Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A new dawn, a new day...and where I have been!

It is a new day, a new dawn, a new year....
and time to get moving!!

Some of you may have noticed, I have been quiet for a while. I have allowed life to get me moving in some areas and slowing me down in others. I think it happens to all of us. You get so busy with life, with its ups and downs, good and bads and you forget things, or you get a bit discouraged, or you are just trying to hang on like everyone else at times. Regardless of the case, we need to give ourselves a break, a breather, a pat on the back and if need be, pick ourselves up from the boot straps and move forward. So before I tell you what this blog is really about let me tell you about me for the last few months.

First of all, let me tell you that I have TREMENDOUS faith in my book! I wrote it with the sincere, hopeful, eyes of a child who wanted to help others in a horrible situation with a little bit of laughter, kindness and reality. I wanted to say hey this sucks for all of us, this is the hardest thing we have probably ever gone through, but we can do it, we can make it, and we can actually laugh about it a little.

With that said, the book has lead me on some amazing journeys! It has truly been incrediable. It is a two time award winner! Independent Publishers - Highlighted Title and Living Now Award 2011 which the ladder I had the honor of taking my eighty year old mother to New York City to accept, which just ended up being the times of our lives!

I have had such honors as speaking for support groups all over Southern California and have been flown to Florida to speak at the National Conference for FORCE - Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered - addressing hereditary cancers. I have spoken for Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society and many others. It has truly been amazing!

I have spoken on Nationally Syndicated Radio Shows and have had the book reviewed on them as well. Again just truly amazing and mind boggling at times!

I don't tell you all this to toot my horn, journeys are not always easy. I have made decisions to work hard and around the clock to get out the word about my book, I have lost friends (some misplaced) because of misunderstandings or not the willingness to stand behind me and see what I can do, and my fault for putting this first. I tell you this because it has been amazing! But for a moment I thought I have not helped all I have wanted to yet and for a minute I gave up. I stepped back and even with all this mentioned I felt I was not doing enough and stopped.

In this moment, I did some amazing things! I ran eight half marathons, I hiked and camped on Santa Cruz Island, I hiked the Grand Canyon from rim to rim, I got to hang out with two of my dear friends on a visit to California and I zipped lined for the first time and was terrified. I truly lived life, but all the while the book was in my mind and heart. For two reasons. One, I so want to help others, and two because I have some awesome people who do believe in me, who have stood by me, even when I gave up, and let me have my moment without saying a word and those people I want to make proud! I want to sell this book to pay off some loans that I took out in my journey to help others and I want to help...bottom line..... help!

So now I am to why I am writing this blog, the reason, the time to get moving! In my moment of giving up it is funny how things come to light, how all of a sudden you are hit in the face with ..what are you thinking? When I was going through my journey of cancer, I had decided to put a hold on reading, another reason I wrote this book, because all the books I could find, kept me sad or worried and did not help me laugh or move on, but I did keep reading Coping with Cancer Magazine. It was real, it had real people and gently gave you ideas, help and support!

Well here, here is my moment!

A full fourteen years later Coping with Cancer has decided to feature me in their magazine! Can you believe it! Life has come full circle and my little book that I have quietly prayed would help others has been featured in a magazine that helped me!!

So..I am back in the game! I am here to drive you nuts until I get everyone one of these last books out there and into that hands of someone who needs it! I got the push I needed. Makes you wonder about who did the pushing doesn't? I mean I think it was a sign and that this is going to be a very good year!

So, if you are reading this! Spread the word! Help someone else! Buy a book for a loved one, friend, family, neighbor, someone at chruch or work, make them laugh when they need to laugh most. Or go to my website and just buy a book to be donated. I have donated several books to different hospitals all over the US, Canada and the UK and hope do donate even more, but at this point I can only do it with your help!

And I wanted to show you in the mist of all the everyday Just in case you have not seen me before. A face with a name so to speak. Here I am in the picture from Coping with Cancer Magazine as it talks about how Dragon Boating was a life saver for me...don't know that? You will have to read the book to find out!

In closing I need to pick one of the Everyday Gals to depict who I feel like today or how am I feeling! And I will pick the most important one to me, the one I talk about in all my speeches, the one I forgot for just a moment...the cheerleader! Because no matter what we are going through, were we have been or what life is teaching us we ALWAYS, ALWAYS need to never forget to .....


