An Open Letter

losses

This must be my ‘Issues Month’. This one has been rolling around in my head since it hit the news.  I tossed it back and forth before I sat down and hesitantly jotted some of my ideas and feelings on the subject. Nolan and I talked about it, intently, for days.  At the end of the day, what I write here is not just an opinion but an actual belief. I fully believe in what I am about to state and I do know that it will cause controversy.

With that said, I want to issue a friendly warning. I will not tolerate negative and nasty comments on this subject. Nor ones of extreme dissent that take the form of attack.  I will do my best to present this as something that is open, loving, and supportive. You don’t have to agree, but we are ALL grown ups.  Play nicely.

This topic has roiled in the news for a few months now. It has churned in my heart too, and finally both a friend and my husband asked if I would speak on it. I reluctantly agreed, not because I am afraid of the fire but because I do so respect choice, privacy, and the difficulties life puts in front of us as being our own.  I took notes, read websites, the news, worked out a few different drafts….

Until I finally decided on a letter. I hope to find a way to deliver this to the person it is intended for, in time.  To me, there is a difference between making a choice out of fear and making it out of respect and love for those in your life.  I believe this person intends the latter. None of us have a right to judge character, actions, or intentions here.  We cannot cast stones, but we can pray that this person will move through their choice to find compassion, mercy, and grace.

chrysanthemum

 

To Brittany and your family,

In this crazy world, we will never meet.
It’s just that we have something in common and that is the same kind of brain cancer.
I had it when I was a toddler; obviously things went alright, I am still here.
Mine remained an easily removed astrocytoma.
There have been life long side effects.
I don’t mind.
I am thankful for that.
(No, this is not me begging you to rethink. Just wait.)

Then, then Christmas before my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed with a terrible form of ovarian cancer.
I kept it secret for awhile. I wanted to wait until I knew if I would walk away from this or not.
Clearly, I did.
I repeated ‘None of us find as much kindness in this world as we should’ to myself every morning.
I made it clear that whatever happened, I would make the choice that was kindest to my family, my loved ones, and myself.

I do not think there is glory in waiting to die painfully.
I have watched people die of what we have as they struggled until they end…..
It did not seem a measure of God’s grace nor did I find comfort in a long and gruesome death.
There is precious little time to appreciate those final moments, days, smiles, because we have no choice over where and when our death occurs.

I am an exception to a hard and fast fact.
The two kinds of cancers I suffered and the health issues that came with….
Very few people recover and I grateful that I am blessed.

But I am more grateful that there are women, such as you who validate the idea that there are choices with terminal illness.
You are not picking an easy out and we both know that any solution has a price.
I am exceptionally proud of you.
If I had walked out of my appointment, almost 3 years ago, and had been told that my prognosis was fatal, I would make your choice.
I would let my husband and children remember a happy mom who treasured every last minute and did not succumb to illness.

If my prognosis with brain cancer as a babe had been like yours, I would have wished an easy, fast death for myself so that my parents did not suffer.
You are giving yourself the chance to leave this world with a smile and that is an important thing.
I do not find death to be graceful or kind in these situations, or so many others.

As Tony Kushner once wrote, ‘It is only a painful sort of progress.’

Many people are shocked that I support you.
My dad committed suicide in a way that brutalized my mother and I for years to come.
I was raised Catholic, and I fought my way out of a grave.
So what?

I have no right to make your choices or decide that your peace is.
This is your life and death.
I only hope that you have no pain.
I hope you go to sleep that night and open your eyes to a beautiful, blinding blue horizon of promise and no sickness.
I hope your family is well and finds peace, in knowing this choice was made out of love.
I hope you fall asleep knowing you are loved and that this small act made a world a different place.

What people get so very wrong is that idea that we are the keeper of other people’s choices.
We are not and it’s contrite to think that. It cheapens the idea that we are our own stories.
Do I believe that God has a plan for each of us and that there is a struggle we each have?
Perhaps. But I cannot decide what your plan is or was.
You went through so much.
We do have the right to walk away.

I believe in you.
I want your family to see what I do.
That waiting to pull a plug in a hospice room can be the most awful thing you ever have to do.
There is something better for you when you finally choose to go to sleep.

Do not let anyone tell you any different.

Brittany Maynard and Spouse. A scan of the tumor that went from an Astrocytoma to a stage 4 Gioblastoma
Brittany Maynard and Spouse. A scan of the tumor that went from an Astrocytoma to a stage 4 Gioblastoma

Good night, to white shores, glitter, and sparkles,

Sara Rose

I have wrestled with this issue long in my heart.  But, I do not walk her walk.   I can only say that I have faced such terrible things in my life that I don’t begrudge her and nobody should.  We are not those who keep her soul safe and if one is Christian, then we believe she will receive salvation for putting her family before herself, choosing to be compassionate and kind, and possibly even approaching God through prayer about this decision.  We can never know and that is fine.  It is also fine for us to not agree and back away. As I said, her life is not yours- not to even judge.

To Whom It May Concern.

Dear World and Marketing Managers,

This may bee hard to hear.
Take a DEEP BREATH.
But I NEED you to know this.
It is NO WHERE NEAR Christmas yet.

Not even Hanukkah.
Nor Thanksgiving.
In fact, we still have to carve and paint pumpkins.

So, for the sake of the collective sanity of women every where.
Stop bombarding Pinterest and all Magazines with,
‘The Best and Easiest Festive Crafts for a Magical Holiday Season Yet! NO ONE WILL TOP YOU!’

