Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “What you see depends mainly on what you look for.”

                                                                    ~John Lubbock

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The Value of Nose Hair and Other Things You Might Not Know About Cancer Treatment

20140220-jillsavage0177 copy I had the privilege of being the emcee at the Moms Night Out session of the recent Hearts at Home conference.

I announced that evening that I was declaring the day “National Appreciate Your Nose Hair Day.”  Why?  Because when you go through chemotherapy you lose hair everywhere and that means nose hairs too!  Do you know that your nose hairs keep your nose from running?  I carry a tissue everywhere I go because my nose is always running these days.

If you haven’t thanked God for your nose hairs lately (or ever!) do so today. They are important!

All humor aside, we often don’t know what we don’t need to know.  Yet, it’s likely that every one of us will likely have a friend, relative, or acquaintance who walks the cancer journey at some point in time.

Today I will share a list of things I didn’t know about cancer before I had cancer.  You might never face cancer, but these would be helpful to know if you walk through cancer with someone you care about.

1) While there are standard treatments, everyone’s treatment is unique based upon the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, and their own body.  No two cancers are the same and neither are the experiences that surround them.

2) Stage of cancer indicates how much the cancer has spread.  The earlier cancer is discovered the better chance that treatment will work.

3) When you lose your hair, you lose your hair everywhere—yes….even there (can you say Brazilian wax without the pain?)  Some people lose eyebrows…so far mine have stayed.  I have, however, lost about half of my eye lashes. I have friends who lost all of their eyelashes.

4) When you lose your hair, it doesn’t always completely leave you bald.  I initially shaved my head with an electric razor because the hair was coming out in handfuls and making a mess.  Eventually I shaved my head with a regular razor to get the completely bald head. I was more comfortable with a smooth head rather than a stubble head with bald spots.

5) Some chemotherapy drugs cause mouth sores.  If you drink a very icy drink while receiving the chemo (like a slushy) it shrinks the blood vessels in your mouth which helps keeps mouth sores from forming. (A nice gesture for a friend in chemo is to ask if you can bring him/her their favorite smoothie or frappuccino during their treatment!)

6) Chemotherapy can throw a woman into menopause….sometimes it’s a temporary menopause and sometimes it’s permanent (personally, at 50, I’m hoping for permanent!) However, the hot flashes have been terrible.  They are a part of the menopause.  They hit fast and if I’m home, I’m ripping off whatever layers I can.  They are miserable…quite miserable when they hit!

6) Ginger Beer has been my best defense against chemo nausea. It’s non-alcoholic like root beer, but made with ginger.  Other ginger products like Ginger Chews candy, and Ginger Tea are also helpful.  If you want to give a thoughtful gift to a friend going through treatments that will likely cause nausea, a basket of a variety of ginger products is very helpful!

7) The American Cancer Society provides a free wig to anyone with hair loss due to cancer treatment.  Usually there is a wig bank where you can go and try on donated wigs.  I initially got a wig through the local wig bank that is located at Fox and Hounds Studio here in Bloomington, IL.  However, I made the decision to purchase a wig to better match my hair color and style.  Most health insurance companies cover wigs if the doctor writes a prescription for a “cranial prosthesis.”

8) A dietitian, found at most cancer centers, is one of the best kept secrets for dealing with side effects and general nutrition.  After Mark and I met with the dietitian, I made changes in my diet and saw an improvement in how I felt. While the service is free at my cancer center, I had to seek out an appointment and I’m so glad I did.

9) Chemotherapy causes terrible dry mouth symptoms.  Biotene toothpaste and Biotene Mouthwash were lifesavers for me. That’s another nice touch to put in a gift bag for someone going through chemo.

10) If someone has had a lymph node removal, they have limitations on repetitive actions like vacuuming and on lifting.  Offering to help carry something could be helpful. (My family teasingly reminds me that I can still vacuum with my left arm!)  This is because of the possibility of lymphedema which can happen even years after surgery.  Next week I will be fitted for a compression sleeve. This will be especially helpful for me to wear when I return to more intensive exercise, work in the garden, or return to flying for my speaking engagements.

11) Neuropathy is a painful side effect of chemotherapy.  In my case, the balls of my feet and my finger tips started feeling like I had hundreds of splinters in them. I also deal with a terrible case of twitching eyelids–both top and bottom. Sometimes it’s so bad it affects my eyesight. In my friend Christene’s case, her hands hurt so bad that she couldn’t hold a hair brush sometimes.  Unfortunately, neuropathy symptoms can continue for months or even years after treatment.

