NET Cancer Day 2018

November 10 is World NET Cancer Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of neuroendocrine cancer, the disease that I’ve been fighting since 2013.

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Neuroendocrine (NET) tumours can arise in any organ that contains neuroendocrine cells including the stomach, intestines, lungs, liver, pancreas and appendix. While most commonly found in people over the age of 60, NET cancer can affect both men and women of any age. Though NETs is the fastest growing class of cancers worldwide, the symptoms are usually vague and similar to more common health conditions. As a result, NETs is frequently misdiagnosed as anxiety, menopause, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), asthma, or diabetes.

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Compared to most cancers, NETs is slow growing. It was estimated that I’d already had the disease for ten years when it was detected. I had been experiencing many of the common symptoms which include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, flushing of the skin, pounding of the heart, and wheezing or shortness of breath off and on for at least seven or eight years . Neither I nor my family doctor had any idea why. Like many general practitioners, he had never encountered a NETs patient before.

Almost 50% of patients visit a doctor 5 or more times before receiving a correct diagnosis! A recent study found that 58% of patients have advanced stage neuroendocrine cancer by the time they are correctly diagnosed. There is currently no cure for the majority of NET cancer patients, including me. Neuroendocrine cancers are complex and unpredictable. Once diagnosed, they require an expert and experienced multidisciplinary team of health care professionals to ensure the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, many patients, even in the world’s most developed countries, have difficulty accessing that kind of care.

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So what’s with the zebra? Everyone recognizes the ubiquitous pink ribbon as a symbol of breast cancer, but not all cancers are pink. Medical students are taught when hearing hoofbeats, to think of horses, not zebras, so the zebra was chosen as symbol of our lesser known disease. There are some patients and advocates who think it’s silly and would like to see us stop using it, but I think we need to take advantage of every opportunity to draw attention to our cause and if that includes zebra stripes, I’m all for it.

What can you do to help? You can help us spread awareness by simply reposting this on your blog if you have one or posting a link to it on your Facebook page. My fellow zebras and I thank you!

 

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A quick and easy wardrobe winterizer

Here on the Canadian prairie, there are lots of things that need winterizing at this time of year. I cleaned out the flower beds before the snow came and Richard took care of other winterizing tasks around the yard. He winterized the travel trailer to make sure that the water lines don’t freeze. We switched to winter tires on the vehicle, added antifreeze, and ensured that there’s a windshield scraper, a shovel, and other emergency gear stowed in the back.

LogoWardrobes need winterizing too. I did my big closet switch early last month reluctantly moving most of my summer clothes into storage and bringing out my warmer ones. This year, however, I’ve added a quick and easy wardrobe winterizer to my closet which is going to allow me to continue wearing some of my summer tops all year round! The Prep Pullover from cabi is a modern twist on an arm warmer and can be worn over sleeveless summer tops and t-shirts to ward off the winter chill.

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Here are a couple of the ways I’ve worn it so far.

In the first photo, I’m wearing the sweater with cabi’s Align Tank and a pair of faded jeans from Gap that I’ve had for several years. I added a homemade necklace to finish the look. Like the sweater, the Align Tank is from cabi’s Fall 2018 collection. In the second photo, I’ve paired the pullover with a sleeveless blouse from Uniqlo and dark wash jeans from Old Navy.

Though the Prep Pullover works well for very casual occasions, I decided to see if I could dress it up. After playing around in my closet for a bit, here’s what I came up with. I’m wearing the sweater over black leggings and the Treasure Dress from cabi’s Fall 2017 collection. What do you think? Does it work? I added a pendant necklace that mirrors the colour and shape of the pattern in the dress.

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Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post. I do not sell cabi nor do I benefit in any way from mentioning this brand on the blog so frequently. Obviously, though, there’s a lot of it in my closet!

How to buy a winter coat

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When you live in Canada, a winter coat is more than just a fashion item. It’s a matter of survival! So how do you choose one that best meets your needs? There are many factors to take into consideration.

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Style

The first step should be to determine what kind of coat will best meet your needs. While there are jackets made specifically for high intensity winter sports, you might only be looking for a coat to wear around town and back and forth to work. Some jackets include a mix of features allowing them to serve both purposes, looking great and performing well on the ski slopes as well as around town!

Insulation

A major consideration when searching for a winter coat is what kind of insulation it should have; down or synthetic. Synthetic is generally somewhat bulkier and weighs more than down does, but it’s less expensive and is better in wet weather.

Outer Shell

The outer shell provides protection against wind and precipitation. Again, there are two main options to choose from. A weatherproof shell made from Gore-Tex is the best choice for an area with lots of wet weather while a coat with a water resistant exterior treated with DWR is sufficient for an area that sees more snow than rain.

