Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Never Give In

An update on our friend, Joao Silva. The NYT photographer who lost both his legs in Afghanistan a year ago, but has just raced in his first marathon and will likely be the first war photographer to win a Pulitzer walking/running on two prosthetics! Go Joao.

A tribute to a funny man

Farewell to Andy Rooney, My Grandfather (by Justin Fishel, my friend and wingman at the Pentagon)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple Things

It's the simple things that make us laugh out loud. Take, for instance, every time that I open my laptop to find that the girls have set a new screen saver and programmed a new exotic sometimes eery voice that announces the time at the top of every hour. I nearly jump out of my skin at 11 pm after every one is finally asleep and I log on only to hear a voice emerge from my computer that says slowly, this time in the accent of a British Airways flight attendant, "It is now 11 o'clock…"


Before this trip to Houston she also changed my screen saver from Luke in an empty Christmas box circa age 6 months - grinning with his first two lower teeth under the Christmas tree. Instead I now have a black pug on a kelly green background. Who's pug? Lord only knows. Annalise loves funny looking dogs. Also new to my screensaver is an electronic post-it. A running tab that simply says: "Amelia's Christmas List." I decided to click on it, even though it was Halloween.

"Amelia's Christmas List: Inexpensive and Simple Things" read the header.
1. Golden Hands Tiger Paws (no idea but there was a clue 'get off amazon' [sic])
2. "13 Gifts" (a book for tweens) by Wendy Mass
3. Duct tape (which until recently was usually called 'duck tape' and is used to make friendship bracelets or to tape Luke's mouth when he says 'shut-up', which he does…a lot.)
4. Neon Converse (sneakers) pink,green
5. New Leotard(s)
6. ITunes gift card
7. Patagonia or Northface jacket (poor kid, doesn't have a winter coat…because she keeps losing them).
8. A Jagwear Leotard (i design it)[sic]

Then there were the:
"Expensive things i probably won't get"
1. Blinders 4 my room (poor kid still has the 'temporary' paper shades from Home Depot that we put up when we renovated the house 5 years ago. All she wants are black out shades because the sun shines brightly into her room each morning. Personally, I have put on blinders to the fact that we have no shades or curtains anywhere in the house. Every time I think of getting those Roman shades made the cost paralyzes me.)
2. a trampoline or a pull up bar (unlikely unless we move to Rockville. I still have a balance beam in my living room from last Christmas thanks to Uncle Barry. Fortunately, it was covered in brown ultra-suede so it matches my couches. I know Barry is planning on a set of uneven bars this year because Amelia is now placing first on the beam with a 9.4 last weekend at the Judge's Invitational, but she needs some work on the bars.)

Poor Amelia. She reminds me of the Little Match Girl sometimes.

Then there is Annalise who informed me just the other day that even when she acts like she is in a bad mood in the mornings before school, she is still very happy. She says she can't help it. She is our Tina Fey. Second City watch out. I am thinking of taking her out to L.A. for Noreen Fraser's Comedy Cancer Fundraiser on Nov 19 to see Will Farrell and Amy Poehler but don't know if I can swing it. I love Noreen. She has raised so much money and attention for cancer research. She took her own breast cancer diagnosis and has built a foundation that does so much good for so many. She and I instantly bonded when we first met because we both recognized in each other women who had so much to do and so little time. We both go to sleep at night hearing the tell-tale clock ticking in our heads. We live 3 days to every one that appears on the calendar. We are energized and exhausted all at once like so many cancer survivors whom I have met. Nancy Brinker comes to mind.

As I am flying back from Houston with Greg from our most recent appearance to talk about "This Burning Land" I laugh out loud as I read an old issue of "The Atlantic" and the woman in the throes of 'peri-menopause' who is describing how she lies awake at night and a random name, in this case 'Brian Hong' pops into her head. She can't place the name but it haunts her. Was he from the insurance company? She knows she was supposed to call him back. She can see his name clearly on a memo post-it. She racks her brain as the clock hits 4 am. And then she remembers. He is from a charity group that helps homeless young boys in San Pedro south of where the author lives in Los Angeles and he has written to her beseechingly to come and speak for free to the group of young males, but the author who is feeling as overwhelmed as the rest of us has not responded to the e-mail - one of dozens that daily slip between the cracks unintentionally. But at 4 am the name haunts her because she knows that she prides herself on responding promptly to the e-mails that flood her blackberry. I imagine her dragging herself from bed sitting by the light of her LED screen answering Brian Hong's e-mail. Thus is the state of modern life. Unending e-mails that weigh on us. Not enough time for the simple things.

It's 10:47 pm and I am just home from work after leaving Houston at 6 am this morning, spending the day in the Pentagon and attending a dinner for the International Center for Journalists Annual Awards dinner. The honorees tonight: Rocio Gallegos Rodriguez and Sandra Nieto of Juarez, Mexico and Thet Sambath of Cambodia, who spent the last 10 years documenting the Killing Fields. They were three of the most unbelievable journalists I have ever heard speak. Their bravery beyond anything I have ever witnessed. Examples of singleminded pursuit of truth with no regard for their own personal safety. I felt like I was watching 3 angels who literally every day walked through the valley of the shadow of death. It was extraordinary.

So even though there aren't enough hours in the day or in a life, there are still enough. Especially, if you focus on the simple things.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Komen Gala at the Kennedy Center

Raised $2 million. Hoda Kotb emceed. She interviewed me on the Today Show when I was in the throes of chemo. I gave her the Rebecca Lipkin award on Friday night named for the young ABC producer who died of inflammatory breast cancer two years ago. Rebecca's mom was there and sister Harriet. It's always a very moving night. This year Natasha Bedingfield sang. "Unwritten." And an amazing Israeli rock violinist Meirav who plays with Jay-Z and Kanye West. Susan Ford was there to receive a posthumous award for her mother Betty Ford, who broke down all the barriers when she announced she had breast cancer and allowed photos to be taken after her mastectomy at Walter Reed. She shared her diagnosis with the nation at a time when people didn't say the word breast in public. There wasn't a dry eye in the house during the tribute. I attended with Madeline Fraser, daughter of the indomitable Noreen Fraser who started StandUp to Cancer and now runs the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a leading light in the breast cancer fundraising community.

