Three Things I’ve Learned in 24 Years of Marriage!

wedding-picture

Yes, as you read today’s Monday Morning Blog, December 19, 2016, hubby and I are celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary! Several of you have mentioned you enjoy learning a little about my life lessons in these Monday mornings blogs, so as I pondered what to share with you so close to Christmas, I thought what better words of wisdom than what God has taught me about loss, life, and love in our marriage. I hope you’ll keep reading, even if you’re not married, because the principles God has taught me can apply to any relationship.

Loss of Expectations

Our wedding, just six days before Christmas, was a second marriage for both of us. Dave had three children and I had one daughter. I was single for seventeen years and Dave only a few years. The kids ranged in age from fifteen to nineteen, so I didn’t anticipate any problems in everyone living happily ever after.

Well, if you’ve blended a family or been around one, you’re probably laughing hysterically about now. Blending didn’t come without its challenges, and we all brought baggage and different ways of doing things from our original families. I learned right away that I was going to have to lower, and in many cases lose, my expectations: we would never be a nuclear family. Christmas or holidays or special occasions would always be a compromise of negotiating between two families, which would only become more complicated as the kids married and added extended families with their own traditions.

I couldn’t control who would be with us on what day or at what time . . . or even at all. There has only been one time since all our grandchildren were born that all four children, their spouses, and the eleven grandchildren were together, and that was at Thanksgiving six years ago at our son’s house—it wasn’t even at our home. For Dave’s 70th birthday last year, I had a dream . . . still hadn’t let go of all those expectations . . . of the whole family celebrating together for a reunion at our home in Idaho, where some had yet to visit. But one family couldn’t join us.

Dave and I have learned to pray about each event, and then enjoy who comes and not worry over who doesn’t. That hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn, but it has been necessary to maintain sanity and family relations. It relieves stress, worry, and disappointment when I let go of my expectations and let God fulfill His.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What Divorced Christians Want You To Know

Life Is Ever Evolving

When we were first married, Dave had a wonderful job with great benefits. I was so happy that I would have some relief from the pressures of supporting a family after seventeen years of being a single mom. So after three years, we decided when the last child left home, I could quit my job and go into full-time lay ministry starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church. If you’re not familiar with the term “lay ministry,” it means no pay. I was never on staff at Saddleback. Three months after I quit my job, Dave was laid off from his corporate career and that was the end of a corporate job with benefits and great income . . . forever!

Read more of that story at About His Work Ministries.

Dave eventually found various labor-intensive jobs, until the last one resulted in him having to have reconstructive foot surgery and medically retire, which is how we ended up moving to Idaho. I tell that story, along with his multiple layoffs, in Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-At-Home Man.

Right before Dave’s second layoff, I had my first battle with Breast Cancer and started radiation two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Little did we know then that I would go on to have breast cancer two more times, and 6 ft. 4 in. Dave would take a job that had him in a uniform crawling on his belly under houses and in attics. But through it all, God has kept me About His Work, and used us in a mighty way. Dave supports me as I write and speak for the Lord. Dave is my helpmate with his techie abilities, helping with the website, and for those of you who receive our newsletter, I write the articles but he puts it together.

Dave now travels with me when I speak, and the women really appreciate how we work as a team with him “manning” the book table. I used to pray that God would send me an assistant . . . I just never expected it to be Dave. Our personalities and gifts are polar opposite, but God has taught us, as life has evolved over these twenty-four years, how to combine our differences into a united effort working together for the Lord. What Satan tries to pull apart and use to separate us, we’ve learned to identify and let God make us stronger and better together.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Love Jesus First

pastor-pete-marrying-us

If you’ve read Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter or Dear God, He’s Home! I talk about a Marriage Builders course taught at the time by Pastor Pete McKenzie who married us [picture above]. On a whiteboard, Pastor Pete would draw a triangle with God at the pinnacle, a stick figure man in one lower triangle corner, and a stick figure woman in the opposite corner. Then he would draw an arrow across the bottom of the triangle explaining that when we have our eyes on each other, we’re the farthest apart. Next he would draw arrows up each side of the triangle, explaining that as we each move closer to God, we move closer together.

triangle-charm

On one of our early anniversaries, Dave had a charm made for me (picture above) symbolizing that triangle with the pearl of God at the top and our birthstones on each corner. Yes, my birthstone is a diamond! As long as Dave and I remember to keep Jesus first in our lives, everything runs smoothly in our marriage, no matter how our expectations are dashed, or how our life is evolving for good or bad. But if we take our eyes off Jesus, even for a moment, chaos can reign in our home.

