Set Them Free!!!



As I was scrolling down through Facebook this morning, this hit me in the face.   Is it just me, or does anyone else find this ad offensive?

Can anyone tell me how setting one’s ta-ta’s free by going bra-less is in any way “supporting breast cancer”?

And what’s up with trying  to make breast cancer look SEXY?

Here is a picture of me a few days after my mastectomy.

post mastectomy

Pale, skinny, and bald. Believe it or not, I was even wearing make-up here! (I can tell by my neatly drawn on eyebrows.)  Sexy? I think not. (Cute? Maybe.)

Or how about this?  (Taken from the Scar Project).  Folks, this is what breast cancer REALLY looks like.

scar project

So, needless to say, on October 13th I will not be setting my lone ta-ta free. It will be held snugly in place in my mastectomy bra, right next to the bag of rice that currently serves as my left ta-ta.

However,  since November is prostate cancer awareness month, I would like to issue  a challenge of my own: On November 13th, lets…..


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Click below to get your……

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Free cancer survival!

Cancer Warrior:

A great post by my beautiful, smart and funny co-author, Susan. Well worth a read, and if you know any cancer survivors who could benefit from this information, please pass it along.

Originally posted on The Savvy Sister:

There’s something you should know about me….If I had one wish it would be to wipe out cancer from the face of the earth.  It totally sucks.  But since I can’t do that, I am trying to give anyone who will listen the information to dramatically reduce their run in with cancer or a cancer recurrence by making simple lifestyle changes.  and speaking of lifestyle, here’s a random factoid:

90% of all cancers are lifestyle related

That’s true. When I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in 2005, my risk of developing breast cancer was 0.7%….yes less than 1%, but yet here I stand: boob-less.  I believe it was because of my lifestyle.

This “spread the word” mission is what fuels my Savvy Sister blog posts and it is what inspired the book that I co-wrote with cool friend and cancer survivor, Flo Strang, and it is also what…

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Why I Don’t Eat Sugar (and why NO cancer survivor should!)


sugar postWhen I was going through treatments for stage 3 breast cancer in 2012, my chemo nurse, Linda, would often say, “Cancer LOVES sugar!” I really didn’t get what she meant at that time, but now I do. The truth is, cancer actually feeds on sugar.  A PET scan (positron emission tomography), which is used to detect cancer in the body, works precisely on this premise. Before the scan, patients drink a glass of glucose (sugar) water, and then the scan detects where the glucose is being metabolized fastest in the body. These “hot spots” are the areas of the body that most likely contain cancer, since cancer cells consume anywhere from ten to fifty times more glucose than normal cells do! So in fact, when you feed your body sugar, you are actually feeding cancer cells. If you have EVER had a diagnosis of any type of cancer, chances are, there are still cancer stem cells living in your body. Do you want to FEED these cells, or STARVE them? It’s a no-brainer, right?

It is practically impossible to cut sugar completely out of the diet, since it is contained in so many foods….like my favorite bottled spaghetti sauce. But be smart, read the labels, avoid processed foods, especially those high in sugar, and avoid white sugar like the plague!!!!

Just because I don’t eat sugar, does not mean that I can’t enjoy a sweet treat from time to time. For example, these black bean brownies (recipe below) are absolutely delicious, and contain no sugar, flour or dairy.  (OK, I will admit that the first time I heard of them, I thought, “beans in brownies, YUCK!  But then I remembered at one time thinking, “carrots in cake, YUCK!”  I was wrong then too.)


Not only do these fudgey, chocolatey treats taste fabulous, they are also good for you. Black beans are nutritional gold. They are rich in protein and contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps the digestive process and lowers “bad” cholesterol, guarding heart health. The fiber in beans also keeps you feeling full longer, so you will eat less. What’s not to love about them?

What about the sugar, you ask? Well, technically speaking, maple syrup is sugar, since it is mainly made up of sucrose. However, unlike white sugar, it is not refined, and is therefore a more natural source of sweetener.   Also unlike sugar, which is just empty calories, maple syrup contains minerals and antioxidants. 100 grams of maple syrup contains:

Calcium: 7% of the RDA.

Potassium: 6% of the RDA.

