Monday, November 26, 2012

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

This month is once again dedicated to the many thousands of caregivers across the country, who tirelessly care for loved ones in need.  As I've stated in the past, cancer affects the patient, and everyone who loves them.  
It's been my experience, a cancer battle is much more tolerable and successful, when being cared for by a loved one. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Steve Toms-More Than A Trainer

If you've followed my blog in the past, you may have clicked on my "Sponsor" page and noted some incredible people who have supported me along the way.  One person in particular, impacted and inspired me so much!  
Steve Toms, a kind, generous, funny and FIERCE, man/personal trainer, passed away suddenly yesterday morning, leaving behind a beautiful wife and son.
I am so very grateful for his kindness, guidance and continual support of me and my fitness goals. 
Rest In Peace

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. The disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too. 

What are the signs and symptoms of
breast cancer?

Breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor
is small and most treatable. Therefore, it is very important for
women to follow recommended screening guidelines for detecting
breast cancer at an early stage, before symptoms develop.
When breast cancer has grown to a size that can be felt, the most
common physical sign is a painless lump.

Ladies, this is why "Timely Detection" is so important!

What are the known risk factors for
breast cancer?

Factors such as age, family history, early menarche, and late menopause, are not modifiable. However, other factors associated with increased breast cancer risk, including postmenopausal obesity, use of combined estrogen and progestin menopausal hormones, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity, are modifiable.
-Learn family history, eat healthfully and live an active life style!

*data provided by American Cancer Society, Surveillance Research, 2011

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Purple Ride Twin Cities-Spetember 15th

PurpleRide events provide an opportunity for participants to join the fight against pancreatic cancer while enjoying a day of bike riding, entertainment, food and inspiration.

PurpleRide participants raise money to support the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s mission to

  • Advance research
  • Support patients
  • Create hope for the pancreatic cancer community
For participants, it is a journey toward hope that is filled with inspiration. It is a time to honor loved ones fighting pancreatic cancer. It is a day when all of the family and friends of pancreatic cancer patients can come together in solidarity and gain both comfort and encouragement.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the eighth worldwide.

 The signs and symptoms that eventually lead to the diagnosis depend on the location, the size, and the tissue type of the tumor, and may include abdominal pain, lower back pain, and jaundice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk

The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk celebrates 20 years!
Join me on October 13th, for the 20th annual Strides Walk!  Thanks to your support of our Making Strides breast cancer walk, the American Cancer Society is doing the most in every community to help people with breast cancer today and striving to find cures to end the disease tomorrow.

Please "click" on the link below to be directed to my team page.  

I am so grateful for your support-Thank you!

The American Cancer Society is the leader in the fight to end breast cancer:
  • We invest more in breast cancer research than any other cancer type - to find, prevent, treat, and cure the disease.
  • We're in every community providing free information and services to people fighting the disease. Today, one in every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer turns to us for help and support.
  • We have helped more than 4 million women get potentially lifesaving breast cancer screening tests.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September Is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Thyroid cancer is the fastest increasing cancer in incidence. It affects people of all ages, from young children to seniors. Even when treatable, thyroid cancer is life-disrupting, expensive, and stressful both for patients and for loved ones. Early detection is important, because some thyroid cancers are aggressive and difficult to treat.

Thyroid cancer, especially early in its development, may not cause any symptoms at all.

But as a thyroid cancer grows and develops, it is more likely to cause symptoms. Some of the symptoms that may point to thyroid cancer include the following:
  • A lump, or nodule in the neck -- especially in the front of the neck, in the area of the Adam's apple. (Note: Sometimes, the lump or nodule will be growing quickly.) 
  • Enlargement of the neck
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
  • Hoarseness, difficulty speaking normally, voice changes
  • Difficulty swallowing, or a choking feeling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain in the neck or throat, including pain from the neck to the ears
  • Sensitivity in the neck -- discomfort with neckties, turtlenecks, scarves, necklaces
  • Persistent or chronic cough not due to allergies or illness 

September Is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

All statistics and facts are compiled from the American Cancer Society and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Risk Factors:

Anything that increases your odds of contracting a disease is considered a risk factor for it. Interestingly, some women with few risk factors may contract ovarian cancer, while other women with more risk factors may not.

