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 need...in 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...