Iron: 7% of the RDA.

Zinc: 28% of the RDA.

Manganese: 165% of the RDA.

Finally, maple syrup is sweeter tasting than sugar, so you need only about one-third the amount to get the same sweetness as sugar. (Keep this in mind if swapping out for healthier alternatives!)

Making healthier food choices (while not scrimping on taste) is an important part of MY cancer-fighting lifestyle. If you want to learn more about living a cancer prevention lifestyle, then I encourage you to check out our new on-line cancer survivorship program, Cancer Plan 4 Life. We are now offering a FREE 4 day kickstart program for those of you who want to learn the basics of living a cancer prevention lifestyle. This black bean brownie recipe is just one of hundreds of cancer fighting recipes that you can access on the kickstart program (and you have 30 days to review the program, with a full month’s access to hundreds of mouth-watering cancer-fighting recipes). We teach all about healthier alternatives, so that you don’t have to give up any of your favorite foods, but rather you “swap out” for healthier alternatives. (Which, in most cases, are lower in fat and calories, so as an added bonus, you will likely lose weight while eating for cancer prevention!) You will also be given daily meditations which were specifically recorded for cancer survivors, as well as a daily journal and lots of other cool, cancer-fighting tools. Are you ready to live life by our motto? Survive and Thrive!



Black Bean Brownies


Yields 9-12 brownies


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or one 15 ounce can, drained and well rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup (NOT “pancake” syrup!)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (at room temperature it is in solid form, like butter or margarine, but it is MUCH better for you)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it is aluminum free)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I use vegan chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (OPTIONAL)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips and walnuts in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips and nuts, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. Makes 9-12 brownies. (Best when refrigerated for a few hours, to give them a really fudgey texture.) ENJOY!




Finding The Perks To Beat The Odds


“Finding the Perks to Beat the Odds” is the title of my recent TEDx Talk (link above). The title was not chosen by me, but rather by the TEDx committee. When I first heard the title, I was a little dubious. After all, what kind of a message do I want to convey? I mean, do you think I actually BELIEVE that finding the perks of having cancer helped me to overcome the disease? You betcha!

I remember when I was doing my under-graduate degree in Psychology many moons ago, I was fascinated by stories about the mind-body connection. I remember one study in particular of a person with multiple personality disorder, who was diabetic and required insulin as one personality, but was perfectly healthy as another. (You can read more about it HERE.)

Is it really possible that the mind is powerful enough to turn disease on and off in the body, as this study suggests? While the study cited above is rather dated, recent research confirms the power of the mind-body connection. Best-selling author, Lissa Rankin, in her book, “Mind Over Medicine”, presents hundreds of examples of how the mind-body connection can be used to induce healing. While it may sound rather “woo-woo”, the underlying premise is actually based on Science. It is a well-established fact that the stress response can wreak havoc on the body, and disrupt its healing mechanisms. So when we are under stress, from let’s say for example, being diagnosed with cancer, the body is catapulted into “fight or flight” mode. This is NOT the ideal state for healing. The time that the body is best able to do the job of healing itself is when it is in a relaxed state. (Which is precisely why babies and teens sleep so much….in this relaxed state, they are better able to grow!) So if you want to put your body into the perfect healing mode, you must RELAX! Anything that you do to help you to relax, and turn OFF that stress response, will help your body to heal. That’s why things like practicing gratitude, gardening, meditation, and yes…blogging the perks of having cancer, were all important parts of my survival plan!

(Note: if you need help in designing your own survival plan, please sign up for our free kickstart cancer survivorship program at

survive and thrive


Introducing……..Cancer Plan 4 Life!



I think one of the scariest parts of the whole “cancer journey” for me, was when treatments ended. Don’t get me wrong! I mean, being told at 44 that I had stage 3 breast cancer, and that my odds of surviving for 5 years was just over 50%, REALLY struck terror in my heart. But as long as I was getting my treatments…mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation…I knew that something was being done to kill the beast. However, once my year of treatments ended, I felt like I was on my own to figure things out. Even though I was declared cancer free, I didn’t feel like celebrating. I had watched too many others do their “survivor victory dance”, only to have that very same cancer that they beat, come back with a vengeance… months, years or sometimes even decades later. I didn’t want that to happen to me.

