Brighter Magazine 2021 - Q4

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A magazine for women affected by cancer

Stephanie & Jamie Sweet tenderness resulting from shared cancer journeys.

WIG Q&A LOOK GOOD AND FEEL YOUR BEST this holiday season


Editor’s Letter

Live. Learn. Shine. Taking time for you. When I am not working on all things Brighter, I spend my time trying to love my boys and husband well, coaching others and training myself for triathlon. One of the things I love about triathlon is the way training always relates to life. Endurance is something we all need to practice as we take on the things of this world, especially in times of pandemics, supply struggles and stress. Recognizing the importance of long-term perspective and pursuing a strong finish brings peace, patience, pride and a sense of accomplishment. Recovery is another dynamic of triathlon that is so very important. Without recovery, the body slowly becomes degraded by all the training to the point that it begins to affect not only an athlete’s performance but also the body’s ability to process nutrition and regulate hormones. This can result in things such as adrenal fatigue or failure, hypothyroidism and the female triad (a combination of disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis). With recovery however, the female body has a chance to replenish proper electrolytes and minerals, as well as balance hormones and rebuild muscle resulting in a healthier, higher performing athlete and a happier human being. Whether a competing athlete, a woman dealing with cancer or your average Jane, recovery and self-care are important for us to remain balanced, joyful, and contributing members to our communities and the world around us. I am excited to share this quarter’s issue with you. Inside you will find wonderful stories of encouragement, along with tips and tricks to help you be your best self today, tomorrow and every day. As you read through this issue’s pages, I hope you will drop us a note if you have ideas for articles or topics you would like us to cover in the future. We at Brighter hope that you have a wonderful rest of your year and look forward to an even Brighter 2022.


Table of Contents Subscribe to Brighter Magazine at! Advertising contact us at Donations may be made on our website or you can save fees by mailing a check to: Brighter Magazine 3950 Royal Lane Ste - E 161 Dallas, Texas 75230 Brighter Magazine, a Texas nonprofit Corporation. Application for 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption currently pending with IRS.

Education Get active!


Look good and feel your best


Visceral manipulation therapy


Empowerment JAMs


Staying grounded when “Ethel” calls


Treats for treatment


Creating beautiful brows


More than a wig



The magazine for women affected by cancer

Kristen’s experience with skin changes


Brighter Spotlight Stephanie and Jamie’s story


Brighter Honors Survivors



Get Active! Exercise During Cancer Treatment By Dr. Riva Rahl

As cancer treatments improve, the number of cancer survivors continues to increase. Nearly twothirds of patients with cancer stay alive more than five years after diagnosis, and there are currently more than 10 million cancer survivors living in America. As a cancer patient undergoing treatment or a cancer survivor, you may be wondering: should I even be exercising at all? Historically, people being treated for cancer and other chronic illnesses were advised by their physicians to rest and reduce their levels of physical activity; it was felt that too much activity may increase weight loss in those who already found it difficult to maintain weight. However, more information has surfaced that shows regular physical activity is an effective way to improve quality of life and physical functioning in people undergoing treatment for cancer. In fact, too much rest could reduce strength, muscle mass, bone density and range of motion as well as lead to a general loss of function. Physical activity provides many benefits for cancer patients both during and after treatment; in one


report, it was suggested that exercise is second only to prayer as a complementary therapy participated in by breast cancer survivors. In addition to the physiological benefits, there are psychological benefits to physical activity during treatment for cancer of all types: reduction in anxiety, depression, tension, anger, hostility, helplessness and pessimism while improving self-esteem, confidence, control, well-being and self-acceptance. Physical activity helps to reduce symptoms from treatment (nausea, fatigue, muscle-wasting, bone loss) as well as reduce risks of other chronic diseases that may develop as cancer survivors live longer (weight gain, hypertension, diabetes, etc.) The American Cancer Society has recommendations for individuals in cancer treatment, and these are similar to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: attempt to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderateintensity aerobic physical activity and twice a week of muscle strengthening activities. For those in chemotherapy or radiation, the intensity or duration

may need to be dialed down in light of fatigue. Each person should check with her doctor to see if any specific modifications should be made; those who are sedentary before starting cancer treatment may want to start slowly with gentle stretching and walking, while those who have had a consistent program prior to treatment may be able to continue with minimal or no modifications. There are a few additional factors to consider: avoiding injury, dehydration, falls and overdoing it will help to ensure that there are more benefits than risks to regular physical activity. Working with a personal trainer, physical therapist or friend may enable consistency and reduce the possibility for harm. Goals for during and after treatment include maintaining an appropriate weight, a physically active lifestyle and improving survival quality of life. With an effort to get some physical activity every day, you can have a smoother journey!

