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Saturday, August 5, 2017

5 Tips to Consider when You Experience a Life Changing Detour.

As many of us know, life is full of detours. A detour is defined as a long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way. As with driving, a detour can cause frustration, angst, and anxiety so learning how to work through a detour is important. 

On November 24, 2014, my life took a major detour when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had no warning to prepare myself for this detour and it completely knocked me off track.

Getting back on course has been an interesting journey. The journey has led me to visit places I did not know existed and allowed me to meet people who helped me get back on track, which I am grateful.

In this week’s Nurse Advocate Post, I share 5 tips to consider when you or someone you care about experiences a life changing detour.

1    Ask questions: When you are thrown off course, the best way to get back on track is to stop and ask questions. Find out where you are, and what roads lead to the main road that will allow you to make choices that can get you back on track. Remember when you are lost, no question is stupid or trivial, so don’t be afraid to ask questions as they help you make informed decisions.

2    Follow advice: Since you don’t know where you are, you will need to allow others to help you.  One word of advice is to use common sense when taking advice from strangers. Sometimes people are not good at giving advice or only see the situation from their point of view. Use common sense when taking advice from others. Does the advice you are being given make sense to you? Ask a few people what they think, do research from reputable websites and talk to people who have had a similar experience or know the area. In the end, you will make the final decision as what is best for you. Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision, take your time and be confident in your own decision-making skills as you know yourself best.

3    Critically think: getting back on track can open new doors for you. So take the time to evaluate where you are in life and what your next steps are. Coming back after a life changing detour can give you a new perspective on life allowing you to see your path through a new lens. 

4    Expect bumps: when you are traveling a road you are not familiar, expect bumps along the way. Reviewing your goals and what is important to you will help you be able to make difficult choices along your journey. Take time to review your goals and how you want your care to be handled if you can’t make decisions. Taking time to discuss your wishes with your family and friends is important before setting out on your journey. Also, having a living will, health care surrogate and someone to manage your finances if you are unable is important to have in place. Having your decisions and directives written down and available to those you choose to make decisions in your place will make things easier for those who care about you. Take the time to prepare in advance. 

     5. Stay positive: staying positive will allow you to move forward and get you back on course.

I hope these tips help you on your journey called LIFE. We never know when a curve ball will throw us off course so being prepared for a life changing detour is important.

Stay well!

Photo Credit: I found the image for this article on the web and checked out Cam Taylor. He has a wealth of information for those whose life has been thrown off course. Click here to visit his site and explore the resources.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Insights into TWO YEARS of Blogging

This week, Nurse Advocate celebrates 2 YEARS in production!  It has been a journey in which I have learned how to share information that benefits people who utilize the health care system as well as those who work in it.

As I look back, I noted my first post appeared on July 9, 2015. In this post, I introduced myself and shared my story. My second post appeared on July 22, 2015. In this post, I outlined my plan for Nurse Advocate and invited readers to join me by sharing their stories, challenges, and ideas so together we could improve the delivery of care we each travel. As with most things in life, it is interesting to look back as we move forward. 

Writing Nurse Advocate has been a healing experience for me. It has allowed me to have insight into a difficult time in my life and to learn from the experience. 

What has been the most satisfying part of writing Nurse Advocate has been hearing from readers that find the information I shared helpful in their lives as they work to overcome challenges they face when thrust into the complex world of healthcare. Many have used the tips I have shared and as a result have been empowered to be active in their care which has given them control at a time when they have felt lost.

The other half of my goal has been to provide examples that would open the eyes of the professionals who work in the healthcare system. Through these stories, I have allowed them to see the challenges patient and their caregivers face as they traverse the complex and fragmented healthcare system and how they can help to ease the path.

Hearing from my peers and professionals who read Nurse Advocate has been gratifying. Many have thanked me for allowing them to see their work from a different lens. Many have shared that my posts have given them new insights into how they can improve the work they do. Many have challenged me to dig deeper and to understand their challenges which have helped me give better information.

