Featured Profile (Karen Ingalls- 4-1/2 year ovarian cancer survivor)
Karen Ingalls is a 4-1/2 year ovarian cancer survivor; retired registered nurse with a master’s degree in human development; and a twice published author. She volunteers for the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida and Women for Hospice. Karen has done public speaking at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, various bookstores, and service organizations. She writes a weekly blog providing information and inspiration on the subjects of health/wellness, relationships, spirituality, and ovarian cancer (www.outshineovariancancer.blogspot.com)
OUTSHINING OVARIAN CANCER
For many years I have used the term challenge, rather than problem, difficulty, issue, or trouble. It seems to have a more constructive ring to it. I have faced sexual abuse, alcoholic parents, un-timely deaths of loved ones, divorce, and more recently ovarian cancer, which was diagnosed in June 2008. I did not know much about this cancer, which is true for most women.
Do you know the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
*abdominal or pelvic bloating
*abdominal or pelvic pain
*feeling full soon after eating
*urinary or bowel changes
Many women will complain about one or more of these symptoms, which mimic premenstrual, ovulation, menopausal, back injury, etc., and so they are often ignored. If they persist for more than 2 weeks, it is recommended that medical attention be pursued. Please do not ignore them, especially if you have a family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer. Too many women are diagnosed in the late stages and therefore the mortality rate is quite high. (Go to www.ovarian.org or www.ocna.org) for more information and lists of resources in your area.
When I heard the words, “You have cancer. I am so sorry,” I reacted with shock and despair. However, two days later I was ready to meet this challenge with the same resources I used to face the abuse, divorce, and family dynamics. My resources are:
*GOD was and is my most important source of guidance and comfort.
*Meditation/relaxation: Without my faith in God, all the other resources are empty “vials of medicine.” Would I really be able to relax my whole being if my heart does not carry God’s Love in it? Knowing God’s love for me allows me to go deep within myself and listen to His words; to feel His arms around me; and to lay my head on His shoulder.
*Positivity: How would I protect myself from negativity if I could not surround myself with the Christ spirit? I have never liked being around complainers, whiners, or those who often have something bad to say about someone else. Have I ever felt sorry for myself? Of course, but I do not like myself when I am in such a mood, and I do believe that positive thinking and acting is the healthy way to live.
*Humor. God wants us to smile, laugh, or giggle. God does smile down upon us when He sees us following His word. Laughter is the best medicine, because it releases endorphins, which help to heal the body giving a sense of wellbeing. I often watch The Carol Burnett Show, I Love Lucy, Laurel & Hardy, and such funny shows.
*Exercise/Nutrition: I believe my body is the vessel in which my soul resides, so I want to take excellent care of it by exercising and eating nutritious food. My body prefers yoga and brisk walking for exercise, which I returned to one week after my surgery beginning in small increments. Early on in my recovery I ate 5 small meals a day; ate lots of fruit and vegetables; drank Ensure; and avoided processed sugar. I have returned to 3 meals a day, eating the same diet without the Ensure, and enjoy maintaining my weight and energy levels.
*Family/Friends: Certain people have had powerful and long lasting affects on me. There are too many to mention, but those who had negative affects were not believers in God. The opposite is true for those who touched my life with love and kindness. I am blessed to have a wonderful and supportive family, and friends that are always there for me.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is quoted as saying, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” For me, that light is God. For me “the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy,” or any challenge you or I might face.
Her book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is a personal, medical, and spiritual book that will provide the reader with information about ovarian cancer. She will share about her struggles and triumphs; how humor, positive thinking, family, friends, and most importantly, God, helped her to cope; and resources that have been informative and supportive. Proceeds go to directly to ovarian cancer research.
From Feb. 1-5, 2013, you may purchase her book at a discount rate through www.BeaversPondBooks.com by entering “Outshine” in the coupon code box.