12) Some people lose their fingernails and toenails from chemo treatment.  Thankfully I haven’t, but I was aware that it was entirely possible.

13) Fatigue is a side effect most cancer patients deal with.  I found the fatigue increased with every chemo treatment. I’m told that I may continue to experience an increase of fatigue with my radiation treatments which will start around the 3rd week of April.  This is why providing meals and helping with kids, laundry, or cleaning can be such a gift to a friend going through treatment.  (It’s also helpful to know about www.CleaningForAReason.org where they will pair cancer patients up with cleaning companies who will clean for free while they are going through treatment.) 

14) The last thing someone going through treatment wants to do is exercise, but modified exercise is important (not on the days you really don’t feel well, but definitely on the tired days). I found my fatigue decreased when I got on the treadmill or went for a walk. It didn’t go away…but it did decrease.

15) Our dietitian shared with us that women who have breast cancer and chemotherapy tend to gain weight during chemo but women who have other kinds of cancer and chemotherapy tend to lose weight.  I have found that to be true for sure.  I literally put on 12 pounds in about 10 days after my first treatment.  They say it’s likely hormonal but they are not sure why the response is so different based upon different kinds of cancers.

16) While I wasn’t initially a fan of Obamacare, I am grateful that it took away the pre-existing condition issue with new insurance.  We had to change insurance in the middle of my treatment.  Neither Mark nor I have insurance through our employers so we had to purchase it through the marketplace.  I was so grateful that having a pre-existing condition did not keep me from securing health insurance.

17) More than 30% of cancer could be prevented, mainly by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol. (Source WHO) While I don’t know that my cancer could have been prevented, we’ve been changing our diets here at the Savage household to include more whole foods, more fruits and vegetables, no artificial sweeteners, less refined sugar, and reducing gluten.

18) Radiation can cause severe burns (like a bad sunburn) by the end of treatment.  Also radiation treatment of the left breast has to take into consideration risk to the heart. (My cancer was in the right breast.)

19) There is a law (The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act) that health insurance is required to provide coverage for reconstruction surgery for any woman who has had a mastectomy (and sometimes a lumpectomy) even at a later date.

20) Most cancer patients face fear after they are “cured.”  Every ache and pain causes you to wonder if this is a recurrence, or a new cancer.  This is why having faith and the ability to stand on the firm, unchanging foundation of Jesus Christ is so important, because life is always changing and shifting under our feet.

Finally, early detection increases survival rates…hugely! Be vigilant about checking your skin for moles that don’t look right. Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor. Get an annual physical.  Once you hit 50, schedule a colonoscopy. Ladies do a monthly breast exam and once you are 40 an annual mammogram (earlier if breast cancer runs in your family). Men, do a breast exam as well and talk to your doctor about getting a baseline PSA test in your 40′s to test for Prostrate Cancer.  You’re knowledge and care of your body is very important!

What about you? Have you or someone you love walked the cancer journey? What else would you add to this list? 

Posted in Taking Care of Me | 22 Comments

Do you have a dream to write?

Glynnis Headshot Today’s guest post is from Glynnis Whitwer who serves as the Executive Director of Communications at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Glynnis is an author, speaker, and mom of five who blogs regularly at www.GlynnisWhitwer.com.

Do you have a dream to write? If so, you might find yourself connecting with Glynnis’s story.

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I sat on the couch during small group, tears dripping down my face, as I dabbed a tissue inconspicuously, turning my head ever so slightly away from my group.

The DVD series was about dreams, and a tender, hidden spot in my heart was coming to life.  It was uncomfortable.  Scary, in fact. I wanted to move toward it and away at the same time.

Nighttime dreams weren’t the topic, but rather those dreams we all have, usually starting in childhood.   You know the ones … where anything seemed possible, and we were unhindered by the realities of genetics or abilities.  We were sure to grow up to be ballerinas or fashion models, ignoring the fact that we couldn’t do the splits, or our height/weight ratio might be less than desirable for the runway.

Personally, I imagined the day my favorite band would invite me on stage.  Hairbrush in hand, I practiced my moves and vocal range preparing for my big break.

That day on the couch however, the dream uncovering my simmering emotions wasn’t to dance or sing.  It wasn’t even a dream from childhood.  For years another dream had been stirring in my heart, a dream that had been dampened by doubts and the logistics of adulthood, and that was to write.