As I enter year three, I will continue to learn, listen and write information to support people who use the healthcare system as well as members of the healthcare team throughout the care continuum. I hope you enjoy the ride. 

Thank you for reading Nurse Advocate!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

2017 Professional Reading list

Continuous learning is a critical competency all professionals must engage as we move forward in our careers. Professionals must stay up-to-date of advances in practice, learn about new opportunities, and hone their skills. Last year I introduced 2016 Professional Reading List. Many of the books on that list of still relevant. If you missed last years list or want to review it again, click here to access. 

In this year’s Professional Reading List, I would like to highlight books and articles I have come across this year that are essential tools for all professionals in the healthcare field. I am excited that most of those books and articles are written by nurses and other members of the healthcare team!  

All of the books and articles provide information that will enhance your personal lives as well as your professional careers. Take a few minutes to review the list and purchase those that resonate with you.I hope you find a few books you will add to your professional library.

Let's get started!

My first recommendation is: “Medical Improv: A New Way to Improve Communication” by Beth Boynton, RN, MS. This testimonial from Tanya Bastin-Baltz, a Clinical Nurse Educator summed up why this book is a valuable tool as we all try to improve the culture of healthcare. She notes: “I am excited to have this book as a tool and a guide. The principles of Medical Improv are explained in depth. Also, there are extremely helpful, interactive exercises where you're given the opportunity to put theory into practice and boost your capability to communicate more efficiently and professionally with finesse. As a clinical nurse educator, the interactive nature of this book is beyond invaluable.” Beth graciously has provided a discount code to those who would like to purchase this important book. When you order the book, you can save 25% through eStore. Here is the link Please use this coupon code: MS3TVQQ9
Disclosure: I had the opportunity to work with Beth as she wrote this book. I learned a great deal on the topic and can see the value Medical Improv can during these disruptive times.

I am excited to share this next book, “Fear Transformed = POWER." The book is written by a nurse colleague I met last year at the National Nurse Empowerment Institute annual conference. Elisha Lowe, RN, BSN, MBA is a dynamic woman who has transformed her life many times. Today, she is a successful entrepreneur. Her first book is a tool we all can use to address FEAR as an information signal to be transformed into powerful actions. The book POWER helps us to harness the power of fear to be able to do great things with our lives as we face everything and rise! To review the book and purchase, go to

As a new Nurse Blogger, I have waited for this book for a long time, The Nurse’s Guide to Blogging, was written by Brittney Wilson and Kati Kleber. Brittney has been a mentor and an inspiration to many nurses who wanted to use blogging to share their knowledge, expertise, and insights.  As soon as the book was released, I ordered it and began to read it! I have to say it was worth the wait! These two nurses have put their heads together to create a one-stop resource for nurses looking to grow their blog, audience, and brand. If you are a nurse blogger or have thought about becoming a nurse blogging, this is a must read. Here is the link to review the book and purchase

The next book is from Donna Meheady, Ed.D. ARP and founder of The Exceptional Nurse. Her recent book is The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disAbilities. Here is an overview: They're strong. They're persistent. They're resilient. They're exceptional nurses. Read the true, inspiring stories of nurses with disabilities who overcame significant odds—managing physical and mental challenges on the job—and continued to be a nurse through it all. You'll read of a nurse who has a learning disability and developed his own system of accommodation. You'll find out about a nurse who experienced an amputation after many conservation surgeries and found a way to keep working. You'll learn about a nurse who worked through a terrifying hurricane and developed mental illness and learned valuable lessons about herself to help her conquer it and continue being a nurse.  You'll hear the stories of what it's like to lose hearing while on the job as well as develop vision deficits while nursing. In all these stories, the nurses' resilience is what helped them pull through adverse situations, made them stronger and more capable nurses in the end. Also included is practical information on how to navigate the vocational rehabilitation system including a guide to requesting services, a sample accommodation request letter to share with an employer, as well as information on how to best disclose a psychiatric disability. Whether you're a nurse or a student with a disability or you care about a nurse with a disability, this book will leave you inspired and prepared to be an exceptional nurse yourself. Here is the link to check out the book.

