Fighting neuropathy with nutrition

Salmon and black beans, a tasty way to manage neuropathy.

Many of my cancer survivor friends have told me about their struggles with neuropathy, a common side effect of chemotherapy. Knock on wood, I haven’t experienced it, but wanted to share this post to help those of you who do. Today guest blogger Patricia Dean-Escoto, founder and creator of nutritional consulting company Pathways2Healing, shares her experience and expertise about managing this problem.

Shortly after my surgery for breast cancer seven years ago, I noticed I had numbness in a large part of my shoulders and back area.  It was then that I learned that one of the possible lingering side effects of any cancer treatment is neuropathy.

Categorized as a change in sensation (numbness, tingling or pain) in the affected or adjacent area of the body, neuropathy can strike at any time during or after cessation of treatment, in some cases taking years to manifest.  Although the feet and hands are common areas for neuropathy to strike, as in my case, it can also appear in other parts of the body, such as the shoulder or other areas that may have suffered nerve damage.

Cancer treatment side effects brought on by chemotherapy and radiation can cause vomiting and may result in a vitamin deficiency, a major cause of peripheral neuropathy.  Other factors found in our environment, like lead poisoning or pesticides in our food can also put people with cancer at a greater risk for developing neuropathy.  This is why proper nutrition plays such a vital role in alleviating conditions associated with this condition.

Nutrition should be the first line of defense when it comes to maintaining a strong, healthy immune system.  When our immune systems are strong, they gives us the ability to fight off diseases and their side effects on a cellular level.  Eating a diet rich in B vitamins (particularly B1 and B12), folic acid (found in dark, leafy green vegetables), and antioxidants (found in all fruits and vegetables) has been shown to help manage the symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy.

The primary function of B12 is to form red blood cells, but it’s one of the major influences in the maintenance of our nervous system.  Additionally, B12 helps form myelin, which is a fatty cover that insulates our nerves.

Foods rich in vitamin B12 include:

  • Organic beef liver
  • Wild salmon
  • raw cow’s milk
  • organic chicken or turkey

Foods rich in vitamins B1 include:

  • Yellowfin tuna – This kind of fish has some of the highest levels of vitamin B1 of any kind of food. According to nutritional charts, less than 200 calories worth of this food can provide more than 35 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin B1.
  • Beans – Black beans, pinto beans and navy beans, as well as split peas, all have high levels of vitamin B1.
  • Brussels sprouts – One cup of boiled Brussels sprouts can provide more than 11 percent of the daily recommended value for this vitamin.
  • Nuts – Nuts can be a healthy source of vitamin B1.

Eating a well-balanced diet can help us maintain optimum health, even when neuropathy occurs. Consuming whole, natural foods rather than those processed with chemicals, sweeteners, and excessive amounts of salt can be instrumental in aiding in the support of our immune system.  For supplementation, studies have found that taking  L-glutamine, Acety-L-Carnitine,  Alpha lipoic acid, vitamin D and cayenne pepper.

Patricia Dean-Escoto, founder and creator of Pathways2Healing, a nutritional consulting company, and author of The Top Ten Superfoods for Preventing Breast Cancer. She  has created an interactive tool, My Breast Cancer Advocate, for newly diagnosed or recovering breast cancer patients. For more information, visit http://www.pathways2healing.us/.



Ahh! Oncology massage!

Recently massage therapists from Cancer Family Care shared free chair massages to an event at the Cancer Support Community. That's me getting the kinks out of my neck!

I have always loved a good massage. When I was single, I’d get one every month. Once I got married and had my daughter, they became a luxury I’d receive as birthday and holiday presents.

Since I was diagnosed with cancer, I’ve been a bit nervous about a well-meaning practitioner “rubbing me the wrong way,” (excuse the pun). I have some lymphedema and have always been afraid of making that worse, and I still have a port, which can be tender.

There is a wonderful organization here in Cincinnati, Cancer Family Care, that offers half-priced massage, as well as healing touch, for cancer survivors. I have been incredibly blessed to get regular massages by my wonderful massage therapist Cheryl Smith, LMT, who is certified in oncology massage. A survivor herself, she gives me more than a massage; I consider her a friend who I can share my feelings with, as well as my aches and pains. She knew her stuff and showed interest in me as a whole person, not just client.

