Saturday, December 19, 2009

Letters To God-The Film

As I reflect on the many things I'm grateful for as we bring 2009 to a close, what really comes to mind is the wonderful movie I worked on this summer as a casting associate. Words can't convey how proud and honored I am to have worked on this amazing story, inspired by the life and legacy of Tyler Doughtie. Tyler battled brain cancer and his story will come to the big screen in "Letters To God", a tribute to Tyler and to all of the children who are battling and winning the war against cancer.

I try really hard not to ask "why me?", because as you will often hear people say, "why not me?" And it's true, why not me? I'm incredibly blessed to have lived my childhood years happy and healthy. There are children in this world who have never had a moment without pain. To that I say, why them? Tyler's story is sad yet inspiring. It gives you hope. Hope that even in your darkest hour, you are never alone and even after we're gone we have the power to inspire and lift up so many people.

There was a cast and crew screening last Sunday and I'm proud to say I almost made it through without crying. I pushed my tears back every time I felt them surface(I hate crying in public mainly because I'm such an ugly crier) What pushed me over the edge were the final moments just before the credits rolled...there's a tribute to cancer survivors everywhere and I am one of them, I am a SURVIVOR!! I'm honored to have been in such great company, yet it's moments like that, that bring it home. Cancer waged a war against me and I will never forget that. I live with it everyday as do many people. Seeing a side by side picture of me during treatment and me in the present day was a journey in itself. I instantly went back in time and remembered that just two years ago my world had been rocked to its core. Two years ago, I joined a group of people with whom I will never forget, my new family.

For me working on this film is another sign that there is a plan for all of us. When I left my job at Nickelodeon three years ago, I would have never guessed that I would have been given the opportunity to work on such an amazing film. A film to which I could relate to on so many levels. A film that will make sure that one little boy's battle and legacy will on.

"Letters To God" In theaters April 9th 2010

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are age requirements killing us?

Are all of the guidelines and restrictions when it comes to what age we should be screened for a particular disease really in our best interest? Yes, I believe everything should come with parameters, but to what expense? Do health officials know when to ignore the guidelines as much as they know when to follow them?

I just read about David Cohen the 40 year old veteran who is suing the VA Hospital because they denied his request for a colonoscopy. A request that was made because he has a family history of colon cancer, including his grandmother who died from the disease and other family members who have exhibited symptoms. He has proof that just last year he was denied just a few minutes after his request was made. How is a few minutes enough time to make a sound decision on something as important as a screening test that could possibly save your life?

So now Mr. Cohen is in for the fight of his life. He was diagnosed with stage 4 Colon Cancer and was given 26 months to live. From what I've seen and read about him, I believe he has the will to beat what he's been told, but is this something that could have been prevented? Sure, he may have gotten cancer no matter what, but to what degree? With early detection, we're talking about stage 1 or 2, when the chances of survival are far greater.

We need health-care reform in the worst way and on so many levels. A CNN anchor asked Mr. Cohen today why he didn't turn away from the VA when they repeatedly turned him down and just pay for the test himself. He, like so many other American's couldn't afford it and I suspect in some way he probably believed just a little bit that the people who turned him down and denied his request knew what they were talking about. Navigating the system is challenging at best when you have insurance and doctor's on your side, what happens when you don't.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just enjoy the ride...

My cup runneth over with random thoughts and emotions. So much so I don't know where to start.

Yesterday was the Ovarian Cancer Of Florida's annual Holiday Party...a small group of the finest people I know. I am so inspired by the women I walk beside and truly grateful that I am along for the journey. Whenever I am around them, I am reminded of my purpose. I am here and still alive because I have a message. A message to young women all of over the world. A message to minority women. A voice for those who are undeserved and often left behind or left for dead. So much has transpired over the last few years and sometimes I just want to sit and be still. If I make no moves, there's a good chance I can avoid all disappointments.

I was talking to my mom the other day and she told me an interesting story about my dad. My dad just finished treatment for Prostate Cancer and it seems his passion for giving has quadrupled. She ran across quite a few envelopes with donations in them...all ready to be mailed to various organizations and people in need. The surprising part for my mom was the number of envelopes he had ready to go. They like most of us have their list of go-to charity's, but it seems that this years list had exploded. As I listened, I realized that my dad's eagerness to take care of the world is a side effect from being a survivor. I equate it to being so thankful and grateful that you are here, you want to do whatever you can to help others. As survivor of anything you realize up close and personal what the alternative to surviving is and for a lot of people that thought remains a figment of their imagination for a really long time. It's something you wish you could bottle up and distribute to the world in a lovely glass bottle, a feeling you wish people could experience and execute without having to go through a life threatening illness.

Another side effect for me is that not only do i want to help the world, I want to do everything if I don't I will run out of time. I want to fast forward to a successful business, fantastic trips and voyages with Dan, family, & friends. Advocacy work that MAKES a difference in the lives of women all over the world. And last but never least, maybe just maybe a family of our own, be it conventional or unconventional, I know that we can make a difference in the life of a child.

I'm praying that God gives me the strength and courage to tackle all that I want to achieve and even if I stay a bit along the way, I will remember to enjoy the ride!!

Wishing you all many blessings this holiday season!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mammogram or Bust!!

"Women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer, according to updated guidelines set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force."

So the "experts" have spoken...again. Up until now mammograms were routine for women 40 and over. Now a task force that consist of not one oncologist has changed the advisory and has recommended that women between 40 and 49 should consult with their individual doctor to see if it's in their best interest to have a mammogram. They say routine mammograms in younger women are responsible for early detection breast cancer in about 15% women in this age group. In my opinion(and I'm no expert) this means that without that early screening method, there's a chance that a good number of those same women would go undiagnosed until it was probably too late.

So now it's up to your doctor and unfortunately insurance companies to give the final yes. I am forever thankful that my original gyn did not DISMISS me because of my age. Statistically, Ovarian Cancer is a 55-60 year old Caucasian woman's disease. (I'm gearing up on for another blog post, where I will tackle that statistic head on.) And unlike breast cancer, there is no screening tool to detect Ovarian Cancer. It's up to you to educate your doctor and push him to dig deeper if you feel like something is wrong. I guess the same now goes for women 40-49 when it comes to breast cancer and BTW-they're not so sure self-exams are a good way to spend your time either...who are these people and how can we get them to collectively agree to stop talking and leave well enough alone?

When will we get it? We can save millions of dollars on treatment if we had more preventative measures in place. Stop trying to cut corners!! No matter what your political affiliation, you have to agree that without adequate health-care we are ALL at risk!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Three Birthdays beyond diagnosis...

Birthday's take on a whole new meaning when you experience something as devastating as a cancer diagnosis. I remember being so excited to reach 10, because that meant I was now in the double digit club. 13 meant that I was OFFICIALLY a Teenager. 16, well we all know that every girl dreams about their "sweet 16", although I didn't have a party, I still felt that along with 16 came some rite of passage. After-all, on all of the shows I grew up watching, from The Brady Bunch to The Cosby Show--16 was a milestone, it was the age you could date, get your ears pierced, wear know those things that scream "I'm a woman now"....18 gave me the right to vote, 21 the right to have the drink of my choice, 25 meant I was half way to the big 3-0, and 30...well after that I kind of stopped counting.

