Category Archives: illness

Celebrate Your Life With A Video Biography

 

By Debbie Brodsky

Most people don’t want to think about death. Not their own, nor of their loved ones. It’s easier to avoid thinking about it.

I have been creating video biographies for families for over ten years. Of the many objections I’ve had for people not creating a video of their lives, the one that’s always baffled me the most is when people say, “It’s morbid.” They think that by creating a video about their life, that it’s a sign of things to come – that somehow creating a video about their lives is going to somehow cause their death. And no one wants to think about that.

I understand. It feels like by telling your life story, you must be somehow at the end of that story.

Yet we know intellectually that we all are going to die at some point. For those with a terminal illness, that time may come sooner than later. And for those who are left behind, being able to experience a loved one after their death – to hear their voice and see their face light up as they speak – is an enormous gift.

The irony is that when those who are reluctant finally do agree to share their story on camera, they end up enjoying the process immensely. Yes, it may bring up strong emotions, and yes, it’s sometimes hard. But they actually enjoy going on this journey with me – telling the stories of the milestones they have reached, the challenges they have overcome, and the family members they cherished when they were young. They love looking through old pictures, and remembering things they hadn’t thought about in years. More than anything, it brings a sense of peace and relief. They feel a weight lifted. This gift that they’re creating – this legacy for generations to come – is more than a gift to the future. It’s a gift to their present selves honoring their storied past.

If you or someone you know has a terminal illness, creating a video to celebrate their life is one of the best things you can do for them – and for you.

For assistance and resources for creating your video biography, please visit http://www.dmbpictures.com

Related articles:

http://www.dmbpictures.com/blog/2015/10/is-there-a-silver-lining-to-cancer/

http://www.dmbpictures.com/blog/2012/04/the-benefits-of-telling-your-story/

PS — I met Debbie when she conducted a seminar at HOPE CONNECTIONS in Bethesda, Maryland. If I could ‘roll back time’ I wish this is something I had done with my relatives. Just as there are no cell phones in Heaven, neither do they have video cameras. Before it’s  too late, why not start a Legacy project in your family? Make a list of the people you want to honor, call and schedule your first session. Hint: Don’t procrastinate on this one.

 

Q and A with Kara Dolce, Founder of Fighting Pretty www.fightingpretty.org

Sample box from FIGHTING PRETTY

Common Denominator for Cancer Patients (CDCP)

                 Appearance = Self Image (SI)

Elizabeth:  Speaking from personal experience, losing my hair, my eyelashes and eyebrows was one of the most devastating consequences of chemotherapy in 2004. The stress of radiation and multiple surgeries contributed to my losing 30 pounds: I looked emaciated! The American Cancer Society (ACS) sent a Reach to Recovery volunteer to share her cancer experiences, and give me a post-mastectomy Teddy Bear pillow. She urged me to attend a Look Good/Feel Better (LGFB) session held at the U S NAVY Hospital in Bethesda. A volunteer demonstrated how to work around the ravages of cancer, and sent us home with a bag of free (donated) cosmetics. http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/

Flash-forward to September, 2015, when my former SOWER* volunteer friend, Betsy McGuirt was enrolled in home hospice care. Betsy and her husband had battled brain cancer for fourteen months. Their goal was to have as much quality time as they could, with their family and friends.

I think many of my readers know the frustration of wanting to help a friend with cancer, but don’t know what to do, particularly if you live in another location. I called ACS to schedule a “Look Good/Feel Better” program for Betsy, but they had no programs in rural North Carolina.

I don’t remember how I found www.fightingpretty.org, but as soon as I ordered her package, they sent it immediately.

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Betsy left me a tearful voice message: “You made my day!” She loved everything in the box, including the Pink Boxing Gloves which reminded her of her father’s life as a boxer. Her husband passed the gloves on to me, now that my breast cancer has metastasized to my bones. They are a constant reminder, always positioned above my desk.

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Q:  What’s been the biggest surprise since you incorporated Fighting Pretty Inc. as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2013?

A: The biggest surprise has been the impact that Fighting Pretty and our Pretty Packages have had on the women who have received them. We have received thousands of thank you letters from women who have received our Pretty Packages ranging in all ages, all types of cancer and from all over the world. Our Pretty Packages are really making an impact on women battling cancer and in some cases, continue to make an impact on their families even after their loved ones may have lost their battle with cancer.

Sample box from FIGHTING PRETTY

 The outpouring of generosity and love from friends and loved ones requesting Pretty Packages for women battling cancer, companies donating thousands of products and cosmetics, and individual donors supporting the cause has been incredible! We are so grateful for all of our supporters – big and small. Your strength gives us strength!

Q:  What’s been the most effective way to let people know about FIGHTING PRETTY ?

A: Most people are finding out about Fighting Pretty through social media and word of mouth. There are many referrals that come from women who have received Pretty Packages; however, we are working on attending more cancer walks in 2016, and partnering with even more cancer hospitals around the country to distribute literature about our programs and even donate or give away Pretty Packages to current patients getting treatment.

Q:  FIGHTING PRETTY is now three years old. Tell us those amazing statistics of how you’ve managed to help so many women!

