Don’t Stop Running


This is the last post in my blog series for those dealing with cancer or other illness. To read the first post, click here.

A few years ago, I sat across from my oncologist for my usual six-month follow-up. I had gotten a good report — good blood work and no signs of cancer. I always inquired what the latest research was showing for folks like me with triple negative breast cancer. I also asked what I could do to decrease the chances of a recurrence.  

His answer: ”Don’t stop running.”

He knew that I was a serious runner before my diagnosis and healthy except for the cancer.  There was no doubt this helped me get through the treatments and surgeries. I never completely stopped running during that year but certainly adjusted as needed.  

It has been six years since I was diagnosed and I have since run an additional five marathons and continue to be physically active. Will I be able to run forever? Probably not, but I can continue to be active.

When I think back to his words, “Don’t stop running” I hear:

  • Stay active, it is one of our best defenses against disease.
  • Do not give up. Push through the hard things for the higher benefit.
  • Remember what running has done for me. It has taught me endurance and how to finish strong.
  • When the doubts and negativity creep in, run the other way.

More recently, I have had some knee pain and wondered if this would be the end of running for me. I first got help from sports massage and stretch therapy. I was faithful to do the stretches at home and my issues got much better.  Then, I got busy and did not stretch as much. 

And guess what? The knee issues came back. 

I began stretching again, and I finally made an appointment with my primary physician who saw no major injury and prescribed physical therapy. That is where I am now, and I am making slow progress. Most importantly, none of those three experts advised me to stop running. Quite the opposite…they wanted me to keep moving! 

So often, when faced with a diagnosis or a tough challenge, we just want to stop everything.  However, the world keeps going and we have to make adjustments to navigate the best path for our life. 

 While we certainly must take the time to rest and heal during an illness, there will also be a time when we need to get moving. I encourage you to dig deep to find that thing that sustains you; the feeling that energizes you and moves you forward along your path. What does that look like for you?  Is it working out, praying, cooking or meeting up with friends? Whatever it is, don’t stop _______!


Interview on John Curry’s Podcast

I was recently interviewed on John Curry’s Secure Retirement Podcast. We talked about the importance of goal-setting, accountability and the benefits of having a life coach. Most of us feel overwhelmed at certain points in our lives. John and I discuss ways to break down tasks and goals into manageable steps. If you’ve been feeling stuck in any area of your life, I encourage you to listen to this podcast! Reach out to me here if you’d like to learn more about how I can help you achieve your goals and live your best life.

Listen to the podcast here:

Why Not Me?


In a world full of entitlement and rationalizations, our first response when something goes wrong in our lives can often be, ”Why Me?” Our thoughts turn to the unfairness of a situation. When a diagnosis is announced, we are inconvenienced at best and devastated at worst.

I had to ask when faced with my cancer diagnosis,”What makes me more special than the next person?” Although I exercised and ate rather healthy, I could not control all that was going on with the cells in my body. I still wonder why there is so much disease and suffering on this earth. And why one person gets cancer and another does not. We cannot know all the answers.

I often have to remind myself of what I do know. I am no better than anyone else on this earth. When cancer came knocking on my door, I admit I was upset and did wonder why this was happening to me. As a few days passed, this new thought began to creep in. It started as a faint whisper and then came with resolute conviction, “ Why NOT me?”

With that new mindset, I could move forward to do all I could to rid my body of this disease. Some facts we cannot change, yet we are empowered to release the negative thoughts that hold us back. There are many resources to help us deal with a diagnosis. In my case, I knew it was time to dig in and shift my perspective to bring about the most positive results. Anger at God or at the disease does not bring healing. There has to be a healthy respect for the things we do not know.

I am heartbroken when I hear of senseless acts of terrorism where innocent people are killed, a horrible car accident where families are torn apart or devastating hurricanes that destroy cities and many lives. There is so much heartache in this word and there is no way to comprehend the whys. We begin to realize that it could have been our family or city in harm’s way. And, again, we are not meant to understand completely.

Many of you may be asking the same questions I was five years ago. Whether we are struggling with a disease or any hardship, we have to remember we are never promised an easy life while on this earth. God does not “owe” us anything. He has created us. He has given each of us unique opportunities and invites us to establish a relationship with Him. 

We can be encouraged in Deuteronomy 31:8, “ The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” He does promise never to leave us and that is the hope we can hold on to in whatever we may be dealing with today.

