Love Your Body: Let’s Mentor Each Other On the Ketogenic Diet

Love Your Body: Let's Mentor Each Other on the Ketogneic Diet.

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

If you’ve followed my Love Your Body posts on the last Monday of the month, you know I’m not a fan of “diets,” especially those that limit or reduce a particular food group. I’ve heard of the Ketogenic Diet, as probably many of you have too, but always dismissed it since it goes against everything we’ve ever learned about eating large amounts of fat. I’ve always eaten healthy fat, but only in moderation and have enjoyed good heart-healthy blood tests over the years.

Now I’m suffering from a neurological disorder and on the sixth medication trying to control it. Many of you were following me earlier this year when the fourth medication led to numerous kidney stones and horrendous surgery. Since going off that med, I’ve tried two more and we’re running out of options if this one doesn’t work.

So I did what many of us do and started researching more to see if there was anything else I could try. Mind you, I had read and read about this condition and felt like I was doing everything the doctors and I could do, but still the symptoms or adverse reactions to a medication continue.

Then suddenly last week, while back on the internet, I saw this: Sometimes going on a Ketogenic diet can help. Whoa, why hadn’t that appeared in any of my previous research? I contacted my neurologist to see if they had any success with this diet and they hesitantly said, “Some, but you would need to be followed by a Pediatric Dietitian and it will not replace medication.” I was surprised about the “pediatric” part, but it could be because they’ve only used it with children, which my research showed was easier for kids to follow this diet than adults. I thought that was interesting.

Since many of you know my first career out of college was a Registered Dietitian, I felt confident I could figure this diet out on my own.

I mentioned the diet to my endocrinologist and he said, “Oh it’s just the Atkins diet, but it could really help your LDL levels” (which had suddenly started rising). He encouraged me to try it.

This diet is also supposed to help reduce causes of cancer, and since I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor, this peaked my attention too.

When I started checking out the diet on different websites, I became more and more confused. It’s not the old Atkins diet. Then a dear friend loaned me a big book by a doctor, and I’m trying to wade through it. I have so many questions, and I’m hoping some of you who have successfully been on this diet could mentor me and others thinking about also trying it.

Here are some of my questions. Please write in the comments at the end of this blog, if you have answers:

  1. Did you gradually go on the diet, how did if feel when you started, and how long did it take to go on it completely?
  2. What did you follow to know foods to eat and foods to avoid?
  3. How do you know if you’re in Ketosis? What do you use to test?
  4. Any websites or books you suggest reading to learn more and find recipes?
  5. Did you see any changes in your cholesterol or LDL levels?
  6. How do you feel after being on it for a while?
  7. I’m not trying to lose weight, but did you lose weight?
  8. Did your family go on this with you, and if not, how did you make it easy to cook this way just for yourself? Because if your family eats high fats and doesn’t reduce carbs, that can be bad for their health. I did figure that out, and I don’t think hubby is going to do this with me.
  9. How long did it take you to see results?
  10. Did you go on this diet for health reasons?
  11. What tricks do you have for eating out and staying faithful, especially with the holidays approaching?
  12. How do you prepare kale?

I could go on and on with questions, but I know your answers to these questions will help me get started, and maybe help others who have been considering going on it too.

Don’t feel you have to answer all these questions to respond, but I would love to hear from you in a comment below, so we could all learn about your experience on this Ketogenic Diet.

Also, feel free to ask more questions in your comments, because I’m sure someone is going to have the same question and/or know the answer.

This is Mentoring!

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to pick up a copy of my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Mentoring is just what I’m asking us to do in this post . . . share our experiences with those who are in a new season of life. You may be younger or older than me, but you can help me learn more about the Ketogenic Diet. Then I can pass on to others the knowledge and help you’ve given to me and everyone reading this post.

Always exciting to see your new book Mentoring for All Seasons at LifeWay bookstore

I had fun last week stopping by our new LifeWay Bookstore in Boise to take pictures of Mentoring for All Seasons with the manager of the store. It never gets old seeing your “baby” on the shelf, and it was right in the front on the “New Release” shelf. If you have a LifeWay Bookstore near you, why not stop by, pick up a copy, and support your local Christian bookstore.

I didn’t hear from any of you last week, but the publisher is offering an incredible discount on 5 or more copies of Mentoring for All Seasons through the end of December. You can use it yourself, share with your church, your women’s ministry, small group, or whoever would benefit from the book. Contact me and I’ll send you the information.

You can also purchase on all the online bookstores, Amazon, or I’ll sign and personalize it from our website store.

Ok, remember two are better than one, and I need your help figuring out this Ketogenic Diet. I hope many of you will leave comments and give me some advice.

Two are Better thank one because if one falls down the other can pick them up!

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Life Without A Bucket List

October Ushers in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

This month marks fourteen years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, October 2002. I’d like to say that I had surgery, radiation, took Tamoxifen for five years, and that was the end of it. But that’s not how my story goes. I was diagnosed with a recurrence in October 2008, and again in June 2011 right after we moved to Idaho, and this summer I had a MRI-driven needle biopsy–praise God it was benign. I don’t know why. I only know that God is not through with me yet, and that is why I write, and that is why I speak, and that is why I evangelize and try to mobilize the Christian community to take a stand for Christ and give purpose and meaning to the years the Lord has spared me.

breast-cancer-cover3-252x300

I wrote, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey after my first diagnosis. It was the book I wished I had going through the battle myself and many women tell me it’s as if the Lord and I are walking right beside them.

Gloria Gaddy, who shares her story in the book, recently wrote to me:

10 Years ago I purchased this book, read it like my Bible, slept with it and prayed every day that God would heal me, He DID !  Now I am breast cancer free no more chemo meds and doing very well.  I might have to pick my book up just to remember how it brought me over.  Every time  someone is attacked with cancer it’s another opportunity for God to show up.

