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Cancer

A Labor of Love, Service, and Sacrifice

Cancer

I think about caregivers on a regular basis. I think about their strength, their sacrifice, their service, and their spirits. So, when my friends at the American Cancer Society asked if I would join in their 100 Caregivers Stories series, it was a no-brainer! I’ve never been shy about talking about my caregiving experiences with my mother and am currently working on a webinar series to address the unique needs of youth caregivers.

Although I have since transitioned out of that role, I’m still honored to be surrounded by so many amazing people who have stepped up to provide care to a loved one battling cancer or another disease.

I think of my bonus mom, Angie, who somehow is able to juggle her career with caring for her mother who is living with Alzheimer’s. I think about friends who recently lost parents to cancer after lovingly (and sometimes painfully) watching their superwoman succumb to the illness. And, I think about a young woman that I know who not only cared for her sister with cancer, but also stepped up to support her sister’s daughter.

Caregivers are so incredibly valuable for so many reasons. There are economic, societal, and health benefits to caregiving but, above all of that, caregivers remind each of us we are all connected. To every person who has ever been a caregiver or is one right now, here’s a short quote that will breath a little life into you on your worst days…

Patience and fortitude conquer all things. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Would you like to honor a caregiver? You can sign up here to share a blog post.

 

 

As a part of the American Cancer Society’s 100 Days/100 Stories series, the 100 Caregiver Stories series wants to shine a light on 100 amazing caregivers by the end of 2013. I am a member of the ACS’ Blogger Advisory Council. No financial compensation was received to publish this post.

Photo: Pinterest

I’m at BlogHer!

Cancer, KB's Journey

Greetings, everyone! I am currently in NYC for BlogHer (cue Empire State of Mind). I’m here with the fantastic team behind the American Cancer Society’s More Birthdays program. In case you’ve never heard me talk about More Birthdays before, let me give you my spiel. The ACS is dedicated to a world with less cancer and more birthdays. The More Birthdays campaign is a campaign that brings that to life. There are many ways that you can show your support, including sending birthday wishes from celebs, volunteering, and of course making a donation.

This weekend at BlogHer, myself and other members of their Blogger Advisory Council are asking attendees to stop by Booth #310 and light a virtual candle for someone who is fighting, who did fight, or who survived cancer. We want to know who is inspiring you to fight for a world with more birthdays.

I posted the below card as a nod to the moms of two of my closest friends. E + S, your moms inspire me in this fight.

If you’re in town for the conference, definitely come and see us! Who are you fighting for?

-kb

Monday Motivation: Kelly Ripa and OCRF

Cancer

“Charity, good behavior, amiable speech, unselfishness — these by the chief sage have been declared the elements of popularity.” Burmese Proverb

The quote above not only provided me with a little inspiration but it also made me think of Kelly Ripa. All of the listed characteristics can be used to describe her! For those wondering about her charity work, she’s a very public supporter of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and does a lot of work to help them raise lots of money each year.

-kb

Disclaimer: Kelly partners with one of my Clients, Electrolux Appliances, in support of OCRF. I wasn’t asked to write this post or include her in it. I just REALLY do love her and really did think of her when I saw this quote 🙂

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer, KB's Journey

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and I definitely wanted to share some facts on the site. Colon cancer didn’t really land on my radar until a couple of years ago when I started experiencing issues with my GI system. I went months without getting treatment because I was uninsured and I practically obsessed about my health situation becoming cancerous. Then, everything went away and the thoughts subsided. Fast forward to late last year, all the health problems resurfaced and I told myself that I no longer had an excuse to postpone the needed doctors (yes, plural) appointments. My gastroenterologist recommended that I have a colonoscopy so that they could properly diagnose my condition, but also ensure that there weren’t any polyps or tumors in my colon. I blogged about my experience over on the American Cancer Society’s Choose You blog.

While my doctor confirmed that I had Crohn’s disease, she also calmed my nerves when she told me that there weren’t any visible polyps and my biopsy results were negative. ALL praises due to God!!! But, ever since then, I’ve been researching colon cancer and learning what I can. The American Cancer Society recently released Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013, a comprehensive resource with statistics, prevention information, and treatment guidelines. While the public may not discuss colon cancer as often as other cancers, the facts tell us that we should. In both men and women, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death.

When it comes to prevention, screenings are KEY. If you’re at risk for the disease (over 50, family history, etc), it’s so important that you work with your physician to get the screenings that you need. Edward Partridge, M.D., national volunteer president of the American Cancer Society, states, “The American Cancer Society has identified colorectal cancer as a major priority because of the enormous potential to prevent the disease, diminish suffering, and save lives.”