Stay tuned as the Traveling Book is back as well!!
The book took a long, healthy rest with dear friends in New York City!
But this time no work, just all play and sightseeing!
Sign up to have the book come to you next!!

Monday, February 4, 2013


Coping with Cancer Magazine
Jan/Feb 2013 Issue
Mirror Makeovers & Savvy Insights has the honor of being featured in the Jan/Feb 2013 Issue of Coping with Cancer Magazine!  This is just amazing to be recognized by this magazine which has been in publication for 27 years; honoring survivors and their supporters with news, updates, advise and inspiration.  This is such a moment for me, such as moment, as I used, read and followed advice given in this magazine when I was going through my cancer journey!  It is so heartfelt to have the Editors honor me with an article in a magazine that was such a huge help for me! I can only hope and pray that this excerpt featured in a magazine reaching 500,000 individuals nationwide will help me to help even more survivors with my story!!  Life is good!!
Just take a look...
(click for link)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Writing Commando: Author, Regina Savage provides more than "Mirror M...

It is amazing and heartwarming the truly kind people that we can come across in life that are willing to help!  Take a look at this incredible interview and what this beautiful Host is willing to do every month for her readers and others!  You will not want to miss this!  We all know someone it could help!!

Writing Commando: Author, Regina Savage provides more than "Mirror M...:    I know I typically start out Author Sunday with a blurb about who you are about to get to know better. But, see…this morning, I could not...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On the Road Again....
(after some much needed rest)

After a small hiatus, and a great vacation with friends to get rejuvenated...
The Traveling Book is starting it's rounds again.

But first, let me tell you about the end of last year. It had a busy year last year visiting places in the states such as New York, Florida, Omaha, and several stops here locally in California to visit support groups at Mission Hospital and St. Joe's. You can read all of these stories and the wonderful people it met here on the blog.

Then it went global and jetted off to Peru and then Italy with world renown Photographer
Joanna Herr-Hanks

It's first stop was
Cuzco, Peru
From Joanna herself here is a description of the adventure...

"Cuzco, Peru, the ancient capital of the Incan empire, is one of the top travel destinations in South America. Travelers flock to this famous Peruvian city to witness and photograph its mix of Incan and Spanish colonial architecture and visit Incan ruins both in and outside of Cuzco. Although the Spanish melted down the incredible gold and silver artifacts and sculptures of the Coricancha temple long ago, Cuzco, Peru and the nearby Sacred Valley still offer up a treasure trove of cultural photography opportunities.

During the Puno leg of our adventure we will have the chance explore Lake Titicaca by boat and visit floating islands made of reeds and aquatic plants and interact with the Uros people who inhabit them. We continue to AmantanĂ­ Island, where the locals families will provide a unique welcome and we will spend the night with a local family and be able to learn and photograph their culture".

This was an incredible adventure and in all it's excitement the book made the whole trek to Cuzco and Puno. Joanna wanted to take the book with them to Machu Picchu but with only a day pack allowed for three days the book had to remain behind. But it got some wonderful signatures, seven in all to be exact with even two men in Puno and a stamp from the hotel. How exciting!! Joanna did a great job traveling the book all over Peru and got some amazing signatures, but was so excited did not add the book to any of the photos! Hey this stuff happens...we all get caught up in the moment!! Signatures, support and spreading the word is what it is all about! And what a great adventure!!

In The Footsteps of Martin Chambi - Cuzco & Puno Photography Tour
Photograph by Joanna Herr-Hanks

Cuzco Peru Photography Tour - 5 Day/4 Night
Photograph by Joanna Herr-Hanks

Next Stop will be with Joanna in Italy

Okay at this point, I wish I was the Traveling Book. Come on... I want to go to Peru and Italy! Okay I have had the amazing opportunity to go to Italy (twice) but Peru!

If only the book could talk! 
But I guess that is why so many of us are talking for it, to spread the word, cheer up survivors and make sure that no-one thinks they are alone no matter the state or country in this journey with cancer!

Next will be Joanna's trip to Italy with pictures of the book at the Coliseum!

And then a great holiday in New York with our dear friends John & Dennis (Mom and I stayed with this wonderful couple when we went to New York for the book award).  The book went to get some much needed rest, take a break from all the travels, get John and Dennis signatures and to take a minute for itself to see the sites without all the paparazzi! And it had a great time...wait to you see these photos!