Next is a book from a friend and fellow Nurse Blogger, Kathy Quan. Kathy wrote this book last year that I had the honor of reviewing. If you are currently working or want to work in the area of home care, “Exploring the Home Health Care Experience; Transitioning Your Career Path" is an important book for you to read. Here are a few words about the book: “For nurses looking for a new challenge outside of the hospital and bedside care, this book explores the skilled home health care option for LV/PNS and RNs as well as therapists and social workers. It provides necessary information to give the reader a head start when inquiring and applying for a new position as well as understanding the basic vernacular and processes. As the population continues to age, the need for skilled home health care continues to grow. Hospital stays get shorter and shorter, and patients are being discharged sicker than ever before. Nurses are needed in increasing numbers to help them transition home and learn the skills necessary to remain in their own home as long as possible. You'll be surprised how many people have no idea what their medications are for, much less how to manage exacerbation of chronic diseases outside of the hospital setting. If patient education excites you, then home health care may be the niche you're looking for." Here is the link to the Amazon page where you can review and purchase.

Linda Grobman, Facebook friend, and Social Work Leader sent me a note about a new book her and her team has recently published. The book is: "The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals." The book was edited by Erlene Grise-Owens, Justin Jay Miller, and Mindy Eaves, published by The New Social Worker Press. Here is a snippet from the book: Self-care is an imperative for the ethical practice of social work and other helping professions. From A (awareness) to Z (ZZZZ--Sleep), the editors and contributors use a simple A-to-Z framework to outline strategies to help you build a self-care plan with specific goals and ways to reach them realistically. Questions for reflection and additional resource lists help you to dig deeper in your self-care journey. Just as the ABCs are essential building blocks for a young child’s learning, you can use the ABCs in The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals to build your way to a happy, healthy, ethical life as a helping professional. Includes a self-care planning form to help you set goals and formulate strategies. Here is the link to review the book and purchase.

The next recommendation came from a nurse colleague, Mr. Rene Steinhauer RN, EMT-P whom I met in the Nurse Writers Facebook Group.  He shared a book he wrote; "Saving Jimani; Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake." He noted that this is a real story of his team's work in the first days of the Haiti Earthquake.  During this time, the team was overwhelmed with more than 2000 casualties and ran out of supplies in the first 24 hours.  Critical triage needed to be performed and creative solutions needed to occur.  All of this is told as we follow the rescue of one of the many individuals saved during this disaster.  Here are a two of the many quotes of book reviews found on; "Saving Jimani should be required pre-deployment reading for all disaster volunteers." "It's an engrossing and unvarnished look at medical volunteerism after a horrible catastrophe. "Saving Jimani" is not a book for the timid or for those who have a romanticized view of medicine saving lives amid chaos. Here is a link to check out this important book.

Next is a recommendation from Dan Walter. "Collateral Damage" is a stark reminder of the human side of what may often be seen as statistics, hidden behind words such as “adverse patient outcome.” The book presents, in its clearest form, the suffering of those left damaged by medical complications. It makes for compelling reading for ethicists, lawyers, all members of the healthcare team including patients and their caregivers. To learn more and purchase, go to ebook/dp/B004EHZXAM

My next recommendation is a book by a LinkedIn contact, Kathy Torpie. "Losing Face: A Memoir of Lost Identity and Self Discovery" 
Losing Face’ tells the story of Kathy Torpie’s long journey of recovery as she struggles to cope with life changing multiple trauma following a head-on collision with a drunk driver. She takes the reader on a journey through the alien and often terrifying world of the hospital as experienced by the patient. It is an intensely intimate view of the patient experience. One that is often hidden by more visible physical trauma. As a patient, Kathy encountered a broad spectrum of health care professionals in a wide variety of circumstances in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. She was left with new insights about the powerful influence that the clinician/patient relationship can have on important clinical outcomes, on patient safety, and on patient satisfaction. Losing Face was written as an invitation to enter into the world of the patient and share in some of the discoveries Kathy made along the way about the medical and personal dimensions of the patient experience. To learn more, visit her website,