My 36th birthday was on Thursday and I'm back to counting. Instead of counting towards the big 4-0, I'm counting away from the big C. I was diagnosed at the age of 33 with Ovarian Cancer, six weeks before my 34th Birthday. So this is officially my 3rd birthday after diagnosis. Never in a million years would I have guessed that this would be my life at 36. The best thing about life at 36 is that I'm aware and more thankful and grateful for every day I have here on earth. For the people who surround me and love me for who I am. Sometimes I sit and watch people who supposedly have it all. The husband, house, kids, dream job & car. I watch in amazement as these same people still find something to complain about. How is that possible?

Earlier today I caught a little bit of "Extreme Home Makeover" know the one that no matter how hard you try, you can't watch with out shedding enough tears to remove a drought. A little girl had been writing the show forever, begging for help for her family of 7 who were forced to leave their home and live in a hotel room because of toxins that were found in their home. She prayed and she prayed, and at times she wanted to give up. She told her mom that part of her felt that God just didn't care about them.

I understand her , probably more than someone who hasn't experienced a loss or traumatic event. Every year that I'm blessed with another birthday I'm reminded that no matter what, we have to stay faithful and positive. We have to stay committed to our journey and the road we are traveling. No it's not easy, but what is? I still have my moments of despair, but that's okay. I may not have everything I want in life, but I have everything I need.

So here's to another birthday and to being open and receptive to the blessings that are bestowed upon me everyday.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a difference a year makes?

One year ago today, I had my "35 and Alive birthday party" birthday is actually in November, but I had my celebration early to make it easy on all of my friends and family coming in from out of town. Today was kind of bitter sweet for me. On one hand, I can't believe how far I've come in a year(still carrying that extra chemo wait, but hey...things could be worst right?) On the other, I can't believe how quickly things can change and not always for the better.

My week was pretty busy, Dan was away on business and yet I managed to stay pretty active, which made spending our 3rd wedding anniversary alone a lot easier to tolerate. The way I look at it, Dan having to go away on our anniversary was a sign that things are normal.. No special treatment needed, no pass because of a sick wife. So although it sucked, it was a great reminder that we are well on the road to normalcy.

Friday, I gave a speech at an Ovarian Cancer event sponsored by a sorority at the University of Central Florida(I've attached a pic from the festivities above) It was a small crowd but a great night spent with some of my favorite people and some new friends.

Saturday(Dan came home Friday night) we took a two and a half hour road trip to my cousins house. My aunt is gravely ill, battling lung cancer. Just one year ago at my party, she was cancer free and enjoying every moment of it. Just three months ago, she was struggling a bit but still working and living on her she can no longer speak.

We had to turn around and come home after a few hours of visiting as I had to get ready for my classes(I teach acting to kids and teens). A year ago, my classes were a distant dream and now they are a reality. I guess what all of the ups/downs, bumps/lumps make me realize is that no matter what our journey we should all be enjoying the moment.

I met two wonderful women at Friday's UCF event, a spoken word artist and a singer/musician. I was reminded through their performances that we should all be present and in the moment and remember that this too shall pass.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A OKAY on the check up front...

As I walked into the cancer center for my 8:30 appointment on Tuesday, the moment was a bit surreal. Not because of my looming appointment where I would find out it this ugly beast was still minding it's own business, but because my father who lives some 500 miles away, was walking into some building of his own to face his own beast, his first radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Even as I write these words, it's still unimaginable to me that cancer can strike not only once, but twice in the same family at the same time. We're not alone in this journey, there are millions of people in the same predicament all over the world. It doesn't make it any easier to digest, in fact I'd say it's equally annoying at best. The good news is that I'm still kicking cancer's butt and my dad is too!! It's funny, now that I know the word cancer I find myself hoping and praying that if anyone I know gets it, that they get a kinder more gentle version. Something manageable,something beatable...a kind version + a great attitude= a win win situation. Funny how our perspective changes with firsthand experience.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm a survivor...

This video is amazing!! I was going to attach it to a long and drawn out, we are all survivors kind of post...but it really is a stand alone piece. Please know that you are not alone in your fight!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I still plan on giving this speech when I accept my first Emmy or Oscar, but I thought it was only fitting that I that I pay homage to this day with some important thank-you's.

Two years ago today, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Two years ago today, my life was forever changed. Today, I am still here and blessed to be so.

Thank you to my wonderful hubby(Dan) who without him by my side this journey would have been a lot harder to navigate.

Thank you to the most wonderful parents in the world for being there every step of the way.

Thanks to all my friends & family, those near and far who have lifted me up and continued to lift me up in prayer.

THANK YOU to the wonderful team of Doctor's for making this journey a little less scary.

Thank you to the Ovarian Cancer Alliance for everything you do to make this diagnosis easier to understand.

And finally, it's without saying...I thank GOD for staying with me. There were times that I've question why, but at the end of the day I know there is a plan for me and it will revealed all in HIS time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back...

Sometimes I have to re-read my own entries in order to snap myself back into reality and to help me remember my journey. The past month or so hasn't left me wanting to write much. It could be that with every ache and pain, hot flash, or shortness of breath is a reminder that my life is not the same. It could be that while the world around me keeps moving and laughing and enjoying life I'm looking on from the sidelines wishing I too could be worry free. It could be that during this month of OVCA awareness, I haven't stopped talking and trying to educate women to take control of their bodies and while talking I'm faced with the reality that this is my world. I'm speaking from experience, first hand experience. It could be that I know so many women all across the globe who are in the midst of the fight of their life and I can't help but wonder if I will one day be in their shoes. The list is endless, but you get the idea...

So today, I re-read a few of my entries and I got back a little of my mojo...I'm remembering my cause--I'm remembering my fight--I'm remembering my sisters--I'm remembering our spouses and families.

Please know that this is only a moment and this too shall pass. This blog is for revealing the good, bad, and indifferent. I'm a work in progress, but who of us isn't?

BTW-If anyone has a remedy for hot flashes, please let me know...that could be one of the reason's I'm so grumpy:)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Women of Strength-The PinkTealies

Wednesday night I had the honor of attending and receiving an award at the 1st annual Pink Tealies Awards Symposium. The symposium brought together women all backgrounds, uniting us and acknowledging our individual journey's with breast or ovarian cancer. There were twelve us who were highlighted for our work and effort in leading the fight against cancer. I was honored to be one of the twelve.

There was a moment in the evening that forced me to step outside of myself and the moment. Dr. Kendrick, a gynecologic oncologist from the Florida Cancer Institute was giving a presentation on Ovarian Cancer...symptoms, statistics, & risk factors. That's when I tried to make my mental escape. I don't care how many times I hear those statistics(especially when delivered to a mass audience) I'm forced to remember that this isn't just general information, this is my information. This is my life, my journey and for the life of me I still can't figure out how I got here. I found myself fading in out of the present and visiting the past. The place where Ovarian Cancer wasn't a household name. The place where I dreamed big and out loud without limitations. A simpler, quieter's scary,two years later and it's still scary. It's scary to hear the statistics on how many women don't survive. It's scary to think hear about how many women struggle with ovarian cancer for the rest of their lives.

