When Illness becomes Wellness

Every breast cancer survivor likely remembers the exact place and moment they got the news. In a time filled with unknown terms, treatments, surgeries and side effects, I can understand why the focus is on the illness. But when does the discussion include healing and recovery? Why don’t doctors encourage anxious patients to take a walk, do a few squats, stretch and eat extra greens?

When a patient asks what they can do to help get ready for surgery, it’s all about the process, drains, healing times and what NOT to do. When do we talk instead about the DO’s? Why is it that we don’t prescribe exercise, nutrition and mind-body therapies that make women stronger and healthier?

When does the focus on illness shift to wellness?

Wellness is a proactive, lifelong process of becoming aware of and making choices to become physically and emotionally healthy. More than being free from illness, wellness is a dynamic process of growth toward living your best daily life. There are seven wellness categories, each an equal part of the wheel. When one piece of the wheel is “low,” similar to the tires on your car, your life may feel like a bumpy ride.


While there are countless ways to engage in each wellness category, check out these ideas…

1. Intellectual – Read a non-fiction book or watch a documentary on Netflix. Check out YouTube videos or take a class on knitting, cooking, painting or dance.
2. Physical – Exercise regularly and eat lots of protein. Strength training is the most important type of exercise to maintain your metabolism and deal with menopausal changes and/or medication side effects such as joint pain. Try wearing a weighted backpack while you do household chores.
3. Environmental – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Do your part to take care of our planet. Control your personal environment and eliminate people and activities that are negative.
4. Emotional – Create a list of resources that put you in a good mental place. When your self-talk needs support, listen to a positive song or motivational video on YouTube. Better yet, put on headphones and go for a walk.
5. Occupational – Work in a job that you love, if you can. If you can’t, volunteer for a charity that speaks to your heart. Be fiscally responsible with your time and money.
6. Social – Establish and maintain positive relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Use social media in a positive and empowering way. Smile at someone new.
7. Spiritual – Explore your spiritual core by asking yourself questions. Who am I? What is my purpose? Practice meditation, deep breathing and relaxation, especially in situations that cause stress or anxiety.

What ways can you bring wellness into your life?

About Sami Mansfield
Sami (Papacek) Mansfield has been an oncology exercise specialist since 2003. She has helped thousands of cancer survivors as a supporter, friend, connector, healthcare expert and – most important – wellness and exercise consultant. She is the wellness and oncology expert for the University of Kansas Cancer Center, and she devotes much of her time to coaching survivors. Sami has been a part of YSC for over 10 years, having served as the Kansas City chair for more than four years. She is a two-time Tour de Pink rider and four-time national conference speaker. In her personal time, she’s a wife, mom and crossfitter.
Read more about Sami at www.cancerwellnessforlife.com



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How To Eat & Drink Your Way Through Cycling

With March being Nutritional Awareness Month, I was invited to share some perspective on good nutrition as you train for your next big event.

I approach a big cycling event (or any physical event) backwards. Yep, backwards. That applies to both training and nutrition. Assuming you have decent nutritional habits already, working backwards focuses on the week prior to your event to build up protein and carb reserves.

Count backwards seven days from your event.  For the next three days, you want to ingest more protein than usual, while reducing your carbs a bit. Finally, for the final four days, you do the opposite; eat less protein and LOTS of carbs. But don’t be like so many cyclists who crowd restaurants the night before an event and stuff their faces with pasta; it’s a bit too late to obtain the benefit of those carbs. By the way, I’m talking about complex carbs.  Do a Google search for great complex carb examples.


Sadly, the vast majority of Americans live with some level of dehydration. It’s safe to say we should be drinking approximately eight ounces of water eight times a day. Add that up and you get close to half a gallon.  (And if you live in the south, sweet tea doesn’t count.  I’m talking about regular old water.)

As I tell my clients, you CAN eat an elephant, just not in one bite. The same is true of drinking half a gallon of water. Start by drinking four ounces of water every other hour during your waking hours. Do this for a week and then bump that up to every waking hour for two weeks. Finally, turn that four ounces into eight ounces and you’re good to go.