I said to my doctor, “I know I am cancer free right now, but how do I keep it from coming back?”

“Just keep doing what you’re doing”, she replied.

“Keep doing what I’m doing!” I heard a voice inside my head yell, “Aren’t 90% of all cancers related to lifestyle and environmental factors? DOING what I am DOING may have been what caused me to get cancer in the first place!” (Before getting cancer, I assumed that my odds of getting cancer were low because it didn’t “run in my family”. I have since learned that only 10% of cancers are inherited.)

Heck no! I wasn’t going to keep doing what I was doing. I wanted to make changes that would reduce my risk of a cancer recurrence! So I set out on a quest to learn all I could about a cancer prevention lifestyle. My search led to me to a fabulous blog: The Savvy Sister: Simple Changes for Healthy Living. This cancer survivor, Susan, really knows her stuff! She is a nurse, and avid researcher.   She leaves no stone unturned when it comes to finding reliable health tips for beating cancer. I simply fell in love with her…..well not with HER really, but with her blog. So I asked her to marry me. There I go again, what I mean is, I asked her to “marry” or join the content from both of our blogs. I was blogging right here, at “The Perks of Having Cancer”.   In general, my blog deals with the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of survival. Susan’s blog is about the physical part of survival. We married the two, and gave birth (ok, somebody stop me!) to our baby/book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It” , a resource for body, mind and spirit. And the rest, as they say, is history.

fooling aroundSusan and Flo goofing around at a cancer prevention session.

Not to sound braggy, (I just made that word up), but our book is awesome. Read it for yourself, I am sure you will agree. But what is even awesomer (made that one up too), is our new online cancer survivorship program, Cancer Plan 4 Life (CP4L)! CP4L is a revolutionary, 28 day on-line cancer survivorship program, designed to maximize your chances of surviving cancer while minimizing your risk of recurrence. It is a holistic program, meaning that it gives you the tools you need to achieve optimal health of your body, mind AND spirit. Best of all, it is a personalized program, which connects you with a team of experts who will tailor the program to take you from where you are right now and lead you to your own, personal optimal level of health. (You even get to work with a cancer exercise specialist who will design an exercise program just for you. It’s like having your own personal trainer right at your finger- tips!) CP4L is changing the face of cancer survivorship by empowering survivors to take control of their health. There is no other program like this in existence.

Don’t just take my word for it, check it out for yourself by clicking HERE.  If you are really serious about kicking cancer’s butt and keeping it from coming back,  you can sign up for our FREE three day trial.  If you sign up for our FREE newsletter before September 1, you will be eligible to WIN a one month membership. (Sign up HERE at the purple bar to the right.) Hey, if you are not a cancer survivor yourself, sign up anyway for great cancer prevention and healthy living tips. (And if you happen to win a membership, I am sure you know of a cancer survivor who would love to take the journey to optimal health). Until then, live life by our motto, Survive and Thrive!


All Zenned Out!

Kripalu 1

Flo and Lil at the Kripalu Yoga retreat

“Hey, Lil. What time is chanting this evening?” I asked my cousin and life-long friend, Lilly.   No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I was having flashbacks of me and Lil as teenagers, huddled under a bridge, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, our conversation peppered with four letter words. Surely teenaged Flo and Lil would have scoffed at such things as yoga, meditation and chanting. But there we were, middle-aged Flo and Lil, at the Kripalu Yoga Retreat, nestled in the serene Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. How the heck did that happen?

When Lil first invited me to go to Kripalu with her, I was admittedly a little skeptical. My idea of a vacation, like many of you, involved letting the healthy living habits go to the wayside, eating forbidden foods, drinking copious amounts of wine and frantically rushing from one tourist attraction to the next. (Truth be told, I return from most of my vacations feeling like I NEED a vacation!) But this was different. Four days of yoga, meditation, hiking, kayaking, massage, healthy eating, and pure R and R. Yeah, I could handle that.