Before I took myself to the point of no return, I took a good look around my table. There sat five wonderful women. Five Ovarian Cancer SURVIVORS. A combined total of 57 years kicking Ovarian Cancer's butt. There sat five women who are defeating the odds in a big way, including a 26 year stage 4 survivor. A living miracle and an inspiration to many. I'm keeping my eyes on the prize and I'm staying focused, not on statistics but on what's in front of me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Teal Is The New Black-September is Ovarian Cancer Awarness Month

The symptoms are real...I'm real...I'm proof that this disease does not discriminate, proof that early detection is key ....bloating, frequent or urgent urination, back pain, pain during intercourse, abdominal pain...symptoms that if you're a woman you've probably experienced at some point during the month...the question on the minds of many is how do we take care of ourselves without becoming crazy and obsessed with every single pain or ache....

I won't tell you it's easy because it's not. It starts with knowing your body and knowing yourself. It starts with regular check ups. It starts with your voice and knowing how to use it.

Diagnosed at the age of 33 in October 2007, African-American and three weeks shy of my first wedding anniversary this is not how I pictured my life. Cancer happens to other people and on Lifetime movies, you know those movies you never want to watch, but always do. Almost two years later, I still wear the effects of's in my eyes, it's wrapped up in the extra pounds I now carry, it's in the random sweats that occur at the most inopportune time, it's in the monkey on my back...the monkey that reminds me that I am not the same, that I 'm constantly making adjustments to the way I live, the things I can and will never be able to do. I wear the effects but it's not who I am. What I am is a SURVIVOR an ADVOCATE, A WIFE, DAUGHTER, FRIEND, & CONFIDENT.

I am blessed to have a wonderful support system and team of doctors on my side. Would I rather be on the sidelines supporting the fight against cancer, ABSOLUTELY!! That's not my journey. My journey is to make sure that I pay homage to the women who walked before me and to be of inspiration to those who beside me, on my right and my left and those who will unfortunately follow in my shoes.

Thank you for helping to create awareness for this not so silent disease. Thank you to my husband, family, and friends for supporting me on the journey of a lifetime...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ramblings and rants from an OVCA survivor...

I had the wonderful opportunity to get together with my some of my favorite women today, fellow OVCA survivors. I almost didn't make it, as procrastination has become a real enemy of mine. I've known about this lunch for weeks, yet without failure, I insist on waiting to the last minute to get ready. I'm glad I made it. Being in such good company makes this disease a lot easier to handle. We're all in various stages with our journey, which can be both good and bad. Good because there's always someone to draw strength or seek advice from. Bad because, you always wonder, am I next? Every ache and pain brings forth so many concerns that most people don't have. In addition to trying to get back to normal, us survivors spend a lot of time trying to outrun that big bad monster, "RECURRENCE". Recurrence means that you begin the fight all over again and whether it's with additional surgeries or treatment, you've got to be ready to fight the good fight.

I heard about the passing of two wonderful women today, I'm praying for the families of those women. I want their families to know that I won't stop speaking and screaming from the top of my lungs about this ridiculous disease that does not discriminate...

Let's get this health care situation right. Whatever your political preference, know that you or someone you love may find themselves in a position one day where their well being or survival could depend on what kind of coverage is offered to those who are under insured. Personally, I don't care if you raise my taxes...if it means that my neighbor will be okay, have at it! My major concern with the health care reform is that it is user friendly. Meaning, everyone will know how to access it and use it with out a 52 page map. If it's not user friendly, why bother?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Man In the Mirror...

I spent some quality time this morning with MJ, you know him... the gloved one. I've heard "Man in the Mirror" about a million times and I know that some of Mike's lyrics are pretty profound, yet this morning I couldn't get enough of it... Sometimes we get so caught up in the grand gestures that people seem to respond so well to, we fail to realize that everything in life starts with baby steps. We've got to be the change we want to see...It starts at home, it starts with the man in the mirror.

"Man In The Mirror"
I'm Gonna Make A Change,For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,Gonna Make A DifferenceGonna Make It Right . . .
As I, Turn Up The Collar On MyFavourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,With Not Enough To EatWho Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To SeeTheir Needs
A Summer's Disregard,A Broken Bottle TopAnd A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other OnThe Wind Ya' Know'Cause They Got NowhereTo Go
That's Why I Want You To Know
I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To ChangeHis Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The WorldA Better Place(If You Wanna Make TheWorld A Better Place)Take A Look At Yourself, AndThen Make A Change
I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With NoHome, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,Pretending That They're Not Alone?
A Willow Deeply Scarred,Somebody's Broken Heart And A Washed-Out Dream(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern OfThe Wind, Ya' See Cause They Got No PlaceTo Be
That's Why I'm Starting With Me

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lauren Taylor McGowan

Mom & Lauren Taylor

Truth be told, I didn't know how I would feel. I love my best friend, so if the universe was aligned(as we'd all like it to be), I would with-out question love her newborn baby girl as well.
I've made peace with my journey, but like any woman who's had their right to bear children taken away from them, there are times when I still can't understand how I got to this place. Sure, I joined the cancer club, kicking and screaming the whole way as most people do, but how I got there is no longer the issue. It's how do I work through and process everything that comes along with this not so cheap membership.
INTRODUCING...Lauren Taylor

My best friend isn't the first person to have a baby in my immediate circle and odds are she won't be the last. Does that make it an easier pill to swallow? Some days it does, some days it doesn't. But such is life and I have a GOOD life. I'm here, alive and well. Things get better every day and when in doubt I'm reminded of how much worst things could be and that for me is really what keeps me moving.

My newest angel, Lauren Taylor McGowan made her debut on August 8th 2009. Her middle name is an ode to me, as my full name is Kia Riddick-Taylor. I'm honored that Tasha and her husband Joe wanted their daughter to have a piece of me to carry with her throughout life. I'm super glad that my married name is universal name. It works as a first, middle, and last name equally great. I LOVE the fact that there's is a new baby in my life that I can spoil and love(without the around o'clock feedings and diaper changes). The jury reached it's verdict pretty fast on this one ...I'm DEFINITELY in love as it should be:)

Dad & Lauren Taylor

Monday, July 27, 2009

FINALLY...My magazine debut...

It's been months since my big "photoshoot", you remember the one where the photographer joined me at my monthly luncheon for Ovarian Cancer survivors, a great treat organized every month by The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of FL. For those of you just joining my blog, I'll give you a brief recap of that magical day. After channeling my inner America's Next Top Model all thoughout lunch, the photographer then followed me home to catch some shots of Dan and I, kind of like something you'd see in "Ladies Home Journal"...shortly before the shoot I was interviewed for this same article where the writer would ultimately tell my story in an "as told to" format...which reads as if I'm speaking/writing in first person. The article would appear in the July issue of "All You Magazine", a magazine that you can only find in Walmart. I'm all for anything that creates awareness for OVCA, like many of you...that's my number one goal and the only way I can make since out of this dreadful disease. This article does just that! It creates awareness for the disease and reiterates that this disease does not discriminate!

Sounds good, right? A win win for all...sort of...

I say sort of, because although I'm pleased about the awareness Ovarian Cancer is getting, I don't feel like the article captures the true essence of who I am and how I've navigated my journey.

For starters, the article states that the hardest thing for me to process was the fact that I had to have a hysterectomy. For anyone who's a regular reader, you know that's simply not the case. I won't lie, the idea of having a hysterectomy at the age of of thirty-four totally sucks. No kids, instant menopause, and sleepless nights all thanks to my lack of ovaries...ovaries that I've had for over thirty years and as I told one class of nursing students that I recently spoke to, the WORST part is the fact that I had to contend with horrible periods for over twenty where's the justice in that!

