Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Gives $32 Billion to Empower Women and Eradicate Disease

I’d like to give a moment of gratitude to Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia who announced earlier this week he is giving away $32 billion, his entire fortune, to charitable causes. Among other things, the money will be used to:

  • bring electricity to rural villages
  • eradicate disease
  • build orphanages and schools
  • promote women’s literacy
  • teach women how to run for local office

“Early in my life I had a dream that I have always hoped to realize. I wished to wake up one day to see a world of tolerance, acceptance, equality, and opportunity—for all.” – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

Thank you Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal!

 

Read more about this story on TakePart.com and The Guardian.

Meet the Battling Bertha Team | Birthday Party Photos

It takes an army to battle Bertha.

I am blessed beyond measure to have a large battalion of warriors by my side through my breast cancer journey. They have fed my family, made sure my home was clean, visited me during treatments and hospital stays, and given much needed moral support.

A couple weeks back, we celebrated my 45th birthday with Mexican food and Red Velvet Cake. It was fun because not all of the warriors were acquainted.  It is always fun to meet new people and everyone wore a name tag that listed how they met me.

Not surprisingly, I met each of the ladies who attended the party one of two ways, through Toastmasters or SendOutCards.

I wrote this affirmation nearly 10 years ago:

“Nurturing, appreciative, successful people seek my friendship.”

If you want to surround yourself with nurturing, appreciative, successful people, join Toastmasters and SendOutCards because that is where they all hang out!

Several members of the BB team could not attend, some live out-of-state, but I’d like to introduce you to a few of the amazing ladies who nurture me with love and support.

My cup runneth over with gratitude.

All is well!
Kandas

3 Relationship Marketing Rules

We received a great Christmas gift via Twitter from a client over at ShaKa Studios. Through all the hustle and bustle, the small things we do consistently over time, to create great relationships with our clients, continue to yield positive results.

Today, I am sharing my 3 Relationship Marketing rules.

Relationship Marketing Means More Loyal Clients

Relationship marketing is about creating relationships with your clients.  When you have a relationship, your client is more likely to do business with you again, and even refer business your way. If you are really lucky, they might just talk about you on social media.

When you have a relationship, your client is more likely to do business with you again, and even refer… Click To Tweet

So, how do you create these relationships?

I built my entire 27 year sales career around relationships.  It started at my very first job, as an assistant store manager in a clothing boutique, and continues today.  You just need to remember three rules to create great relationships with your clients:

  1. Be genuine. It helps if you are genuinely nice.
  2. Be transparent. Share a bit of your personal life. Just a bit.
  3. Say “Thank You” often and with enthusiasm.

I send a thank you card and small gift, usually yummy Sea Salt Caramel from SendOutCards, to each of our custom furniture clients over at ShaKa Studios.  Here is a tweet from one client on Christmas eve:

I’d say that was a pretty groovy Christmas gift our client gave us, eh?

Your turn. How do YOU build relationships with your clients?

Ringing the Bell after my Final Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer | Battling Bertha #25

Today is Thanksgiving here in the USA.  I have much for which to be thankful this year.

It may seem odd to many that I feel gratitude during a time in which I am battling for my life.  Yet, there are so many reasons to feel grateful.  I found Bertha early.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I have very good health insurance.  I have amazing doctors and caregivers.  My family has been beyond supportive.  My friends have been true soldiers in my battle.  Both my greeting card business, and the custom furniture company I run with my husband, continue to do well.  My cup truly runneth over.

Today, I am filled with appreciation as I share photos from an event that took place 10 days ago, my final dose of radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Ringing the Bell after Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

I received 36 daily doses of radiation therapy for breast cancer, interrupted by a short hospitalization. On November 17, 2014 I celebrated my final therapy session by adding my pink hand print to the wall leading into the therapy room and then an enthusiastic ringing of the bell.

Shanta was there for almost every dose of radiation therapy I received. Her last day at the center was Friday, the 14th, and so she was going to miss my final day. I am so grateful to Shanta for taking her lunch hour from her new job to come and celebrate with me!

Mimi is the receptionist, she keeps things running smoothly in the office and would stash my favorite candy to the side so there was always a piece for me to enjoy before therapy.

Shanta and Mimi

Shanta and Mimi

Dr. Lewis has a big heart and very patiently answered all of my questions. Her nurse, Beverly, was not in the office for my celebration, but it should be noted that she is very sweet and kind, as well.

Dr. Lewis, my Radiation Oncologist

Dr. Lewis, my Radiation Oncologist

Unless you are a regular follower of my blog, you are probably wondering why George Clooney is in the all the photos. I named the radiation machine (linear accelerator) George Clooney. I figured if someone was going to see me naked everyday, it might as well be George Clooney.

