Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflections



There are 5 days left of 2010.  I have to say it has been a long emotional year for me. Lots of good things have happened for me professionally.  This has been a great year pr wise for The Cancer Warrior.

I was one of a few featured survivors in a Chicago Tribune/LA Times article about cancer survivors (Thats me before Peggy Fleming and the president of Harvard with my photo above the fold, doesn't show it only though)

A Positive Ripple Effect magazine featured an article I had written.

I was featured on several radio shows, including The Stupid Cancer Show.  Matt Zachary who founded Stupid Cancer is not only a good friend but someone I admire.  I was blogging on my own blog and was also blogging on The Stupid Cancer Blog.  I am grateful to him for helping me get my start.

One of the most amazing things that has happened to me this year is being asked to speak at The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Empowerment Rally.  Out of all the cancer survivors I was picked with 4 other survivors from the US to talk about patient empowerment. I can remember the night before thinking that there will be a knock on the door and someone from CTCA would say uh sorry we made a mistake, here is a ticket for your flight home. 

I have met some amazing survivors in person and online.  I have an amazing group of people who have had all kinds of different cancers, all who share the same experience, and who all want the same thing, the end of cancer.  I know I can email, call, tweet, or facebook any of my friends at any time if I need guidance or help for myself or someone else. 

I have started new ventures in social media, helping others maintain their facebook pages.  Sounds easy, I know.  Someone asked me people actually pay you for that?  The answer is yes, they do.  Businesses and people get busy with their lives and need people to help them.  That is what I do.

One of the things I like to do is pay it forward, either to my friends by some simple gesture, but mostly to people I haven't met.  Its an easy thing to do, and it takes minimal effort.  Someone paid it forward to me this year.  They created my amazing new website  When my friend said he would do my website pro bono I never expected the extent of how much he has done.  I was blown away.  Honestly when I first saw it I almost started to cry.  I was just expecting nothing more than the go daddy parked site I had. 

Celebrated 3 years of survivorship.  Nothing is better than hearing all clear on blood tests, scans and physicals.  Nothing.

With all the amazing highs there were many lows as well.


September 15th. 

Just 3 days before I was to celebrate my 3 year cancerversary I lost a good friend to cancer.
 
Donald Wilhelm

He was such an inspiration to many, and I am grateful I got to meet him and call him my friend.  Even now as I am writing this the tears are flowing.  Knowing that just 4 months before he passed I posted an interview of him here.

And I saw him just 3 months before he passed away at the Pancake House with his wife Amy.  I am grateful I got to meet her and that Doug got to meet him. 

The photo below taken on Memorial Day weekend will always be one of my favorites.



Seemed like after Don passed away everything just sent me into a tailspin of depression.  Even with the pink ribbon program that I started at Pilates Midwest and the Pilates helping me to relax the cancer world that I was in was rocked one week with Don's memorial service, a friends recurrance and not one but two deaths because of cancer.

I have to say the last three months of this year have been some of the hardest I have ever dealt with.  Dealing with those passings, financial hardships, and just life in general got to me.

It was rough.

Almost as rough as when I was going through treatment. 

I can honestly say without prescription medications, family, and good friends being there for me I don't think I would have made it through these past 3 months as much as I did, and for you I am eternally grateful.

5 days until the ball drops and its 2011.

I have faith that 2011 will be better than 2010.
 
Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. ~ Voltaire


Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com  Available on demand now and also available on Itunes



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pilates and Beyond by Jennifer Kries



Another guest blogger.   Enjoy
When Mel asked me to write a guest blog on her site, I couldn’t help but marvel at the wonder that Pilates has been in my life to date; forget about the myriad benefits it has provided to myself and millions of others since its debut back at the turn of the last century, but how about the following example, this “water wheel of life” connectivity it has orchestrated around me as long as I have been doing it: Mel is the student of two shining stars in my immediate Pilates stellium: Senior Pilates Teacher, Jan Tirony-Johnson, the owner of my affiliate Mid-West Training Center, Pilates Midwest, and Lynn Descamp, Jan’s “right-hand” an exceptional and dedicated Pilates instructor in her own right. This is what I love about Pilates- the incredible, inevitable legacy that continues in the lives of all of the people it touches, and the way that it can bring people together, who ordinarily would have never had the opportunity to meet, let alone grow and evolve together. And this holds especially true for me in Michigan with Jan and the extraordinary studio community that she has created. I am honored to call her a true and dear friend, as well as an esteemed colleague, and have only the deepest affection and highest regard for her “team,” Lynn, Charisse, and Ashley, among others.


Thank you Mel, for asking me to contribute to your wonderful online forum and to help spread the word about the magic that is Pilates, but most especially, for giving me this opportunity to share just how much your teachers mean to me, and how grateful I am that Pilates helped me to open the door to these incredibly meaningful relationships with the special ladies you work with in Petoskey.

I first discovered Pilates at age thirteen with one of Joseph Pilates’ protégées, the late Eve Gentry at the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York City in what they then called a “Contrology Class,”--- the name Joseph Pilates gave to the technique he developed. Long before anyone knew what it was, we aspiring dancers used Pilates as a secret weapon to strengthen our abdominals and our bodies, so that we could jump higher, turn faster and move with greater precision and grace. I practiced Pilates throughout my professional dance career and it kept me inspired, injury free and powerful!


Pilates had been such an effective and profound mind-body tool, that I felt compelled to share it with the public. After getting certified in the early 90’s, with another one of Joseph Pilates “Master Inheritors,” Romana Kryzanowska, and becoming one of the privileged few “2nd Generation” Pilates Master Instructors, I introduced the Pilates “Mat class” to gym facilities in New York and watched the excitement build … people would have one taste of it and they would be immediately hooked. Even after one class, they felt taller, more energized, more capable and more alive.

I was thrilled to be able to influence the lives of the people in my classes in New York, but I wanted to share this incredible secret with as many people as possible. Serendipitously, one of my loyal students was in video production and said, ”Jennifer, you really should share this with the masses! Let me help you …” In 1998 I premiered the first ever Pilates video under “The Method” title, and just look at Pilates now.