I've said it once and I'll say it again, my hysterectomy was the EASIEST decision I ever made, as it was a matter of life or death and I CHOSE life. For ME it was the only decision. The article made it seem like my whole world was wrapped up in having children and a family of my own. I'm a smart, strong, confident woman and above all else I know that a family is what you make it.

The article also mentioned how I'd cry for days on end when I had treatment...yes, I admit tears would start out of no where, as chemo made me pretty emotional...but crying for days on end, even if I wanted to...Dan would never let that happen...not on his watch anyway:)

I wrote an e-mail to the lovely woman who interviewed me, not to complain or bitch...but to thank her for bringing OVCA to the limelight and to voice my concerns over some of the articles contents. She completely understood where I was coming from and although she did her best, once the piece leaves her hands it goes through a vigorous editing process, from there it's all out of her control. Having worked in the entertainment industry for years, I too know how these things work. Maybe I was too positive for someone dealing with such a hideous illness, maybe the idea of a young, newly married woman, struggling with the fact that her right to have children had just been taken away from her, would sell a few more magazines...who knows. I just know that I owed it to myself, my readers, and anyone out facing the same situation to speak up and speak out.

As soon as I can figure out a way to upload the article, I will...

*Okay-Here I am again, I think I got it. I had to upload the pdf to a media share sight, when you click on it it will take you to the file, from there you will be able to read it(hopefully)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It's been one year since my hysterectomy and a little over a year since my last chemo. Time moves on whether you like it or not.

My relationship with time has been on again off again.

There are days where all I want to do is go back in time, to a time where cancer never invaded my universe.

I've wanted time to stop moving, enabling me to capture whatever moment of happiness I was enjoying at the time in a bottle that I never unsealed. Feeling free to enjoy everything and everyone around me and not falling victim to anymore hurt or despair.

I've wished that time would move forward, so that I could see for sure that everything would be okay and resume to my regularly scheduled program of a happy home, life, and family.

A year ago, my biggest concern was going outside for the world to see me without my scarf.

A week ago I wrapped up work on my first feature film.

Nine months ago I was writing about my bff and her new pregnancy.

A week ago we gathered to give her a beautiful shower and now we're on baby watch.

Six months ago, I couldn't/wouldn't allow myself to think past my next doctor's appointment.

Today, I'm planning vacations and holidays.

Today, I'm telling cancer...catch me if you can!!

Time is an interesting machine...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

See ya in October...

If you're a friend on facebook then you've already heard this...I'm still kicking cancer's butt! I saw the good doctor today and I'm happy to report that all is well. My blood pressure of course was sky high(I think they call it white coat syndrome) My next appointment is in October, I've graduated to every four months...hip hip hooray!!!

Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers...I did pretty well with not stressing about it(being a productive member of society helps me through that)...


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Broken wing, but never spirit...

My house is a mess, I'm a mess(still carrying these 30 extra chemo pounds), I'm completely unorganized and yet things have never been better(health-wise and career-wise). I'm not complaining, I'm venting. Today is the first day in a long time that I've felt beaten up and broken. Today my camouflage comes off and if you don't want to see what's underneath I suggest you stop reading now.

I spend a lot of time and energy working to inspire people dealing with cancer or any critical illness. I want them to see that you can get to the other side and that life does go on. I believe in that. I believe that my journey will help someone else in their journey.

Today I had more quiet time than I've had in a long time and I think my thoughts got the best of me. I'm still angry. I'm angry at cancer. I'm angry for me, for the people who walked before me and for the people who will walk after me. I'm tired. I spend so much time rah rahing and advocating for the greater good that I've almost convinced myself that cancer has been okay. That I am okay with my path. Just to be clear, I'm not okay with...but I understand it. I know that I'm not the only person in the world, dealing with unwanted issues. These feelings don't make me ungrateful, they make me real. Human. Honest.

These feelings make me remember that I'm still broken. And that it's okay to say out loud for the world to hear, CANCER SUCKS!!!! Because it does...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In sickness and in health...

I'm proud to say that I don't take anything for granted, especially after my journey with OVCA. Although I've been guilty of it in the past and I may occasionally go there for just a moment in the present...I still believe that I appreciate everything I have and everyone around me.

I was talking to a women yesterday about my battle with cancer. You know how the conversation goes. You try and give them a brief synopsis in an effort to hit all the major bullet points while you still have their attention. A lot of people are afraid of the word "cancer" and whether consciously or unconsciously will check-out of the conversation not long after hearing the word. After chatting for a moment, she asked if I had kids. I said no, unfortunately my husband and I had only been married a year before I was diagnosed. This is where the story gets interesting...

The response I'm use to hearing generally has something to do with "oh I'm so sorry", "well they're plenty of kids out there" and my all time favorite "you can have one of mine". Yesterday's response was a bit different. It went something like "oh, did he leave you?" Wow! I couldn't believe it. Did he leave me? I had a flashing vision of the Doctor entering my room through a revolving door saying, "I'm sorry Kia you have cancer" and watching Dan as he exited through that same revolving door. I have never had one passing thought that Dan would leave me. I'm not naive, I know that marriage takes a lot of work even in the best of times. However, when you say I do, or at least when Dan and I did, we meant every word of it. Of course, I didn't expect to cash in on the in sickness and in health card so soon, but that's what it's there for right? Why else would you say it?

It turns out that the women I was talking to had known a few people who were left standing at the cancer treatment line without their spouse or significant other standing by their side. That had been her experience up until now and all that she had as a point of reference. I jumped at the opportunity to show her a different side of the coin. There are a lot of people hanging in there in the mix of adversity and people should know about them.

I was watching my favorite pastor today(Joel Osteen) while on the treadmill and he said something that really drove the events of my weekend home for me. Everyone is in your life for a reason and a season. God does not promise us that they will be there forever. If they leave, then it was their time to leave. Choose to remember and focus on the positive things and people around you, doing so you can never go wrong.

There are a lot of people out there willing and able to take that walk with you. How can you see them if you never unblock your view?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Has it really been...a month since my last post??

Health wise, I'm doing great! I've got a bit of a cold right now, but I went to the emergency clinic yesterday and I think we've ruled out swine may think I'm crazy, but after my diagnosis of OVCA, I don't have too much faith in my once superhero abilities and I know that getting swine flu wouldn't be the strangest thing that's ever happened to me. I just had my port flushed(yep, still walking around with my socket) and next week I go in for my CA125 followed by my 3 month follow-up on June 9th. It's amazing how fast that time rolls around...

I'm busier than I've been in months and it feels good. I still haven't mastered the work/life balance that some people speak so highly of, but I'm getting there.

If you'll indulge me for a minute, I'll give you a little back story as to where I've been before I recap the highlights of where I'm going.

BC(Before Cancer) I was a career women! I lost sight of that girl, but I think we've finally reconnected. I worked as a casting director for the number 1 kids channel in the WORLD...Nickelodeon! I still plug Nick and it's amazing shows whenever I can...after-all Nick is where I learned everything that I know and for that I will be forever grateful. In addition to working on casting for some of the best shows ever, I had the wonderful opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the the biggest celebs in the business.

I made a decision to leave that world behind when I re-connected with my soul-mate. I knew it was time to spread my winds, I just didn't know how far I'd be asked to spread them:) When I arrived in FL in October 06, my plan was to start an acting school through which I would teach kids and teens, with the hopes of maybe identifying a potential star or two and without question, enriching the lives of many. I'd just gotten things up and running in September 07, when the cancer boom landed upon me in October 07.