In May 2017 I heard Dr. Paul Grundy, physician leader in the Patient Centered Medical Home movement, deliver the opening Keynote at the Care Coordination Summit in Baltimore MD. After his presentation, I asked him a question; "how is the consumer supposed to navigate the healthcare system"? He said, “I am so glad you asked that question as I just finished writing a book titled: "Lost and Found: A Consumer’s Gide to Healthcare." The book is an up-to-the-minute guide designed to help consumers of health care navigate the obstacles that stand between them and high-quality, affordable health care. Readers will learn about why primary care, more than any other aspect of medicine, will determine the quality of our healthcare as a nation. They'll see the value inherent in a strong patient-physician relationship and how a "familiar physician" delivers the best preventive and acute care and chronic care management. And they'll find out how to save money without sacrificing quality in today’s changing healthcare environment. To learn more and purchase this book visit the website;

Wendell Matas, a colleague who I have been in contact with for years mostly through Facebook, took the time to share his contribution; “Incompatible with Nature: a Mothers Story” by Tracie Frank Mayer. He shared he met the author Tracie, her sister and Tracie’s son at a New Year’s Eve Party a year and a half ago. He said he had no idea that this mother and son has such an incredible story of him being born with a defective heart. The story will resonate with many because she was a staunch advocate for her son! Here is the link to review and purchase

Teri Treiger case management friend and colleague shared the book she has been most impressed with this year; “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Teri shared that each chapter highlights a personal story of someone coming to grips with their mortality. Each example points to the shortcomings or highlights the clinicians involved. She suggests that people read the book not as a nurse or social worker or case manager.... but simply as a human being. Here is the link

Colleague and friend from the Nurse Empowerment Institute Shushanne Wynter-Minott, MSN, DNP, FNP-BC recently co-wrote an article with M. Sue McManus, Ph.D., BC-FNP, CNN titled; "Guidelines for Chronic Kidney Disease: Defining, Staging, and Managing in Primary Care. " The article is in the Journal of Nurse Practitioners. If you work with patients which Kidney Disease this is an excellent article that will help you understand the disease, pathology and treatment options. To review the abstract and purchase the article go to

A friend and Patient Advocate Colleague Teri Dreher published an article titled "10 Ways to Prevent Medical Errors from Happening to You" in the Daily Herald. This article is a good example of how nurses can write to educate the consumer of the challenges they face in today’s healthcare system and how they can be and need to be an active participant in their care to prevent medical errors from occurring. Here is a link to the article

The last recommendation came from the colleague, friend and President and Founder of the National Nurse Empowerment Institute, Eva Francis. Her new book, "50 BUSINESS IDEAS for Health Care Professionals: A Guide for Health Care Business Ownership" is a must read for those looking to move into Independent practice. The book will give you clarity as you embrace your passion in healthcare and do what you love to do best.  If you are ready to launch a healthcare business, you must purchase this book. If you are a Health Care Professional or a business minded person who is passionate about the Health Care System and wants to launch a business, this is a "must read" for you. This book will give you clarity as you embrace your passion in healthcare and do what you love to do best. To review and purchase this book visit

Thanks for reviewing my 2017 Professional Reading list. Please feel free to share this list with your friends, colleagues, and those you feel might benefit! As always, I welcome your input on books that have enhanced your professional practice. If you have a recommendation, feel free to put it in the comment box or email me at 

Added on 7/31/17

A new book was just published by Margaret Spense titled: Leadership Self-Transformation: 52 Career-Defining Questions Every High-Achieving Woman Must AnswerYou can review on Amazon by clicking here

Stefanie Daniels, friend, and colleague send me this note Because I believe that everyone with a career in healthcare - no matter the role - should stay current on the 'business' of managing health, my best book for 2017 is An American Sickness by Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, a medical journalist who formerly worked as a medical doctor. Dr. Rosenthal breaks down the medical industrial complex into the individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our healthcare system and answers the question of how did healthcare, the caring endeavor, become healthcare, the highly profitable industry? Excellent read and highly recommended.

