Women’s Night Out for Breast Cancer: A Survivor’s Perspective

by Katie Austin

I attended Lexington Medical Center’s Women’s Night Out on October 11th at the Embassy Suites hotel in Columbia, SC. I have never been more honored to be surrounded in a sea of pink as I walked through the event.

One of my event favorites is the vendor room. Many of the resident medical groups sponsor tables that display informational pamphlets describing their services, health-related information and of course the free items that were being handed out. Where else can you get a pink cutting board or a pink carry bag that will fold up in to the size of a small bean bag or a pink water container?

If you were finished perusing the vendor room, you could walk to the center of the hotel where you would find the terrace transformed into a silent auction. Items included a pink mixer, purse with the breast cancer ribbon as the handles and many other items that might tickle your fancy. The best part of the auction is that the winners are kept a secret until the end of the event. You would just have to wait to find out until after dinner if you were a winner!

Katie Austin (bottom right) with friends and her infusion nurse, Sharon.

Then at approximately 6:30pm, we were ushered to our table in the dining area where we enjoyed wonderful conversation over a delicious dinner with a dash of entertainment in between. We heard from hospital management, watched the hospital’s version of the Pink Glove video, enjoyed a fashion show provided by Belk for a group of hospital staff that knows the breast cancer battle first hand, and then we heard from Emory Austin who was the guest speaker. I found myself enjoying Emory’s humor and relating to a lot of what she talked about as she too is a breast cancer survivor.

This year, we purchased a survivor table in honor of myself, Brandy Collette and Marsha Alverson. My husband, parents and our good friend Sharon sat with us too. This truly was an evening to remember and reflect just how far we have come in our personal breast cancer fight. I can’t wait to attend this event next year!

If you haven’t watched the Pink Glove video, click here! This video is a great example of the people you will meet and how they make you feel at home when you are there. I absolutely love this video and the Women’s Night Out event.

Boo, Y’all!

by Mary Pat Baldauf

Eat, drink and be scary. I’m not sure who said it, but I do know that it’s a lot easier said than done when you’re eating healthier! To make things worse, my nutrition counselor is now challenging me to at least two days with no meat, eggs or dairy products.

In the season of candy corn, miniature candy bars and those delightful mellocreme pumpkins, it’s hard to find something haunting and healthy. But when there’s a will, there’s a way, and I’m excited to share the recipe for these darling jack o’lantern stuffed peppers.

Jack O’Lantern Stuffed Peppers
(Makes two gluten free, dairy-free, vegan stuffed peppers)

1/2 cup dry quinoa (I used black for Halloween)
1 cup orange carrot juice
1 cup black beans, cooked
2 orange bell peppers
Sea salt to taste

Combine quinoa with juice; bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, carve your peppers. Combine quinoa with black beans, salt to taste, fill peppers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

A few hints with the orange peppers:

Make sure they are even enough on the bottom to sit straight.

Look for ones with a large surface for carving.

You can use a small paring knife to carve, but I used a (brand new, clean) X-Acto.

No time to carve? No worries; they’re just as cute as a plain pumpkin. (That even allows you to use them at Thanksgiving, too!)
Special thanks to Portland, Oregon blogger “Spabettie” for sharing this howling, healthy recipe!

The Hurried Life

by Roshanda Pratt


We live in a microwave generation. I will admit waiting is not one of my fine points. However, we are under constant barrage to watch the clock. I hate watching the clock. I think it comes from all those years working in television news. You are trained to watch a clock, to order your day by the clock, to manage by the clock. In fact, I remember often waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, staring at the clock thinking I missed work, only after jumping frantically out of the bed, waking up my roommate at the time who happened to be a school teacher to learn it was my day off. My hurried life in television news has been long gone yet I still find myself speeding through the day. Could you agree? I race to get the kids up in the morning, I race to drop them to school, I race to get back home and start work, I race to complete projects, blah, blah, blah…. Some days I feel like I am running a marathon. It is not that I am not organized. It seems like the demands of life have me going from one thing to the next and like screaming children they all demand my attention at the same time.

But I noticed one other thing too. The world around me does not help me in this race against the clock. I was in a craft store the other day and noticed they already had Christmas items out. Seriously? I have not even cut the Thanksgiving turkey and already YOU want me to start thinking about Christmas? I understand it’s a ploy to get me to get in the holiday spirit. However, for me it does rather the opposite. I start feeling the subtle pressure of one more thing to think about and I get resentful. I think to myself, “Why are we trying to race through life?” It almost seems like we are moving from one event, one moment to the other, never really enjoying the present. After all, it is a gift.