Between October 07 and now my life's been an open book for any and everyone to take a peek at. I never imagined things would turn out the way they have, just added proof that we're not in control, no matter how much we like to think we are.

Back to me, the present me...things are moving along better than I would have ever anticipated. Once I finally made the decision to put one foot in front of another, the rest was smooth sailing(okay, maybe not smooth...but I was definitely sailing) In addition to my teaching, I've been working as a casting associate on a feature film, entitled "Letters To God".

Letters to God is the story of a 9-year-old boy who writes letters to God during his battle with cancer, and ends up touching countless lives with the power of his faith.

What are the chances that my first gig AC(After Cancer) would be a wonderful story about hope and faith. Words can't describe how incredibly honored and blessed I am to have the opportunity to do work that involves my two passions in life(CANCER and the world of Entertainment). I've said it before and I'll say it again, we are where we should be in life, in this moment and in this time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Looking beyond cancer...

Wow! It's been ages since I've written, let alone had time to write.

I've got a lot of GOOD stuff happening for me right now. I can't spill the beans just yet, but let's just say this...IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK!!! I will be able to share more about it later...right now it takes everything I have to wrap my brain around and process it myself.

I moving forward and beyond cancer, yet the thought of that monster sneaking up on me again remains prevalent. Most days, I'm able to push pass my negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Occasionally those thoughts get the better of me. I think of how annoyed and pissed off I'd be if it reared it's ugly head and interrupted all of the goodness that's coming my way!!

My thoughts are always with my sisters who are still battling this disease. Please keep them and anyone who is suffering in your thoughts and prayers. My prayer list is getting pretty long, sometimes I fall asleep before I can get them all out. I know that GOD knows what's in my heart, so he listens even when I can vocalize what I'm feeling.

I promise to do a better job of keeping up with my blog. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't want to forget my journey or my mission to spread awareness. I've got some time management skills to work on(never been my strong suit even before cancer whacked me in the head)...I'm a work in progress, bare with me!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Genetic testing and me...

I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I know that I made the right decision, the right decision for me.

Yesterday I had my blood drawn for the Brac Analysis Testing. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it's a genetic test for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. I have no history of breast or ovca besides my great auntie on my father's side who had breast cancer, however I'm concerned that I was diagnosed with OVCA at the age of 33 and that I have a history of cystic breast.

Before they run my blood, the company that does the genetic testing will have to check with my insurance company to make sure that they will cover the cost. If they choose not to(which wouldn't surprise me at all considering how insurance company's are), I will probably let sleeping dogs lie. There's no way I could afford to pay thousands of dollars at this point, so I'll just have to pray on it:)

What happens if I'm positive? I really can't say. I've already had OVCA so my biggest concern besides a possible recurrence would be breast cancer. I don't know if I'm the type of person who would choose to have an elective mastectomy. There's a part of me that feels certain that I would and then there's the part of me that is annoyed that I would even have to contemplate a decision like that. Isn't one cancer enough to deal with? I think so, but as I learned very quickly, I am not in control of this journey.

I wish more monority women would face their issues head on. There's no reason why we aren't benefiting from resources like the Brac Analysis to help us with early detection, ultimately saving our lives. I wish more doctor's were proactive in educating minority women about their options. The disparities in healthcare are a gap that we have to bridge. I'm sure I sound like a broken record to those of you who follow my blog, but until I see the numbers changing and more people taking control of their health, a broken record is what I'll be.

As far as my pending genetic test goes, what I can say is that I'm not going to worry about it. No need to put the cart be before the horse(I'm full of old adages this entry). Cancer has given me the strength to do things I've never dreamed of. My biggest concern of the day use to be what I was going to have for lunch. Thankfully, I'm slowly reconnecting with that person and it feels good!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ovarian Cancer who???

When I first entered the room there wasn't an empty chair in sight. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that I had just stumbled upon the biggest sale of the year at Macy's. Once I was finally able to sit down, I made friends with the nicest women, she's battling stage 4 Ovarian Cancer and she's doing really well. She's on her second recurrance and just looking at her, you'd never be able to tell that she was on any form of chemo.

By the time I entered the lab to have my vitals taken, my blood pressure was sky high!! There is something about that office on check-up day that just doesn't sit well with me. I've tried meditating and the who's who of deep breathing activities, all to no avail. About an hour after I arrived for my check-up I was ushered to the back where my sheet and chilly table top awaited me. The nurse who ushered me in must have been new as she attempted to give my chart a quick once over whilst asking me questions, I'm guessing in an attempt to expedite the reading of the chart. "You're not on chemo are you?" I kindly told her nope, that was in my past and that's no longer a part of who I am. A few months ago, I would thought that was an omen...not this time. I simply corrected her and proceeded to get undressed.

The good doctor came in moments later, completed my exam, looked over my latest CA125 and announced that all was right with me and the world. You can't see me, but I'm doing the happy dance!! And that sound you hear, is a big sigh of RELIEF!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nothing exciting, but thought I'd check in....

Stopping by to give you a quick update. No metaphors, wise sayings, or advice to give. Just a simple update. I'm going in for my 3-month check-up tomorrow in addition to my port flush. I missed my port flush appointment last week...I just may be getting to the point that cancer isn't the center of my world. It's very unusual for me to forget any appointments ESPECIALLY when it's cancer related. I guess life really does move on. There's still a little part of me that will be super glad when tomorrow is over and I'm standing at the check-out desk scheduling my next 3 month appointment. It use to be that I lived my life according to days off from school or work, birthdays and any major holiday at which you're given great gifts, a plethora of food, or some good old fashioned R&R. Now 3-month intervals are what make me happy., you never know where it's going to take you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Remembering Jade Goody...

British reality star Jade Goody passed away this morning. Jade battled Cervical Cancer with grace, up until the end. She leaves behind two young boys which I'm sure was harder than the disease itself. As we lose another women to gynecologic cancer, I urge and encourage all of you to take of your body. There are some illness' in life that can't be avoided no matter what we do, but the better shape your body is in the better prepared for the fight you will be. I hadn't heard of Jade until her battle with cervical cancer became public, but if there's one thing I can gather from what I've read...she lived hard, worked hard, and most importantly loved hard. Enough said.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The ultimate guide to dealing with a cancer patient...

It's been a year since my last chemo and although I'm rapidly shedding the exterior label of a cancer patient I still get the "look" when people learn about my battle with Ovarian Cancer. Lets face it, Ovarian Cancer is a dreadful disease, I'm 35 and African-American. I don't look like Ovarian Cancer. So with that combination, the "look" is inevitable. And as much as I hate it, I can relate to the look, as it wasn't too long ago where the only thing I knew about cancer was what I saw on Lifetime TV.

So as I've just established, the looks aren't going to go away. And they shouldn't, they're a natural reaction to devastating news. The questions is, how do we move pass the look? There are a million resources out there that offer suggestions to cancer patients on how to take control of their disease. How about a few tips for those of you on the other side, friends and family who struggle with doing/saying the "right" thing.

