Category Archives: Change the World

Making My Own Peace

Published / by Kim
Lavender in the front garden bed.

Lavender in the front garden bed.

The world is a scary place now. Violence and hatred seem all around, and it’s easy to choose to give in to the fear and the hatred. Or, as a very dear friend so beautifully put it yesterday, you can choose love. I choose love, and I choose to make my own little part of the world as beautiful and full of love as I can. Yesterday, I spent the day with beloved friends. We walked in a garden. We chatted and shared. We ate together and laughed. We made our part of the world beautiful, for ourselves and each other.

Today, I spent time working in my garden. I planted gentian and yarrow, chamomile and lime thyme, delphiniums, rue, and wooly lamb’s ear. As I worked, I spent time leaning over the lavender. Its flowers tickled my cheeks and bees buzzed around me, unafraid. They went about their work of pollinating the lavender as I went about my work of planting new things for them to eventually discover. Even now, as I sit at my desk writing this, my arms still smell of lavender.

I smiled and waved at neighbors, who smiled and waved back. I exchanged greetings with passersby and the mail carrier. When I finished my planting, I sat on the front steps with the hose to give all the new plants a good, long drink. Little bird hopped near to see what I was doing. They decided to take an impromptu bath in the water pooling on the front walk.

For that hour-and-a-half that I worked outside, my little part of the world was perfect. It was happy and bright and in harmony. Some days that’s the best you can do, just keep your own part of the world in order.

September Is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Published / by Kim

This is a re-post from 2003. In the 11 years since I first posted this, ovarian cancer has remained the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women. Although it only accounts for 3% of all cancer in women, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other female reproductive system cancer. Fewer women get it than who get breast cancer, but more women die from it. In the absence of tests for early detection, the best chance of surviving this cancer is to pay attention to your body and never let a doctor tell you there’s nothing wrong when you’re sure there is.

Nearly 3 years ago, I started complaining of pelvic pain to any doctor who would listen for more than 30 seconds. I started with my gyn, who noted the pain while pressing on my abdomen during exams; after each exam, she decided it was nothing. The pain was also noted by a PA during my bi-yearly physical, also while pressing on my abdomen. I said ouch, she asked if I had my period, I said yes, and she said, “Oh, I won’t do that anymore.”

At that time, I was also complaining of an ache in my bladder. I went in to both my gyn and my PCP’s office several times, thinking I had a UTI. They would do a test and everything would be normal, and they would send me away, saying I was fine and ignoring the pain I kept talking about.

During the 2 years that my low-malignant ovarian cancer went completely ignored and undiagnosed, I developed other symptoms I would never have associated with ovarian cancer: indigestion, nausea during PMS (which often I mistook for pregnancy), fatigue. All these symptoms went unreported, though, because I was convinced it was all in my head.

Finally, on November 13 of last year, during a regular physical, a doctor I hadn’t seen before – my PCP ironically, but I always ended up seeing someone else – found a mass in my abdomen. He sent me to a GI doctor, who in turn referred me to a new gyn, and I eventually ended up in the office of a gyn oncologist.

I was fortunate. Even though my condition was staged, after surgery, at stage 3a, the cells were low-malignant. That means it wasn’t invasive. If I had had invasive ovarian cancer at that stage, I probably wouldn’t be here right now to be writing about this.

Many, many women are not as lucky as I was.

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. This disease so often goes undiagnosed until it’s too late, so it’s important to arm yourself with facts and be prepared to fight for yourself or a woman you love.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer accounts for 4 percent of all cancers among women and ranks fifth as a cause of their deaths from cancer. The American Cancer Society statistics for ovarian cancer estimate that there will be 25,400 new cases and 14,300 deaths in 2003. The death rate for this disease has not changed much in the last 50 years.*

Unfortunately, almost 70 percent of women with the common epithelial ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced in stage, i.e., has spread to the upper abdomen (stage III) or beyond (stage IV). The 5-year survival rate for these women is only 15 to 20 percent, whereas the 5-year survival rate for stage I disease patients approaches 90 percent and for stage II disease patients approaches 70 percent.

* emphasis mine

Know the symptoms:

  • Unexplained change in bowel and/or bladder habits such as constipation, urinary frequency, and/or incontinence
  • Gastrointestinal upset such as gas, indigestion, and/or nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal bloating or swelling
  • A constant feeling of fullness
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal or postmenopausal bleeding
  • Pain duringintercourseKnowledge is the most important tool you can have. If you are a woman, you are at risk. Know the symptoms, find a good doctor who listens to you, pay attention to your body, and fight for your health.
    Ovarian Cancer . . .It Whispers . . .So Listen!

ATTN: Knitters & Crocheters – The Red Scarf Project

Published / by Kim / 1 Comment on ATTN: Knitters & Crocheters – The Red Scarf Project

Love to knit but all your friends and family have all the scarved they could ever use? Then I have a project for you!

I just learned about the Red Scarf Project today. My knitting and crocheting are very slow, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get anything much done in time for either of the December shipments, but I’m going to try to crochet at least a couple of things for January.

So what is it? it was started by Lisa Miller, who volunteered with Hope Foster Home in China last summer (June-August 2005). She’s going back in January 2006. She started the Red Scarf Project to provide knitted and crocheted hats, mittens, scarved, sweaters, and vests to kids in Chinese orphanages. One shipment will be sent at the beginning of December, another at the end of December, and she’ll be taking more along with her when she travels there in January.

If you can knit or crochet – or sew! – and would like to participate, I strongly urge you to visit her site for more info.