I knew there was a good reason I loved popcorn! Anti-oxidants

Still Haunted

Two years ago I was so sick. It was Halloween. I had given up candy for my new anti-cancer diet. It felt like it was going to be a long Lent. No Reese's peanut butter cups, again, ever. Really? Why live? But I was so sick that fall having just started chemo. My immune system dipped and with all of the bugs being brought home from school, I asked Greg to take me to the hospital. It was the only day that I was really sick during 17 rounds of chemo. I remember going to the door after returning home from the hospital when some early trick or treater, a young one, came to the door with her father before I was ready and had opened the plastic bags of Nestle Crunch bars and mini Mr. Goodbars. Who trick or treats when it's still light out? I couldn't be bothered to put on my wig. Boy, did they get a fright. I was so sad not to be able to go out with the girls on their rounds. They were vampires. I lay in bed and when they came home all jazzed up on sugar and dumped the pillow cases of candy on my bedroom floor I was too sick to even be tempted. The next day it was raining outside and I didn't let Annalise run in the rain for Girls on the Run because I was terrified of everyone getting sick, I had already cut to the front of the nation's Swine flu vaccine line pulling in a little help from some friends at DHS. With 3 small children how was I ever going to survive a suppressed immune system all winter? Somehow I did. And last year on Halloween, I was back to health. Little Luke went out for the first time, dressed like a little lion, tasting his first lollipop which he got from Chris Downey across the street, and having a cat jump out at him from around a corner beginning what would be a year long fear/obsession with cats until it was replaced this fall with a love of snakes. "Biiig snakes" and a trip to the zoo to see them every Saturday. I love Halloween. I used to organize the haunted house in Jerusalem and passed out candy to all the neighbors so that the American kids could trick or treat in Israel. But this year instead of taking my kids trick or treating, I am on a flight to Houston with Greg as part of our "book tour." Annalise wistfully asked me if I would be around for Christmas and her birthday since missing Halloween is right up there with missing these milestone events. I must say I am crushed that I won't get to see Luke head to school in his red devil which he thinks is a flying dragon outfit. I can't believe I am missing another one of these days that can't be repeated while the kids are still in this amazing age of innocence and wonder. I am wedged right now in a middle seat on a flight to Texas, instead. These trips are nice as a way to reconnect with Greg but what were we thinking? Just as we walked out of the house this morning at dawn a black cat was waiting for us. I am not kidding. Its yellow eyes shined up at me as it stopped in its tracks. I could not have made this up. I asked Greg, "Wait - if it runs straight away from you did it technically cross out paths?" We'll see, but all I know is I feel sick every time we get on one of these book tour flights together, thinking, "Oh God, how could we leave the children behind?" What if something happens? I had always promised my mom that we wouldn't be in the same place where there was shooting while covering a story. This is the height of irresponsibility.I said the Lord's Prayer on take-off today, just like I used to say it while I lay very still on the cold hospital machine during radiation. Let this book tour end and let me get home to my kids. Please.

You've Got a Friend

"Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone….I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song. Just can't remember who to send it to…."

We got the news on a busy Saturday. There were soccer games and trips to Rockville for gymnastics. In fact I think I was driving back from Rockville when I read the news on my blackberry stopped at a red light. It stopped me cold. Two days later I thought about Girard as we took off for Worcester, Massachusetts sitting on the runway at National Airport. I thought about our friend who had loved to fly. He flew around the world to see all of his friends who he had met working for the Associated Press on the overnight in New York before being sent to Bonn where he covered the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall able to blend into the crowd because he looked a little East German. He taught me to freelance, inviting me as a 22 year old at Greg's suggestion before I moved to South Africa to a dinner in Old Town where he taught me the art of writing one story and pitching it and selling it four or five different times to different publications. That's how freelancers make money. That's how I paid for my travel and learned the art of the pitch. Girard was a great salesman, who loved to hear about everyone else's adventures. Years later when he heard that I had flown with the Thunderbirds, pulling 9.2 G's - and throwing up all over the cockpit, Girard sent me my own "flight log book", a black leather bound book, with the hopes that it would become a habit, which happily it didn't, as I continued to find myself in Blackhawks, Chinooks and C-130s covering the wars and the Pentagon. Girard had transitioned to the NTSB where he wrote crash reports and about flight safety. He still came to Washington quarterly and assembled his friends at a variety of ethnic restaurants up and down Route 1 and in strip malls in the DC suburbs. He loved Afghan food, Thai, Lebanese Taverna, and anything Greek. I think it reminded him of his travels. He died at age 60 of pneumonia, much too young for a guy who still looked 45 and loved to talk late in the night with a bottle of something, anything really. The last time I saw him he stopped by the house to drop off some t-shirts he had made while I was going through chemo. He had found the original print for the AP t-shirts the gang used to wear in Lebanon that said, "Don't shoot," in a variety of languages. There was an AK-47 on the front. It was a little AP joke that only AP veterans got. I think it was after my mastectomy that we were sitting in my living room. I didn't feel well and didn't really want visitors and now I regret not spending a bit more time with my friend. The last time he had been at our house he had stayed up all night by the pool talking about the Bosnian war with our Croatian friend. And then I had offered him a bed - albeit a small uncomfortable Ikea iron bed covered in Princess sheets. Somehow it did the trick and he was still up before the rest of us in the morning ready to talk some more. Girard was so detail oriented and would travel so far to see friends that once when we were in St. Louis for a few days on home leave, he packed his new bride Jean in the car and drove 8 hours round trip from Illinois just to have dinner with us. And he was the only invited guest at our wedding who noticed that the address we gave for the old stone church outside of Charlottesville where the wedding was to be was not really in Keswick as I wrote on the invitation but really in Cismont. I thought who knew Cismont but everyone knew Keswick. In 1994 Girard was the only one using a GPS. An aviator with a precise memory and precise friendships, who would have flown anywhere to see a friend and did. I wish I had had one last all night bull session with you, my friend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Parole Officer

I always know when it is time to check in with my oncologist. In my case, it's still every 3 months. The 2 weeks or so beforehand like an alarm clock my pulse starts racing a little faster. My heart is a little more on my sleeve and tears well up even before I know it. I start questioning the meaning in my life. "I survived cancer for this?" I think as I walk again through the River entrance of the Pentagon into the fluorescent lit hallways where I will remain tethered in a windowless room for the next 10 hours until about 8 pm when I get to go home and jam some food in my mouth before scooping Luke up to bed in his cowboy boots (he sleeps in them) and to read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" for the umpteenth time. There's not a lot of variety to our routine, unless of course I get to drive to Rockville after work to pick Amelia up from gymnastics, like I did the day that Anwar Al Awaki was killed by a US drone in Yemen and I had been on the air straight since 6 am. Yeah, two years out and sometimes I feel like I want to jump off the pedestrian bridge that connects North Parking to the Pentagon (except I'd probably just injure myself so even that would seem like a waste.) I always know it is time to check in with my oncologist when I leave Luke's preschool in tears, feeling battered from the morning routine and worrying that the stress of the year with cancer has turned him into a more than terrible two. A friend of mine whose lymphoma is in remission says the return visit to the oncologist is like checking in with your parole officer, a reminder to get back on the straight and narrow, to eat a little better, to exercise a little more and to stop stressing about the small stuff. And yes I usually feel better a day later. Just the psychological relief that comes from seeing Dr. Isaacs usually gives me some sort of relief - or it may be the cathartic cry that comes every time that I leave her office and find myself sobbing so hard I can't catch my breath once Solomon (the valet at Georgetown's Lombardi Center who knows me so well by now) brings my car and I smile long enough until I buckle my seatbelt. I guess this is normal, as is the need to fill a prescription for xanax at each visit, just in case - though I don't use it or need it. It's nice knowing they are in my medicine cabinet for those sleepless nights when I fear getting a call from my parole officer.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Five

Watch this: Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore among others directed 5 short takes on breast cancer and how it affects us. Next showing is Saturday at 8 pm on Lifetime.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An American Icon

A look back on a storied career by Justin's grandpa. Justin is my wingman, producer and friend at the Pentagon. He inherited his grandpa's humor and eye for the absurd - that's why we have a ball working together.;housing;storyMediaBox

Should have stuck with Pilates...

Thought I'd hone my inner zen today, tried out "Stroga" (strength and yoga) in Adams Morgan with Eve. Then suddenly right in the middle of 'downward dog', there was a bomb scare and we had to evacuate the building and two city blocks. A sign perhaps that I shouldn't stray from Pilates. It felt like Jerusalem, circa 2002.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Sweet New Year

Exactly two years ago I was diagnosed on Yom Kippur. September 28, 2009 my life was shattered. Two years later, I am still dancing as fast as I can, but I can breathe again. Tomorrow I celebrate that two year milestone and by coincidence, it’s Rosh Hashanah. I think I’ll dip the apple in the honey. I always said I was an honorary Jew after spending 7 and a half years in Israel.