There was pain and excitement mixed as I allowed the dream to come to life, much like a foot that’s fallen asleep when the blood flow returns.  Doubt whispered around every thought. Was this dream from God or me??  Did I have anything worth saying?  Could I be good enough to have an impact?  Was there a place for me?

My heart felt very vulnerable every time I pondered the idea.  If I told someone of my dream would they give voice to the litany of taunts in my head?  And yet the more I prayed about it, the more convinced I became that it was more than just a day dream, it was a God-given dream. When I finally accepted that truth, my attitude changed.  It wasn’t just an interesting idea, it was an assignment.

I wish I could say the next day I started writing.  But I didn’t.  I tucked the dream in my heart and procrastinated.  For months.  Which turned in to years.   Thinking about my dream was much easier than acting on it, because it was going to take a lot of work and sacrifice.  And there was always a handy excuse.

Until one Sunday, my pastor opened prayer time with these words:  “God has asked some of you to do something and you haven’t done it yet.”

The Holy Spirit was playing the drums on my heart as I shifted from foot to foot. There was no question; God was calling my name. A flood of people headed to the front with me to address their abandoned assignments.

That challenge was what I needed to shift from a passive to an active approach in my writing.  To embrace the dream as mine to claim.  To step in to an unfamiliar world believing that if God had called me to it, He wouldn’t abandon me.

That was almost 10 years ago, and yet I still remember what it felt like to cradle that dream in my heart as if it were a baby bird in my palm. Doubts and fears still whisper in my heart.  But I can say with confidence, if God has given you a dream, then trust Him to make a way to fulfill that dream.

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compel-footer-logo Do you resonate with Glynnis’s story?  If writing is your dream, Proverbs 31 Ministries has a new monthly membership site called Compel that trains and equips women in their calling to write non-fiction.

Proverbs 31 also offers an annual conference called She Speaks where you can receive intensive training in all aspects of writing and speaking.

What about you? Do you have a dream you need to move from a passive to an active approach? 

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Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “The most important thing that parents can do for their children is to have a Christ-centered marriage”.  

                                                                 ~ Darlene Schacht

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Do you love your now?

HAH-Blog-Hop-graphic-2 “I can’t wait until she can walk.”

“I’ll be one happy mom when we don’t have to buy diapers anymore.”

“I’m so ready for him to go to school.”

“I’ll be so glad when she can drive herself to all the places she needs to be.”

At one time or another I’ve said every one of those statements in my 29 years of mothering.  They were honest longings that I spoke when life felt a bit overwhelming.

What I didn’t realize is that they also represented my discontentment with reality and my inability to love my now.  Without realizing it, I was wishing away my child’s childhood and wishing for yet another season that would bring about it’s struggles as well.

If I could go back and give my younger self some wisdom, here’s what I’d say:

  • “I can’t wait until she can walk.”  Oh yes you can.  Once she can walk, she’ll never stay where you put her. The infant years are fleeting and there’s something so precious about snuggling a little one and listening to the coos and giggles of a baby learning to find their voice.
  • “I’ll be one happy mom when we don’t have to buy diapers anymore.”  Once you’re out of diapers, you will have to know where EVERY bathroom is anywhere you go. You’ll need to carry extra underwear and a plastic bag every where you go just in case of an accident.  You might even find yourself attached to the clock, taking your newly potty-trained child to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes to prevent an accident!
  • “I’m so ready for him to go to school.”  The preschool years are filled with imagination, and giggles, and pretend.  There’s something very innocent about discovering the beauty of the world through a preschoolers eyes.  School years bring about more schedules, the beginning of many years of homework, and educational requirements that will be part of your life for many, many years.
  • “I’ll be so glad when she can drive herself to all the places she needs to be.”  When you drive your child places, it gives you uninterrupted talk time with your teen.  Not only that, but when you are driving your kids and their friends places, you can be a fly on the wall and learn A LOT about what is going on in the world (both good and bad!).  Once they drive themselves, you lose out on some natural talk time.

Don’t get me wrong…each season of motherhood has it’s unique challenges and benefits. As we learn to love our now, we increase our contentment for the season of motherhood you are in.

So what season of motherhood are you in? Are you loving your now?

Today is our Third Thursday Blog Hop.  Hop around on some other mom blogs below and see how other moms are loving their now!

Posted in Parenting | 1 Comment

It’s A Study You Can Do In Your Jammies

NMPK Cover with Chapman name I’m so excited about No More Perfect Kids, the second book in the “No More Perfect” series that just released!

