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Gin Schaffer is a former higher education administrator and works part-time at MWHC's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator of Integrative Medicine. She lives in downtown Fredericksburg and enjoys walking and biking with her husband and 2 kids (especially if coffee is involved).



Pink Ribbon Journey

When I volunteer at the hospital, I have to wear a burgundy lab coat and ID badge to signify that I am a volunteer.  With my tendency to get a hot flash at any moment, I decided it was better to put a t-shirt on underneath, regardless of the temperature outside. 

One morning I put on my “Making Strides for Breast Cancer” walk t-shirt (it has “Survivor” written on the back). Much to my surprise, Jack screamed, “Mom!  You are a Survivor!?  You are O.K. now!?”  It really caught me off-guard and I quickly remembered what someone said to me at the walk.  I repeated it to Jack, “you know buddy, I’m working on it and they say the minute you start fighting, you’re a survivor.”

 

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Here we are at the end of the year and I’ve taken some time to reflect about that word, “survivor.”  I don’t think I felt like a survivor until getting to this point in the year.  Of course, the care of my doctors and the support of family and friends has been an integral part of me making it through this past 8 months and will be critical for the next 8 as well.  But, I thought I’d share with you what has helped me in my private moments of fear, anger, and despair. Here’s my Pink Ribbon Journey Survival Guide: 

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

This is a transforming book.  I consider Anna to be one of my greatest teachers.  I know some may hesitate, be scared even, to read a story about the death of a child, but don’t hesitate to read it.  This book transcends beyond the tragedy and guides the reader through a beautiful memoir that is filled with love, strength, and hope despite the darkest of circumstances.

 

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton

For me, this book was the first to help me release the guilt and anger I’ve felt about my own addictive past.  It also helped me to better understand the addicts in my life.  Glennon is the best at reminding readers that striving for perfection will ruin your journey, you'll miss out on the good stuff.

 

The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet Luhrs

I’ve been referring back to this book for over 10 years now.  It’s written as a manual so that you can address one or more aspects of your life that you wish to simplify.  I like that the author takes topics and breaks them down.  The financial section was paramount when we started a family.

 

The 90-minute Baby Sleep Program: Follow Your Child's Natural Sleep Rhythms for Better Nights and Naps by Polly Moore, PhD

I mentioned this book in my Carousel of Sleep post because I firmly believe that the 90-minute sleep cycle concept applies to both children and adults. My cancer was such a game-changer for both my need and my family's need for sleep, so I'm so glad I had this book to refer to.

 

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Next up for me is this book (and I think Tina Fey’s Bossypants should be a co-reader).  I definitely believe that laughter is in fact the best medicine. I also can tell from watching Amy on promotional interviews that this book will be yet another reminder to not take things too seriously.

 

Music

I am truly thankful that my parents, especially my father, gave me a love of music.  It’s such simple therapy.  I learned awhile ago that waking up to the news made me anxious.  I could check my phone for weather and traffic information.  I was a lot calmer watching music videos in the morning (VH1 and CMT seemed to have the lighter music on in the mornings).

 

I also like to have songs at the ready in my car, it’s kind of like my own time-out, counting to 10.  In my car right now is Frank Turner’s “England Keep My Bones” - really great anti-establishment, get angry music; I also have some P!NK tunes to go along with those.  James Taylor’s Greatest Hits 2 is so soothing -  the song “Secret O’ Life” just puts it all in perspective.  And for those moments when the kids need to be redirected, we like to rock-out to the Peanut Butter and Jelly song on The Jimmies “Make Your Own Someday: Silly Songs for the Shorter Set.”  I clearly need to add Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” soon - if you haven’t heard that song yet, look it up, it is just a great, feel-good dance song.

 

I have a lot of reasons to be looking forward to 2015.  The end of radiation in February and the end of infusion treatments in July.  Also, I’m getting my hair back!  I just started to miss it, so I’m kind of wishing it would get here already! Forrest Gump was simply, beautifully right when he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” I hope that whatever is going on in your lives, you have felt supported, educated, and maybe even empowered by my words.  I hope you end 2014 with love and laughter and start 2015 with the same. 

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