Ronald Hirsch, MD, FACP, CHCQM shared this note: I will add "Ending Medical Reversal" by Dr. Vinay Prasad. You'll be amazed and shocked at how many "proven" treatments turned out to be worthless. To view on Amazon, click here. 

Dr. Hirsch also reminded me of a book he wrote with Stefani Daniels titled: “The Hospital Guide to Contemporary Utilization Review”. To review on Amazon click here


Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Summer Reading List

Each summer, for the past eight years I have shared my summer reading list with family, friends, and through Social Media. The practice has become an annual tradition that I enjoy.

This year, I have a wide variety of recommendations from a variety of family and friends from around the country. The reason I write this list each year is that I love to learn about books recommended by friends that I can check-out for my summer reading! I also get to learn about new authors that broaden my scope. Some of the titles have been on previous lists, but are worth repeating.

Summer is a great time to recharge your batteries, relax and learn something new. Reading is one of the ways many of us find to escape from the day-to-day challenges we face in our personal and professional lives. I hope you find a book or two that you can add to your summer reading! So whether you are going to the beach, traveling to a foreign country or just sitting in your backyard, pick a book and enjoy! 

Here we go!

The first person to respond to my request for a good book was my good friend and colleague, Robin Boltz. Her top recommendation for summer reading was "The Illegal," by Lawrence Hill. The book is a fictional work but important story about a war refugee trying to find a place to live in the world. Through the symbolism of running, the author portrays the state of constant fear, alertness, and exhaustion that people living through war sustain. She shared; ‘this book is not a relaxing vacation read, but it made me appreciate the peaceful vacation (and life) that I have.’

Colleague and Facebook friend, Mary Ellen Gervais wrote; “My pleasure reading for the summer is – all mysteries and thrillers. She wrote, I just finished “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins. It was good. Also loved “The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

My sister-in-law, Trisha Douville suggested “The Rescue at Dead Dog Beach” by Stephen McGarva. She notes; “It was a tough read but enjoyable book for dog lovers. Also, she recommends “The Three Year Swim Club” by Julie Checkoway; is a good non-fiction book.

Long-time Case Management colleague, Stefany Almaden; suggested a book she wrote about her journey to the United States and about being a nurse. “A Blood-Tinged Diary, Culture Crossing” is an intriguing book that described an accurate depiction of the life of a child who was daring enough to dream the biggest dreams. Her existence was tested since birth, and so was the sequence of events that followed into her late teens including death, hardships, losses, and war-time.

Wendell Matas is a colleague who I have been in contact with for year mostly through Facebook took the time to share his recommendation when he was traveling from Washington DC to his home in Seattle WA after a business trip and for that I am grateful. His contribution is “Incompatible with Nature” by Tracie Frank Mayer. He shared he met the author Tracie, her sister and Tracie’s son at a New Year’s Eve Party a year and a half ago. He said he had no idea that this mother/son has such an incredible story of him being born with a defective heart. The story resonated with Wendell because Tracie was a staunch advocate for her son!

Teri Treiger case management friend and colleague shared the book she has been most impressed with this year; “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Teri shared that each chapter highlights a personal story of someone coming to grips with their mortality. Each example points to the shortcomings or highlights the clinicians involved. A must read for all of us!

Friend, Deborah Johnson suggested: "Ask, and It is Given” by Esther and Jerry Hicks. A wonderful way to move forward in life with joy and fun. Deb notes; “I loved this book, and the processes are transforming."

