From Survivorville to “Scanville”: My road back to reality

From Survivorville to “Scanville”: My road back to reality

I came back from an absolutely exhilarating time at the Survivorville, a women’s cancer conference in Nashville. Not only was the venue beautiful – The Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort – but the women I met were too, inside and out. The two highlights were 1) meeting fellow stage IV survivors/co-survivors who were volunteers and at my breakout session: The Buck Stops Here: The Power of Becoming Your Own Advocate, and 2) reading my story for My 2nd Act: Survivor Stories from the Stage. I was in awe of the nine other women and two little girls, who shared their stories of struggle, loss, inspiration and hope and how they transformed the life-changing experiences with cancer to a new way of life. For instance, Ariana and Naveya, the two girls...

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Saying “I do” to life

Saying “I do” to life

This past weekend, Mike and I went to a very special wedding. In fact, Mike was part of the wedding party, which made it extra special. For those of you who read From Incurable to Incredible, you might remember Paul Falk, who was diagnosed with terminal leukemia at age 9. He was so sick and treatments were so limited at the time (1986), his doctors gave him at most six months to live. Being a determined and intelligent kid, he “wasn’t having any of it.” Paul was enrolled in a clinical trial and was the only child who survived. This past Saturday, he got married to his long-time girlfriend Melody and became father to her two beautiful girls from a previous marriage. It was a lovely, rainbow-colored event, and the weather was absolutely perfect....

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Watch Dr. Jim Olson’s TEDxSeattle talk and WRF will donate up to $50,000 toward cancer drug discovery

Watch Dr. Jim Olson’s TEDxSeattle talk and WRF will donate up to $50,000 toward cancer drug discovery

I was having a talk with my 14-year-old daughter Chrissy about Talia, a girl just a year younger than her who died of brain cancer this summer. It brought back memories of my childhood friend, Amy, who died of Aplastic Anemia when she was just 13 years old. Chrissy became “acquainted” with Talia from her viral videos, in which she demonstrated makeup techniques. Chrissy was frustrated that not enough attention is being given to childhood cancer. She became angry when she learned that childhood cancers receive such a small portion of research funding. I told her I would blog about it. And what better time to do it than September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? I can’t imagine the anguish of losing a child. When I was first diagnosed...

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What a trip! Our ‘miracle survivor tour’

What a trip! Our ‘miracle survivor tour’

In case any of you were wondering why I didn’t post last week, my husband, daughter and I just returned from a lovely New England vacation. We flew into Boston and made our way up to Bar Harbor, Maine, then back to Boston for a few days. We ate lobster, hiked beautiful trails, experienced a tour of Harvard and saw other Boston tourist sights. But my favorite part was getting a chance to meet some amazing people, most of whom I’ve never connected with in person. Our first night was spent with friend Wendy McCool and her husband Kevin at their beautiful home in southern Maine. Wendy was a fellow Pink Power Mom, when we were nominated back in 2010. Wendy is super busy helping other survivors with her fabulous organization, My Breast Cancer Support, which...

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Medical student heals through music and friendship

Medical student heals through music and friendship

When I was at my book signing at Cleveland Clinic  last month, I met Bryan Sisk, a young medical student who used to work with Dr. Tuohy (who is developing the first preventive breast cancer vaccine there).  Bryan told me how he wrote a book, A Lasting Effect: Reflections on Music and Medicine, about his experiences playing guitar and singing songs to patients at the Clinic’s Children’s Hospital. He gave me a copy of the book and I just got around to reading it. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. A Lasting Effect is less than 100 pages but it is full of stories and poems that put things in perspective about my cancer experience. I was amazed by Bryan’s depiction of the grace and resiliency of the children and their parents...

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Little Charlie beats the odds, eight Christmases and counting

Little Charlie beats the odds, eight Christmases and counting

As difficult as it was to receive a cancer diagnosis, I always said to myself, “Thank God it was me and not my daughter.” So I can only imagine the turmoil Deirdre Carey experienced when she was told her beloved six-month-old Charlie had an extremely rare form of brain and spinal cancer. Worse yet, Charlie was given a 0 – 10 percent chance of survival. Charlie proved the doctors wrong. Eight years ago, the family received the best Christmas gift ever: Charlie was in remission. Today, he is an irrepressible, healthy boy who loves basketball and playing with his big brother Jay. Deirdre shared her story with me for my book Incurable to Incredible. Here’s a bit of what she had to say: Handing Charlie over for surgery was one of the most...

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