The first thing I noticed about Kripalu was the feel of the place. Whether I was inside the buildings or on the expansive grounds, it always felt as if I was walking on sacred ground. Everyone spoke in hushed tones, and nowhere did you see people tethered to their cell phones or other devices. In fact, cell phone use was frowned upon in much the same way that smoking is viewed in our society. (Although, Kripalu does have a “smoking tree” where guests can go to have a puff. Upon hearing that, Lil and I went in search of a wine tree, but alas there was no alcohol anywhere on the premises.)

Kripalu 6

In my room, feeling all “zenned out”!

The second thing that caught my attention was the guests. I was kind of expecting to see a whole lot of clones of myself and Lil: middle-aged, in-good-shaped women. But there were both men and women of all shapes, sizes and ages, ranging from one year olds to a ninety-one year old. I quickly discovered that with yoga, you really cannot judge a book by its cover, as I witnessed seniors and some who were more than just a few pounds over-weight, twist themselves into pretzel like contortions. Meanwhile I, while looking like the picture of physical fitness, struggled with my down-dog! While there was great physical diversity among the guests, one thing that they all seemed to share in common was that look of glowing health. Lil and I especially took notice to a number of women whom we guessed to be in their seventies, whose skin and hair just radiated a healthy glow. They stood tall and regal-like, with willowy limbs, and moved with such distinct gracefulness that was hard not to gawk at them. (In fact, truth be told, I think we developed a sort of old-lady crush on a couple of them.)

The food at Kripalu was the healthiest fare I have ever seen.   Meals were served buffet-style in a large dining hall. There were basically three levels of food, which I called healthy, healthier, and healthiest.  On the healthy menu you could find some organic chicken or fish, but mostly an array of vegetable and grain dishes which would make your mouth water. The healthier version was the vegetarian equivalent of the meal, while the healthiest version, referred to as the “Buddah bar”, consisted of an assortment of gluten free, vegan dishes. There was plenty to choose from and all meals were DELICIOUS!

Kripalu 3

Lil striking a pose.

The main thing I have taken away from my Kripalu experience is the importance of treating my body with loving kindness. This body of mine has been through a lot in its 47 years on the planet, as is evidenced by the many battle scars it bears. It brought three children into the world, the youngest via C-section. It engaged in a fierce battle with cancer, emerging victorious, yet scarred, burned and tired from the fight. This body deserves to be nourished with healthy and delicious foods, exercised in fun ways, hydrated with plenty of clean water, and loved for all that it has carried me through. Thanks to my days at Kripalu, I have a renewed commitment to give my body just what it deserves.

Kripalu 5Flo striking a tree pose.

It is my prayer that in thirty years old-lady Flo and Lil will return to Kripalu, with the glowing hair and skin, willowy limbs, and graceful movements that can only come from a lifetime of clean, healthy living. (Hey, who knows? Maybe some middle aged women will even develop old-lady crushes on us!)





My Guru



For much of my adult life, I have searched for the secret to well-being. I have read hundreds of books, attended numerous workshops, and studied all of the great gurus of the day: Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle. But still, the secret seemed to allude me……until 3 years ago, when the secret to well-being was revealed to me, not by a great guru, but by a six year old boy with a powerful life lesson!

So begins the seven minute talk that I will be giving on Tuesday, June 17th as I compete with 11 others for the honor of being opening speaker for Deepak Chopra! Those of you who have been following my blog for a while may have figured out who this 6 year old guru that I speak of actually is. However, you will never guess how he opened my eyes to the real secret of well-being. And you may find it ironic when you hear how I learned more about well-being the year I battled cancer than I did from all my years of reading books and doing courses.

I have lost count of how many speeches and talks I have given over the past 3 years, but this one is by far the most emotional one of my speaking career. I just hope that I can maintain my composure to get through it! And if I do cry, well “shag it”, as we say in Newfoundland. I probably won’t be the only one there who tears up.

If you would like to actually hear me deliver this speech live (and I hope, vote for me!), you can purchase tickets to view the event ONLINE at the link below. I am the 11th of 12 speakers, so I will be on about 9:30 NL time (that’s 8:00 EST), and voting starts about 10:00. I would really appreciate your support!

Link to purchase tickets (note proceeds from ticket sales go to the “I am Genie” charity):

Until next week, Survive and Thrive!


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