This machine is George Clooney

This machine is George Clooney.

Lacey is the lead therapist at the clinic.  Did you know that becoming a radiation therapist requires a 5-year bachelor of science degree in Radiation Therapy and that less than a handful of schools in Texas offer the degree program?  It’s a highly specialized field and requires a warm personality, as well as, smarts.

Lacey, the lead Radiation Therapist

Lacey, the lead Radiation Therapist

The staff at Apollo Cancer Center were all wonderful. Rafael, another of my regular therapists was not there for my final treatment, but you can see a photo of him dressed us Gru from Despicable Me here.  I can’t say that I will miss therapy, but I will always think fondly of the staff.

I can't say I'll miss therapy, but these ladies made it fun.

I can’t say I’ll miss therapy, but these ladies made it fun.

Lacey was inspired to start the tradition of collecting patient hand prints on the wall leading into the therapy room after their final treatment by the clinic where she served her residency. It was rather inspiring to know that all those patients had survived the process before me.

Celebrating with all who came before me.

Celebrating with all who came before me.

I chose to make my hand print pink.

Okay, so survived might be a harsh word.

Pink for Breast Cancer

Pink for Breast Cancer.

It’s not that radiation therapy hurts, it doesn’t. Well, the radiation burns suck. It is just a rather emotional experience.

I'm pinked up and ready to print.

I’m pinked up and ready to print.

I mean seriously, here I am bald, laying on a table with my deformed, scarred breast exposed, while people I just recently met move me around on a narrow table and write with permanent markers on my bare skin.

Choosing to to find the humor in the situation made it bearable. I share more about coping with emotions during radiation therapy in a post from several weeks ago.

I can't believe I let them take pictures of me without my wig!

I can’t believe I let them take pictures of me without my wig!

So, it was not hard for me to take one of those very same permanent markers and sign my name on the wall next to my pink hand print.

It's Official.  I'm done!

It’s Official. I’m done!

After getting dressed, I headed back to the lobby where my friend Tanya was waiting to help me complete the final task. the ringing of the bell:

I am not sure who started the tradition of bell ringing. I couldn’t find much info on Google. If you know how the tradition came about, please share in the comments.  I do know that it was very satisfying to ring that bell.

A huge thank you to Tanya for coming out to celebrate with me!

Thank You Tanya for Celebrating with Me!

Thank You Tanya for Celebrating with Me!

I will probably share one or two more posts about radiation therapy because it was such a huge part of my treatment plan, and I feel like I need to share a little more.  For example, how I treated the radiation burns.  All in due time.

Today, I will enjoy my family and the amazing non-traditional Korean meal I prepared in lieu of turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble! Gobble!

Kandas

Random Musings on Halloween | #BlogBoost

This is going to be a post filled with musings on random topics. Remember the TV show Seinfeld? It was a show about nothing. Yeah. That’s what this post is about… a bunch of nothing… but a little something.

Halloween

Today is Halloween. I went in for my daily radiation therapy appointment and Gru and his minion were waiting to irradiate me with their ray guns:

Would YOU trust these two with a ray gun?

Would YOU trust these two with a ray gun?

A couple times per week, the above jokers like to take images of the area where they shoot their giant ray gun.  They tell me it is to ensure I am aligned properly.  I think they just like having photos of my boob:

X-Ray of My Boob.  Scandalous!

X-Ray of My Boob. Scandalous!

To celebrate Halloween, I had my toes painted orange. The cancer clinic offers free spa services to patients. I like to take advantage of my free pedicures. The massage chair is groovy, too:

Orange Toes For Halloween

Orange Toes For Halloween

My friend, Anise, sent me a Halloween card. She uses the law of attraction beautifully. I have great veins. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I have GREAT VEINS!

I have GREAT VEINS!

 

Happy Birthday Mom

Today also would have been my mom’s 74th birthday. Mom passed away a few months after she turned 70.  It’s hard to believe we are coming up on four years without her. She was a big kid at heart. People loved being around her. When she smiled, it lit up the room. This photo was taken the day my father returned from Viet Nam.  I was 10 months old, so it was October of 1970:

My Mom & Dad in 1970

My Mom & Dad in 1970

Farewell Pinktober

And finally, today is the last day of Pinktober. While I have a new appreciation for the sentiment behind the pink, I did find a few things just too wacky to be pink. For example:

Top on the List of Things NOT Okay to PInk:  Rag Mops

Top on the List of Things NOT Okay to PInk: Rag Mops

On the other end of the spectrum… everyone loves cupcakes, so heck ya, pink it up:

pink-cupcake

But what about boobie cake? Seriously? What’s your honest opinion on this cake? I can’t wait to read your comments, so chime in!

boob-cake

So ends the 31 day Ultimate Blog Challenge. I didn’t quite make it, but I think I finished with a bang.