Yes, it’s going to be a lot of trips to the bathroom. Hey, that’s actually a good thing. The more you keep your body “flushed,” the healthier you can be.
I am amazed at how many cyclists hardly drink while riding.  My rule of thumb is take a drink every 10 minutes, whether you feel like it or not.  This will keep you from becoming dehydrated.

You rarely see it when watching events like the Tour de France, but those guys do take “nature breaks.” Bottom line, if you don’t need a bathroom during longer bike rides, then you probably haven’t drunk enough.


MycyclingcoachAbout Robert Wilhite:
“Coach” Robert Wilhite is a professional cycling coach who started MyCycleCoach.com 13 years ago. His clients range from beginners to pro-level cyclists. His unique perspective comes from racing motorcycles at speeds in excess of 180 mph, where the balance, handling and control skills are exactly the same as a bicycle.  Coach Robert has a natural gift when it comes to teaching and communicating everything you need to know about riding a bicycle.

Interested in putting these great tips to the test? Then join one of YSC’s Tour de Pink rides this year!
Tour de Pink South: April 15-17, 2016
Tour de Pink East: September 16-18, 2016
Tour de Pink West: October 14-16, 2016



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Leaping to Help

Today is leap day, the extra day inserted into the calendar every four years. What will you do with your extra day? Some of YSC’s volunteers are taking a leap to help ensure the YSC Summit is a huge success.

In a little over a week, more than 600 attendees will gather in Atlanta, Georgia for the YSC Summit. As the national conference for young women affected by breast cancer and their co-survivors, the Summit is an amazing weekend that takes a huge amount of support from volunteers. They generously give their time to help prepare name badges, stuff tote bags, set up, assist with registration, greet attendees, moderate breakout sessions and more. They play an integral role in making sure every event runs smoothly!

StoriStori, diagnosed at 39 and a State Leader from California, leapt at the chance to volunteer at the Summit.

“I am volunteering because I feel it’s important to be one of the faces of the organization. I’m a State Leader and volunteer throughout the year for YSC, and think it is especially important to help make this event successful. I just want to assist someone who needs my help and make sure everyone who attends has a really great experience with YSC,” Stori says.

Natalie 3After being diagnosed at 36, Natalie started the first YSC Face 2 Face network in Tennessee and recently moved to Atlanta. She has been committed to giving back to YSC ever since she received support after her own diagnosis. Because this year’s Summit is in her backyard, it was a great opportunity for her to be involved.

“After all the support Young Survival Coalition has given me, I wanted to give back. Being able to share time and experiences with other young women affected by breast cancer gave me a strength and understanding that I couldn’t have received from anyone else. I am so excited to be a part of this conference and happy I can help make it great,” Natalie says.


Are you ready to leap into volunteering for YSC?  Sign up to volunteer at the YSC Summit here.

You can also get involved the rest of the year by registering to be a YSC volunteer.
Text YSC2016 to 77948 to receive text messages about volunteer opportunities in your area.




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How I Regained My Smile Following Breast Cancer

Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 is rough. You are quickly thrown into a world of decision-making and self-advocacy; where the balance between quality and quantity of life looms over you while physicians and family each provide their opinions. But then you make it through. You become a survivor and everything in the world is great….except when it isn’t.

The same treatments that saved my life had long-term side effects that had stealthily remained out of the conversation when I weighed my treatment options. To be fair, if someone had told me at the time, “You are going to take this medication for five years, which will prevent the cancer from coming back, but it will also prevent you from having sex in the future,” I probably would have still taken the medication. But after the physical and mental healing of cancer, you want to get back to “normal,” and I quickly realized that the pain doesn’t stop after remission.

Vaginal Atrophy is a common condition for women who have been on adjuvant therapy, but only recently has it been discussed openly. When I first went to my doctor and told her about my symptoms, (i.e. dryness, painful intercourse, etc.), I was told to try lubricant from the drugstore. It goes without saying that if the symptoms were bad enough to discuss with my doctor, we were way beyond drugstore solutions. Unfortunately, there were no other options for me. The few products on the market to treat vaginal atrophy all contained estrogen and centered around hormone replacement for post-menopausal women. As an estrogen positive breast cancer patient, the last thing I wanted to do was put more estrogen in my body.