There are three reasons I’m so excited about this book:

1) I believe it is incredibly empowering to parents! That’s right…not just moms…both moms AND dads!  No More Perfect Kids equips you to embrace the child you have and to celebrate how God has created them.  It’s practical and inspiring all at the same time.  (You can read the first chapter online, if you’d like!)

2) I want you to be able to benefit from Bonus Week. If you pick up the book this week, you can receive an additional $100 worth of parenting resources!  You can find the details on NoMorePerfect.com.

Sign-up-HAH-FB-Study 3) We’re offering a free Facebook study of No More Perfect Kids April 1-May 27!  We will read one chapter a week, watch the video, and discuss the concepts in the chapter.  You can participate on your own time and in your jammies if you want!  This is a study you can also do with your husband if he would be interested! You can join the Facebook group anytime between now and when the study starts, but you’ll want to pick up the book this week to get the Bonus Offers!

Here are some online places you can pick up the book:

With the new book, the Bonus Offers, and the free Facebook study, it’s like Christmas in the middle of March!  I’m so excited and I hope you are too! 

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Highlights from the Hearts at Home Conference weekend

This past weekend over 4000 moms descended upon Bloomington-Normal, Illinois to attend the Hearts at Home National conference.  It was an incredible weekend of laughter and learning.

Michael Gowin, one of our official conference photographers already has his photos online. Below are some other snapshots that were taken throughout the weekend.

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My son, Austin, launched the weekend with a powerful monologue for moms.

Sally Baucke, emcee and comedienne

Sally Baucke, emcee and comedienne

One group of ladies wore the prettiest breast cancer shirts! I was so touched!

One group of ladies wore the prettiest breast cancer shirts! I was so touched!

Erin Bethea, who played Kirk Cameron's wife in the movie, Fireproof, was there to promote Iesodo, a new children's movie she did voice work in.

Erin Bethea, who played Kirk Cameron’s wife in the movie, Fireproof, was there to promote Iesodo, a new children’s movie she did voice work in.

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Moms Night Out...I had some fun with wigs...pretending to be like the person I was introducing.

Moms Night Out…I had some fun with wigs…pretending to be like the person I was introducing. This was my Sally Baucke wig.

On a whim, I called out the band guys (who have no hair), pulled off my wig and announced that now I was a band guy!  So fun!

On a whim, I called out the band guys (who have no hair), pulled off my wig and announced that now I was a band guy! So fun!

Sarah Drew, of Greys Anatomy and the new Moms Night Out movie, joined us on Moms Night Out.  This is a pic with my girls and Sarah.

Sarah Drew, of Greys Anatomy and the new Moms Night Out movie, joined us on Moms Night Out. This is a pic with my girls and Sarah.

What an incredible weekend! Don’t miss out on joining us at a future conference…in person…or by getting a Conference-To-Go! When you fill up your mom tank, you have more to give to your family!

If you went this past weekend, I’d love to hear about your favorite parts of the conference!

Posted in Miscellany | 4 Comments

Quote of the Week

Quote-of-the-Week pic “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

~ Ruth Graham Bell

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It’s the No More Perfect Kids Bonus Week!

NMPK Cover with Chapman name Guess what??? It’s time!  

I’ve been telling you about the No More Perfect Kids book and encouraging you to wait to get it until Bonus Week and it’s finally here!

Hearts at Home, Celebrate Kids, Inc, and Moody Publishers have put together an incredible package of parenting tools for anyone who buys the book during Bonus Week!

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling book The Five Love Languages, says, “Few things in life are more satisfying than succeeding as a parent. No More Perfect Kids will help you do just that!”

If you pick up the No More Perfect Kids book (e-book or hard copy from any brick and mortar store or online retailer) anytime between March 13 – 23, 2014, you will be eligible to receive over $100 in free resources!

Here’s how it works:

1) Buy the No More Perfect Kids book between March 13 and March 23
2) Scan or take a picture of the receipt
3) email a copy of your receipt to freebies@nmpk-extras.com
4)Within 24 hours your will receipt a reply with a link and password to unlock you free resources!

So what is included in the bonus offers?  It’s over $100 of incredible parenting resources!