I considered it more than a treat; it was a treatment … something that will contribute to my survival. According to Cheryl’s brochure, some of the benefits of oncology massage include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Pain relief
  • Minimized side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
  • Restored energy/reduced fatigue
  • Boosted immune system
  • Enhanced circulation and oxygen
  • Removal of toxins from body
  • Feeling of peace and well-being
  • Reconnection of body, mind and spirit

I am extremely grateful for Cancer Family Care for providing this service. They also hold a day every year for cancer surivors’ children called Camp Courage. Chrissy went when I was first diagnosed had a wonderful time, doing nature hikes, crafts and throwing eggs against a wall to release anger. I could use that myself some days! As you can see by this photo, they even had a face painting artist on hand.

I encourage surviors and family members who lives in the Cincinnati area to take advantage of Cancer Family Care’s services. And better yet, support them with a donation and check out their website. If you don’t live in the area, go to the Society for Oncology Massage’s website to find an oncology massage therapist near you.

 

 

 

 



Being there for milestones

My dad had just recovered from a quadruple bypass when I got married. My fondest memory is his toast, where he said how blessed he was to be there on that day.

I just finished a story for my upcoming book, Miracle Survivors. It’s about Carole Kurbin, who has been living 16 years with stage IV breast cancer. One of the things she says that helped her was her desire to be there for her daughters’ milestones. I know that has been a driving force for me and other cancer survivors. Who wouldn’t want to be there to see their daughter walk down the aisle for graduations and her wedding?

I took a break after writing my first draft of her story and got on Facebook (my guilty addiction). Someone shared a Huffington Post article about fulfilling an 11-year-old girl’s wish to have her terminally ill father walk her down the aisle. They hired a photographer and had all the trimmings of a wedding. The images are both heart-wrenching and beautiful, in my opinion. I think it is a great gift for daughter and father alike.  I shared the link and was surprised by the variety of opinions on it.  Some thought it was inspiring and touching; others said it was too hard to watch. One friend said it bordered on child abuse and could soil the girl’s future wedding.

I found the discussion pretty interesting, and it made me think about my motives regarding milestones. I’m not one to dwell on death, but it certainly comes up given I have stage IV cancer. While my daughter’s milestones have always been a motivation for me to keep on living, I know that there is a possibility I won’t live to see them. I think that’s why I like watching Say Yes to the Dress with her; to share that time with her. I have even toyed with the idea of going wedding dress shopping with her if I knew death was near. But now I’m thinking, would that be fair to her? Would it make her sad or happy? I guess if I did something like that, I would make sure it was something she’d want, too.

No one knows what the future will bring. I’m doing well now and there are so many hopeful treatments in the research pipeline. I plan to, as my friend Suzanne Lindley (a 17-year, stage IV colon cancer survivor who’s also in my book) would say, “hitchhike” to the next treatment.” And I’m taking care of myself in body, mind and spirit, too (well I do have some pounds to shed …). So I have optimism I’ll be around for many years to come.

I am so grateful for all the milestones I’ve had the opportunity to witness since being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer more than six years ago. I’ve seen my now 15-year-old daughter go through puberty, enter high school, have her first boyfriend … and soon, learn to drive a car. I cried with joy at her first band performance and look forward to seeing her run in first track meet. And I plan on being there, loud and proud, at her high school graduation, which will be here before we know it.

On April 4, I will be reaching my own milestone. It will be 12 years since I first heard the words, “You have cancer.” I never would have dreamed what would transpire since then, but I’m here, and l’m blessed.



Study seeking teens who have mothers with breast cancer

Sometimes teens can hold back their feelings when their mom is diagnosed with breast cancer.

I talk to enough cancer survivors with teen children to know that all kids handle having a parent with cancer differently. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my daughter Chrissy was just three years old; she was nine when it returned as stage IV. Chrissy is a teenager now and is very well adjusted. I think part of the reason is that she doesn’t remember when cancer wasn’t on the radar. Also, I’ve been doing well. We talk about it openly, but I worry how she will deal with everything if my health takes a nosedive.

Having a parent with cancer is a difficult and challenging situation that some adolescents can adjust to, but others may be at a higher risk of developing psychological issues and difficulties. Some adolescents may lack support  and may be less able to share their feelings with others, making them more vulnerable to stressful situations. It is crucial to identify those adolescents, understand their experiences, and provide support to avoid potential short- and long-term emotional and psychological consequences.