Pilates is a non-impact, non weight-bearing system of physical conditioning that focuses on body placement and increasing awareness of the body’s capabilities and untapped resources. Pilates changes bodies. It makes them fitter, stronger and more attractive. It slims the muscles and makes them longer; it develops sleekness rather than bulk. It turns the abdomen and lower back into a firm, central support for a newly supple and graceful body.

Born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880, Joseph Pilates suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever as a child. His determination and drive to overcome those ailments led to his study of Eastern and Western forms of exercise, including yoga and ancient Greek and Roman regimens. By the time he was fourteen, Pilates had worked so hard at bodybuilding that he was able to pose for anatomical charts and had become a diver, skier and gymnast. When World War I broke out, he was an intern for a year in Lancaster, England, along with other German nationals. While in the camp, he taught his fellow internees the physical fitness program he had developed, and boasted that they would emerge stronger than they were before imprisonment. Those who followed his program resisted the influenza epidemic that swept the nation and killed thousands. He also encountered people who were disabled as a result of wartime injuries, diseases, and incarceration, and began devising machines using the springs from old hospital beds to help in their rehabilitation. These machines were the prototypes of the equipment used in Pilates studios today. 


Pilates believed that the “attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind, fully capable of naturally and efficiently performing daily tasks with spontaneous zest and ease” should be the objective for people of all ages and fitness levels.


Pilates’ six principles: concentration, control, centering, breath, flow and precision enable the practitioner to learn to move with maximum efficiency while minimizing stress on the body. You are able to access new levels in your body and create a deeper, more complete feeling of fitness, energy and vitality that remains with you days after your workout.

Pilates exercises make people more aware of their bodies. It helps to improve alignment and breathing and increases efficiency of movement. The focus is on the center of the body---the “powerhouse,” or the “corset muscles,” also known as the stabilizing core muscles of the torso, which support the spine. The rectus abdominus, the central abdominal muscle, running from sternum to pubic bone works in tandem with the transverse abdominus, the deepest of the abdominal muscles, wrapping around the trunk horizontally, acting like a "corset" when engaged. Other muscles that are important in providing good stability in the trunk, are the erector spinae, that run on either side of the spine, the quadratus lumborum and multifidus muscles in the low back, and the intrinsic muscles of the pelvic floor. The active collaboration of these major muscle groups creates a solid cylinder around the central spine, helping to prevent “shearing” or eroding forces from being applied to the vertebrae, ligaments and discs that evolve as a result of repetitive trauma, habitual patterns of movement that are unconscious and unproductive for the body-mind.

My favorite Pilates exercises are those that I learned first as a young dancer and they are also the very exercises that I feature in my DVDs, both those for the exercising public, my New Body! Pilates Series and those geared more towards the teacher trainee, or professional-track Pilates student, as well as certified teachers, my Pilates Method Master Trainer Series, which coincidentally, was filmed at Jan Tirony Johnson’s studio in Petoskey … They are the exercises from the original, classical mat workout developed by Joseph Pilates, a series that focuses on the abdominal center, the muscles of the torso, as well as breathing patterns for each exercise, teaching you how to direct energy to those targeted areas while relaxing the rest of the body. In all of my DVDs, one learns and immediately experiences what Pilates called “economy of movement.” Because you do the fewest number of repetitions with the greatest precision and control, you get the most out of your efforts, and your focus and determination grow exponentially.

On a spiritual level, the workout is concerned with the process itself. You learn to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome. This is a workout, a regime similar to yoga that promotes consciousness and facilitates evolution and self-transformation.

The subtle magic of Pilates is that the work grows as you do. You rise to higher and higher levels as your self-awareness and experience deepen. As you gain insight and as your actual physical strength increases, the work refines and redefines itself. 

Pilates is a unique, refreshing approach that sees our physical activity as a way to restore total oneness with ourselves and create harmony with our body, mind and spirit; under this notion, exercise becomes the means to experiencing a personal potential greater than the physical skills themselves. Every movement emanates from the center, which is also our emotional core, and the exercises truly help to "center" you. When you learn the advantage of paying attention to the energy, flow and rhythms in your exercises and see how pushing or forcing is counterproductive, you begin to apply this notion to the rest of your life. When you center your attention in the moment and act in harmony with time, you experience inner peace and fulfillment. By staying in the present, you can do less, yet gain more; paradoxically, you create more personal power and energy enabling you to have a greater influence over the outcome both in your sessions and long after you leave the studio.
My love of Pilates began long before its era of popularity and has served as a pillar of strength for me in all aspects of my professional athletic and artistic life, enlivening my spirit, conditioning my body, reinforcing my self-esteem and overall feeling of peace and well-being. I continue to be amazed and delighted every time I teach a class, or I take one, just how simple, yet powerfully transformational “The Method” truly is, and how its effects grace the body mind and spirit with a gift you give yourself, and one that catalyzes profound changes in one’s being. How appropriate now, during this season of giving to consider such a wondrous thing, that the gift we give ourselves doesn’t stop with us, but goes well beyond us to touch the lives of each person we come in contact with ... 

Pilates and other mind-body-spirit modalities center and balance us, making us more aware of ourselves and what makes us feel good, so that we then have greater reserves to share those good feelings with others, reminding us of what is truly important in life, like seeing someone smile as a result of our single act of kindness that reflects right back into our hearts. Pilates, very simply, makes us into healthier, kinder, more generous, more connected, conscious people and makes the world a better place.

Jennifer Kries
Bio

Dancer, choreographer, yoga devotee, author, lifestyle expert and Pilates master teacher, Jennifer Kries is an unparalleled innovator in the realm of alternative health and fitness. First to bring Pilates to the masses, her award-winning videos and DVDs, The Method Series, Jennifer Kries’s Pilates Method and Fox/Fit TV’s, The Method Show, revolutionized the fitness community, paving the way for the current wave of enthusiasm for Pilates mind-body exercise. 