  1. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know what to say or do. Odds are, you've never dealt with anything like this, so how would you know?
  2. Take a cue from the patient, see where they want to take the conversation. For me, there are days when I want nothing to do with cancer, then there are days where it consumes my every waking moment.
  3. Phone calls and e-mails are great, but if we don't call you back right away take no offense, we know you're there, we just might not be up to chatting. This is not an excuse to stop calling or writing, check in every now and then...when we come out of our fog, you're first on our list!
  4. Don't forget that a cancer diagnosis last longer than a week. We have a long road ahead of us and things tend to go silent after the immediate fanfare. We need support throughout our entire journey.
  5. If you're in the neighborhood bring by a meal. Caregivers have a lot on their plate and a day when they don't have to worry about cooking is always a good day. Don't ask just do it!
  6. Offer to accompany someone to treatment or a doctor's appointment. Again, our care-givers can really use a day off and these little gestures go a long way.
  7. Don't treat cancer like the elephant in the room. It's there, it's real...acknowledge it! It doesn't bite and you can't catch it by talking about it.
  8. Don't miss out on an opportunity to share an incredible journey with someone you care about.
  9. Knowledge is power! Do us a favor, educate yourself and other's.
  10. Keep us in your prayers, the more prayers the better!

Bonus**If you're looking for some great gifts to send to someone who's sick, visit Check out the cancer patients section, this site is well worth the click!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cancer+Fortune Cookie=Kia

"I don't know how to become unstuck"

"The only wrong thing, is to do nothing"

I have little scraps of paper all over the house with sayings just like the one above. Most times it comes to me via background noise coming out of the TV. I rush to look for a viable pen to write down what I've just heard, although I know these moments happen often, I'm never prepared and thus everything is written down in haste. I subsequently spend hours on end trying to decipher what I wrote. It's a vicious cycle, my vicious cycle. My husband says I'm like a giant fortune cookie. I laugh him off as if to say "your so silly", however I know he's right. Ovarian Cancer has turned me into a giant fortune cookie right in front of my very own eyes.

These little words of wisdom have helped me navigate this senseless disease. These little words validate what I already know to be true. We all seek validation, no matter what we're going through at the time. Validation that we are not alone in our journey, validation that we are on the right path, and validation that life does and will get better. We all have people around us who offer invaluable words of wisdom, yet more often than not those words are hard to process when it comes from someone so close to you. Fortune cookies have no vested interest in us, so in my opinion we can always count on them to give it to us straight!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action!!

My quest to spread awareness for this senseless disease is endless...last week I channeled my inner "America's next top model" just for the cause. Before I explain, let me just preface it with this...I have a WHOLE new appreciation for models and the endless hours they spend cheesing in front of the camera. Who knew that was such a hard job?

About a month ago I was interviewed by a writer who was writing a story for "All You" magazine, a magazine that's solely distributed through Walmart. Last week the magazine sent out a photographer to capture some pictures to accompany the article. They wanted to take pics of me while out and about, doing what I do best...spreading awareness...I didn't have anything lined up, so I suggested that they join me at the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida's monthly lunch-bunch. Every month survivor's,caregivers, and friends meet for a dutch lunch. It's a great way to connect outside of the treatment room and doctors office. It's one of those little things that can really help keep you sane. What I love most about it is that it keeps me connected to the people and cause I care most about.

It felt like my wedding day all over again. I think Preston, the photographer must have taken at least 500 shots. He got a truckload of shots both inside and outside of the restaurant, then followed me to my house for pic's of Dan and I(this is when things really started to feel like an issue of Ladies Home Journal). All I can say is that I did the best I could at channeling my inner Tyra Banks, hoping and praying that in between blinks I made her proud. The issue comes out this summer, I think it will give great exposure this disease that doesn't discriminate and for that I'll make a fool out of myself anytime!!

I want to give a shout out to my co-stars, the little ladies that I share this incredible journey with. They were such great sports, putting up with the constant flashing of the bulb and for joining me in my "starring role". I can't imagine my life without any of them, they all bring something special to my life, a gift worth a million bucks!!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dear President Obama...

Dear President Obama,

If anyone had told me that I would be spending the first few years of my marriage dealing with, battling, and advocating for a life threatening illness I would have never believed them. What I just described is something that happens on TV, something that happens to other people. Diagnosed in October 2007 at the age of thirty-three with Ovarian Cancer my reality up until then would be forever altered. In addition to wondering what my life would be like without early detection, I often wonder what my life would have been like without "quality" health insurance.

You, Mr. President are in the midst of what I imagine to be the biggest battle of your life. A fight to rectify the state of our economy and a fight to make sure that every America citizen has access to quality and affordable health care. I write this letter to say this, keep doing what you're doing.

I've been fortunate to have health insurance throughout my entire life. I am also fortunate because I understand the ramifications of not having adequate coverage. My cancer treatment included two surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and numerous office visits, blood draws, and scans. The sum total being somewhere between three and four hundred thousand dollars.

My husband and I are preparing to elect new insurance for the second time this year. His company is holding an additional enrollment period due to changes within the structure of their organization. Upon learning this, my immediate fear was that none of our new choices would be comparable to our current insurance and that my doctor's wouldn't be participants of the plan. The very same doctors who I credit with saving my life. As it turns out, my fears were valid, with the best out of the three new choices being an HMO. An HMO that forces us to go to in-network doctors. Our other two options including the one most comparable to the PPO we have now, both have a high deductibles and only a 90% coverage. Two plans that could result in thousands of out of pocket dollars should my cancer return. That's a stress that I can live without.

The one saving grace is that my gynecologic oncologist does accept the HMO plan. I will miss my other doctors greatly, but since keeping cancer at bay is my biggest concern at the moment, I'll have to make due. I am knowledgeable through experience, so I know that carrying around the responsibility of paying 10% out of pocket could be the very thing that takes you from living in your own home to living on a street. The difference between being able to put food on your table and standing in line at a soup kitchen.

I am writing for the people who don't have the knowledge or the voice. The everyday people who don't understand the convoluted and complex brochures that are handed out by companies to "help" us choose the "right" plan. I am writing to let you know just how many people of all walks of life and all backgrounds are here to support you and the decisions that you are making on behalf of us all. I'm writing to say, keep on doing what you're doing!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Checkin in and hoping you're all well...

Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, my dad is still on the road to recovery and things are moving along nicely. I never had any doubt that he wouldn't be okay, something even I have a hard time believing considering all that I have been through. I sometimes sit in amazement and in awe of all the wondeful places and people you can draw strength from when you need it most.

Since my dad was doing so well and my aunt was also there as a support for my mom, I was able to spend a little time with my BFF or Best Friend Forever as the kids call it...just trying to stay young and current for as long as I can:) You may remember my BFF from a previous blog, she's pregnant with her first baby and she had quite a time telling me her good news.

I've been handling her pregnancy pretty well up until now, I haven't caught very many glimpses of that GREEN EYED MONSTER they call jealousy, which is a true testiment to my belief that we are all where we should be in life. I wasn't sure what seeing her and her growing belly would be like, but I knew it was something I couldn't avoid forever. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. Sure I had a couple of moments where I wished it were me complaining about not feeling like myself or the standard aches and pains that come along with being pregnant, but even more than that I find myself wishing that I could just go back to the time before Ovarian Cancer invaded my life, that is something I'll never get passed. I would have taken any magic potion or pill and paid any amount of money if I knew that it would prevent me from getting cancer.