Enter self-advocacy and a lot of stubbornness. I refused to accept that I had to live like this. I routinely spoke with my gynecologist about the problem until one day she presented a new solution – the MonaLisa Touch. A Clinical Trial was being conducted for this new CO2 laser that would restore the vaginal health to what it was before my cancer diagnosis, and I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the program.

With cautious optimism I went in for my first of three treatments, hoping for a miracle, but expecting very little. Three days after my first treatment, I began to feel the results, but ever the skeptic at heart, I told myself it was probably the placebo effect. A week later I could no longer deny it. There was definitely a change. I was still too nervous to attempt intercourse, but the painful dryness was dissipating. After my second treatment I did a little happy dance. I actually felt amazing. The dryness was gone – not just “better,” I mean, it was GONE. I had sex for the first time in a long time and felt like I was 21 again. My third treatment just sealed the deal.

I am happy to report that more than one year from my treatments with MonaLisa Touch, I am enjoying a quality of life that I thought I would never regain. If I can impart one piece of advice onto other women going through the same thing – don’t live with the pain. Like me, you too can regain your smile again.

Mona Lisa Touch Before & After

(A) Vaginal Atrophy, mucosa in the basal condition with a thinner epithelium. (B) The same patient 2 months after a session with the MonaLisa Touch®. The thicker epithelium and shedding of numerous big cells from the free surface, together with the larger diameter of epithelial cells rich in glycogen, demonstrate the restored metabolic trophism and dynamics of the whole epithelium.

At 29, Lisa Elliot was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her subsequent treatments lead to menopausal symptoms including extreme dryness, irritation, itching and painful sex.  As a young lady in her early 30s, she wasn’t able to sit at her desk without being in severe pain, much less have sex with her boyfriend who didn’t really comprehend why or how this could be happening to someone so young.  Then, Lisa’s gynecologist introduced her to a new, non-estrogen therapy. Within two days of her first [of three] treatment, Lisa reported that she had a dramatic improvement in her symptoms. Upon returning for her second treatment, she rejoiced that she had been partaking in sex again with no pain. One year following her series of three treatments, Lisa’s symptoms have not returned.

MonaLisa Touch is a proud partner of Young Survival Coalition.



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Just do your thing.

I like beer.  This is not the point of my post, but I thought you might like to know. I also like the band RUSH, but that also is not the point. The point is this: I’m a Co‑Survivor. I’m also a very lucky man.

craig pic 1OK, my wife Jenn (smokin’ hot, BTW) was diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer (ER+/PR+/Her2-) in 2013. Up until then, everything was awesome: a great marriage of over 10 years, two amazing girls, a house, a dog, you get the idea. Thankfully, we still have all of that, minus one of Jenn’s breasts and some lymph nodes.

Jenn’s diagnosis consumed every waking minute. As the Co-Survivor (a title I never knew existed), it took all of my attention to keep things moving. The marriage, kids, house, dog … and now awwwwhhh crap, The Cancer.

The last thing on my mind was intimacy. Following Jenn’s diagnosis and the ensuing surgeries and treatments, it was the absence of intimacy that stood out.

Here was the woman I loved and desired, and honestly, she was a wreck. Hell, I was a wreck.  Having my wife burying her head in my chest and sobbing herself to sleep, and sharing her emotions, wasn’t much for foreplay.

But, over time, intimacy did, can I say it? Arise. It was tentative at first, but it was there.  Simply put, you love and desire your partner and intimacy is part of that. What kind of intimacy, you ask?  I think you know. But let’s not go full perv. My kids might read this and think I’m even weirder.

There is a type of intimacy more important than the biblical thing. A knowing look.  A hand held. A smile. A hug. Time together. I know, blah, blah, blah. You already know all of this. But, before you click away to read about Kanye being broke or the Zika virus, let me ask you: What’s your thing?