The magazine for women affected by cancer

Dr. Riva Rahl is a 24/7 Platinum physician for Cooper Clinic Platinum and a preventive medicine physician. She received a double Bachelor of Arts at Rice University and a Doctor of Medicine from the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Dr. Rahl’s internal medicine internship and residency and a residency in emergency medicine, serving as Chief Resident for one year, were completed at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. She is American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Emergency Medicine certified. Dr. Rahl is the author of Physical Activity and Health Guidelines (Human Kinetics, 2010), which would be a great book for survivors just starting their journey. Dr. Rahl was inducted into the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019. She is an endurance runner having won the Dallas White Rock Marathon (2000), the Cowtown Marathon (2000, 2002, and 2008) and many others. She was chosen for the Texas Medical Association Leadership College and serves on several Dallas-based non-profit boards of directors.


Look Good and Feel Skin Care: Your Best! keep calm & balm on By Tara Rasheta


Relax and put your best foot forward this holiday season with this advice from Dr. Jennifer Gill

The magazine for women affected by cancer


For women undergoing cancer treatment, it can often feel like they are living in a body that’s hard to recognize as their own. Whether it’s changes in skin, hair, nails or their body itself, women often need to adapt their routines, products and expectations. Every woman has her own way of coping and managing with these changes, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some patients feel these changes are “battle scars” and embrace their new looks. Others feel more confident by maintaining as much of their normal “look” as possible.

grayer, curlier, thinner or even thicker! Often in the first 6 months of regrowth, the new hair can be fragile and susceptible to damage. During this time window, I advise patients to avoid hair color or other chemical products that can lead to further hair loss or breakage.

As a Dermatologist specializing in treating cancer patients, part of my job is to help empower women to look and feel their best. Below are some general guidelines and recommendations, but remember that each patient’s treatment journey is unique. Always seek advice from your physician about your own circumstance to determine what is best for you.

Hair Perhaps the most expected (and often dreaded) side effect of many cancer treatments is hair loss. For women who want to increase their chances of holding onto their hair, they can consider “cold caps,” a cooling device that is worn during chemotherapy to constrict the blood vessels of the scalp and minimize the chemotherapy that reaches the hair follicle. The efficacy of cold caps depends on the type of chemotherapy one is receiving and results will vary from person to person. If you are interested in cold caps, you will need to coordinate in advance with your cancer infusion center. I also encourage patients to join one of the online cold cap support groups. Hearing the stories and experiences of others can help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you. After treatment is complete, many patients are surprised to find their new hair is different... perhaps it’s


Additionally, eat a healthy well-balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients needed for hair regeneration. Lastly, talk to your doctor about medications or products that you can use to help boost hair growth. If you are not receiving treatment that results in hair loss, you may be able to continue your prior hair care routine, including coloring, styling, and products. However, increased hair shedding is common during any type of illness or stressor. To minimize this, use gentle brushes, wash less frequently, and minimize styling that involves significant tugging and tension.

Eyelashes & Eyebrows In addition to scalp hair, patients may also lose their eyelashes and eyebrows. Eyebrows can be drawn in with an eyebrow pencil and softened with eyebrow powder applied with an angled brush. Use a photo of your prior eyebrows to

serve as a guide in selecting a shape and color that’s natural for you. Eyelashes can be mimicked with a brown or black eyeliner, or alternatively, some patients choose to apply false eyelashes. Because eyelash adhesives and glue can be irritating or cause a skin reaction, patients should first talk with their physician and choose a product that is lightweight, hypoallergenic and easy to remove. When eyelashes are growing back, avoid the use of extensions, which may put unnecessary tension on the fragile new hairs that are trying to grow back. Talk to your doctor about prescriptions that can be used to help boost regrowth when treatment is complete.

Skin Care While cancer patients often expect changes to their hair, many don’t realize their skin can also be affected by cancer treatments. While the most common side effects are skin dryness, irritation and itching, patients may also experience new or flaring acne, rashes and sun sensitivity. I recommend patients proactively develop a routine that will help minimize these side effects. Purchase gentle and fragrance-free soaps that will cleanse your skin without additional drying or irritation. After washing, immediately apply facial and body moisturizers to help replenish your natural oils and lock in moisture. If you start developing acne, rashes or other skin problems, get help from a dermatologist sooner rather than later. Many skin side effects from cancer treatments are made worse by the wrong over-the-counter products and can be easily treated with prescription medications.

