Now Offering Custom Graphic Design | God Helps Those Who Help Themselves | Battling Bertha #breastcancerawarenessmonth

Thank you for your prayers and healing energy.  Many of you have asked how else you can help my family during this time, and now we have a need.

Battling Bertha has been a financial drain on my family, and belt-tightening is no longer enough to pay the bills.

As many of you know, my husband, Shane, and daughter, Dorothy, are both wonderful artists.  They have decided to combine their talent and creativity and launch S&D Graphics to generate some much-needed additional income.

S&D Custom Graphic Design

S&D Graphics offers custom graphic design including hand-drawn caricatures, logos, t-shirts, and greeting card art and branding to use with your SendOutCards account (wink, wink).

Shane and Dorothy need your help.  They’d like three victims, er, volunteers, to take the plunge and be their first 3 customers to help broaden their portfolio.  Examples of cost:

  • $25 for one simple caricature, $20 for additional simple caricatures on the same page
  • $50 for simple logo design

For more information, visit S & D Graphic Design on Facebook.

S & D Graphics | Custom greeting cards, t-shirts, logos and more.

S & D Graphics | Custom greeting cards, t-shirts, logos and more.

Neesy Croft | 30 Women Who Mean Business Series | #breastcancerawarenessmonth

Neesy Croft founded Survivors & Thrivors On Purpose after being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

Describe your business (work, passion) in 3 to 5 sentences.
Survivors & Thrivors On Purpose is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt community-based Cancer & Support Services Center. Our mission is to provide support services to those who have been touched by cancer and other life-threatening debilitating dis-ease through education, prevention, advocacy, services and research. We believe that improving ones quality of life saves lives.

How did you get started in your business?
This organization started out of a need that wasn’t being addressed in my community. A centralized location for all cancer support services making them easy to locate and accessible M-F and after normal business hours.  Organization started out of a need that wasn’t being addressed in my community.  A centralized location for all cancer support services making them easy to locate and accessible M-F and after normal business hours.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in your business?
Starting the nonprofit organization with limited funding and support from the community. No available model in the USA that I could use as a model, lead me to use my own experiences and needs identified during my cancer journey.

How has this hurdle made you better?
I have become much more of an advocate for cancer awareness and education at the community level. Providing educational classes that make you more informed so that you can be an active participant in your treatment plan.

Top 3 books for personal and business growth?

What does gratitude mean to you?
I live the life of gratitude, daily, so to define what it means to me is just like asking, “why do you breathe…”

Who do you appreciate? Why?
I appreciate the oneness of my relationship with God, unwavering faith and devotion.

To define what gratitude means to me is just like asking, why do you breathe? @BreastCancerSurvivor Click To Tweet

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Chemo Did Not Work | Battling Bertha #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

Please, don’t be sad, or angry, for me.  This is just another chapter in my story.

On my last PET scan, a small nodule in my lung, that has been there for over a year, showed up bigger and “hotter.”  Even though it is very small, less than half a centimeter, we opted to have it biopsied based on the aggressiveness of the type of breast cancer (70% HER2+, 99% ER+, PR-).

The lung biopsy experience deserves a video, or at least its’ own blog post, so I will save those details for later.

Turns out 16 months of surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemo did not work.

Bertha left some trash in the upper left lobe of my lungs.  There is also a smaller node in my right lung that could not be biopsied.  Yes, this means it is now stage 4 breast cancer.

Determined to win this round with style, grace and a positive attitude, I visited Aphrodite Salon and Spa, a patient perk at Apollo Hospital.  Lauren preemptively shaved my head, and Shenita pampered my feet.

Pedicure from Aphrodite Salon and Spa at Apollo Hospital

Pedicure from Aphrodite Salon and Spa at Apollo Hospital

With my sassy blue toes and a smile on my face, I began a more aggressive chemotherapy protocol on September 18th. This protocol includes Abraxane, Perjeta and Herceptin, every three weeks, until the nodules are gone.