Do you WANT a bunch of crazed, lunatic women hot glue gunning your hair to their mantel piece display of shimmering persimmons and sparkly glass reindeer prancing around candles that are lit?

Think of the liabilities here.

Enjoy some damned Halloween candy.
Get off my porch.

Watch this instead of planning your homemade wrapping paper.
Watch this instead of planning your homemade wrapping paper.

Love ya,

Sara Rose

Tough It Out.

Before we get started, let me say this post is not about how awesome Eva is. Well, she is, but really the whole point here is comparing two extremely similar situations, two out of many such situations happening across the country. Bullying is a serious issue, and standing against it is seriously important. Keep that in mind as you read.

 

I love the words ‘Tough It Out’. It can apply to all manner of things, right?

Stomach flu, a shitty divorce, pink eye, a bad day where have to work and can’t stay home in pj’s, diarrhea, twisted ankle, paper cuts, or a bad hair day…

Wait, what was that?  Oh yeah! Got a bad hair cut? Tough. It. Out!

Now, what if that hair cut isn’t bad? There’s a reason your hair got cut….

I have a point, I promise.

Here’s the deal. My generation basically falls into two pails with how we were parented- the kids who had to ‘tough it out’ or ‘mommy and daddy will fix everything- EVERYTHING!’

So, people think of this generation as being pretty jaded in our parenting efforts.

Our kids should have everything, right? I mean, the mean girls get it all, so do the asshole jocks, and the kids sitting under a tree at lunch, reading, are the LOSERS.

Or the kids who become very socially conscientious- also losers!!! Your kid should be dumping people in toilets and excelling at sports. GOSH.

So let’s say you have raised a kid that is ‘sensitive’. Another fun label.

Your kid cares about recycling, finds wounded animals, cries at sad movies, and is maybe a little shy.

Or your kid finds out that someone they love has cancer and is devastated.

They want to understand what’s happening, why they or others are sad, and they want to help.

I just find it ironic that we have all, at one time or another, said that we want a compassionate child.

One that will not bully. That will show kindness and consideration in any situation.

One that will see another person suffering and try to help.

Then we turn around and drill into them- be PERFECT and the BEST at everything.

It can be at the cost of anyone- all that matters is that you are better looking, smarter, more athletic, and the most popular.

Now let’s talk about a little girl. It might be one who has made news very recently or it might be one I have talked about a whole lot here.

This girl is fun, smart and feminine. She might be athletic, into books, bright colors.

She might just be a really awesome and compassionate kid who saw someone else suffering and wanted to support them.

That person had cancer and had to do chemotherapy. This little girl felt the scared, the hurt, the confusion and wanted to help, in some small way.

So, she cut her hair! In fact, she donated it! She was really proud and felt she could out.

But her classmates didn’t like it. Adults made strange, rude comments. You are told that you are a bad parent….

FOR LETTING YOUR GIRL LOOK LIKE A BOY.

And the best part? You get to ‘Tough It Out’.

Bullying is no catch phrase, people.  Not when there are 7 year olds taking pills or hanging themselves.

Not when there are school shootings at an average of one every 2.4 weeks.

No. Your kid shouldn’t have to endure being told that their appearance is lacking at any age.

So, you may have heard of a little gal called Jetta? She cut her hair to support someone she loved who is going through cancer.

Here is her page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stand-With-Jetta/861357587249282
Here is her page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stand-With-Jetta/861357587249282

That story that I just told? Jetta, honey, it was for you. Do you know why?

Because all those pictures of my daughter with short hair?

She cut her hair when I got cancer a few years ago.

Anyone who mocks her, she smiles and walks away.

No tears, girl. They aren’t worth it.

I wonder where Eva (who, by the way, wants to be your pen pal!) got the idea from short hair?

I'm Eva's momma.
I’m Eva’s momma.

Just an idea.

This post could have been about Jetta, or Eva, or BOTH. Not sure how I feel about that.

I will say this. As parents, adults, and humans- we are tasked with raising our children to be kind and compassionate, as well as driven to their personal goal of success.

It should not come at the cost of making others feel awful. That actually is not success.

Rise above and walk with beauty and grace.

Stop compartmentalizing bullying, people.

My daughter and this girl have suffered a bit too long for sticking to who they are.

This is not an option. I can understand that we all have to ‘Tough It Out’ on a bad day. That’s life.

That is also different than relentless teasing, mocking, and even violence to make a kid feel inferior.

I bet you know a few kids too. It is not okay.

They do NOT have to tough it out.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

A TEAL Light House.

Let me tell you a story. Not all stories are fairy tales, dramas, or comedies.

Some things just happen and you are left a bit battered but better.

A person can be a light house.

Terrible things happen around light houses- storms, tidal waves, high winds, terrible cold and heat.

TealLighthouseA light house is on the highest rocks because everyone is brought home from sea by the light house.

Nobody needs know of or see the cracks at the base.

Cracks that can be a cancer, one that aren’t fixed with paint, Spackle, or grout.

But the strange thing is that people that only have the distant view will say “THERE ARE NO CRACKS.”

In reality, they will not care if that lighthouse falls into sea, but they will be lost without that light.

That light is one person’s truth and it will change in color after the cracks have settled.

The fact is this – one in every 25 women will suffer some form of a feminine cancer – be it breast, cervical, ovarian, etc.

These cancers account for a big percentage of deaths amongst any woman who faces this diagnosis.

Even worse, a lot of these women have to fight for health care, insurance coverage, and worse – people to believe them.

Just like a bruise on your face should be hushed up, so should a cancer that touches anything uncomfortable to speak of.

So, you rebuild the lighthouse.

