28 designer dresses, family heirlooms, personal mementos, tiaras, jewels and rare home movies. And, probably the most popular item in the exhibit, Diana's wedding gown.

Once the kids' fall sports activities end in October, I plan to buy tickets for my daughter and I to attend one Saturday. I was so in love with Diana as a young girl and fascinated with her even as I grew older. When she died, I can remember feeling so sad, as if someone I knew passed away. I don't often feel that way about public figures, but she was different. She was Diana.

Now, I see my daughter enamored with Kate Middleton the same way I was with Diana. I guess all little girls, at some point, dream about becoming a princess some day. So, I find it fitting that I'll take my daughter to this exhibit.

And while Diana is no longer with us, she left behind quite a legacy, which not only includes her humanitarian work, but these two...

...who have grown into these two.

Thank, you Diana.

If you are going to be in our around Louisville in the coming months and would like to see Diana: A Celebration, visit the Frazier History Museum for details on tickets and special events associated with the exhibit.

Images from the Frazier Museum of History, leftstudios.com, fanpop and telegraph.co.uk

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Those Who Inspire

Today I’m going to write about two women, neither of whom I know personally, but both with stories that are inspiring and worth emulating.

Both women happen to be residents of Charlotte, N.C. My sister-in-law, who lives in Charlotte, has shared their stories with me over the years. If you’ve heard of them, you know what great work they’ve done. Let me introduce you.

Jen Pagani

Jen is an amazing wife, mother and cancer awareness advocate. She was diagnosed with stage three Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2007 and continues to fight this very aggressive form of cancer to this day. She has gone through 17 different chemo regimens, multiple radiation treatments and experimental skin treatments, among other therapies. This is in addition to being a wife and mother of two little boys.

But Jen wasn’t going to let cancer win. She and her family founded the Go Jen Go Foundation. According to the website,

Go Jen Go is a community of caring people brought together for the common purpose of assisting people in their fight against breast cancer. We connect people who want to help with those that need it. Through private donations, fund-raising events, non-profit grants and we are able to provide financial, social, and emotional support to women fighting breast cancer in the Carolinas.

My sister-in-law says she sees Jen at the pool, and while she’s had a mastectomy and a number of radiation and chemo treatments that have left her scarred, Jen is just like any other mom chasing her kids around. She doesn’t care what she looks like. She’s living each precious day to the fullest. We could all certainly take a cue from Jen. I pray for Jen, hoping that her cancer will go into remission and she can live a long, happy life and watch her boys grow up.

If you live in this region, consider volunteering or donating to Go Jen Go (visit the Facebook page), or to a similar organization in your area. 

If you’re a runner, and especially if you’re a female runner with a daughter, you’ve likely heard of the organization, Girls on the Run. GOTR was founded by Molly Barker in 1996 “to provide an experience for girls to untangle from the stereotypes which far too frequently capture their spirits around middle school.” According to Molly's website:

The 12-week curriculum-based program creatively weaves running games together with activities designed to, in a fun and engaging format, provide 3rd to 8th grade girls with the tools to live their lives with intention…to journey through life with their feet firmly grounded in self-respect, communal support and love; and.their hearts filled to overflowing with joyful passion and a child-like curiosity to reach high, dream big and achieve their greatest human potential.

It's a great program that engages girls at a time when low self-esteem and peer pressure may begin to creep into their lives. GOTR uplifts girls by promoting self-worth and a healthy lifestyle, free of physical and mental toxins. Molly knows all-too-well about this. She has openly discussed her years of alcohol abuse, a failed marriage and low self-worth. After hitting her "rock bottom," she found sobriety and started pursuing her dream of the GOTR program. The first group started with 13 girls at a North Carolina elementary school. Today, GOTR is an international program with more than 100,000 participants.

It's people like Jen and Molly who are making a difference in the lives of many. Thanks, ladies, for all the work you do and the hardships you have faced to make things better for others. You are true inspirations.

Who is making a difference in your life or community? Share their story!

Images from Go Jen Go website and Girls on the Run

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Touch of Red

The divine Ms. Spade in her Manhattan apartment.

I adore Chinese Red. It's a bold color choice, one that I hope to incorporate it into my home someday, somewhere. Maybe my entry foyer? I can see my husband's face now...

What are your favorite colors to feature in your home? Any vibrant shades that you tried and absolutely love?

Photo credit: annstreetstudio.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Years Ago Today...

September 11, 2001

Eleven years ago today, I was attending a breakfast for the United Way, a few blocks from where I work. I vividly remember walking back to the office and thinking what a gorgeous day it was - bright blue sky, the sun shining down on the city. Fall was in the air - it was going to be a beautiful day.

Then, all hell broke loose.

Today my thoughts will be with those who lost their lives, the families left behind and the many firefighters, police officers and other emergency responders who made heroic efforts to save thousands of lives.

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? Will you be doing anything to commemorate the day?

Image from Thomas E. Franklin / The Bergen Report

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall means...

Get your game on, friends! Have a great weekend!

Image from volunteertraditions.com

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Facebook Politics

I won't go into detail about my political leanings. I tend to be more moderate, middle-of-the-road. And, both sides of the aisle drive me crazy at times. But, and you've likely seen it as well, the extremist left and far-right folks are going at it on Facebook this election season and it's getting tiresome. It's amazing how emboldened people get online. These are the folks who cannot even hold eye contact with you, much less carry on a decent conversation. Yet online, they attack. And attack.

Ooooo, your shouty capital letters are scaring me!

Again, I won't share my politics in this forum. That's something I've always held close to the vest. I will say, though, that I've not watched any of the cable news channels this week. And, when I return from my 5k training tonight, I'll likely read a good book after putting the kids to bed. So, that may tell you a little something. ;)

Image from someecards