Are You Protected from a Catastrophic Illness in Your Family?

I live in the Greater Houston area.  You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that Hurricane Harvey decimated many parts of Houston.  Having lived in the Houston area for over 20 years, I know that flooding is a real and present possibility no matter where I live in the region.

My husband, Shane, and I buy a very affordable FEMA flood policy every year. Our home has never flooded in a storm so we have never had to file a claim. We pay into the system, along with many other families who thankfully have never had to file. We all contribute to a pool of monies that helps the families who do flood.

Health Insurance is exactly the same. ANY family can be faced catastrophic illness at anytime.  The best way to ensure your family doesn’t lose everything is to have health insurance in place.

I am living with metastatic breast cancer. I will be in treatment for the rest of my life.

My family’s total out-of-pocket medical expenses run about $10K per year with insurance. Without insurance we surely would have gone bankrupt the first year, and I would most likely be dead today.

Micro-business owners and solopreneurs especially need to heed my advice here, you do not want to put your family in a difficult financial position that could easily be prevented by having the proper insurance in place.

Open Enrollment begins November 1st on HealthCare.gov.

Be sure your family is protected.

Pink Washing Breast Cancer Awareness

Welcome to another Pinktober.

I have expressed my dislike of the pink washing of breast cancer awareness here in the past.  As a woman living with metastatic breast cancer (thankfully in remission) but who continues to receive treatment, I find the “pink washing” mildly to moderately offensive in that companies are capitalizing on a disease that is a daily battle for me.

What I find most frustrating about the pink washing is the complacency many now feel towards breast cancer.  I actually had a woman apologize to me because she thought my breast cancer was just a little thing that could easily be fixed. Not quite, three and a half years later, I am still in treatment:

  • Arimidex pill once per day
  • Herceptin infusion every 3 weeks
  • Lupron shot every 4 weeks

This is the protocol to keep me in remission!

The truth is, the 5 year survival rate for women diagnosed with cancer just in the breast is 99% and that is fantastic.  However, according to Cancer.net, 39% of women are diagnosed with breast cancer beyond the breast, so we have a long way to go before we can call breast cancer just a little thing easily fixed.

My Breast Cancer Story

If you have never heard my breast cancer story, I share how I found my lump and my initial treatment choices in the first 6 minutes of the following video:

It is my sincere wish that you are never touched by breast cancer. However, since 1 in 8 women in the USA are diagnosed with it in their lifetime, chances are, you already have been.

Affordable Care Act Saved My Life

Hi!  My name is Kandas and the Affordable Care Act saved my life!

Yesterday I received my regularly scheduled doses of Herceptin and Lupron to keep that naughty Bertha away.  As I was sitting in the infusion chair, IV drip, drip, dripping protein inhibitors into my bloodstream, I was prompted to share the following message to Facebook:

Today is National Uncle & Aunt Day. Over 30 humans call me “Auntie Kandas”.

Today is also my tri-weekly infusion of Herceptin, the pharmaceutical marvel that is keeping Bertha away.

I am alive today because of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA doesn’t give me free insurance. We pay roughly $10k per year for the privilege of staying alive.

Not everyone can afford $10k per year. Does that mean they are less deserving than me? That their life is any less precious?

Social media trainers tell us not to share about sports, politics, religion or sex on our walls.

I am a rule breaker.

I believe health care should be a right and not a privilege. Compassionate societies care for their citizens.

So I am going to continue to remind anyone who follows me on social media that I owe my life to the Affordable Care Act, in hopes that enough people will feel compelled to tell their Representatives and Senators that this partisan bickering needs to stop. That people are more important than politics.

I am looking forward to more little humans calling me Auntie Kandas… And a couple even calling me Grandma… one day.

The ACA is keeping me alive.

I know these Facebook posts make some of my network uncomfortable, even angry. It’s an inconvenient truth that I will keep sharing. I have an 18-year-old daughter who needs me.

4 Common Myths about High Cholesterol

For over three years now I have been in treatment for metastatic breast cancer.  It is currently in remission, though treatment continues with an Arimidex pill every day, Herceptin infusion every 3 weeks, and Lupron shot every 4 weeks.  I’ve shared in the past that the treatments have elevated my cholesterol levels.  I choose to use lower cholesterol without statins simply because I already take enough drugs, I don’t need to add another.

There are a lot of myths that surround the high cholesterol health condition. These myths are passed on through TV shows, through old books, even through out-of-date biology curricula.

Today’s leading health and science research has shown us that a lot of what we used to know about cholesterol simply isn’t true.

Here are a few of the most common high cholesterol myths.

Eggs Are Bad for Your Cholesterol Level

The health community used to recommend avoiding eggs due to their high dietary cholesterol levels. With over 200 mgs of cholesterol, it only makes sense that someone who wants to lower their cholesterol should avoid eggs – right?