One of the country’s preeminent Pilates master teachers, she is responsible for launching many of today’s most respected professionals who teach either traditional Pilates or The Method, her trademark mind-body synthesis: Pilates, yoga, and dance. She is the founder of New York’s, Balance Pilates, Yoga, and Dance, Hot Body Cool Mind—The Studio in Philadelphia, Artistic Director and Founder of Contemporary Dance Theatre New York and most recently, creator and producer of yet two other ground-breaking DVD series, Jennifer Kries’ Pilates Method Master Trainer Series and Hot Body Cool Mind: The Life Force Power Workout!
Her approach to fitness and wellness is unsurpassed. Jennifer brings unmatched clarity and an extraordinary perspective to her teaching. She has inspired countless readers, practitioners, graduates of her programs, and viewers alike to embrace her all-encompassing philosophy of movement, art, health, life and energy. Through her inspiring work, she helps people transform far more than their bodies, enabling them to tap into a reserve of power never before experienced. Her attention to detail, superb teaching style, artistry, and knowledge of Eastern healing techniques, anatomy and energy dynamics makes her one of the most highly sought-after mind-body teachers in the world today.
For more information on Jennifer and her Pilates and other fitness DVDs, visit her website: www.jenniferkries.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Parts Whole

 

I started playing organized hockey again.  I played a couple of times last year, pick up, but not organized, not like I was when I played in California in Burbank and Pasadena.    There they would have an actual draft, where they would make you do drills and try to set up the teams evenly so there wasn't one team that was loaded with great players and the rest with average players like me. 

Hockey means a lot to me.  Its hard to explain why.  Some things are just your passion, they get into your blood.  I started playing in my mid 30s, wanted to exercise and didn't think I would go to the gym that much, so I used my tax refund to buy hockey gear at a store in Woodland Hills, CA.  Out of all places to get into hockey, go figure I get into it in California.  Never been one to follow the norm.

2007 was a hard year for me hockey wise.  Not only did I find out my diagnosis on the last day of Red Wings Training camp but I had to tell my team that I had cancer and I couldn't play that year.  That was hard.  We had a beginning of the season party and I didn't tell anyone until then.  Everyone was shocked.


I was hoping that I could play that year.  That hope was dashed when I had my port put in.  No contact sports. I would have that port in until 2009.

Two frickin years.

Two years of not playing hockey.

That was hard. Obviously going through chemo, radiation, surgeries and all the crap that went with it was hard, but not playing was hard. 

Hockey is cathartic for me. 

It is zen for me. 

There is something about the stillness about getting on a freshly zambonied sheet of ice.  Hearing your skate blades hit the ice for the first time.  Skating a few times around the rink.   Doing some stretches.  Then getting into the game.

If everything is going crazy in the world the ice is the one place where everything makes sense.  I think everyone has one of those places.  For me it just happens to be a rink.  

Not being able to skate and to play made me feel less like me.  Trying other sports or activities to fill the void just didn't cut it. 

Something was missing. 

Something that was a part of me.

As I got dressed in the locker room with some of the ladies that I have played with before I felt a sense of peace that I haven't felt in a while.  

Stepping out onto the ice I felt shaky.  But skating is like riding a bike you never forget.


We did drills and did a draft for teams and then we scrimmaged.  There were players on the ice that were better than me and some that were not.

As I sat on the bench between plays all I kept thinking was this:

I beat cancer I can do anything on the ice.
 
I'll keep you posted when I net my first hat trick.

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern time on wmktthetalkstation.com


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com Available on demand and also available on Itunes




Friday, December 3, 2010

Road Trippin'


  


 I had 2 doctors visits in one week.  That is unusual for me lately.  Both were routine follow ups from oncology and radiation oncology.  I didn't have the usual scanxiety that I usually have.  I had a mammogram just a month before and everything was normal, so I naturally assumed that neither doc would find any problems.

I like to drive.  Everywhere.  I drive more than Doug.  When I lived in LA that was part of my job, driving to set, from editorial to one of the post houses, mix stages etc. Most people get totally stressed in rush hour on the 101, the Hollywood Freeway.  I find it relaxing.  Yeah your not moving, but you can clear your mind and focus.

I would always drive to my doctor appointments, chemo, radiation, I think I even drove to surgery.  Most of the time after chemo I wasn't in any shape to drive, the drugs would knock me out (and no I didn't drive after my lumpectomy surgery, but apparently I called several people to tell them I was ok while I was still heavily medicated.  Wonder if that audio is still around.)

Monday I drove to the oncologist.  Driving to the hospital for what I knew would be a routine follow up brought a flood of memories to me.  Why I don't know.  I thought about the routine I would have for the day.  I would get my blood drawn out of my port at about 9am.  Hated that goddamn port. Looked like a fucking bottlecap under my skin, and it would hurt sometimes when I moved a certain way.   Go to work and produce The Vic McCarty Show for 2 hours, drive home.  Put lidocaine on my port and cover it with plastic wrap so it wouldn't rub off.  Lidocaine numbs the area.  I would see the oncologist.  he would go over my blood counts to make sure I was strong enough to do the chemo, then it was a short walk to the infusion center.  There were a couple of times that I forgot to put Lidocaine on my port and when they jabbed the syringe in me for the chemo  it hurt like hell for the entire treatment, which lasted anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending upon the meds.

I thought about how much I had been through.  Sometimes I can't believe it.  Its only been 3 years but it also feels like a lifetime ago.  I thought about how much Doug has been there for me. Every chemo, every radiation.  During chemo I would fall asleep  because of the meds and he would go to the cafeteria to get something to eat for himself.  He would come back with Lays potato chips for me.  They made me feel better when I was done.  I would groggily walk to the exit of the cancer center and Doug would get the car and pull it up so I wouldn't have to walk too far. 

During the drive to the doctor I wondered why I wasn't nervous or scared.  Was it because I was just too busy with work and advocacy?  Maybe I have just gotten to a place where I know I am going to be ok, and as my friend Donald Wilhelm would say "It is what it is." 
No its neither one of those things.  I don't know why the appointments didn't bother me.  I still don't.  It makes no sense.


Cancer still affects me.  Well the side effects do anyway.  The neuropathy that went away now comes and goes.  Like I need a fucking reminder that I had cancer.  It frustrates me that I still have it.  That when sometimes when I am doing pilates I can't feel my toes or part of my foot.  Kind of hard to focus on the poses and breathing when you aren't even sure where your foot it.  I know its where it should be.  I just can't fucking feel it.  Frustrating when the instructor asks you to move a part of your foot and you have no clue if you are or not.

And the damn depression.

Of all the side effects I have had I wish I could trade that one for something else, like you used to to with marbles or baseball cards when you were a kid? 