It’s now untouchable. There is a fence. You have moved to higher rocks.

Because what counts is that people need your light to shine so they can be safe.

Not the other way around.

Always speak your truth.
Always speak your truth.

I will never change the fact that I had cancer, that some people walked away instead of showing kindness, and that I have come out stronger but more guarded.

I have been tasked. There are other women that this has happened to and that need a sister to heal with.

Thus, my lighthouse shines TEAL for all of these other beautiful people.

We can always choose kindness. We can always choose light.

On an uncommonly warm day in November of 2011, I took the pup out for a run and felt a growing, hot pain in my back. It got worse and I felt more and more awful as three different doctors saw me, the first two eager to dismiss it as a muscle ache. It was the woman who delivered both of my children into this world who saw things were terribly wrong and looked for more.

I was diagnosed in the winter of 2011 with Ovarian Cancer (Epithelial, Stage IIIB). I will not give a detailed description of my diagnosis, other than that it was present on both ovaries and had begun to spread toward my stomach. It was horrid, painful, and a rude source of the wrong kind of attention.

We wanted, my husband and I, to show people how terribly confusing, scary, and dark this time period was. I actually never ventured far from my bedroom from the time I was diagnosed until we moved back to the Black Hills. I needed the dark, solitude, and the comfort of being alone sometimes.

Over the next 6 months, I was subjected to doctors changing constantly, being misinformed a lot of the time, and by the time I was approved for surgery, then chemotherapy, my insurance dropped me.

At the Beginning.
At the Beginning.

So many people rallied to my side when I reached out for help in one of the scariest and most uncertain times of my life. Others preferred to walk away.

I spent 2012 and 2013 finishing chemotherapy and finally getting an all clear.  I have spent the remainder of 2013 deciding where I stand.

I guess it goes like this. There are women who need to hear these stories, be informed, and have someone hold their hand during the dark times.

A teal sister and warrior. A woman who guards herself a bit more closely now, but will still shine.

I have never let anything stop me. As Edward Bloom would say “This is not my time, this isn’t how I go.”

I am blessed to have been given a task in this world. I am blessed to see my beautiful loved ones around me.

I am also blessed to have gone through so much pain. It only made me better.

I am so blessed.
I am so blessed.

(In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, September 2014, I will be making donations in honor of the fundraisers we have done, my story and so many others to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund – http://www.ocrf.org/)

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

Rainbows Smell Good! Let’s Talk Scentsy!

Y’all meet my girl, Rainbow! Today we are taking a break from #OCA and talking about taking a leap of faith to attain our dreams! That’s just what she did, a month ago, and is loving every minute of it. Read her journey and I hope you also Scentsy it up!

We love being colorful and awesome!
We love being colorful and awesome!

Hi everyone! My name is Rainbow, for real. I live in Central Florida with my husband Mark, and 4 children, Xander (10), Isaac (8), Makayla (7), and Gabriel (2). I’ve been a stay at home mom since halfway through my pregnancy with my youngest. One month ago I took a leap of faith and signed up to be an Independent Scentsy Consultant.  My husband has worked hard for as long as Ive known him. He’s working his way up the managerial ladder at Wal-Mart, and we pay all our meager bills on time. However, we had come to a point where no matter how hard my husband worked, we were not going to be able to make ends meet without me getting a job too. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to give up the time with my baby, as frustrating as he can be, because he is my last, and I didn’t want to give up my already school shortened time with my older children. Something had to give.

A friend of mine from high school, who now lives in Australia,  contacted me AGAIN to suggest I give Scentsy a try. I had completely ignored her suggestion about 8 months prior, but I noticed her. I noticed how excited she was, how easy it seemed to come to her, how quickly she advanced, and quite frankly, I wanted that too. (That was the extent of my experience with Scentsy at that point!) After talking it over with my husband, we decided I would give it a go. I was so excited! Well, the start up fee of $99 is astronomical when every little bit is carefully budgeted. For Pete’s sake, I’d only just took the kids back to school shoe shopping, an ordeal that left me tear stained and them only barely satisfied with their new kicks. We planned for the expense, and in the meantime,  I watched the team I would be joining.  I watched them support each other and encourage each other.  I watched them be excited over each other’s success. I personally was shown such love and encouragement that I saw no chance of failure. When there’s that much good, how can it be bad? The big day finally came, I registered, and a new journey began. I made the promise to hit the ground running, and now, a month later I’ve had 2 promotions and recruited 5 people. To be on the leadership side of thing already has been fun. I’ve loved helping MY team get their businesses up and running. Their excitement inspires me to do even more. I love that I have some good friends starting this journey with me, and we get to grow and learn together.

ALL THE SMELL GOOD!!!
ALL THE SMELL GOOD!!!

But WHY Scentsy?  Why not any other direct sales company? The people sold me long before I even tried the product. Then I tried it for myself and was sold. Scentsy’s flagship products are decorative ceramic warmers used to melt specially formulated wax bars. We offer a wide variety of warmer designs, all of them using either a 15, 20, or 25 watt bulb, with the exception of our Element warmers, which use a warming plate. Everything I have tried has amazed me. The wickless candles smell amazing; I’d used the knock-offs before but I only liked them, I never LOVED them. The warmers are even more gorgeous in real life than in the catalog pictures. The problems I had with the knock-offs,  mainly the warmer getting very hot and the wax scent not being strong enough, are not problems I have with my Scentsy warmers. All the fragrances are amazing and so very true to their description, and Ive actually LOVED some that i would not have ever tried before. My whole house smells fantastic, with every room now sporting some gorgeous Scentsy swag. Scentsy isn’t just wax and warmers though! We also carry a line of luxurious bath and body products, including body lotion, hand cream and fizzy bath tablets, and laundry products like liquid detergent, Washer Whiffs, and Dryer Disks, in our Layers by Scentsy products line. There’s also travel and purse sized stuff like room spray and lip balm, and even adorable stuffed animals, Scentsy Buddies, for the little ones or for those still young at heart. Each Buddy has a zippered pocket in the back, and comes with a scent pack, so it is not only adorable and snuggly soft, it smells good too! The Buddies are limited production; when one sells out a new one will be released. My kids LOVE their Buddies!