Not so. Today, we know that only a tiny fraction of dietary cholesterol actually ends up in the blood stream. Eggs are actually a healthy source of proteins and contain twelve different kinds of vitamins and minerals.

It’s still not good to overdo it, but a couple of eggs a week won’t hurt.

There Is an “Ideal” Cholesterol Number

People often look for a target cholesterol number, as if there were a global ideal that’s right for everyone.

In reality, however, everyone’s body is a bit different. A smoker’s target LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels are different from a non-smoker’s. A diabetic’s target levels are different from a non-diabetic’s. So on and so forth.

Before you look online for “ideal” target levels, consult your doctor to get a target number tailored specifically for you.

Cholesterol Is Evil

Cholesterol is actually a necessary part of your body’s everyday processes. It helps line various kinds of cells in your body, including your all-important brain cells. Cholesterol also helps give cells more structural integrity.

To make a long story short, our bodies wouldn’t be able to function without cholesterol.

It’s only when LDL cholesterol levels get too high that we’re in trouble because of it.

Only the Elderly Get High Cholesterol

Another common myth is that high cholesterol is an issue mostly for the elderly.

In reality, kids as young as eight years old have been diagnosed with high cholesterol. This tends to happen in overweight, obese or sedentary kids.

Though it’s true that the rate of high cholesterol does go up with age, just because you’re younger doesn’t mean you’re safe. Make sure to get your cholesterol count from your doctor in your annual check-up, even if you’re under 30 years old.

These are a few of the most common myths that surround high cholesterol. Remember that medical information changes often as new research and data are discovered. The best source of information about high cholesterol should always come from a trusted doctor, and not through friends, family or even the internet

Why Do You Blog?

Forward:  When I started typing this article, I had no idea where it was going to take me.  Sometimes words just flow from your fingers and you can’t stop them.  My fingers just typed with a clarity of purpose I have not felt in months.  

PS – I can’t believe I just wrote a forward to a blog post.


 

Currently, I am participating in yet another 30 Day Ultimate Blog Challenge, and Paul, one of the challenge hosts, asks:  Why do you blog?

Good question.

So now, it’s time to think about, and share, my answer.

Crazy Blog Lady

I actually have three blogs, none of which received much attention from me these past 6 months.  I’ve been busy doing the things about which I like to blog!

Custom Furniture

Our primary source of income comes from the online custom furniture business my husband and I founded in 1998.  We are both quite geeky (we met on American Online), and selling custom furniture on the internet was such a wacky crazy idea we decided to try it.  We were one of, if not THE first mom and pop custom furniture websites.

For the custom furniture blog, I post about projects my husband is creating, and client testimonials.

Handmade in Texas

Several years back, I got this crazy (there’s that word again) notion that I wanted to help artists and artisans in Texas promote their work.  So, I launched HandmadeinTexas.net.  The website has a directory of Texas artisans, too.  Most of the posts on the art blog are interviews with artists, or reviews of venues and restaurants.

HandmadeinTexas.net has so much potential to be a resource for thousands of artists across Texas.  Right now, I am not the best person to grow that website, so I am selling it.  If you know someone who would be a great fit to take over, please have them contact me.

Gratitude Geek

So, that brings us to this blog.  Fifteen years ago this website (domain name), MomGeek.com, was where I offered website design and hosting to small businesses.  I like helping small businesses.  I sold the book of business ten years ago but kept the domain name, because I like it.  I’m a mom, I’m a geek.  I AM MomGeek.

After I sold the hosting business, I had no idea what to do with MomGeek.com, so it just sat in cyberspace for many, many years.  Crazy, huh?

When I launched my greeting card and gift business, I decided to rebrand to GratitudeGeek and transform this dormant domain into something…

something…  something…

Exactly, WHAT is that something?

Why Do You Blog?

I blog to share.  I share because I want to help.

I want to help small business owners, because over the past 30 years both my husband and I have been blessed with mentors who have taught us how to be successful small business owners, and I want to pay it forward.

I want to help people recently diagnosed with cancer navigate the journey, because I have kind, generous, loving people help me as I live with metastatic disease, and I want to pay it forward.

I want to help myself by documenting the precious time I have on this beautiful planet that my husband, daughter, and I share with 7.5 billion beautiful people.

Life is a gift, and I want to inspire people to live their best possible life by living mine.

I blog because I am grateful.

 

Photo Credit: Melonhead

Couture for the Cause 2017 Model Search #MakeCancerLastSeason

I had a blast yesterday morning with Holly over at WoodlandsHits.com helping promote the 2017 Couture for the Cause Montgomery County:  A Roaring Affaire (think Great Gatsy, roaring 20s).

In 2016, I had the honor of modeling in the Couture for the Cause: Moonlight in Milan fashion show.  (Scroll down for photos.)  It was so much fun, I decided to help with the 2017 event as model coordinator.  My job is to find and pamper the models!