The Adolescent Adjustment to Maternal Breast Cancer (AMBC) is an  international study seeking to understand the experience of adolescents between 14 and 19 who have a mother diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 24 months. It focuses on identifying adolescent support needs and coping strategies. The AMBC study also includes a general life skills program to assist with adolescent adjustment. The program consists of eight sessions covering themes like social skills, social support, communication, stress management and breast cancer.

The AMBC  study is carried out by the research team at the National University of Ireland Galway. The study is a collaboration between the School of Psychology, the School of Sociology and the Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland Galway ( NUIG ).

If your child qualifies for the study and you would like additional information, visit the AMBC study website at http://ambcstudy.wordpress.com,



Snapshot of my life: cancer not included

A beautiful spot and hopeful message from our recent trip to Santa Cruz, CA.

Due to my looming book deadline, I’m re-posting this older post with a few updates, as a reminder that we’re all more than our cancer.

A while back,  Marie Ennis O’Connor of  Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer sent out an interesting request to fellow breast cancer bloggers: tell us about your other life beyond cancer. I thought this might be a good opportunity to connect with you and tell you a little about me you might not already know.

Some Tami facts:

- I’m incredibly close to my daughter Chrissy, who’s 15, and husband Mike. I’m incredibly proud of our daughter who is an honor student, plays bass drums in marching band, runs in track and is really funny and kind. We’re a team and have lots of fun together no matter what we’re doing.

- I love to travel, especially when nature is involved. My favorite spots are:

  • Hawaii (where my husband Mike and I honeymooned and spent our first anniversary)
  • The bay area of California (where my brother and his family live)
  • Utah (the highlight of which was a private mule ride through an area outside of Bryce Canyon).
  • Asheville, NC – we just went and fell in love with the mountains, hot springs, music and art
  • Puerto Rico, where we celebrated my 50th birthday this year

Mike, Chrissy and I riding the trails in Utah

- My brother Doug (aka Doug Dirt) is the member of the Banana Slug String Band, which teaches kids about the environment and earth sciences through really cool music (not the sing-song Barney variety). They’ve been at it for decades, so if you haven’t heard of them yet, check them out.

- I put myself through college by being a waitress and working as a camp counselor. I was a terrible waitress but kept at it. My most famous customers were Mr. Rogers and Jerry Springer. Yes, don’t you love the dichotomy?  I loved being a counselor, though, so much I majored in education. I found out kids were different in school than summer camp so I transferred to Ohio University, where I majored in journalism. This led to a career in healthcare public relations up until three years ago when I decided to do this blog and write my book, From Incurable to Incredible.

- I have a unique talent: I can play music on my cheeks (on my face!!!) My best song is the William Tell Overture. I take requests, too. Could it be my head is hollow?

This was one of my 80s looks in college. Flashback with a little dose of Risky Business.

- I love ’80s music and tried to be “new wave” in college with my wardrobe and enormous hair volume. I never really pulled it off, but I did fancy myself a good dancer and alternative music aficionado.  Some favorite dance songs:  Blue Monday by New Order, Situation by Yaz, Melt with You by Modern English,  anything by the B52s (Just saw them with the Go Gos – awesome!), Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung (yes, I’m sorry to admit).

- My daughter and I love our affectionate cat AJ. My husband acts like he just tolerates him, but we know he secretly likes him.

Our cat AJ was a gift from a friend.

- My guilty pleasure is People and Entertainment Weekly. I reward myself by reading them as I exercise on my elliptical machine.

- I am a non-practicing Jew; I love the culture and food. Bagels and lox and cream cheese, to die for! Temple and religious matters? Not so much. My husband, a non-practicing Catholic, and I go to a Unity church. My daughter is super spoiled as we celebrate Christmaskah (best of both worlds). Chrissy gets eight gifts than a load of presents on Christmas morning.

Christmaskah at the Boehmer household years back.

- I adore chocolate. Now that I’m on an anti- (c-word) diet, I just do the 70 percent or above. When I went to Europe in my twenties, I did a chocolate tour. Rather than savor beer in Germany, I relished the Milka bars. I took home so many bars, the lady at the airport looked at me like I was crazy!

- I love movies, especially ones that make you laugh, cry and think.

I think it’s important to remember we are more than our cancer diagnosis. What makes you unique? Would love to hear from you!