Hey I'll trade you depression for insomnia or chemobrain.

Shit.  I have both of those too. 

Nevermind..

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern time on wmktthetalkstation.com


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com Available on demand and also available on Itunes


Friday, November 19, 2010

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!!!



Just got an email today from Amy from licensedpracticalnurse.com saying they liked my blog and is featuring it on their website as one of their top breast cancer blogs.

I am honored and humbled by The Cancer Warrior's inclusion in this list.

I hope this means that I am making a difference in cancer survivor's lives.


Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen Live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern time on wmktthetalkstation.com


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com Available on demand and also available on Itunes

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Response to NY Times article "Think About Pink"

So the creator of project boobies emailed me a link to a NY Times article recently.  About this survivor who was complaining about the pink ribbon on everything.  To that I can relate.  Everything seemed to have a pink ribbon on it.  I get that, in October the ribbon was everywhere.  That is the only part of the article I can agree upon.
Paraphrasing, she said that the pink ribbon was on everything and it promoted "awareness."

Then she said this,
"The experience of actual women with cancer, women like Rollin, Black, Ford and Rockefeller — women like me — got lost."

Uh what?

So I put on a Save the Tatas shirt or a Project boobies that takes away from your experience with cancer?

She says "Sassy retail campaigns have sprung up everywhere, purporting to “support the cause.”
Ok so as a writer shouldn't you check facts?

In the photo for the blog I am PROUDLY wearing a projectboobies shirt for a tv interview, one that she was complaining about in the article to be sassy and purporting to "support the cause."

Sorry Ms. Orenstein, it does support the cause.

Have you heard of Kokolulu?  A free retreat for cancer survivors in Hawaii.  A portion of project boobies proceeds goes to fund the retreat.  THE FREE RETREAT.

As for Save The TaTas, a company I am familiar with, a company who, whenever I ask for t shirts for a fundraiser or a group the owner Julie Fikse donates to me without question, has according to their website donated $535,000 towards ending breast cancer.

Sorry that diminishes your battle.

 Sorry that Kris Carr, survivor and author of Crazy Sexy Cancer bothers you with her positive message.

Does it diminish the battle of the 52 year old survivor who asked my friend for a save the tatas shirt, knowing that she got it from me?  Does it diminish the fact that the doctors didn't give her much time to live. 

I say No.

Most of the breast cancer survivors I know are in their 20's and 30's so I would instead of wearing as you would want me to a “I ❤ My 72-Year-Old One-Boobied Granny t shirt instead of the tatas or projectboobies shirt I would wear my  I ❤ My 27 yr old friend who is a college student and a young adult breast cancer survivor

Because I do.

And a pink ribbon on toilet paper doesn't diminish the battle or the stories of my friends Lani, Angella or Ann, who are survivors, bloggers, and advocates (and Ann at this time is facing a recurrance)


Seeing a pink ribbon everywhere doesn't diminish my battle. It only fuels my fire to advocate for ALL CANCERS  even more.   I maintained a positive outlook while battling cancer and depression at the same time.  I guess I just prefer to live my life positively, even while staring in the face of my own mortality.

No survivor I have ever heard say cancer is fun.

We all know it sucks.

Wrap that up in a pink ribbon. 

Mel is the producer of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com. Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Marble



I came across this post on a facebook page recently Amazing women rock stays sane: 1) All of the time.  2) Most of the time. 3) Some of the Time 4) Hardly ever 5)  Is nuttier than a fruitcake.  Then the page went on to link to a page that had 37 quick tips to maintain your sanity.


Uh....

Nuttier than a fruitcake??  I responded to the author of the post and told them I was offended by that particular comment.  She responded with a link to her blog (of which I am not going to link here, you can go to the fb page I mentioned and find the post) post titled Here's To Being a Crazy One: A Misfit, A Rebel, And A Round Peg In A Square Hole 
  
Last time I checked being a rebel, an outsider, being your own person, not conforming to what everyone else does doesn't make you crazy.  If that was the case no one would have wanted to emulate this guy:



I get offended by the word crazy, or nuttier than a fruitcake or lost your marbles or  fill in the blank with another term.

As many of my readers know I battle depression, some days are good some days are bad.

Let me explain to you, what its like for me.  Imagine a jar.  Now put a marble in that jar.  The marble is me.  Now fill that jar with sand.  The sand is depression, whether that be thoughts, moods, feelings etc.  Try to find that marble in the jar.  Its going to be pretty hard to do. 

That's in the simplest terms what it feels like.  Trying to make sense of thoughts and emotions.  Try to find that marble.  Its hard.  The marble gets lost in the sand.   Simple analogy right?

Its hard to be trapped that way, trapped in your own head, knowing that it doesn't make any sense to feel the way you feel, and it can be crippling.

There was a time a few months ago that I was so depressed I did just the bare minimum at work, could barely even function, but no one knew.  I am a good actor when it comes to that.  All I wanted to do was go home and curl up in a ball and sleep.

But life happens and I am not Rip Van Winkle, I can't go to sleep and then wake up years later and have everything be all better.  Life is not some fairy tale.  Sometimes its just hard, cold reality

Days are getting better, exercise is helping me, pilates is helping me.  Blogging is helping me.  I still maintain a positive mental attitude.You may think that is impossible if you are depressed, but you can be happy if you are depressed, a guest on The Vic McCarty Show, Therese Borchard said that (here is her link)  It makes total sense to me, not something I can explain if you haven't fought the same battles I have fought.

I take meds every day to deal with depression, called Effexor it is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It works by increasing the amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine, natural substances in the brain that help maintain mental balance.

Maintain mental balance, yeah, or for me just trying to find the marble in the sand.



Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen Live 10am-noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com Available on Demand now and also available on Itunes.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Positive Ripple Effect



A while ago I was asked to write an article for a magazine.  I can't even recall how long ago that was, I blame chemo brain for that.  Some things I just can't retain.  I try to get used to it but it is still frustrating as hell...

Its not like I submit things all the time.  I don't.  Most of the time I just write on my blog or submit to a few things here or there.  So when I got the email from Brent from Empoweradio.com.  I was like "oh yeah, sweet!!"

Imagine my surprise when I opened up the email link for the magazine and I saw my name on the cover. 

Wow. 