All is well!
Kandas

Spoiling my Breast Cancer Caregivers | Battling Bertha #23 | #BlogBoost

It’s been a tough week. Recovering from my recent hospital stay has not been easy. As much as I wanted to complete all 31 days of the October Ultimate Blog Challenge, I know my health is more important. I have several posts simmering on the back burner, including a video of my adventure at Gayla Wigs and a possible three part series on sex after breast cancer.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Debate

Many of the amazing women in my online support group strongly dislike the October pink washing called Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They take exception to all the pink products that are capitalizing on the issue rather than helping it.

I recently read a Huffington Post article by Anita Moorjani entitled Why I don’t support ‘Breast Cancer’ Awareness.

My Chemo Nurses as sketched by my talented husband, Shane.

My Chemo Nurses as sketched by my talented husband, Shane.

Moorjani is the author of the book Dying to Be Me about her own cancer journey.  The book was gifted to me by a treasure in my life, Renu Agrawal, shortly after I was diagnosed.  It was also highly recommended by several other people.  I have been hesitant to read it because I don’t like the title.  Is that not silly?

In the HuffPost article, Moojani used a Mother Theresa quote to question the effectiveness of Breast Cancer Awareness:

Mother Teresa once said, “I was asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

Wouldn’t it be better to support and promote health awareness?

When my elder sister was diagnosed with her breast cancer 3 years ago, just 6 months after losing our mother to leukemia, she urged me to get a mammogram.  I did not because I did not want to focus on the illness.  I believe that energy flows where attention goes and I did not want any of my energy flowing in the direction of cancer.

You may be thinking to yourself, well that back fired.  I do not agree.  I discovered my lump early.  Stage 1.  My body let me know it was time to pay attention.

Since my diagnosis, I have chosen to focus on the positive. I have a story to tell. This is just a small part of my story. I envision myself standing on a great stage inspiring people to pursue their passions profitably through my story.

Spoiling my breast cancer caregivers.

Spoiling my breast cancer caregivers.

I admit that I am not always as positive as I’d like to be. My husband is great at pointing out when I am stinking into negativity.

Okay, let me back up to Monday, October 13th and share how I spoiled my breast cancer caregivers.

Spoiling my Breast Cancer Care Givers

Last Monday, I gave each of my breast cancer medical care givers (all 20 of them!) a small gift of appreciation, tied up in a pink bow.  It was my intention to focus on how they are helping me return to health, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I call them my “Boob Team.”

What was remarkable to me was that each person I handed the gift to reacted exactly the same way:  Surprised!  From the receptionists to the physicians, each was almost shocked that I would choose to celebrate them.  Shocked and appreciative.

An interesting side effect of passing out these gifts is that I now receive a lot more hugs from the Boob Team, including the doctors.

My Radiology Team

My Radiation Therapy Team

Not to toot my own horn, but I was already a favorite patient at both the oncology and radiology offices. Now I feel like a rock star.

A new tech joined the radiation therapy team on Monday, as well. I was a little leery about having a man on the team, because of the high level of touching that is involved in the prep process before therapy begins.

I decided the best way to handle the situation was with humor. So, when he reached across my body and uncovered my breast, I said: “Oooh! Thank you! You are the first man to undress me in months.” His response was to thank me for making his job easier.

So here is your challenge from me: During Pinktober choose to focus on breast health, wellness and appreciate the teams of people who care for breast cancer patients.

Energy flows where attention goes.

Treat every client like you are working with a celebrity.

3 Tips for Working with Celebrities

Working with Celebrities

This is not a post about marketing or advertising to celebrities.  Quite frankly, my husband and I have worked with all sorts of film, television, design and music superstars but we are not quite sure HOW they found our niche custom furniture website.

Google changes their algorithms so often, it is hard to keep up with the latest search engine optimization protocols.  At times, it feels like we are just throwing keywords at the internet and hoping one of them sticks.

This post is about what to do once you have that celebrity on the phone or in your store.  Here are my top three tips after working with celebrities for 15 years:

1.  Act Naturally

Be yourself.  Do not put on airs and pretenses.  Just relax and act naturally.  Answer questions honestly and above all, be polite.

