Browsing Tag

american cancer society

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

Chowing Down on Colorful Foods [Update]

KB's Journey

I shared these links on my Facebook page and may have tweeted them last week, but just in case you didn’t get to check them out…

I jumped back into blogging over on the American Cancer Society’s Choose You blog and decided to challenge myself to eat at least two servings of colorful fruits and veggies each day. So, how’s that going? Hmm…Let’s just say I wish M&Ms were considered produce. I’ve been trying to just wing it and eat these veggies on the fly (fruit parfair here, salad for lunch there), but it’s becoming very clear that I need to make a conscious decision to purchase the colorful foods in advance and take them with me to work. I started off with the best intentions and started falling back in my usual turkey chili or burrito rut. Bleh.

I’ll give you guys another update next week. In the meantime, below are links to my Choose You posts:

A Colorful Challenge to Eat More Veggies

Celebrating the Red, White, and Blue(berries)!

You guys have any tips that I can use during this challenge??? I think I could use a little help!

-kb

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

Real Fans Wear Navy and Orange (and Pink!)

Breast Cancer, Living & Giving, Shop for A Cause

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know that navy and orange flows through my veins. Those are the colors of my high school, college, and beloved Chicago Bears. Sunday after Sunday (and some Saturdays…Go ILLINI), I take pride in seeing fans and players suit up in navy and orange and get pumped for a victory.

That pride doubles every October as I watch my Bears strut onto the field with their navy, orange, and pink in recognition of breast cancer awareness month. In addition to the cap above, there are a host of other very cute products that would make any Bears fan proud.

Knit Hat, $19.99

Key Clip, $17.99

Women’s Tee, $23.99

This apparel is a part of the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society. The campaign focuses on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older. If you’ve been watching the games this month, then you’ve already seen players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel and using special game balls and pink coins with the goal of raising awareness for this important campaign. To learn more about “A Crucial Catch,” you can visit NFL.com/pink.

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

Who Knew Breathing Was So Beneficial?

KB's Journey, Not Necessarily Charity

In...Out...

Just wanted to update you all on my Choose You personal challenge. Last week, the Choose You bloggers decided to focus on the importance of stress reduction in our lives. I was all for it because this is definitely one of my top goals.

Last week, I used my post to share one of my favorite breathing techniques from DrWeil.com. It’s called the 4-7-8 exercise and can be done ANYWHERE! The basic details are below:

Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

* Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

* Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

* Hold your breath for a count of seven.

* Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

* This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Simple, right? I probably do this exercise 4-5 times a day! Sometimes, there’s nothing we can do but just breathe. Inhale, exhale…Feeling any better?

To keep up with us Choose You gals, head on over to Blog.ChooseYou.com and read about our adventures to live healthier lifestyles!

-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 List

KB's Journey

With the start of every new year comes a decision to create resolutions or goals to help us live a better life over the next 12 months. But, the problem with resolutions is that they often get broken because they can be too specific. So, as part of the American Cancer Society’s movement for More Birthdays, I’ve created a list of life steps that I can take to ensure that I live a healthier life…one that will enable me to share more birthdays with those that I love.

1. Do yoga or pilates twice a week. While the body-building benefits of these classes are clear, I’m looking at them more from a calming perspective. Every now and then, I let the stress of the world get to me and the breathing/stretching will be good ways to release the pressure.

2. Keep the breads/pastas to a minimum, but don’t forget to add more fruit and a piece of dark chocolate. I spent 7 months fighting an inflammatory condition aggravated by breads. I want to keep my risk of colon cancer low, so it’s something that I must do!

3. Participate in the 2-Day Capital Challenge MS Walk in Washington, D.C. I’ve wanted to do this walk for two years now, and I’m finally going to do it.

4. Smile and laugh as much as I possibly can. No explanation needed.

So, this is my “More Birthdays” list. What things would you add to your list? Share them on Facebook, Twitter (use #mybdaylist), or your personal blog and encourage others to do the same! To learn more and join the community, visit officialbirthdayblog.com!

-kb

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