When I first read about Triple Negative breast cancer, the outlook looked bleak. Most breast cancer patients mark their 5 year mark. That’s when they can start to relax and not live in fear of a recurrence, but for Triple Negative it is the first two years that are most dangerous. Tomorrow, I step out of the fog and my diagnosis is increasingly something I see in the rear view mirror. I made it - though I am not foolhardy enough to pronounce “Mission Accomplished.” I am still Irish enough that I don’t need to tempt fate!

In the meantime, there’s time to be reflective. I still wish that I could pack everyone up and move them to Africa and live at Giraffe Manor outside Nairobi. Instead, I will figure out how to get Amelia up to Rockville for gymnastics tomorrow and how to do an interview by phone with a US general in Baghdad while I wait for Amelia during her orthodontist appointment. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen had his farewell at the Pentagon today in the press briefing room. I arrived at the Pentagon from Israel with Mullen and Gates at the start of the Iraq surge. My heart is aching as these two men leave their post because I secretly wish that I could walk out the River entrance and have someone force me into retirement. Their era was marked by so many momentous stories and historic moments and I was a witness to most of them. There was not one but two surges. An Arab spring that is about to turn to winter and the end of a decade long man hunt for Bin Laden. As we were preparing to say goodbye to Mullen, I sent his wife Deb some mementos for a scrap book for Mullen’s speech writer and aide, Captain John Kirby. He was with me at that outpost in the Korengal Valley when I realized stepping off of the Blackhawk with Mullen that I was pregnant and suffering from morning sickness. Kirby wrote me some of the most eloquent e-mails during my illness telling me stories of his own father who died of cancer.

Tomorrow marks the end of an era for me just as Friday marks an end of an era for this nation as a new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs moves in and Admiral Mullen retires. He joked that he an Mrs. Mullen were preparing to settle in for a long winter’s nap. I guess I should wrap things up and do the same tonight. I hope Rose peels the pomegranate that I bought for the New Year. As I sit here at my dining room table I look up at the far end of the table I see the painting of a pomegranate in Jerusalem by my favorite Israeli artist Andi Arnowitz. I think I better get some rest. I lived to fight another day. It’s going to be a sweet new year.

Dream Girls

Blueberries for Sal (and Triple Negative)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chemo shortages - what the heck is going on?

Thank God, I am not getting chemo now. Two of the key drugs that I took are facing countrywide shortages (Taxol and Carboplatin). Lombardi Center at Georgetown where I was treated, I must point out, is not experiencing a shortage. But what the heck is happening where women with breast and ovarian cancer can't get the drugs they America. This story makes me really angry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Red Ribbon Pink Ribbon

Today President Bush is announcing a major initiative with Komen and the UN to combine screening for women's cancers to HIV screening and treatment programs in Africa. I will moderate a panel with the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH and Ambassador Eric Goosby, the President's Global Aids coordinator - a pioneer in the fight against HIV. We will also speak with Dr. Groesbeck Parham who has initiated a ground breaking method of using household vinegar and a flashlight to screen 65,000 women in Zambia for cervical cancer and Dr. Beatrice Wiafe Addai of Ghana - the first female surgeon in Ghana and a breast cancer advocate. She brought the Komen Race for a cure to Ghana for the first time in May. These pioneers are going to help so many women. 90 percent of cervical cancer deaths occur in the developing world. 275,000 women died of cervical cancer around the world last year. About 450,000 died of breast cancer. Cervical cancer is the second most deadly cancer for women in the developing world after breast cancer. President and Mrs. Bush have made this global health initiative their first priority. President Bush's PEPFAR (President's Emergency Program for Aids Relief) from 2003 has provided 1.2 million people in Africa with antiretroviral drugs as of 2008 and saved millions of lives. There are 1.3 million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year. The survival rate in the US is 89 percent. In Gambia it is 12 percent.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We are all survivors

Horoscope for September 10, 2011

Taurus (April 20-May 20) “You may feel nostalgia for the past, though you also realize that the time to be alive is now. The opportunities are many, and you have more control over your life than ever before.”

I was in the West Bank at an Israeli checkpoint preparing to do a stand-up about the Palestinian intifada when the planes struck the World Trade Center. I remember our deputy bureau chief Mark Abrahams called me and said, “You can come back to the bureau. You aren’t going to be on the air for a while. Some planes just hit the World Trade Center.” Mark was only partially correct. I was on the air that night talking about why this was likely Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and taped a piece for America’s Most Wanted about a shadowy Hezbollah leader named Imad Mughniyeh. We prayed that there was no Palestinian connection to the attackers, realizing it would be the end of the Palestinians should it be their suicide bombers. The Palestinians didn’t help themselves that day by celebrating in the streets the fall of the towers and finding themselves on the wrong side of history by continuing years of suicide bombing attacks against Israel.

As soon as I got back to the Jerusalem bureau, I called my Mom, who lives in Alexandria and was on the phone with her when American airlines flight 77 hit the Pentagon. She ran up to her attic bedroom window and could see the smoke rising from the burning building.

On Thursday night, three days before the 10th anniversary of September 11th, as I was about to leave for a speech at a Washington synagogue about the book my husband and I had just written on those years in Jerusalem, we got word that the intelligence community had a credible threat about a possible plot to strike Washington and New York. Law enforcement agencies were preparing a bulletin about the possibility of attackers preparing to use vehicle-borne bombs to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11. We broke the news and then I raced through the rain 30 minutes late to the speech. Our moderator had lived in Jerusalem with us and lived through the heaviest suicide bombings. She recalled how it was never a good idea to invite journalists to dinner parties in those days in Jerusalem because they always stood up and left in the middle of dinner en route to a bombing. I thought as I sat there how could I be feeling those same feelings in Washington? It was a feeling that we and every Israeli knew during those intifada years. Deja vu all over again.

Now the terror alert seems to be a possible goose chase. I sit here writing this listening to an iconic Michigan-Notre Dame game, preparing to head to the Pentagon at dawn to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

A few things strike me...everyday at the Pentagon they relive 9/11 all over again. 9/11 never ended for the 100,000 plus troops and their families deployed right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Earlier in the week in his first on the record meeting with journalists after taking over as Army chief, General Ray Odierno told us something surprising when I asked his thoughts about Pentagon plans to leave 3000 troops in Iraq after the end of the year. I expected the American general who has spent more time in Iraq than any other to push back and tell me that such a force would be too small to capitalize on all that America had sacrificed in Iraq. Instead he said something that I would more likely expect from an Israeli peacenik. General Odierno said he had warned former Defense Secretary Robert Gates not to leave too large a presence in Iraq to avoid the perception of being an “Occupier.”

10 years later Americans and the Pentagon have learned some tough lessons about fighting wars in the Middle East.

I wasn’t at the Pentagon on 9/11 but I sure am glad that I was there when they killed Bin Laden. I slept in the Pentagon that night and reported straight for 36 hours.

Americans need to remember, “We have more control of our lives than ever before.” The terrorists didn’t win. “You may feel nostalgia for the past, though you also realize that the time to be alive is now.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Join us on Sept 23 for Living in Pink Breast Cancer fundraiser luncheon

Click on the above link and buy a seat at the table...Sept 23 in DC. I will be there with some girlfriends raising money for this great organization. There is FUN shopping beforehand at the lunch with all sorts of awesome boutique items that all support breast cancer research. I got an amazing set of freshwater pearls that I wear on air there last year. It is a REALLY fun event - great shopping and great outing with girlfriends for a good cause. Wear pink!