I am grateful to Kim and Cheryl the creators of the magazine to be included in the premiere issue.

I am honored and humbled to be on the cover.

I am glad there is a magazine that is spreading positive messages out there.


Check out A Positive Ripple Effect.  My article is on page 34. Please check out the entire magazine, and share it with your friends.

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com available on demand now and also available on Itunes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wow!!!!!! This blog was named on of the 15 Inspiring Breast Cancer blogs by Toponlinecolleges.com



Wow I am honored and humbled to be named among this amazing list of breast cancer  survivors. 
Thank you to everyone at Toponlinecolleges.com and thank you everyone for continuing to read about my cancer journey.  I always have to thank Matt Zachary for letting me blog on stupid cancer. 


Mel is the producer/cohost of The Vic McCarty Show. Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern  on wmktthetalkstation.com


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com Available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

OUTBREAK







It has been a rough week. I found out that one friends breast cancer returned (on Friday)  went to another good friend's memorial service (on Saturday)  Saturday night I was an emotional wreck.  I considered not going into work on Sunday on my on air shift on 106KHQ, but thought better of it because, well for one,  I need the money, and two, we are short staffed, and I didn't want to use just having a shitty weekend and possible mental breakdown as an excuse for not going to work,so yeah I have a puritan work ethic.

So I went to work on Sunday, so freaked out and feeling like I was coming mentally unglued, but I knew that I could pull off a good show.  I can fake that no problem.  I am a professional after all.  But you know what?  I didnt' have to.  The music lifted up my spirits.  I was the only one in the building for the majority of my day so I was dancing and singing at the top of my lungs, (thank god the Ustream wasn't on or else I would have never heard the end of that from my co workers. 

We use facebook at work.  One of the perks for working at a radio station.  It is considered part of the job to post status updates, ask questions to the listeners and post where we will be making appearances, etc.

So as I was on facebook I came across a friend of mine's status and photo.  It was a shrine for his wife.  She had passed away from cancer a few weeks back.  I had worked with him on Crossing Jordan, which seems like a lifetime ago, and we were casual facebook friends.  I was stunned.  This would make 3 instances of cancer that I saw that weekend.

So Monday rolled around.  For a Monday it was going pretty well.  Had a decent Vic McCarty show.  Monday is always lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, another perk of the job.  Was having a pretty good day.

Then the local paper came.

I usually read through it pretty quickly.  Not much news, small town.

Then I saw the obituary of someone that I worked with at another job a few short years back.

That made 4.


A good friend of mine said I should ponder and wonder why this happened.  Its God's plan.

I am not going to ponder this.

Sometimes God's plan just plain sucks

You can label me a heretic.  I go to church when I can.  I pray. I do believe in God and do believe he does have a plan. 

That doesn't mean I have to like it or agree with it or anything of the kind.

Like my friend Donald Wilhelm  (who was the #2 in this blog) would say "It is what it is"

But dammit, fucking number 4

Seriously.  Is it just me or is this ridiculous?  How can there be so much cancer around and there is no "cure" or meds to prevent it.    I am wondering what epidemologists say.  You know the people who study these things?

I am sick of the outbreaks.

I am sick of reading about another friend or acquaintance getting a recurrance or a diagnosis.

I am sick of seeing the goddamn pink ribbon on my cat's friskies.

October is Breast cancer awareness month.

To me every month is cancer awareness month.

I think we are all aware there if cancer

Now how about we start fucking doing something about it?

Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday~Friday 10am-noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com  Available on demand now and also available on Itunes

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fearless????







I was planning on writing a blog about something else unrelated to this topic.  This one gets every survivor.

I was having a great day.  Just did a great radio interview. Had an awesome lunch with the crew from work.  My internet still isnt' working at home so I decided to check facebook on my phone.

Thats when I saw the post


Bad News.

My cancer is back.

Nothing sends shock waves through you like hearing or reading that.  Recurrance.  The scariest word a survivor can hear.

I posted something on her wall.  I told her I would help her out in any way I can.  I can't help her out financially.  Financially I am the Titanic and the iceberg is my debt.  Cant seem to steer clear of it.  I can help her emotionally.  Listen to her.  She is far away.  I can't hug her, or be there in person for her.  That makes me sad.

Quite frankly what she is going through scares the hell out of me.

A friend of mine recently called me fearless.

Now you know the one thing I fear the most.

Mel is the producer of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen Live Monday-Friday 10am-noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com 

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com available on demand and also available on Itunes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Being Sick is Personal



Another Guest Blogger, Enjoy


If you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer, or someone you know has, you’re about to
enter something you probably never knew existed: illness culture. As you can see by the
existence of this blog and the thousands of other cancer-specific sites on the Net, having an
illness is a huge part of people’s lives, and as such, it becomes a part of their self-identity.

In this way, illness culture resembles any other group with a defining characteristic in
common, just like people of a certain religion, or motorcycle enthusiasts, or a clique of
teenagers.

And while many find their particular illness culture to be supportive and helpful through
their struggle, some can become sick only to find that they don’t “fit in” in with the
main line of thinking or expression associated with their group. Barbara Ehrenreich, a
breast-cancer activist, discusses this issue in her great essay, “Welcome to Cancerland.”

In the essay, she confronts the predominant feelings and modes of dealing with cancer that
she encountered in breast cancer culture, and how she ultimately did not identify with
them. In her mind, breast cancer’s “cult of pink kitsch” was infantilizing and infuriatingly
positive.

Ehrenreich’s defining emotion about her cancer was anger—anger at the impersonal
treatment by her doctors, anger at drug companies for offering harsh treatments with little
benefits, and anger at her fellow breast cancer sufferers for being unwaveringly cheerful in
their battle with cancer.


My point here is not to knock keeping a positive outlook when ill. As reported in The Cancer
Warrior, staying positive can have great benefits for people fighting cancer. My point is
that, like any other type of groupthink, illness cultures can be single-minded, and those
who don’t fit into the current line of thinking can find themselves excluded and alone—this
on top of the fact that they are already facing a serious illness.

In the end, sickness is incredibly personal, and all types of reactions to illness and ways of
dealing with it should be actively welcomed. It’s important that those facing illness, and
their loved ones, recognize this and internalize it. While some may deal with cancer by
distracting themselves, others may need time to grieve over their situation—even to feel
sorry for themselves.