You don’t have to tell me twice. I’m committed to doing my part to protect my health and the health of my loved ones…and I challenge you to do the same. Start the process by learning the facts. You can access the comprehensive report here.

-kb

Brown Girls Get Skin Cancer Too [Giveaway]

Cancer

A couple of weeks ago on the Choose You blog, I talked about the need for brown girls to protect their skin from the sun. There’s nothing that I love more than watching my skin go from carmel to a sun-kissed brown during the summer months. In fact, I spent the Chicago winter dreaming about it. But, for all the time that I was spending in the sun, I was NOT wearing sunscreen.

I’d fallen victim to old sayings such as “Black don’t crack,” or “I thought that only happened to white people.” No, no, no…As my grandmother reminded me, “Brown girls get skin cancer too.” And, while this is something that I always knew, hearing her say it really drove the point home for me. Then, today I came across a video on CNN.com discussing minorities and skin cancer. This report shares that while people of color are less likely to get skin cancer, they are more likely to die from it. *MESSAGE*

GIVEAWAY: Because I want all of us (no matter our skin color) to choose ourselves and put our health first, I’m giving away a “Choose You” package that includes t-shirts, a notebook, information on the American Cancer Society’s “Choose You” campaign, and Neutrogena Anti-Aging Sunblock. All you have to do is leave a comment with a healthy habit that you want to start practicing. It could be anything from wearing sunscreen to drinking two glasses of water before bedtime. Anything that represents your committment to healthy living…

BONUS: You can also tweet your healthy habit…Please use the hashtag #ChooseYouTFG.

I will announce the winner on Friday. Good luck guys and don’t forget the sunscreen!

-kb

Recognizing National Minority Cancer Awareness Week

Cancer

Health has always been an issue close to my heart. Growing up, I had my heart set on becoming a doctor because I’ve always believed that if you don’t have your health, everything else suffers. In college, however, I decided that being healthy starts before the treatment process. Every day that we wake up, there are things that we can do to take steps to being as healthy as we can be. So, I decided to study marketing and use those communication skills to promote healthy behaviors and empower others to take an active role in their health. And, as a member of the American Cancer Society’s Blogger Advisory Council, I’m committed to using my online presence to do just that.

This week marks National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, and recognizing this issue is very important to me. As an African-American, I was blown away to learn that we have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers. National Minority Cancer Awareness Week is about recognizing the health disparities that exist within our communities and encouraging action to help shrink the gap. About fifty percent of cancer deaths can be prevented through regularly scheduled screenings, healthy eating, regular physical activity and quitting tobacco use. However, minorities continue to have lower screening rates than whites; report less physical activity than recommended, and consume less fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

These simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards ensuring that we are around to see more birthdays for ourselves and those that we love. I’m dedicating this post to my maternal grandmother, maternal great-aunt, maternal great uncle, maternal great-cousin, paternal great-grandfather, and paternal (step) grandfather. They passed away due to cancer and build a strong case for why I have to take the necessary steps to be as healthy as I possibly can. I’ll admit that I don’t know all the facts and haven’t been as healthy as I should be, but I’m committed to making that change. This week, I’m setting up appointments ranging from a general checkup to screenings necessary for my health and I encourage you to do the same.

The ACS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-227-2345 to help answer any questions about cancer and provide information on what resources exist for free or low cost cancer screenings. Get the facts, understand your medical history, and commit to your health! Some might say that it’s easier said than done, but when has that ever stopped us?

To learn more about the American Cancer Society, please visit cancer.org.

My Birthday Belongs to Opal

Cancer, KB's Journey

Today is my birthday and I know with extreme certainty that I am very blessed. As I celebrate this additional year of living, I can’t help but to think about all of those who have passed out of my life. People who I wish could’ve celebrated one additional birthday with me, or people who I wish could’ve celebrated an additional birthday with themselves.

The American Cancer Society challenged its Bloggers Council to post a blog in dedication to someone that we know and/or have lost to cancer. I’ve lost a few relatives to cancer, but today I want to dedicate my special day to my maternal grandmother, Opal Elizabeth. I never had the chance to meet her because she passed away at the age of 36 after a battle with stomach cancer. Although my mother was young, she still has plenty of memories of her mother. Memories from her own experiences and those shared with her by other family members.

My mother often called me “Opal,” and said that we shared some of the same fabulous qualities. According to my mom, Opal was very stylish. We’re talking long-stemmed cigarettes (bad yet chic), gloves at cocktail hours/dinners, and tailored suits. She was beautiful, yet never met a four-letter word that she didn’t like. As I often listened to my mother’s stories about her mother, I always dreamed of what it would have been like to know her. Just like my children will wonder what it would’ve been like to know my mother who passed away at the age of 49.