Well, since I am a person who has time issues. Yes, I admit it. I have to constantly put myself on a “time out”. This means I take time to just enjoy life. Instead of trying to race through the day, when someone tries to engage me in a conversation, instead of trying to quickly end it nicely I take the time to stop and listen. When the children want to play a game or demand of my attention, I put the laptop away and do that. And finally, when I go in the stores and see them trying to push the holiday season on me and its not even November, I take a deep breathe and keep walking. I am learning I am only required to be a good steward of the “time” given to me. There are 24 hours in a day and it is that way for good reason. I believe God created just 24 hours so man would have boundaries. After all, if you are like me, you would soak up all 25 hours, if an extra hour was given.

So what do you think? How do you manage time? And how do you STOP and smell the roses? So hurry up and post your comments (joke). I am excited to know how you feel.

Ro

Laughter is the Best Medicine

by Shannon Shull


To live life without a sense of humor, is well, just flat out not good living. I truly believe that laughter is one of the keys to life. Think about comedy – it’s all around us, in some form or fashion in every venue of life. Whether it’s the basis of a television show or a movie, or on the stage, in a book, a cartoon – heck, public speakers and even preachers use comedy to reach people. Even in a tragedy, there is usually a comic relief character.

Laughter is freeing, it breaks down our guard as if to allow joy into our soul. Why do you think comedy outlets are everywhere? – tv, movies, on stage, stand up, cartoons, etc etc… because most people LOVE to laugh and all people NEED to laugh!

You know those moments when you get so tickled at something that you literally laugh yourself silly? You laugh so hard you can feel it in your gut and it rumbles you to your core? Total and utter laughter rippling thru your body…gosh, doesn’t it feel good!!?!?!?! Ain’t it fun!? You are indeed a lucky person if that is a common occurrence for you.

Lord Byron had some great quotes. One of my favorites is, “Laugh when you can – it is cheap medicine.” That Lord Byron was one smart dude.
I’m sure you’ve heard some of the following facts before but, I’d like to remind you so I can make it fresh in our noggins.

Research shows that laughter is seriously good for your health!
– Laughing relieves stress.
– Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones in the body and increases levels of endorphins – (those feel good hormones produced in your brain).
– Laughter increases the number of antibodies produced, which strengthens the immune system.
– Laughing can help lessen chronic pain.
– Laughing is internal exercise! A good laugh exercises the stomach muscles and diaphragm – it relaxes the shoulders and it’s good for your heart too!
– Laughing is an emotional and physical release from stress.
– Laughter distracts us from any problems or worries we may have.

Let’s face it, laughing just feels so darn good!

Now of course laughing isn’t going to make our problems go away – but it sure can give us a healthier attitude towards them!

When we laugh – we can transform our negative emotions – such as anger or frustration or worry, into a happier frame of mind. You know those moments when you’ve gotten so mad about something and something funny happens and daggomit you want to stay mad and keep your pisspot mood, but you just break and have to laugh? You know we’ve all had those moments. I like to think it’s our body’s way of saying, “Get over yourself, let it go, laugh it off and move on!”
When we stop to see the ridiculousness of a stressful or unpleasant situation and attempt to make a funny out of something not so fun, the outcome is likely to be much more favorable.

Now I’ll step down from my soap box and get a little more personal here. In my family, we LOVE to laugh. Right now, my kids are totally into “AFV” – as they call it. America’s Funniest Home Videos is tivo-ed at my house weekly. Lately when we do a family movie night, we just watch episodes of AFV because we like to laugh together. It’s therapeutic. It reminds me of when I was little. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents when I was elementary school age. I called my grandparents Lolli and Pop. And let me tell you, my Pop was a total nut. He was a jokester something fierce. I could write pages and pages about some of the pranks he pulled. We had so much fun together!

One of our favorite things to do was watch The Carol Burnett Show. My Lolli would make popcorn and we’d all sit together on this double sized lazy boy chair thing, prop our feet up, eat our popcorn and laugh ourselves silly while watching the show.

My Pop passed away when I was in high school and my Lolli and I continued the tradition, laughing away the heart ache of his loss as best we knew how. Being together and laughing really was the best medicine. My sweet Lolli joined my Pop in heaven after I graduated from college while I was in my 2nd year of living in California. In her will, all her classic “best of” The Carol Burnett Show videos were left to me. I treasure them to this day.