As a gift to my breast cancer sisters, and to any of you who have friends or family with breast cancer, we’re offering a special price for the month of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer at our website shop, and I personalize and sign each book.

You might also find this excerpt from the book helpful for knowing what to say and what not to say to a woman fighting the breast cancer battle. The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Life Without a Bucket List

Kara Tippetts was a young mother who lost the breast cancer battle, but starting with her diagnosis she wrote openly about her journey in a blog. Now, a year after her passing in March 2015, And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye brings a collection of Tippetts’ insights, taken mostly from her popular blog. Great care has been taken by David C Cook’s editorial team to present her thoughts with as few changes as possible in order to capture her distinct voice and unique way of arranging words.
      I thought it would be too hard for me to read And It Was Beautiful, but I couldn’t put it down and got permission from David C Cook to share her chapter on “Choosing a Mentor” in my new book Mentoring for All Seasons.
      In this post, I’m sharing with you the excerpt, “Life Without a Bucket List.” Like Kara, I consider every day of life a fulfilled bucket list, and as I lay my head on the pillow each night my husband Dave prays, “Thank you Lord for another day of life. We don’t take that for granted.”

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I can confidently say that I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see, or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms. But beyond that I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street this place sometimes feels so slutty, so wanting my money without a care for my heart. Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness. I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next. Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me ten kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it. A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

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Remember the special October price for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide For Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

Why Don’t We Ask for Prayer?

I'm not lucky                                            And How Many People Have Prayed For Me!

The day before my mammogram last week, I realized I hadn’t asked anyone to pray for a good result. This wasn’t just a routine mammogram. I’ve had breast cancer three times in 13 years, so I have a MRI or mammogram every six months, and there have been times when it was every three months. It’s been four years since a mammogram showed cancer, so why was I feeling apprehensive?

What Stops Us Asking for Prayer?

Maybe it was because I have a new book releasing in February that I know Satan is not happy about—Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. We were under such spiritual attack while I was writing it, what would Satan do next to try and stop me from sharing the message of this timely book?

Maybe after so many mammograms and MRI’s over the past thirteen years, I thought surely, people had tired of praying for these tests. After all, I had been cancer-free for four years. How could I ask . . . again . . . when there was no reason to expect the test not to turn out fine?

Maybe I feared that no one would pray.

Maybe I knew so many people who needed prayer more than I did.

Maybe I didn’t want to draw attention to a health weakness.

Maybe I dreaded the question of why I chose the type of treatment I did. That question plants doubts, instead of comfort.

It’s a Privilege to Pray for Each Other

But in the back of my mind was the nagging thought: I was cancer-free for six years before the second recurrence, and only two years between the second and third round with this dreaded disease. So time passing isn’t reassuring to me.

I wrestled all day with whether or not to ask for prayer. I kept dismissing the thought and then the Holy Spirit would prompt me again. That made me wonder, even more, why was the Holy Spirit so persistent that I ask for prayer? What did He know, that I didn’t know?

Finally, at 10:00 that night, I put this prayer request on Facebook and got ready for bed:

I’m having my 6 mo. diagnostic mammogram tomorrow. I’ve wrestled with the Holy Spirit all day about His prompting me to ask my peeps for prayer for a continued “all clear.” So here I am again….asking you to pray with me that it’s the Lord’s will that I will remain cancer-free. Thank you dear ones who see this. Appointment at 10:30 am MT.

By the time I turned out the light, thirteen night owl Facebook friends had posted that they were praying. Wow! I slept peacefully.

The next morning, 180 “likes” on my prayer request post and over 70 friends had left a message that they were praying for me. Here were some of the comments:

Praying for you, Janet. Never be afraid of asking for prayer from others.

God will bring you reinforcements when you need them.

Don’t wrestle! Just ask! Praying!

God never tires of our repeated requests. May you sense His presence with you.

Don’t know why you wrestled so much, that’s why you have friends in the Body of Christ for support and encouragement. Of course, I will pray NOW!

Thank you for sharing because I would love to ask the Lord for “the all clear”

That’s the reason I’m on Facebook . . . to pray for others.

Yes, people actually thanked me for asking for prayer and giving them the privilege of praying for me! I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, caring, concern, and prayer flooding the Holy of Holies on my behalf.

Some FB friends were praying who I don’t know personally, be we’re brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Looking back, I realize I wasn’t only wrestling with the Holy Spirit. There was a spiritual warfare going on. Yes, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to ask for prayer, but Satan was provoking me with all the reasons I shouldn’t ask for prayer. That battle went on in my head and heart all day long, but praise God, the Holy Spirit prevailed.

I knew that I had done the Lord’s bidding when I was scrolling down Facebook “home” on my phone as we headed the hour and a half to town for the test during a terrible rain and windstorm. I came across a friend who hadn’t read my prayer request, but her post that day was simply Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I kept that verse on my phone screen all the way to the mammogram, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit’s way of confirming I had won the spiritual battle. The prayers kept pouring in on my phone and I was at peace. I don’t know how the test would have turned out had my friends not flooded the heavens. Did that change the outcome of the test? I won’t know that until I get to heaven, but what I do know is that I will never hesitate to ask for prayers again, and I hope you won’t either.

When the test turned out “all clear,” I posted this message to all my praying faithful’s:

A BIG cyber hug of gratefulness for the many many many peeps who prayed last night and today for my 6 mo. mammogram and ultrasound. If you didn’t see my message on the post…ALL CLEAR and I didn’t have to have the ultrasound.

As many of you know, I’m a 3x breast cancer survivor, the latest 4 yrs ago, so I have of a mammo or MRI every 6 months for the past 13 yrs, and usually it’s no big deal, but this one did seem big. So I can’t stop thanking God and all of you for petitioning Him for me.