Just breathe...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Secrets of the World's Longest Living People

This review is from: 50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People (Paperback)
In this book, the author has interviewed, collated and summarized the living and eating habits and foods of the people who live the longest. The research has been done; the author gives the reasons why these habits work, and the unanimous result from Okinawa, Symi, Campogimele, Hunza, and Bama people are so similar across these disparate cultures that it is scary:

It is that in order to live a long and happy life one must:


Eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day; eat until 2/3 full; eat whole grains, buckwheat, brown rice, use hemp, eat meat as a treat; eat lots of nuts and beans; prepare meat properly; use organic goat and sheep cheeses; have an egg occasionally, eat lots of fish; use extra virgin olive oil; use garlic and onions; eat crunchy vegetables, eat sweet potatoes; eat pizza; eat apricots; eat yogurt; berries; eat fermented foods; eat soy the traditional way; eat mushrooms; herbs; go organic, live a stress-free life; have red wine with dinner; drink green tea; drink lots of water; combine foods; fast and meditate from time to time; use vitamin supplements; exercise; get plenty of sunshine; exercise the brain; sit still and do nothing; have faith; sing in the shower; help others; get married or get a dog; avoid the standard American diet; sleep; keep friends; and then put all these things altogether.


Do not eat anything in excess, especially foods with a high glycemic index; avoid fats; don't drink alcohol or smoke; never overeat, or over cook foods, don't eat refined sugar, too much salt, too much meat or diary products, processed foods, too much black coffee, greasy foods or too much butter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Martha's Vineyard Regrouping

and ready to start blogging again. Lots of pent-up tips. Had to take the summer to decompress. Miss the blog so much. Bear with me. I am going to jump back in tomorrow. Approaching two year mark. Dr. Isaacs says that she marks survivorship from the point of diagnosis. That means Sept 28 will be 2 years. The first 2 - 3 years are the most dangerous for Triple Negative. Learning to exhale. For now contemplate the above oysters. Life is good.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation gala

What a night - my mom, who is wearing red in the photo above and is also a breast cancer survivor, met me in NYC, Fox's David Lee Miller came straight from the airport after 7 weeks in Libya and joined his wife Meryl Waitz, Mike Tobin - my wingman from Jerusalem flew in from Chicago, Geraldo and his wife Erica chaired the event and rallied my Fox family to donate to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and the groundbreaking research they are doing for all of us, Bill O'Reilly gave $10,000, Sean Hannity another $10,000, Erica and Geraldo $22,500, Fox's Harris Faulkner attended along with Arthel Neville, Kathleen Foster, NY producer who fearlessly travelled with me to Iraq during the start of the Iraq surge, Jamie Colby, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade bought tickets and supported our evening, Andrew Psarianos - my cameraman during a lot of rough West Bank shoots - came all the way from London and was still aglow from getting a little too close to the reactor in Japan. (I told him I had had enough radiation for a lifetime but he came anyway!) Andrew may soon be on a telly near you - look for him in his walk-on roll in CSI, an auction item that this heavily accented Aussie bid on and won. Hollywood (just back from North Korea) and his wife Nina were there. College roomie Anna Chapman helped more than I could have ever imagined. As did Chloe Breyer. Michele Jaffe and Jen Sturman from Harvard days surprised me and nearly gave me a heart attack when I saw them after nearly 20 years of not. And then my dear friend Eliza Finkelstein sent two friends as her facsimile since she couldn't be there from San Francisco: Joanne and Julie, both cancer survivors themselves and friends I hadn't spent much time with since we were 18 years old. The event was held at the gorgeous home of Allison and John Paul Di Staulo in Cresskill, NJ.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house at the end of the evening. The TNBC Foundation was started by a group of friends in Bergen County who wanted to do something when their friend Nancy Block-Zenna, another young mother, died of Triple Negative a few years ago. This was the speech I gave:

Thanks, Geraldo. I can’t tell you how touched I am that you and Erica so generously offered to co-host this evening. The support from my Fox Family and friends is overwhelming. I first met Geraldo during the Intifada in Jerusalem. My eldest daughter was 6 months old and a suicide bomber had just gone off down the street at the Moment Cafe - (Greg and I document this in the book we’ve just written about those crazy times in Jerusalem).
Needless to say that moment changed a lot of lives - that’s when I was still covering other people’s wars. When I first met Geraldo Annalise was the same age that Luke was when I found my 8 centimeter tumor in my right breast. I was diagnosed on Sept 28, 2009. A little over a year ago I was completely bald - and only now can I pull out my open-toed sandals because my toenails had fallen off from 17 rounds of chemo. In fact I was so psyched that I could show off my new toenails that I went to DSW and bought 9 pairs of shoes. In fact that is where I was when Bin Laden was killed. (So years from now when people ask: Where were you when Bin Laden was killed? DSW) I’ll never forget where I was later that night, however, when news of the raid was starting to leak out: I called in to confirm that he was dead and who was on the air but Geraldo.

My life and all of our years chasing Bin Laden had come full circle. This was ironic and wonderful on so many levels. When I was first getting my chemo I was told by people that I should visualize the chemo breaking up the tumors, dissipating the rogue cells. I was told to visualize butterflies or Pac Men. I chose Navy SEALs - I just didn’t know it was SEAL team 6 - I told people I visualized the chemo breaking up Al Qaeda sleeper cells that had taken over my body.

Well a year ago - I learned that chemo and those Navy SEALS had done their job. I had started off Stage 3 - I was now cancer free.

And now that Bin Laden is dead. I feel like I can put to end this terrible chapter of my life.

Arlene, Hayley, what you did for your friend Nancy is what my friends did for me - they rallied the troops - we put on our body armor and we went to war. Sometimes we lose some of our battle buddies along the way. But the reason we keep fighting is for them. We don’t leave our battle buddies on the battlefield and we NEVER forget.

We may not have a tamoxifen or herceptin for those of us who have been diagnosed with Triple Negative - but we will. Until then exercise and a really low fat, non-processed diet is our tamoxifen and herceptin. Dr. Lisa Carey can tell you how that along with a lot of chemo can turn off that oncogene and ensure that we all are given a chance to fight another day.

If you want to donate to help find a cure:

This Burning Land: New Website

Fox and Friends about Middle East

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Organic skincare...from South Africa - now available in U.S.

Jenny Peters (sister of freshman roommate Gretchen) started an amazing line of organic skincare with South African natural products (I love the stuff - full of omega-3s). This is her website: and now it is available to buy in the U.S. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And this will make you stop and think...

If it makes you happy...

Sheryl Crow has a new cookbook with the personal chef who got her through breast cancer and its aftermath.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Free House Cleaning for Chemo Patients...Pass it on

Subject: Chemo - FREE housecleaning

Cleaning for a Reason
If you know any woman currently undergoing chemotherapy, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE housecleaning - once per month for 4 months while she is in treatment. All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It's our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there that care.
Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along. information. You may not know someone going through chemo, but someone on your email list might. Please forward!
A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart

Snopes verified:

Women's Work

This is a note from Shawn Turner who used to work in the press office here at the Pentagon and is now at the White on.

Hey Team,

Hopefully most of you have heard by now that Monique and I are the proud parents of a new baby girl. Macy Teresa Turner came roaring into the world in a rather dramatic fashion early this morning around 6:35 a.m. It was such an unbelievable delivery that I thought I would share the highlights with you.

Monique woke up around 5:15 telling me that she thought it was time. The last time she said those words to me, I sat at the hospital for 14 hours waiting for our first daughter to be born. As a result, I was a bit skeptical this time and it's fair to say that initially, I was not in much of a hurry.