And as you can imagine, since childhood, I have always been a huge fan of Mrs. Carol Burnett. Ranging from her role as Miss Hannigan in the movie Annie to her role as Eunice on the tv show Mama’s Family. Talk about a comic genius that lady! She and her team of amazing comic stars on The Carol Burnett Show…they inspire me, they wow me, they tickle me pink and make my heart smile!

I never imagined in a million years that I’d one day get the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Burnett. That one day I would call her daughter, Jody, one of my dearest friends. It’s funny how life brings people together sometimes. Maybe my Lolli and Pop had something to do with it. I can guarantee that they’re smiling away in heaven about it all now.

I have a pretty darn cool story about how Jody and I met and bonded and how I met her mother, but you’ll have to come to a very special event to hear about it. Now for my shameless plug – on November 5th at 7:30pm, Shull Studios will be hosting an exclusive event called “Growing Up with Carol Burnett – Intimate Conversations with Jody Hamilton, Emmy® nominated producer and daughter of comedy icon Carol Burnett and legendary producer Joe Hamilton”. Oh Yes! We are flying Carol’s daughter, our dear friend Jody, into good ole S.C. to share her experiences of growing up with such an icon as a Mom, to tell us of her tales growing up in a celebrity world, to enlighten us all and ultimately make us smile and laugh out loud. For details about the event and to buy tickets, go to Shull Studios.

If you’re a Carol Burnett fan, you will not want to miss this ultra special event! And better yet, a portion of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Relay for Life in honor of Jody’s father, Joe Hamilton and her sister, Carrie Hamilton – which makes the night even more special!

So to close out my 2nd EveryWomanBlog entry for all you fellow goddess women and smart male friends who are taking the time to read my words, my advice to you is this…

Allow yourself to laugh more! Remember, it’s good for your health!

Cheers to you all! Watch this video and enjoy a little healthy dose of laughter. It’s on the house, courtesy of comedy icon, Mrs. Burnett …

Pink Glove Dance Final Voting Underway!

Today is the last day to vote for Lexington Medical Center’s Pink Glove Dance video. Currently, our hospital is in the lead in this competition designed to raise awareness about breast cancer. Our dance has become the talk of the town. Please vote by going to THIS LINK!

And thank you so much to our news friends for their fantastic coverage and support.

Our “healthy” viral phenomenon has more than 55,000 votes and more than 102,000 You Tube views!

Vegan Peanut Butter Mousse: The Ultimate High Five

by Brady Evans
I sort of have a confession to make. I’m not even sure if my husband knows my little secret. Back when we lived in Charlotte, a little over a year ago now, whenever I passed a jogger on the sidewalk, I’d slap him a high five.

I’m not sure it always went over well, but I hope sometimes it did because at some points during my run my hand would be stinging from all the high fives I was handing out.

There are a couple of reasons I started this little tradition.

First: I love the sport of running because it automatically gives you something in common with a stranger. No matter your histories, your futures, your presents, you and that ‘stranger’ pound the pavement in a self punishing but gratifying way.

Second: When I started this tradition I was training for a marathon. Mile after mile on the streets gets pretty boring. I needed to spice up my runs. Sometimes those high fives really offered me the tiniest bit of motivation I needed to push up a hill.

Third: People deserve credit for making the healthy choice. It is so easy to skip the scheduled run. Runners deserve a high five for getting out there.

Now that I live in Small Town, SC with a population of 500, I rarely run into other runners. Twice in the past year I’ve crossed a runner’s path. And you better believe I was crossing the country road to slap high fives when I spotted them!

My message is this: do not get down on yourself for making a bad choice. Do not lament the Ultimate Nachos platter you ordered (and ate completely) for dinner. Do not regret the Pumpkin Pie Milkshake you ordered from Sonic (highly recommended).

Instead, pump yourself up when you make the right decision and you’ll find those are the choices you’ll lean to in the future.

Vegan Peanut Butter Mousse, photo by Brady Evans

I’ll leave you with a recipe for a peanut butter mousse. It is the ‘right decision’ for many reasons. First, it is delicious. Second, the nutrition data is so good will leave you fist pumping with pride at your dessert choice. Speaking of the ingredients…don’t be scared off by the tofu. I served it at a dinner party and no one batted an eye.

Vegan Peanut Butter Mousse (Courtesy: Food Network Magazine)
12.3-ounce package silken tofu
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Divide among glasses, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes.

Learn more about Brady, her recipes and her horses on her blogs:
Branny Boils Over and From Hey To Horses .