I’ll tell you what our thing is (beyond the smiles and hugs and stuff).


craig pic 6Throughout Jenn’s diagnosis, surgeries, treatments and all the other fun cancer stuff, we found intimacy in cooking. We would plan a meal. I mean seriously plan a meal, like all week long. We’d talk about it, source the ingredients, go shopping. We’d plan the food, drink, and even the movie we’d watch (we’re not much for candles and fine china; more like TV trays and couches.) Then, we’d cook together. The moments spent talking, collaborating, laughing, and sometimes just chewing were important. Those moments were intimate. We had always done this, even before cancer. But, after cancer, this thing was much more special, more important, more intimate.

So, I ask again, what’s your thing?

In getting to that answer, ask yourself: Why are you together? What draws you to one another? How do you show your love? What do you like to do together?

Whatever it is, just do your thing. If you make something up or try to go extravagant, it’s not going to feel real. Oh, and don’t hide from the intimacy. Cancer changes a lot of things, but not everything. Certain things are fundamental to us as human beings. What existed before cancer is still there.

This cancer stuff will never be over and no one knows what’s coming next. So, we’ll just keep doing our thing. Same as before.

Here’s some pictures of Jenn and me (and those amazing kids I mentioned). Take a quick look at her hotness.

Craig And Family



Craig’s wife, Jenn McRobbie, will be speaking at the upcoming YSC Summit in Atlanta, GA on March 11 – 13. As a breast cancer survivor, Jenn understands that a breast cancer diagnosis is not only hard on you, but it is also difficult for friends and family. Join her session, Friends and Family: Building Stronger Relationships After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, to learn how to navigate these important relationships after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Register today: summit.youngsurvival.org/Registration






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Categories: Guest Bloggers

10 Truths About Great Sex

web1321800-gIntimacy after a breast cancer diagnosis can be a challenge. When Rachel Venning, Babeland’s other co-founder and my business partner of more than 20 years, and I wrote Moregeasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex, a key part of it was the Babeland Bill of Rights. These 10 truths are all about self-knowledge of your own body and allowing yourself the time to explore and enjoy sex.

We’re looking forward to participating in the upcoming YSC Summit next month and I wanted to offer the Babeland Bill of Rights as an introduction to what we hope to inspire and share with all the survivors and co-survivors we’ll be fortunate enough to meet.

Remember, you are sexy—the whole of you, inside and out.
Use your entire body for good sex. Incorporate all five senses into sex. Bring your head, your heart, your willingness and desire for connection. And use your lungs too. Breathe!

2. Love yourself first.
You deserve freedom from negative self-talk and internal criticism.

3. Enjoy the journey.
The big O is not the whole point. A round of sex is over when you feel like it’s over. The journey matters as much as the destination.

4. Own your own orgasm.
Develop the skills and knowledge on your own to make yourself come. Then bring that knowledge to the bedroom and share it with another person. Just remember you have a lifetime to work it out, so keep the self-love flowing.

5. Ask for what you want.
Check in with your partner using eye contact, sounds, and words. We don’t believe anyone has magical intuitive powers to be a good lover. It takes some effort.

6. Take charge of safe sex.
If you want to use a condom, bring one and insist your partner uses it.

7. Use lubrication.
Or at least have it nearby at all times. Wet and slippery feels good – dry not so much.

8. Laugh.
Sex at home isn’t like the movies. Be ready for things to go wrong and have a laugh about it.

9. Don’t be afraid to make a mess.
That’s part of the treat.

10. Keep growing.
Over a lifetime your desires change, and so does your body. So change up your sexual routine to fit what you need. Better yet, try not to have a sexual routine. Break patterns and try new things, just for the sake of newness and surprise. Variety is the spice of sex.


Babeland_ID_O_PMS_SM [Converted]Claire co-founded Babeland in 1993 to create a friendly and welcoming shop for women to get good information about sexual pleasure and high-quality sex toys.
Visit babeland.com or any of the 4 stores in New York City and Seattle for workshops, events, toys and resources.