Models must be cancer patients or survivors, male or female.  Models can come in all shapes, sizes and experience levels.

Listen in as I tell my breast cancer story and share more details on the Roaring Affaire with Holly:

 

Photos from the 2016 fashion show:

If you, or someone you know, are a cancer patient or survivor in Montgomery County, Texas, and would like to strut your stuff on the catwalk April 1, 2017, contact me.

Listen, Clear, Travel | 3 Words for 2016

2016 has been a fantastic year for me personally.

For my blog, not so much.

At the beginning of the year, I outlined over a dozen blog posts intending to finish and schedule them weekly.

Great plans for my 30 Women Who Mean Business series, and inspirational metastatic breast cancer updates, as well as, relationship marketing advice fell to the wayside as I lived my incredible life.

Those unfinished blog posts are still sitting in my editorial calendar queue, like this gem from January:


It’s My Birthday! | 3 Words for 2016

Friday, January 15th, was my 46th birthday.  I spent over 6 hours pole dancing, or rather connected to an IV Pole.  I pole dance every three weeks.  Good times.  Knowing the chemo is working makes it easier.

Pole Dancing on my Birthday

Pole Dancing on my Birthday

My Three Words for 2016

Listen

I am listening to a biography of Elon Musk.  Musk runs Telsa Motors, and Space X.  He is a co-founder of PayPal which netted Musk $165 million when eBay purchased the online payment solution.  Musk divides his time between Tesla Motors in Silicon Valley and Space X in Los Angeles.  To maximize his time, he listens first, and advises second.

Listening more and talking less.  Yup, that’s a good thing.  I’m working on being a better listener.

Clear

My office, intentions, and PET scans will all be clearer in 2016.

Travel

I love to travel:  camping, resorts, road trips, discovering new places, people and things.   Unfortunately, it has been years since we have taken a vacation. That will be remedied this year.


Living My 3 Words

I’m not sure why it has taken so long to hit “publish” on this post. Perhaps, I felt it needed more. January seems like a life-time ago. Good thing publishing this 3 Words 2016 blog post wasn’t necessary to manifest the intentions.

While I haven’t been blogging as much as I like, I have lived my three words.

I can’t say I am the best listener in the world, but I am consciously working on it.

My office is still a hot mess but I have so much more clarity in my intentions. And by gosh, by golly, my scans have been clear all year! Hallelujah.

Clear scans meant those travel plans could proceed! And boy did they!

Over the summer we visited 8 colleges in 12 days, helping our daughter narrow down her choices to 4 exceptional schools that are a good fit for her personal and educational goals. Last month my husband and I took a road trip to Salt Lake City for a technology convention visiting Las Vegas, Zion National Park, and the breathtaking beauty that is Southern Utah along the I-70 corridor. Even better, we are now making plans for a summer 2017 trip to Cancun.

Yup, 2016 has been a fantastic year!

Zion National Park. Photo Credit: Shane Rodarte

Zion National Park. Photo Credit: Shane Rodarte

Top 10 Breast Cancer Myths According to Dana-Farber

It’s October.

For many Americans, that means Columbus Day (a 3-day weekend for many), decorating for Fall, and stocking up on candy for trick-or-treaters.

For many, October also means breast cancer awareness and the pink-washing of America.

I will share my thoughts on the whole pink thing in a future post.

Despite bringing awareness to, and opening up dialogues about, the disease, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has yet to quell a myriad of myths women believe.  I must admit, until I read this recent article on the Dana-Farber blog, I believed a few of them myself.

Top 10 Breast Cancer Myths

  1. Breast Lump = Cancer
  2. If a lump is painful, it is not cancer.
  3. Only older women get breast cancer. (I was diagnosed at age 44, my sister at age 42.)
  4. Most breast cancer is hereditary. (Neither my sister, nor myself, carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.)
  5. Deodorant/antiperspirant causes breast cancer. (Well, snap. I believed this myth.)
  6. Men don’t get breast cancer. (Oh, but they do!)
  7. You should avoid sugar and soy if you have breast cancer. (This myth makes me feel very uncomfortable as I have written about sugar in the past. I love tofu but have seriously limited my intake of soy because of it’s estrogen-like properties.  Sorry Dana-Farber, I’m going to have to continue to my research into this one.)
  8. Self-screening is the most important factor in early diagnosis.  (Umm…  keep on self-screening, people.  It’s how I found Bertha.)
  9. Exposing the tumor to air during surgery can cause cancer to spread.  (To quote the adorable lemur from the Madagascar movies:  “How is that even possible?”)
  10. A mastectomy is the best therapy.

See the full article with infographic on the Dana-Farber blog:

Ten Myths About Breast Cancer [Infographic]