A: Fighting Pretty started very organically. I was given a pair of mini pink boxing gloves as a symbol of strength and hope. And when I finished battling cancer, I not only sent on my boxing gloves to a newly diagnosed “fighter,” but I wanted to help all women battling cancer feel strong and beautiful, like my friends and family had done for me. I started by sending one care package to a friend. Then another package to someone else’s friend. And it got to the point where I realized I should send these to everyone, even if I don’t have a direct connection. I started a Facebook page, created a logo and the next thing I knew, I sent 11 in my first month. Then I doubled that, then tripled that, and finally reached the highest month – October – when we sent over 100 Pretty Packages. Next came a request from Australia, then France, then the Philippines. And next thing I knew, with the help of my mom, we sent over 2,500 Pretty Packages to 49 states (no one in New Mexico!) and seven countries in three years.

Because the Pretty Packages are personal, contain quality items that have been carefully procured, and are generally sent from a friend or family member, recipients of the packages absolutely love them. And because friends and family members don’t really know what to do to help their loved one who is battling cancer, they turn to us!

Q: I just asked all of my Facebook friends to “Like” the Ohio State University FIGHTING PRETTY college chapter. It is alarming how many young women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. How can we get more colleges to join this movement?

A:  As a young breast cancer survivor myself, it is alarming, but a real issue. My personal opinion, not backed by research, is that more women are aware of breast cancer now, so they are finding it younger, but living longer because of developed research. Only 15-20 years ago, not as many younger women were aware of the disease, and so they were less likely to do self breast exams, resulting in more advanced breast cancer later in life. Again, this is my personal opinion – not backed by research.

I am very passionate about spreading awareness of Fighting Pretty, but also the promotion of self breast exams.  I know that when I was 26 years old – only a few years out of college myself – the last thing I thought about was getting breast cancer. It was my grandmother’s death that triggered me to do a self breast exam, to find out I had Stage 3 breast cancer that spread to my lymph nodes. I’m happy to say at 34, after surgeries, extensive treatment, and hormone therapy, I am cancer free!

The partnership with OSU came about very organically. A student, Hope Farabee, was doing a class project and wanted to help cancer patients feel beautiful. She found us online and wanted to help. Together, we developed a 3-step pilot Fighting Pretty club: (1) Fundraise (2) Make Pretty Packages (3) Distribute to a local cancer hospital. The OSU team is starting their fundraising step this month!

Q: What’s the best way for potential cash donors or IN-KIND corporate donations to reach you?

A: Visiting our website is where you will find the most information about how to donate. We are always looking for financial donors to back our mission so we can continue to grow and spread awareness of our cause across the nation. In-kind donations help us send quality items to the women who need it most – the women who are Fighting Pretty. We have worked with really big brands like Maybelline, OPI, Revlon and Mary Kay, and smaller brands like Alima Pure and Inspyr Socks. We love making new partnerships because it not only helps us to grow our business, but it helps to spread awareness to help even more women around the world feel strong and beautiful during their cancer journey.

For cash donations, people can donate right through our website:www.fightingpretty.org or send a check to: 2645 SW Maple Lane, Portland, OR 97225. For in-kind donations, please contact us atinfo@fightingpretty.org. We are excited to hear from you!

Q: How often do you need volunteers to help build your FIGHTING PRETTY packages for mailing?

A: Right now, we are sending on average 50-75 Pretty Packages per month. So we typically only meet once every month or every other month, depending on how many Pretty Packages we have “in stock.” However, as we grow, we may be hosting more Pretty Package development events! It’s not the building of Fighting Pretty Packages that we need the most help with, it’s sourcing the materials and spreading awareness so we can help even more women battling cancer feel strong and beautiful during the toughest time of their lives.Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 6.35.05 PM

Kara Dolce, Founder, www.fightingpretty.org

 

How The Mesothelioma Center Can Help Someone With A Terminal Diagnosis of Mesothelioma  

The value of a good support team can’t be understated when facing a terminal diagnosis. A network of supportive family, friends and health care professionals is the greatest asset someone can have when coping with a terminal disease like mesothelioma cancer.

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent, and mesothelioma life expectancy is between 12 to 21 months. However, advancements in treatment are helping people live longer and more comfortably with the disease, and rare cases do go into remission, but the vast majority diagnosed with mesothelioma will succumb to the cancer within three years. Continue reading

Funeral and Burial Plot Medicaid Exemptions

When the sun is about to set and the death of a loved one is imminent, proper planning is crucial. In most instances, it is a good idea to begin planning well in advance so that all expenses at the end will be covered and will not fall on the survivors. With our many years of experience as Medicaid planning consultants, we at Senior Planning Services would like to educate our readers on the common pitfalls to avoid in managing one’s assets for Medicaid eligibility and funeral and burial plot expenses. Continue reading

A Logical, Loving Exit Strategy—in Ten Easy Steps

Last summer I hired a woman-owned firm* to cut our grass. A chance conversation about my work on end of life issues opened a flood gate of gratitude to her mother. Astounded, my reaction was “Wow! Your mom sounds like The Poster Child for planning ahead. Please write this story for my website!” Continue reading

GUEST POST

Sue Montgomery, RN, BSN, granted me permission to link to her article, “WhenMed-Surg Nurses Care for Dying Patients” in Working Nurse magazine.

Here are some medical acronyms and terms that were new to me:

  • Med-Surg = Medical-Surgical.  This refers to a sub-specialty of nursing that cares for patients with medical and surgical needs.
  • ICU  = Intensive Care Unit
  • ATC = Around The Clock
  • PRN = As needed
  • IV = Intravenously