Image: Amazon.com

“Why? Why? Why? …is a common and natural response to nonsensical tragedy that is an inherent part of life. After my breast cancer diagnosis, an innumerable number of people posed the “Why?” question to me: “How is it,” they wondered, “that someone who is as healthy and fit and happy as you are get diagnosed with cancer?”

I never questioned my diagnosis (or even my abhorrent reaction to the treatments). I felt as though, for reasons unbeknownst to me, that breast cancer was the experience that I was supposed to have. Further, I channeled any (unanswerable) questioning into action, which turned out to be a great source of Shining Moments.

It’s not to say that I haven’t ever asked the big “Why?” question because I certainly have. Many times. For example when a dear friend died two years ago (after having been diagnosed with lymphoma), I certainly asked WHY? (Actually, I asked WTF?).

A book that seems to be omnipresent in the cancer world is When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner. As a small-town rabbi he counseled other people through pain and grief. But it was not until he learned that his three-year-old son, Aaron, would die in his early teens of a rare disease that he confronted one of life’s most difficult questions: Where do we find the resources to cope when tragedy strikes?

In order to come up with an explanation of tragedy and suffering which satisfies both honest observation of reality and faith in a good God, Rabbi Kushner begins by assessing the explanations for suffering which he grew up with and encountered when trying to deal with Aaron’s illness and death, all of which failed to satisfy.

Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being.

Rabbi Kushner has been quoted as saying, “I [wrote this book] out of my own need to put into words some of the most important things I have come to believe and know. And I would write it to help other people who might one day find themselves in a similar predicament. I am fundamentally a religious man who has been hurt by life, and I wanted to write a book that could be given to the person who has been hurt by life, and who knows in his heart that if there is justice in the world, he deserved better.”

Since its original publication in 1981, this often imitated but never superseded book is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers.

From my perspective as a breast cancer patient in 2008-2009, I would encourage people to keep asking the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

However, (here comes the slightly deep-seated part), after asking the question, I would encourage you to cease looking for answers. Instead, I advocate that you start formulating a response. The Shining Moment is that inexplicable calamity creates an opportunity to take virtuous rage and desolation and turn it into a force for doing good.

No it’s not easy. I would never suggest otherwise. What I do know for sure is that flabbergasting circumstances and even indignation can be redirected and channeled into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate anguish wherever you can. At least that’s how I’m rolling…”


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Image and Recipe: Marthastewart.com

Did you know beets are high in fiber, full of iron, and loaded with cancer-fighting beta-carotene and folic acid? I sure didn’t. Beets will last one month in the refrigerator (you read that correctly), but the greens need to be used within a few days.

Earthy beets paired with tart-sweet plums in this sublime salad make for a wonderful meal. I had it for lunch the other day, and actually went back for seconds. I think the fresh ricotta adds a creamy delicious layer adding a smooth texture to the salad.


  • 3 medium beets (such as a mix of red, yellow, and Chioggia) trimmed, scrubbed, and quartered
  • 3 plums, pitted and cut into wedges
  • ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • 3 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves

Place beets in a steamer basket or colander set in a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water.  Cover and steam until beets are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.  Let cool, then remove skins.  Slice beets into small pieces.

Arrange beets, plums, and ricotta on a platter.  Drizzle with vinegar and oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Top with basil leaves, and serve immediately.

Boy, oh boy! How is this for eating clean?!


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Image: Glynnesoaps.com

Today is left-handed day! For all the lefty’s out there, this post is for you. Woo hoo!

In elementary school, my teachers did their darndest to change the dominant hand of many kids from left to right. Most of the kids turned their papers sideways – literally sideways – and wrote top to bottom, right to left. It did look rather odd, but who am I to judge! I still don’t understand why the teachers bought into the bunk notion that being a lefty is an affliction. I think it’s so silly, don’t you?

If you happen to be left-handed, you are in excellent company:

  • John F. Kennedy
  • Ronald Regan
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Bill Clinton
  • Barack Obama
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Michelangelo
  • Alexander the Great
  • Julius Ceasar
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Helen Keller
  • Carol Burnett
  • Kermit the Frog
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Sara Jessica Parker
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Babe Ruth

How many of you, dear readers, are left-handed?