Hood

An insulated hood goes a long way toward providing adequate warmth on cold winter days. An adjustable hood that is equipped with toggles so that it can be tightened when the wind picks up is ideal.

Pockets

Whether you’re looking for a casual, around town coat or a more technical winter jacket for outdoor sports, pockets are just plain practical! Look for one with insulation on the outer side of the pockets that you might use to keep your hands warm. Many winter coats also come equipped with an audio compatible, inside pocket that allows you the option of listening to tunes while out and about. This pocket can also be a safe spot to carry important cards or spare cash when you’re going to be too active to carry a purse or a bulky wallet.

Cuffs

Rib knit inner cuffs are ideal for keeping cold air from going up your sleeves.

Closures

A storm flap either outside or behind the zipper is another very important factor in weather resistance and warmth. Two-way zippers are a great addition to any coat longer than waist length as they allow the wearer to sit down in comfort.

Fit

Once you’ve found the kind of coat that will best serve your needs and determined that it has all the features needed to ensure that you’ll stay warm in the worst of weather, fit is the final consideration. It’s always a good idea to leave room for layers underneath.

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This one, purchased earlier this week, ticks all the boxes for me. It’s long enough to cover my hips which is important when spending any amount of time outdoors at low temperatures, but unlike a full length coat, I’ll be able to wear it for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. It has synthetic insulation and is cold weather rated for -30ºC (-22ºF). Here on the prairie, our winters are dry and the snow is powdery, so the Hyper-Dri HD1 shell, which is breathable and water repellant in light rain and snow, should serve me well. The zip off hood with faux fur lining can be cinched in to keep my ears toasty warm and there’s a hidden drawcord in the waist so that it can also be pulled in for a fitted look and to keep cold air out. Storm cuffs in the sleeves serve the same purpose and I can use the zippered front pockets to warm my hands. A flap behind the two-way zipper will keep cold air from entering there and when it’s particularly cold out, I can turn the collar up and zip it right to the top to keep my chin warm!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a brand new winter coat. I wore the last one for many years and finally replaced it with a second-hand one from the thrift store two years ago. I am not a fan of our long, cold winters, but with this brand new coat, I’m ready to face it head on!

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Bring it on, winter! My new coat and I are ready!

Wearing sneakers with a dress

LogoAs I mentioned last week, I really like a dressy meets casual look, but I wasn’t sure that wearing sneakers with a dress was something I’d ever do. Though this isn’t exactly a brand new idea, there was a time when it would have been considered a huge fashion faux pas and I’m old enough to remember those days. That sometimes makes adopting a new trend difficult. The popularity of the look made me want to give it a try though, so this is what I wore to church last Sunday.

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You’ve seen all the pieces on the blog before, but never together. The navy lace dress is several years old and the sneakers are Circus by Sam Edelman, purchased on sale last February. Since it was a chilly morning and I was going for a somewhat casual look, I added one of my thrifted jean jackets.

I suspect that the sneakers with a dress look began when sensible businesswomen started wearing these comfortable shoes to walk or take public transit to work, changing into dressier ones when they arrived at the office. Gradually, the look which seemed incongruous at first, caught on and became an enduring trend. Today, it’s a go-to ensemble for up-to-date fashionistas. Even brides are seen wearing sneakers under their wedding dresses!

IMG_6481 - Version 2The key to making sneakers with a dress look polished is to make sure that they’re clean and new looking. Though some women choose to wear actual athletic shoes with their dresses, fashion sneakers like the ones I’m wearing are not the same as the ones you’d wear to the gym. Rather than a sole that’s designed for running, walking, or any kind of high impact exercise, these have a thinner, smoother sole.

There are definite advantages to the sneakers with a dress look. You can look feminine and put together without sacrificing comfort which is definitely important to me! I knew it was a big departure from my usual look though when my husband commented on my footwear on the way out the door. I think he thought I’d accidentally put on the wrong pair of shoes!

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What about you? Do you wear sneakers with dresses? Would you?

Desperate to go to school

I recognize that even in the most developed nations, schools aren’t perfect. After all, they are a reflection of the society that they’re a part of and are heavily influenced by the political ideologies and trends of the day, but imagine having to sneak your child into school to give them a chance at an education of any sort.

Started in 1983 by George and Jean DeTellis, New Missions has established 35 churches and schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic that provide approximately 10 000 children with education, a wholesome meal each day, and medical care. Tim DeTellis, George and Jean’s son, grew up on the mission field in Haiti and now serves as president of New Missions. Yesterday Tim posted a video update on his Facebook page that touched my heart and today I want to share his plea with you.