So stayed tuned and spread the word!!
And get ready for some fun travels this year!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the ABC kidZ: Mirror Makeovers {Book Review & Giveaway}: Mirror Makeovers is a delightful book about keeping your sense of humor while battling cancer. Author, Regina Savage, is a cancer survivor ...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bouncing the Ball, Traveling Book, 
FORCE Conference
 and Exciting News!

Well, when I first started to write this edition on the Traveling Book I was thinking I had dropped the ball on keeping everyone up to date on the book and its whereabouts.  But the more I thought about it, it is more like bouncing the ball then dropping it!  I have been so busy speaking, traveling, working on some exciting news and keeping up with everything else that I think it is more precise to say that I have been bouncing the ball from place to place and not really dropping it.  Which although I am very blessed to stay busy and doing what I like with the book and my company, I will try and promise not to have such a lengthy delay in the future.  As for the book, it has not stopped but has been traveling to some new and wonderful places and all of those will be address, so stayed tuned for Peru, Italy, New York, and several other places it has traveled and the amazing people it has met!

As for now, where to start to catch you all up?

FORCE Conference.....

I will start with Florida and the incredible FORCE Conference that I was asked to attend and had the honor of speaking at, a truly amazing adventure and this of course will lead me to the Traveling Book's next stop as well.
At the end of June, I had the honor of flying to Orlando, Florida to speak at the 2011 FORCE Conference.  FORCE stands for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered and address' the issue of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers as well as the BRCA Gene.  Here is the FORCE mission statement:

"FORCE was founded on the principle that no one should have to face hereditary breast and ovarian cancer alone. We are the only national non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer".

For just a bit more information on the BRCA Gene here is a excerpt from the FORCE website:
"BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common genes involved in hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Testing can be performed on either a blood or cheek swab sample to tell if a person has one of these BRCA mutations. This test does not detect whether a person has cancer or not; it indicates whether a person carries a change in one of these genes which can increase cancer risk".
For even more information please go directly to the website at or speak with your Doctor if you have any other concerns.
So now that you have a some information on what FORCE stands for and how they help to contribute to the knowledge of breast and ovarian cancers let me tell you about my journey in Florida.  The conference was amazing!  I have never been to such a well organized, well thought out and well put together conference.  Thanks to Sue Friedman the founder of FORCE for taking charge and helping so many men and women with this gene and these cancers.   In my time and my journey with cancer I have spoken to several groups; support groups, survivors, patients and supporters but this group was different.  This group was not only survivors, but men and women, Moms and Dads, husbands and wives and friends who carried the gene, the BRCA gene who were there to find out information on how to help themselves, their families, their loved ones and others.  I spoke to women who were there to make a decision on preventative surgeries meaning planning a mastectomy or hysterectomy in order to prevent having the gene and the prognoses of the gene giving them this disease that had already effected their families.  What a huge decision.  There is a difference when you are faced with the disease and have no choice in the outcome and surgeries, but to be young and trying to face the possibility that cancer will strike and taking preventative measures is hugely different and effects every aspect of your life.  For example having children, changing your bodies, living your life with the changes to name a few.  My hat is off, my heart is open and I stand in honor of these brave men and women making such tough decisions for their futures.  With this background, I want to share that I was there as the comic relief so to speak.  The break away session that they could come to in order to finds a little humor, a little inspiration and a break for the amazing information they received at this event!

My session was entitled "Mental Makeovers & Savvy Insights" and I touched on how strong we really are in our lives from the very beginning and how we sometimes forget that when the next big challenge comes along and I had an amazing group of women in attendance.  For an hour and a half, we laughed, we cried and we shared!  I thought I was there to help them but really they helped me.  They made me see that we all need to remember, need to realized that we are so blessed for the breaths we take each day and how we can find strength, courage, camaraderie and humor in even the darkest situations.


Even my Cheerleaders where there to help!

I came away from this weekend not only with a new me, a renewed strength and a renewed belief that if I can share my story and if just one person comes away with something that helped I have done my job, I have played it forward, I can sleep well.  And I made some wonderful new friends!  Life is good!

Debbie & I relaxing at the end of the day...

After the conference I did get to relaxed and joined my life-long friend Marion in the Florida Keys!  Wonderful to see her, wonderful, wonderful time!  And get to relax in the beautiful Florida waters!  Again....Life is good!

