Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nine Days In - Thumbs Up

photo courtesy of

Day nine in my post surgery recovery is a thumbs up!  Reporting on my ongoing experience with recuperation from my procedure has meant being gentle with myself when I am too tired to do the things I normally do,  like go out to dinner, work at my desk or take a walk.  I have enjoyed taking walks with our doggie, Janey.  She has enjoyed them too.  I'll miss having the time to meander and enjoy her company when I am back at work.

 My doctor and his staff have been great in helping me normalize the usual little pains and aches that are common post surgery.  I am not a medicine person, and haven't taken any pain medication since 3 days post surgery.  After speaking with their office today about a little continued discomfort, they encouraged me to take a little acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  I guess I can do that.

Going back to the topic of work, having time to rest has given me some space in my brain to consider what is most important to me.  I continue to keep up with work via phone and email.  I have been spending time with my husband, and my girls, when they are not working.

I realize that I work well no matter where I am, and am considering the possibility of telecommuting one day a week.  I drive to Westchester County, NY from Bergen County, NJ four days a week, and back to my private practice in Bergen County for evening appointments mostly every evening.  I see clients in NJ every Friday all day.  While I love both of my jobs, I began to think about the wear and tear on my body.

I have colleagues who telecommute regularly.  Maybe it is time for me to join the ranks, maybe one day a week.  We will see!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Anti-Ovarian Cancer Diet

red onion
branzino/sea bass
Another post on Dr. Mehmet Oz's website, reported through an article written by Dr. William W. Li, MD, outlining an anti-ovarian cancer diet.  Li purports that onion (especially red onion, uncooked), endive (uncooked, 1/2 cup 2x a week), fish (6 oz, 3x week), especially branzino type sea bass, but primarily keeping an eye on Omega-3's (salmon is an excellent choice too) as well as fresh tomatoes, are deterrents to ovarian cancer.  Here is a simple guide from an online article written by Joanne Eglash, Diets Examiner, of The, if you are interested, for further information.  

While this might seem a bit extreme, if we at least begin to smatter our diets with these healthy foods may be helpful.  

Keep in mind, however, especially regarding fish, to keep an eye on sustainability and health.  Monterey Bay Aquarium regularly updates regional seafood guides.  Follow the guide and click on your local region for more information on safety and sustainability.

Lastly, consult your medical professional before starting any new diet.

photos courtesy of

Dr. Oz's campaign - Break The Silence on Ovarian Cancer - worth checking out

I am fortunate - I am cancer free and grateful.  However, I feel that part of my Mom's legacy is to help inform others to stay healthy.

This checklist can be a lifesaver - check out Dr. Oz's Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer website and checklist.  Can be a lifesaver for yourself or a loved one.  Posting in honor of my mom, Jeanne, who would have been 74 this past Wednesday, June 20, but died of ovarian cancer at age 61.  We miss her every day.

Take a look at the checklist.  There are actually a number of warning signs that help you become informed.  If you think you might be at risk, take the checklist to your doctor.  You can ask for the following screening tests:  CA125 blood test, recto-vaginal ultrasound and trans-vaginal ultrasound.  They are easy tests to take, and can help you become informed about the health of your body.

Quoting from Dr. Oz's site, "Too many lives are lost because early warning signs are missed or misdiagnosed. This stops now. Dr. Oz teamed up with the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition to create this vital one-sheet. Print and fill it out, then take it with you to your physician to start the discussion on ovarian cancer."

The earlier a person is diagnosed and properly treated, the better chance for survival.  Some people do not have symptoms.  However, many people do have symptoms, such as bloating, early fullness when eating, pain in the lower abdomen.  Reading and listening to stories about women who experience these symptoms reminded me of my mom, who searched for a couple of years for answers to these symptoms, only to be told that tests were unreliable, that her symptoms were normal symptoms of menopause, etc.  The truth was that she had an early stage of ovarian cancer.  She was not diagnosed until she was at stage four.  Even so, she struggled bravely to survive for almost five years.

Monday, June 18, 2012

On The Flipside!

A joyful note to share that I am now post-procedure.  My doctor and the entire team were excellent.  I may write more in time, but just wanted to say hello from my cozy recovery pod.  Thanks and blessings to everyone who send good wishes, prayers and love.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Visiting Sloan Kettering - The Gray Envelope

Tomorrow is the big day for my procedure.  I visited Sloan Kettering last week for my pre admission testing.  They give you a big gray envelope to put all of your paperwork into.  It is sitting on my desk,but I don't think i need to open it as I have it memorized.  Next time I am there I am going to look for people with gray envelopes and send them lovingkindness and prayers.

