Wednesday, September 28, 2011


A colleague has committed suicide. A man who is smart, accomplished, creative, spiritual. A good husband and great dad, active in his faith community, gracious, kind.

The grief radiates into circle after circle in our community.

He died of depression. It makes me furious and sad.

Depression is an illness. Where is the walk, the gala and the gray ribbon? Where is the Race to a Cure?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Skip the Second Drink

News about alcohol and cancer: one in 10 cancers for men and one in 33 cancers for women can be tied to alcohol consumption. The link below takes you to the recent European study that is getting attention for this correlation. The study details the amounts over the "recomended daily limit" that put us at risk.

The specific issue is that alcohol turns to acetaldehyde, a compound that damages DNA, thus increasing risk of cancer.

So what's a girl to do? Other studies tell us that red wine is good for the heart. The issue is amount and frequency. Yes, the golden mean: moderation.

Alcohol Boosts Risk Of Cancer

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't Worry Die Sooner

In my class on pastoral care for people who are dying I’ve been reading about “The Myths of a Long Life” and here was a surprise:

Worriers live longer.

Here’s why: Worriers tend to be conscientious, prudent and detail oriented. That means they wear their seat belts, drink less, don’t drink and drive, don’t misuse their prescription medicines, they don’t speed, they get physicals and routine health screenings, wear helmets when biking and they follow their doctor’s orders.

Optimism has a downside. “No worries” people are more likely to overlook symptoms and to not follow the doctor’s orders.

So do worry; be healthy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When He Dies

This morning I was out walking very early. At that hour my mind drifts all over the place and I was imagining John’s funeral. It was prompted, I think, by the music on my IPod, a thought about the music choices I’d make and what the actual event might be like.

Then the fear hit me; I knew how sad I’d be and how scared I’d be and how hard it would be to walk out of the church when John has died. But then my drifting mind reassured me. “Oh,” I thought, “But John will hold my arm, he’ll walk out of the church with me; I’ll lean on him”. And then the terrible reality hit me: When I am at John’s funeral he won’t be able to help me.

On that day I most fear—the day I’ll need him most—he won’t and can’t be next to me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

There is Even a Diet for It

I knew that Kegels were crucial to having orgasms and to “improving” them—and I’m all about self-improvement—but I didn’t know that there is more you can do. Turns out there is even a diet.

Yep, “The Orgasm Diet” by Marenna Lindberg. It’s a pretty serious book about the biochemistry of sexual response and how food and diet—and Kegels—can improve things. You can get this from most library systems or if you don’t want to make eye contact with the check out lady at your library, buy it used on Amazon.

High on the “Should” list in The Orgasm Diet: Omega 3’s (you know they are good for everything), Calcium and Magnesium, Extra Vitamin C, and one ounce of high quality dark chocolate very day.

And on the “Don’t” list: saturated fat (duh), caffeine (oh, no!) and soy products (surprise). Turns out that soy disrupts hormonal responses—that’s why many women take it during menopause—but it can also disrupt the orgasmic response too. You don’t have to eliminate all soy but you don’t want a soy-a-day diet if you also want the O-response.

There is also a ton of good, practical information in this book about how women’s bodies work and how sexual arousal works and a specific and practical plan for incorporating Kegels into your life.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lessons from HOPE 2011

Many thanks to Sabrina Mosseau, RN at Samaritan Hospital Cancer Center for creating and hosting last night’s HOPE 2011 party, dinner and education event. The theme was “Difficult Conversations” and they were conversations about: Fear of Mammogram and Colonoscopy; Fear about Money and Fear and Silence around Sex.

Many thanks too to Hilton Garden Inn in Troy for a fabulous venue and amazing dinner—proving that healthy food can indeed be gourmet and delicious.

I was one of the speakers but, as always, I did the learning from women in the audience. I learned that—for sure—there is not enough talk about sex in Cancer Land. And not just about their own cancers—many breast cancer survivors were in attendance --but the other cancers women experience, and their husband’s cancers. One woman told me that her husband’s doctor said to him, one hand on the door knob, “Wear a condom,” but didn’t say when, for how long or under what circumstances. That’s so crazy.

I learned that most of us want to hear more about sex—related to cancer and just related to our lives and we want a safe, comfortable setting to learn in. Most of us don’t talk to our friends about our—and their—sex lives—so we miss so much information –and we miss comfort.

I also learned that there are other women who want to kick back against the pastel, fragile, powerless image of women with cancer and who will meet cancer’s fierceness with their own.

And I learned—and loved this—that you can buy lymphedema “garments” –important after breast cancer surgery—that look like tattoos and groovy, chic tee shirt sleeves.

Amy Winehouse would certainly approve!

For more information and tons of resources contact: Sabrina Mosseau, RN, OCN at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Silence Around Sex, Money, Breasts and Tests

For women in the New York Capital Region area—please mark your calendar for this evening/dinner event: provocative conversation, humor, gourmet healthy dinner and Miche handbags!

