I have experienced a lot of death this year.  Some loved ones have died suddenly and others have died after a prolonged illness.  Ugh. Sorrow, confusion, apprehension, desolation…just a few of the many feelings that come with heartache and mourning.

It occurred to me that – just as when illness strikes like cancer – many people don’t know what to say or do when someone dies.  So, after having experiencing the death of friends and family, I’ve researched a few recommendations from therapists who specialize in grief for what to do for and say to someone who has experienced death. I hope that this helps, if even just a wee bit.

What To Do And Say

  1. Reassure the person that you will be there. “I’m here now and will be here for you.”
  2. “How are you doing today?”
  3. Say nothing. Just be with the person.
  4. Don’t try to fix things. “You don’t have to be strong now.”
  5. Be specific about what you will do and say. “I will bring your favorite latte by at 10:00 a.m.
  6. Remember the person who has died. My favorite memory of __________ is ____________.
  7. Be supportive. “Tell me what I can do for you.”

What Not To Say

  1. It was God’s will.
  2. It was for the best.
  3. Look on the bright side.
  4. He’s in a better place.
  5. Call me if you need anything.
  6. I’ve had it worse.
  7. She’s in a better place.



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Image/Source: Oprah.com


Is There Enough Positivity in Your Life

Look over the emotional states above and put a check mark by any you’ve felt in the past 24 hours.  If you felt some really strongly-or for an extended period of time, not just a fleeting moment-feel free to add two, three, four, or even five check marks.  Then tally the checks for positive emotions (your PE total) and negative emotions (your NE total). Divide your PE by your NE to calculate the positivity in your life. This formula is a guaranteed mood booster, created by game designer Jane McGonical, PhD, author of the book, Superbetter.


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Boy oh boy. I have to learn how to keep sugars and carbohydrates in my diet without the guilt. My last bloodwork results showed an elevation in my sugar levels. UGH! I’ve always heard that sugar is poison, however, I do think it’s wrong to perpetuate the idea that it is somehow toxic. Here me out.

Sugar is in fruit – not toxic. Sugar is in breast milk – not toxic.  Sugar is in our very bloodstream at all times.  If it wasn’t, we would be dead.  Every culture today, including those who are eating healthy diets indelibly linked to low rates of chronic diseases and cancer, eat sugar.  Hello baklava.

So, sugar is not poison.  The only rational message about the perils of sugar is that an excess is harmful.  Just as an excess of oxygen, water or calcium is lethal.  It is the dose that makes the poison. Make sense?

Cane sugar, beet sugar and corn syrup, among others, and refined flours, which are pure starch, are cheap and used in copious amounts in our food supply, contributing mightily to our excessive intakes-and that’s very bad. We have been living and yes, dying, on a diet of unintended consequences.  We now are left drowning in a rolling sea of obesity, diabetes and cancer.

While it’s no secret that foods like soda and donuts are packed with added sweeteners, the dirty truth remains that frozen stir-fry dinner can easily have the same amount of sugar as 16 gummy bears! Sugars and starches are added to sweet foods like peanut butter and oatmeal, but also savory foods like tomato sauce and crackers.  This overload of starch and added sugars invariably leads to obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and diabetes.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center published shocking results of a new study that, when you think about it, aren’t really all that surprising.  Researchers found that those who eat a diet high in starches and sugars may be as much as two times more likely to suffer from lung cancer than those who don’t. Remember, when you have a spike in blood sugar, a spike in insulin follows. This triggers compounds that cause cells to grow, increasing the risk of cancer cell proliferation. With this in mind, it’s time to meet with a nutritionist.

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Image: Retroyou.co.uk


“I love people who make me laugh.  I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh.  It cures a multitude of ills.  It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

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Daily appreciation may sound grandiose or even a little woo-woo. But, let me ask you a question: Have you ever heard people say, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”?