Around 5:25 I realized that I was not going to be allowed to go back to sleep, so I got up and woke up my daughter Maya. Maya and I often play a game where I get down on all fours and growl and roar as I crawl around pretending to be a lion. She tries to tame the lion by jumping on his back. When Maya saw Mommy down on all fours writhing and moaning from another contraction, she thought it was "tame the lion" time and tried to climb on mommy's back. WOW! --That did not go over well.

I grabbed Maya and said "why don't we get some milk and get dressed so we can go to daycare." Monique overheard this and let's just say the expletives began to fly. Most of it was incoherent but I was able to make out "idiot" "Sasquatch" and "in the car now"

Realizing that this may be more serious than I had previously thought, I decided to move things along. I put Maya and Monique in the car and set off for the daycare which is only a mile from our house. As we made the short trip, Monique was between contractions so I attempted to lighten the mood with a bit of witty banter. She always says she can't do anything in the morning before she has a cup of coffee, so I asked her if she thought we had time to run by the Starbucks on the corner for a couple of Caramel Macchiatos?

I chuckled, Maya yelled "I want some poppy" and Monique looked at me as I were the devil himself.

After I ran Maya into her daycare provider and got back to the car, things had changed. Monique was yelling "we're not going to make it, we're not going to make it" and based on the volume of the screams and the changing shape of her stomach, I started to think she might be right. It was about 6:15 and I drove fast, -- I drove faster than I've ever driven before.

By 6:25 we were approaching the gate at Ft. Belvior. I glanced over to the passenger seat and I could see that Macy was on her way into the world. I'm not sure what happen next but I think I screamed because I remember Monique yelling "Why are you screaming, I'm the one having the baby!"

As I approached the gate, I was honking the horn and yelling to the guards "the baby is coming out, the baby coming out". The male guard put up his hand to slow us down and check things out, the female guard told him to get the hell out of the way and started screaming "go, go, go."

By the time we pulled up in front of the emergency room, Macy was out.

In a stroke of luck, a woman in scrubs was walking by and I yelled to ask her if she was a nurse. To my surprise, she said "I'm a labor and delivery nurse". Monique and I both yelled "PERFECT!"

Mommy and Baby are well and I'm getting a new car.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Studio B - Under Fire on the Lebanon Border

After the After Show on Fox and Friends April 1

How cute is Greg? We are finally able to breath. Couldn't do it - even after we were told the cancer was gone. This is our victory lap! And boy what a few years it has been. We were waiting to we can take a deep breath (ok no more breathing analogies, promise!) But just to say, we are having a lot of fun right now.
Tomorrow marks exactly one year since my double mastectomy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

News you can use if you have Triple Negative - new research to ask about

This was shared with me by another Triple Negative sister...worth looking into.

Fox and Friends...This Burning Land

On phone with Geraldo from Libya...Another burning land

Brian Kilmeade had us on his radio show to talk about "This Burning Land," our new book, and guess who called in from Benghazi?

Alcohol and Breast Cancer...Just Say No

Full disclosure. In high school and college I drank a lot. Lots of beer and wine. Lots of parties. These are particularly risky years because girls' breasts are developing and teens and young adults binge drink today more than ever before. I was one of them. I now don't drink at all. I miss a little wine, trust me. But I have not really had a drink since being diagnosed on September 28, 2009. Giving it up was easy during chemo because your mouth has that metallic taste. And once it was clear of my system and I was drinking tons of water and eating good whole foods, frankly whenever I have had a sip since it just doesn't do it for me. In fact, it just slows me down and makes me feel sluggish and full of toxins. If you have teenage girls explain to them that drinking could lead to breast cancer (see above statistics) and if you have been diagnosed and want to stay in remission, don't drink. It's that simple. Trust me, no one enjoyed wine and champagne more than me but I really don't miss it one bit. I drink bubbly water with a splash of cranberry and a lime when I am out and frankly if you put it in a wine glass it is really a great cocktail party alternative. Just say no!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Depression and Breast Cancer

This is by my friend Noreen Fraser, who has raised more than $100 million for cancer research. She founded StandUp to Cancer and is currently living with Stage 4 breast cancer. She has a weekly blog on Read on...


Greg and I were the guest of KT McFarland on Fox's internet show DEFCON3. KT served on the NSC during the Reagan administration and is heading out to Afghanistan next week to see what is going on in that forgotten war.

Check this out if you have a chance. Some asked me if we celebrated after my surgery last year and we found out that the cancer was gone. Now that the book has been written and launched, I feel like we can finally take a breath and enjoy this victory lap.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trailer for "This Burning Land"


I had spent the week covering Operation Odyssey Dawn, only to have to come up with Operation Family Airlift when it became apparent that the launch of our book, "This Burning Land," would fall at exactly the same moment that Amelia was supposed to compete in the Maryland State championships for gymnastics. Somehow I reached Aunt Barb - she flew in from Boston. My 88 year old grandparents, just back from a safari in Kenya, drove up through the snow from Charlottesville and Memommy, Amelia's great grandmother and Barb went to Columbia, Maryland. Throughout the reading Aunt Barb texted us Amelia's scores: 9.55 on the vault, another 9.55 on the floor. The rest of the family joined us at Politics and Prose in DC where we had our first book reading. Greta Van Susteren took time away from preparing for a tribute to Geraldine Ferraro to stop by as did half a dozen dear journalist friends who had served in Israel and the Palestinian territories with us during the "Intifada Years." The kicker for me was when Zoe Matza, Michael and Linda's daughter who was just Annalise's age when we were all racing to suicide bombings and West Bank incursions came up to us at the end of the line to have her book signed. She is now a freshman at GW University in DC. Then the after party at Sarah Williams (friend since 5th grade) and Peter Mali's beautifully renovated home nearby was exquisite with food catered from Lebanese Taverna and a lot of friends who had all lived through some crazy times together. Another text from Aunt Barb: Amelia finished 3rd in the State! It was a housewarming for the Mali home. Greg was eloquent and since this book is really his baby more than anything, I couldn't have been prouder. Of course, it ended in tears when Sarah gave me a gift as we were leaving: a glass vase that my father had given to Sarah and Peter at their first house warming when they first moved in and he was gearing up for a bone marrow transplant. She told me she thought of him every time she saw it and wanted me to have it. My Dad would have loved today. I'm so glad I didn't miss it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The "New" Normal

Every cancer survivor tells you that the year after treatment you have to get used to the "new normal."
So what's normal? Is it normal to wake up one morning after a sleepless night wedged between your two year old son who is still holding onto a dozen helium balloons above your king size bed because he wants to be like the boy in "Up" (and it's his birthday so you let him.) Or is it normal that you roll over on the Tonka truck that he brought to bed that night, or that you can't really move because there's a needy cockapoo cradled in the crook of your bent knees as you try to lie in the fetal position. You think curling up on your side might allow you to get a good night's sleep, except your unforgiving newly implanted breasts feel like the Jean-Paul Gautier cones Madonna wore in her "Vogue" concert tour circa 1990. On the one hand, you can't really feel your breasts anymore - I imagine it is somewhat akin to the false limb feel of any amputation. On the other hand, they hurt and they don't squish and you can't do "swan" on your stomach during Pilates because you have these two unforgiving mounds across your chest that still ache from the surgery weeks after the fact.