Living With Our Scars

Living with Our Scars

We all have scars, whether we have dealt with disease or not. Maybe we had stitches as a child and the faded reminder is still there. Or maybe we recently dealt with surgeries. Some scars are on the outside and visible to others. While many are hidden — either under our clothes or in the depths of our soul. 

These physical scars are reminders of the trials we have faced. We often cover them up and step out into the world with a brave face, yet these scars also represent strength and healing.

After over a year of surgeries from cancer treatment, I still bear many scars even though I took great care in using the scar tape and lotions recommended.  As I glance in the mirror, I see the small white line where my port was located.  It represents the infusion of chemotherapy… a lifesaving drug.

I also see the area where a breast was removed. I am grateful to have the tumor out of my body. I glimpse at the long whitish scar along my back where muscle and tissue were moved from my back and tunneled under my arm to a new location. I am reminded that part of my own body could be used to reconstruct missing parts!

Then there was the rash from radiation.  While this was a big inconvenience, (and thankfully short-lived) it gave me peace of mind that I was fighting my disease with all that I could!

Of course, there were many tears when I realized my body would never be the same. I will spare you all the details of my near sob fest when trying to find lingerie that was flattering. It also did not help that I had a wall of mirrors in my bathroom. 

However, through this process, I learned that my scars not only symbolized struggles but also victory. 

While healing requires much patience, we have the power within to move forward in the best way to ensure we are as healthy physically and emotionally as possible.  We are all in a certain process of recovering. We do not know how it will all turn out, but we can find the strength to carry on as best we can.  And that is where we persevere. 

When the day to day stuff gets you down, look at those battle scars…they will remind you of all you have been through and how you have come out stronger than before.

Where Do Your Priorities Lie?


During a time when you probably are preoccupied with appointments, symptoms, lifestyle changes and tough decisions, I pose a vital question: What is truly important to you right now? Of course, regaining health is usually a top priority. Yet we must be mindful of our spiritual and mental health as well physical. What are those things or people who get us through the tough times on a daily basis? We may need to step back and examine what was important to us before diagnosis to get a clearer picture of where our focus should be now.

When I was first diagnosed, I met with a patient navigator at the cancer center. She gave me a binder with some helpful forms to list all of my doctors, sheets to take notes at my appointments, and a place for diagnostic and lab results and other helpful information. I personalized this and added calendar pages as well.

As I recently culled through this notebook, I found the calendar which I used to organize my many appointments and treatments during 2013. I wrote other pertinent information there as well, noting my activity and how I felt each day. This was important to, not only establish a pattern of symptoms and energy lows during treatment but to see what activities I actually was able to continue and to what degree.

I realized during that time that I simply did not have the brain power or energy to dwell on things that were insignificant. Facing the reality of disease forces us to sift everything through a finer sieve.  On my lowest ebb on the chemo cycle, I would tell myself I could do just three things that day.  Guess what…emptying a dishwasher was NOT one of them (Okay, maybe I did get one load of laundry done just to satisfy my need for some sense of order!). I focused on things that would give me some energy or joy — even a short walk around the block can make a big difference.

What is important for all of us, wherever we are in this journey, is to honestly assess those things that are truly meaningful to us — the relationships we value, the activities we want to continue to whatever degree we are able and the peace to be felt within. Sure, we still want to get to those daily tasks that seem to call us, but we are better able to tackle those later if we are caring for ourselves today in the best possible way.

Here are a few practical tips to help you maintain a focus on the important things at any stage in life:

  1. Simplify your life as much as possible. There really are things that do not need to be done right now.

2. Accept help. There are probably many who have offered their assistance. Friends want to help and this is not the time to play martyr! I was resistant at first when my friends wanted to organize a meal train for me. I then realized that they truly wanted to help in a practical way AND my family wanted to eat well.

3. Consider doing things you may have put off because other things seemed more urgent.  Maybe it is organizing the photo album, doing a craft you enjoy or catching up on a TV series.

4. Journalling is a good way to sort your thoughts and no one else has to see them. Honesty will emerge from those pages.

5. Be mindful each day of instances of gratitude. A friend gave me a blessing jar right before I was diagnosed. I gathered seashells and wrote words or phrases to signify what I was grateful for. It was very helpful in allowing me to be more positive each day.