After a breast cancer diagnosis and hysterectomy surgery, I know all too well what it feels like to know when my health is gone.  I have to say that it felt rotten (understatement of the decade), but the Shining Moment is that I now have a much better understanding of the value and joy and uniqueness of waking up every morning and feeling good. Now there are certainly days when I wake up and think about all of the things that I have to do.  That’s part and parcel of life. The memory of my experience(s) with earth shattering illness, brings me back to a sense of appreciation.  Here are a few other things that I do when I need a gentle reminder (or a kick in the pants!) to appreciate each and every day.

  1. Look at nature. I am amazed by how much beauty shines through.  For example, this morning when walking in my neighborhood, I saw the most gorgeous yellow flower peeking through my neighbor’s nearly dead garden.  That was a Shining Moment for sure!
  2. Move my body.I have been slow to return to my normal level of exercise (running, hiking, tennis, yoga), but I am enjoying things that I wouldn’t normally do, like walking and restorative yoga.  They bring a different kind of peacefulness from my more intense workouts.
  3. Listen to birds singing.What can I say?  It’s awesome!
  4. Breathe deeply.  Easier said than done when I’m stressed, but the more that I practice doing it, the more quickly it comes naturally.  Often, I inhale for 5 counts and then exhale for 5 counts…and repeat as necessary!
  5. Let it Go (yes, just like Ava in Frozen!) When I find myself endlessly going over past mistakes or worrying myself into knots, I realize that sometimes I just need to say, “Listen, I can’t do this, and I can’t control it, and what’s going to happen is going to happen.”

The best and biggest thing that I do each and every day is make a Shining Moment list.  Sometimes this list begins with the things listed above and sometimes it is the bigger things, like my health. Whatever I include reminds me of how much I truly appreciate my life, no matter how challenging things can (& do!) become!


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At the age of 29 Dave Dubin heard the words no one want to hear-you have cancer. Just a few short years later, a second tumor, then a third.  It was during that time Dubin learned he had Lynch Syndrome, an inherited disorder caused by genetic mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing certain cancers, in particular colorectal cancer.

One in 440 people are Lynch-positive but likely do not know it. Now a three-time cancer survivor, the 48-year-old married father of three and his wife Robin are making it their mission to spread awareness through their foundation AliveAndKickn. People are encouraged to share medical information via the foundation’s HEROIC Registry that can in turn help researchers develop new treatments and conduct further studies.

To learn more, visit http://aliveandkickn.org/heroic-registry

Source: Katie Hay

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practicing yoga

Image: Upperlimits.com


We constantly hear or read how important regular exercise is to overall health and wellness, and while this is true for the general population, it is also important for patients with cancer and survivors.  If the gym scares you, do not worry:  many routines can be done right from the comfort of your own home such as yoga.

I L.O.V.E. yoga. I practiced while going through my treatment plan for breast cancer and I truly felt that it eased symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and decreased range of motion and weakness that I experienced after my cancer diagnosis. I was informed by my oncologist that is also improves cardiovascular, respiratory and bone health and enhances mood and sleep. My instructor was able to scale many poses down for me to fit my needs and abilities during my treatment.

Today, I still do yoga, and still L.O.V.E. It brings me a sense of peace and I really feel centered. Practicing yoga helps me to regain my inner strength.

I hope you try it!

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Image: Youtube.com


“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now. ~ Buddha

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“To make mistakes is human, to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”~ William Arthur Ward

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Smoothie Bowl


Image: Goodhousekeeping.com

MMM…Morning. I love my breakfast smoothies, especially sundae style. I eat my smoothies with a spoon sometimes loaded with toppings. My favorite is my tropical smoothie that is soooooooooooo unbelievable. I pulse 1 frozen and sliced banana in a blender with 1 cup of frozen mango chunks and frozen pineapple chunks. Then, I add 1 cup almond milk and I blend it until smooth, but still thick. I occasionally stop, stir and taste. Finally, I pour it into a bowl. How easy is this recipe? I usually pile on chopped almonds, shredded coconut, and fresh kiwi, mango and blueberries. YUMMA YUMMA!

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