Buddies Rock!
Buddies Rock!

Everything I have tried has exceeded my expectations,  and I’m generally a hard sell. However, my favorite thing about Scentsy, something I love even more than the paycheck, is what I call “Scentsy magic” There is a look that I’ve seen happen to every person as the smell my wax testers. A first sniff, then a sparkle in their eye, and a second sniff. Sometimes they cry, sometimes we both cry. There’s goosebumps and stories and laughter. When a memory so special is remembered and shared, that sparkle, and those tears, that’s magic. I get to share that with people almost every day. I really feel like part of something special being able to share something I love so much.

When I first thought about joining Scentsy, I was doing it for the potential paycheck, obviously. My friend/sponser/mentor told me Scentsy changes lives, and while I never thought it was for real, it seemed like something I’d like to get in on. Now, just a short time later (I joined on August 13th) I have seen that what she said is true. I’ve seen the change Scentsy makes in people’s lives. I’m seeing it change my own. As a stay at home mom, I was having a hard time feeling like I was doing anything that mattered. I know what I do matters, but I’m talking more than laundry and home cooked dinners. I know my children and husband rely on my for nearly everything, bless their hearts, and I ABSOLUTELY love taking care of them, but I also needed something for ME. I have had so much fun doing this, so far anyways. I look forward to the next time I can tell someone how amazing Scentsy is. I’m doing really well, and the praise that’s been heaped upon me has been nice. No one congratulates you on a basket of laundry well folded, ya know? My husband has been super supportive from the start, and even said he’s noticed me having more confidence, and that he thinks it’s really sexy to me so excited about something. Three cheers for unexpected pluses, right?

At the beginning of August I was crying in a shoe store because I couldn’t get my kids the shoes they wanted for school. I took a risk and invested in myself, and now I have a job I love, I can contribute financially while staying home to make clean clothes and hot dinners and help with homework, and I can offer this amazing opportunity to others. As of today, September 19th, I have personally recruited 6 people. I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet the sales requirements for the highest new consultant award, Scentsational Start Level 3. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all, really. I hope to continue doing well, and I hope lots of other people decide to take the risk and invest in themselves. Even if you’re like me, and $99 is a lot up front, it’s so worth it. Anyone interested in learning more can contact me atmrsmizzark@gmail.com,  or through my website,https://rainbowwade.scentsy.us. I would love to spread the Scentsy love!  Also, check out both the current catalog and the Fall Holiday catalog!

Thank you for my Scentsy, Rainbow! Love working with you!

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

Light It Up Teal: Power of Pretty.

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One of the most important things I did things I did for myself during cancer/chemo/recovery was to make sure that I truly took time for myself. Whether it was a bath with essential oils, an extra cup of tea and a good book, a pretty shade of lipstick, a nice walk….or most importantly, having lovely nails.  There were days when my skin was blotchy, my skin was awful, my nausea was at an all time super awesome high, but I could take a look at my pretty toes and fingers, then have a little smile.

is that vain? No. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing a woman can do, but it is essential, crucial even when you are in treatment for something that could have been life threatening. You need something to boost your spirits, be it prayer, music, or surrounding yourself with loveliness. I chose prayer/meditation, making sure to never tax myself too much, and surround myself with loveliness.

One of the greatest things I got to do in the last couple years was visit my friend Hollie a couple times a month. Sometimes I was feeling so low, and she would crack me up, listen attentively and offer sound advice, and at the end of an hour present me with lovely hands! Sometimes, when I was especially down, she would smile and say “My treat. Go forget about all the negativity for awhile!” She is one o the most talented and kindest people I have met. She understands so much about the hardships we can all go through and always offers kindness- a lesson that I try to take with me regularly.

I posted here a gallery of her work, my own polishes, and cool Jamberry’s. I’ve had the privilege to work with another very kind friend, Sarah Alanis. She introduced me to Jamberry’s- which have been great as my nails start to heal. They are such a fun option and addition to my collection of nail pretties. I love them because they are vegan, affordable, they last a long time, and one set has more than one manicure and pedicure in it!

Together, Connie, Sarah Alanis and I are partnering on my other awesome Ovarian Cancer Awareness fundraiser!  We have designed 3 special sets of Jams for the cause, the company is donating and we are donating matching amounts based on this great fundraiser! Just like Connie and I’s other fundraiser with EO4 bracelets- you shop and we donate to this amazing cause.

Everyone, Ovarian Cancer is one of the chief causes of death amongst cancers in the female reproductive system.  What is so important is that we come forward and create opportunities for awareness, action, and advocacy.  Plus, shopping for an awesome cause when the goods are high quality and affordable is always a win-win scenario!

This is the start of a huge year for me, guys and gals. Awareness on this important health issue is needed because not enough people know what it even is. Advocacy is the name of the game and as I celebrate my first year of being off of chemo and cancer free, I will be lighting it up TEAL in every way that I can.  Consider our fundraisers, donating to an important and reputable organization that is doing this important work helps us take steps forward for our women, everywhere.  I listed a huge amount of different organizations in Connie’s post, but when I post my story this week, I will be talking about the work I want to do as well.