H.O.P.E. 2011: Honoring Female Cancer Survivors:

Opening Up Communication * Providing Education * Empowering Lives

Date: Thursday September 15th, 2011
Location: Hilton Garden Inn 235 Hoosick Street Troy, New York
Healthy Gourmet Supper
and Presentations: “Difficult Conversations”

The Fear of Mammography and Colon Screening
Sabrina Mosseau BS,RN,OCN – Administrative Director Medical Oncology and Women’s Health; Samaritan Hospital Cancer Treatment Center

The Silence about Sex and Intimacy
Diane Cameron Pascone – Director of Development - Unity House Troy

The Importance of Money Strategies for Women
Christopher Nuss MBA, ChFC, CLU,CLTC – Wealth Management Advisor – Northwestern Mutual Financial Network

Time: Registration @ 5:30pm Dinner and Presentations @ 6pm
There is a $15.00 fee to attend this program. This will be collected at the door.

Registration required : Call Sabrina Mosseau @ 518-271-3324 or

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Even the Dead Weep

Even the dead weep at a time like this.
All those on the other side, making preparations to welcome such a large group.
Death is going door to door in New York City
walking past doormen,
going up dark stairways, down halls,
taking the train to Long Island and Connecticut
and getting off at little Cheeveresque stations in the suburbs.
Death nears exhaustion, leaning in one more doorway, waiting for the buzzer to be answered,
hesitating, sighing, tired.
She has tears in her eyes as she visits another house,
and another and another.
At night death goes down to the site and sits on the rubble wishing it wasn’t true.
Some of the dogs come and sniff at death, then back up and give her a funny look.
Even death is too tired to be moved.

September 12, 2001

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Friends Don't Tell Each Other

Part of why it takes so long to learn how to make sex good is that we don’t talk about it enough. Now that may seem crazy if you think about the number of times sex is mentioned in movies, magazines and on TV. But really talk about it? Not so much.

Think about your closest gal pals and what you know about them and what they know about you. We’re told how hard it is to talk about money. Do you know how much your friends make? If they have family money? The amount of debt they have?

And what about your friend’s spiritual life: Do they believe in God? Do you know who prays and when and how?

Money and God is a lot of intimate info to know about a person. And then there is sex.

Now the odd thing is that you may know about some really personal stuff about your closest friends. You know about the difficult childhood and the deep wounds carried from parents or siblings. You may know about family illnesses: mental illness and addiction and alcoholism. You talk about the secret shames of the workplace, the tensions in marriages, the pain from breakups. You may even know about the secret surgeries---the eye job her husband doesn’t even know she had on your “girl’s weekend”. But do you know if she does Kegels?

Yeah Kegels. How could a close friend not talk to her closest women friends about Kegels? Do you do yours? Does she do hers? Have you talked about how much better sex is with a regular Kegels routine?

And masturbation. We believe that we are free, open minded and liberal but have you ever told a woman friend that you had a great time—alone—after a stressful week at work? Do you know if she prefers erotica and what kinds?

Imagine your best friend in the world and the parts of her life you don’t know about. And start talking. Everyone will be happier.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What I Didn't Know

When I was 25 I knew so little about sex. When I was 30 I thought I knew some things but I still knew so little. At 35 I was learning how to give pleasure, but it took ten more years to begin to learn how to receive it.

I knew that “older” people had sex. When I was 30 my mother who had been widowed many years, was, at age 70, in a new marriage. She told me that she and Donald had sex almost every day. I thought “good for her”. But I also thought, “How good could it really be?”

Now I know. And I’m sorry I laughed when people said that sex gets better as you age. I didn’t know. Now I do.

At 58 sex is better than I ever imagined. Yes, I wish my skin was smoother and I wish my skin didn’t sag—especially at certain angles. Confidence is part of it. And learning what works. And being fearless about trying things, and trying them again.

Many years ago I read Helen Gurley Brown’s book about women and middle age. She wrote that a woman over 50 has to decide that she wants an orgasm and then go for it. I didn’t, exactly, know what she meant.

Now I do.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cancer has a Sweet Tooth

I’m reading the new book, “Sugar Nation” by Jeff O’Connell and it’s an eye opener. I’m generally pretty healthy and mindful of eating well except for this little issue of sugar! I love candy—the chewy stuff: licorice, gummy bears, fruit slices. I have rationalized that candy like that is low fat and relatively low calories so I chew away. Except that it’s been nagging at me.

Jeff’s book is about the consequences: insulin resistance, Diabetes Type2 etc. Now those conditions are scary enough: Heart disease, blindness, neuropathy and amputation. Yeah, that last word gets your attention right?

But then this: cancer has a sweet tooth.

Jeff writes, “Recent research shows that the consumption of high amounts of sugar and refined grains boost the odds for cancers of the esophagus, kidneys and pancreas.” And this, “Excessive insulin, produced internally in response to high glucose can raise your risk of being diagnosed with a number of cancers including colon, breast and liver.”

And the surprise: “The link between obesity and cancer may not reflect obesity itself so much as insulin levels being high.”

Later in the book Jeff describes the incidence of “metabolically obese thin people.” People who are fit of body and often healthy looking but internally have the same metabolic responses as someone quite obese.

Another statistic is the cincher: “Government statistics say that Diabetes Type 2 is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. But that ranking is an illusion. Type 2 diabetes covers its tracks by ending a life some other way—a stroke, heart attack, toxic shock.”

Or cancer.