Laura Ostrosky, a case management colleague, and friend shared that she just finished, “The Nightingale” by Kristen Hannah. Laura shared that the book was hard to put down! "I stayed up much too late finishing it."

Facebook friend, Barbara Hassett-Schoener suggested “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. She also recommended “America’s First Daughter” by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.

Quotartian sister, Dyan Ruhana suggested, “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. Also "Commonwealth" by Ann Patches; both drew me in!

Emily McCrater, another Quotarian sister from Fort Lauderdale, finds time to read after her little boy Danielle goes to bed! She wrote, I just read, “The Orphans Tale” by Pam Jenoff and “Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult. Both were very good!

Annual contributor, a long-time friend and avid reader, Sandi Greenawalt shot me a quick note with her summer reading recommendations that include: “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly. "All the Light We Cannot See" which is a beautifully written story that is a must-read by Anthony Doerr. “Mischling” by Affinity Konar, “Truly Madly Guilty” by Liane Moriarty. She also liked, “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman and The Mountains Echoed, was beautifully written by one of her favorite authors Khaled Hossein.

Good friend, Bonnie Zickgraf recommended: “The People Pill” by Ken Wright

A new author I have been following recently is Lisa Scottoline. She is from Philadelphia and writes thrillers in and around the Philadelphia area. Her books are fast paced and interesting. 

Friend and colleague, Yvonne Beckman shared her favorite reads. They included a mix of fiction and non-fiction. “Euphoria by Lily King" inspired by events of anthropologist Margaret Mead.  A little science and scientists who have feelings too. The backdrop is New Guinea.  Her next recommendation was “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren. This book was about trees, flowers seeds, soil and how things grow and the life of a female scientist with parallel private life experiences.  Last, she recommended “The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in House of Magic” by Ginger Strand. The book is about two brothers who live their remarkable lives with integrity. The story spans several decades with a cultural history of WW II and the cold war.  She also recommends anything by Ian McEwan and Kurt Vonnegut.

Connie Phillip Jones case management friend and Philly girl shared her picks for the Summer Reading List: “The Light Between Oceans," by M.L.Stedman, “All the Light We Can Not See” by Anthony Doer, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi and “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch.

Long-time friend and colleague, Connie Sunderhaus share that she just read “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware –a good summer read. She also suggested, – ‘Small, Great Things” by Jodi Picoult and “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. Connie said just read it – you’ll be glad you did!

Sandra Stedman, a friend from Water Aerobics, brings a bag of books every few weeks for us all to enjoy suggested; "The Dressmaker, by Elizabeth Birkelund-Oberbeck. The group also liked: “The Alibi by Sandra Brown and “Fool me Once” by Harlan Coben.  Her last suggestion was a good book from Anita Shreve; "Strange Fits of Passion."

A friend I have come to know through my Mahjong group turned me onto; "I am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai and “The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah.

That’s it for 2017! Hope you find a good read. If you have any other suggestions, please note then in the comment box below or email me at Feel free to share this list with your family and friends! Have a great summer! 

I am not a 'beach book' reader so these titles may not appeal to all.  But I found them well written, with a compelling story line and page-turner appeal. 

But must rave for The Gentleman from Moscow by Amor Towles.  I gave it 5 stars on my Goodreads list.  Russian Count Alexander Rostov survives the Bolshevik takeover but sentenced to house arrest.  

Late entry: 

Friend and colleague Stefanie Daniels sent me a note this week with her recommendations and I wanted to add them to this year's summer reading list. She said: I am not a 'beach book' reader so these titles may not appeal to all.  But I found them well written, with a compelling story line and page-turner appeal. Here they are: 

"A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman. This book allows the reader to enter the solitary world of a curmudgeon widower only to find a delicate soul. Next is "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce. This author is a joy to read. The book starts off as Harold sets out to mail a letter and decides to deliver the note in person. Similarly, "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson can only be characterized as a charming account of the retired British officer's commitment to defend responsibility and tradition which means he's in a constant state of disappointment. 

