MY JOURNEY…

My journey began in the shadows. A bloating abdomen changed my planned destination. Surprisingly, cancer was my unwelcome travel companion. At times the tracks were in such darkness, I could not see. Questions, doubts, and fear were on all sides until I decided to find a purpose.

So, I…

chose the track of sunshine; of light. Faith, knowledge, and love surrounded me as I kept my eyes on the sun of God.

Knowledge is power. Faith gives us strength. Purpose puts us on the right track to follow. We can outshine.

For the Teal Takeover, my team is called the Outshiners. Come and join my team as walk/run “together” bringing knowledge to others about gynecologic cancers. https://www.classy.org/team/446017

GYNECOLOGIC & REPRODUCTIVE.

On my walk this morning, I thought about the two words: gynecologic and reproductive. The first one is a “mouthful” and is not well understood by many women. Reproductive is the potential for the creation of new life.

Gynecology refers to the branch of physiology and medicine that deals with the functions and diseases specific to women and girls, especially those affecting the reproductive system. EVERYTHING BELOW THE WAIST AND ABOVE THE THIGHS!

Did you know that the egg and sperm meet in one of the fallopian tubes? That is where feertilization occurs…the beginning of life.

The pelvic cavity contains all the reproductive organs mentioned above in addition to the bladder, ureters, sigmoid colon, rectum, and anus plus major arteries, vessels, nerves, and veins.

We must educate our daughters and granddaughters about the invaluable, beautiful, and sacred part of the body below the belt.

The female body was designed as a source of pleasure, fertility, movement, strength, and well-being.” (Christine Northrup)

Teal Takeover is an opportunity for each of you to learn about with this sacred area of the body. Tell Every Amazing Lady. Help spread the knowledge: https://www.classy.org/team/446017

Day 2: Awareness/Knowledge

One purpose of National Gynecologic Cancer Month is to spread awareness, which is defined as the knowledge that something exists. There is a sense of vagueness to the word, awareness.

Instead of awareness, I choose the word knowledge: acts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education.

This morning there was a warning about a railroad crossing in my path ahead. I did not ignore the sign painted on the pavement. I paid attention to where I was walking and stopped at the railroad tracks to be sure there was no train coming.

I made a conscious decision. We, humans, choose our behaviors, actions, and how we do or do not listen to our body’s warning signs. I challenge you to seek medical advice if any of these persist for 2 weeks. Insist on getting an ultrasound or a CT scan.

  • Unusual or bloody discharge (seek medical advice immediately)
  • Bloating
  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • Suddenly feeling full from eating even a small portion
  • Painful intercourse
  • Extreme fatigue every day
  • Back or pelvic pain

I hope my Teal Takeover walk each day will inspire you to do the same. If you want to donate to my team or form your own, just go to https://www.classy.org/team/446017. Every penny goes to promoting knowledge and funds for research.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

SEPTEMBER: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

The main reason: It’s NATIONAL GYNECOLOGIC CANCER MONTH! Each day I will share two things: a photo from that day’s walk and an important fact.

Teal Takeover is our local campaign to raise funds for research and awareness. I invite you to walk or run a 5K with me. Join my team, make a donation, and let’s go! My team is called the Outshiners, because we are going to outshine any challenge we face, even cancer. Here is my link: https://www.classy.org/team/446017.

Today, I am officially starting my walk…and it will be a mile each day. At 81, I am proud to be able to walk that far!!! A beautiful sunrise to start my day.

The more you know about gynecologic cancers, the better! Day 1 facts:

  • Vaginal, Cervical, Uterine (Endometrial), Ovarian, and Vulvar are the 5 major types.
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD), Primary Peritoneal Cancer, and Fallopian are three rare types.

Join me each day as we learn about gynecologic cancers and the reproductive system. Be a part of my team!

SERENDIPITY: A FORTUITOUS HAPPENSTANCE

I first learned the word serendipity when Marcus Bach gave a lecture about it some thirty-five years ago at a church I was attending. The word caught my attention and I fell in love with it and all that it means.

Serendipity is magical, good fortune, mysterious, the work of angels, and a part of God’s plan. It is finding something good without looking for it!

The word, serendipity, was first coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole based on the Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip, who in this fairy tale are “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” It is considered to be one of the most difficult words to translate. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin is considered to be serendipitous. The same is said about the invention of the microwave oven.