But that's not the case and since we can't go back in time, I'll just keep on keepin on...trying my best to stay busy and productive, a challenge that I'm trying really hard to conquer. My next 3-month check up is coming up in a few weeks. It's amazing how fast time flys when you're having fun:)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cancer Knows no Boundaries...

Things have been pretty crazy over the last week. I've got a few interesting events to catch you up on, but I will save that for a later entry. I want to use this opportunity to share with you where I am now and how I'm navigating this new phase of my journey.

My dad had surgery for early staged prostate cancer on Friday. He's home now and resting which I am very thankful for, but watching him as he embarks on his new journey, is a lot like looking in a mirror. One thing my experience with Ovarian Cancer has taught me, is to be thankful and appreciative for where I am at this time...things could be worst and for some people they are just that. I think that cancer has hit us again because of how well we responded the first time. Yep, we were so good at it, someone decided that we could probably handle a little bit more:) My dad is a lot like me, he will not take cancer lying down. Having traveled down this road just a few short months ago was a blessing in disguise. It made me not so scared of the unknown. It's made me focus on the positive and not the negatives. It's helped my dad realize that he now has a mission. A mission to help educate our husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons about how important early detection is and how significant it is to saving your life.

My family has been through a lot over the years, but show me a family who hasn't. Resisting the temptation to question why, is half the battle...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Golden Age of heathcare...

Last week I had the distinct honor and pleasure of interviewing my father about his experience with segregation and racism. The daughter of a friend was doing a report for school(I'm assuming it was in celebration of black history month) and she wanted to get the perspective of an ordinary individual who lived during that time in history. Because my father grew up in the north his exposure to segregation and racism was minimal. But with summer visits to his grand-parents, my great-grandparents house in North Carolina his youthful eyes and innocence would be forever changed. Hearing stories of about how disadvantaged people of color were, really got me thinking about my journey and how different it would have been for me had I gotten sick just 40 years ago. I've received state of the art health's, surgeries, shortage of everything needed to help me fight this dreadful disease. What's ironic about the whole thing is that although segregation is no longer legal, we are still living in a country where not everyone has access to the same benefits. It's absolutely fascinating that although we've come so far, we've still got a long way to go. I'm glad I had that moment to stop, listen, and reflect with my dad. It's always good to remember where we've come from and no matter what your history is, it's something we can all benefit from.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Happy February Everyone!!

I can't believe how quickly time is flying, next month is my second three month check-up and the one year anniversary of my last chemo. When I was going through chemo it felt like time stood still...I couldn't see any further than what was right in front of me. Now it seems as if life won't slow down and although the weeks rush by, I try my best to savor every moment. Sometimes I sit in amazement, reflecting on this past year and all that has transpired. I see images of me in chemo, with no hair, and in surgeries...I lived those moments yet I still can't believe that girl is me and that this is my life. I've met so many wonderful people on this journey, it's hard to imagine what my life would be like without them(And I'm glad I don't have to) As life continues to move forward, I wanted to take a moment to say how thankful I am. I sometimes catch myself moving so fast trying to get my life back that I almost forget the road I last traveled. I don't every want to forget. My experience with Ovarian Cancer has made me the women I am today. It has taught me to take things one step at a time and to cherish what I have. I will continue to pray for all of those wonderful women who fighting this terrible disease. I will continue to do my part in creating awareness so that many more women will be blessed with early detection. I ask you to stay with me as I continue with the next phase of my journey, one that will be filled with life, love, and laughter!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hormones or the lack there of...

I just read an interesting article about Hormone Therapy on The article is geared towards helping women figure out if hormone therapy is right for them. There are many misconceptions about hormone therapy, so it never hurts to brush up on it. The article also states that any woman with a history of or a high risk to Ovarian, Breast, or Uterine cancer should not take Hormones. Since I fall into the "history of" category and I'm seven months into my journey with "instant menopause" I thought I'd update you as to where things stand.

Hot flashes invade my personal space on average about 3-4 times a day. Since the weather's been on the cool side(sixty degrees is cool for Florida) they seem to have decreased a bit. I usually handle the flashes by stripping where ever I am, how much I strip obviously depends on my location:) I've gotten a handle on the flash itself. I know when it's coming and how long it will last. It usually starts with a weird feeling in my legs. Followed by a strange feeling of not wanting anything on me or next to me and then a feeling of not wanting to be inside my own skin. The crazy part is that once the flash is over, it's as if nothing ever happened and within an instant I'm freezing to death, pulling the comforter back up or re-layering with sweatshirts or sweaters.

Dan(my hubby) is a real trooper. He's subjected to around the clock air conditioning and the constant on and off clicking of ceiling fans. I'm sure he never imagined in a million years that he would be dealing with a wife who's going through menopause at the age of 35. I try hard not to match my old lady diagnosis with old lady behavior. That combo would likely send him running for the hills!

I don't think I've exhibited traits of bitchiness, out of control emotions, or a short temper...but who am I to judge. The one glitch in the system is not being able to control who I get hot flashes in front of. I can be in the middle of a conversation with one or many people. I then feel like I owe it to them to explain why it is that in a room as cold as the north pole, I'm forced to pull out a napkin to wipe away the cluster of sweat beads that have within seconds formed around my temple.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Living in the moment...

I'm going to make my husband proud with this entry. Dan's the type of person who wants you to love everything that he loves. He's spent years trying to get me to watch one of his favorite shows (Battlestar Gallatica). Today I proudly announce that his dreams may soon become a reality. I am finally on the verge of submitting...

What brought about this sudden change? Cancer of course. One of the main characters of the show is a cancer survivor who's currently going through a recurrence. In addition to being a cancer survivor she happens to be president of the planet or universe...I'm not sure what she's president of...I just know she's president...

Because she's going through a recurrence, she's forced to hold a press conference to announce her status. Here's the gist...

President: I can confirm that my cancer has returned....

Reporter: Do you know how long you have?

President: Do You?

Reporter: (Blank Stare, mouth wide open)

What a great response! Do any of us really know what the future holds? It's true, some of us have come closer to our own mortality than we would have ever liked to...but nothing in this life is guaranteed...not even for someone who "appears" to be in the best of health. Our power lies with hoping and praying for the best. Taking care of our mind, body, and spirit to the best of our ability and enjoying each day that life has to offer. No matter what your journey is, we all owe it to ourselves to enjoy what's right in front of us. Wandering about what awaits us down the road can make you crazy.

It can immobilize you...

The ability to keep moving and pushing forward during your darkest days takes a lot of work. It's just as much of a mental battle as it is physical, but it's a battle that can be won. Everyday won't be easy, every moment won't be easy. Just yesterday I had a moment where I felt like I just couldn't win. There are so many things that I want to do, yet I can't find an easy road to any of them(I'm starting to think I'm not suppose to) I'm trying to get on with my life post cancer in the midst of the worst economic time our country has ever faced. I almost let my frustration with a couple of situations ruin my whole day. But instead, I decided to take back all of the energy I invested in everything that was going wrong and in turn focus it on everything that was going right. The rest I figure will fall into place.

A philosophy that I'm applying to the many facets of my life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adoption after cancer?

Adoption after cancer. Is it possible?

Is it a dream that I can safely hold onto?

I'm not sure.

I always assumed I would be a mother. It never really occurred to me that I wouldn't. Even before I was married, with no prospects of a husband in my immediate or distant future I knew that I would have children, even if I had to tap into other resources to make it happen:)

I knew that if I never had children, it would be by choice. My choice. And as most of you know the word "choice" in my book has been redefined forever.