Come meet Babeland representative and teacher Avital Isaacs who is hosting a Ladies Pajama Party at the YSC Summit on March 11 – 13 in Atlanta, GA. Register today!



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3 Perspectives of YSC’s Regional Symposium

Just three weeks ago, YSC hosted its first Regional Symposium in the South. Jackson Mississippi welcomed us with open arms as nearly 100 young women affected by breast cancer, co-survivors and healthcare providers came together for a full day of learning, empowerment and hope. We were thrilled to co-host the Symposium with the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network, which includes SurviveAL, SurviveDAT and SurviveMISS. The event included inspirational speakers and plenty of time to connect and network with one another.

I interviewed three Symposium attendees about their thoughts and experience before, during and after the event. Here’s what they had to say:

, diagnosed at age 36, YSC Arkansa State Leader

WendyWhat did you hope to gain from attending the Symposium?
I attended because I wanted to gain more knowledge on other types of breast cancer, which has affected so many people I come in contact with. I also hoped to be more accessible to all cancer survivors as a voice to help them get the best treatment possible.

What was your favorite thing about the Symposium?
My favorite parts were the individual sessions because they gave everyone a chance to bond on a more personable level.

Do you have any tips or take-aways to share with others interested in attending future YSC conferences?
I offer this advice to anyone who’s considering attending a YSC event – come fully expecting to walk away a different person from all the event has to offer. I won’t give away too much, just come on out and see for yourself!

How has attending the Symposium impacted you?
This symposium has left me feeling like I need to do more in my own community with the tools that have been shared.


Shauntice Allen, PhD, Public Health Researcher, IMG_9739Regional Advisory Board Member for SurviveAL and currently living with metastatic breast cancer after an initial Stage I diagnosis in 2012.

Dr. Allen hosted two work sessions at the Regional Symposium – Relationships and Intimacy: Embracing My Relationships Now and Relationships and Intimacy: My New Body, My New Self.

What did you hope to gain from attending the Symposium?
I hoped to gain a new network of those living with metastatic breast cancer. I had an opportunity to meet women across the Southeast who provided me with a new sense of hope as it related to metastatic breast cancer.

What was your favorite thing about the Symposium?
I enjoyed the dinner and opportunity to relax with participants. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I facilitated; it sparked great conversation and new insights for those in attendance and for myself.

Do you have any tips or take-aways to share with others interested in attending future YSC conferences?
Make sure to attend a YSC conference or regional symposium – the information and relationships gained are priceless.


David, Co-survivor to his wife Jami Watson, who was diagnosed at 33 and a YSC Mississippi State Leader and F2F Coordinator

Craig and JamiWhat did you hope to gain from attending the Symposium?
As a co-survivor to my wife, Jami, I was hoping to just be a support for her by attending, as has been my typical role with this journey. She did, however, encourage me to go for the co-survivor sessions.

What was your favorite thing about the Symposium?
At this event, there was a session specifically for us co-survivors that allowed for us to each share our wives’ stories but from our perspective. For the first time I actually shared with other men the journey my wife and I have had with breast cancer and I was able to hear their personal stories of struggle and victory.

Do you have any tips or take-aways to share with others interested in attending future YSC conferences?
If you’re a co-survivor reading this and wondering if it’ll be worth your time to go to a YSC event like this, don’t wonder anymore. It IS worth every minute. You’ll be blessed, encouraged, and enlightened; and most of all, your survivor spouse will most definitely feel supported and loved. I came away with an even greater appreciation for the Young Survival Coalition; what this organization is doing for women (and co-survivors) is unprecedented and is a noble and worthy cause! My wife and I will continue to support YSC and look forward to the next event.

How has attending the Symposium impacted you?
As the Symposium progressed, I gained more perspective of how far-reaching breast cancer is in these women’s lives. I met women who had beaten this cancer multiple times, others who are currently battling metastatic disease, and women who were newly diagnosed; all of whom were strong, courageous, willing to share experiences and gain more strength from those around them. Heck, even some of the medical professionals speaking at the event were breast cancer survivors or current patients! It was encouraging to see these women in all stages of the battle there celebrating victory and refusing to let cancer beat them, no matter what part of the battle they were in.