In the mean time, please head to our fundraisers! Your dollars matter- even if it is just $1!  Light it up TEAL on Tuesdays, wear that color and tell people that you are proud to know women who have overcome this and a variety of other feminine cancers!  Tomorrow, I’ll be sporting my TEAL, promoting these fundraisers, and advocating on behalf of women who haven’t found their voice yet!

Check out Jamberry and our fundraisers.  Light it up TEAL!  Remember how much your support has always meant to me and will continue to as I continue this awesome journey.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

Learning Without A Teacher Is Hard Work: Nolan Goes TEAL.

Us 2

Death is something that has always frightened me. In a world filled with ephemera, pop fads, and 140-character life updates, death has a permanence to it that terrifies me.

Cancer is something I associate closely with death. It’s not completely curable or treatable, unfathomable amounts of time and money are spent each year findings new ways for people that suffer various types of cancer to live longer, and ultimately it seems to hide and come back in new and devastating ways.

So, when Sara was told she had irregular cells in her uterus and on her cervix and that she needed a hysterectomy after our son was born, I was naturally worried. That worry didn’t go away, in part because I naturally make everything a worst-case scenario and in part because they refused to take her ovaries. When she received her ovarian cancer diagnosis 2 years later, it felt like my world was ending.

Now, because she’d had cancer before we both knew the odds of her getting some form of cancer during our marriage was pretty high. I didn’t expect it before 30. It’s too young. It’s too soon. We have kids. I love her too much for this to be real. These are the thoughts that went through my head.

WithEva WithOwen

As time wore on and we battled insurance and finance issues, scheduling issues, and tried to juggle our lives around a disease that ate away at both of us more each day, I got angry. I got depressed. I got lonely. Sara was there, but she wasn’t herself. She was tired, uncomfortable, and not filled with the energy I’d become so used to and dependent on.

These were the hardest problems I faced, and while we had our parents’ support, and the support of our small group of friends and family, a lot of times encouraging words weren’t enough. I was a young adult trying to cope with the realities of something I hadn’t thought would happen until my hair was grey and my face was wrinkled. And I had to do it alone. The doctors, our friends, our family, everyone had advice, but so little of it was useful, educational, and absolutely nowhere offered any words that were soothing or comforting.

That’s why this issue, this month of awareness is so important to me. Nobody should have to go through this unequipped, uninformed, and alone. Yes, there are good, qualified charities to donate to that help with offsetting costs or furthering research, but to me, the fact is that cancer, especially ovarian and other types of women’s cancer are not going away any time soon.

We need to raise awareness and find ways to provide support for those battling cancer but also those supporting someone who is fighting that fight. Organizations that provide educational materials about these types of cancer, local and national support groups to help all those affected deal with the emotional aspects of this trying process, this is where I feel there is the most work to be done. I’m a firm believer that knowing your enemy is half the battle, but with so much misinformation, so many snake-oil salesmen, and an economy clawing for every desperate dollar, we need to know who our allies are that can help teach us.

So, please, take the time this month to educate yourself about the organizations out there that are trying to educate and support families dealing with ovarian and other women’s cancers. And if you can’t or choose not to donate, please take the time to read and educate yourself, both to help prevent such a tragedy from striking you or your family and to become an instrument of support should tragedy strike someone you know.

Above all, remember that this is not just a women’s issue, but also a men’s issue, a family issue, one that affects and alters the lives of everyone who faces it – it is a living issue.
Us

After years of dealing with ovarian cancer, sleepless nights, sleepless weeks, unfamiliar treatments and doctors and words and tests, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but I’ve also learned it the hard way. The cancer can always come back, and that worry will never go away, but knowing ways to help my family, support the woman I love, and empower myself in troubled times allow me to worry less and focus more on how to move forward, living life fully, one day at a time.

LIGHT IT UP TEAL- Meet Connie!

 

I was introduced to Connie through our mutual friend, Rae, whom I have written about before. Connie has been a divine source of empowerment, light, and encouragement as I went through the ordeal of having Ovarian Cancer, the aftermath, and all of it’s terrible repercussions.  September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and we hope you celebrate today with us! Wear TEAL, donate for awareness and research, give time to someone who may be struggling with it, and know that they walk a hard path. Any cancer is hard, but something that obliterates your very femininity is especially trying for the soul.

Connie is soothing and powerful. Her story is amazing and she works hard to promote a holistic lifestyle now that cancer may be over for her. She does so much work in advocacy and education that it is just BREATHTAKING!  I look to her as a role model as I work towards my own goal to LIGHT IT UP TEAL as an advocate and educator for the rest of my life.  I plan to work every day to educate women about preventative care and

Before I let her take over to tell her story, know this. Connie and I will be running two huge fundraisers this month. She will introduce the FIRST one as it is part of her story and the post I put up for my story for Saturday will introduce our other.  At the end of the month, matching donations will be made from these companies to any one of the following organizations. We will also be making some matching contributions, hope to have fun with these fundraisers, and help women empower and educate each other!

