Archive for inspiration

Live, Love & Laugh MORE Often… despite the fact that #cancersucks

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While we were battling Alan’s cancer, I printed out the 50 inspirational lessons below and placed them on my bathroom mirror.  I needed to be reminded that life was still good, despite the onslaught of heartbreaking news we were receiving.   And now, 4 years after his passing, I STILL read them every morning as I’m getting dressed.  It gives me perspective and helps me remember that although life isn’t what I expected it to be, it’s still a gift…. after all, that’s how Alan always saw it.

 

In honor of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I think it’s fitting to re-post these lessons, written by Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.  If you’ve read them before, they are a great reminder on how to live life.  And if you’ve never read them, enjoy.  I wish you all a healthy, sweet, joyful, cancer-free New Year!  xo

 

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

The Power of Resilience is in EVERYONE!

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The power of resilience is in everyone.

 

I saw this on HopeLab’s FaceBook Page and had to repost it on CancerHawk today.  It so eloquently redefines what is within each of us.  Cancer has shown me that each one of us is stronger than we realize.  When you look in the mirror, what do you see? xoxoxoxoxo

L’Shana Tovah (Happy New Year) & Some Advice on How to Live Life

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Readers of CancerHAWK have told me that this particular post really resonates with them. So in honor of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I think it’s fitting to re-post this one today… and BTW, I STILL read this every single morning as I’m getting dressed- it hangs on a mirror in my bathroom.  It gives me perspective and helps me remember that although life isn’t what I expected it to be, it’s still a gift…. after all, that’s how Alan always saw it.  Wishing you all a healthy, sweet, joyful, cancer-free New Year!

 

This post is called “How to Live Life” and was written by Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.  Ms. Brett says, “To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written.”  She recently added 5 more lessons.  So without further ado, here is Regina Brett’s list of 50 life lessons…

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Innovative Research + Funding = Hope

 

During the summer of 2009, my husband was diagnosed with pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma.  One year later, at the young age of 47, he died.  Throughout that year, we had some of the top cancer researchers in the world working on Alan’s case.  Their efforts gave us hope that we would overcome Alan’s cancer.  This hope gave us the strength to get out of bed every day and enabled us to endure more pain and disappointment than I care to remember.

 

Despite the fact that Alan passed away, I believe that cancer is a disease that can be cured.  Although much progress has been made in the war against cancer, we still have a long way to go.  Medical research that is taking place right now continues to fuel my hope that one day we will live in a world with NO cancer.

 

CONSANO (v) to heal in Latin

 

Meet CONSANO.org, a nonprofit crowdfunding platform (founded by breast cancer survivor Molly Lindquist) that enables individuals to donate any amount- small or large- to specific medical research projects they feel passionate about.

 

Here’s how CONSANO.org works:

1. Browse the list of projects & choose one (or more ;-) ) that mean something to you.  All projects have been reviewed by members of Consano’s volunteer Scientific Advisory Board to ensure that a project is legitimate, easily understood, relevant, and has the potential to lead to improvements in patient care.

 

2. Donate any amount directly to that project.  100% of your donation (minus a 2.2% PayPal processing fee) will go directly to support that project.

 

3. Receive quarterly updates from the researcher through the lifecycle of the project.  AMAZING!

 

Also check out the CONSANO blog… It features stories written by patients, family members, and friends- anyone touched by an illness.  By sharing our stories, we can help provide inspiration, hope, and a strong sense of community to others navigating their own journey.  If you’d like to share your story on CONSANO, please email info@consano.org.  To read mine & Alan’s story, click HERE.

Dedicate A Day to A Sarcoma Warrior

Miles2Give is literally running from the Golden Gate Bridge to the White House in the name of sarcoma.

Miles2Give is literally running from the Golden Gate Bridge to the White House in the name of sarcoma.

sarcoma (n):  A malignant tumor that arises from the musculoskeletal system tissues such as bone, muscle or connective tissue.  Sarcomas comprise 1% of adult cancer cases and 15% of pediatric cases.  Although sarcomas can arise anywhere on the body, the most common location is in the limbs.  There are over 30 subtypes of sarcoma; many are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation; diagnosis often occurs after the cancer has metastasized.  

 

Before Alan was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in 2009, I had never even heard of the word “sarcoma” much less known anyone who was touched by it.  In the last few months, I can not believe how many incredible people I’ve met who have been affected by sarcoma and are now working hard to do some good.