Did you attend the YSC Regional Symposium in Jackson, MS? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share your experiences in the comments section below. 


Are you now interested in attending YSC’s next big event? You’re in luck! The YSC National Summit is less than 4 weeks away and we’d love to see you there. Join us in Atlanta, GA from March 11 to 13 for the largest conference for young women affected by breast cancer and their co-survivors.

Register today at summit.youngsurvival.org/Registration
Fee waiver applications will also be available until February 16.
For more details and to apply: summit.youngsurvival.org/Waivers



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Categories: YSC Conferences

5 Tasty Ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day

Forget Valentine’s Day! Galentine’s Day, coined by Leslie Knope the charming character from the show Parks and Recreation, is the real holiday worth celebrating.

Join in the wonderful tradition by celebrating friendship with your best gal pals this February 13.  At Cook For Your LIFE, our mission is to teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. We believe that the first step toward healthy eating is cooking at home, and what better way to show your love for your girlfriends than a home cooked meal?

Here are some of our favorite ideas to celebrate Galentine’s Day.

1. Have a healthy potluck

Skip the high calorie and price at a restaurant and host a healthy potluck. CookForYourLife.org is full of delicious recipes from simple to extravagant to fit everyone’s skill level. Our founder, Ann Ogden, is a breast cancer survivor so making delicious recipes that are great for breast health is one of our specialties. Check out some of our favorites to try our with your “breast friends.”

2. Have a mocktail party:

mocktailThere’s a fun cocktail idea for just about every holiday, but can’t we enjoy a festive night with friends sans alcohol? Stack your bar with pomegranate juice, oranges, sparkling apple cider, limes, mint and seltzer for a plethora of delicious fun drinks from Mock Sangria to an Orange Mint Twist.

3. Choose an adventurous meal and make it together:

Have you been waiting for the perfect evening to try out a crazy new recipe? Have everyone grab a few of ingredients at the grocery store on their way over and give it a go. PopcornYou can make a five-star meal and have fun while you’re doing it.

4. Popcorn and a movie:

Popcorn and a movie are a great pair, just like you and your best friend. Take it easy at night and get inventive with your popcorn choices. We have awesome popcorn recipes like Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn, Chai Spiced Popcorn, Rosemary Olive Oil Popcorn, and Southern Spiced Popcorn. Have a fun taste test, and hey, Pizzapopcorn is a whole grain!

5. Pizza Party:

Pizza at home can be healthy, no really! We have a ton of great vegetable-loaded pizza makeovers that everyone loves. You can either work together to make a couple of large pizzas or each make your own individual pies. Either way, using pre-made whole wheat pizza dough as your canvas can be so much fun, easy, and totally delicious. Click here for more awesome pizza recipes.





Cook For Your LIFE will be leading a scrumptious cooking demonstration at the YSC Summit next month, the only national conference for young women affected by breast cancer. They’ll focus on nutrition as well as demonstrating some of their favorite simple recipes. Getting in the kitchen doesn’t have to be complicated and they’ll prove it to you!

For more information on Cook For Your LIFE visit their website www.cfyl.org or learn more on their about page.



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Your Best Lover is…YOU!

light heartIt’s February and the subject is love.  We’re awash in Hallmark moments about romance, hearts and flowers and little candy kisses with sweet messages. Let’s take a deeper look at love, at self-love.

The truth is that love begins and ends with your relationship with yourself. You are your primary partner and you are your lifetime lover. How you feel about you determines how you receive and give love. Sometimes we think that we’ll love ourselves when we know others love us. If we don’t feel loved, it’s easy to think that we’re unlovable and that only love from others can fill that emptiness. This is backwards. How we feel about ourselves is what we transmit to the world. When you are in love with you and loving you, you radiate love and it’s irresistible. You are irresistible.

For the month of February, my invitation is to love yourself fully, to believe that you are adorable, lovable, sexy and irresistible. Imagine what your life would be like if you felt totally loved all the time? This is the gift I’m inviting you to give to yourself. After all, who else knows you so well and knows how you want to receive love?