Serendipity in Action

  • A serendipitous time for me was when I chose to see the gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Matthew Boente, in Edina, MN. At the same time, my husband was sharing with our friend and jeweler about my health. Our friend said, “There is only one doctor for Karen to see and that is Dr. Boente. My niece is doing her residency under him.” I did see Dr. Boente for a few years before moving to Florida. He recommended my current gynecology-oncologist, Robert Holloway, MD. I attribute my present health to both these physicians.
  • I traveled to the northern part of the U.S.A. to do a book reading/signing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, and to seek future opportunities to spread the word about ovarian cancer. The audience consisted mainly of friends, but four people were there because of God’s plan or purpose. One woman read about the event in the newspaper where there was a two-sentence announcement. She was a 14year, Stage III survivor. “When I was diagnosed, I didn’t think I’d see another Christmas.” We hugged each other knowing we are sisters doing what we can to help other women.
  • Another woman in the front row sitting alone. Every time I looked in her direction, her eyes were on me and she wore a beautiful smile. She came to get information for her neighbor, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her neighbor did not feel well enough to come, so this young lady gave her neighbor the gifts of kindness, generosity, and her time. God bless them both.
  • “Please sign my book for a dear friend who has ovarian cancer. She planned on coming herself but was unable to,” were the words of a smiling elderly lady. When I handed a book to her I noticed a brace on her left wrist. I gently placed my hand on it, and she said, “Oh, my husband has Alzheimer’s, and he….” I wrapped my arms around her and told her that she was an angel so willing to help her friend and yet be there constantly for her husband.
  • For the third lady, all I know is that her name was Jane and that she was in Barnes & Noble to buy a book or two to read on her trip to Ireland the next day. While she browsed the shelves, she heard my voice due to the microphone, and being drawn to the subject she stood in the back and listened. She bought the last book. “Here is a picture of me and my mother. She died 4 months ago from ovarian cancer.” We were once two strangers but now became new friends.

There is no doubt in my mind that God led my husband to visit our jeweler that particular day and for each of these women to be at that bookstore that night and at that time. Often, we call it serendipity, which is God at work. Thank you, God.

How many serendipitous events do you recall? Is serendipity just “good luck”? Is it the work of guardian angels? Are they little miracles? I leave it to you to answer in your own way.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Your comments are welcome and much appreciated.

INTERDEPENDENCE & INDEPENDENCE: JULY 4TH

Our wedding anniversary is the 4th of July.

A good friend, Stan Hamerski, always sends cards for birthdays and anniversaries. This year he improved Hallamrk’s message by writing: “Karen and Jim celebrate their in-ter-de-pend-ence.” That is, we are dependent on one another and each other; also we have mutual interrelations.

Thank you, Stan, for once again, sharing your creativity and thoughtfulness.

  • The 4th of July celebrates our independence from the British government. The Declaration of Independence was signed on this day in 1776.
  • Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
  • How many signed it?
  • Who had the laargest signatuver?
  • Can you recite the preamble?
  • Why are fireworks used to celebrate the 4th of July?

We do need to be independent of foreign governments. We do need to have inter-dependence with those to whom we are wedded.

Here are the answers:

1. Thomas Jefferson

2. 56

3. John Hancock

4. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

5. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4 of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. The ship’s cannons fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies.

Now, sit back and enjoy this video of a July 4th celebration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWJTqxGBB2A

GENETIC COUNSELING

CDC BLOG

Who needs genetic counseling:

  • Those with a personal history or family history suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome.
  • Had a previous genetic test 3-5+ years ago, but you may want to consider additional testing.
  • Multiple family members with the same type of or related cancers.
  • Rare cancers
  • Ashkenazi Jewish history.

Benefits of genetic counseling:

  • Genetic screening can help calculate the likelihood of a fetus being born with a certain disorder.
  • Provides peace of mind or information for better understanding and decision-making.
  • Appropriate testing will be given.
  • Decision making will be made based on scientific information.

Heredity risk for uterine cancer is about 5 percent. Surgery is the primary treatment for endometrial (uterine) cancer. 

Genetic testing may be appropriate for ovarian cancer:

  • You’ve had or been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • You’ve had at least two types of other cancers.
  • You’re related to someone with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
  • You have Lynch syndrome. Women with this inherited condition have a 9% to 12% chance of getting ovarian cancer in their lifetime.
  • You have at least one relative who’s had cancer and meets the criteria for this type of genetic testing.
  • You had a negative genetic test more than 3 years ago. Testing technology is always improving.

Two main genetic factors increase the risk of cervical cancer:

Other gynecologic cancers:

Genetic test results aren’t always clear-cut. If your test result is negative, you might not be scanned for the mutation. But you could still have another type of genetic change that hasn’t been linked to ovarian cancer yet. A “variant of uncertain significance” result means the lab found a mutation that may or may not be linked to ovarian cancer.

A negative test doesn’t have to be the end of your genetic testing. As with an uncertain result, check with your doctor or genetic counselor to see if there are other options.

Find a Genetics Specialist

There are various ways to access genetic counseling services, including in person, by phone, and by video conference.

Find a genetic counselorexternal icon using the National Society of Genetic Counselors directory.