Now the Traveling Book......
Port Jefferson Station, New York

Joan & Mae
As I mentioned, at the conference I met some amazing people and one of them was Joan Perrin.  Joan was amazing!  Fun, funny, interesting and a twin!  Joan and her twin Mae along with the rest of their family has been touched by cancer and the BRCA Gene.  Joan and Mae have celebrated their 60th Birthday and are blessed by this fact as it was a bit of a road to get there.  Twelve years ago Joan was diagnosed with Stage 3 Peritoneal/Ovarian Cancer, she then found out that her cousin was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer and other cousins had been diagnosed and were positive for the BRCA gene.  Shortly after finding out this information Joan and Mae were tested, both positive,  and just a short year later Mae was diagnosed with Peritoneal Cancer.  As if this wasn't enough in 2005 Joan was diagnosed with breast cancer, followed shortly by her twin Mae.  Through all of this Joan was incredibly positive and just a joy to meet and I would like you to hear for yourself just how positive she is:

"This past July, my twin and I turned 60, a wonderful milestone considering our medical history.  We became involved with FORCE, an organization for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer.  This past June we attended our second FORCE Conference, where I had the pleasure of attending a session led by Regina Savage. I shared with her my dream of publishing an anthology of humorous poems that I wrote as my way of coping with my cancer and chemo.  We both agreed that laughter is the best way to deal with it.  Mae and I were happy to sign the Traveling Book, and send it on it's way".

What amazing women!!  To stand tall in the face of defeat and survive is truly amazing, to stand tall and keep your positive, upbeat attitude and above all humor intact is truly inspirational!  Again, my hats off and truly my honor to meet such amazing women!  My heart is truly inspired and has lead me to the months following the conference to help move the book forward, to speak more and to do what I can to help and participate in paying it forward!

Before I end my story about Joan and Mae, I want to pay tribute to their cousin Lana.  I did not have the opportunity to meet Lana, but Joan has some amazing words that although Lana was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer 12 years ago was a constant bright light to Joan.  Sadly as Joan and I last spoke, Lana was not doing well and had been moved into hospice here are Joan's words:

"Lana is the strongest, bravest gal I know.  Her support was vital to my recovery.  I am hoping that she will be strong enough for Mae and me to visit.  I am heart sick about losing her. Lana told me, "Don't say that I lost my battle with cancer, because I really won.  I had 12 years, that the Doctor's said I wouldn't have.  I saw my daughter get married, and I became the grandma to three beautiful grandchildren."  See what I mean about how inspiring she is".

I love doing the stories of the Traveling Book, I love speaking to survivors and giving what little wisdom I can to help, but cancer is not always positive, not always a winning story and never easy to deal with.  Cancer is a disease that in the last several years has touched us all whether it be a friend, a co-worker, a family member, a loved one, a wife, sister, mother, daughter, brother, husband, partner or son and with this knowledge we are sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker, but hopefully always there for others! As for today and this story, we can learn from the strength these women have to see the positive at the end of the tunnel to stand together and to be grateful for the time we have, something we can all learn from and hopefully live by!

Two more items.....

Christmas Book Donation

The Christmas Book Donation is about to begin!  I am excited to host the 2nd Annual Christmas Book Donation Program where books can be purchased and $5 from each purchase will be donated to a charity of your choice and the book will be signed, gift wrapped and delivered to hospitals all over the US.  This year I will not only donate to a cancer charity which is FORCE that you just read about, but I will also donate to a community program that is a non-profit based in the UK named BigPinkHeart, we are currently working together to start their wonderful community programs over here, but also The Fisher House which is an amazing organization that helps families of our injured military be able to stay close to the hospital for free in order to be with their loved ones.  I wanted to do three charities as I believe cancer survivors will benefit from the book when they receive it so they are being helped along with FORCE.  Our community and our children always need help to promote positive attitudes, manners and respect such as BigPinkHeart's Mission.  And we all need to be proud of our military for fighting for our country and our lives and deserve, if they are injured, to have their families with them during this time. So stayed tuned as the information will go out shortly.


Quiet Angel Publishing, LLC has BIG News!

We are now publishing books!  QAP is now working on three inspirational books from the US and a series of children's books in the UK!  And you will want to  stay tuned for this as there is lots of exciting news that I will be telling you about shortly!!  So keep posted!!