Each day this month, explore ways to love yourself. Open your heart to yourself the way you would to the one/s you love most. Be generous with your love because you deserve to be adored. Remember what it feels like to be in love and all you can think about is your sweetie? Bring that attitude and energy to you. At first this may feel silly or awkward. But stick with it and be creative, and you may find a surprise at the end of the month.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Write yourself a love letter. Tell yourself all the things you appreciate and love about yourself. Write it on beautiful stationery or a card and mail it. Hint: you can do this more than once and perhaps you’ll send you a Valentine.

 – Take yourself out on a date. Dress up so that you feel beautiful and go out for coffee, a movie, dinner or for a walk in a beautiful place.

 – Meditate on love. What does love mean to you? How do you know when you are loved? How can you be more loving with yourself? Open to receive what comes to you as you sit and contemplate these questions and any others that inspire you.

 – Buy yourself some gorgeous flowers, or send them to yourself. Include a love note with the flowers and when you look at them, remember how much you love yourself.

 – Each time you see your face in a mirror, look into your eyes and say, “I love you” out loud. Say it like you mean it.

 – Stroke yourself from head to toe with tenderness and love.

 – Keep a love journal. Write daily about your exploration for that day ~ what you did, how it felt and what you’re learning about loving yourself. Keep the journal in a special place and read it often to remind you of your love for yourself.


small logoAbout Barbara Musser

Barbara, founder and CEO of Sexy After Cancer, is the author of Sexy After Cancer ~ Meeting Your Inner Aphrodite on the Breast Cancer Journey. A 26-year breast cancer survivor, speaker and educator, she teaches classes and retreats for women and couples about cancer, love, intimacy and sexuality.


Barbara will be speaking at the YSC Summit on Saturday during General Session 1 on Sex and Intimacy along with other experts. To learn more about this session and others, visit summit.youngsurvival.org/Sessions.



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Heart Health & You: Before, During & After Treatment

go-red-american-heart-associationFebruary is Heart Disease Awareness Month and today is “Go Red Day” where everyone wears red to raise awareness of heart disease and donate to “Go Red for Women,” which supports educational programming on heart disease.


Why should we, as breast cancer patients or survivors, worry about our heart?
Well, unfortunately there are lots of reasons. First, some of the treatments and chemotherapies we may have taken can cause heart damage. These include (among others) Adriamycin, Herceptin and radiation on the left side of the body. In addition, if you were premenopausal before treatment and become postmenopausal during or after, that can also affect your heart. The risk of heart disease increases in postmenopausal women, with the decline of estrogen levels possibly playing a role.

What Can You Do to be Proactive?
If you’re in active treatment that could possibly damage your heart, your doctor will likely check your heart function to ensure that there are no problems. This can include an EKG or MUGA scan. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctors about how certain treatments may impact the rest of your body, including your heart. This is especially important if you already have heart problems or a family history of heart disease.

shutterstock_111914588If your treatment is complete, what can you do to take care of your heart? First, it is very important that all your physicians, including your family or primary care physician, be aware of your complete medical history including your breast cancer treatments. This way, they can be aware of what potential medical issues to monitor including your heart. Second, take care of yourself and your heart. If you are smoking, stop. Maintain a healthy diet, keep a check on your blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise and take steps to reduce stress.

What are Signs and Symptoms of Heart Problems?
These can include puffiness in hands and feet (due to retaining of fluid), dizziness or weakness, shortness of breath, coughing, and racing or irregular heartbeat. If you ever have any concerns or think you may be having a heart attack, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

Taking charge of your health is one way to be empowered while dealing with the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis. And remember – YOU are your own best health advocate!

For more information on heart health, visit:

BeastCancer.org – Heart Problems

TheBreastCareSite.com – Take Heart, Be Smart: Before, During & After Treatment

GoRedForWomen.org – National Wear Red Day, 2/5/16

Heart.org – Menopause and Heart Disease




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Categories: Taking my Body Back