Facials Many women love the refreshing and rejuvenating experience of getting regular facials. Talk to your physician first, but some

The magazine for women affected by cancer


patients can continue enjoying this experience during cancer treatments. Choose facials that utilize hypoallergenic, gentle products that are focused on hydration rather than exfoliation. Say “yes” to a facial massage and “no” to extractions, peels and abrasive techniques. Choose reputable places with the highest hygienic standards and always notify your aesthetician ahead of time that you are undergoing cancer treatment.


but some women can continue to have modified manicures or pedicures. Do not have these services performed if your immune system is down or your counts are low. For most patients, it’s reasonable to have the nails trimmed, filed and painted. I would advise against any procedure that may break or damage the skin such as hot paraffin wax, cuticle trimming, aggressive scrubs or callus shaving. I also advice against gel manicures, dip powders, or acrylics as these cause damage to the

You may find that your makeup products and routine need to change during your cancer treatment. While I advise all patients to use a daily facial sunscreen, this is especially important for cancer patients, whose treatments can often lead to photosensitivity. Aim for a broad spectrum product with an SPF of at least 30 or 40. Some patients use a tinted sunscreen which can also serve as a foundation or primer. Since cancer patients often experience changes in their skin coloring, be prepared that your prior products may no longer be the best fit for you. Finding a good concealer and foundation can go a long way in restoring a healthy glow. Blush, eye shadow and lip color can also be added to creating vibrancy. During cancer treatments, make sure to use products that are made for sensitive skin and are non-comedogenic. When testing out a new product, it’s often a good idea to first try the product on your wrist or inner forearm, which is an area with skin that is thinner and more sensitive like the face. To limit chances of getting an infection, wash your hands before applying your makeup and clean your brushes and applicators regularly. Make sure and toss products that are old or expired.

Nail Care Nail changes can occur during cancer treatments and include increased fragility/brittleness, discoloration, ridges or even lifting from the nail bed and falling off. Check with your physician first,


underlying nail, which already might be fragile and compromised due to therapies. For patients whose nails have become discolored and dark during treatment, you can first “prime paint” them an opaque white before then painting another layer with your color of choice. Your nails will generally begin to return to normal after treatment is complete. However, keep in mind that fingernails and toenails grow an average of 1-3mm per month. Expect that it may take 6-12 months before your nails have had time to go through an entirely fresh cycle.

Cosmetic Procedures Cosmetic procedures can include lasers, peels, neurotoxins (like Botox®) and fillers. In general, I tell most patients to take a break from these during the course of their cancer treatment. There are some exceptions to this rule depending on what your cancer regimen entails, but these definitely need to be discussed and cleared first with your physician.

Scars Cancer treatment can often involve surgery, which inevitably leaves scars. Talk to your surgeon but many recommend the use of silicone sheets after the initial healing has The magazine for women affected by cancer

taken place. These can help keep scars flat and smooth. Be aggressive about shielding scars from the sun, which can make them more discolored or noticeable. For people who develop hypertrophic or keloid scars, talk with your Dermatologist who may inject them with a special medication to help flatten the scar and minimize any associated itching and discomfort that these types of scars may have.

Medical Tattoos A variety of cosmetic and restorative tattoos are available ranging from areola creation, eyebrow tattoo (or microblading), pigment restoration, and more. I generally suggest that patients wait until their treatments are complete before initiating any potentially permanent changes. Some patients find that eyebrow microblading or tattooing may look okay at one stage of their treatment, but might not look ideal at a later stage or when their natural hair begins growing back. In addition, any kind of procedure involving needles and pigmented ink will run the risk of infection and allergic reactions. While these risks are low, they are better deferred until after major treatments are complete.

In Conclusion While cancer treatments can have many impacts on the way women feel and see their bodies, it’s important for women to know there are options to manage these side effects. Each person will have her own individual experience and what’s easy for one person may be hard for another. However, talk to other women who have shared in the journey, speak to your physician, and know that you are not in this alone! Dr. Jennifer Gill is a board-certified dermatologist in Dallas, TX who sees patients with melanoma, advanced skin cancers, and skin reactions to chemotherapy medications. She believes strongly in providing attentive, compassionate care to cancer patients and empowering them knowledge and tools. In addition to taking care of patients, she is also a scientist that is passionate about cutting-edge cancer research.