I will share more when I am ready.

Again, this is just another chapter in my story.  Don’t be sad, or angry.  I am a fighter and I am winning this battle.

All is well,

PS – I came across a very interesting article in Time Magazine about rethinking current breast cancer treatment protocols.  While the alternatives discussed do not apply to me because of the aggressive nature of Bertha, there is much thought provoking information. Take a look

Lunch & Learn: What is Clean Eating? with Renu Agrawal | Podcast Episode 38

Today’s lunch and learn episode was recorded live during the June 4, 2015 meeting of the Connecting Conroe Business Women.

What is Clean Eating?

Our speaker, Renu Agrawal, is a certified holistic health coach. Her teachers include Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Deepak Chopra.

Renu loves to work with women who are looking for easy and fun solutions for their health issues, especially pain and weight management.

Though the topic of the lunch and learn is clean eating, Renu’s talk begins with a short meditation. Find a comfortable spot, plant your feet on the ground and have a listen.


Follow Renu Agrawal

Holistic Health Coach Renu Agrawal discussing What is Clean Eating

Holistic Health Coach Renu Agrawal discussing What is Clean Eating

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Shingles During Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer | Battling Bertha

It’s been a while since my last Battling Bertha update.  I was officially declared cancer free on April 8, 2015, but that does not mean my battle has ended.

I have a few more intravenous Herceptin treatments.  I have been receiving Herceptin every three weeks since my initial chemo cocktail treatments ended.  Also in the treatment plan is 4 more years of Tamoxifen.  One pill each night before bed.

Last week I developed a rash along the bicep area of both my arms.

Tamoxifen has a long list of side effects including rash.  In fact, the documentation says to contact your doctor if you develop a rash.

I have chemo tomorrow, so yesterday I went in to have my labs drawn and asked if Dr. Ellent could take a look at my arms.

He happened to be between patients and asked in his Uzbekestani accent, “How you doing?”

“I have a rash on my arms.”

He looked at my arms and told me I have shingles.  Right there in the hallway.

Shortest doctor visit ever.

He prescribed Acyclovir 5 times a day for 7 days and told me to wear sleeves until the rash goes away.  Shingles is infectious and can spread on contact.  Good times.

I count myself quite lucky that I only have an itchy rash and not the pain that many people suffer during a bout with shingles.

“Radiation or chemotherapy can lower your resistance to diseases and may trigger shingles.” – Mayo Clinic Website

Learn More About Shingles

There is a plethora of information about shingles on the internet.  Here are a few of the better resources:

Shingles during chemotherapy for breast cancer. Click To Tweet

Radiation Cream for Breast Cancer Reviews, Part 2 | Battling Bertha

Taking a break from the 30 Women Who Mean Business Series today to share part 2 of my radiation cream for breast cancer video reviews.  Part 1 was filmed 6 months, ago!

I have had a box of radiation creams on my desk, waiting for me to film this second video, for 6 months.  Yes, 6 months.

Radiation Therapy is tough, and I am still feeling the effects months later.  The main culprit is fatigue.  I seem to have more ambition than energy.  Also, I still have fluid in my breast that was evident on my CT scan after surgery.  My blood work is within the “fine” range though my white blood cell count has been consistently low for several months.  Just not low enough to cause alarm for the oncologist.  I do have a PET scan scheduled this week.

All that aside, I filmed this video today to share my experience with different radiation relief creams:


CAUTION: Do not use any product on your breast or armpit in the three hours prior to your radiation therapy. The radiation could react with the cream and that’s not good. Also, you should not shave your armpits until you have completed all your treatments.


And the best overall radiation cream for breast cancer is:


Ann’s Herbals Herbal Salve is a wonderful radiation cream for breast cancer.

Essential Oils for Everyday Living with Kelly Taylor | Podcast Episode 31

Essential Oils for Everyday Living

Listen in to this recording of a lunch and learn hosted by Kelly Taylor, certified herbalist and aromatherapist on Essential Oils for Everyday Living.  Kelly Taylor owns Cassia Aromatics, offering a full-line of top quality essential oils and synergistic essential oil blends.