6. Dig deeper into your faith. That is where I am reminded that my joy is not based on circumstances but in my relationship with God.

Take a little time for yourself and explore those meaningful ways that can bring more joy to your life. Please feel free to reach out if I can help you clarify these areas of importance.

A New Year, a New Focus


This is the fourth post in my blog series for those dealing with cancer or other illness. To read the first post, click here.

As we are already into January and have had time to reflect on last year, it is time to look ahead to a fresh beginning. If you are undergoing treatment, last year was probably one of your most difficult. You may have recently been diagnosed and are currently figuring out your best plan of action. You very likely still have quite a challenge ahead. Bearing all of that in mind, this is not the time to drum up that usual list of New Year’s resolutions.

Expectations may need to be lowered but that does not mean that you cannot continue to move forward and build on what you have accomplished in 2017.

Exactly five years ago, I heard those dreaded words…”It is malignant.” Because of that day and the year that followed, I am a stronger woman. My faith has increased. I have learned to allow others to help. l am grateful for the small blessings of life and deeply touched by the kindness of others. I am more mindful of the things that are truly important in my life.

Today, I flipped through a journal which I began in 2013 and looked over entries written just days after diagnosis. The pages revealed my many thoughts: the facts, the many doctor consults, decisions made and, of course, endless questions. However, threaded throughout those pages was hope and my need to stay focused on God. One of my favorite verses, Isaiah 40:31, provided the needed strength:

“For those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

When I focused on this verse, I felt that surge of hope that helped me to stay positive and move forward. Because of all you have been through, you are better prepared to face what comes up in 2018.  As we know, with cancer or any disease, there are no guarantees. We do know there is always hope.

Look ahead to opportunities and do not dwell on the challenges. How can this year be different for you?

Dealing with disease forces a new reality upon us. As your body heals, move ahead with new intentions. Remember to:

  •   Be kind to yourself
  •   Surround yourself with those who love and care for you
  •   Be realistic in what you can and desire to accomplish
  •   Focus on your blessings (gratitude)
  •   Let unimportant things go

Do not let your cancer or disease define you! You are bigger than a diagnosis and stronger than the side effects. While there are sure to be more challenges ahead, you are equipped to move into 2018 with grace and courage.

5 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays


This is the third post in my blog series for those dealing with cancer or other illness. To read the first post, click here.

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we tend to focus on tasks and getting all those last-minute things done on our “To Do List.”  We often lose sight of the truly important things like taking some time to reflect on our relationship with God and with others. 

For those who are diagnosed with cancer and other long-term illnesses, we are tempted to stop everything and just focus on the disease. It is fine to have a little pity party or withdraw for a time. However, life does not wait for us — not for cancer, not for our attitude to improve and not for total healing. We have to reach a balance of pushing ourselves to keep going yet knowing when it is time to rest and let others help.

Here are five practical reminders for us to remain as healthy and positive as possible:

Sleep – Make sure you are not staying up too late trying to get those last minute things done. It is better to go to bed on time and perhaps start the day a little earlier with more energy to tackle extra tasks. Remember, rest is such a key part of recovery.

Water – During this season, there are so many yummy drinks to taste. Just make sure you are getting the required amount of water. Carry a refillable bottle in your car, keep one on your desk, and remember to drink!

Exercise – This may take just a little thought shift (and of course depends on where you are in your health journey). It is reasonable to expect that your usual routine may have to be adjusted due to travel and family gatherings. Be creative. How can you include family for a group walk or other outing? Get your exercise done early in the day before anything else takes that spot.

Diet – Be attentive to what is going in your body. It is okay to have some special holiday indulgences but save those calories for the treats that truly do bring you pleasure. Make sure you are fueling your body with good nutrients to keep it going strong.

Mindfulness – Take even a few minutes to quiet your mind; focus on God and read scripture. Take deep breaths when you begin to feel stress and, again, access what the important things are for today.

During this season, I encourage you to continue to focus on the activities you really enjoy and to know that it is okay to let some things slide. This may not be the year that you have a huge tree or bring out all those boxes of decorations but make time for what is truly important. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to share more of ourselves with others — and that is what this season is all about!

Always Hope


This is the second post in my blog series for those dealing with cancer or other illness. To read the first post, click here.

