30 Days of Teal for Ovarian Cancer Awareness

What's the Story Behind Be Positive Mom?September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and September 1 marks the start to 30 days of teal. The month will include gatherings, celebrations and fundraisers across the nation. It’s a reminder to educate ourselves and be diligent with our health. Ovarian Cancer whispers during the early stages so it’s important to listen to the subtle signs.

My sister was diagnosed when she was in her early thirties. She fought the battle for over two years and passed away when she was just thirty-four. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month marks the a time to educate others and is a reminder the anniversary of her passing is October 4. It’s the season of remembrance and gratitude for the short time we had together. She always said if her story could help another woman detect this disease earlier than she found hers, then her fight was worth it. Continue reading

The Lawn Mower, A Rock, and The Cemetery

This week is kind of a tough one. My sister’s anniversary of her passing from Ovarian Cancer  is always bitter sweet. It’s a time when I think about fun memories that make me smile, but also a time when I miss her so immensely. Being that it’s fall and also my favorite time of year though, I thought I’d lighten it up a bit from yesterday’s post with a story about my sister that makes me laugh. Maybe you’ll get a giggle out of it, too.

Are you wondering what the lawn mower, a rock and the cemetery have in common?

The day after my sister’s funeral I went to the cemetery. Things felt like a whirlwind and I really didn’t know what was next. It’s that whole stages of grief thing. I went to her grave and knelt down, tears were flowing and I was having my moment. My moment though was filled with utter annoyance because the gardener was there mowing the lawn with a giant lawn mower right near me and right in the middle of my moment with my sister.

I tried to ignore it but he was zooming around, cutting the grass with his obnoxious machine and then it happened…. a direct hit. I was shot. Yep, shot right in the a*s with a rock!

I jumped straight into the air, looked around and saw the gardener driving away. I don’t think he noticed what happened. I went from sobbing to cracking up.

I knew in that moment it was my sister kicking my butt, telling me to stop crying and sending her message to me to get a move on.

So, that’s what I’ve done over the last 4 years. Life keeps moving. I recognize that, but I will always continue to honor her because she was so special to so many. She continues to inspire even those who didn’t know her personally.

Onward and upward I go. I know she would have wanted it that way.

 

 

 

 

Gone But Never Forgotten

BostonTrip_6

My sister Stacy.

I think this is my favorite picture of my sister Stacy. It was taken in Boston while we were on a trip to see our older sister back in 2004. Our sister moved to the East Coast so Stacy and I headed out for a visit. It was long before I became a mom or a working mom for that matter. We had such a  great time exploring, hanging out and having sister fun.

Not too long after this picture was taken our world turn upside down when Stacy was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. She passed away on this day, October 4, 2007.

It’s the day each year since 2007 when things slow down in my mind, my heart and my soul because losing a sibling always stays with you. It’s always with me. I feel a bubble in my throat as I write this post, that kind when you know you are going to well up and cry. I still cry, often.

I want to also share with you if you don’t already know, Be Positive Mom ®  (my first blog) wouldn’t have started without her, without that experience. I wouldn’t be who I am without her and if you are reading this and knew her, I know you have been touched by her being in your life, too.

So when I look at that beaming smile in this picture, I think of all the adventures, the sister fights and sister love. I am thankful that even for the short time she was in my life, she taught me (and many others) an overflowing glass of life lessons, the kind that will last until the end of my days.

I love you sis, thank you.

 

The Interviews: From Awareness to Knowledge

Ovarian Cancer AwarenessHappy September 1st!  Where did summer go? We are just about at Labor Day weekend and that means it’s back to school, back to busy! All too often we tell ourselves we are too busy to get certain things done.

September is near and dear to my heart because it is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.   Following this month, October 4th to be exact, my family will be remembering my sister Stacy who died from Ovarian Cancer. Continue reading

How Grief Walks With You

I’ve been thinking about this post off and on for a while. Ironically, a co-worker and I started talking about grief the other day and this post popped back into my mind. It’s one that is hard to articulate  because grief is a very complex experience for each person. It really doesn’t matter if you are a working mom or a working dad when you are experiencing the  loss of a loved one. So, here goes….