In America, self-pity is often regarded as the worst type of emotion; we live by the “pull
yourself up by the bootstraps” line of thinking. This aversion to self-pity and the endless
positivism seen in many illness cultures is unrealistic and doesn’t reflect the range of
emotions people feel when confronted with cancer. While staying positive is helpful, it’s
also okay to express emotions besides optimism.

If you’re dealing with cancer or supporting a loved one, remember that it is okay for sick
people to deal with their illness in their own way. Discouraging this is counterproductive
and even harmful.



In her essay, Ehrenreich recounts posting on a breast cancer forum about how fed up she
felt with her doctors, treatments, and insurance company. The responses to her negative
attitude were quick and judgmental: “I really dislike you having a bad attitude towards
all of this, but you do, and it’s not going to help you in the least,” said one commenter.

Support groups are supposed to be just that—supportive of one another’s struggle with
cancer, not dismissive or judgmental. People experience a range of emotions as they come
to deal with facing cancer on a daily basis. Realizing your own approach to illness and
accepting others’ is essential to creating an illness culture that helps, and doesn’t hurt, its
members.


About the guest blogger:

Joy Paley is a blogger for An Apple A Day and a writer specializing in medical coding for Guide
to Healthcare Schools.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tug of war


I have been thinking about blogging about this for a while now.

Many things have happened recently that have made me want to put fingers to the keyboard.  If you are a constant reader of this blog then you know a good friend of mine passed away from cancer recently.  It has been hard to say the least.  Add to that the mountain of debt that keeps getting larger, chemo brain, which frustrates the shit out of me, I don't knowing what I want to say but not having my brain fire synapses correctly, neuropathy, having to take x amount of pills at so and so times, etc, etc, etc.

Some days I feel like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill.

My mind is alway working constantly, either thinking about work, or advocacy, or how I can help someone out, hockey, whatever,  it doesn't shut off.  You could look at me and see me sitting calmly at work at the computer or talking on the air, my brain is constantly thinking, (yeah I know I just said I have chemo brain, comes and goes, like the mogwai in the movie Gremlins, don't get it wet, don't feed it after midnight, if only it was that easy to predict when it would kick in)

I battle constantly with this, all rolling around in my head like many tornadoes.  Its frustrating.  No wonder I don't know how to relax.

Yeah you read that right.  I don't know how to relax

I can sit still but I can't relax.  I can't really sleep either  I can't sleep unless I am medicated, I have a mouthguard in at night so I don't grind the shit out of my teeth. 

You know when people get a massage they get all relaxed and go to that happy place, maybe even fall asleep, I don't.   I used to, but I don't know what happened.  I have gotten some great massages here, and they have worked out knots and tension in my muscles.  But I can't relax during the massage.  I don't know why.

I did the reeling and healing midwest program for cancer survivors, a 2 day fly fishing retreat close to where I live.  I know you are thinking what the hell does fly fishing have to do with cancer.  Well let me tell you.  It does help you relax, standing in the water there, with your guide, and nature.  I figured out how to relax.

Unfortunately I can't take the stream and all of nature with me all the time.  Yes the program is totally awesome, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat,and it helped me, but not being able to relax is something I am trying to overcome.

I found a brochure for a pilates program that a local studio was putting on.  It was for breast cancer survivors, designed by a survivor.  It was free, I called, they had to wait for enough participants before they could start the class.

So a few weeks later there I was in class with 3 other survivors, all at various stages of survivorship,all of us were well past surgery.  

We were all there not knowing what to expect.

It was an eight week mat class, doing various exercises to strengthen the core and the muscles around where women would have had mastectomies, lumpectomies and lymph node removal.

Now I wouldn't have thought that something that may look like to the average person, a bunch of simple stretches would have any kind of impact on me, except for maybe getting a little toned.


But it did. 

I have written before about my constant struggle with depression, yes I am on meds, but sometimes the mind can over come the meds, a tug of war in my head, dealing with the many mini tornadoes in my head and just survivorship of everyday. 

I do maintain a positive mental attitude

But some days are harder than others.


Doing the pink ribbon pilates program with the other survivors helped me to find my comfort zone within my self.  Lets face it having cancer  and survivorship takes you completely way out of your comfort zone.


But with pilates it has forced me back in.


And helped me to relax...


A little more than before.


That is something I still need to work on, but I am slowly chipping away at that stone.


I found this quote and I will leave you with it:

Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.
Ezra Taft Benson


 Mel is the producer/co~host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen Live Monday~Friday 10am-Noon eastern on wmktthetalkstation.com


Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com available on demand now and also available on itunes.
 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Suicide by Cancer





Another Guest Blogger.  Enjoy

Have you heard that phrase that the media uses?  ‘suicide by cop’?  It’s when someone is so mentally ill, so distraught, so DESPERATE that they provoke the police to the point where extreme force is necessary – generally resulting in death of the ‘suspect’.  Pretty messed up, huh?  It makes you wonder how things can possibly get that bad.  How can a person possibly put their soul into someone else’s hands?  I can’t fathom it and I’m so glad I can’t.

My dad is currently going through something that it makes sense to call ‘suicide by cancer’.  
He was diagnosed with Stage 3 esophageal cancer (no mets) in May of 2009. 

My family is originally from a small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town in New Hampshire (Mel is familiar with it…. We were classmates and friends from kindergarten on up through high school).  In 1993 I realized that there was a great big world out there and took off for the great unknown (a/k/a Texas) – I’ve been here ever since.  My brother is here with me… a block away…  My neighborhood is wonderful.  My kids are wonderful.  The schools are wonderful.  WINTERS are wonderful!   A cook-out on New Year’s Day?  Oh, HELL yeah! 

I finally convinced my parents to come down and spend the winter away from the frozen tundra of New Hampshire. 

They planned on staying three months.

They stayed almost a year.

Christmas Eve 2008 we were in the doctor’s office with my dad.  He couldn’t swallow.  ‘It’s his vertebrae protruding’, they said. 

‘Surgery it is!’  We said.

He still couldn’t swallow after surgery.

Insert feeding tube.

Watch the beginning of the end.