 



The envelope please …

Two years ago, I was in a losing battle with a treatment that made me lose my hair, but didn't work at all.

It’s Throwback Thursday in Facebook land, and keeping in form, I’m reflecting back on two years ago. My brother suddenly died and I was trying to manage all that entailed, along with getting help for my mother, with whom he lived. It was a terribly stressful time, punctuated by the awful news that my previously well-behaved cancer had spread like wildfire into uncharted territory – my omentum (which covers the internal abdominal organs) and peritoneal cavity.

Things didn’t look good for me, according to my doctors. There were times when all I did was sit and cry. Lots of other drama ensued, including an endless round of appeals to get my insurance to cover a treatment recommended to me (it never got approved).

The reason I’m dredging all this up is to contrast where I am today and accentuate how grateful I am. A couple of weeks ago, I received my scan results. I was petrified as I walked into the hospital to retrieve them and nervously opened the envelope. “The envelope please,” as they would say at the Oscars, but my life depended on the contents in this particular envelope. All kinds of thoughts were going through my head. I had a pain in my armpit; I’d been on Afinitor and Aromasin for 15 months – how long can this last?  I researched clinical trials to make sure I had a plan B if the results were bad.

Scanning the report, I read: “Decreased hypermetabolic activity … overall size appears to be smaller … no new hypermetabolic abnormality … consistent with response to therapy.”  Yes! My treatment and everything else I’m doing is working! I waited until I reached my car before I allowed myself to cry and call out, “Thank you God!”

I have been given a reprieve. For four months, I can carry on with my life. I can finish my manuscript for my book, Miracle Survivors; go on the Breast Cancer Thriver Cruise after I meet my deadline. Hell, I’m even planning a family vacation in July!

Two years ago; I would have never dreamed I’d be doing so well today. At the same time, I mourn the passing of yet another friend, Vanessa Tiemeier (whom I featured a while back on this blog), who was just 32, and many other friends who have gone before me and are suffering today.

I am grateful for new treatments like Afinitor, but we need more. There are promising drugs in clinical trial that aren’t open to most stage IV patients who are literally dying to get them. Most of the trials I was qualified for were only Phase I trials, which is the about the earliest, most experimental stage. I’m praying this changes and hope to be a voice for others in the future. For now, I will continue to take care of myself in body, mind and spirit and give birth to this book to bring hope to others.



Terri, one of the Miracle Survivors

Me, Terri Dilts and Julie Deutsch (another miracle survivor) at the C4YW in Seattle last year

I’ve been busy trying to meet my deadline for my upcoming book, Miracle Survivors! The book includes so many amazing stories, I’m going to start sharing parts of  them.  This week, I’m introducing Terri Dilts. I met Terri at the Conference 4 Young Women in Seattle last year where she shared a room with me and my friend Julie. I found out we have lots in common, and even more so when I interviewed her for my story. Here are some excerpts:

In December 2005,  I arranged an appointment with a surgeon for back pain. I had an MRI before I went to see him. He called me after seeing the MRI results and said, “I can’t help you; you have tumors in your spine.” I was floored!

The next morning my husband and I went to my oncologist. It was hard to focus on all the information he was giving me. I remember he said I had probably four years until something new came down the line that would help me. All I heard was, “You have four years to live.”  My husband pulled me back to reality emphasizing “until something new came down the line.”

My oncologist immediately  …  put me in menopause with Lupron injections,  Femara for the ER/PR-side of things, and Herceptin, since I was also HER2-positive. I started radiation on the spine to alleviate pain and an older bisphosphonate to strengthen my bones.

… I started gaining strength and learning more about metastatic disease. Everything I read on the Internet said I should be dead. Luckily, I found a local metastatic cancer support group, which was such a ray of hope for me. I saw women who were surviving with metastatic disease 15-18 years after diagnosis. It was such an eye opener for me and instrumental in changing my mindset to one of hope.

As I researched my disease, I decided I needed to add naturopathic approaches to help manage it. I talked to my oncologist about Vitamin C infusions, and he said it was quackery. I wasn’t going to convince him or vice versa, so we parted ways. I went to the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center because they integrated traditional and complementary treatments. They added Vitamin C and whole bunch of supplements to my treatments, along with a cancer-fighting diet plan.