You are all amazing and I pray I’m half the friend to you that you are to me. Please let me pray for you sometime too!

PS I celebrated by going wild at my hair appt!!! I have lots of fun red highlights:) Merry Christmas dear friends.

The praises and “likes” for that message started pouring in and filled my heart with gladness and joy!

When I call on JesusSpiritual Inspirations

Asking for Prayer is a Testimony and a Witness

Someone needed to see the body of Christ respond to my public prayer request. It wasn’t just me who needed confirmation that prayer warriors never tire of praying.

Maybe it was you with an “unspoken” prayer request you need to share with someone.

Maybe it was the many who read my Facebook posts and saw the outpouring of prayers.

Maybe it’s someone reading this article.

Only God knows for sure, but often we have not because we ask not. We’re so sure that things are forgone conclusions, that we don’t bother God with prayer…or “bother” our friends.

My dear friends, many of you have prayer requests, right now! Especially at this time of year. Won’t you share them here so I can pray with you and anyone who is reading this blog can lift your request to the most High.

Three times in thirteen years, we prayed the tests would not reveal breast cancer, but three times, they did. But 35+ times we’ve prayed for those same tests, and it was an “all clear.” I’ll take those odds to my knees any day . . . how about you?

Side Note:

I wrote Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey, while recovering from my first occurrence, I had to write a difficult chapter: “It Could Come Back.” Here’s some of what I wrote when I had no idea that, indeed, cancer would return two more times:

Dear God,

Would everybody be there for me again or be burned out on breast cancer and not able to deal with it anymore? Oh Lord, I cannot imagine how lonely that would be. It was so hard the first time; it must be devastating to relive it. In many ways, cancer is like living with a time bomb. You don’t know if it is defused or if it’s ticking away, ready to catch you off guard and blow your life apart again . . . maybe this time actually taking you to a place of no return. I have to admit these thoughts go through my mind at random times.

Lord, I must put my complete faith and trust in You. I will do everything the doctors tell me to do when they tell me to do it . . . no playing games with this . . . and I pray You continue to protect me and restore me to complete health. However, if there should be a recurrence, I also pray my family and friends would rally back around me, and You would give the doctors the same wisdom and insight You did the first time. Let them catch it early again—breast cancer will not win the battle for my life. Confidently Yours, Janet*

God has answered that prayer through two recurrences, and so I encourage you to ask for prayer and keep on praying for those you know in need of prayer.

*Excerpt from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer

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Breast cancer book

Love Your Body–How Cancer Changed My Diet

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Wow, it’s already the last Monday of the month and that means it’s Love Your Body Monday! Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I reviewed what I wrote in Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer regarding the dietary changes we made after my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, and radiation:

My husband and I joke that my recovery entailed revamping our entire kitchen! I took great delight in learning about juicing and eating raw and organic, which meant I researched and bought a juicer, smoothie maker, high-speed blender, food processor, toaster oven that dehydrates, special containers for ripening and keeping raw fruits and veggies—just for starters. We no longer used the microwave, so I also bought stainless steel pots and pans, and two sets of dishes that were oven proof for heating up leftovers in the toaster oven. Our kids say, “Mom, every time we come you have a new set of dishes!” I thought to myself, Why not? Who knows how many more sets of dishes I will enjoy in my lifetime?

Next, I had fun researching and comparative shopping in health food stores that carried organic foods. This was quite a project as I did comparative shopping, read labels, and learned my way around. Now instead of dreading shopping, it is exciting and fun. I can hardly wait to try a new healthy recipe or a different way of food preparation.

Breast cancer book

*I emphasized in bold the points I am going to talk about here.

So let’s look at some of the changes I made and why I made them.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about eating organic and reading labels, so I’ll refer you to the previous Love Your Body blogs I wrote for more information. Just type in a topic or Love Your Body into “search this blog” or go to the blog archives and the last Monday of each month features a Love Your Body blog post.

Juicing

Currently the focus seems to be on green smoothies, and they’re great as long as you’re not using high fat/high calorie ingredients. Debbie Alsdorf had a recipe for her Morning Green Smoothie in her 90 Days to Physical Renewal blog.

Here’s a simple explanation of the benefits of juicing:

Most people don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to provide a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals, but you can obtain the maximum benefits by juicing them. Much of their nutrients are in the fiber, which the body expels. When we juice fruits and vegetables, these nutrients release from the fiber and we are able to drink highly concentrated nutrients, which enter our bloodstream quickly.

Fiber and other foods added to smoothies offer a different kind of nutrition because fiber is essential to health, so be sure to continue eating raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in conjunction with fresh juices to gain the maximum amount of nutritional value from what you eat.

Very few people eat sufficient quantities of raw fruits and vegetables. Juicing provides a quick and easy way to increase your consumption of these foods. I have an Omega juicer which allows me to juice wheat grass. Hope I didn’t lose you there…but wheat grass is an amazing source of nutrients and is delicious juiced with an apple and lemon. Even hubby likes it!

I also drink a “green juice” every morning made of greens like wheat grass, Spirulina, barley grass, and chlorella. You can find organic green juice powders that you mix with water or fruit juice in health food stores. I order mine from Purium Health Products. Drink green juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for maximum benefit.

Bountiful Basket Organic

Eating Raw

Cooking fruits and vegetables destroys some of the nutrients and we throw most of the nutrients down the sink when we boil foods. The closer you can eat your food to its natural state, the better. So we eat lots of organic raw fruits and vegetables in salads. I put everything into green salads including all kinds of fruit right along with the tomatoes, mushrooms, and cucumbers! I always get compliments on my salads, which I take to potlucks in case I can’t eat anything else.

If you can’t afford organic, buy a natural veggie wash and wash ALL produce before eating. If you had to pick one item to eat organic, make it strawberries. They are heavily treated with pesticides and absorb it all!

