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Loss…and Life

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Our fearless warrior on October 15th

This is anything but your typical motivation Monday post. The truth is I can’t focus on offering healthy food tips or a shot of encouragement to get to the gym when I am coming to grips with a an inexplicable loss.

My friend Liz lost her brave battle with breast cancer yesterday. You may remember her from my posts about the Avon39 Walk.  I was blessed to meet Liz during my days at St. Mary’s High School. Thanks to Facebook, we reconnected long after our 1991 graduation and I felt like we picked up right where we left off. Then a few years ago, the unthinkable happened. Liz was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. It’s a bit of a blur right now, but all of a sudden, other St. Mary’s Gaels banded together to support Liz. Everyone wanted to do something to help. And honestly, I think most of us never believed this day would come. Despite the dire diagnosis, if anyone was going to beat the odds and kick cancer’s ass, it was Liz.

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Go Gaels! Liz meets Molly, Sue & me along the Avon39 route.

Her fight was relentless. She researched the different types of chemotherapy; sought out alternative treatments and was always so careful about what she ate and what she exposed her body to. I remember all the chats and email exchanges we had about the power of yoga, stretching and exercise and how it helped her feel stronger. She eventually traveled to Europe to undergo treatments not available here. She fought, she prayed and she showed all of us how to face adversity with determination and grace.

I had already been touched by breast cancer when my mom was diagnosed in 2008. She beat it. My mom’s battle made me want to do something to join the fight against breast cancer. Then Liz got sick. Then my friend Sue decided to join in Avon39, and I decided to join her. Sue and I have now finished three Walks together, and had other gal pals join in the 39.3 mile journey in 2015 and 2016. Liz was with us in spirit for every step of every mile, and she will continue to be there as we make plans for 2017 and beyond.

October 2014

October 2014

I was lucky to be with my parents when I got the news about Liz. Amidst my tears and sadness, my mom pointed out something extraordinary. Last night’s moon was the biggest since 1948. We won’t see another one like it again until 2034. I have no doubt that brightness was Liz’s light shining down on all of us wanting us to live, laugh and love. It is because of Liz that I was reunited with women I missed for years. Because of her, I was blessed to rekindle friendships I know will stand the test of time.

October 2014

October 2014

My faith gives me comfort that I will see Liz again. For now, I wish her peace and will remain forever grateful for the gift of her friendship. Thank you to all my readers for allowing me this detour from my normal weekly writing path. My only words of encouragement for the week ahead are these: tell those who are most important to you that you love them, and live each day to the fullest.

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Help Me Walk the Walk

One of my Favorite Pictures with Mom

One of my Favorite Pictures with Mom

On this Motivation Monday, I find myself 54 days away from an event I’ve wanted to participate in for years.  I’ve committed to take part in the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in New York City. The two-day event takes place October 18th and 19th. Thousands of people will walk 39.3 miles to help fund life-saving research, education and advocacy programs.

I’ve wanted to participate in the Avon Walk ever since my Mom’s diagnosis back in 2008. She beat breast cancer, and I know thanks to other events like this, more people will, too. Within the past few months, I learned of two young women – one in my high school class, another in my fitness circle – who are now waging their own war against breast cancer. So I decided it was time to stop talking about joining the fight against the disease and start walking!

However, I can’t do any of this without some help. In order to join in the Avon Walk, I have to raise $1,800. Your generous donations will help make that possible. Please click on the the link below to visit my personal page at the Avon Breast Cancer Walk website. While I hope to raise more than the minimum, I’ll take all the support I can get!

http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk/NewYork?px=7671099&pg=personal&fr_id=2366

While I’ve Zumba-d my bootie off for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and donated to other charities, I’ve never done anything on this scale before. It’s a wonderful way to use my love for physical activity for a good cause and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I look forward to walking with Sue, a fellow Gael from St. Mary’s High School Class of 1991, and thousands of others as we strive to top last year’s New York donations of $6.7 million.

I close with a big thank you for your support on this new adventure. For all of you who follow me on social media, I appreciate any likes, shares and double-taps you can offer on those channels, too!  I look forward to sharing more about an experience that will hopefully help more people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Another Reason to Get Active: Exercise Can Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Mom & Me in Montauk

It seems I’ve gotten into the habit of kicking each new work week with a shot of “Monday Motivation” in the hopes of inspiring more people get moving. On this particular Monday, we also happen to be kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, it’s the perfect time for me to tell you about yet another reason to make exercise a part of your life.

According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, there is strong evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Add that to the already long list of benefits from exercise, and you have just one more reason why there’s no better time than now to make fit some fitness into your daily routine!

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. The day she and my dad sat me down to tell me was probably the scariest in my life to date. Fortunately, because my mom has always been adamant about keeping up with her health screenings, the doctors detected the cancer early and she beat it. Today, I am lucky and blessed to be able to say my mom is among the 2.6 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.