When I think about our future, a part of me still sees us with a house full of kids, although I question where these kids will come from. After a diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer I don't know how many adoption agencies are rushing to place a child in your care...

If I'm having a really good day, I can convince myself that I don't want children, thereby avoiding another one of life's disappointments and heartache. This way I can't be let down when things don't work out, no harm no foul!

We have no shortage of children in our lives so that void has been filled. The nagging, lingering thought for me is, how much we can enrich the life of a child and truly make a difference in their future.

If anyone has any success stories please share, I would love to hear from someone who has traveled this road before me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Kudo's to Kathy Bates and her Ovarian Cancer Mission...

It's hard to announce to your friends and family that you have cancer. I know for me it's still a hard thing to do. Every time I say it out loud it's confirmation that this is my life and that this is my journey. So I can only imagine how hard it would be if my life were in the spotlight.

Kathy Bates, while on a press junket for her new movie Revolutionary Road, has also been sharing her own personal journey with Ovarian Cancer. I am so happy that she has decided to share her story. We all try and do our part in spreading awareness, but unfortunately we're not celebrities. I'm confident that my outreach and story will eventually touch thousands of women, but that will take time. Kathy Bates will be able to reach the masses and reach them quickly.

We need star power, we need people to wake up and listen, we need people to know that Ovarian Cancer does not discriminate.

I'm attaching the link for an interview that Kathy Bates did on the Today Show, where she shares a little bit about her mission.

Kudos to Ms. Bates!!

P.S-Revolutionary Road looks awesome!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ovarian Cancer and Obesity...

An interesting article came across my computer today...have I mentioned just how much I love google alerts?

They(not really sure who they are) have just added a new "risk factor" that can increase your chances of getting Ovarian Cancer. Ladies who are over 50 and overweight are now at an elevated risk.

"Obese women may face an elevated risk because their fat cells turn normal hormones into estrogen and estrogen plays a role in the development of ovarian cancer. But doctors are quick to note that being thin is no guarantee of preventing ovarian cancer."

So now we have it, just one more reason(among the many) that maintaining a healthy weight is essential for healthy living. I, like a growing number of women are not only battling the disease but also the battle of the bulge...the bulge brought on by the oh so lovely chemotherapy. In addition to blaming cancer and chemo, I'm also realizing that the lack of hormones(brought on by sudden menopause) must also claim it's role in providing us with the extra pounds as well, particularly around your middle section.

I was in the grocery store the other day and it suddenly dawned on me. Yes, I'm dealing with some unwanted, lingering, pounds. But the choice to reverse the situation is mine. There I was shopping, picking out what ever I wanted...fruits and veggies included. There are far too many people who don't have that luxury. They have no choice but to eat and feed their family off of fast food, dollar menus, or meals that you can stretch into two or three days, like pasta.

I choose what foods to bring into my house, I choose what foods to put in my mouth, and ultimately I choose whether or not I put these extra pounds away for good.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The state of our healthcare...Obama Biden Project

I just found out that the wife of a good family friend recently lost her battle with breast cancer. My mom slipped and told me, she didn't mean to...she was planning on keeping that secret for as long as she could. I think she died around the time of my 3 month check-up and she didn't want to stress me out. I know her intention's were good. For many it's hard to hear that someone on the same journey as you didn't make. It can send your mind reeling and turn your world upside down. To be honest, I don't know how I would have reacted, it all depends on the day, minute, or hour that you talk to me. What I do know is that this woman would have lived a lot longer if she had treatment in a timely manner. I don't remember all of the details of her situation but I know that she waited an unusually long time before anything was started and I believe the reason behind that was lack of insurance or adequate insurance. In other words the difference between life and death.

Last week I had the pleasure and honor of attending a community forum about the state of health care in America. It was a community forum held at the request of The Obama-Biden Transition team. They've reached out to community groups all across the country, asking us to address and uncover key issues that will ultimately help them when they take on the huge task of re-vamping our current health care system.

It was a two hour meeting that could have went on for weeks...

It would be wonderful is President elect Obama could fix everything that's wrong with our system with the snap of a finger, unfortunately he's not superman and that's not humanly possible. Just like his campaign, it's going to take some grass roots efforts. Our health care system didn't get this way overnight and neither will the solution. The grass roots approach can be hard and often frustrating at times as it seems like you spend more time spinning your wheels than doing anything productive.

I hope that they hear "us". I hope they recognize that people are dying unnecessarily. Children are sick and are remaining sick because their parents don't know where to turn. People are penalized for having a pre-existing conditions, through no fault of their own. People are losing their homes because of mounting hospital bills and insurance premiums. Quality , affordable health care is a right. The freedom of choice is a right.

Without the freedom of choice I don't know where I'd be right now. I never once worried about whether my insurance was going to cover my medical expenses. My main concern was find the right team of doctor's to save my life. From my initial meeting with the gyn who found the mass on my ovary to my first chemotherapy treatment it might have been 4 weeks. That includes a meeting with a specialist, diagnosis, surgery and follow up care. I had top notch first rate care from start to finish, the difference between life and death. Can I say that about my neighbor?

Friday, January 2, 2009

I'm mentally and physically ready for 2009!!

Happy New Year!! The holiday's were great, we spent Christmas in North Carolina with my parents. Dan and I spent New Year's Eve at a local hotel, they had a dinner/dancing package that we couldn't resist. We were able to stay close to home and still have an amazing time. I'm so happy we went out, I really feel like we started the new year in the right way! The not so good news is that I'm old. I've been so caught up in being a "young ovarian cancer survivor" that I forget that I'm really not that young. Dancing in the interim has become quite the chore and after eating I'm usually headed for a nap. So going out and staying out(at least until the ball dropped) was quite impressive to say the least.

On Wednesday I went to get my port flushed at the hospital. Surprisingly my blood pressure was perfect. Usually just seeing the sign for the hospital, sends my pressure sky high. So although that may seem like a minor detail, it's actually a pretty major milestone. Could it be that I've finally gotten use to the white coats? I hope so, because a few more out of whack blood pressure readings might prompt someone to give me a pill to fix the problem and a pill is the last thing I need.

The one great thing about going to the doctor is that I'm always happy to see the wonderful staff of people who take such great care of all of us. You spend so much time with them, they kind of become your extended family or your home away from home. It's kind of weird when you don't see them every week.

Wednesday's visit was also really good for my soul. There was a women there going through a recurrence, after three years the cancer has metastasized to her lungs. She was so upset and frustrated with everything, my heart just ached for her. I also saw a few women come in who appeared to be having a not so great day, I'm assuming they just had chemo and my heart ached for them as well. Chemo can take such a toll on your body and I found myself sitting there praying that they would find some comfort. I wanted to reach out to them and tell them that things are better on the other side and that one day chemo will become more of a distant memory than they would have ever thought.

I left the doctor's office with proof of how far I've come and how much I've grown. No one knows what the future holds for them and I think I'm finally coming to a point where I believe that to be true. A few months ago, I would have left that office feeling sorry for myself hand in hand with new and added worries about when my other shoe was going drop. When I left this time, my thoughts remained with those I came in contact with. I'm working hard to live by the rule...why worry about something that is not in your control or that hasn't happened yet?

This is a step forward for me. I may have moments where things aren't as clear, but according to my rule...I'm not to worry about that yet!