You can go here, too, to donate-

Ovarian Cancer Institute – http://ovariancancerinstitute.org/
Foundation for Women’s Cancer – http://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund – http://www.ocrf.org/

Or to research and learn more, go to-

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition – http://www.ovarian.org/
Ovations for the Cure – https://www.ovationsforthecure.org/
National Institute of Health – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/ovariancancer/htm/index.htm
Ovarian Cancer Education and Research Network – http://ocern.org/
Ovarian Cancer from Cancer.gov – http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/ovarian

But, as Connie would say- Please raise awareness of ovarian cancer by wearing Teal, and sharing the whispering symptoms with women you love. Symptoms in the majority of women who develop ovarian cancer are bloating; pelvic and abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. There is no reliable and easy-to-administer early detection test for ovarian cancer (the Pap test, which screens for cervical cancer, does not detect ovarian cancer). It whispers, listen to your body. 

Connie Scheel EO4Balance - Personal Essential Oil Diffusers Gratefully  Surviving & Thriving after Endometrial & Ovarian Cancers Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Research Advocate with OCNA's Advocate Leaders Regional Coordinator for  Southeast Region Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Survivors Teaching Students(R): Saving Women's Lives  Zen Method Tai Chi  Instructor for cancer Survivors

EO4Balance – Personal Essential Oil Diffusers
 
Gratefully  Surviving & Thriving after Endometrial & Ovarian Cancers
Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Research Advocate with OCNA’s Advocate Leaders
Regional Coordinator for  Southeast Region
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Survivors Teaching Students(R): Saving Women’s Lives 
 
Zen Method Tai Chi  Instructor for cancer Survivors

The experience of having Ovarian cancer broke me open. It brought me ready to willfully shed some of my darkness and the Light has flooded in.  My ovarian cancer story begins in August of 2007 when I moved to southern Florida to fulfill my dream of living near a beach. I was a single 31 years old with no children, and was excited to start a new chapter of my life. I hadn’t had medical insurance in 10 years, so as soon as my new job provided me with insurance I made an appointment to see a gynecologist. I was starting to Love and care for myself in a fresh way in my new state. My nurse practitioner saved my life by noticing that the lining of my uterus was too thick. She sent me down the hall for a transvaginal ultrasound right away. It was as unpleasant as it you might imagine. A series of tests were done over the course of about a month. In early February I was diagnosed with Stage 1A endometrial cancer. I was shocked and terrified and 1000 miles from home.

My gynecologist told me my weight caused this cancer and then the insensitive poor bed-mannered man doctor told me that this was the best cancer to have because “all” I needed was a hysterectomy. I clearly remember my mind swimming and feeling like I was drowning as I tried to focus on his words.

I was given the choice to get pregnant right away (hey YOU over there, want to have a baby??)  or schedule the surgery. I wish I would have been given more fertility preservation information like egg freezing but it was never mentioned. When I asked about it I was told it would be too expensive and was brushed off. I hadn’t found my Power and Voice quite yet, so I just let go of the issue. I felt embarrassed and my self esteem was in the toilet after hearing that my weight was the cause of my cancer especially at the doctor’s office.

Though, I had always wanted children of my own, my intuition told me to have the hysterectomy. I was able to make the choice with peace because I had become an Aunt in June of 2006 and had the wonderful privilege of spending lots of quality time with my oldest niece. I had a successful laparoscopic partial hysterectomy in early March of 2008. I recovered and returned to work, and tried to put the shame and trauma of cancer behind me.

Ha! Shame and trauma can’t be swept under the rug even when you live in beautiful beachy places. During this time I was introduced to Reiki by a friend and found it wonderfully relaxing and calming. Pamela Miles of reikimedicine.org gives a lovely description on her website, “Reiki healing promotes overall balance to help you feel better and function better. This non-invasive practice is safe, and supports any medical treatment or drugs prescribed by your doctor.” Reiki introduced me to Inner Peace. My friend generously offered free sessions for me, and taught me how to do self-Reiki. I used Reiki through both cancer treatments and still use it today and find it very calming and balancing.

In October of 2008 I had a CT scan as part of my post cancer care, and a tumor was found where my uterus had been. This astounded me as I only went to the doctor because I thought I had found lumps in one of my breasts. I somehow had blindly trusted my gynecologist when he told me that endometrial cancer was the best kind to have since it was so easily treated with hysterectomy. I never considered it could ‘come back’ in some form. Ignorance is not bliss.

Honestly, I put off making the appointment with the gynecologic oncologist for a couple weeks because I just didn’t want to face an oncologist and another diagnosis and the shame I felt about having cancer again. Once I did dig up the courage to call I had to wait 3 weeks for an appointment. Waiting those 3 weeks was mental and emotional torture. I berated myself with my own voice. I blamed myself and my body. I isolated myself from most of the world. I was ashamed. I hated myself. I was scared.

I went to the dreaded appointment was examined and talked with the gynoncologist. I was diagnosed with endometriod adenocarcinoa with ovarian origin. In other words, an independent primary ovarian cancer Stage 1. It was not a recurrence of endometrial cancer, which was very strange. I was horrified, confused, scared and much too far from the comfort and Love of home physically and mentally.

Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for January. My Mom flew in and took excellent care of me. The surgery was a success, all visible signs of cancer was removed and no metastases were found. Flood of relief. However, my oncologist was concerned about me having 2 gynecologic cancers within about a year. He decided my treatment would be very aggressive so as to kill any rogue cancer cells and since I was so ‘healthy and young’ I would tolerate the treatment well. I didn’t feel healthy or young, though. I was also confused that this doctor wasn’t blaming me or my weight for this cancer. I started to think that maybe it wasn’t my fault but I didn’t focus on it much. I didn’t know about ovarian cancer support groups back then, but it would have been really helpful.