Her diagnosis put me on alert regarding my own health and made me want to do research, speak with my own physicians and learn everything I could about reducing my risk and how to be even more proactive about my health. I had my first mammogram a few months ago. Despite a slight scare when I had to go back for follow-up imaging, everything came back fine in the end. My doctors now have a baseline to compare additional screenings in the future and having that kind of knowledge can only help me stay on top of my health in the long run.

I’ll never be able to thank my mom for all she has given me throughout my life (my dad, too). Along with unconditional love and unwavering support, she has taught me so many important lessons without even knowing it. One of the most important things I have learned is it is important to take care of yourself so you can give of yourself- your time, energy, compassion and love – to others.

To that end, exercise has been a key component for my own well-being while giving me the energy to be concerned about the well being of others. I encourage anyone reading this post to take charge of your health:

  • Talk to your physician(s) about your family history and other risk factors for cancer and other diseases
  • Don’t put off important health screenings
  • Exercise
  • When it comes to your eating habits,  I believe moderation is crucial to maintaining a “diet” you can live with

If you’ve been looking for a time to turn your take-care-of-you goals into reality, here’s your chance. Make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month your time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Best Health Move of the Week

Last Monday marked the start of a banner week. I returned from vacation ready to tackle new projects, deadlines and training sessions with new gusto. I brought my workout routine to a new level with the completion of a killer four-week small group training class. However, the best thing I did for myself all week had nothing to do with sweating through 100 squat thrusts or getting back on track with my healthy eating habits. It had everything to do with the 10-minute phone call I made to schedule my first mammogram.

It was only a few weeks ago during a routine check-up when my gynecologist told me it was time for me to get my first mammogram under my belt. Since I just turned 38 in February, I thought I had a couple more years to go. However, since my mom is a breast cancer survivor and since I’ve been taking birth control pills for more than 15 years, he wants to set a baseline now. My internist agreed and offered a recommendation for an imaging center in my area. So, being a person who doesn’t like to let any item sit on a to-do list for too long, I confirmed that my insurance company would cover the routine screening and booked the appointment for April 7th.

Now that the appointment is on my calendar, I find myself dealing with a mixed bag of emotions: disbelief that I’m old enough to add this test to my healthcare check list; confidence that my results will be 100% normal; and finally, fear that they won’t. But when I find my mind racing ten steps ahead, I take a breath and remember something very important: knowledge is power. When it comes to your health, staying on top of screenings is one of  the most important things you can do to maintain your overall well-being.

If you scour the Internet long enough, you’ll find plenty of contradicting information about when a woman should get her first mammogram. You’ll also find articles and studies that talk about potential harms associated with mammograms. Speaking with your doctor to assess your own risk factors can help clear up the confusion. Also, when it comes to breast cancer – as with many other diseases – early detection is key.

So at the age of 38, I realize I have more scars  – physical and emotional – than I did ten years ago. However, I also can’t remember feeling stronger or healthier in my life. While I know I could do a better job when it comes to getting more sleep (who couldn’t?), I’m eating better and working out smarter than ever before. So, I look at getting my first mammogram as the next step in a path toward a better me.

If you’re reading my blog, you’ve already made the commitment to take better care of yourself  by exercising and eating well. Just don’t forget to keep your overall health in check. If you’ve been putting off a screening, there’s no time like the present to pick up the phone and schedule it now. Whether it’s finding time for a workout or a check-up, each of us has the ultimate power to make the important choices that can help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

On this Monday, October 3rd, we are three days into Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am either prepping for or in the middle of producing a satellite media tour for Susan G. Komen for the Cure featuring Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, it feels good to play a small role in the latest outreach efforts by an organization that is widely regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. The day she and my dad sat me down to tell me was probably the scariest in my life to date. Fortunately, because my mom has always been adamant about keeping up with her health screenings, the doctors detected the cancer early and she beat it. Today, I am lucky and blessed to be able to say my mom is among the 2.6 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.

Her diagnosis put me on alert regarding my own health and made me want to do research, speak with my own physicians and learn everything I could about reducing my risk and how to be even more proactive about my health. While I am still a few years away from my first mammogram, I have followed in my mother’s footsteps when it comes to staying current with my other healthcare screenings.

It looks like something else I do and enjoy could help me, too. According to the National Cancer Institiute at the National Institutes of Health, there is strong evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Add that to the already long list of benefits from exercise, and you have just one more reason why there’s no better time than now to get up and get moving!

I will never be able to thank my mom for all she has given me throughout my life (my dad, too). Along with unconditional love and unwavering support, she has taught me so many important lessons without even knowing it. One of the most important things I have learned is it is important to take care of yourself so you can give of yourself- your time, energy, compassion and love – to others.

To that end, exercise has been a key component for my own well being while giving me the energy to be concerned about the well being of others. I encourage anyone reading this post to take charge of your health:

  • Talk to your physician(s) about your family history and other risk factors for cancer and other diseases
  • Don’t put off important health screenings
  • Exercise
  • When it comes to your eating habits,  I believe moderation is crucial to maintaining a “diet” you can live with

If you’ve been looking for a time to turn your take-care-of-you goals into reality, here’s your chance. Make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month your time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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