And please Follow US on Twitter and
LIKE us on Facebook!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

& Our Trip to New York City!

Mirror Makeovers Traveling Cancer Book has been very busy traveling for signatures in Italy and Peru and those stories will be up soon.

Even though it did not get to travel with me on this adventure, it was so amazing I still wanted to share!

This book has lead me to several wonderful adventures in this past year; new friends, new projects, new non-profits and the public speaking ability that I was not sure I had until now. I have been able to give back and tell my story in the hopes of helping others, but this last adventure was truly amazing and one I will never forget!

I was made aware that my book was up for an award back in the beginning of the year and that I would find out in April. The award ceremony would be held in New York City in May and jokingly I told my Mom that if I won this award she would have to go with me to the City. Well, low and behold…I WON and not just won but won a GOLD Medal!! How exciting!! The title of the award is Living Now Book Award 2011 honoring books for better living!! And in all our excitement my Mom did decide to go with me!! And to make this an even better trip was that two of my good friends John and his partner Dennis live in NY now and we got to stay with them! What more could a gal ask for: an award, a trip with my Mom (who is an inch shy of 80), and two wonderful friends to stay with! Life really is good!

Well us gals took off for our trip and headed to the Big Apple the last weekend of May. John and Dennis met us at JFK and off we were on our NY adventure! My Mom has not been to the city since she was a child, so it was like being there for the first time for her so we wanted her to see the sites! John and Dennis being the best tour guides you could ask for spent their weekend painting the town with us. If things could not get any better, John’s parents who we had met on their visits to California when John and Dennis lived here, came to the City for the day from Pennsylvania to surprise us! And what a fabulous surprise! We ate at Lansky’s Deli and then spent the day at the park, it was COLD, but amazing! All this and the awards ceremony was still to come.

On Monday, mom and I caught up on some rest and got ready for the ceremony which was held at The Providence, this was originally a church and then a recording studio for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix and several others. The ceremony was in the late afternoon in order to have everyone ready for Book Expo America which took place the following day.

After getting ready we took a taxi ride to The Providence and what a fun afternoon. The awards ceremony was wonderful! I met other interesting authors, met several people I had spoken with only through email but had not meet in person and I won a gold medal! The medal is just beautiful and I am humbled by experiencing such an honor for a book that I created to help others! Just take a look below!  After the awards, John and Dennis met us and we celebrated at the Marriott Marquis, not only my award but John’s new full time job ! What fun! I wish it was vacation and award winning all the time!!

So after such a fabulous weekend in the City, my Mom wanted to head over to Niagara Falls, she had never been and since we were in the state, why not?  So we took the train from Penn Station to beautiful Niagara Falls! It was wonderful! Life is so amazing if you stop to just enjoy it! I am so blessed to have my Mom with me and even more blessed that she is almost 80 and well enough to travel and have fun! And such wonderful friends who just pampered both of us but especially Mom on her big trip! John and Dennis are two of the best people I know and I miss them terribly here in California, but am so happy that modern day travel can make it so easy for us to travel all the way across the states to visit! For those of you who might not remember, John helped with the video and has supported the book and me for as long as I have known him, just truly an amazing friend!

So our journey to the Big Apple was a huge success but not because of the award although I am still so grateful, humbled and truly amazed at the honor, but because I spent some amazing time with a wonderful supportive mother and two of my best friends!

Again….Life REALLY is good!!

Here is one of my favorite photos of Mom and I at the Falls! What a trouper she is!!

Stay posted as my next blog will tell you all about the FORCE Conference – Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered in Orlando, Florida and my first speaking session at a Conference!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I was lucky enough to be with the book on it's next stop!

Take a look...

What an inspirational group of people!!

Meet the Colorectal Cancer Support Group
St. Joseph's Hospital
Orange, California

I know you have heard me say this before, but I never cease to be amazed by the people and places this book has allowed me to journey to!  It is just amazing to me, the warmth, the kindness, the open arms and welcomes I received from so many wonderful individuals fighting this terrible disease!!  I have been fortunate enough to be invited several places to speak; to groups, support groups, events, races, etc and I am generally speechless on my way home.  It is not the disease, I mean let's face it we all no know one wants it or asks for it.  It is the attitudes, the spirit, the willingness to fight, to move forward and get through something so terrible that most days it knocks you on your bootie and it is that strength, that fight, that willingness to move forward that gets us up again, that amazes me over and over!  And that is what I found in this group!!