Here’s what you’ll get:

4 Printables:

  • You’re Special Poster
  • I Corinthians 13 for Parents Poster
  • Compliments and Corrections Booklet by Dr. Kathy Koch
  • Conversation Starters for Parents and Grandparents Booklet by Dr. Kathy Koch

4 Hearts at Home Audio Workshops:

  • When You Feel Like Screaming–Sue Heimer,
  • Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid–Shaunti Feldhahn
  • Raising Grateful Kids–Marianne Miller
  • Real Ways to Connect with Your Kids–Kathi Lipp​

3 E-Books:

  • A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Gary Chapman,
  • How Am I Smart? by Kathy Koch
  • The 10 Commandments of Parenting by Dr. Ed Young

HAH logo 4 approval
You’ll also want to check out www.NoMorePerfect.com where you’ll find free videos to accompany the No More Perfect Kids book and other great resources!

What a wonderful opportunity this is to get some great parenting resources at an incredible price! Tell your friends, your moms group, and any other parent who would benefit from this wonderful opportunity!

Whatcha waiting for?  Pick up a copy of the book and your free bonus offers today!

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The Power of Forgiveness

2014poster Today’s guest post is from Leslie Leyland Fields.  Leslie is speaking at the Hearts at Home conference this week! It’s not too late to join us for the conference– registration is still available!

Leslie is an international speaker who has written nine books including Parenting is Your Highest Calling . .. and Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt and Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom From Hate and Hurt.

She lives on Kodiak Island, Alaska with her husband of 36 years and the last two of her six children who range in age from 11-25. You can find her online: www.leslieleylandfields.com

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lesliefields Duncan and I are alone in the kitchen, sitting at the table, tense. We are having words, the kind a long-married husband and wife have when they cannot agree. We are not calling each other names, but we alternate between frustration and anger as our words trigger painful memories. Somewhere in this exchange, I feel my stomach and heart soften.  I listen closely now to what Duncan is saying and what he is not saying. I begin to understand how he feels. I mentally close the door to long past hurts and relax into my chair.  It is not long before we are making tea together.

Our disagreements don’t always end so easily, but it happens more these days. We are both becoming our real selves, the people we want to be, who put on the habit of forgiveness more often than the robes of bitterness. I have my father to thank. He was a supremely selfish, damaged man who barely spoke to me throughout my life. But God had something in store for me through him.

I have always believed in forgiveness, of course. Isn’t this the heart of the God? Don’t I know that God’s forgiveness of my law-breaking heart brought me this crazy life of freedom and joy and constant second chances? But—forgive my father?

And so began my return to my father’s life. I flew from my home in Alaska to Florida repeated times to visit. After he suffered a stroke, I pushed him around the rehab facility in a wheelchair, helped him in and out of bed, took him on outings in a rented car, sat with him at mealtimes, watching him eat his baked beans with trembling hands.  I bought clothes for him. Sent him gifts on his birthday and Christmas. I prayed for him. Constantly.

I began to see the pain in his life. I saw that few—maybe no one?—loved him and some had done violence to him. I realized that he likely suffered from schizoid personality disorder and was incapable of loving me as I hoped or wanted. I stopped crying for myself and was able to cry for the hurts he himself had received.

LLF_Blog Photo I could not ignore all the harm my father had done to me and my family; in fact, forgiveness requires an honest accounting of all that happened. But I was no longer fragmented by feelings of hate and hurt, nor even the more insidious feelings of apathy and numbness. I grew into an ever-deepening realization that God’s forgiveness of me, his release of all my debts against him—uncountable debts—could heal me to release my father from his much lesser debts against me.

And I did. But this is no fairy tale. Forgiving my father’s debts did not turn out exactly as I hoped.  I hoped that he would reciprocate my actions; that he would  acknowledge me, thank me and even say he loved me. More, I hoped that my own forgiveness of him would lead him to seek God’s forgiveness before he died. None of this happened. Though his heart softened for a time after his stroke, as he returned to better health, he reaffirmed his unbelief and turned stonily from any mention of the gospel. Nor did he express concern or love for me, even on my last visit, when we both knew we would not see each other again.

I cannot lie and say this doesn’t hurt. But I have found God’s love so empowering, I believe we are enabled to love and forgive even those who have hurt us and cannot love us back. Here, then, is an ending I had not foreseen.

Forgiveness of my father is healing the broken and bitter parts of me and bringing me closer to my real self, the person God desires me to be: whole, not easily offended, full of mercy, quicker to forgive.

It has taken me two fathers to truly know this: one who hurt and one who continually heals. He can do the same for you.

What about you? Have you experienced the kind of pain and hurt Leslie experienced from a parent? Have you experienced the kind of forgiveness she’s experienced in any way? 

Posted in Faith, Parenting | Comments Off