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EVEN THE FAMOUS ARE NOT IMMUNE

A person’s fame or fortune does not protect them from getting a serious illness…even cancer. They are humans just like us.

Some celebrities who were diagnosed with one of the gynecologic cancers:

  • Fran Drescher…uterine cancer
  • Kathy Bate…breast and ovarian cancers
  • Judith Blume…cervical cancer
  • Pam Grier…cervical cancer
  • Camille Grammer…endometrial cancer
  • Shannon Miller…ovarian cancer

Most recently, tennis star Chris Everett was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her older sister, Jeanne, passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 62. By the time she was diagnosed, the cancer was at a late stage.

Like her sister, Chris has a pathological variant of the BRCA1 gene.

For Chris, the cancer was discovered after a hysterectomy, which was done as a preventive measure. However, 10 days later a second surgery was performed to remove some lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. The pathology report showed malignant cells. She was staged at 1C.

Her advice is imperative: “Be your own advocate. Know your family’s history. Have total awareness of your body, follow your gut and be aware of changes. Don’t try to be a crusader and think this will pass.

This article is courtesy of https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/33058250/tennis-star-chris-evert-diagnosed-stage-1c-ovarian-cancer

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES & CANCER JOURNEYS

 KAREN ZEMPOLICH, MD, a gynecologic cancer physician in Utah, named her practice, the Monarch Woman’s Cancer Center. “Women who have cancer are very much like a butterfly; they start out vulnerable and worried about whether they are going to survive the journey,” says Zempolich. “In this way, they are cocoon-like – emotionally and physically.”

Monarch butterflies travel to Mexico every year. According to the U.S. Forest Services, some travel as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter destination, even though they have never been to that country before.

“I feel the name really captures what we do when we help a woman; not only to treat their cancer but live through it and move on,” Zempolich explains. “We work to fight the cancer together, with the vision that they will emerge as the strong, beautiful butterfly they have within them all along.”

I saw this monarch butterfly in my garden a few weeks ago. Their beauty, their lives, and their journeys are an inspiration to everyone. Let’s be like a butterfly as we face our challenges of cancer…be strong, resilient, and fighters.

BREAST & OVARIAN CANCERS

IF YOU HAD BREAST CANCER, YOU ARE AT GREATER RISK FOR OVARIAN CANCER. IF YOU HAD OVARIAN CANCER, YOU ARE AT GREATER RISK FOR BREAST CANCER.

WHAT IS BRCA?

  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that help repair damaged DNA.
  • Every human has both genes
  • They are called tumor suppressor genes
  • About 0.25% of the population has mutated genes
  • They can be passed down to the next generation.
  • A family history of breast or colon-rectal cancer is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Risk for ovarian cancer from BRCA1 is 30-70%.
  • Risk for ovarian cancer from BRCA2 is 10-30%.

Knowledge is power. Know your family history. Know your body. Know the symptoms: bloating, abdominal pain, change in urinary or bowel habits, change in appetite, painful intercourse, unusual or bloody discharge. Act on any symptoms and see your gynecologist within 2 weeks.

MOST FEARED WORD?

Cancer, death, heights, spiders, and snakes are words that create great fear. People associate cancer with death almost immediately.

HISTORY OF CANCER:

  • The earliest known descriptions of cancer appear in several papyri from Ancient Egypt
  • Hippocrates described several kinds of cancer, referring to them by the term καρκινος (carcinos), the Greek word for crab. It comes from the appearance of the cut surface of a solid malignant tumor, with “the veins stretched on all sides as the animal the crab has its feet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cancer).
technologynetworks.com

GOOD NEWS:

SAD NEWS:

  • 113,520 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cancers of the reproductive organs in 2020.
  • Cancer of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus, is the most common gynecologic cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
  • It is estimated that as many as 33,620 women will die in 2020 from gynecologic cancers. https://www.cinj.org/sites/cinj/files/documents/September.Gynecologic.Cancer.2020.pdf

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF:

  • know your body
  • listen to it
  • provide it with good nutrition
  • exercise
  • hygiene
  • Daily meditation/relaxation
  • preventive care
  • know your family history
  • have regular dental and medical checkups
  • and smile, laugh, and be positive.

The more we do the above, the more we can decrease the fear of the word, cancer. Thank you!

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