I had 6 weeks of external radiation followed by 3 internal radiation treatments. It was extremely painful to urinate during radiation and even for about 3 weeks afterwards. I experienced great fatigue and frustrating diarrhea, also. Halfway through external radiation treatments I had to return to work part time, though I spent most of my shift in the bathroom. It was embarrassing and exhausting, but my co-workers were very kind to me.

In April of 2010 I again met with my gynecologic oncologist and was quite disturbed and surprised that he was recommending chemotherapy despite a recent no-evidence-of-disease (NED) CT scan. I had to make a very tough decision to leave the life I loved in Florida to return home to Memphis. In short, I needed my mommy. I was broken and sick and exhausted on many levels.  Cancer didn’t kill me, but it in many ways it took my life. It broke me open.

I moved home in mid May and started chemotherapy on June 2, 2010. My youngest nephew was born that afternoon which was joyful. I had 6 rounds of carboplatin and taxol every 3 weeks.

I lost all my hair. Though that was initially devastating I learned to rock my bald head. My bald head bubbled up a bit of brave in me. A few of my online friends shaved their heads and posted pictures, and my Mom and both my sisters donated their hair to locks of love. The sense of community support was wonderful.

Chemotherapy brought severe bone pain in my legs, very sore knees and neuropathy- numbness- in my feet. I was exhausted and was extremely weak, oftentimes unable to leave my bedroom for days after a treatment. I had been waging war with my body since my teenage years, and this was rock bottom. I had this vague sense that there must be another way to be… to live with Peace about who I am and how I looked. It was the beginning of a new awareness and Love for myself.

Though my gynecologic oncologist prescribed several different medications to relieve these side effects, I only found relief in natural therapies, including reflexology, Reiki self treatments, meditation and Young Living essential oils.

I was introduced to reflexology and essential oils by a fluke of extroversion. I had found a free healing spa night for women cancer Survivors at a local art gallery on Facebook and I went which was completely out of character for me. I used to be really introverted, but my intuition was drawing me to this Spa night and so off I went. Alone. And I didn’t know a single soul there. My brave was starting to bloom, bald head style.

The spa night was surely part of my Divine path as it brought me to Lynn Watson of Footsteps in Eden Reflexology. She gave me a sample of Young Living’s peppermint essential oil to rub on my knees, and it quite literally changed my life. The excruciating pain I had felt for months lifted away for a couple hours. I took a big step towards Inner Peace and healing that night. Peppermint essential oil relieved my chemo pains when nothing else did and I was filled with hope and wonder.

I fell in love with essential oils and have been researching and reading about them ever since. I’m fascinated by these potent liquids of nature that work to balance my body and soul while relieving pains without worry of negative side effects. .

I completed chemo, found pain and heartburn relief with peppermint essential oil, celebrated the holidays with my family and life continued on. I was different though. I had been through fire and broken open and felt lost.

I got invited to a gynecologic cancer retreat through my cancer clinic a few months after treatment, and thanks to a firm push from my mom I attended. It was an incredibly wonderful experience with Yoga, journal exercises, and Sisterhood. I met some amazing Survivor Sisters, and learned that teal is the ribbon color representing ovarian cancer. I had found my Teal Tribe and my new post-cancer life started to form.

An awesome Teal Sister I met at the retreat invited me to a support group meeting just for ovarian cancer Survivors and found the group to be incredibly wonderful. I discovered ovarian cancer awareness advocacy and started to volunteer at events to share my story and tell people about the whispering symptoms. I was finding my Power and Brave using my voice for Teal advocacy.

I love connecting with Survivors, sharing hope and stories and reaching out to the public for awareness.  I attended 3 Ovarian Cancer National Alliance conferences in Washington D.C. and got to meet with amazing Survivors and empowering advocates. This volunteer work became a passion for me. I was invited to served on a ovarian cancer foundation’s Board of Directors as a Social Media Director. I also worked to launch Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s program Survivors Teaching Students to Tennessee, and was thrilled to part of the first presentation in Memphis this past July at University of Tennessee’s Health Science Physician Assistant school. If you’re an ovarian cancer reader, please consider volunteering to share your story in the STS(R) program. Quoted from www.ovariancancer.org, “The goal of Survivors Teaching Students is for future physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants to be able to diagnose the disease when it is in its earlier, most treatable stages. This program brings ovarian cancer survivors into the classroom, where they present their unique stories along with facts about the disease. Students are able to interact with and learn from actual patients.”  If you’re interested, please email me at cms1274@gmail.com

Last winter I started wishing to expand my advocacy skills and efforts, and the opportunity came to be the Regional Coordinator of the Southeast for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s trademarked program Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives(R). I also applied to serve as an Advocate Leader with OCNA. I was accepted, and have been working on building relationships with elected officials and a coalition network of friends, Survivors and family to answer calls of action for ovarian cancer research and awareness advocacy in Tennessee. I also work with other Advocate Leaders to join our efforts, ideas and energy. It’s challenging and fascinated volunteer work. To me, it’s a calling…. an obligation of this two time Survivor.

Do you feel a call to ovarian cancer advocacy? There are many ways to raise your teal voice!

In July of 2012 I attended the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance where I meet Zen Method Tai Chi Creator Angella Hamilton. She was teaching mini classes between speakers and I was immediately drawn into this contemporary Tai Chi. I introduced myself and asked to learn more about this wonderful method. My curiosity fueled this brave act! I brought this practice home with me and found great Peace and release in these movements that tell the story of a Survivor. To my surprise and joy, Angella called me a few months later and asked if I’d like to be trained to be an Instructor of Zen Method. I gratefully accepted and travelled to Arizona for a long weekend of training. Becoming a teacher of a fitness class has challenged me and helped to make Peace with my own body image. We teach what we need to learn the most, right? Zen Method Tai Chi blends beautifully with Young Living essential oils, and many times I diffuse a stress relieving essential oil during my free classes for Survivors.

