The Defining Moment

March 3, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

Like a Snoopy cartoon, the teacher is speaking to you, but it sounds like white noise as your mind comes to grips with–the diagnosis.

The diagnosis becomes a turning point.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief from her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, explains the stages which apply to any life changing event, including the diagnosis of cancer. The stages are not simply about death, but reflect the loss of life as you know it.

1. Denial–refusal, either conscious or unconcious to accept the facts

2. Anger–at self or others

3. Bargaining–compromising with others or a faith system

4. Depression–a period of sadness, fear and regret

5. Acceptance–dealing with the facts

The important thing is not how you move through the stages, but that you continue forward momentum. That momentum is individual, bringing you to a place of coping and to a place of re-evaluation.

Walking out into the sunshine after the defining moment you may be struck with amazement that the world goes on. The clouds continue to aimlessly float by and the birds are still chirping in the trees. Nothing has changed, and yet every single thing has forever changed and will never be the same again.

While diagnosis is a defining moment, only you can decide if and how it will define you.

I have observed a unique phenomenon over the years–patients diagnosed with cancer who make a very personal decision to hide the diagnosis from anyone outside a very select circle of perhaps only one or two people. They generally only reveal the information if it becomes necessary.

I was on the support team of a mail carrier who came to our facility for in-patient treatment. He tooks large chunks of accumulated vacation time for each cycle of his chemo and recovery. This continued for several rounds of chemo, and in the course of my interaction with him he shared that no one at his place of employment knew of his cancer diagnosis. He had not only accepted his diagnosis but he was determined his diagnosis would not define him.

I’ve thought about this often.

Does diagnosis define you? Are you your diagnosis?

Does the world treat you different once they know you have cancer? Do those you once interacted with change as they become unable to cope with your reality? Is it fear of loss or confrontation with their own mortality? Perhaps it is both.

Once the point of acceptance is reached it is your choice how you will deal with the diagnosis. As a caregiver, friend, loved one or family member, I believe it is merely our responsibility to respect that decision.

A final thought. Do you treat you differently? Have your priorities shifted outside of the diagnosis? Once you reached that moment of acceptance how did you begin to see the world around you? Defining moments tend to be the sifters and sorters of life. People and events trickle throught the sieve and everything is re-evaluated.

Coping With A Diagnosis

February 12, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

A great blog post.

Sometimes people with diabetes forget that they are a person, not just a person with diabetes. I found a wonderful blog entry by Eric Lagergren in the Diabetes Self Management Blog.

Eric describes the hierarchy of his needs and how diabetes has affected his thinking, not just his life. It was an interesting post, complete with thoughts on how other veteran diabetics percive his writing and attitude towards his condition.

How do you see yourself?

Each day you deal with diabetes. Changing your diet, taking medication, visiting doctors and dieticians. It probably impacts how you spend your social life. Taking stock of your supplies, deciding if you have enough glucose tablets or insulin to take with you on a trip to watching your activities and blood sugar while at a social function.

Diabetes can consume you. It can drive all thoughts out of your mind except for the diabetes itself.

You can take your life back

You are a diabetic, but you are still you. The person you were before you were diagnosed with diabetes is still there. The diagnosis did not take away any of your talents or skills. All it did was add a new dimension to your life. A dimesion filled with not only medications, but a healthier way of living.

Once you are diagnosed, you begin (or should) to be more careful of how you treat your body. This is not any different from how all people should be. Eating better, exercising, and taking careful stock of your body. One diabetic once said, “I am healthier now as a diabetic than I ever was before.”

This is the goal of living well with diabetes. Some problems due to diabetes can be reversed with a good diet and lifestyle, so what do you have to lose? Nothing but pounds, inches, and possibly the most sever complications of the condition. Focus on the good aspects of being diabetic, not the negative.

You will always be the same person, no diagnosis will change that.

Caregiving 101

January 24, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

What is a caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who gives care, as the name states. We are the people who day in and day out care for our young children, our elderly parents, or work in the healthcare system. I am the caregiver to an autistic child and a disabled diabetic mother, so when I share about care giving, I can promise you, I know how many of you may feel.