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Image:  Amazon.com

Books are one of my passions. I love everything about them: the way they look, smell, and feel. Oh and I also relish a fantastic story.

I especially adore and now especially appreciate photography books…which undoubtedly has contributed to my budding interest in snapping my own shots

My favorite new find is Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs, from Taschen. It is a retrospective volume – selected from Linda McCartney’s archive of over 200,000 images – produced in close collaboration with Paul McCartney and their children. The book has the photographer Annie Leibovitz and Martin Harrison, a historian of art and photography and an exhibition curator, as the contributing authors. In other words, it’s VERY well done! I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The world through Linda McCartney’s lens is not just a document of the rock ‘n roll world from the sixties on but also a moving personal journal and a lasting testament to her talent. I am especially enamored by her touching photographs (often spontaneous) of her family.

There is a wonderful sense of balance and love that seems to resonate throughout these images. Her work feels unassuming and fresh…and displays a warmth and a feeling for the precise moment that captures the essence of any subject. Whether photographing her children, celebrities, animals, or a fleeting moment of everyday life, she seemingly did so without pretension or artifice. It feels like Shining


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Did you know that cancer is an expensive illness? Yuppers. Trust me, I know first hand. Once I was diagnosed, not only did I have to worry about my health, but I also had to worry how to pay for the costs associated with my surgery, treatment, medications, co-pays and more. Ugh! Although I have insurance, (and had it at the time of my diagnosis and treatment) I didn’t read the fine lines in my coverage. Boy, oh boy, was I in for a surprise. Having breast cancer for me was a full-time job and costly. If you have insurance, please make sure you read your policy thoroughly.

Thankfully, there are generous people and organizations whose mission is to make the journey a little easier and take the burden off the wallet with FREE wigs, hats, make-up, house cleaning, transportation and so much more. Wow, talk about a shining moment!

During my journey in the Pink Bubble, I found a few freebies that I just have to share with you. Let’s talk mammograms, shall we?!?!

Having no insurance is no excuse not to get a yearly mammogram if you are over 40 years old. Did you know many hospitals, local health departments, clinics and organizations offer them for FREE or at a reduced cost?!

To find out how to get a low-cost or FREE mammogram in your area contact:

  • The American Cancer Society:  Call 1-800-ACS-2345. Go to the site and enter your zip code into the blue box that says “Find resources in your area.”
  • The National Cancer Institute: You can get live online assistance, or call 800-4-CANCER and a representative will help you find local resources.
  • The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program:  Part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This program provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured and under-insured women.  Go to the section titled “Find a screening provider.”

Good to Know

  • Receive a FREE e-mail or text message when it’s time for your annual mammogram from the College of American Pathologists.  Register. It could save your life.


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Image: odak.co.uk

My motivation for having an R&R day (rest and relaxation) is because ever since —ohhhhh— the first of the year I have been busy beyond belief. Though I’m not complaining. I am blessed to have an incredible life filled with many shining moments. However, I will admit that there are days when I don’t know if I’m coming or going, if I’m pitching or catching (I’ve always loved that phrase!). Many-Most of my friends seem to be plagued by the same issue. Everyone is always so, doggone B.U.S.Y.

So, I’ve made a concerted effort to incorporate some idleness into my life.  Believe it or not, this incorporation is making me more productive. Idleness is allowing me to stand back from life and see things differently, with a more enlightened perspective (shining moment)!

I hope you will incorporate idleness into your life, too!

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Carpe Diem


Image: Gratitudetoken.com

The philosophy that is guiding my post breast cancer life is: Carpe Diem, seize each and every day. This phrase is so NOT a cliché with me. After all, a cancer diagnosis rocked my sense of (im)mortality. The truth is that I had never been really sick prior to my diagnosis. Even though I was aware of the fact that I was going to die (someday), I just never saw myself in that hospital bed…until I was diagnosed.

What I now know all too well after my professional and now personal experiences is that I don’t know how much time I have. I hope lots, but the thing is, we don’t know. None of us does. Our time is precious, not to be wasted. What I know for sure is that it is not helpful to catastrophize and worry about the future. As a result, I take the action I can now, and I live fully now.

In Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture he shared his words of wisdom about why we need to use our time wisely. He wrote, “Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.” No truer words have been said.

If you have not seen the video or read the book, please do! It will be an incredible gift in your life!

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Image: its-a-still-life.blogspot.com

For all the physical side effects that cancer can impose on the body, its psychological toll is often just as distressing, though it’s not as frequently and openly discussed.  Potentially triggers for depression and anxiety lurk throughout the cancer journey, from the stress surrounding diagnosis to the physical and mental demands of treatment to the persistent uncertainties that accompany the possibility of recurrence.

The stigma surrounding mental health issues combined with the confusing overlap of anxiety and depression symptoms and those of other cancer-related side effects, as well as a host of other factors, often push the attention that belongs to the emotional impact of cancer to the back burner.  It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to be.  Monitoring and caring for both your physical and your emotional well-being is essential for successful treatment. I did, and you can, too.

Because of the way the medical field is organized, clinicians can sometimes have a hard time attending to their patients’ mental and physical health needs simultaneously; however, these needs shouldn’t be separated.  Integrating mental health care with physical healthcare is the ideal approach to cancer care.

Having an open conversation with your healthcare team about the potential psychological challenges of cancer is a crucial first step that can help prepare you for what may lie ahead. Because depression shares many of the symptoms of common treatment-related side effects – including decreased appetite, poor memory, fatigue, sadness, irritability, and difficulty with concentration and decision-making – it can be difficult to determine their cause.  The best strategy is to discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing with your doctor to ensure they are addressed promptly.

For me, sharing my story with others who had fought through cancer and made it to the other side and with those who are still actively engaged in their battle has made me recognize that both cancer and depression are far more common than I could have imagined. I am grateful for what I have learned through my journey and am always eager to share my story with others who can benefit.

Remember, maintaining emotional wellness is an important part of cancer care. Make it a priority.


Posted in Clue Me In with Medical facts | Leave a comment

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
~ Oprah Winfrey

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Image:  Randomwits.com

Sleep. Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent and dreamy sleep. I love it. I lost it for well over a year. When I was sick, I would (day) dream about sleep but thanks to chemo, stress, tamoxifen, hot flashes, and steroids-steroids-steroids, I couldn’t get even 3 hours in a row.

During that time, I realized what a true luxury a good night’s sleep is (in addition to health, of course!). It was one of those, “you don’t realize how good it is until you lose it” kind of things. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than half of all Americans report having sleep problems almost every night. Stunning, right?

The ginormous Shining Moment is that finally, I have it back. And I am so f-bomb happy about it!

How am I doing it, you ask? Well, distance from all of those unsavory (but highly effective) treatments certainly helps. But I am also doing some very focused initiatives to help the process along.

First and foremost, I am turning my computer off (no email, FB, twitter, texts) at least an hour before I go to bed. This is HUGE! While doing research on this topic, I found a terrific article in the NYT on just this topic.

In today’s gadget-obsessed world, sleep experts often say that for a better night’s rest, Americans should click the “off” buttons on their smartphones and tablets before tucking in for the night. Electronic devices stimulate brain activity, they say, disrupting your ability to drift off to sleep. Increasingly, researchers are finding that artificial light from some devices at night may tinker with brain chemicals that promote sleep. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed that exposure to light from computer tablets significantly lowered levels of the hormone melatonin, which regulates our internal clocks and plays a role in the sleep cycle.

Secondly, I make sure that I am in bed for at least 8 hours, hoping that I get 7 hours of sleep. Well, ever since I committed to it, I am not only getting 7 hours, but I am asleep in under 10 minutes after laying my head on the pillow and wake up to an alarm. This means that I’m actually getting 7:45 of sleep (Woo hoo). My working theory is that because I have committed more time to sleep, and wind down sufficiently before bedtime, I am able to access a deeper rest.

Thirdly, I still take a nap during the day….almost every single day. Research (the real kind and personally) suggests that napping not only increases alertness and decreases stress, but it also contributes to a better night of sleep.

Fourthly, I am drinking 3 liters of water a day with sliced lemons and cucumbers and not eating sugar (including white food), all of which are contributing to a good night of sleep.

Ahhh! Sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.


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