Kristen’s Journey

A Brighter Patient Perspective By Janice Timoney-Skidmore Photography by Seth Teply

Becoming “instantly” sunburned isn’t something she’d ever thought of. Nor did she ever imagine that she’d intentionally and purposefully wear a painful, frozen cap on her head. But that’s exactly what Kristin Teply experienced while undergoing cancer treatment for triple negative breast cancer. These two issues - and a few others – suddenly became a part of her daily living.

Not my hair! Kristin knew that her prescribed cancer treatment was known to make hair fall out - but she decided to fight against hair loss. She chose to try a method called “cold capping” because she had learned that some women reported losing very little hair as a result of covering their heads with a cold cap. She also heard they experienced quicker, thicker hair regrowth.


Planning to work full-time during her treatment, Kristin explained, “I was afraid that if I wore a wig, I’d look like a ‘cancer patient’ and I didn’t want to draw that kind of attention. So I was determined not to lose my hair and got a cold cap.” She had no problem figuring out how to use it or care for it; however, the pain was more than she anticipated. “The mechanics of the cold cap are very easy.” Kristin said, “It’s really very simple. The instructions say to wear it and leave it on for 20-30 minutes before, during and then again after treatment. But, I had no idea how much it would hurt! My head hurt so much! Also, I would get so cold that it felt like I had just spent the entire day skiing. You know when you just can’t seem to get warm? That’s what it felt like.” She used a heated blanket whenever she had the cold cap on to help stay warmer. She also


stated that the pain was the worst during the first two times she wore the cap (during her first two chemotherapy treatments); then the pain seemed to lessen. In the end, the cap didn’t fully work for Kristin, but she feels very confident that she has experienced better hair re-growth having worn a cold cap than if she hadn’t worn one. Kristin said, “I just want to add that it’s really good to have help if you decide to cold cap. This way you can be sure you’re using it correctly. And it’s nice to have someone to talk to and offer support if you experience pain like I did.”

How did I get so sunburned? Hair loss wasn’t the only unexpected experience Kristin had during her cancer treatment. She unfortunately learned the hard way that certain cancer treatments can make people much more susceptible to sunburn. “I was outside for just a few minutes when I realized I suddenly had an extreme sunburn on my arms. The doctors told me that I would be more susceptible to sunburn, but I had no idea just how susceptible I would be. Worse yet, the sunburn wasn’t healing. I called my doctor and was referred to a dermatologist. The last time I saw a dermatologist, I was a teen being treated for acne. My new dermatologist was amazing. She truly listened to me, she treated me with compassion, and she always took time to simply chat with me about general things – which is exactly what I needed. I needed time to talk about things that had nothing to do with illness and so forth.”

But I want to go outside! Going through cancer treatment is tough enough, but when you’re extremely susceptible to sunburn, it can make treatment feel even worse. Not one to give in, Kristin got creative in her clothing choices. She wanted to be able to go outside to play with her young daughter, and although it was very difficult at the time to find UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing sized to fit women in local stores, she managed to find some by shopping at outdoor sports-related stores such as hunting and fishing retailers. Laughing, she said, “If you don’t mind looking like a fly fisher, you can feel very safe with going outside because those products offer very nice protection. Of course, I always wore the highest protection sunscreen as well.” In time, Kristin also The magazine for women affected by cancer

found UPF protective leggings and other protective products. Currently, there are several options available for women online, but a local outdoorsthemed store can usually suffice in a pinch. In addition to UPF clothing, Kristin found another great product that’s often referred to as “swim shirts.” Also providing UV ray protection, these shirts are often used by surfers and other watersport lovers to help protect skin from the sun’s rays and other irritations while they’re enjoying their time in the water. With these shirts, they don’t have to leave the water to reapply sunscreen. These shirts are also used by land-loving sport enthusiasts who may refer to them as “rash guards.”

Hand and foot what? Her dermatologist was able to prescribe a cream to assist with her sunburn healing. But then, Kristin’s hands and feet began to swell which caused the skin on her palms and the bottoms of her feet to crack and peel away. She was having trouble not scratching or picking at the peeling skin, so she had to wear gloves and socks. She knew she needed assistance from her dermatologist again and was diagnosed with “hand and foot syndrome,” which can occur because some cancer drugs affect the growth of skin cells or small blood vessels in the hands and feet and result in damage to the surrounding tissues. Kristin’s dermatologist prescribed another topical cream, and although it took some time, Kristin began to heal. She recommends high-quality, supportive, breathable shoes for anyone who experiences this treatment side effect as well as cushioned cotton socks. Kristen said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for an antianxiety medication if you feel very anxious about either hair loss or skin troubles. Or any other part of your diagnosis and treatment for that matter because anxiety can exacerbate issues. So it’s better to get help right away.”