Not long after we launched our online custom furniture business (in 1999), I answered a call from a potential client who had a few questions about bookcases.   We had a very friendly conversation, I answered each of her questions, and she decided to order paint finish samples so she could coordinate with her color palette.  It was a very typical call, much like every other potential sales call,  except this potential client was Adrienne Barbeau.

A few weeks later, Ms. Barbeau called back to order her custom bookcase, apologizing for taking so long to get back to me.  She had been “on location”.

The key to working with celebrities?  Treat every client like a star!

The key to working with celebrities? Treat every client like a star!

2.  Respect Their Privacy

I asked Ms. Barbeau for permission to use her name on our website, which she granted.  Many celebrities want their privacy respected, and so I will not name drop just to impress you.   And if you are lucky enough to do business with a celebrity, I highly recommend asking permission before you send out any press releases.

I have fielded sales calls from celebrities across the board, including the dynamic design duo Mark Badgley and James Mischka, whose Kentucky home was featured in Elle Decor magazine shortly after the custom bed we made for them was delivered.  The bed is the featured image in the online version of the article.  Elle Decor called to ask us for specific product and company information before the article was published.  If the celebrity mentions you by name, it’s okay to mention them, too.

Some celebrities guard their privacy closely.  One client in particular had her assistant set up telephone appointments with me in advance of calling.  I was told by the assistant in no uncertain terms that her privacy was paramount.

Always ask permission to publicize a celebrity’s name in your marketing.

We asked Tate Taylor, director of “The Help” and “Get on Up”, for permission to use his name, and he sent us a raving testimonial plus photos of the bed we made for him in his home!

3.  Send a Thank You Card

A few years later, Mr. Taylor contacted us because he was moving and needed some minor repairs done to his bed.  Upon return of the repaired bed, he sent us a lovely handwritten note of appreciation.

If you have been following this blog, you know that I am a champion of the thank you card habit.  After every sale, a thank you card should be sent to the client, celebrity or not.

It’s classy and memorable.

Remember the star who needed her privacy protected?  I sent her a thank you card and gift.   A few weeks later she called to rave about my husband’s work and ordered more custom furniture.

Every Client is a Star

It is phenomenal doing business with celebrities.  Loads of fun.  But guess what?  Every client who walks through your doors needs to be treated like a super star.   Tips 1, 2 and 3 apply to all of your clients, celebrity or not.

Leave a comment or question below.  I’d love your feedback.

Coping with Emotions During Radiation Therapy | Battling Bertha 18 | #BlogBoost

For me, radiation therapy is the most difficult of my cancer treatments.  It doesn’t hurt physically.  It is over rather quickly.  If you close your eyes, you barely know it is happening.

Oh, but the emotions!

Emotions During Radiation Therapy

If you have breast cancer and will be receiving radiation therapy as part of your treatment plan, here is what you need to know:

Coping with emotions during radiation therapy takes imagination and humor.

Coping with emotions during radiation therapy takes imagination and humor.

  • Half a dozen people will see your breasts, while you are awake and alert.
  • You will hear everything  they say and be required to carry on conversation, while your breasts are exposed.  More than half a dozen people see your breasts during surgery, but you are asleep and you never see or hear them.
  • Your hands and feet will be bound so that you can not move.
  • They will use paint pens to draw x’s and o’s on your body.  This will make you look like a football play book.  The marks remain on your body for the entire course of treatment and need to be reapplied if they fade.
  • Before your first actual treatment, you go through a CT Simulation to ensure you are aligned correctly for treatment.  This means that not only will your hands and feet be bound, but you will also be inserted into a tube the size of a torpedo bay.

The cumulative effect of all of the above is emotions.  Humiliation.  Lack of control.  Embarrassment.  Self-pity.  Humor.

I am a rather happy go lucky gal.  During my CT Sim, with my hands uncomfortably positioned above my head, my feet bound, and a torpedo tube making clicking sounds all around me, tears began to roll down my cheeks.

As we were leaving the appointment, my husband, who had been in the waiting room during the procedure, asked how it went.  I choked back more tears and replied:  “I don’t want to talk about.”

Coping with the Emotions

Everyday, around one in the afternoon, George Clooney makes sweet, sweet love to me.  I share the details of our torrid affair in the following video:

 

 

I use my imagination and a lot of humor to make it through my radiation therapy.  Heck, it’s what is getting me through this whole ordeal.

What are some of the ways that you cope with emotions during radiation therapy, or any awkward, uncomfortable or just downright frightening situation?  Leave a comment.  Your suggestion just might help someone who is struggling right now.