I come from a line of beautiful, strong women who unfortunately had chronic illnesses rob them of seeing all of the birthdays that they deserved. Now, I’m sure that I will live until I’m 120, but just in case I don’t, I’ve decided to live every day of my life to the fullest. For me. For Opal. For my mother. For my future children. And, for everyone who wishes their loved one had one more year on this Earth.

Not only is opal my birthstone, but Opal is my foundation. My birthday is dedicated to my beautiful, stylish, young, fabulous, and sassy grandmother, Mrs. Opal Elizabeth. I’m proud to be a chip off of your chic block!

KB

More Birthdays, Please!

Cancer, KB's Journey

Hey, everyone!!! I’m so excited to share that I am a member of the American Cancer Society‘s Blogger Advisory Council, a small group of volunteers that advises the Society on its social media strategy. Part of our mission is to spread the word that we have power in the fight against cancer. Our first step is to build awareness and engage women, which I’m ALLLL about!

If you didn’t know, ACS is the official sponsor of birthdays. I love this idea because we all deserve more birthdays, and many people, especially cancer fighters, don’t get to enjoy as many as they deserve. But, the ACS wants to change that! Through awareness and education, the ACS hopes that many more of us will be around to see and celebrate our birthday and those of the ones we love.

We’ve recently kicked off a blog “chain” to help spread the word among women bloggers and we’re calling it “Bloggers for More Birthdays.” You can get involved in a couple of ways…

  • Dedicate your own blog post to someone that you love who has been affected by cancer
  • Host the badge (featured above) on your website

There is power in numbers so encourage your networks to participate in this great movement. Please visit www.officialbirthdayblog.com for more details! And, if you want to write something but don’t have an online space (blog/FB/website) to share, send your story in an email to bloggersubmit@officialbirthdayblog.com!

My birthday is in less than a week, so I’m already cranking on my post. Here! Here! To More Birthdays!!!

Read more about the ACS Bloggers Advisory Council here.

-kb

Look Good…Feel Better Turns 20!

Beauty & Style, Cancer, TFG Spotlight

Look Good…Feel Better (LGFB) started in 1989 when a physician “prescribed” a makeover for a cancer patient who experienced depression related to her change in appearance. Twenty years later, the organization has helped many women offset appearance-related changes from cancer treatment through makeovers and one-on-one beauty sessions.

While treatments such as chemotherapy are an essential part of fighting cancer, no one denies that it can and will change your appearance. And, of course, outer beauty isn’t everything, but things like the loss of hair or skin changes definitely have some effect on the way some women see themselves. And, studies have found that addressing the non-medical effects of cancer can be just as important as addressing the actual physical symptoms.

The cornerstone LGFB small group program is offered in all 50 states and DC. There are also international LGFB programs as well! The show doesn’t stop there. In select cities, individuals can also participate in bilingual (Spanish) or teen programs.

Participants spend two hours in a hands-on workshop that includes a 12-step skin care/make-up application lesson, demonstration of options for dealing with hair loss, and nail care techniques. Additionally, the ladies receive advice on wigs and scarves, along with free cosmetics kits! Each year, More than 50,000 individuals participate in the program. That’s a whole lot of beauty for a great cause.

look good feel better cancer beauty treatments

There are three main organizations which serve as a partners in making all of this happen. There’s the Personal Care Products Council, the nation’s cosmetic industry leaders; the American Cancer Society; and the National Cosmetology Association, which encourages member cosmetologists to volunteer their services. Each year, cosmetic companies, such as Mary Kay, Elizabeth Arden, and Benefit, donate over one million individual products (valued at $10 million) and raise more than $2 million for LGFB.

To celebrate their partnership with LGFB, OPI has designated a portion of the proceeds from the sale of its Bubble Bath Nail Lacquer in July and August to benefit the organization with a minimum $25,000 commitment.

OPI_SL500_AA235_

OPI Bubble Bath Nail Lacquer

LGFB is always looking for volunteers. Whether you’re a licensed cosmetologist or just looking to do more general service, there is an opportunity for you. I could probably go on and on about all the great things that Look Good…Feel Better is doing across the country, but I’ll let you explore it for yourself! If you head on over to www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org, you will find studies, videos, photos, beauty tips, and MUCH more!

You can also follow LGFB on Twitter at twitter.com/lgfb! Happy 20th birthday to such a great cause!