 

Meet Landon Cooper, an ultra-runner from Alabama who founded an organization called Miles2Give.  Landon and his team at Miles2Give are currently running 3,000 miles across the US to raise awareness of sarcoma as well as funds for much-needed sarcoma research.  While doing so, they are dedicating each day of running to a person who is battling sarcoma or who has lost their life to sarcoma.  I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E!

 

There is no cost to “Dedicate A Day… so if you know anyone touched by sarcoma, pass it on… click HERE for more information.

 

Last week, Landon ran for my sister in law’s dear friend Paula Tackas, an 8 year sarcoma survivor and incredible woman to boot. ;-)   I’m going to dedicate a day in July for Alan since that is when Landon will be running in Maryland/DC.    I know Alan would love that.

A Little Hug Goes A Long Way

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Please share a hug with someone who needs one today.  #RandomActsOfKindness

Inspirational Quotes…

http://pinterest.com/ihadcancer/inspirational-quotes/

http://pinterest.com/ihadcancer/inspirational-quotes/

 

Today is March 4th and this is a very special day for me… today marks the 18th anniversary of my first date with Alan, a day we celebrated each year with sushi & wine. Today also marks the 2 year anniversary of Cancerhawk.  In honor of this day, I’d like to post some inspirational phrases that helped us get through those occasional moments that were too much to bear.   If you have a favorite quote or saying, please share it with us…. what you say might just brighten someone’s day. ;-)

 

18 Inspirational Quotes for Cancer Patients (Or Anyone for that Matter)…

Why only 18?  The number 18 symbolizes “life” & “good luck” in Judaism.

 

1.  “No one is guaranteed a tomorrow… not me, not you, not a person with cancer. So let’s make the best out of today.”~ Alan Stoller

2.  “Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” ~John Diamond

3.  “Time is shortening. But every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me.” ~Ingrid Bergman

4.  “We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell.” ~Lance Armstrong

5.  “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” ~Cayla Mills

6.  “What Cancer Cannot Do – Cancer is so limited… It cannot cripple love, It cannot shatter hope, It cannot corrode faith, It cannot destroy peace, It cannot kill friendship, It cannot suppress memories, It cannot silence courage, It cannot invade the soul, It cannot steal eternal life, It cannot conquer the spirit.” ~Author Unknown

7.  “Cancer may have started the fight, but I will finish it.” ~gotCancer.org

8.  “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~Buddha

9.  “Never, never, never give up.”  ~Winston Churchill

10.  “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ~Winston Churchill

11.  “Strength is born in the deep silence of long-suffering hearts; not amidst joy.” ~Felicia Hemans

12.  “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” ~Christopher Reeve

13.  “It’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln

14.  “Scars are tattoos with better stories.” ~Author Unknown

15.  “He who has a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

16.  “When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

17.  “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

18.  “At any given moment you have the power to say this is NOT how the story is going to end.” ~Author Unknown

(Sources: How To Be Happy;  Everyday Health;  Quote Garden)

 

I LOVE This Poem…

Wishes for 2013

humpback whale

In light of the upcoming New Year, I received an email entitled “Gratitude” (which is posted below) about an amazing rescue of a humpback whale.  Although this story has absolutely nothing to do with cancer, I thought it was a beautiful reminder of how any of us- human being or whale- can beat the odds… and how one small act of kindness can make a huge difference.  So please let this be the year that we all beat the odds, make a difference and kick cancer’s ass out of this universe… ;-)

“In December of 2005, there was a front page story in the San Francisco Chronicle sharing the news about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso and a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate ) and radioed an environmental group for help.

Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude. I pass this on to you, my friends, in the same spirit.”

I wish you all a very happy, HEALTHY, peaceful, kick-ass New Year.

Tales of Triumph

Over the past 3+ years, I’ve met so many incredible people touched by cancer.  I’ve met both newly diagnosed cancer patients and 20+ year survivors.  I’ve met caregivers and concerned family members & friends trying to advocate for a loved one.  I’ve met doctors and surgeons and researchers too.  Many of them have asked to guest blog on my site…. but they do not write about resources, they instead have a story to share.

To help them share their stories or tales of triumph, I’m launching this new section on CancerHAWK called “Tale of Triumph” where you can read about their experiences and their perspectives and their journeys.  I hope these posts inspire you the way they have inspired me.