The more plant-based food you eat the better!

We No Longer Use the Microwave

I have not used a microwave for cooking for fourteen years. It’s not because I’m worried about leaking radiation, but just as I mentioned above, heat destroys nutrients and the microwave cooks things at a very high temperature. Also most food products made for the microwave are processed with preservatives.

This was a huge shock to us at first since I actually had two microwaves when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But my husband unplugged the portable one and put it in the trash and we ignored the built in one. So that meant I had to learn how to cook on top of the stove again. I don’t trust any of the nonstick or Teflon pans, so I use stainless steel pots and pans and a toaster oven for broiling, reheating, and making toast.

I also try not to use plastic storage containers, but switched to glass or Pyrex. These can be sanitized and don’t absorb food or odors and go nicely into the toaster oven or conventional oven. Check out some of your plastic containers—they often are stained or melted from being in the microwave or dishwasher. Toss them and replace with glass.

Snacks and Water

I make my own “trail mix” with a variety of organic raw unsalted nuts. I always start with almonds, cashews, and walnuts, and then I might add pistachios, shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamias, or pecans. Sometimes I add dried unsulphured fruit, but usually it’s just a mixture of nuts which I take with me everywhere and keep on my desk in my office!

If you can’t go raw nuts, Dr. Oz says in his book, You On a Diet, that it’s OK to cook them at 275 deg for 9-12 minutes to roast without damaging the good oils and nutrients. Remember that raw nuts have not been processed so keep any extras in the refrigerator or freezer.

I also always have a stainless steel water bottle with me filled with fresh filtered water. I don’t ever remember in my younger days drinking as much water as I do now, but once you start, you’ll find your body craves it. I have a “Contigo” brand water bottle that keeps ice solid and water cold in the heat of summer. Be sure to clean the tubing and mouthpiece on your bottle regularly because mold accumulates in those areas. I found small bottle brushes to get into those little areas in the infant section of Wall-Mart.

I once had someone at church ask me: What’s in your bottle you always have with you?” She looked a little surprised when I said, “Water.”

You’ll need lots of water when you exercise too. Exercise is so important to any healthy eating regime.

Exercise saying

I hope you’ve all had your annual mammogram this year, and if not, make the appointment. Mammograms have saved my life three times and I do believe that the changes we’ve made in our diet have helped me maintain a healthy active quality of life.

How about you? Are you intrigued by any of the changes we made?

Could you live without your microwave?

Willing to try juicing or green juice?

To read any of the past “Love Your Body” blog posts, just type in Love Your Body in the search bar on the right side of the website or go to the last Monday of each month in the archives.

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Someone You Know Has Breast Cancer

Blanket made for me by my daughter-in-law and grandkids for first recurrence.

Blanket made for me by my daughter-in-law and grandkids for first recurrence.

“I’m sorry…but you do have breast cancer.”

Those shocking words crackling through my cell phone rocked my world thirteen years ago. I was running errands…trying to outrun suspected bad news. After the doctor’s parting words, “You’ll be fine,” I fired up the car engine and started driving and dialing. The first person I called, after I told my husband, was my best friend, but she couldn’t comprehend the diagnosis. “A positive biopsy doesn’t mean it’s malignant, does it?” she asked.

It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer. Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat. Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us to, “Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? What does it truly mean to help each other in troubles and problems? Perhaps you can glean some ideas from the ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I pray that God will make you aware of the women around you with breast cancer and that you’re getting regular exams yourself!

Helping with the Bad Days

Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible

Most of us find it difficult to receive help; we’re hesitant to impose on others. When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything, but we don’t know if the person is offering to mop our floors or pick up our kids from school—both of which we need, but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well? Again, we don’t know what the person is willing to do for us, and we don’t want to be a burden.

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. If you know your friend well, you know where she needs help; and even if you don’t know her well, you know where all women need help. If she is in the midst of cancer treatment, she is going to need assistance with every area of her life, especially if she is single. Here are some practical ideas:

  1. Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  2. Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  3. Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  4. Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  5. Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  6. Do her laundry.
  7. Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  8. Answer her email.
  9. Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  10. If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  11. Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  12. Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  13. Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  14. Pick up prescriptions.
  15. Run errands.

Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It

At church a couple came up to greet my husband and me and asked if they could pray for us. That meant so much to me as we wrapped our arms around each other, and there on the church patio, this precious couple prayed for my recovery and Dave’s strength for the journey. When we finished, the wife asked where we needed help. I hesitated because I knew this woman didn’t like to cook, but Dave quickly interjected, “We could use a meal.” She didn’t flinch. She said they would be over the next night with dinner, and they were…and they prayed for us again.

“I’ll pray for you” is said too often with the casualness of “Have a nice day.” But a promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping to Enjoy the Good Days

Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. There is very little laughter during those first shocking days following the “dreaded diagnosis.” But life continues and there are going to be good days interspersed with the bad. An insightful friend will capitalize on the moments of reprieve when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

If your friend is having an especially good day, avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don’t fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Smile. Laugh. Be happy. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

I remember laughing at myself one day in the shower when I realized that I was so carefully not shaving under my left arm because of the lymph node surgery, that I also wasn’t shaving my left leg. I frequently retold that story so people could laugh with me.

Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her

When I was in the hospital, the nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed. For six months, I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. In fact, they acted like it was normal. And I discovered when I was writing my book, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, that it was normal! One woman who shared her story in the book had a black stuffed sheep named “Lamby” that she cuddled in her hospital bed. Another received a baby-sized pillow, and she recalls, “That pillow became a part of my wardrobe for eighteen months.”

stuffed sheet

Comfort and Security Gifts

  • A stuffed animal, pillow, or quilt.
  • A favorite food.
  • A game she loves to play and play it with her.
  • A movie she loved as a kid and watch it with her.
  • A surprise reunion with childhood friends.
  • A tea party.
  • A fun hat—even if she hasn’t lost her hair, she might not feel like fixing her hair.
  • A new nightgown that buttons down the front.
  • An ice cream cone.
  • A nightlight
  • A copy of  Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer a Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey signed by me to her. Many women tell me it’s as if I’m walking right beside them.