Giving your all each and every day can spread you very thin. A strain develops on other relationships, romantic or otherwise. You may feel anger and loss. Anger at the disease or the person whom you are caring for. Loss at missed opportunities, at being unable to do things ‘normal’ people do every day. These are normal feelings and you should not berate yourself for them. No matter the disease, caring for someone for twenty four hours a day will take its toll.

Take A Break.

Taking a break from your care giving is essential if you want to live a productive life. You will literally feel at times as if you are losing your mind. Exhaustion, both mental and physical opens a doorway to other feelings that undermine the self esteem and confidence of caregivers. Each day you should find at least an hour to devote to yourself and no one else.

You may wonder how to find even an hour. Take it. Do not go through your daily routine and beg yourself for an hour, then point out reasons why you cannot give it to yourself. Put your foot down to everyone in your household, including the person you are caring for. This is your time and no one else is to bother you, except in an emergency. There are some people being cared for who will make an emergency, but if you know that is the type of person you are giving care to, stand strong.

When To Seek Help.

Sometimes, we find ourselves caring for people who take advantage of us. If you are in that situation, it is time to seek help. Either by looking for a support group, talking to a therapist, or by possibly looking for a facility where older people can live with constant medical care. There is no reason to feel as if you are a slave or to let all of your relationships suffer.

With children, parents can work harder to teach them that their actions are wrong, if the child is using their health as a path to get their own way. With adults, it is up to them to change. If things become too strained, a health care facility may be the best option. These days, health care facilities are not the institutions of old. People are no longer strapped to their chairs or beds or left without care for hours on end. Activities and quality of life programs are in place to prevent neglect.

When you are a caregiver, it is important to take care of yourself, first. You deserve the same quality of care that you give each day.

Battling Diabetes In Children

January 17, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

What Is Type I Diabetes?

Type I Diabetes is a disease that affects people at any age, any time. It is also known as Juvenile Diabetes because it is most often seen in children and young adults (teens). The pancreas halts production of insulin, the hormone that aids glucose to enter cells. When glucose (sugar) enters cells, it use then used to create energy. Insulin also allows other internal organs such as the liver, to store glucose to be used for energy at a later time. Without insulin, the body is unable to use glucose properly, resulting in many health problems.

One very serious problem that can occur is a condition known as Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). When the body does not manufacture insulin and glucose(sugar) levels g climb too high, a chemical imbalance develops in the blood. Cells are not receiving the glucose they need to produce energy and the body begins to break fat down to try and compensate. This action allows the release of ketones into the bloodstream. With the release of ketones, the body is at risk for serious damage, even death if not treated immediately.
Source: Web MD.

The Signs of Type I Diabetes.

* Thirst – Children are often thirsty, but when a child suddenly becomes thirsty and drinks much more than they normally would, it is time to take a close look at what is going on.

* Frequent urination.

* Weight loss without dieting or added exercise.

* In some cases, the child or adult will become hungrier than normal.

Each symptom on its own does not signify Type 1 Diabetes. But, added together these signs are a good indication that Type 1 Diabetes may be the culprit. Since the symptoms can take time to develop, often the parent may assume the child has a ‘bug’ or the flu. The symptoms can resemble the flu and treatment is often delayed long enough to cause Diabetic ketoacidosis. How can you tell if you or your child is suffering from DKA?

Do you or they exhibit the following symptoms?

* Flushed, hot, and dry skin.
* Loss of appetite.
* Stomach pain.
* Emesis (vomiting)
* A very strong, fruity odor of the breath.
* Rapid respiration
* Over sleepy, hard to wake.
* Confusion.

If so, seek medical help right away. Only a doctor can tell you if you or your child is suffering from Type 1 Diabetes. The doctor will order a blood test to measure the glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream.

How Type I is Treated.