 

*** This video was created by mesothelioma survivor Heather Von St. James.  The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is a fantastic resource to help anyone touched by mesothelioma.

 

 

*** This post below was written by Eva Grayzel, tongue cancer survivor & founder of SixStepScreening.org, a grassroots oral cancer awareness campaign. 

What Mom puts herself before her kids?  I had the sore on my tongue for a month.  Everything else seemed more important. Finally, I got to an oral surgeon who did an incisional biopsy.  The results were ‘Hyperkeratosis”, which I was told was a hardening of the skin, like a callous.  Nothing to be concerned about.Cohen Family 5x7H2

I had no symptoms for 2 years.  Early stage oral cancer is often asymptomatic.  You don’t feel it, but it can be detected by the trained eye of a dental professional.

The sore returned. I was bounced back and forth between my dentist and oral surgeon for gels, rinses, shaving of the teeth to reduce irritation, even a  plastic retainer that covered my teeth to prevent irritation to the area during the night.

“If it doesn’t improve, come back,”  I was continually being told.  Why was I being asked to determine whether my condition was improving?  Living with it everyday, the changes were subtle.  If my dentist or oral surgeon mentioned oral cancer as a possibility, I think I would have been more proactive as the sore continued becoming more painful.

After 8 months, I developed an unbearable earache, and was treated for water on my eardrum. I was waking up throughout the nights in tears.

I returned to the oral surgeon desperate for answers. “Your tongue is small and we don’t want to cut it up unless we have to, but at this point, I guess the next step would be another biopsy.”  For the first time, after 9 months of treatment at his office, I thought I should look elsewhere for answers.

A family friend told me to get to a medical center and recommended Dr. Mark Urken, chief of Head and Neck Surgery at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC.  I took the bus into NYC that day not having an inkling that the gross sore on my tongue was cancer.  He felt the enlarged lymph node in my neck, looked at the classic ulceration on my lateral tongue, and after doing a minimally invasive procedure, told me I was in an advanced stage of oral cancer.

I went into shock.  I ate well, exercised, had no risk factors commonly associated with oral cancer.  My surgery included a radical neck dissection and partial reconstruction of my tongue.   I was given a 15% chance of survival.

During radiation, when I was teetering on the tightrope between life and death, I thought good and hard about how I would be remembered by my young children.  I would not be remembered for sitting through soccer games, but for how I made a difference in other peoples lives.  So, when I got a second chance at life, I got to work. First, I started at home with my own children.

How will my children know what I do to make a difference, unless I tell them?  We started a tradition with our charity box.  Every day we would put money in and say how we brought a little light into someones life, or how someone brought light into our life.  We are all role models, performing good deeds every day, but often without a special way to share our kind acts with those we love.  The charity box became an opportunity to instill my values of giving charity as well as reaching out to others.  We start every family holiday with the passing around the charity box and saying what makes us grateful.

Another family tradition I initiated was blessing my children every night before their goodnight kiss.  I wanted them to know how special they were on a regular basis.  Why is criticizing so easy and praising those we love most in the world so difficult?  Bedtime took 2 minutes instead of two hours because my children felt everything they needed to fall asleep:  Praised, loved, and safe.  One day, my son asked me who blesses me.  I told him the truth: no one.  He put his hands on my head that night and blessed me.  That gesture made a lifelong imprint on my soul.  It doesn’t matter what age you attain, the education you acquire, or the profession you practice, you can bless and enrich another persons life.

To prevent this disease from happening to others, I started SixStepScreening.org to raise awareness not only for the general public but for dental professionals.  Also, I wrote two books for children to help them understand a cancer diagnosis in the family. Visit Talk4Hope.com for a free download of sample pages.

Many times I asked myself, “Why me?”  A friend gave me an answer:  “Why NOT you?”  Now, I tell my story professionally.  It is more than a mission to educate, but a tribute to those that came before me, and an obligation to those that will follow.  It’s been thirteen years since my diagnosis.

Eva Grayzel is Motivational Speaker, Interactive Performance Artist, and Author.  She founded SixStepScreening.org, a grassroots oral cancer awareness
campaign demonstrating the Six-Step oral cancer screening.  Also, Eva is the author of ‘Mr. C Plays Hide and Seek,’ and ‘Mr. C The Globetrotter’ to be released in May 2013.  Visit EvaGrayzel.com.

Thank you Eva for all you are doing to raise awareness of oral cancers.  Early detection saves lives! xo