In the video (which I was unfortunately unable to post here) Tim speaks of the fact that parents were going out and finding school uniforms and putting them on their children so that they could slip into class to receive the benefit of education as well as the gift of food and medical care. “Why? Because these children and their families are that desperate,” says Tim. When these unregistered children came to the attention of the school personnel, rather than turning them away, they welcomed them. “Now we’ve registered them and in the last six months, to our astonishment, we have increased our enrolment by 1000 children!” he goes on to say.

We all know that education is not free. Here in Canada and in many other developed countries, public schooling is paid for almost entirely by our taxes, but what of countries like Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere? Who will provide the resources to educate the 1000 new enrolees in New Mission schools? Perhaps you can help.

How? It’s simple. Go to newmissions.org, click on Donate, and give to the Life of a Child fund to help unsponsored children or if you’re willing to make a more long term investment, link up with an individual child through child sponsorship. For just $33 a month you can provide one of these desperate children with an education, a hot meal each day, and regular medical care.

We started sponsoring Marie Kethsia in 2004 when she was nine years old. This spring, in a country where only 2% of the children finish high school (Haitian schools have 13 grades), she graduated! Now she’s enrolled in a 3 year lab tech program which will equip her to be a self-supporting contributor to her family and her community. We couldn’t be prouder!

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Over the years, we enjoyed exchanging letters and watching Marie grow into the beautiful young woman that she is today. Imagine my delight about a year and a half ago when I received a Facebook friend request from her! Though her English is weak and my Haitian Creole is non-existent, we manage to communicate on a regular basis without the benefit of the New Missions staff who translated our many letters over the years.

We took on our second New Missions child early last year when I decided to give Richard a boy for his birthday!

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Rodolson had his ninth birthday earlier this month and is in Grade 3. In his last letter to us, he wrote “I like school and I always study my lesson.”

For approximately $1 a day, you too could give the gift of school to one desperate child!

Pearls and plaid

LogoPearls and plaid are both very much on trend this season, but would you wear them together?

Just before leaving on our recent trip to BC, I hosted a cabi party. As hostess, in addition to other benefits, I was entitled to one piece of cabi jewelry at 50% off. I chose the Black Pearl Heritage Necklace.

When I opened the parcel that was waiting for me on my return, I happened to be wearing the black and white plaid shirt that I purchased for $3 at our local thrift store a couple of years ago. Trying on my new necklace resulted in an aha moment! I might never have thought to wear my new black pearls with my old plaid shirt, but I loved the dressy meets casual combination; the bit of boy meets girl trend that has been popular for the past couple of years.

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So, yes, I will wear pearls and plaid together!

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Capitalizing on the timeless elegance and edgy feel of black pearls, this single strand of faux pearls meets with a toggle closure and a cluster of silver-finished charms which can be worn in front or back. I’m certain that its versatility will make it a go-to piece in my wardrobe this season and for a long time to come.

 

Renewal By Grace… hope for hurting wives

Renewal By Grace

About sixteen months ago, because of my involvement in similar ministries in the past, I was asked if I would consider helping put together a brand new online series for wives who are experiencing the heartache of their husbands’ past or present sexual betrayal. For more than a year, I’ve been working with a small group of similar minded women around the world to write and edit this new program. It’s been a long journey, but a very rewarding one and I’m delighted to announce that Renewal By Grace is finally up and running!

I would define sexual sin as any type of sexual expression outside the boundaries of a biblically defined marriage relationship. That could include adulterous affairs as well as other forms of infidelity including the use of pornography and masturbation for personal gratification. The emotional trauma that wives experience when they discover that their husbands have been engaging in these kinds of behaviours is often beyond description, but there is help and there is hope.

Given the secretive nature of sexual sin, exact figures are impossible to establish, but the numbers are overwhelming. If you are a wife who is hurting as the result of your husband’s sexual sin, you are not alone and I would urge you to consider signing up by clicking on the link in the first paragraph above. Renewal By Grace is a private place for you to find peace and understanding. You will work your way through a series of 100 short devotional lessons designed to help you find renewal, healing, and hope through the stories of real wives who have experienced many of the same thoughts and feelings as you. You can read one lesson each day or move through the program at whatever pace suits you best.

When you register with Renewed By Grace, you will be offered the option of having a prayer partner who will read your responses and give you feedback as she walks alongside you and offers you support. Each of these women has walked in your shoes and experienced your pain. Each has received training to prepare her to provide godly support and encouragement to the women she partners with. All correspondence between participant and prayer partner is completely confidential.