The routine treatment for Type 1 Diabetes focuses on keeping the blood glucose levels near the level of those for a normal, healthy person without diabetes. Parents of children with diabetes will need to check the glucose levels of their child often and give the medication prescribed by their child’s doctor. When children age, eventually they become responsible enough to take their glucose readings and inject their insulin on their own. Care should be taken to allow the child to watch as the parent fills the syringe with insulin each time an injection is needed. Children are naturally curios and as they watch their parents, their understanding of their own medication will grow. A chart on a door or side of the fridge is a wonderful way to keep track of your child’s insulin levels. Use large blocks to indicate the days of the week and break each day into three sections. Draw a face: happy/sad, or use stickers to indicate ‘good’ levels or ‘bad’ levels. Make the treatment as interesting as possible for your child. Try to keep a strong, happy face to your child, their acceptance and understanding of their condition relies on their parents attitudes. The Children’s Diabetes Foundation of Denver offers some interesting books for children and their parents on Battling Diabetes.
Books: CDFD Book Link.

Healthy Diet Is Key.

Most children with Type 1 Diabetes can enjoy a normal diet. It is imperative to teach children to take care of their bodies, so a good, balanced diet will benefit any and every child. Children with diabetes can in some cases still have foods containing sugar, but as with any food, moderation is important. If your child cannot tolerate much sugar without having a threatening jump in glucose levels, do not treat sugar as a villain. Labeling a food as ‘bad’ will only make it more tempting as they grow. An example of this is that I made this mistake with my oldest child. She was allowed one very small candy item a day, nothing more. I was military strict and when she went to visit her aunt in a different state, every dime she had taken with her was spent on sugary snacks. Sugar had been treated as an enemy, not as something we could live with or without. Forbidden items have temptation value.
Source: eHealth MD, Do Diabetic Children Need Special Foods?

Wound Care Is Essential.

All diabetics, Type I and Type II have issues with wounds being slow to heal. Each and every time you dress or undress your small child, check their body for wounds. Even a small scratch can become infected. Older children should be taught to self check their bodies for wounds and have the tools to care for them on hand. A good first aid kit should be in every medicine cabinet. Another in your car or purse will come in very handy. Children are great at getting scrapes and bruises, diabetic children are certainly no exception.

Let Your Child Play.

If you are a parent of a diabetic child, you know how hard it is to let go. The constant worry, wondering if your child is ok, if she has taken her insulin, does the school know how to handle diabetes, and just having her out of your site in general can be a nightmare. The stress can be nearly intolerable. But, you cannot hold on forever. Holding too tight can frighten your child and cause them to become withdrawn or in some cases, too much of a daredevil. Learn to give enough freedom to your child and if you are too frightened, remember, that you are only working for your child’s best interest. She will need to learn to look out for herself eventually, hold her back will not teach her to care for herself properly.

If your child does go to visit a friend or go to a playground alone, be sure to give her a fanny pack with medication and directions on how to use it properly. The fanny pack can hold a simple ‘survival’ kit. Hard candy or glucose tablets, insulin inhaler with a small icepack, a snack, and a small first aid kit. The first aid kit should have a few bandages, antibiotic cream, and gauze pads with antiseptic wash.
Caring for Diabetic Children in the Classroom
Children With Diabetes Online Community
Children’s DiabetesFoundation at Denver

For more information, visit blogs of others who have diabetes or parent children with the disease.

* Six Until Me A Post To Parents
* Juvenile Diabetes Blog, By A Teen With Diabetes
* Living With Juvenile Diabetes Symptoms, By The Mother of Two Children With the Disease.

Helping Patients Cope With Cancer: A Counselor’s Perspective

April 6, 2007 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes

Each year millions of Americans are diagnosed with cancer. Nearly 500,000 of those will be diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer. Many of our patients will have, or have had cancer. It is important to understand the range of emotions, causes of distress and interventions available to help them.

There are many things that affect how a patient adjusts to cancer. It is difficult to predict how a person will cope. The following factors influence how a patient adjusts to cancer: The type of cancer, cancer stage, and chance of recovery.
The phase of cancer such as newly diagnosed, being treated, in remission, or recurrent cancer.
Individual coping abilities.
Friends and family available to support the patient.
The patient’s age.
The availability of treatment.
Beliefs about the cause of cancer.