The fact of the matter is that ALL women, simply because they are women, are at risk for developing ovarian cancer. Therefore, all women should be on guard for its symptoms, which may be vague at first but typically increase in severity as the disease progresses.

*Until there are accessible, accurate, early-stage diagnostics for ovarian cancer, knowing what one's own risk factors are and being aware of and vigilant for its symptoms are a woman's only defenses. The greatest hope of surviving ovarian cancer comes with early detection.

September Is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Every four minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. In fact, there are more than half a million people in the United State living with, or in remission from, lymphoma, the most common form of blood cancer. 
Awareness and education are powerful tools in the race to find a cure for lymphoma. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Summit To End Prostate Cancer-Washington, D.C.

Zero-The End Of  Prostate Cancer organization, once again, generously  provided me with a scholarship to attend the Summit To End Prostate Cancer in Washington, D.C.
I marvel at how in my 4th year of being chosen to represent my state, Zero continues to impress me with their informative and organized event!  
Educating our lawmakers about the disease and how it affects hundreds of thousands of men and their families every year, is so crucial in ensuring legislative bills including funding for research and education have support and get passed on House and Senate floors.

Zero Summit-Day 1
My friend and fellow advocate, Natalie and me, as we enter the morning session

The Honorable John Barrow, U.S. Representative, 12th Congressional District of Georgia, gave a fabulous speech to our delegation.  A prostate cancer survivor himself, he is a lead sponsor for H.R. 5998, the USPSTF Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012.  It's not a great picture, but Rep. Barrow had everyone in the room on their feet at the end of his speech!  

Throughout my years representing Minnesota at the Summit, I have created lasting friendships with people from around the country who have been impacted by prostate cancer.

Pictured with Kermit Hyde, my favorite Utah resident and prostate cancer survivor!

 Sherry Galloway-my dear friend, who I met at my first Zero Summit in D.C., back in 2008, has been an inspiration and mentor to me throughout the years.  
The two most important men in Sherry’s life were diagnosed with prostate cancer – her husband Tom, then 54 years-old and her 34 year-old son, Jeremy. Sherry is now an advocate for prostate cancer research and had the opportunity to speak before congress on behalf of the Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.
 Jeremy, her only child, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 34, and died at 36.  This is tragic proof that prostate cancer affects men of all ages.  She has been relentless in bringing awareness of the disease to communities and elected officials.
Sherry gives the phrase "passionate advocate" a whole new meaning, and I am so proud to know her and feel Blessed to call her "friend" and fellow advocate!

Prostate Cancer Patient Advocates and Friends Congressional Reception-
Natalie and I are pictured with Tamara Wyman and Jennifer Lafferty, founders of the Shining Down Foundation.
Jennifer's (2nd from right) husband Tom, lost his prostate cancer battle in 2010.  Tom was just 40 years young.
Jennifer and Tamara are best friends.  Natalie and I bonded with them right away, as we reminded each other so much of ourselves, and our friendship, as well as share a passion for advocacy!

Friday, August 31, 2012

September is Prostate Cancer & Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!

September is one of my most favorite months of the year!  I am excited to celebrate Prostate and Childhood Cancer movement, where we advocates emphasize the need for continued funding for research and education, while encouraging people to take a pro-active approach to their health.  It's a busy month for my advocacy work (I wouldn't have it any other way!)-so check back often!  
Please keep those battling Prostate and Childhood Cancer in your thoughts, conversations and prayers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ms. World International 2012 Pageant

I had the most incredible experience in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico!  From the beginning, the Ms. World International organization has impressed me, which remained true throughout pageant week.  From the time we checked in, to when I boarded the plane to return home, I was filled with such pride and gratitude to be a part of something truly special and unique!  
We are the inaugural class of the Ms. World International Sisterhood!

I am so grateful to have represented the Midwest in the MWI pageant event, and am proud to have placed 2nd runner-up!  I met kind, purpose-driven, compassionate, beautiful and fun women from around the world, which provided me a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget!  I have truly made lasting friendships (with many of whom, plans to visit one another have already begun!), as we are a sisterhood of fabulous women over 35, making a difference within our families and communities! 

Sincere thanks and appreciation to Stephanie Hunt-President, MWI, Syndee Keitt-Secretary/Event Coordinator, MWI, and Naomi Horne-Vice President, MWI.  It was through their beautiful vision, and tireless efforts, we were treated like true royalty, and had the experience of a lifetime! 