Along this ovarian cancer experience I’ve also found healing, Inner Peace, self forgiveness and bravery. I started blended these different healing modalities, awkwardly at first, but it led me to the creation of essential oil diffuser jewelry. My family and I have been using Young Living’s essential oils for over 4 years now. My 5 nieces and nephews use lavender for bug bites and help sleeping, peppermint for digestive issues, headaches and allergy relief and Peace & Calming to unwind after long stressful days.

My oldest niece, Zoey, has been using peppermint oil for relief of her several seasonal allergies. She’s the reason that EO4Balance diffuser bracelets exist, and I’m forever grateful. When school started last Fall she needed an afternoon treatment of Peppermint but she wasn’t allowed to bring liquid Peppermint to school with her. I researched other options, but didn’t find any affordable and easy that was appropriate for a 7 year old. My research and prayers led me to unfinished rosewood beads. Rosewood beads have been used as prayer beads for a long time and they work as a diffuser beautifully.

I launched EO4Balance on Etsy on April 27, 2014 and I’m delighted by it’s success! Somehow, almost like magic, the things I love dearly and that are Sacred to me have blended together. Ovarian cancer advocacy, essential oils, connecting with people, artistry of bracelet and necklace designs, and being a Light of hope to Survivor Sisters have blended together so well and now I live an amazing and grateful life.

OVCBracelets2
In honor of September is ovarian cancer awareness month; EO4Balance has a special offer that also includes a donation to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Choose from 2 bracelet designs and you’ll also receive a sample packet of lavender and peppermint essential oils to use on your bracelet for $20. $5 from each sale will be donated to OCRF at the end of September.

OVCBracelets1Thank you Connie! Guys and Gals, Light it up TEAL tomorrow! Support our fundraisers here and on Facebook and we will be educating all month long on this!  I hope you all take the time to tell my TEAL sister how incredibly awesome she is and peruse our beautiful bracelets! By the way, every one in this house has one for diferent ailments and THEY ARE AMAZING!  Thank you, Connie!

Teal Glitter and Sparkles!!!

Sara Rose

 

Your Poverty.

Fill Your Hands.
Fill Your Hands.

It comes to me in my quietness lately that there are so many people that really suffer who could actually do something about it.

How, you might ask! They have THINGS, MONEY, POWER, AND STUFF.

Not really, those don’t help your spirit, they do not fill your heart.

I wasn’t really expecting to be affected by Robin Williams death.

But it was so similar to another man I knew. There was a difference.

One man was poor in spirit and rich in things. The other, rich, it seemed, in both.

I struggle with it. Deeply.

My family did the ALS Ice Challenge because of some residual feelings of sadness from his death but also because we were genuinely excited to be given an opportunity to be donating time and effort to such an under acknowledged cause.

I am actually really, very, proud that I am raising kids who get excited to volunteer and to give of themselves.

What I am not excited about is the negative backlash that efforts like this go through.

“WHAT? Water waste!” Oh, and are we going to talk about the wasted water at the water park you took your family to all summer?

“So many other deserving causes!” Yup. I can agree. But you know what, pick one.

In fact, pick several things that you will give your time and money to instead of buying more crap you and your kids don’t need or wasting time in front o the t.v.

Your heart is pretty empty if you can give me five good reasons why you cannot donate ten dollars or ten minutes to a good cause.

That pervasive feeling of powerlessness is your inability to give of yourself and it is awful, yes?

So, I challenge you to something interesting.

Something that I have just challenged my own little self and my family to do.

Pick something to do. It doesn’t have to be daily. It can be weekly or monthly.

Pick it and/or pick a new thing regularly, stick to it, and give yourself to it.

See, charitable causes need our time and our money.

They do need our ice buckets. They also need people pouring soup, holding peoples’ hands, gathering coats for kids…

The possibilities are pretty endless.

You really were put here to do something.

That something wasn’t to max your credit cards out and gloat about it.

This is no complaint about the wealthy. I have seen firsthand the power of people who have a completely selfless spirit that just happened to be wealthy.

It’s about people that have everything to complain about and no room to help change anything.

Move your small boulder, Atlas.

So, stop complaining and give endlessly of yourself.

See how your poverty ends.

Glitter and Sparkles,

Sara Rose

It is on Purpose….

shhh

Have you ever kept quiet?

Not in the ‘Keep your mouth shut!’ way but in the, there is so much I can say….my mind is never quiet….

So I choose to be quiet until I reach ‘IT’?

That’s where I am.

Not avoiding writing, because I do it everyday.

But in the place where I am weighing words very carefully.

I miss the sound of my fingers flitting across the keyboard, yes.

But, I also read right now.

I do yoga in both the morning and the evening with Eva.

I let myself take naps.

I let my mouth stay shut when I could be talking.

I have found that it lets me laugh more.

I see where to place my intentions more clearly.

Words do what they did before, they form completely in my head and I know what I want to say.

Perhaps, it is age, but I am young.

Perhaps it is the idea that mindfulness is a sort of freedom that is not bought.

I have such amazing things in store as I write!

But I wait to let the world see them because right now…..

I chose to let myself be in the world I have so carefully observed from the window for so long.

It’s not always comfortable. It is new.

But is has allowed me quiet.

I needed that.

Words to be had soon, friends.

Glitter and sparkles,

Sara Rose