Adjusting to a diagnosis of cancer is an ongoing process in which the patient learns to cope with emotional distress, solve cancer-related problems, and gain control over cancer-related life events. To add to the stress, patients are faced with many challenges that change as the disease and its treatment change. There are, however, certain predictable times when a patient is more likely to experience significant crisis. These include hearing the diagnosis, receiving treatment, completing treatment, hearing that the cancer is in remission, hearing that the cancer has come back, and becoming a cancer survivor. Each of these events involves specific coping tasks, questions about life and death, and common emotional challenges.

Patients are better able to adjust to a cancer diagnosis if they are able to continue fulfilling normal responsibilities, cope with emotional distress, and stay actively involved in activities that are meaningful and important to them. In counseling, patients can learn to develop coping strategies to change problem situations, manage emotional distress, and understand what impact cancer may have on his or her life. Patients who adjust well are usually committed to recovery and actively involved in coping with cancer.

Distress can occur when a person feels that he or she does not have the resources to manage or control the cancer. Patients who have the same diagnosis and are undergoing the same treatment may have very different experiences and ways of expressing distress. Anxiety and depression are common among patients with cancer. It is important, however, to ferret out whether the anxiety and depression are solely emotionally based or are caused/made worse by insomnia, fatigue, pain or side effects of medication.

Anxiety is a normal reaction to cancer and may increase feelings of pain, interfere with one’s ability to sleep, cause nausea, and interfere with the patient’s (and his or her family’s) quality of life. Persons with cancer will find that their feelings of anxiety increase or decrease at different times. Contrary to what one might expect, patients with advanced cancer experience anxiety due not to fear of death, but more often from fear of uncontrolled pain, being left alone, or dependency on others. Many of these factors can be alleviated with treatment. Helping patients identify their own cycles and plan for those times is a useful activity in therapy.

Patients may benefit from other treatment options for anxiety, including: psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, participating in self-help groups, hypnosis, and relaxation techniques such as guided imagery, or biofeedback. Medications may be used alone or in combination with these techniques. It is important not to avoid anxiety-relieving medications for fear of becoming addicted. A side benefit of many of the antianxiety medications is that they cause muscle relaxation which can often ease some of the aches and pains patients are experiencing.

While some patients become anxious, others become depressed, and even others are both anxious and depressed. Depression affects about 15% to 25% of cancer patients. Affecting men and women with cancer equally. People with cancer will experience different levels of distress. Issues which may contribute to depression in cancer patients include:
Fear of death.
Interruption of life plans.
Changes in body image and self-esteem.
Changes in social role and lifestyle.
Money and legal concerns
Guilt at not being around for their children
Regret for delaying diagnosis
Survivor guilt (If the patient survives and his/her friend does not)

People diagnosed with cancer will react to these issues in different ways and may not experience serious distress. It is also important to remember that patients and their family members or caregivers need to be evaluated for depression throughout their treatment. Children are also affected when a parent with cancer develops depression, and often develop emotional and behavioral problems.

There are many misconceptions about cancer and how people cope with it, such as the following:
All people with cancer are depressed.
People with cancer should be shielded from stress
Depression in a person with cancer is normal.
Treatment does not help the depression.
Everyone with cancer faces suffering and a painful death.
Depression and anxiety are always mental health issues

Sadness and grief are normal reactions to the crises faced during cancer, and will be experienced at times by all people. Because sadness is common, it is important to distinguish between normal levels of sadness and depression. An important part of cancer care is the recognition of depression that needs to be treated. This is depression that causes a person to lose pleasure in most activities more often than not for at least two weeks and can be accompanied by sleep and appetite changes, suicidal thoughts, confusion and difficulty concentrating. Counselors with a knowledge of cancer and cancer treatment can help people deal with their depression. Specific goals of these therapies include the following:
Assist people diagnosed with cancer and their families by answering questions about the illness and its treatment, explaining information, correcting misunderstandings, giving reassurance about the situation, and exploring with the patient how the diagnosis relates to previous experiences with cancer.
Assist with problem solving, improve the patient’s coping skills, and help the patient and family to develop additional coping skills. Explore other areas of stress, such as family role and lifestyle changes, and encourage family members to support and share concern with each other.
Ensure that the patient and family understand that support will continue when the focus of treatment changes from trying to cure the cancer to relieving symptoms. The health care team will treat symptoms to help the patient control pain and remain comfortable, and will help the patient and his or her family members maintain dignity.