First of all I was honored, as my goal with this book is to reach all cancers not just one.  And secondly, it was because of the kindness and generosity of one gentlemen who lost his sister to cancer and he now battles it himself, that pasted this book forward in the Christmas Book Donation.  He requested that the book go to St. Joseph's in honor of his sister and through that kind offer I was asked to speak to this group by the wonderful Ms. Kathleen Close, RN, MS, MBA who is the Nurse Navigator for this support group,   It is amazing what we can do for each other when we take a moment.

This group was so impressive!  Not only were they spunky, they supported each other.  If you notice in the picture the gentlemen with the cheerleader mirror on, he is not a survivor but a husband who was so concerned about his wife not attending to her Doctor appointments that he told on her in group.  This of course got the group after her because they were as concerned for her as her husband and it just blossomed from there.  I know that there are many tragedies that bring people together and sometimes pull them a part, but my experience with cancer is that people are so supportive, so strong and survivors come together to support each other through this journey sometimes when others don't.  It is just inspiring!! So, of course this gentlemen won the cheerleader award for the evening!  During me visit, we watched the video, they asked questions and we just talked during and after the meeting, it was wonderful and it is a group of people that I will never forget, they are courageous, strong and I know will make it through anything!!

But beside the group and being able to speak with them, I had an epiphany of my own and a light bulb moment prior to this meeting that I wanted to share.  The weekend before this meeting I ran my first half marathon.  Not something I am entirely sure I would like to do again, but I did it!!  And was very proud of myself.  But during that marathon in my struggle to think about anything, anything at all, other then the running, I was thinking about talking to this group and what I wanted to tell them.  I was running along (whining to myself) and thinking I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about "Peggy" the cheerleader in my book.  I wanted to take Peggy the Cheerleader doll, show them the doll and tell them, that for me and I think for everyone in life (still running and complaining to myself about not being able to finish the stupid marathon) that being your own best cheerleader is the best thing that you can do for you!!  I wanted to share (still just done with this whole marathon thing, not liking it, I am on about my 10th mile with 3.1 miles to go) that even if it is not cancer, but a job interview, a blind date, or working out, that cheering yourself on works every time.  That you and you alone can make this happen, you can be your own best advocate and if you have nothing else, you have yourself to be your cheerleader and it works!  Now mind you, I have had it with this 13.1 miles, I want it to be over with, I am at the "what the heck was I thinking" at this point and maybe not quite as politely to myself! When I saw something that made me realize, I wanted to talk to this group about being their own cheerleaders and I was not being mine at that moment.  I wanted them to stand up, be strong, go forward and cheer, cheer like no tomorrow to get themselves through and I was not doing that at this point in this marathon!  And I had to straighten myself out!!  And I will be the first to say, this was hard!  It was a very hard time to be my own cheerleader, I was tired, I was done, I wanted my Mom, but I picked up my boot straps (well my running shoe laces) and got myself moving!!  And I finished, something that for a while there I thought I could not do, but I did!

So for all the wonderful, marvelous individuals in this group, this is what I saw and THIS is for YOU!!

It helped me and I hope it will help you too!

Thank you for your time, your inspiration, and for allowing me to be a part of your group!  I wish you all the best and hope to see you all soon!!   And always remember to...


P.S. This is for you Ms. Julie Garcia!! 
What an inspiration you are!!

Stay tuned as the book is on its way to PERU!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

You will not want to miss the Traveling Books Next Stop...

One AMAZING Young Women
No greater way of GIVING BACK!!

Susanne Whitcomb

With this book I have tried my best to give back.  Give back with my story to help people with what I needed help with during my journey, give back to charities that help everyone suffering with this disease, and give back by sharing the traveling book around the world to spread the word and hopefully cheer even more people who need it.  BUT, I could never give back as much as Susanne Whitcomb!

First let me tell you a little bit about Susanne.  She is a beautiful young women, who is athletic; rides bikes, does marathons, is supportive, a good friend and a great cheerleader (she came every year along with my Mom and brother Steave to cheer on my Dragon Boat Team in the Long Beach Race), she created my Facebook Page for the Traveling Book just because she was so supportive and above and beyone now a Med School Student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska!  Wow!  Just with all this she is some impressive young lady!