I did some research and switched to mostly organic foods and eliminated red meat. That was where I started. A lot of the diets I read about seemed too restrictive to me, but now I’m trying to incorporate more changes. I’m reading a couple of books, one by a breast cancer survivor Elaine Cantin, who recommends eliminating all glucose and adding good fats, such as olive and coconut oils and avocados.  Cancer cells need glucose, so, the theory is to starve your cancer cells. … There is a fine line between doing the best I can to starve cancer cells and living life to its fullest. If I’m going out to eat with friends and family, I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine. If I stick to my diet 80 percent of the time, I think I’ll be doing well.

I went on disability about six months after I ended chemotherapy, which has allowed me to spend a lot of time on self-care. I can nap, meditate, and go to the clinic twice a week for infusions. I’m very conscious of exercising my heart, because I was on Adriamycin and now on Herceptin and Perjeta, which are possibly cardio-toxic. I try to do aerobics two to three times a week, along with weight-bearing exercises to keep my bones healthy and strong. I’m doing everything I can to live the best life I can. That’s my job now.

My scans have been relatively stable. They showed a significant decrease last year, but my last scan showed a minimal amount of growth. I still do Vitamin C infusions, Herceptin and Perjeta and have switched to Faselodex injections and Armidex.

… I think it’s important for cancer survivors to be there for each other. I started one of the support groups I now attend because I saw a need for it. Occasionally I’ll give a speech about my journey.  I enjoy that I can give anybody hope. People come up to me after I’ve given a speech and say they’re inspired and share their story with me, as well.

… Cancer has taught me to make self-love and self-care a priority. I believe that and the support of my family, friends and fellow survivors are the reasons I’m still here.

Miracle Survivors will be released by Skyhorse Publishing  November 4, 2014, but you can pre-order now! Click HERE to order yours!

 



A love letter to my husband

Mike and I at a Komen fundraiser

It’s Valentine’s Day, and like many people, I searched the “husband” section of Valentine’s Day cards looking for the perfect sentiment.  There weren’t any cards that talked about sticking by and supporting your spouse with life-threatening cancer.

When you get married, you repeat the “through sickness and in health” vows, but not everyone abides by them. I have heard so many heart-wrenching stories of husbands leaving their wives after being diagnosed with cancer. Or their husbands check out with alcohol or drugs to numb the pain.

I remember a friend who was recently married when she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her husband said, “I can’t handle this,” and she said she understood. I didn’t. She had loving parents who took care of her and buried her when she died. I wonder if she would have lived longer with a loving spouse by her side.

I am so incredibly fortunate I married Mike Boehmer. We were only five years into our marriage when I was first diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. There was no question we were a team. I didn’t have to go through this alone. He came with me to doctor appointments and treatments, listened to my fears, and took my daughter places to give me a break when I was too sick to take care of her.

When I was diagnosed five years later with stage IV cancer, our team got even stronger. We made decisions together when it came to treatments that would save my life. He took off work (and still does) to go to out-of-town consultations. He listened to me cry day after day when I was so sick, we thought all was lost.  Mike was the one who encouraged me to write my book and supported it by editing and promoting it – something he continues to do with my new book.

And Mike continues to tell me how grateful he is I’m now doing so well. Mike puts his family first even when his job pressures him to do otherwise. I am a lucky woman.

Everything is not perfect. What marriage is? We have spats over stupid things. There were times I didn’t feel supported. And on my part, I think I sometimes take him for granted. So today, I want to do more than give him a card and candy. This post is for you, Mike, for all you do and all you are. Even though we said the vows, you didn’t sign up for this at such a young age. I love and appreciate you more than I can express. You are a wonderful husband and father. God blessed me when you came into my life.



I wish I had breast cancer?

World Cancer Day's logo

Yesterday was World Cancer Day, and instead of turning my Facebook profile picture purple, I shared my coincidental milestone. It was that very day six years ago I walked into my breast surgeon’s office and learned cancer had returned. I didn’t know until a couple of weeks later that it was stage IV.

I am so grateful to be here and feel healthy. My last scan in November was stable, and I hang onto hope that my scan next month shows the same or even better results. Yet every day it seems, I hear about another woman with metastatic breast cancer dying of this disease. That’s why I was so shocked and angered when a friend shared a link on Facebook about an ad campaign for the UK Pancreatic Cancer Network. The campaign features a woman saying, “I wish I had breast cancer,” and a man saying, “I wish I had testicular cancer.”  Then the ad goes on to list the early warning signs for pancreatic cancer, which I believe should have been the main message.