When the depression or anxiety is being made worse by symptoms or medication, the counselor can advocate for the client, help the client communicate with his/her physician and educate the client about possible interventions.

Fatigue occurs in 14% to 96% of people with cancer, and has physical, psychological, and behavioral causes. People with cancer may describe it in different ways, such as saying they feel tired, sluggish, weak, exhausted, weary, worn-out, heavy, or slow. To be treated effectively, fatigue related to cancer and cancer treatment needs to be distinguished from other kinds of fatigue.

Fatigue can become a very important issue in the life of a person with cancer. It may affect the person’s self-esteem, his or her daily activities and relationships with others, and whether he or she continues treatment. Some of these treatments may include adjusting the dosages of pain medications, administering red blood cell transfusions or blood cell growth factors, diet supplementation with iron and vitamins, use of antidepressants or stimulants, exercise, and helping the patient identify a reasonable schedule so as not to tire too quickly.

Since fatigue is the most common symptom in people receiving outpatient chemotherapy, patients should learn ways to manage the fatigue. According to the American Cancer Society, patients should be taught the following:
The difference between fatigue and depression
Possible medical causes of fatigue (dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, breathing problems, anemia)
To observe their rest and activity patterns during the day and over time
To engage in attention-restoring activities (walking, gardening, bird-watching)
To recognize fatigue that is a side effect of certain therapies and medications
To participate in exercise programs that are realistic
To identify activities which cause fatigue and develop ways to avoid or modify those activities
To identify environmental or activity changes that may help decrease fatigue
The importance of eating enough food and drinking enough fluids
Respiratory therapy may help with breathing problems
To schedule important daily activities during times of less fatigue, and cancel unimportant activities that cause stress
To avoid or change a situation that causes stress
To observe whether treatments being used to help fatigue are working

Pain Management
Pain is another major cause of insomnia, anxiety and depression. Counselors can work with physicians and patients to create a comprehensive pain management plan.

Physical Interventions include:
Muscle/bone pain may be treated with heat (a hot pack or heating pad); cold (flexible ice packs); massage, pressure, and vibration (to improve relaxation); exercise (to strengthen weak muscles, loosen stiff joints, help restore coordination and balance, and strengthen the heart); changing the position of the patient; restricting the movement of painful areas or broken bones; stimulation; controlled low-voltage electrical stimulation; or acupuncture.

Thinking and behavior interventions give patients a sense of control and help them develop coping skills to deal with the disease and its symptoms. Beginning these interventions early in the course of treatment is useful so that patients can learn and practice the skills while they have enough strength and energy.

Thinking and Behavioral interventions include:
Relaxation and imagery: Simple relaxation techniques may be used for episodes of brief pain (for example, during cancer treatment procedures).
Hypnosis: Hypnotic techniques may be used to encourage relaxation and may be combined with other thinking/behavior methods. Hypnosis is effective in relieving pain in people who are able to concentrate and use imagery and who are willing to practice the technique regularly.
Redirecting thinking: Focusing attention on distractors other than pain or negative emotions including counting, praying, or saying things like “I can cope,” music, television, talking, listening to someone read, or looking at something specific. Patients can also learn to monitor and evaluate negative thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts and images.
Support groups and religious counseling: Since depression tends to increase pain, and pain tends to increase depression, support groups help many patients. Many online support groups for patients and their families can be helpful for those patients who have restricted movement. Visit:

Finally, sleep problems can contribute to depression, anxiety and the patient’s ability to manage pain. Sleep disorders that are related to cancer may be treated by eliminating the cancer and side effects of cancer treatment. To promote rest and treat sleep disorders the following may be considered:
Create an environment that decreases sleep interruptions and promotes sleep by:
Lowering noise.
Dimming or turning off lights.
Adjusting room temperature.
Keeping bedding, chairs, and pillows clean, dry, and wrinkle-free.
Using bedcovers for warmth.
Placing pillows in a supportive position.
Encouraging the patient to dress in loose, soft clothing.
Encourage regular bowel and bladder habits to minimize sleep interruptions.
Increasing consumption of fluids and fiber during the day.
Taking medication for incontinence before bedtime.
Eating a high-protein snack 2 hours before bedtime.
Avoiding heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Avoiding drinking alcohol or smoking 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Avoiding drinks with caffeine within 12 hours of bedtime
Exercising (which should be completed at least 2 hours before bedtime).
Keeping regular sleeping hours.
Stretching before bed
Journaling to get closure on the day and “vent” stressors
Setting a regular routine so your body is “cued” to get sleepy
Medications may also be used to help relieve sleep problems.

As a clinician working with a cancer patient, there are many things you can do to aid him/her in leading the highest quality of life. It is important to remember that patients with cancer who are seeking counseling are often in crisis, so write down suggestions or interventions they are to try at home.

About the Author: Dr. Snipes received her PhD in Counseling and Education from the University of Florida. She has worked for 10 years in community mental health and is an ordained Christian minister. Currently she runs an online private practice Doctor Is In and an online continuing education site . Both sites are managed by her husband at Data Recovery and Computer Analysis.

The Pluck Factor

December 3, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

By Carolina Fernandez

Plucky (pluk’e) adj. Brave and spirited; courageous.

Have you ever noticed how few people possess radiating energy? How eyes lack sparkle and how few real smiles there are out there? How almost no one looks you in the eyes when you talk or how few people have truly gracious social skills? One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the lack of charisma or magnetism or exuberance among people everywhere!

So when I met Lorraine and Cam, I was immediately drawn to their energy. To their lit-up eyes, frequent laughter and bubbly personalities. Now they’re not particularly bubbly as in “effervescent.” No, they are actually more on the subdued side. But when one talks to them, their eyes twinkle. They smile when they talk. They maintain fabulous eye contact. Good upbringing? Perhaps. I’ve met both of their parents, even though one set lives in Scotland and the other in England (and we live up here in Connecticut in New England) and they are, indeed, darling people.

It’s even more amazing that we were drawn to each other with laughter and happy-talk considering the common thread that brought us together in the first place: leukemia. Their sixteen-month-old daughter, Katie, was diagnosed just before our seventeen-year-old son, Nick, was. Both children are treated by the same team of doctors. We met, for the first time, in the west wing of Yale’s Children’s Hospital. All of us were scared and admittedly, in a rather sad state.

Yet we continued, throughout treatments for our kids, to help each other get through them. I chased Katie around the chemo clinic when Lorraine and Cam were simply too worn out to do so, or held her when she needed a finger-stick and kicked the nurses too hard to get it done; we read stories together and sometimes she let me rock her to sleep. We colored, watched Dora the Explorer and played with puzzles. Cam engaged Nick in talk or made coffee and bagel runs for all of us. Lorraine kept me company and together, we helped keep each other’s spirits high.

They are back at the hospital, this time at Sloan Kettering, as Katie has undergone a bone marrow transplant this past week. It required weeks of pre-transplant consultations, tests, radiation and chemo. It also required Lorraine and Cam to temporarily set up house in New York City, in a rental apartment a couple blocks from Katie’s hospital room.

Some of us might complain about the difficulty of this situation. About lack of personal time, poor hospital food for weeks on end. Of watching our own children endure rigorous testing and annoying, seemingly endless blood work. Of the unfairness of the circumstances.

But not Lorraine and Cam. They maintain a positive attitude and continue to deal with every little detail with spunky, feisty attitude. They possess an enormously high “Pluck Factor.” They have a “to-heck-with-you-attitude” when people get in their way. They trudge through their days with laughter and verve. Hospital food the pits? No worries. Lorraine brings to Katie’s hospital room a crock pot along with bags full of groceries. When nurses wander in from the aroma of a slow-cooking roast and firmly let her know that she’s breaking all the rules, she tells them that she’s not dealing with the crummy food they’re trying to serve her. When little Katie does something adorable, Lorraine sends out an email blast for all of us to enjoy the moment. During the actual transplant, a video was made and we all got to witness closely (albeit from a distance) what it was really like. The video clips were amazing…..And afterwards? She and Cam celebrated with champagne and scrumptious food at a local French bistro.