As I reflect on all that gives me hope, I realize that I have to first ponder all that I am thankful for. During this season of Thanksgiving, remembering even the small instances of gratitude give us renewed hope for our future. We can know that the same God who has provided us with many blessings will be by our side during the difficult times.

Dealing with cancer or any disease can seem quite overwhelming and our energy supply is zapped. We do not know when we will feel like doing the things we used to do. However, even with surgeries, radiation or chemo treatments, there can be more good days than bad ones. We try to identify a pattern in our treatment cycle so we can prepare for the tougher days and live life as fully as we can on those good days.

We soon learn that hope is not merely wishful thinking. That logic has no power to help us get through the challenges of disease. Our hope has to be substantive and grounded in something bigger than ourselves. I often find encouragement when I read through the Psalms. We are reminded in Psalms 3:20  “to wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and shield.”

Hope gives us a glimpse of what our future can hold. To get there, we must keep looking ahead to a power greater than ourselves. We must prepare as best we can and be realistic with our energy and resources.

Just days after my diagnosis, I was running errands and as I stopped at a red light, I remember feeling kind of numb. It was then that I noticed the most magnificent sunbeam ahead. The many rays of light instantly reminded me of the hope that can only come from God. This hope strengthens us. It gives us the fortitude to continue the fight and helps us to look beyond ourselves. 

Today I am still inspired by a beautiful sunrise or the brilliant sun rays streaming through the trees on morning runs. As a gentle breeze begins to stir, I imagine that I can feel the presence of God. I am also encouraged by the morning songs of the birds in my backyard. As you begin to look beyond your disease, take notice of all in your surroundings which bring you hope.

Ultimately our hope is that our disease will be cured and there will be few side effects.  However, in the short term, we are trusting God to get us through each day and we hold on to that promise that He will never leave us.

This takes much patience and constant prayer. Allow others to pray for you and feel the strength and comfort this allows. We are encouraged in Romans 12:12 to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” Especially in those really tough days, seek the joy that comes, not from our circumstances, but by being in God’s presence. And remember to always hope!

I’ve Got This

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Four years ago, I was joining in praise and worship during the Sunday service at my church. I was still dealing with all of the emotions of a recent breast cancer diagnosis. This was an overwhelming time filled with uncertainty and impatience. My days and thoughts were filled with doctor consults and researching my best options. I also had a sense of disbelief that I could have cancer when I was considered very healthy — a marathon runner who took care of herself.

Yet, as I sang along that Sunday morning and focused on the words of the song, I began to feel peace. Over the strains of the chorus, I heard God whisper in my ear, “I’ve got this.” With a faint smile, I thought, “Of course You do. You are here with me always, and I feel your presence.” Then, I heard Him again; this time a little stronger. “I’ve GOT this!” That is when the full realization of His sovereignty hit, and I immediately felt His calm wash over me

As a fairly capable and strong-willed female, I often seem to operate as if I am in control. I have managed a busy household with hectic schedules while staying organized and involved with my family. I am a planner, often analyzing the different scenarios and outcomes, yet flexible enough to switch gears when needed. I like to think that I am self-sufficient. However, after my cancer diagnosis (and watching many others navigate this journey), it is quite apparent that I am not in control, and I must continue to press into God for his guidance and strength.

During a time of diagnosis or treatment, there are so many questions going through our minds. A lot of  “what ifs” and “how comes.” It can be so draining at a time when we need all of our energy to process, heal and make decisions. We may feel helpless, yet if we have a relationship with God, we can rely on Him for the strength to carry on each day. I often drive cancer patients to appointments and it is hard to understand why so many have to suffer from this disease. I seek to be a physical help to them with logistical support but also to provide encouragement as I have experienced the same types of emotions and roadblocks they may also face.

As I heard God’s voice so clearly in that church service four years ago, it was then that I felt that “complete peace that passeth all understanding.” I had strong faith and knew that my God was always present and would never leave me alone. Yet, the peace I felt then was not because He told me that I would be healed. The peace I felt was knowing that I would be okay however this turned out. Even if the cancer did not go away, God would never abandon me. And that was enough!

I have a calling to begin this blog series for those dealing with cancer or other illness. Through my own journey with cancer, I learned a lot about myself…..what is truly important in life, my limitations and also when to let others help. It is now my time to give back to others on a similar path. I hope my words will be an encouragement and I pray for the same strength and peace for others that He gave me as He whispers to us, “I’ve got this!”