Shower Her with Love

Kay Warren shared with me about her breast cancer experience, “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this difficult time without the outpouring of love and support from so many. I have not felt alone at all…which is such an amazing gift!” And that it is…love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us. God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs, and He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us? We were in the midst of a messy kitchen remodel when breast cancer assaulted me. Everything in my life seemed out of control. But I felt so loved the day I returned home after the painful needle biopsy and spotted amongst the rubble—gift bags full of treats with balloons attached and a card from two girlfriends assuring me they had been praying during the ordeal.

Ideas For Showering Your Breast Cancer Friend With Love

  • A Spa day at a salon, which treats women with breast cancer.
  • If she wears a hat or scarf, wear one too.
  • Tell her how much you love her and what a great friend she is.
  • Stick with her even when the treatment lingers on. Her biggest fear is that others will not endure the journey.
  • Include her in as many activities as she feels up to.
  • Go to a breast-cancer support group with her.
  • Plan a girls’ day or night out, when she feels up to it.
  • Sit and watch old movies with her—even if she falls asleep.
  • Do her makeup.
  • Pray for and with her.

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17 that “A friend loves at all times.” What a privilege it is to put that verse into practice for your precious friend with breast cancer. You probably won’t be able to do everything I suggest and I hope you have ideas of your own, but as a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and the bad times—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Breast cancer book If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

Lessons From A Life Well Lived

Jan Holsclaws celebration sunriseSunrise from Jan and Jim’s backyard the day we celebrated Jan’s commencement to her Heavenly home!

I met Jan Holsclaw when she and husband Jim were speaking at Idyllwild Bible Church. Dave and I have a cabin in Idyllwild and were at IBC the same weekend the Holsclaws were visiting. At that time, Jim and Jan worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators and they were giving a report to IBC who helped support their ministry.

Jan spoke of her battle with ovarian cancer that was in remission. After the service, I introduced myself to Jan as a fellow cancer survivor and gave her a copy of my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer. Jan and Jim live in Florida, so an email friendship developed over the miles. Jan often referred to our “chance” meeting as a divine appointment.

A Team of Rope Holders

Sadly, it wasn’t long after we met that Jan’s cancer returned and she was in for the battle of her life . . . for her life. Jan and Jim started email updates to a team of friends and family they called their “rope holders” from the story in Mark 2:3-5 and Luke 5:18-20 where friends tied ropes to a mat and lowered a paralytic man through the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching. Loving friends displaying their faith in Jesus—that’s what Jan’s rope holders were to her too.

So over the next few years, Jan and Jim sent the rope holders email updates of Jan’s journey through extensive and ongoing chemo and treatments, and we lifted Jan and Jim before the Lord. We prayed for their specific requests and rejoiced in their good days and praises.

The doctors told them to do all the things they wanted to do and see family as much as possible. Use the time they had wisely, and that’s just what they did. Jim retired from Wycliffe, and during Jan’s good times or breaks in treatment, they traveled to see their children and grandchildren spread throughout the United States and China.

Lesson: We need each other. Learn how to “receive” well. Life is precious. Live like you’re dying.

 

A Praise Journal in the Midst of Crisis

Jan started a “Thankful List” which she often shared with her rope holders. When I asked her about it, she said:

How does it encourage me? When I’m down or discouraged or sad or ‘tired of the cancer/chemo routine,’ if I start adding to my “thankful list” it doesn’t take long before my focus is no longer on “poor me,” but on the Lord and on how incredibly blessed I am. I can literally sense my spirit being lifted into His presence. It’s sort of like a 180 degree turn around. Absolutely amazing. Even when I think to myself… “I can’t think of ONE thing for which I’m thankful” . . . all I have to do is START WRITING, and then my mind is filled with TONS of things for which I’m thankful.

“I Will Trust You” was the subject line of a rope holders’ email on February 6, 2014, as Jan’s health was rapidly deteriorating. She continued to tell us how much our prayers and emails meant to her and Jim:

Again, thank you SO MUCH for your precious words that touch us so deeply, and often bring tears. You simply can’t know how much they mean, and how they minister to us…over and over and over again! We’re trying to keep our hearts focused on Him, reminding ourselves that whatever we find out, He is with us, He’s holding us close, we need not fear and we can trust Him. A song that has been SO meaningful to us in the last few days is Sovereign by Chris Tomlin.

Lesson: If your faith is a little shaky today, listen to praise music. Jan and Jim found comfort in the YOU TUBE version of Sovereign.

 

On February 7, 2014, Jan wrote to her rope holders—

The sobering part of it all, is that when I now return to a chemo that has worked in the past, there’s generally only a 20-30% chance that it will now be effective against the cancer.

Still Jan finds things to be thankful for—

I am SO THANKFUL for:

A good appetite. (And I don’t want to EVER take that for granted!)

Restful sleep at night.

My wonderful, godly doctor.

My amazing husband who cares for me 24/7.

Our precious kids, their spouses, and our grandkids.

God’s Sovereignty and His tender, loving care.

Our incredible team of rope holders (YOU) and your touching words of encouragement.

Lesson: If you’re going through a tough time, start a Thankful List. It’s hard to stay down when you’re looking up.