My new normal one particular Sunday morning included an incontinent cockapoo who woke me for yet another dash down my Hugh Newell Jacobsen stark wooden staircase to the back door with stiff joints and ankles that don't bend in the morning thanks to 17 rounds of chemotherapy. Is it normal that two weeks after my final breast reconstruction, a surgery that was about as fast as a stop at a McDonald's drive-thru and did not allow for me to stay overnight in the hospital - is it normal that my valentine on February 14, just days after I had my drains removed from my own surgery, was to be sitting in an orthopedic vet's office in Springfield, Virginia across from an Outback being told that Izzy, my three year old cockapoo would need double knee replacement surgery because she was born with a genetic defect common to little dogs? Is it normal that in the waiting room there was a very elaborate board listing all of the dog specialists including radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons and cardiologists and that it was fancier than the waiting room at Georgetown's Lombardi comprehensive cancer center.

It was perfectly normal to burst into tears as the orthopedic vet, whose name happened to be Dr. Griffin, explained that the usual recovery would be 8 - 12 weeks during which Izzy would need to be immobilized so that she didn't run, dash or jump and reinsure her new bionic knees. Of course, she would not be able to climb stairs or go out to the bathroom on her own. She would need to be carried everywhere. She would need constant supervision and if we did both knees at once it would only cost me $6500, a discount for doing both at the same time. I called Greg in tears. He, exhausted coming off the overnight and thinking that he was ahead of the game this Valentine's having stopped at Safeway on the way home, to pick up a dozen roses - I explained years before the difference between store bought roses and carnations and he hadn't made that mistake since, say, Moscow. All Greg wanted was to crawl into our unmade bed and get some sleep. He thought he was off the hook that morning until I called crying from the vet's office. In his stupor he agreed I should leave Izzy to get the surgery. We both knew there never was going to be a good time to take care of this. I sobbed as I handed Izzy to Dr. Griffin. I felt like I was abandoning her to be put to sleep - she looked at me quizzically not knowing why I was leaving her or that she would be saddled with the hard plastic "cone of shame" for two weeks while her stitches healed. I couldn't look at the check-in nurse as I left the animal hospital. She would have thought someone had died. My only hope was that they would keep her as long as possible because I had no idea how we were going to immobilize her once she came home or protect her from a rowdy 2 year old, whose new favorite phrase because it gets a rise out of us is "Izzy shut-up." I had no idea how I was going to carry my 10 pound dog around when my own doctor's orders were not to carry anything heavier than a pound of flour for the next few weeks. Remember my surgery was less than 2 weeks earlier and I still had my own stitches to contend with.

That afternoon, Valentine's Day, Greg and I had already made plans to go visit our old friend Joao Silva at Walter Reed. Joao was one of the photographers whom we used to run around the townships with when we were young and foolish in South Africa. He and his band of brothers - 3 other war photographers have been immortalized in the book and now upcoming film, "The Bang Bang Club" starring Ryan Philippe. One of them killed himself after taking the iconic photo of a vulture next to a starving child in Sudan, another was shot and killed in the townships just before the end of apartheid and a third suffered months of guilt and anguish after winning a Pulitzer for taking a series of photos of a man being "necklaced", burned to death with a gas filled tire placed around his body in the townships as apartheid was ending. Joao stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan last November and lost both his legs. But he didn't lose his sense of humor or his fierce, infectious love of living and photographing the world's tragedies. In fact the Sunday Times, a South African newspaper for which he once worked, had tried to take him off the township beat. They thought that all the dead bodies and violence was getting to him. They sent him out one Sunday to take pictures in Joburg's Zoo Park. On a sunny day surrounded by manicured lawns, Joao gravitated to a wobbly duck that was clearly not well. That Sunday Joao convinced his photo editor to run a series entitled "Going…going…gone" as he captured the last moment of the duck's life. He was reassigned back to the townships and has been photographing the horrors of war ever since.

Greg and I found Joao sitting in his hospital bed surrounded by stacks of books and magazines seated in a bed that had been his home for the past 3 months. He detailed dozens of surgeries. On either side of him in Ward 32 were soldiers who had lost limbs in Afghanistan, poster children for the signature wound of these post- 9/11 land wars. Joao doesn't think of himself as a "Wounded Warrior" and he won't let you compare him to one. He says those 18 year old boys have their whole life ahead of them and they don't know if anyone is going to love them. He had a life. He has a wife and kids and he will get back on his prosthetic legs and probably win another Pulitzer. As we sat there my cellphone rang. It was a shrill ring and I dove to answer it because I knew it might be the vet. In a moment as surreal as any from the last few months, I stood in the corridor of Walter Reed outside the room of my friend who had had both his legs amputated to hear about my cockapoo. Reassured that she had pulled through her surgery alright. I told Joao what the phone call was about and he laughed. He still had a sense of humor and not an ounce of self-pity. He was the same Joao Silva sitting with an elfish grin and wicked sense of humor atop his hospital bed and both Greg and I walked out of his room feeling that there are certain spirits that just can't be contained. Legs or no legs, Joao did not feel sorry for himself and he already had big plans for what he was going to do when he got out of the hospital, even though that would likely be another 11 months.

I went home and got the kids and went to Petco and did what any rational person would do under the circumstances - bought Izzy a large crate, a bunch of toys and a Snuggie made for small dogs. We were all ready for when she came home from the hospital. And I wasn't even on painkillers. Luke played in the crate for a while when we got home. He looked like Hansel through the wire grate. The girls slept with Izzy's new toys and blanket so that she would smell us and feel secure when she returned and found herself not sleeping in the crook of my bent knees but instead immobilized in her new crate - the Gulfstream of dog crates I might add.

She slept there a total of two nights. I couldn't take the crying. It was like having an infant. I was so excited to get back to work after two weeks off to "recuperate" from my surgery. I desperately needed to get some rest.

My greatest luxury these days is to find a few minutes to write blog entries, which as you can see from the gaps in posting is not all that often. Usually after the kids go to bed. I am most productive between 10:30 and midnight. And I always jump out of my skin each night when I am seated at the dining room table, my MacBook open and a voice that sounds like it could be something out of "Twilight" says in a haunted, distorted baritone: "It's 11 o'clock…" Annalise set my computer so that it does this every hour that it is open. She recorded her voice to tell me the time. It makes me jump out of my skin every night as I sit alone downstairs with Izzy wrapped around my feet.

I guess this is the new normal. It doesn't include a lot of sleep, but it's just whacky enough to make me realize that everyday I move one step further away from having cancer be my sole focus.

Izzy got her stitches out and has the knees of a one year old. Between her knees and my bionic breasts, we are ready for just about anything.

I am so glad to be back to normal.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Why did my mom and Andrea Wilson send me this blog from Gwyneth Paltrow on the same day (my sister Caitlin it turns out had sent it to me the week before)? Are they trying to tell me something? If you are juggling a lot right on.

Organic skincare...from South Africa

This is a great organic skincare line that I have been using for the past 6 months - started by my friend Gretchen Peters' sister, Jenny who is in South Africa. It's a new line and uses only natural ingredients. Skin is an organ so you may want to switch to organic from whatever you are using. I love Savane. It reminds me of my days in Cape Town and Joburg and is filled with oxidant killers such as Rooibos and baobab nectar. Yummy.

The before...during

And after

When I was in college, my roommate Chloe Breyer and I started a magazine called "There and Back" for those who, like us, had taken the year off and travelled abroad and then come back to study at Harvard. "There and Back" should be the title of this photo montage. I thought it might be useful to remind you (in case you are going through chemo) and me (lest we forget, which we all do - it's like childbirth) of the "before" and "after". This is my year in pictures.