My "BFF" Natalie Hagemo accompanied me to San Juan.  She made quite a name for herself as the official "Assistant To The Titleholder" (a role she takes very seriously)!  I was calm, organized, and always on time to all of the week's events-much to her credit!  Natalie quickly made friendships herself, as she has such a wonderful personality people seem to just gravitate to.  Many contestants quickly told me how fortunate I am to have such a friend (and accomplished photographer)!  
Natalie was there every step of the way during my MWI journey, and I am an incredibly Blessed woman to have the most wonderful, loyal and inspiring friend in the world! 

Below are pictures from pageant week-enjoy!

Arrival in San Juan!  Anthony & Pam of A & P Productions-official pageant photographers

Having arrived a day early, Natalie and I were able to tour a bit of the beautiful city of Old San Juan, also visiting the Puerto Rico Tourism Bureau.

We also got matching hats-the sun was so intense in Puerto Rico!

My first of many visits to the Godiva Chocolate shop located in the hotel-the employees knew me by name by day 3!

At contestant check-in, meeting the AMAZING Heidi Scheer, Ms. World International 2011

With Heidi and Ms. Great Britain-Juanita

With MWI President, Stephanie Hunt at the beautiful Red Carpet Event.  What an inspiring and beautiful woman!
Pictured with our pageant host, and pageant judge prior to the Red Carpet Event

Me and the lovely ladies at Red Carpet Event

Meeting Ms. Minnesota-Ashlea McLeod at contestant breakfast.  I had been waiting to meet her for months-she is a wonderful woman!

Ms. South Africa-Jeannette

Jennifer, Ms. New York

Pictured with (My new friend-LOVE HER!) Evelyn McLeod-Ms. New Jersey, Jennifer Ferris-Ms. New York, I love the way she says "coffee"!  I tricked her into and pestered her all week to say the word!  Along with Ms. Great Britain-Juanita Brown Ingram (MWI 2012), at contestant breakfast

Ms. South Africa-Jeannette & Ms. Nigeria-Cheika

More beautiful friends, Evelyn-Ms. Puerto Rico and Ingrid-Ms. Venezuela.  We had such fun and by the end of the week, I barely needed a translator to communicate in Spanish! Our phrase of the the pageant week was "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go"-VAMOS!  Love these ladies!

Ms. Georgia-Della
One of my favorite people of the week-MWI Secretary and Event Planner Syndee Keitt!  She poured her heart and soul into pageant week, as well as led some FIERCE rehearsals!  She's one in a million!

While I was attending my first of many rehearsals in my MWI track suit, (provided by MWI-Thank You), Natalie found time to organize my shoes!

This stunning beauty is Mayte Ciarsolo, Ms. Mexico World International 2013!  It was such a pleasure meeting her and I wish her all the best as she prepares for next year's Ms. World International Pageant!

My favorite restaurant in the El San Juan Resort & Casino, was Yamato (Japanese Hibachi), and visited my favorite Godiva lady AGAIN!

                                         La Fortuleza

We were guests of the Governor's mansion-La Fortuleza, home of Governor Luis Fortuno and his family.
What a beautiful structure full of so much history!  This, (outside of the pageant, of course) was my favorite event of pageant week!
La Fortaleza (founded in the early 16th century and considerably remodeled in later centuries) reflects developments in military architecture during its service over the centuries as a fortress, an arsenal, a prison, and residence of the Governor-General and today the Governor of Puerto Rico.

Below, is the beautiful Jessie Alfaro Guiterrez (my lovely Puerto Rican BFF!).  She is the International Ambassador for Ms. World International Organization, and was a perfect hostess, introducing us to her beautiful country and customs.  She is a model and is pictured demonstrating a fun and fierce pose!  
Look for her in 2013, as she will represent Puerto Rico in the Miss Untied States Pageant!  Buenos Suerte mi amiga!

Ready for my interview with the judges-this was also my birthday! 

Swim wear competition.  Ms. World International has an emphasis on  fashion, and we were encouraged to "accessorize"!  I loved rockin' my hat and sarong!

Finals night among friends!  Picured with Ingrid-Ms. Venezuela, Laurye-Ms. Connecticut and  Ewa-Ms. Eastern States

Post-pageant celebration with my "Bestie"!  We had much to celebrate; my placement, birthday and a great friendship!  Thank you Natalie Hagemo!