Most importantly, she is a member of my Battling Bertha team!

Essential Oils for Everyday Living Podcast with @Kelly_A_Taylor @CassiaAromatics Click To Tweet

Connect with Kelly Taylor

More from Gratitude Geek


This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

Lower Cholesterol without Statin Drugs

Part of my breast cancer treatment protocol is 5 years of Tamoxifen, an estrogen-blocker.  It has many side effects and I was quite hesitant to take the drug.  However, I’ve been lucky in that I only have experienced two of the drugs side effects:  hip pain and high cholesterol.

My oncologist prescribed a statin to lower my cholesterol.  It increased the hip pain.  I really like the ability to walk, so I have opted to lower my cholesterol without statin drugs.

If you are looking for natural ways to lower your own cholesterol, here are some things to try.

Lower Cholesterol Without Statin Drugs

While there are other medications that can help lower cholesterol, a lot of people, including myself, would prefer to go about it the natural way. After all, if your body’s cholesterol count went up naturally, it can go down naturally as well.

Plus, doing it naturally allows you to save money, but also helps you create real health changes that last. You also reduce the risk of side effects, like hip pain.

How do you reduce your cholesterol naturally?

Talk to Your Doctor

Before you start trying to reduce cholesterol, talk to your doctor. Figure out where your cholesterol levels are at right now and what your target cholesterol levels should be.

This will give you a good baseline to work from and a good goal to move towards. When you get your check-up next time, you’ll be able to tell whether or not what you’re doing is working.

Walking is Wonderful Exercise

Walking is Wonderful Exercise

Get More Exercise

More exercise, even if in small increments, can do wonders for your cholesterol count.

If you prefer longer exercise sessions, try to get 3-4 sessions of 30 minutes or more per week. Make sure you sustain approximately 70% of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to exercise all at once, you can do just 5 minutes of exercise every hour of the day. This makes it very easy to keep up with the exercise schedule because it’s in small, bite-sized chunks.

I wear a Polar Loop Activity Tracker (affiliate link) to ensure I am moving enough each day.

Reduce Your Fat Intake

Fat intake has a lot to do with high cholesterol. Doctors say that instead of eating less egg or dairy, cutting back on fat is the real key.

Eliminate all junk food from your life. Stop eating TV dinners, microwavable meals and anything that’s highly processed. Stop eating deep fried foods.

Anything that has a high fat content should be avoided.

Add More Fiber to Your Diet

Researchers have found that as little as 15 grams of fiber per day can reduce your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels by as much as 10%.

Healthy fibers to add to your diet include vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains.

Try to add vegetables to every meal. Even just adding a small salad can go a long way. Eat fruits between meals as snacks instead of junk foods.

Finally, replace white rice or pasta with whole grains and/or beans. The transition might be difficult at first, but cooking with whole grains isn’t much more difficult than other forms of carbs.

Somebody PLEASE tell me how to make Spanish rice with brown rice!

Somebody PLEASE tell me how to make Spanish rice with brown rice!

The Great White Rice Debacle

As a woman of Asian descent, I refuse to completely give up my sticky white rice.  I can’t do it.  I have added brown rice for some meals but sticky white rice is necessary for others.

Also, my husband is of Mexican descent and he loves Spanish-style rice.  We have yet to successfully use brown rice to make Spanish rice.

If you have a recipe for Spanish rice using brown rice that you have personally used successfully, please post it in the comments!

The Bottom Line

Lowering your cholesterol without statin drugs isn’t complicated, but it does take some dedication and commitment. You’ll have to change a few things about your lifestyle. The best way to make sure you can come up with a plan and stick to it is to involve your friends and family to help you in the process.

Lower cholesterol without Statin drugs, the natural way! Click To Tweet

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This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.