I welcome your feedback, questions, and comments. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this blog.

IF ONLY I….

                       Do you sometimes say to yourself:

If only I had not worked so much…If only I had been a better parent or better child…If only I had tried more things or taken risks…If only I had spent more time with loved ones…If only I had pursued my dreams…If only I had taken better care of myself…If only I had done more to help others…

As we travel through life how many times have we bypassed opportunities, were not in a kind or generous mood, or abused our health? Leave “if only’s” behind and keep moving forward.

Ethos3
  • Do not be afraid to open doors, at least peek inside or perhaps walk through them.
  • Look at each moment as an opportunity to do or say something nice or helpful.
  • Your body is the only one you will have, so cherish and nurture it. What you do today may well determine your health for tomorrow.
  • People come into your life for a reason, whether family or friends. Learn from them, love them, and let them love and teach you.
  • There are always risks to any decision or action, take the risk and learn from it.

The hardest thing and the right thing are often the same. (Isaac Slade)

Move forward with love, and forgiveness, and you will learn and grow. YOU WILL LEAVE “IF ONLY” BEHIND.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I welcome your comments.

STRONG WOMEN; STRONG MEN.

The movie, Steel Magnolias, is about strong women always helping and supporting others through difficult times.

What makes a strong woman?

  • She is a fighter
  • …knows what she wants
  • … respects vulnerability and honesty
  • …will not shy away from intimacy
  • …empowers others.
  • …needs integrity, respect, and consistency
  • …knows her purpose in life.
  • …can be intense and hard to handle
  • …loves unconditionally
  • …is full of positivity and productivity.

https://ideapod.com/10-qualities-strong-women-men-cant-handle/

The male characters also showed their strengths and were loving, kind, and helpful to the women. Traits of a strong man:

  • Has goals and dreams
  • Respects others privacy
  • Comfortable taking the reins
  • He is NOT possessive or jealous
  • He is a strong communicator
  • His support is unwavering
  • Has a great sense of humorhttps://www.yourtango.com/love/traits-men-strong-partners

Every year, the Teal Magnolia Luncheon raises funds for research and awareness/education about the five major gynecological cancers. Teal s the color representing all these cancers, and the name comes from the movie.

The annual luncheon was started over 20 years ago but was discontinued several years ago for a variety of reasons. Last September a group of us brought it back and with 52 people in attendance, we raised $3500. In May of 2022, we welcomed 140 attendees and raised $15,650. Every penny went to gynecological cancer research. If you would like to donate, please go to bidpal.net/teal

We do these lunches for the estimated 100,000 females diagnosed with gynecological cancers each year of which 32,000 die. If a female has any or all of her reproductive organs, she is at risk regardless of her age. Even preteens have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and teenagers with cervical cancer.

Our committee and volunteers included care partners, survivors, patients, health care workers, and family or friends of those who have passed away, They each demonstrated their strength, passion, dedication, and love for this cause. They were like the characters in Steel Magnolias: STRONG PEOPLE.

How are you living your life? Answer the questions below. Then make changes that will make you STRONGER.

  • Do you have the characteristics of a strong person?
  • How well do you handle problems (large or small)?
  • Are you reliable?
  • Trustworthy?
  • Give love unconditionally?

The answers you provide are yours alone. Be the person you want to be.

Thank you for visiting my blog today. Your comments or questions are always welcome.

TWO BRIGHT LIGHTS

THIS IS A TRIBUTE TO TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE JOURNEYED ONWARD…

ARLEIGH CASTLE WAS MY ROLE MODEL AND LIKE A MOTHER TO ME, WHO I “ADOPTED” AS MY AUNT ARLEIGH. SHE WAS THEATRICAL, FUN, SPIRITUAL, AND ALWAYS THERE TO HELP ANYONE. SHE WAS IN SUMMER STOCK, SOME TELEVISION COMMERCIALS, AND WORKED FOR CAPITOL RECORDS. AUNT ARLEIGH PASSED AWAY PEACEFULLY IN HER MID-90’S.

JIM TONJUM WAS OUR SON-IN-LAW, WHO WAS LIKE A SON TO US. HE JOINED ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS AT A YOUNG AGE AND DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO HELPING OTHERS. HE LOVED BOXING AND WAS OFTEN SEEN AT THE GYM HELPING TROUBLED YOUTH FIND THEIR WAYS TO PEACE AND HEALING. JIM DIED UNEXPECTEDLY IN HIS HOME WHILE EXERCISING. HE WAS 58.

HEALING AFTER LOSS BY MARTHA HICKMAN IS A BOOK I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. IT IS A SERIES OF DAILY SHORT DEVOTIONALS.

AS MY TEARS FLOW OUT, LOVE FLOWS IN.