Houston has a HUGE HUGE HUGE Medical Center.  It has one of the best cancer centers in the world.  MD Anderson is where all of the big shots go to get treated. 
It’s here!  My parents were here!  What luck!!!
My dad’s doctor had studied under Dr. Michael DeBakey!  (Google him, he’s a big deal) – they told us 3 weeks of chemo and 2 of radiation and the tumor would be GONE!

Dad said, ‘no’

He said he was tired.

He said he was done.

He took my mom and left Texas and flew back to New Hampshire.

(Can you tell I’m a little bitter?)

I know, I know, I know… it’s HIS choice.  It’s HIS body.  It’s HIS life.

But it’s not just affecting him.

My mom LOVES to travel.  (My mom has (undiagnosed) ADHD and can’t sit still)  My mom is a social butterfly.  My mom knows everyone in town.  My mom loves to shop (she’s all about the bargains – getting a good deal is an adrenaline rush for her)

My mom deserves better than this. 

My mom is now a prisoner in her own home.

My dad has chosen his own destiny – but DAMN… he’s sucking her right down with him.

I’m 3000 miles away with two young kids, a husband with a job and volunteer activities up the yin-yang.  I’m no help. 

I call her five times a day (sometimes more).  I try and provide a diversion.  I try to listen.  I try to comprehend.  I try not to take it personally.

Most of her friends don’t visit her anymore. 

They can’t go up to see her because ……. (you fill in the blank)
It’ll bother her
It’ll bother him
They don’t have time
They don’t know what to say
They have other prior engagements
The dog barks
The moon is full
The tide is high
…………….Yada yada yada

All this being said…

           Don’t forget the caretakers – there’s morphine and fentanyl and lorazepam for diseases… but no painkillers for a broken heart.

About the author:  Amy Lord Gonzalez
bio:
Transplanted New Hampshire girl, currently residing in the country of Texas. Stay-at-home mom, rock star wife who makes a mean enchilada and still cheers for the Red Sox and Patriots from afar.
contact info: icknamy@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Endure to Cure





Another Guest Blog.  Enjoy

Why I founded Endure to Cure
by Jason R. Sissel

Many people often ask me why I founded Endure to Cure, and rightfully so.  By popular standards it might seem counter-intuitive.  Why would someone trade a Wall Street career to start a charity?  Well, my answer to that is pretty simple: no regrets.  I am convinced E2C will be a life-changing experience for everyone involved.  The worst case scenario is that everything does not work out and I fall flat on my face; then at least I will have tried my best, gained priceless experience, and I will never wonder what might have been. So with that, I'll tell the E2C story...

After undergrad, I enjoyed a long tenure at Morgan Stanley & Co., earned my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, and then worked for another great company, Robert W. Baird & Co.   I loved working at Baird and I have a deep passion for the financial markets.  By most people's standards, I may have been "living the dream."  But I felt like something was missing and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't identify that elusive void in my life.

Then, on a vacation and four days into what turned out to be a life-altering, six-day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, it hit me.  Before my grandfather passed away from his second form of cancer, he simply asked me to carry on his spirit in my life.  It was in the rocky Karanga Camp at 16,000ft as I watched passing grey clouds so large they resembled cotton candy made for King Kong, when I understood what my grandfather's words really meant to me.  I heared his voice in my head, "Jason, you need to think less with your mind and more with your heart and all will fall into place.  When you find the courage to pursue what your heart tells you to do, then work hard, smart and fearless; and do it well.  Now is the time.  Use your resources and initiative to push your limitations outward each day.  And then, selflessly use that experience to positively influence the lives of others.  People may doubt you in the beginning, but if your heart is fully committed to what you choose to do, and you do the right things and give your best effort, I think it will succeed."  Hearing "that little voice" in your head and thinking it's right is one thing, but acting on it is usually the hard part.

Less than a month later, I took the leap of faith and decided to resign from my job.  Over the next few years I will be following one of the things my heart says to do.  I expect to log over 1,000 miles of swimming, over 3,000 miles of running, over 39,000 miles of cycling, countless hours of strength and mental training, and climb a number of the most difficult mountains on Earth.  I do this to complete my Endurance Campaign and raise money to help improve the lives of children with pediatric cancer.  While I endure this arduous physical and mental challenge, I also hope to inspire people to believe that when you have a vision, determination, and perseverance you can overcome any challenge despite how big it may seem.

If you assume that I am a natural endurance athlete, that would be the furthest from the truth.  Just back in 2005, the farthest I've ever run (and perhaps "run" is an exaggeration!) was 5 miles.  Thoughts of a marathon or Ironman would have been absurd.  I didn't even know what an Ultraman was until I was invited to do one.  The fact of the matter is: I dislike running, I don't go distance swimming and distance cycling for personal enjoyment, and aside from the challenge, there is not much I like about an Ironman other than finishing!

But what I do love is having an unrelenting purpose and doing something well out of my comfort zone that changes someone's life, inspires people, or gives a child hope that he or she can overcome a difficult battle with cancer.  While I do not know what it's like to go through round after round of chemo, I imagine that the mental and physical anguish I experience in a long distance event can only be a small fraction of what these children must endure.  That is my higher purpose.  It is what pushes me when I feel like I can't go on.  It is why I believe everyone's possibilities are endless; why our limits begin where our vision ends.  And this is why I founded E2C!

Team Endure to Cure also hosts a team of fundraising athletes known as “Team Endure to Cure” who are comprised almost equally of men and women of all skill levels.  The team motto is, “Anybody. Any Event. Anywhere in the world.”  You decide your dreams, we will help take you there.  In the process, you not only transform the lives of kids who we are fighting for, but also inspire and unite people worldwide.  Our team of athletes raises funds for very specific causes at our beneficiary organizations.  Check us out at endure to cure to learn more and thank you for reading!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Relationship with cancer






 There has been a lot of talk about how Catherine Zeta Jones has reacted to Michael Douglas' cancer and how she is not planning on going with him to his chemo and radiation treatments.  She has come under fire from all sides about how heartless she is, how can she not be with him during this difficult time.  She said that she didn't think she could see him like that, that maybe she should be stronger emotionally but she just isn't.