All relationships have challenges, and so often those magnify at Christmas and holidays. I hope the three lessons I’ve learned in my marriage, will help you maintain peace, joy, and Jesus’s love no matter what your circumstances or challenges this year or in the New Year. They’re definitely not the only three lessons I’ve learned, but they’re definitely at the foundation of all the others.

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.” Ephesians 6:24

Merry Holy and Blessed Christmas to all my dear friends and family.

wedding-on-boat

 

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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

If you received this post by email, please leave a comment here.
Remember the special October price for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide For Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

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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.

If you receive this blog by email, leave a comment here.

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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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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.

If you received this blog by email, comment here.

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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.

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On a First-Name Basis with God


Carrying on the theme of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I’ve invited Ava Pennington to share her book, 
Daily Reflections on the Names of God. In  Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I encourage women as they struggle with breast cancer to talk and write to God. There are journal lines and prompts for writing “Your Love Letter to God” at the end of each chapter. In the “God’s Love Letter to You” sections, I personalize Scripture and sign it with the many names and assets of God.

Ava’s book will  enhance everyone’s personal relationship with our Lord and Savior. Today’s post is written by Ava Pennington.

Daily Reflections on the Names of God - lo-res

I’ve been a Christian for more than forty years, but it wasn’t until the past several years that I could say I’m on a first-name basis with God.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and I was confident God knew me by name. But I didn’t realize until recently that, although God knew me by name, I was not as intimate with Him by name…specifically by the names and attributes He revealed for Himself in His Word.

The topic of the names and attributes of God is a popular one. There is no shortage of books, calendars, and cards on the subject. But I wanted to write a devotional that moved beyond learning a name and checking it off a list.

As I wrote Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, I was struck by how many of God’s names and attributes I knew only on an intellectual basis. I had not stopped to consider what many of them meant to me personally.

For example, when I call God my Banner or a Consuming Fire, how did those names change the way I lived? Or did they change the way I lived at all? When the Bible refers to the Lord as the Bridegroom, what did that mean to me – someone who has been married for 35+ years? Or when Jesus is called the Lion of Judah, what did that mean to this city girl whose closest exposure to a lion occurred at the local zoo?

A Devotional

Because of my own need, I chose to structure this book as a devotional, applying three unique devotions to each of 122 names and attributes of God. Each name and attribute is explored from three perspectives: who God says He is, who we are in relation to that name/attribute, and how our relationships are influenced by that name/attribute.

At the end of the project, I knew God more intimately and I understood myself more clearly. For one thing, it changed the way I related to Him. My faith is not a “blind faith” since it rests on the proven character and ways of God. While I may not fully understand who He is until I get to heaven, His names and attributes provide glimpses into His divine nature.

A Renewed Prayer Life

Understanding why God has chosen certain ways to describe Himself also changes my prayer life. I’m not praying to an impersonal force out in the universe. I’m praying to our very personal God, who I know by name and who knows me by name. Whatever the subject of my prayer – whether worship, thanksgiving, interceding for others, or asking for myself – there is a name or attribute God has revealed for Himself that helps me relate to Him in that area.

Knowing what God says about Himself has also changed the way I teach and share Christ. God is not some ancient or outdated theological concept. Everything about who He is and how He works is relevant to us today. Knowing His names and attributes gives me the specific words to describe Him to others. It also helps me when others speak of who they think God is, because I have a starting point to say, “Let’s look at who God says He is!”

I hope you’ll join me in becoming more intimately acquainted with our great God. As you do, let me know the difference it makes in your life!

Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries International. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 175+ women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in engaging audiences with relevant, enjoyable presentations.

For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com

To purchase Daily Reflections on the Names of God:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Christianbook.com

Deeper Shopping

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

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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

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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?

______________

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


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OCTOBER IS NATIONAL BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH


October is the month that the nation focuses on finding a cure for breast cancer and many of you, like me, have walked or run for the cure.

When I had breast cancer, I was very sensitive to how uncomfortable some people are around someone with cancer. Even those closest to us can feel awkward at times and often end up saying or doing something that can be hurtful instead of helpful. They don’t mean to…they just don’t know what to say.

So in my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I have a chapter on Dos and Don’ts that includes “The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer,” which you can find on my website
http://www.womantowomanmentoring.com/cancersite/links.html.

If you are a woman over 40, please have your annual mammogram and if you are under 40 with breast cancer in your immediate family, talk to your doctor about having a mammogram now. Digital mammography located my cancer, and I encourage you to find a facility that offers this type of exam.

If you know a woman who is a survivor or newly diagnosed, I wrote my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer for her, and it would make a great gift that she would appreciate. Often I find that women will not buy gifts for themselves. That’s what friends are for.

October is the month to think pink and remember to take preventative measures: self breast exams, mammograms, exercise, eat healthy, enjoy life.

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