Here non-fiction recommendations were:, "Hamilton" by Ron Chernow and "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson held my rapt attention on every page.  Hope you check these recommendations out! 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

7 Tips for Healing

When I was growing up, a friend of mine told me, there will always be something that will throw your life off-kilter. It could be your job, your family, your love life or your health. Those words have rung true over the years as I faced many of life's curve balls when I was least expecting it. Learning how to face and address life’s challenges is part life. 

Two years ago, my life was interrupted when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As a result, I have had to re-evaluate my life and make new decisions as I am not the same person that I was prior to that life changing event. I am not the person I was before cancer, but I am still here and learning how to adjust to my new normal.

Here are seven things that helped me come through one of the most challenging times of my life. 

Faith: Over the course of my illness, I realized how important my faith was. It was what helped me get through the most difficult time of my life. But as I looked back, I realized I have always relied on my faith to help me handle many of the challenges that came to me. Having faith helped me know that I was not alone and there was a higher power who has all the control. Putting my faith into the hands of my God, gave me the strength to focus on what I had to do to improve.

Family, Friends, and Colleagues: Family, friends, and colleagues are important to me as they are the ones who have helped me celebrate the good times and assisted me during the challenging times. Rekindling relationships with your family, friends, and colleagues is important. 

Volunteering: Working and being active has always been important to me. When I became sick, I lost my job and a lot of what was important to me. As I work to come back, I have found volunteering a way to gain my confidence and learn what I want to do. I am involved in s number of meaningful projects that allow me to use my skills, share my expertise focus on what might be next. Volunteering also allows me to focus on people and things other than myself.

Exercise: Exercises is important when we are well, but when we lose our health, exercise takes on a new meaning. I learned that exercise helped me heal and regain my strength. I had to start slow and learn how to be safe due to the complications that I have from the chemotherapy. Small steps turned into bigger steps. As I continue to improve, I look forward to my exercise routine as it makes me feel good.

Reading: I have always enjoyed reading as it allows me to learn new things as well as to escape for a short time from the challenges of life. Today, it is easy to find books that I find interesting and access them on an I-Pad or computer without going to the bookstore or library. I read all types of writings and like to keep up to date with advances in healthcare. I also like to share articles I find that are pertinent to my field of practice. I also take the time to share information which keeps me connected to my practice.

Movies, travel and other forms of entertainment: Getting back after a life altering event is a part of healing. When I was sick, I gave up many of the things that I like to do as I was tired, not feeling well or did not want to be in crowds as my immune system was weakened and I was susceptible to infections. I gave myself the time to heal, and it has been fun to get back to going to the movies, going to a Baseball game and traveling.

Talk Therapy: During the time I was in active treatment, there were times when I felt confused, scared and worried. I was able to share this with my doctor, and he ordered a consult with a therapist. Having someone to talk to who is objective to your situation helps you put things into perspective. If you are going through a stressful time, ask to speak with someone. Don't try to do it all yourself. There are people to help you, just ask.

These are a few of the things I tried as I worked to put my life back together after a life changing event. I share these tips in hopes they may give someone a few ideas that might help when struggling to come back after a setback. Feel free to share this post with those who you think might benefit from reading.

I would love to hear from you and what tools and activities you have used to help come back after a difficult time in your life. Please feel free to email me at

Thanks and have a good week.  

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Don’t Plop!

During my recovery from the brain tumor that changed my life, I spent a two-week inpatient stay, followed by weeks of outpatient rehabilitation at Health South Rehabilitation Hospital so I could regain my strength after completing an aggressive chemotherapy protocol. Of all the things that I experienced as a patient, the one thing I remember was a common term I heard over and over; ‘don't plop.'  