When I was diagnosed I had several friends disappear.  And I was pissed.  Pissed for a long time.  How could my friends just go away?  Don't they see that I need them?  Yeah I felt that way for a good 2 years.  But then I realized something.  I didn't know what their relationship with cancer is.  Maybe they had someone close to them die, maybe they watch tv and see the fictionalized version of what happens, maybe they are just scared and don't want to see their friend go through treatment.  It took me a long time to get over my anger at them.


So who are we to judge her and how she feels?  How she relates to cancer?  Because we know how we react? As survivors? As caregivers, friends, family, co-workers? 

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones live in Hollywood.  Its a fishbowl.  They can't go anywhere without the paparazzi snapping photos and posting online and in the tabloids.  I know.  I lived and worked there for 10 years behind the scenes on television and award shows. Its a different world out there.  Imagine if every move you made was documented in print and on tv for everyone to talk about, to gossip about.  How would you feel?

Now add on a cancer diagnosis to that.  Paparazzi are probably swarming whatever hospital Michael Douglas is at hoping to snap a photo of him at his most vulnerable.  All for a quick buck.

Now imagine that was you.  During treatment.  At the time when you feel the lowest, the shittiest, the worst you will probably ever feel.  Walking to your car.  Someone takes a picture for all the world to see.

So yeah,  I am not upset with Catherine Zeta Jones.  As my friend Donald Wilhelm would say, hey  "it is what it is." 

It's their journey.  Not mine

I have my own journey.

Mel is the producer/co-host of The Vic McCarty Show.  Listen live Monday-Friday 10am-noon on wmktthetalkstation.com

Check out my podcast The Cancer Warrior on Empoweradio.com available on demand and on Itunes

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Legacy





I lost a good friend on Monday. Found out about it the next day.  Figures the one day I decided to stay off the internet.  It was hard to learn that Don Wilhelm had passed away from a long battle with cancer.  Found out about it during The Vic McCarty Show.  Hard to do a live radio broadcast when you find out that news.  Hard to do much of anything.  Even the pilates class I had that day did little for me.


I can't even remember how Don & I met.   Probably through stupid cancer or Matt Zachary.  I was one of the people who he asked to review his book for a virtual blog tour.  I have to say his sense of humor is a lot like mine.  It was like I was reading something I had lived through.  People say stupid shit to you when you have cancer.  He wrote it all down.  Told it like it was.  It was funny and real.  It is the best book I have read about what its like to have cancer.

I was lucky enough to meet Don & his wife Amy in real life, he ironically is from the town I live in now.  We would chat on facebook and twitter.  We talked about survivorship, life etc. 


The last time I saw him was in July.  I am grateful that my fiance got to meet him.  We went out to The Pancake House in Bay Harbor.  He gave me some of his books to pass out to survivors who listen to my podcast or who I meet in person. 

When I noticed he wasn't on facebook that much I emailed Amy and asked how he was.  She said he was tired of fighting.  This was his final  facebook post:

I’ve filled my original goal here on earth. It was to spend the remainder of my life helping cancer patients. It seems to be where I found the greatest joy and the most sense of worth. I’m moving up into the next roll. I’ll leave my faithful followers to slip in and fill the gaps. Love to you all and positive energy, ...Don Wilhelm (Don entered into Hospice care as of Weds.)

  

When I read that post, whether you realized it or not, I know you were talking directly to me.

I wanted to wait a while before I wrote something about my friend, but I couldn't wait.  The day I found out you passed away my friend was sad.  It was a beautiful sunny day up north in the place you love so much, but somehow it seemed so dark and lonely.  Without you here with us the days seem a little less sunny, the stars seem to shine a little less brightly and the world seems sadder and smaller.   


I know that you would smile at me with that easy carefree smile of yours and say "Hey Mel, it is what it is."

I know that Don.

But I miss my friend

Sunday, September 12, 2010

5 Ways Cancer Survivors Can Boost Their Health


Another Guest Blogger, Enjoy

It’s literally a trip to the fringes of hell and back, one that leaves you both physically and mentally drained. Surviving cancer is the equivalent of beating the devil by the skin of your teeth, and if you want to avoid the burning question of how much longer you can hold on and continue to be cancer-free, you need to take the bull by its horns and start boosting your health in small and large ways. It’s your second lease of life, so don’t let the chemo treatments or anything else get you down. Instead, look forward to each new day, take it as it comes, live for the day, and do all you can to live healthily by:


Eating healthy food: Health professionals recommend that cancer survivors follow a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to improve their health-related quality of life score, the test that determines how your health affects the quality of your life. The higher the score, the more quality there is in your life and vice versa. So make it a point to eat more fruits and vegetables and limit all that is unhealthy in the food category. That’s not to say that you need to become a vegetarian or eat only what’s healthy; rather, balance your meals and ensure that you’re getting the best nutrition possible.

Exercising regularly: As a cancer survivor, you’re probably drained of all your physical and mental energy what with the stress and pain associated with the notion of cancer and the chemotherapy sessions. Exercise is perhaps the last thing on your mind right now, but there are advantages to working out that promise to boost the quality of your life and make you feel better physically and mentally. Start out with leisurely walks after consulting your doctor and then move on to something more active that invigorates and energizes you. Research has proved that hatha yoga helps boost energy levels of cancer survivors and also helps them sleep better without the aid of sleeping pills.

Giving up addictions: The urge to throw caution to the winds and live life king-size is strong after you’ve survived a deadly disease like cancer, so you may probably go all out and smoke and/or drink like you never have before. But do remember that you’ve gone through a lot and put up with much pain and angst in order to survive. After driving away the disease, don’t welcome it back with open arms by smoking and drinking without a care in the world.

Socializing with friends and family: The best medicine in the world is love and laughter, and these cannot be purchased at any drugstore in the world. When you’ve been given a second chance, boost your mental and physical health by surrounding yourself with loved ones and spending more time in their company. Relationships matter more than money or work, so get your priorities right and feel better about yourself.

Staying positive: And finally, it’s important to look ahead and not behind at the road you’ve taken to come this far if you want to stay mentally healthy after beating cancer. Yes, it’s been a struggle, but by focusing on all the good things that lie ahead, it’s easy to move on and forge a good life for you, one that does not include the dreaded word cancer at all.

About the guest blogger:
 Susan White regularly writes on the subject of radiology technician schools schools. She invites your questions, comments at her email address: susan.white33@gmail.com.