These Shots are OK

Alright, here's to all those who know they need to be drinking a shot of wheat grass in the morning to get maximum chloraphyl and alkalinity (remember disease breeds in an acidic environment) and to those who don't want to "juice." (Some people just aren't juicers.) They don't want to buy the multi hundred dollar Vita Mix or Optima or whatever. They don't want to clean the industrial metal parts, but they know that they need the "juice." We (because I am with you - don't want to start growing wheat grass or any other grass in our kitchens, but we want this green shot at the fountain of youth. So here's how you are going to do it. If you live near Glover Park in DC, you are going to go into the Whole Foods and walk up to the Wonji man whose Juice bar is wedged between the pizza man and the sushi chef (so wedged that during this entire last year I didn't know it was there!) and you are going to order a "Green River" or a "Green Goddess" depending on whether you like pineapple. You are then going to order a double wheat grass shot. Drink that first because it tastes, well, like grass - and you are not a cow. Then you are going to do a chaser of the Green juice of your choice: kale, cucumber, fennel, etc. with a green apple to make it sweet and make your gut not wrench. You are going to do this every morning instead of going to Starbuck's and you are going to then realize that you need one of those 10 value pack cards from the Wonji man (thanks, Sarah Williams!). Otherwise, you will go broke.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Don't Give Up

I told you about our friend photographer Joao Silva from the New York Times, an old friend from South Africa, who lost both his legs to a land mine in Afghanistan in October. Joao took his first steps at Walter Reed this week. Take a look. And if chemo is knocking you out right now and you don't know how you are going to get through these next months. Watch this video of Joao and please go put on your running shoes. You will feel so much better. I promise. Don't give up.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Food Tips for Busy Moms

OK so maybe we aren't going to be completely vegan or raw (no cooked food) but we can clean up our acts and when we strip our diets of toxins suddenly our skin glows, and our energy is ramped up whether we are trying to get through chemo or trying to get through carpool.

I just got off the phone with Jocelyn who sat next to Mort Zuckerman at a dinner party last weekend and he was singing a vegan tune. It seems that every billionaire has caught on to the benefits of veganism and clean diets. I don't necessarily think you have to be completely vegan - I eat some lean meat and fish (very lean). But I do think if I had to do one thing I would in general eliminate dairy from the diet (I justify a sprinkle of cheese on salad for garnish and zero percent fat Greek yogurt for probiotics). Dairy just slows you down.

Here are some tips I sent to a busy friend, mom of three young kids. These are just a few tips I have been following for the last year and really recommend:

Here are foods that I am finding very helpful as go to items - big bang for buck.

There are a bunch of new ways to do kale - I like just popping in the oven sprinkling with olive oil and sea salt - that is a great appetizer. (Elizabeth's Gone Raw has the most amazing kale chips, dehydrated and seasoned with cashew nut powder and parika - tastes like Parmesan - divine!)

I have been doing a lot of roasted beets with sprinkled organic goat cheese and walnuts - a bit of olive oil and rice wine vinegar.

Eliminate processed salad dressings - when you actually look at the ingredients there is so much hidden saturated fat you may as well be eating a quarter pounder. I like olive oil and Marrakan Seasoned Rice Wine vinegar with a red top - so flavorful and so light.

I eat a lot of red lentils boiled and with indian spices - lots of garlic, ginger, turmeric and whole red peppers - reminds me of Pakistan. Add some cilantro.

It is great because it is a great protein - but it gives you gas!
A small price to pay - it's so delicious.

Shitaake mushrooms are great source of vitamin D3.

I sprinkle a bit of raw cacao powder on my Irish steel cut oatmeal with dates and walnuts and chia seeds when I need a little chocolatey flavor - cacao (raw - not cocoa) is full of anti-oxidants.

Switch out all white rice and make quinoa instead - put olive oil and salt on it for the kids - they eat it like rice.

Kiwis are really good for you.

0 percent fat plain Greek yogurt - good

Be careful with nuts - very good for you but fattening, I have learned - about a handful a day is all we are supposed to have but the anti-inflammatory quality of walnuts and almonds are great. (Make sure you buy raw almonds that haven't been bleached - ask your health food store - not all almonds are created equally!)

You may try going gluten free for a bit - I do find when I do it, I have so much more energy.

If you have to have a bread make sure it is sprouted or buy frozen Ezekial bread in the frozen section of Whole Foods.

I have been buying lots of types of wild mushrooms cooking them in a little olive oil with onions and garlic and then put in the low fat organic chicken broth from Whole Foods and simmer for a bit then blend in small batches in blender to make a really healthy soup. A lot of mushrooms have anti-cancer qualities.

Cantaloupe is anti-inflammatory.

pork tenderloin I believe is quite a lean meat and very easy to cook - I put whole onions and root vegetables and dates in the pan with it when we roast it - delicious.

Sushi is great for snacks- and they say the way they do the rice adding sweetened vinegar brings the glycemic index down - which is good - so its rice is not as bad as others as a starch.

I eat tons of avocado - but again like nuts they are fattening but have so many good nutrients that I try to balance them out.

Plain popcorn in an air popper is a great snack - I put a little olive oil and sea salt - get rid of iodized salt for sea salt.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tips for bouncing back from surgery

1) Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. 48 hours beforehand crank up your fluid intake.
2) Exercise...I did 2 hours of Pilates - one hour on the reformer followed by an hour of mat the day before my surgery. (A year after my mastectomy, I still feel tight across my pecs and need to stretch thoroughly everyday - even though I often don't and regret it.)
3) Don't forget when you head to the hospital to put on a pink bracelet to alert nurses not to take blood pressure or blood or place an i.v. in the side where you had lymph nodes removed - if you forget and if they forget you could end up with a nasty case of lymphedema.
4) Take off your rings (including your wedding ring). Your fingers will swell and they will cut them off during surgery if you forget and leave them on.
5) Don't wear make-up. lotions or contacts.
6) Wear a loose button down shirt - you won't want to lift your arms above your head after surgery. And wear some stretchy exercise pants - nothing tight and nothing with zippers and buttons - you won't want to fool with them.
7) Bring a jog bra that zips up the front. It's good for compression after surgery and for safety pinning your drains to - as you leave the hospital.
8) Reconstruction is an in and out surgery - like the drive-thru at McDonald's - treat it like you are preparing for a play-off game and as soon as you come to from the anesthesia just begin focusing on hydrating - your mouth will feel like cotton (I like cranberry juice and am a fan of gingerale after surgery - as well as crushed ice - have some on hand at home.)
9) You will feel nauseous when you wake up so as soon as you can, start sipping on a liquid and have some graham crackers. You want to have something in your stomach before they give you your first pain killer. And immediately begin deep breathing exercises - will help with nausea.
10) Avoid Percocet if you can - I preferred Vicodan. Percocet makes you woozy and mighty constipated.
11) Another reason to hydrate - the constipation 3 days after surgery will make you feel more sick than the pain from the surgery - wean yourself off the pain meds as soon as possible - it's sore but not painful - it's not like the mastectomy.
12) Make sure you have Dulcolax at home and start taking 2 at a time as soon as you leave surgery - be preemptive about constipation. It's miserable. Also try your Chia seeds - one scoop a day.
13) If you have had radiation insist on 10 days of antibiotics after surgery because the rate of infection in radiated skin is huge. I talked to a friend last night who had her surgery in August and she was hospitalized in October for a week for an infection because she didn't take her antibiotics after surgery. I am on cipro and doxycycline. Ask for them by name and have a little Zofran on hand for nausea until you get back on your feet.
14) Get a hospital wedge pillow to sleep on at home - you won't feel like lying back too far - you can get them at any hospital supply store.
15) Don't lie around. The sooner you can begin walking, the sooner you will get the anesthesia out of your system and it is the best way to counter pain and nausea. You can begin walking almost right away. Take a daily 30 minute to 45 minute walk.
16) Shower as soon as you can. I waited a few days because of the drains and realize that was a mistake.
17) Wear button up pajamas that you can pin your drains to. I favor the silky white kind that look like you are on the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's. You want to feel pretty.
18) Have group e-mail list set-up before surgery so that your husband (or 9 year-old) can e-blast your friends who will want to know how you are. Place a phone by the bed but place the ringer off so that calls don't wake you but so you can communicate and don't have to get up to find a phone when you wake up from naps.
19) Ginger - ginger is a great natural anti-nausea trick. Eat something with ginger - I found Thai tofu and broccoli with coconut milk and ginger was just perfect. Yum! Remember to eat lots of small meals to keep the meds from making you nauseous.
20) Smile - you'll feel better in a week. This will not last. I promise.