The first time I was told this, I asked my therapists, what she meant by don't plop? The therapist explained she wanted me to pay attention to how I was going from a standing to a sitting position. She explained that when you don't pay attention, you plop, and can hurt yourself. She demonstrated what she wanted me to do so I understood and had me repeat the motion to ensure I understood. 

I recall all of the therapists took great pains in reminding me, (and the other patients) to take our time. Be mindful of where you are and where you want to go.  Being in a weakened state, I was at-risk for falling. As a result, I had to learn to take precautions when getting up, sitting down and doing simple things that most abled body people don't pay attention to.

The therapists showed their concern about safety by watching us closely and reminding us not to plop! These efforts stayed with me over the past two years. Due to neuropathy and bilateral foot drop, I have had to adapt my lifestyle to minimize risks that could cause an injury. Today, when I go to sit, I reach for the chair and make sure I am in the right position to sit. I am very conscious when I get up to make sure my feet are in place and I am safe to take that first step. 

I do recall one time at the pool. I was talking to someone and went to sit in a lounge chair. I was not paying attention and did not judge the distrance to the chair and 'plopped down'. I did hurt myself and maybe for the first time, truly understood the words, don't plop! Since then I have been more careful. 

As I contemplated the advice the therapists gave me, I realized the message has implications for all the things we do in our lives. How many times have your rushed to get something done, only to see a mistake? If we would have taken a few more minutes, we could have avoided the mistake and accomplished what we wanted to do. When we don't pay attention to what we are doing, we put ourselves at risk. So keep this saying in mind, 'don’t plop’! Take your time, know where you are and where you want to go, and do it safely!

Have a good week. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

National Cancer Survivors Day

I received an email from Sylvester Cancer Center informing me that June 4th is National Cancer Survivors Day. As a result, they are planning a fun-filled week of activities.  I had never heard of National Cancer Survivors Day, so I went to the website to learn about the day.

According to the website, National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual, Celebration of Life that is held in hundreds of communities nationwide, and around the world, on the first Sunday in June. It is a CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community. On National Cancer Survivors Day®, thousands gather across the globe to honor cancer survivors and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding and even inspire. It is a day for everyone, whether you're a cancer survivor, a family member, friend, or medical professional.

The day provides an opportunity for all people living with a history of cancer – including America’s more than 15.5 million cancer survivors – to connect with each other, celebrate milestones, and recognize those who have supported them along the way. It is also a day to draw attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship in order to promote more resources, research, and survivor-friendly legislation to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

I thought I would share this information on my Blog, as getting brain cancer was the impetus for me starting Nurse Advocate. As you know, I was diagnosed with a central nervous system lymphoma November 24, 2014. I underwent aggressive chemotherapy which worked and currently I am tumor free.  Despite complications from the chemo which has impacted my executive function, mobility and left me unable to drive, I am doing well as I work to adjust to my ‘new normal’.

My doctor has cautioned me, that the tumor can re-occur so I get an MRI and blood work frequently so we can catch ‘it’ early if there is going to be a re-occurrence. When I think about it, my doctor and I have not discussed re-occurrence in detail except to say, if I have any problems to call him right away. When I asked the doctor what problems I should look for he said, I don’t want to tell you what to look for, just call me if you notice anything out of the ordinary. If I am honest, there are a lot of things that are ‘out of the ordinary' in my life today. In fact, I usually have a list of things that I noticed that are different today than they were prior to finding the brain tumor. I bring my list to the doctor’s visits and share my concerns, but as my scans are clear he does not seem to be worried about them. So I keep on going.

I am not sure if I qualify as a survivor, but I am grateful to have had a good outcome and to be alive today. 

There is never a minute when I don’t wonder how I got brain cancer and if it will it come back. I know no one can give me the answers to these questions, so I go on with my life the best I can and try to live every day to the fullest.

Thank you for reading Nurse Advocate and for supporting me with your thoughts, positive thoughts, and well wishes. They are much appreciated!