When doctors team up. Kristin loves that her cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment were done at a location that has a team of physicians who specialize in different types of care all within one facility. One location with a team of different specialists can make the patient feel a sort of “seamless” care. Kristin said, “Looking back, I


wouldn’t have known where to find a dermatologist who specializes in the type of care I needed for my skin in that moment. I’m extremely thankful that my doctors are all within the same organization because they actually meet to discuss their patient’s needs and can determine a better care plan as a result. This saved me from having to take on the work of attempting to find a dermatologist myself during a time when I really needed help and care.”

What’s next? “My journey with cancer treatment isn’t quite over, so to help me feel relaxed and calm, I have kept up with my regular facial and gentle massage appointments whenever I can.” Kristin added, “But soon, I plan to talk with my dermatologist about what I call the ‘fun side’ of skincare, which is skincare NOT related to my cancer treatment or acne. It’ll be just for me, just to have wonderful looking skin, just because I want it.”

Closing thoughts While Kristin’s journey and experiences are uniquely hers, we know that many of you can relate to what she expressed in this story. If you found a favorite UVP clothing line, amazing socks, perfect-for-themoment shoes or other items that helped you or someone you love while on a journey with cancer treatment, please share them with us, and then we’ll share your tips with our readership. Visit our website at and fill out the contact form, or DM us on social media. Ancillary note: This article is intended solely to share one person’s experience; therefore, this article does not condone any particular types of treatment, UVP clothing, cold caps or other products.

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Jamie and Stephanie

Brighter Spotlight By Erin Schreyer Photography by Erin Schreyer

The magazine for women affected by cancer


Their journey together magnified their ability to love and be loved. Our interview went to unexpected places within minutes. When I asked about the timing of their cancer journeys, these two friends, who walked through each and every step together, were quick to tell me about the “worst part.” Stephanie Linder recalled the exact details of her close friend, Jamie Kraus, telling her she had been diagnosed. She said Jamie began with the words: “I haven’t wanted to call…I don’t want to make you cry.”

of close friends, Jamie supported Jen at doctor’s appointments, through chemo and at home with her family. She even pitched in a few times to write on Jen’s blog, chronicling her treatment while leaning into her faith. Jamie learned and continues to learn so many valuable lessons about the importance of friendship and receiving support in the midst of any cancer journey. She offers herself as a resource to other women (and even blogged her own journey, and she firmly “It’s the worst part,” explained Jamie. “You feel like believes Jen remains with her in spirit through it all. you can handle it, but you know you’re about to Almost unbelievably, a similar pattern of events crush the people you love. You know that it’s going happened with Stephanie. As soon as Jamie was to change everything the minute you tell them.” diagnosed, Stephanie began going to appointments with her for support. While there, she thought, I wasn’t expecting to hear that a cancer diagnosis “Gosh, I should probably get a mammogram could cause as much or more concern for others again. It’s been a while.” Jamie urged her to get a as it does for the one 3-D mammogram afflicted. But then for extra clarity. From that point on, these friends again, I wasn’t surprised Six weeks later, by the immeasurable Stephanie received shared doctors, advice, support care and love for her cancer diagnosis and an intimate understanding others that is born of on her birthday and nurtured through (amazingly, Jamie that can only come through sincere relationships. just “happened to experiencing your own personal That’s the beauty of be there” to drop cancer journey. a life shared, and it’s off a gift). As the the one thing that doctor delivered the Stephanie and Jamie news to Stephanie, both agreed makes this cancer journey tolerable Jamie jumped into action, knowing just what to do. (and amazingly, even laughable at times). While holding back Stephanie’s hair and blowing on her neck to keep her calm, Jamie asked the Following this theme, Jamie quickly rewound the doctor specific, clarifying questions and took notes timeline of her story to a year prior, when she went accordingly. She offered advice on next steps and for a mammogram with just a slight concern about helped Stephanie develop a plan of action almost a pea-sized lump in her breast. During that time, immediately. And so, their cancer journey together she was helping yet another close friend through began… her breast cancer treatment. “It’s only because I had gone through this with Jen that I pushed for further From that point on, these friends shared doctors, testing a year later and was ultimately diagnosed,” advice, support and an intimate understanding she said. “Jen had a hand in saving my life.” that can only come through experiencing your own personal cancer journey. They scheduled “Jen” refers to Jamie’s dear friend, Jennifer appointments simultaneously, often referred to Clouse, who battled for years through cancer as “twins” by their specialists. They were literally remissions and recurrences. With another group brought into the room at the same time, examined