Forget sad faces and going along with the ho-hum motions that most people simply accept as part of the circumstances. Lorraine and Cam have decided to maintain a spirit of resolve and a completely positive mental attitude in order to get through these days with grace. They let no one, and nothing, stand in their way. Katie’s well-being is their over-riding concern, and all of their efforts are directed to that end.

Strong-minded people serve as tremendous inspirations for me. When life throws you a curve ball, a U-turn, a disappointment or an unpleasant surprise, the outcome will oftentimes be greatly dependent on the way in which you handle yourself during those times. It takes practically no strength of character to be charming and adorable when everything is going your way. It’s when things get dicey that your true character reveals itself. And that’s when you need a high Pluck Factor. When you need to be courageous, to turn the ordeal into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. To show your true colors, and your grit and the stuff of which you are made.

Many readers of this Newsletter are going through ordeals at this very moment. I know so because you write and tell me of them, and my heart goes out to each and every one of you. I hope this letter finds you determined to increase the Pluck Factor by just a little bit. To hold your head up high and courageously get through these days as have my dear friends Lorraine and Cam. You will serve as wonderful role models for someone else who, one day, will need to exhibit a high dose of pluck, too.

Carolina Fernandez earned an M.B.A. and worked in investment banking and as a stockbroker before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four. She totally re-invented herself along the way. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; ten years of homeschooling and raising four kids provide fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance. It is widely available online, in bookstores or through 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via seminars, workshops, keynotes and monthly meetings of the ROCKET MOM SOCIETY, a sisterhood group she launched to “encourage, equip and empower moms for excellence.” Please visit

Article Source:

Andrew fights back to cycle a mountain

June 9, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

DESPITE going through three years of hell, cancer survivor Andrew Pallister is fighting back.

Andrew, 51, of Pardshaw, plans to ride a bike 11,000 metres up a French Mountain for a cancer charity.

He has been diagnosed with cancer twice and his wife has had breast cancer, but Andrew will not give up.

The managing director of Hydro Ellay Enfield Limited in Workington was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in spring 2003.


He underwent treatment and life seemed to be getting back to normal until just before Christmas. He started having dizzy spells and tests revealed that the cancer had spread to his brain.

In three years, he had to have major brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

He had brain surgery on January 11 this year and was back at work by February 13.

In between his treatment, his wife Valerie, 50, was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.


He tries to live each day to the full and is determined to raise money for cancer research.

Now, less than five months after his operation, he is getting ready for a cycling challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

He had already planned, with five of his friends, to take part in the ‘Raid Pyreneen’ in France, a 450-mile ride with an 11,000-metre ascent in 100 hours.

He and the rest of the Eaglesfield Flyers aim to raise £10,000.

It will take place between June 22 and 26 and covers the length of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

Source: times and star workington lake district, workington news sport, west cumbria news, lake district news

How Can I Help When A Child Dies

April 25, 2006 by  
Filed under CANCER

How Can I Help … When a Child Dies?

I am already at a loss for words when an adult dies. I would be speechless what to say when a child dies…Ruth

Here is some help

“A child has died. Regardless of the child’s age or the circumstances of death, as a person wishing to give support, you feel empty and helpless. What can you say that will ease the pain and help to mend the hurts?

What Can You Do to Help?

There are no easy answers, no standard approaches that are universally helpful. There are no magic formulas that will make the pain go away. It is natural to feel helpless when the child of a friend or relative dies. Remember that showing your loving concern can be very comforting to a grieving family. Please don’t avoid them because you feel inadequate. Families are more likely to reach a healthy, positive resolution of their grief if they receive continuing support and understanding. The following suggestions may help you provide that support

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.