But let me tell you more.  Susanne being the unselfish person that she is, signed up for the National Bone Marrow Registry and just became a match for a little boy from Orange County, California wtih Acute Myclogenous Leukemia. After a few weeks of paperwork, physical test, etc Susanne got the "good-to-go" and was granted the opportunity to donate peripheral blood stem cells giving this young man a 50% chance of FULL recovery!! Again....WOW! After getting permission from the school, as we all know it is very difficult to miss any med school, and with the support of fellow students/friends/family, Susanne went forward with her journey.

In order not to miss anything and to make sure I get all the information correct, I am going to quote Susanne from her journal (I will add a few things here and there as well):

(Susanne) "I donated stem cells via Apheresis - they stimulated the bone marrow to make an abnormally abundant amount of white blood cells over a five day period. Then, they hook you up to an Apheresis machine and take out blood from one arm (taking what they need - white blood cells, and platelets just go naturally) and putting back the unneeded red blood cells/plasma into the other arm. Supposed to be 4 hours.

I received a shot of Neupogen in both arms for four days preceeding the collection day. It makes you feel like you're sick, like you have the flu.

(Regina) I just want to add here that I had Neupogen Shots during my chemo.  I can remember my first one.  The nurse told me that it would feel like a very LARGE bee sting.  The nurse was fussing a bit and taking her time and I was wondering what the reason for the delay was, when I went to ask the nurse "why the delay" she was crying.  Not knowing that it had anything to do with me, I asked what was wrong? To my amazement she was crying because she knew it was going to hurt and she said I never complained and she just felt bad about giving it to me (nurses really go through the hard stuff, really!  And they deserve all the credit in the world)!  We got through this and the nurse gave me the shot...and I am here to tell you that was an elephant disguised as a bee!!  Not only did the elephant sting me, it sat on my arm for a bit and later on my body!!

(Susanne) When we got to the Apheresis Center at the hospital early on Valentine's Day morning, they tried to find a vein in my right arm for the return blood.

(Regina) ...Can you believe Valentine's Day.  What a gift!  Far cry from flowers and candy!

(Susanne) They poked and proded to no avail (probably from being NPO night before and Neupogen), so they had to surgically insert a central line in my neck. And then they were able to take the blood that way - very direct and fast. The anticoagulant they use in the process was a little strong for my dehydrated body, which made me feel sick (but I didn't throw up) and made all my muscles vibrate due to calcium depletion. A little challenging. I had to stay overnight due to the central line, and they weren't able to get quite enough stem cells.

A friend of mine and fellow med student, Kayla, was so sweet. She went with me and stayed with me pretty much the entire time, even overnight. She caught up with studying late into the night. So I wasn't alone, and had someone to help me move around and get me water, and talk to (and laugh with). That was a huge blessing, and a comfort. She was my angel and cheerleader.

Susanne's Cheerleader....KAYLA!!

Kayla and Susanne!

The next day went by incredibly smoothly, and I felt none of the effects. That was a blessing. In fact, I had many cheerleaders - received so many emails, texts, cards, calls, from students and faculty who had heard about what I was doing, and were supporting me. In all honesty, I can't take complete credit for giving the stem cells, because it was the collective support that got me through it and gave me the courage to do it!

Go Gal Go!!
(Regina) Please pay close attention to the next paragraph....

(Susanne) And I rested a few days, and now I'm feeling great! And so very, very glad I was able to do it! I am going to be working with a couple of students and faculty in the area to promote bone marrow registry within the community. There are many people, especially within the inner city, who have misconceptions or have not heard of bone marrow donation. It can save patients from suffering and pain, and extend or even save lives. And it's so worth it! I'm so grateful I was able to do it."

(Back to me) What an amazing story, an amazing women and I for one feel grateful that in a few years she will be a Doctor with the ability to see both sides of a patients journey!  Both sides of helping and being helped!  We are truly blessed to have her in our world and I am TRULY blessed to have someone so caring, so giving and so kind, sign the Traveling Book!!  Words can not express!!  I will be sending Kayla a Cheerleading button as well for being such a good friend and supporter and taking care of our beautiful Susanne!!

For those of you who would like to help or learn more and follow in Susanne's foot steps:

National Bone Marrow Donor Program

Also stayed tuned for the books next adventure at
St. Joseph's Hospital
Colorectal Cancer Support Group
Very Inspirational!