About 2 weeks following my sister’s death in 2007, I was asked if I was over it and if the void of her loss had subsided. After 2 weeks! At the time, I was mad. Things were foggy. The feeling of loss was fresh. I was grieving.

 

Stacy and Steph

Me and my sis in the rain, 2004.

When people talk about grief, it’s often discussed like it’s something you get over, like the flu. Take two aspirin, get some rest and you’ll feel better soon.  It’s not that simple.

What I realized is the people that give  that kind of advice have not suffered loss. That is OK. They just don’t know, I mean really know.

It’s been almost 4 years since I became part of the Grief Club. While I still  experience difficult times missing my sister, I have a more peaceful understanding of  grief and how I’ve learned to live with loss. To me, that’s really what happens. You learn to live differently than you were living prior. I’m still learning…

Look down at your thumb. Yep, take a minute to stare at the lines and dents that make up your thumbprint. It’s yours. It’s unique to you. Grief is very much like that thumbprint that belongs only to you and no one else. If you are grieving, only you know how you feel. Only you know how you are managing it. Only you know your pain no matter how long it has been.

When loss is new and fresh, it’s very easy to get caught up in getting over it. We try to get back to “normal”. I definitely tried. Grief was this thing  I had to fight and get past.

You may have heard or read about the stages of grief and death– anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The stages  don’t make up  a linear progression and they don’t necessarily define each individual’s grief experience. I think of them now as a loose way to put a label on something that is pretty hard to label.

I fought to get over the grief and move on to the next thing that life was throwing my way. I can describe it now as  my fog. I look back at decisions I made personally and projects I completed at work in utter amazement. I was on auto pilot and flying in foggy skies. Yet, I managed to make it through. Maybe those stages should include “survival mode”.

As I sat with my friend at work talking about grief the other day, she told me about her husband who lost a brother and how he describes his grief as a badge he wears. It’s part of him. It’s his unique thumbprint.

I thought that was so inspiring because (much like him) when  my foggy skies turned back to sunshine, I realized that grief was not an adversary to beat or get over. What became clear is that eventually the grief  some of us choose to fight in the beginning  becomes the grief that walks with us.

She told me how he described  his grief as a  badge. I describe mine as something that walks with me. It’s a comfort. It’s peace. It’s mine.

My grief walks with me each and every day. It’s a a part of who I am, who I have become and who I will be as I grow older.

You’ve probably  heard the saying “Time heals all wounds”. While I don’t think the wound of losing a loved one (no matter what role that person played in your life)  ever heals, in time, we learn to live with that wound, that loss.

In time and maybe without realizing it, we allow our grief to walk with us. You can find comfort in the fact that it’s there when you think of past memories and smile. You know it’s there beside you on the tougher days when you miss that person and cry.

It can guide us and help us find our way much like our loved ones would do if they were here walking with us today.

Share you story about grief with us. It may help someone else.

 

 

 

 

What’s The Story Behind Be Positive Mom®?

Be Positive was around long before I started a blog called Be Positive Mom®. It all started around 2005 when my hubs and I (before kids) lived in Arizona. We were there just a short stint because soon after our move, my sister Stacy was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, Stage 4. The outlook was bleak. My hubs and I moved back to California for what was going to be a very difficult journey.

Sisters: Nicole, Stephanie and Stacy

My sister had a very spirited personality. She loved to party and play. She was driven and confident yet had her moments of being vulnerable. Who doesn’t?

The first option doctors gave her was an aggressive surgery that she chose to do. The day of her surgery she found out her blood type was B+. She made a joke by telling us to “Be Positive” and everything would be OK.

We were all scared and upset but she didn’t want any sad face. She yelled down the hallway as they wheeled her to surgery, “Be Positive!” and waved her hand in the air as if she was scolding us.