Jan with her therapy dog Wally Jon

February 24, 2014 Jan with her “therapy dog” Wally Jon

How to Live Well for Jesus and Die Well in Jesus

March 4, 2014 the rope holders received an email from son Jon, “Finally Free!” Saturday March 8, thanks to the technology of “Streamline,” I watched the Celebration of Jan’s Life. Jan didn’t want a sermon; she wanted casual dress, her favorite music, and a chance for everyone who wanted to share their memories at an open microphone.

We heard from friends, neighbors, hospital staff, fellow ministry servants, and her doctors. All had the same message: Jan showed us how to live well for Jesus and how to die well in Jesus. Here was some of her legacy shared at the celebration:

  • She showed us how to behave in suffering. Not to be inward focused but to reach out and let her rope holders know how much she needed them.
  • There was a width and breadth of ministry during her last seven years. Her mission: May God get the glory and win the day, every day.
  • She taught us how to be a gracious “receiver.” When she was well she gave, but when she was ill, she could receive our help.
  • Jan loved life and fought it through to the very end.
  • She loved her family so much and taught us how to be better wives, moms, and grandmothers.
  • Jan had faith and trust and gave thanks in all circumstances.
  • Jan and Jim didn’t just talk about the Lord, they lived out their faith.
  • From a hospital staff member: they were always encouraging to the hospital staff—even the lady cleaning the floors. They left their mark on the staff.
  • A neighbor who saw Jan and Jim walking hand in hand while she did her morning run soon was getting hugs and friendship from Jan.
  • Her doctors considered it a privilege to be in the presence of patients like Jim and Jan. They ministered to their doctors during the doctors’ tough times and struggles.
  • Jan taught us how to die.
Lesson: How we live our life in good times and hard times is a ministry—it’s our legacy.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 (NLT)

Jan and Jim 48 year anniversary

Jan and Jim on their 48th Anniversary August 2013

Help Your Friend With Breast Cancer Make It Through the Bad Days and Enjoy The Good Days

writingIMG_3857Signing at ExpressionsEagle-Walk1-300x225Grace Grace and me at signing

In loving memory of my “Grace Abounds”

October ushers in fall with thoughts of pumpkin pie and harvest colors, but for many women like myself, it’s also a reminder that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2002, with recurrences in 2008 and 2011. So for me, and my breast cancer sisters, we’re also thinking pink. BTW pink and brown are great color combinations.

I found purpose in the pain of my first diagnosis by writing the book I wished I had going through my own journey, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey The hardest chapter to write was “It Could Come Back.” But come back it did come, twice! Any fears I had that my friends and family couldn’t, or wouldn’t, go through this ordeal with me again, were unfounded as they rallied around me each time with love, caring, support and most importantly, prayer.

In the following post, I have suggestions for how you can do the same for the breast cancer friend or family member or neighbor, or fellow employee, or acquaintance you barely know. Because with 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer . . . you know a woman who has cried out in anguish, “Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer!”

_____________

“I’m sorry…but you do have breast cancer.”

Those shocking words crackling through my cell phone rocked my world eleven years ago. I was running errands…trying to outrun suspected bad news. After the doctor’s parting words, “You’ll be fine,” I fired up the car engine and started driving and dialing. The first person I called, after I told my husband, was my best friend, but she couldn’t comprehend the diagnosis. “A positive biopsy doesn’t mean it’s malignant, does it?” she asked.

It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer. Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat. Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us to, “Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? What does it truly mean to help each other in troubles and problems? Perhaps you can glean some ideas from the ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

Helping Her with the Bad Days

 

Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible

Most of us find it difficult to receive help; we are hesitant to impose on others. When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything, but we don’t know if the person is offering to mop our floors or pick up our kids from school—both of which we need, but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well? Again, we don’t know what the person is willing to do for us, and we don’t want to be a burden.

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. If you know your friend well, you know where she needs help; and even if you don’t know her well, you know where all women need help. If she is in the midst of cancer treatment, she is going to need assistance with every area of her life, especially if she is single. Here are some practical ideas:

  1. Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  2. Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  3. Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  4. Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  5. Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  6. Do her laundry.
  7. Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  8. Answer her email.
  9. Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  10. If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  11. Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  12. Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  13. Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  14. Pick up prescriptions.
  15. Run errands.

My first surgery and treatment extended over the Christmas holidays, and we had six grandchildren at that time. I had bought their presents already but couldn’t imagine wrapping them. So my friend took all the presents home and wrapped them, as well as organizing other friends to deliver meals for three months. During my recuperation, she sat on my bed with my laptop, read my emails to me, and then sent my dictated answers. Later, she accompanied me to radiation, fixed my hair when I had a frozen shoulder, and stuck beside me through the entire cancer ordeal, even though she admits that her first reaction to my phone call on that dreaded diagnosis day was, “Lord, I don’t want to do this.” God assured her that she could do it, and she did.

Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It

At church a couple came up to greet my husband and me and asked if they could pray for us. That meant so much to me as we wrapped our arms around each other, and there on the church patio, this precious couple prayed for my recovery and Dave’s strength for the journey. When we finished, the wife asked where we needed help. I hesitated because I knew this woman didn’t like to cook, but Dave quickly interjected, “We could use a meal.” She didn’t flinch. She said they would be over the next night with dinner, and they were…and they prayed for us again.

“I’ll pray for you” is said too often with the casualness of “Have a nice day.” But a promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping Her Enjoy the Good Days

 

Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. There is very little laughter during those first shocking days following the “dreaded diagnosis.” But life continues and there are going to be good days interspersed with the bad. An insightful friend will capitalize on the moments of reprieve when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

If your friend is having an especially good day, avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don’t fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Smile. Laugh. Be happy. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

I remember laughing at myself one day in the shower when I realized that I was so carefully not shaving under my left arm because of the lymph node surgery, that I also wasn’t shaving my left leg. I frequently retold that story so people could laugh with me.

Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her

When I was in the hospital, the nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed. For six months, I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. In fact, they acted like it was normal. And I discovered when I was writing my book, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, that it was normal! One woman who shared her story in the book had a black stuffed sheep named “Lamby” that she cuddled in her hospital bed. Another received a baby-sized pillow, and she recalls, “That pillow became a part of my wardrobe for eighteen months.”

Comfort and Security Gifts

  • A stuffed animal, pillow, or quilt.
  • A favorite food.
  • A game she loves to play and play it with her.
  • A movie she loved as a kid and watch it with her.
  • A surprise reunion with childhood friends.
  • A tea party.
  • A fun hat—even if she hasn’t lost her hair, she might not feel like fixing her hair.
  • A new nightgown that buttons down the front.
  • An ice cream cone.
  • A nightlight.

Shower Her with Love

Kay Warren shared with me about her breast cancer experience, “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this difficult time without the outpouring of love and support from so many. I have not felt alone at all…which is such an amazing gift!” And that it is…love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us. God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs, and He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us? We were in the midst of a messy kitchen remodel when breast cancer assaulted me. Everything in my life seemed out of control. But I felt so loved the day I returned home after the painful needle biopsy and spotted amongst the rubble—gift bags full of treats with balloons attached and a card from two girlfriends assuring me they had been praying during the ordeal.

Ideas For Showering Your Breast Cancer Friend With Love

  • A Spa day at a salon, which treats women with breast cancer.
  • If she wears a hat or scarf, wear one too.
  • Tell her how much you love her and what a great friend she is.
  • Stick with her even when the treatment lingers on. Her biggest fear is that others will not endure the journey.
  • Include her in as many activities as she feels up to.
  • Go to a breast-cancer support group with her.
  • Plan a girls’ day or night out, when she feels up to it.
  • Sit and watch old movies with her—even if she falls asleep.
  • Do her makeup.
  • Pray for and with her.

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17 that “A friend loves at all times.” What a privilege it is to put that verse into practice for your precious friend with breast cancer. You probably won’t be able to do everything I suggest and I hope you have ideas of your own, but as a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and the bad times—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Support

Article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have further reduced the price of Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer at our website shop for the month of October. I will sign and personalize each book.

 Breast cancer book

Think Pink, But Be Wise

Eagle-Walk1-300x225

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Eagle Idaho (American Cancer Society)

This month, along with fall colors, you’ll also see pink splashed across newspapers, blog sites, magazines, kitchen appliances, cars, mayonnaise jars . . . as marketers and opportunists try to take advantage of our compassionate desire to help find a cure for breast cancer during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But beware: everything colored pink is not black and white. I have some tips on helping you determine a legitimate pink investment versus a pink opportunist.

While taking my early morning walk and praying for what I should write this month on breast cancer, I felt the Lord prompting me with the title of this blog. At the bottom of our road is a row of newspaper holders, and I finish my walk by getting our paper. I laughed aloud when I saw the color pink filling all the newspaper receptacles. The entire Idaho Statesman newspaper was pink!

“Even the sports page is pink!” my husband exclaimed. A front-page article jumped out at me: “Make Your Donation with Care: That Pink Ribbon Might be Lying; Find the Truth about Breast Cancer Giving.” I knew God was confirming that He did want me to warn about the dangers of scammers hitching up to the October pink bandwagon.

Make Your Financial Donations with Care

“Being a donor is a huge responsibility,” said Lynn Hoffmann, executive director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center. “I think it’s too often that donors do just give because they want to do something, but if they don’t do their homework, those dollars may not go where they want them to go” (Idaho Statesman). If you’re going to make a donation, do a thorough investigation of where the money will be going. Ask some basic questions:

  • How much of what I’m giving goes toward the charitable purpose and what is that purpose?
  • Is this a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization?
  • How much of a donation goes for administration, fundraising, and to the core mission?
  • Is the organization truly nonprofit and tax-exempt?
  • What are the executive’s salaries?

Question Solicitors

I receive frequent solicitation calls asking for donations to fund breast cancer research or to help breast cancer patients. I always tell them I am a three-time breast cancer survivor and wait to see their response. One sweet woman said, “God bless you and I’ll pray for your future health. We won’t call you again.” But others keep trying to get my money, and that’s when the red flag goes up. Be skeptical of any pushy solicitors.

Ask:

  • the name of the charity, website, phone number, and address, and tell then you will investigate and they can call back.
  • if the caller is an employee, a volunteer, or a telemarketer, whose company might be the ones banking the donations.

Research Online

Many websites and organizations collect and publish information on nonprofits:

  • GuideStar.org collects tax documents on federally registered nonprofits.
  • ProPublica is an investigative journalism nonprofit group with an easy to search database at projects.propublica.org/.nonprofits.
  • CharityNavigatigator.org rates some nonprofits.

Do some investigating yourself. The foundation or nonprofit asking for a donation should have a website: do they post annual reports? Who are their affiliates or partners?

My husband and I do not want our money going to any organization that supports, funds, affiliates with, or sponsors something we don’t agree with or support. For example, we stopped supporting Susan G. Komen several years ago when we learned that they fund Planned Parenthood. For several years before knowing this, I walked in the Komen races, wore their T-shirts, enjoyed the camaraderie of doing an event with other breast cancer survivors, and have Komen listed under National Contacts in the Sanity Tools of Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer. However, I had not done my homework.

Buyer Beware

KUOW.org points out:

“Susan G. Komen for the Cure is one of the largest breast cancer charities in the world. It partners with corporations to brand pink ribbon product lines for the month of October: pink Purina pet food, pink Yoplait yogurt, and pink buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, to name a few.”

When purchasing merchandise with a pink ribbon, ask the merchant: Are you donating any portion of the sale, and if so, to what organization?