Yes, I know how deadly pancreatic cancer is; the survival rate is pathetically low. But how does it help matters to insult and belittle the gravity of having a different cancer diagnosis? I can tell you from personal experience that I would not wish breast cancer on anyone, especially the metastatic kind. Talk to all the family members, including young children, who have lost loved ones to this disease.

I understand how angry and desperate a person can become when faced with a cancer diagnosis. I’ve certainly felt that way at times. To be brutally honest, I sometimes am secretly jealous of people with early stage breast cancer. But then I remember what it was like having early stage cancer myself.  I always had the fear of it coming back and all of a sudden, I was painfully aware of my mortality. I also remember there are so many people with early stage breast cancer who are tirelessly working for the rest of us, whether it’s providing support to patients and families or reviewing research studies for breakthrough treatments.

One time a woman wearing teal came up to me at an event, where I was representing Pink Ribbon Girls, a support group for breast cancer survivors. She asked if we had services for ovarian cancer survivors. I cringed, admitting that our funds were limited to breast cancer patients. She shot back, “That’s why we all hate breast cancer organizations!”

I get it. The breast cancer community has developed an enviable network of support and has more research dollars going to it than a lot of other cancers. It wasn’t always the case. It started and continues because of some very dedicated survivors and their loved ones who launch organizations and volunteer to help others. Dikla Benzeevia, for instance, is a young metastatic breast cancer survivor who has been through hell and back and is using her experience to help others as a volunteer patient advocate. I just completed her story for my upcoming book, Miracle Survivors. Here’s what she has to say:

“I felt alone and lost in years past, so I work so others don’t have to feel that way. It’s very important to me that people know we’re all here for each other and watching each other’s backs. No one has to feel like they’re going to fall off a cliff from this disease. None of us have to deal with it alone.”

As Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s not helpful to anyone to try to further a cause by belittling someone else’s experience. Instead do something to make it better for yourself and others. It doesn’t matter what type of cancer you have. We are all in this together.

 



Turning agitation into appreciation

These penguins love the Polar Vortex! LOL, don't have any pictures in my computer anymore so this will have to do.

I don’t know if anyone out there noticed (I hope you did!), but I haven’t posted in a while. There is nothing wrong, thank you God. I’ve just been busy working on my upcoming book, Miracle Survivors. When I wrote my first book, From Incurable to Incredible, I self-published and didn’t really have a deadline to meet. This time, I have a publisher and they want my manuscript by May 1. Gulp!

I’ve been blessed to find people who are helping me transcribe the 25 extensive audio  interviews with amazing survivors who have beaten the odds of advanced cancer. It was all falling into place, then bam! My hard drive crashed. Luckily I had saved everything for the book, but the rest of everything in my computer is toast. So I’ve been a little busy trying to put everything back together again.

Add in some family drama and the constant below-zero temps we, along with 3/4 of the country, have had … well, I’ve been a little grumpy and agitated. Then I get reminders that all of this is really not that important. Five very dear friends of mine are facing a crossroads in their metastatic breast cancer treatment. They are once again  on the uncharted waters of finding a new treatment after the ones they’ve been on, several for a long time, have failed. Most of us with metastatic disease know this roller-coaster ride all too well. You’re on a treatment that’s working … until it doesn’t anymore. It’s a scary place to be.

That is why I know that every day, even if it’s a frustrating day, is a gift not to be wasted. I am grateful to be in the lull of the storm with a treatment that has been working for a while. I have the luxury of getting pissed off at the situation with my computer and feeling nervous about meeting a deadline. My friend lying in bed in pain anxiously awaiting approval of a new drug  doesn’t have that luxury. Neither does my friend who is desperately trying to find money to pay for life-saving treatments because she has no insurance. If anyone has the right to be agitated, it’s them. I know I am blessed in this moment, and it can change at any time.

But I also have faith in God to carry me and my friends through no matter what happens. It’s a small inner knowing that allows me to enjoy my days and sleep at night. I’m not in fear all the time because I know that everything is in divine order.

So today, I will focus on what’s in front of me and be grateful for the sunshine shining through my window, heat that is flowing through our house, money to have insurance and a computer for that matter; having work that is so satisfying … and so many other blessings. I will continue to pray for my friends and be there for them the best I can. Because today is a good day.