one-right-after-the-other and gave their doctors permission to talk openly in front of one another. I t ’ s n o e x a g g e ra t i o n to say that they shared their journey -

from diagnosis to treatment, to surgery and reconstruction and even through breast tattoos to re-create their natural bodies. They walked the road together. “It made it bearable,” explained Stephanie. “It was almost like I could be a little excited about going to go see a doctor because there was a little glimpse of knowing I’d get to see Jamie.” “Yes! And we would go have lunch afterwards and try to make it fun,” Jamie added. “Well, as fun as it could be!” Both women explained to me the amount of time spent with their plastic surgeon. “It was way more than we had thought it would be,” they agreed. “There are so many decisions to be made, and then it’s a multi-step process. And we both had to redo the whole process a second time because the implants we received got recalled,” said Jamie. “It’s so helpful to be known and understood,” Stephanie shared. She explained, “There are some aspects of this process that others just don’t or can’t get, not a husband and not some friends. And that’s ok, because other friends come out of nowhere and show up like you never expected.” Jamie agreed and remembered that Jen had told her something similar: “You’ll be surprised at the people who show up for you, and you’ll be surprised at the people who don’t. Don’t take it personally. Some people have gifts in that area and some don’t know what to do, so they freeze and don’t The magazine for women affected by cancer

do anything. Even close friends. But then, these random people come into your life. God fills in the gaps. He knows exactly what you need.” As we continued talking, Jamie and Stephanie shared that even though they have different circles of friends outside of each other, they have marveled at how their lives have intertwined over the years through similar-aged children and activities. And while they have always had that, nothing will ever compare to the intimacy and depth they shared going through this process together. “Life is so hard,” said Stephanie. “But then you look back and realize you have to go through the hard stuff in order to experience this sweetness and love and care.” Both women marveled at the friends and neighbors who showed up in unexpected ways while they were experiencing cancer. While it may be hard at first, they suggested quickly learning to receive it all. From family members stepping up to new responsibilities, to a vaguely-familiar neighbor suddenly becoming a source of encouragement, let people help. Don’t have any expectations, and realize it may not look like what you think. Just accept it. On the flip side, they suggested that if you know someone going through a health crisis, don’t ask what you can do. Just do it. “With everything you’re going through (as a patient), it’s so overwhelming

Now on the “other side” of cancer, Jamie and Stephanie agree that the experience has changed them for the better. to figure out what you want or need,” explained Stephanie. “You’re just so exhausted. I’ve learned (as a friend) to just grab something. Wherever you are, while you’re running your own errands, just grab an extra. It’s amazing how it ends up being just what the person needs.”


Now on the “other side” of cancer, Jamie and Stephanie agree that the experience has changed them for the better. “The compassion and understanding for anyone else going through cancer is just tremendous,” said Jamie. “It’s my first priority, and I always make time because I know what’s needed when someone gets a diagnosis. My heart is open for those people.” “There’s definitely a chain,” added Stephanie. “Jen helped Jamie, Jamie helped me, I helped another friend, she’s helped someone else. There’s a saying that we didn’t used to like, but it’s so true. ‘Don’t waste your cancer.’ I’ve shared my experience with other women, and it has miraculously been just what they needed to hear when they needed to hear it, and it has made a difference.” Lastly, when asked to describe their shared journey together in one word, Jamie was quick to respond with the word “tender.” “It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life, just having someone

That natural laughter isn’t just a result of their friendship. It’s also a result of what Jamie called “the gift of cancer”: that is, learning to live in the present. They each have a deep appreciation for the wisdom, friendships and moments in life that matter. It’s a new way of seeing things postcancer, and the perspective allows them to be more grateful, joyful and faithful. It’s easy to see, too. While they may have physical scars that forever mark their cancer diagnoses, they also display a radiance that far outshines any imperfection. Their journey magnified their ability to love and be loved, and their friendship multiplied all that was good. It’s still multiplying. Even today. Even now. And no doubt, for the rest of their lives. Truly, nothing is being wasted, and I’m reminded of the old saying, “A good friend doubles the joy and divides the pain.” Indeed, they’re living proof.