I saw an advertisement for a pink/pink ribbon decorated Swifter WetJet with a “Cleaning For A Reason” slogan. They also gave a website www.cleaningforareason.org. At their website, I saw that they had a non-profit foundation and donations go to providing cleaning services for cancer patients. There were testimonials and contact information for further questions. I had no idea this service was available, and it looks like a good one.

But money spent to purchase a pink/pink ribbon Swifter WetJet is not going to the foundation; it’s going to Swifter and the merchant. So if I want a pink Swifter WetJet great; but if I want to donate to cleaning services for breast cancer women, I need to donate to their foundation.

Per Dr. Samantha King, director of Queen’s University school of kinesiology and health studies and the author of Pink Ribbons, Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy: Companies who use the Komen name pay Komen up front for the right to put Komen’s pink ribbon and name on their products. So your purchase doesn’t make any difference, nor does a portion of your purchase go straight to Komen. Money has already exchanged between Komen and the business. You can hear an interview with Dr. King at KUOW.org, and Google her name to read more of her comments on “pinkwashing.”

Sadly, there is a rampant marketing ploy of “pinkwashing”—raising the price of a pink or pink ribbon product. The assumption of the consumer is that the extra cost goes directly to fund a breast cancer foundation, but in most cases, it’s just making extra money for the business. If you know this and just want to wear pink, like I do for awareness purposes, that’s fine—but realize that’s what you’re paying for.

Everyone should eat healthy, especially women fighting breast cancer, so beware of foods packaged with a pink ribbon that wouldn’t be good for them (or you). Here are a few I’ve seen who will try to use the pink ribbon to get your emotional purchase:

Sugar—cancer loves sugar

Candy—sugar

Soft drinks—not good for anyone to drink

KFC—really?

I’ve Been Fooled Too

When first diagnosed with breast cancer, I vowed I would not wear pink or a pink ribbon because I didn’t want breast cancer to be my identity. But I soon realized it was my testimony to God’s faithfulness and something I couldn’t deny. So today, as a survivor, pink is my favorite color and I’m proud to wear clothing and jewelry with a pink ribbon—the universally understood breast cancer insignia.

I’m not picking on Komen, or promoting any organization, I just want you to be sure your money and donations are going where you think they are going.

You have to make your own decisions, and I would love to hear some organizations and foundations that you have researched—viable candidates for us to support in the fight against breast cancer. I think we have achieved awareness, what we haven’t achieved is a cure. I feel the answer is preventive research: why is breast cancer so prevalent and what can we do to protect ourselves against this dreaded disease? That’s where I’ll put my money. How about you? What are your thoughts?

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Note: About His Work Ministries is not a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation and we do not solicit or receive donations.

Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey is the book I wrote to walk alongside my breast cancer sisters.

Breast cancer book


A Blessing and A Hearbreak

agold-book

Last week, I was grumbling about filling out a long form for a local author’s group. I really don’t like forms and had procrastinated until the night before the due date. I decided to go to Amazon for ISBN numbers and descriptions, and there it was—I couldn’t believe it—Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey was in the top 100 Best Sellers for breast cancer books —#28 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Diseases & Physical Ailments > Cancer > Breast Cancer!

I seldom look at my Amazon sales numbers, which change daily. If I let those numbers influence me, I might never write again. So I have no idea how long this book has been on Amazon’s bestseller list—every author’s dream—or how long it will stay there. Let me clarify that my book was not in the top 100 of all books on Amazon, but it was in the top 100 in its category. The number fluctuates from day to day, but it’s stayed in the top 100 for awhile.

In shock, I clicked on the link to the page displaying the top 100 books; and yes, there it was #28! A joyous “Yahoo!” quickly turned into a heartbreaking moan . . . this could only mean that more and more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. In the span of a few moments, my feelings transgressed through shock, joy, gratefulness, praise, sadness, and finally humbleness that God would use me to comfort and encourage so many breast cancer sisters.

Reaching Out

Recently, I learned on Facebook that two author friends have breast cancer. One I have known for years, and the other I’ve only recently met on Facebook. I’ve left occasional comments and “likes” on their timelines, but I felt the Holy Spirit persistently nudging me to engage with these breast cancer sisters on a more personal level.

I knew what I was to do—I messaged each one and simply said: I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor and I’ve written a book that might bring you comfort. I’m praying for you and want you to know that I’m here for you if you have questions or just want to chat or cry. Immediately, both responded back thanking me and had so many questions that only someone who has been through this heartbreak could answer. One wrote: Thank you for reaching out to me. I’ve asked the Lord to bring me together with women who have experienced this and that can encourage me. You are one of them.

Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness

People all around us are praying that the Lord will bring someone experienced in what they’re going through. God has allowed me challenging experiences like having a prodigal, infertility, breast cancer, divorce, being a single parent, my father murdered, blending a family, and chronic back pain to name a few. In dealing with life’s hard times, I have two choices—as  do you—1) wallow in self-pity that spirals into depression and a victim personality, 2) trust God and turn hurts and pains over to Him and let Him use them to His glory.

It’s A Choice

I will rejoice that God has used my breast cancer to help me pen Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer to comfort, encourage, and walk beside other women who are dealing with this devastating disease. And I will rejoice that for now, it is an Amazon Best Seller because hopefully the publisher will keep it in print longer to bless other women. That has been a long-time prayer because publishers need to see books selling in order to keep investing in them.

I am humbled that God has gifted me with the ability and desire to share my life experiences with others to offer hope in God alone. It’s hard to believe He thinks I am worthy of such a calling, but as long as we are on this earth, there is going to be pain and suffering, and if He thinks I can help comfort the afflicted then I am blessed, even if it’s heartbreaking.

 

What experience do you think God is asking you to share with someone who is hurting right now?

 How can you reach out and let them know that God is there for them and so are you?

Breast cancer book