Friday, February 4, 2011


In case you thought that chemo induced menopause is for real - think again. Maybe it's my new voluptuous self, but 11 months to the day after chemo ended something bizarre has happened to my body (and, no, I am not pregnant, but let's just say now I could be if I weren't careful.) You hear about babies born after chemo. Let's just say this was one side effect that I did not share with the world. Sure I had hot flashes during chemo. Everyone knows about chemo induced menopause. But mine seemed to be for real and that made me sad. I could accept the gray hair. I could accept my battle scars, but that was a bridge too far and not something I wanted to talk about. That meant I really was old. And the idea of not having any more children (though of course, I'm done. Really, Greg) but the idea that mother nature was telling you 'time's up.' That was just too sad for me. It hit me particularly hard when friends recently returned to me the bassinets that Luke had used and that I had lent to them. I left them in the front hall until a babysitter arrived one Saturday morning and asked if a baby was on its way. I had them removed from my sight immediately. It all put me back two years before when Luke was born. It seemed SO long ago. I suddenly realized I was really done, even though some friends with whom I was pregnant are now having another. Well, word to the wise, even if you think you are in menopause after chemo and you are of a childbearing age and don't want to get pregnant, you may want to consider birth control. Let's just say, I laughed at the nurse who gave me a pregnancy test as I went into surgery on Tuesday, having me urinate in a cup. How ridiculous, I thought. Impossible. Think again.

Another Tale of Survival

Groundhog Day

So my surgery was February 1 - technically a day before Groundhog Day, but that is not how it felt. As we woke at 4:30 am to head for Georgetown Hospital everything about it felt the same as the previous April when I prepared for the double mastectomy. Everything. It WAS Groundhog Day. The doctors were the same. The black Sharpie markers outlining the incisions were the same. The check-in procedure was the same (though the overly zealous nurse at the registration desk told me I didn't have a living will and made me walk through those uplifting 'end of life' choices and then beg two witnesses in a very depressing waiting room to sign the legal waivers even though I had filled one of those out the year before as well.) I hadn't wore lipstick (or gloss) as I did to my mastectomy. (Sorry, Geralyn.) Because they said no make-up and this time I complied. I took off my wedding ring and put them in a plastic ziploc that looked like it was for biohazard waste but whatever - it did the trick. The nurse was worried that my heart rate was low (pulse of 35) and while I may pretend to be a world class athlete, it would take a lot of Pilates to get that low. My blood pressure was also that of a reptile and my designated driver (Greg) looked a little pale and woozy in his corner seat. He was in the same seat as when we arrived for pre-op in April. This time though he seems to have caught Luke's stomach virus from the weekend and kept excusing himself to throw-up in the bathroom. I sent him home and called my mom. She didn't get there before the surgery.

My famously confident surgeon Dr. Spear came in wearing a dapper suit and European tie and began marking me up for surgery. Catherine, the pretty blond resident, I am told is going to be my advocate once I am out cold to make sure that he doesn't give me the 'Heidi Montag.' It seems she may have stepped out for a minute because the next day Dr. Spear called me at home to see how I liked his handiwork. I told him that I had been too scared to look and hadn't opened the compression bra. He said, "I'll stay on the line while you look." So I unzipped my sports bra and low and behold, I looked like Barbie. I knew Catherine wouldn't be able to stand up to him, but maybe I am secretly glad. Dr. Spear was very proud and I must say he is a magician. Even the scars are discreet.

And the only reason I share all of this (afterall, what haven't I shared with you) is that I think it is really important to understand the strides that have been made in making women feel whole again - even bionic - after breast cancer tries to steal our femininity. The procedures have improved so much in the last few years. And despite the maligning of silicone implants, there is a reason everyone in Hollywood trades up. They give you your confidence back and that, dear reader, is no small thing for a breast cancer patient. You have to do whatever you can to feel pretty again. So if you feel like getting the 'Heidi Montag,' I say go for it. Fight back. Think twice before getting the tram flap surgery or any of the "take fat from one area and make a boob out of it". It sounds like a two-fer, lipo plus breast augmentation but from what I hear it is just an unnecessarily hard surgery on your body. And the mastectomy is hard enough.

The reason for this surgery is that at the time of the mastectomy they put in expanders (or placeholders) to keep the skin stretched while I did radiation. They have to let the radiated skin settle down (it tightens and contracts). So six months later they normally advise you to get your exchange surgery to give everything a chance to heal. At that time you can decide between saline and silicone implants. There is a bit of renewed controversy over silicone (will post the latest article) but the statistics seem low and I am afraid everything in this life carries with it a degree of risk.

So Greg left before I went into surgery - it was not sympathetic labor. It was the flu. I recognized the symptoms because the night before when I came home from work there was a stench in the hallway outside Luke's room where he had thrown up. There were the tell-tale paper towels and box of wipies in the hall. And the girls, with an eye toward irony, had left a pink Susan G. Komen candle burning in the hallway to get rid of the smell.

As I came to from the anesthesia all I remember was the nurse asking me how my husband was doing. "How did I know?" And might I add, at that point, "Do I really care?" My mom sat with me as the nurse explained to me once again about the drains - how to measure them in the little cc cups. Groundhog Day.

We got home and the anesthesia and adrenalin gave me a lift. I felt that unnatural high after you give birth. I brought Greg some tea in bed. I came crashing down the next day and slept and slept. The pain killers made me nauseous. I don't recommend using Percocet. They make you woozy and the pain is not so serious that you need them. Vicodan was plenty. But I've already weaned myself off that because it was making me loopy.

I knew surgery was going to go well because when I looked at my horoscope when I got home it said: February 1: "You benefit from the belief that good luck is coming to you. So continue to look for signs, such as a cricket on the hearth, a penny on the ground or a ladybug that lands on your shoulder." OK so that was for Aries, not Taurus, but my birthday is on the cusp and I've always reserved the option of being able to choose from whichever I thought was most apt.

The days at home have been boring. My dreams of getting the house organized or watching lots of movies never materialized. Instead I did what I would normally do at work. I flipped between 3 cable stations and the networks to see who had anything new from Egypt. I e-mailed friends who were on the air with questions to ask at the White House press briefing. I couldn't let go. And then we got news that our friends and colleagues Greg Palkot and Olaf Wiig were nearly lynched by a mob in Egypt. Ibrahim had escaped. Elizabeth Arrott's children (VOA) had had to fend off rioters keeping them out of their first floor home in Cairo until their father was able to ferry them back to Moscow to safety. The news has gotten too sad. Too repetitive so here I sit watching Shrek with Luke. Greg is upstairs with the Geek Squad. Annalise spent most of yesterday trying to set up a FaceBook page for him. Tonight I got a message "Jennifer Griffin is now friends with Greg Myre." Well, maybe on the internet. For now we are all going a bit stir crazy and cabin fever is setting in.