Cancer is a Jerk

My brother and I in the good ol' 70's.

My brother and I in the good ol’ 70′s.

I remember the day my Mom called me to tell me that my brother had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was 2006, and I was at work when she told me. I remember feeling numb and in shock. “How can a 36-year-old get colon cancer?” I thought that stuff happened when you were much older. I was told you only start to get screenings for that after the age of 50.

And so began a roller coaster year of good news/bad news/good news. For anyone (and this will be most people I think) who has ever had a close relative with cancer, you know what I mean.

At one point doctors found a tumor, which they deemed inoperable. It’s words like that that make your heart stop. But not giving up hope, a team of doctors got together to review his case, and came up with a plan to try and remove the tumor. It was risky, and there was no guarantee, but they were going to operate anyway.

I’m glad they had that conference, because they did indeed remove the entire tumor, and my brother is alive and well today.

A couple years after my brother was diagnosed my mom called again, except this time she sounded more upset than when she told me about my brother. My childhood friend (and my brother’s classmate) Lorna was also diagnosed with colon cancer, except her diagnosis was much more severe than my brother’s. By the time she had any symptoms, the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes and liver.

Lorna up until that point was thriving in life. She had a longtime boyfriend, dogs she loved, and was a surgical nurse. She was also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life.

Lorna lost her battle with the disease in 2009. To this day it’s still the toughest loss I’ve ever had in my life. I saw her a week before she passed in the hospital, and I replay that day over in my head all the time. Could I have said something more to comfort her? Did I say all I needed to say to know how much she was loved? I still feel incredible guilt that I couldn’t do more or say more.

Cancer is a jerk!

I think CANCER is that one word that instills the most fear in humans. I mean, how many times have you have symptoms of something and all you think is, “Oh my God could it be cancer?” I see a lot of you raising your hands. Word to the wise: never Google your symptoms. :)

It gives me great comfort then, that on the great schoolyard of life, there is a warrior trying to defend us from that mean bully called cancer.

The Stowers Institute

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research was established in 1994 by the late Jim Stowers Jr., the founder of American Century Investments, and his wife Virginia Stowers. Through the generosity of American Century Investments’ founder, more than 40% of the firm’s profits are distributed to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in a program called Profits with a Purpose.

American Century Investments also sponsors a celebrity golf tournament, which is happening this week in Lake Tahoe, where part of the proceeds will go to The Stowers Institute.

In a world where cancer is still a terrifying diagnosis, it really makes me happy to know there is a state of the art facility where brilliant minds have come together to try and eradicate this terrible disease.

To see what the Stowers Institute is all about, watch this inspiring video.


This post was created in partnership with American Century Investments. I have received compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone…


…and into the foam.

#UPDATE! They cancelled this event last minute. :(

One of my 2014 goals that I posted back in January was to do an obstacle course/mud run. I wasn’t super interested in doing ones that were 10k or longer, or ones where they seemed a bit too much…just something challenging, but fun.

What was and is my biggest challenge is finding someone to do it with me. These kinds of races tend to be outside of metro areas (because of the space needed to build the obstacles) so there is usually a drive and/or overnight stay involved, and everyone of my friends seems to have their summers packed to the gills in activities.

The one race I had my eye on the most is the 5k Foam Fest in Temecula (a wine country town about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles) on July 19th. It seemed like the perfect mix of challenging yet fun.

The organizers of the race were kind enough to give me two free entries to the race, which should entice my friends right? Well, sadly, no one seems to want to go.

It’s not like I’ve never done anything alone before. I’ve dined alone, gone to the movies alone, traveled alone, and have run several 5k races alone. But for some reason an obstacle course race just seems more fun to do with a group of people.

Anyway, I had two choices: one is to have a relaxing Saturday, especially since I’m going to the Dizzy Feet Dance gala in downtown LA later that night, but regret not doing it, or two, step outside of my comfort zone and do the race alone. I chose the latter. Because opportunities like this don’t always happen.

Since my race cost was covered, and Temecula is just over and hour drive from where I live (without major traffic), I decided it would be easiest to stay overnight so I don’t have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn the next morning.

I found a nice Air BnB private room for $84 (about six miles from the race), and I asked the owner if I could come back after the race to clean up, and he said it wasn’t a problem!

I’m also borrowing a GoPro camera so I hope to have an exciting video to share with you soon.

But, if anyone in the LA or San Diego area is interested in doing the race with me for free, I still have one promo code to give away.

I also have a promo code for $5 off if by chance you still wanted to sign up, but I gave the free ticket away. That code is FF6552.

If not, enjoy the video, and see what I’m up against next weekend!

When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?

Workin’ on Stress-Free Living, & Giveaway!

photo-7As I mentioned in Friday’s post on Budget and the Beach, I said I would talk a little more about the book I just read called The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living (not an affiliate link).

In a nutshell, the book is fantastic! It was the first book I’ve read on the subject in a long time that made complete sense to me, and I have implemented so many things already that have made a dramatic difference in my goal to become more Type B. So much so that I plan on reading it again.

The book first talks about why we feel stress, then goes on to talk about the five principles to follow to relieve stress: Gratitude, Compassion, Acceptance, Higher Meaning, and Forgiveness. There are chapters on each of course, which go into a lot of detail.

There is no doubt about it that you just can’t read a book on stress-free living, and expect to be “cured.” The main thing I’ve gotten out of the first round of reading the book is being aware of what my stress triggers are, and trying to stop myself before I get upset, using the principles in the book.

I’m sure a lot of you are aware of the Sorry Not Sorry campaign going around the internet right now. If not, take some time out to watch it.

It made me aware of how much we, especially women, use the words, “I’m sorry,” when there were other less passive words to say instead, like “excuse me.”

I walked around that week and couldn’t help but notice how many times we say, “I’m sorry.” It seemed everyone was saying it. I even brought it up during my volleyball game with friends, and once I did we couldn’t concentrate, because we found ourselves saying “I’m sorry” all the time.

The same awareness is true about utilizing this book. So many of my stress triggers involve me not getting what I want. Maybe it was the car in front of me driving too slow (don’t they know I left the house late and might miss my appointment?!, or the fact that someone canceled plans on me (but I really wanted to see that movie tonight!).

So whenever I felt those familiar feelings, I started practicing one or more of the five principles: the driver in front of me might have mechanical problems, or maybe they are bringing their newborn home from the hospital for the first time, or the person canceling movie plans might have had the worst day at work ever, and just needed alone time. I mean I’ve certainly canceled plans before. The main principles I used were compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness.

So when I’m annoyed for whatever reason, I first have to be aware, then I practice. And practice some more…and perhaps it might always feel like hard work. But maybe someday it won’t…and the calmness will happen without even having to be aware anymore.

Anyway, it’s a good book, and I highly recommend picking it up at the library.

Here is the author talking more about the book:

Do you know what your stress triggers are, and have you ever thought about trying to move past them?

And since we are here talking about our minds, let’s talk about how we can take care of our bodies! I’m giving away this awesome diet and fitness journal. It includes:

  • Daily page spreads to record food and beverages consumed, exercise, vitamins and supplements, and mood.
  • Weekly pages to keep track of progress and refine goals, with motivational tips.
  • Personal training pointers and charts for creating nutritional, metabolic, and fitness targets.
  • Nutrition index with detailed data on hundreds of the most common foods.

Contest is open to US & Canadian residents only.

photo 2 copy


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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