One of the things that you are supposed to do before surgery is use a special soap.  It is available in their gift shop.  As we were leaving, Jim and I both forgot about it and took the elevator down to the 1st floor.  It dawned on me that we forgot it and I said "let's hop back on the elevator and ride back up and get some".  So we did.

What a coincidence, chance but not.  As we re boarded the elevator I looked around and there was Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Foundations an saver of thousands of children.  It was really a nice little miracle to see a familiar face.  She was there for some follow-up and it was amazing to see her.  It made me feel so much better that she was there!  It felt as if all of those little babies were right there with us. 

Please send Kathy some of that love too!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

almost time for my procedure

As i move closer to my actual surgery, i find myself thinking about my "last day".  I am not allowed to eat anything tomorrow but i have to drink a lot of water.  I feel like this is my first last day on earth.  What did i decide to do?  Jim and i went to Legal Seafood.  It was good.  I also cooked some good food for Father's Day, ran some errands, answered some emails, talked to a couple of friends and coworkers.  I feel like it is a reenactment of "On The Beach" in which the protagonist finds himself growing nostalgic wondering if it is the last time he would have various experiences or visit with loved ones, before the end of the world. 

While i will see everyone tomorrow as well celebrate Father's Day at my home, I find myself preoccupied with this upcoming event.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mom is here

I have been blogging lately about my decision to have preventative surgery, based on my mom, Jeanne's struggle with ovarian cancer.  Mom passed away 12 years ago.  Over the years, my father has given me and my siblings keepsakes that belonged to my mom.  Not long after she passed away, he gave me a purple mesh makeup case, with nothing in it but a name take that was imprinted with HELLO MY NAME IS and my mom had written her name underneath, Jeanne. I have kept it, for a dozen or so years, in my kit that I take out every morning when I am getting ready which includes many, many items such as deoderant, toothpaste, tweezers, contact lenses and solution, cuticle scissors, travel sizes of my face wash, shampoo, and on and on.  Once in a while I take out the name tag and just look at it.

On the morning of my pre-admission testing, last Tuesday, I got out the kit, as usual, and at one point it tipped over, into the tub (dry, thank goodness).  What fell out, for the first time ever?  My mom's name tag and a few band-aids.  Pretty amazing to me.  Thanks, Mom.  My husband happened to be in the bathroom at the same time and i picked it up and showed it to him.  He said "your mom wants you to know that she is with you, Mary".  Talk about getting hit over the head with something.  Band-aids at the same time?  Healing?  Need of healing?  I'll take it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Making a decision

Well, I've decided to have risk lowering surgery. I am 53 years old.  It has been a weird decision to make.  I'm nervous but feel that this is the right thing to do. 

It has also been a strange but affirming decision to put this information out there for the world to read.  As a therapist, our own personal information is second and sometimes invisible to our clients.  I may share more in the days to come, but I am hoping that my information can help others make their own decisions and come to their own conclusions if they are faced with this possibility.

My mother died of ovarian cancer at age 61.  She first developed breast cancer at 56, but was sick at pretty much the onset of menopause with various anxieties and depression, physical symptoms like hot flashes, new allergies, fatigue, irritability, and a host of other symptoms.  She gained weight, got frustrated, and tried to find medical assistance to help her figure out was going on.  She found an allergist who flew under the radar and put her on what amounted to an anorexic diet.  She dropped a lot of weight, but still felt lousy.

She then became bloated and once again went to her doctor to check it out.  She asked for a CA125 test (a simple blood test that determines if there might be the possibility of ovarian cancer) but was told that the test is notoriously unreliable (it is) and did not do it.  Instead, my mom sought out and found treatment using HRT (hormone replacement therapy) which alleviated her symptoms.  However, we now believe, as do many research physicians, that this may have exacerbated or stimulated the growth of cancer cells.

Breast cancer was the first cancer detected when she was 56.  It was treated with a lumpectomy and radiation.  On the heels of that treatment, about 6 months later, the ovarian cancer was discovered.  She fought hard and diligently until she died at age 61. 

I did hospice work for 2 years and found that all of the families of our clients had one thing in common.  When their loved one died, they wanted to share the experience of the dying and death with someone.  I was often the person that they spoke with.  I call it their testimony.

This is my testimony.

I am lucky enough to be able to learn from my Mom's experience.  I feel that this is her legacy to us, her family.  My sisters and I do regular screening.  I feel that surgery, for me, will be the best and least invasive option.  Maybe by the time my younger sisters are faced with a decision, there will be better options available to them.