The concept for Be Positive came out of that moment for our family. A friend and I campaigned to family and other friends with B+ t-shirts and the proceeds from the shirts we sold went to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. We all wore them to support my sister and she wore her shirts to her appointments. Of course she had an assortment of colors.

Throughout her 2 ½ year battle, she maintained her positive, motivating and infectious attitude. Stacy passed away October 4, 2007.

In her last days, she told me that if her fight and eventually her death helped another woman become more aware of this disease, get a check-up or prevent the disease from being found so late (as it was with her), then all she went through would be worth it.

Until just a short time ago, I could barely type let alone say the word cancer. I never knew how I could possibly do anything with her message. I don’t think my focus can ever be on the fight against cancer or finding a cure exclusively because it is so painful. That may seem selfish I know.

As I thought about writing, blogging, and what eventually led to developing Be Positive Mom®, I had an epiphany about those two words, Be Positive. And shortly thereafter Be Positive Mom® was born! I created Be Positive Mom® and blogged there for many years. In 2014, I shifted the blog to this current site. My sister is still very much a part of why I blog and how I live my life.

I miss my sister immensely and think of her every day. Some days are harder than others but I know things happen for a reason. It took me a while to realize her message is not so much about the cancer that caused her death, but about having a positive attitude so you can live life to its fullest potential.

Me and Stacy in Boston 2003.

Take the time to smell those roses and enjoy the moments that will pass by so quickly. Laugh off the stressful things. Flip it around to look at the bright side.

I once read a fellow blogger’s comment stating that many people start blogging as a result of a life altering experience. I will raise my hand as one of those people. The journey with my sister changed my life forever.

Stacy’s message in Be Positive or mine in Be Positive Mom® may not save the world. At the very least, it will put some positive energy back into it.

I love you sis… thank you…

 

Be Positive Mom® is a registered trademark and although it’s not longer a public facing website, the message and meaning it carries will forever be in my heart, my soul and how I live my life every day.

 

The Auntie They Will Never Know

I went into the blue box today. It’s the same box that has sat in my closet for a few years now and it’s the same blue box I purposely avoid on a day-to-day basis. I wanted to read something that was in it. I wrote it for my babies auntie who died on this day (October 4th) just three short years ago.

Today is the day my family honors my sister’s memory, their Auntie Stacy. It’s a time when we hear from old friends and reconnect with family. It’s a different year for me because my family has grown with the addition of my little boo who was born in January. Today makes my heart break even more when I think about how my babies have an auntie they will never know.

My little guy was born 11 months prior to my sister’s passing. In a matter of less than a year, I experienced the most beautiful, wonderful moment in my life along with the most devastating. I plan to tell my little guy how his auntie was in the room the moment he was born. I will tell my little boo, who was born just over 2 years after her passing, that her auntie is with her and her big brother in spirit every day.

They will only know their auntie from pictures and stories my hubby and I share with them. But they will know they have an auntie named Stacy and she was a beautiful, vivacious being with a whole lot of moxie.

Their auntie is one of the reasons that Be Positive Mom exists today. Her attitude and outlook on life was inspiring to all who knew her. She taught me how to roll with the punches and to always take a deep breath even if it’s deeper than the one I took the moment before. She left us too soon. If you paid attention to the lessons being taught in the midst of her journey, you caught a lifetime of learning. Life lessons are only lessons if someone is willing to learn after all…

Before I put that blue box back on the closet shelf for another year, I want to share a piece of what I read to the hundreds of people who were there the night we said goodbye.

“…She made people laugh. She was the life of the party. She cried with her friends and family when they needed a shoulder to cry on. She listened. She helped people all that she could. She traveled. She loved. She partied and played. She stood up for what she believed in. Stacy was an amazingly beautiful women, my sister and my best friend… she will always be forever.”

While they may not know her in person, my babies will know their auntie is watching over them, smiling down on them and protecting them from a beautiful place far, far away.

Stacy in Boston

Stacy in Boston, 2003.