. AY

who completely has your back…and front!” (Insert lots of laughter here!)


JAMs Everyone needs a good list of JAMS for a chemo session, a car ride, a walk or maybe a run. Check these out.

Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson Fight Song - Rachel Platten Confident - Demi Lovato

If you’d like to submit your idea for a future JAM list go to and submit your favorite songs.



Abdominal or mid-back pain

Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague symptoms. If you are experiencing one or more of these unexplained symptoms, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network urges you to see your doctor.

Loss of appetite



Weight loss


Change in stool

Recent onset diabetes

The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet well understood, but research studies have identified certain risk factors.

Family History




Risk increases if multiple first-degree relatives had the disease or if any were diagnosed under 50.

A diet high in red and processed meats may increase risk. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease risk.

Obese people have a 20 percent increased risk of developing the disease, compared with people of a normal weight.

African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer.






Smoking may cause about 20-30 percent of all exocrine pancreatic cancer cases.

Slightly more men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women.

The chance of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age.

Long-standing (over 5 years) diabetes increases risk.

Chronic pancreatitis increases risk. Risk is even higher for people with hereditary pancreatitis.

Learn more about: Risk factors at Symptoms at The magazine for women affected by cancer

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Staying Grounded

When “Ethel” Calls.

By Dr. Meredith Mitstifer

You know her, and I know her. “Ethel.” The voice inside your head that doesn’t have anything nice to say. She rears her ugly head when stressed, worried, tired and perhaps fearful. She enjoys creating negative thoughts, self-doubt, panic, heart palpitations, sweat, tears and sometimes anger. When I was diagnosed with cancer, “Ethel” really enjoyed visiting when I was lying in bed at night, not able to sleep, or when I was alone in my car, or yes – she found her way into the sanctuary of my shower. “Ethel” seemed to call every day, sometimes more than once. While I didn’t appreciate her, I seemed


to entertain her for a while, almost to the point of believing her. All too often with a cancer diagnosis, the world feels as though it’s spinning out of control. Navigating a cancer diagnosis, treatment, insurance, clinical trials, family needs, relationships, changing relationships, isolation and fear of the unknown can be exhausting. Add in “Ethel” – a recipe for disaster. So how can you stay sounded and grounded with all these competing thoughts and feelings? Research suggests over and over that mindfulness, meditation and support all prove to be evidence based interventions to decreasing stress, anxiety

and depression. Mindfulness is the practice in which you focus on being aware of your surroundings, including what you are sensing and feeling in the moment without judgment. Taking a walk, being one with nature, eating, breathing exercises, etc. can all be a mindful practice. The more you engage in the here and now and focus on taking in the present moment, the more likely you are to experience some relaxation during your day, allowing yourself a break from “Ethel.” Stop what you are doing, put down your phone and simply take a breath. Then take a moment to notice any sensations that occur following. Focus on what you see, hear, feel, and or smell for as little as 10 minutes a day because self-care is so important in your healing. Meditation can be a form of mindfulness practice. Finding a quiet spot, take up to three deep breaths while noticing what you sense in your body and your breathing. Feeling your breath, noticing when your The magazine for women affected by cancer

mind begins to wander and most importantly, being kind to yourself in the process is all it takes to begin meditating. Forms of meditation can include deep breathing exercise or guided imagery for well-being. There are thousands of free meditation videos on YouTube as well as apps that you can subscribe to. Meditation can be a great way to start and end your day. You are worth 20 minutes and I promise, meditating keeps “Ethel” at bay… and away. Support is key. You wouldn’t be the first person that tries to convince me that you are ok with handling this on your own. You may think you want to be in control and don’t need support. I get it. My name is Meredith and I swore I could handle this on my own. I was terribly wrong and it took me awhile to realize I was the cause of my own depression. Isolation is a major contributor to depression, and when you are sad and depressed, the last thing you want to do is


mingle with others. However, if you think about the time and energy you put forth into handling things on your own, along with fighting depression and talking to “Ethel,” engaging with a support network and allowing yourself to understand you are not alone, would require so much less effort and the benefits clearly outweigh the consequences. Separating the facts from feelings can also help

This simple intervention doesn’t forbid you to worry, it just asks that you worry about it later… you stay grounded. Attorneys are great at this. It is common to let “Ethel” flood our minds with negative thoughts which will cause us to worry about things we aren’t even sure of, and lead us down “Worry Lane.” The facts are hard enough to swallow. Don’t let “Ethel” add extras to your list. If you insist on worrying about the extras, try scheduling “worry time.” This is when you set aside a certain 3060 minutes every day at the same time to worry. Yep. Permission granted. If you want to worry about an unknown, allow yourself to worry about it tomorrow from 9:00am to 10:00am. This simple intervention doesn’t forbid you to worry, it just asks that you worry about it later….and you may find that later, it doesn’t feel as important to think about. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask others for exactly what you need. My dear friend who passed from ovarian cancer taught me this. She would often say, “While I love getting bracelets or socks, what I really need are bottles of water carried up to my apartment.” If you ever have been in a position where you want to help someone, wouldn’t this be something so easy to do and at the same time, incredibly supportive for the person in need? This benefits everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask and allow those around you who desperately want to help, know exactly how to do so. These are just a few things you can do to manage “Ethel” when she wants to invade your mind space. Try something new like mentioned above and see


where it takes you. Cancer is hard enough. Don’t add to it if at all possible. The more you engage in healthy coping strategies, the better you might feel. Any wins during this cancer adventure are wins worth celebrating. Feeling a few minutes of peace, decreasing stress, depression and anxiety are all wins. Trust me when I say, when “Ethel” tries to call you, let her go to voicemail. She has nothing new to say. Note: I should have mentioned, if your name is Ethel, I apologize. Name yours Meredith. I deserve it. LOL

A Model Patient is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to serving women around the country who are facing cancer. It is a woman-to-woman, grassroots approach in order to positively and directly impact patients. A Model Patient was founded by Tara Darby Rasheta as she was facing her own breast cancer battle at the age of thirty-five. The outpouring of love and support she received from her community inspired her to start this charity. A Model Patient touches women through thoughtful gifts and meal deliveries. If you are A Model Patient or know of someone battling cancer, please request a free gift. The organization will assess the needs of the patient and donate goods accordingly. The inventory is built through donations, financial contributions and fundraising efforts. Donations can be made by check, Paypal or by clicking the donation button on our website.

Treats for Treatments Little Purchases That Pay Off Big By Dr. Tara Rasheta

Small, everyday luxuries can help bring comfort to the crisis. Here are a few must-haves for any woman about to embark on her cancer treatment journey.

Post-op pillows Many surgical procedures require that you sit up while sleeping and recovering or that you rest for prolonged periods of time in bed. According to, sleeping well may affect the way that cancer patients recover and respond to treatment. They claim that poor sleep has been connected to higher levels of pain, longer hospital stays and a greater chance of complications. Post-surgery recovery pillows, like wedge pillows, are specially designed to help make bed rest more comfortable. It also gives the patient the ability to position herself properly to protect the affected area. Sleep and rest are both integral parts of the healing process and can help reduce recovery time. Invest in good pillows prior to surgery. Search etsy or ask your surgeon for the right one based on your surgery.

You may feel like you’re sleeping at a 5-star spa resort, but it won’t cost a fortune. MorningGlamour. com has a collection of colorful satin pillowcases starting at just $12.99.

Cozy robes Step up your loungewear game with a new robe. Every patient has her personal preference; some ladies prefer classic terry cloth. Others might like something fluffier and cozier, satin or silk, or even velvet. The point here is to feel beautiful while healing comfortably. One bonus is that a robe can make dressing wounds more accessible. The Brobe has an entire line of adaptive clothing and robes specifically designed with patients in mind. Robes come complete with pockets to hold drains, cooling packs, etc. This is the ultimate intersection of function meeting fashion. Learn more at www.

Luxe pillowcases A bald head on a satin pillowcase feels divine, I know this from personal experience. If you’re going to spend so much time in bed, why not make it special? Satin pillowcases instantly elevate your bedding. Silk and satin also help smooth frizzy hair, minimize static and support healthy skin by reducing fine lines, wrinkles and dullness. The magazine for women affected by cancer


Makeup Tips

Creating Your Best Brows

Amanda Guillot

My mom always warned me not to over-pluck my brows. In true teen fashion, naturally, I did not heed her advice. As a woman in my late 40’s, I have learned what a natural, but clean and polished brow can do to frame and lift your face. Thanks to my teen stubbornness, I have learned a trick or two to help mimic that look with a few simple strokes of a brow pencil. Working with a local breast cancer treatment non-profit organization helped me realize that women undergoing chemotherapy not only lose their hair, but brows and lashes too. A quick brow tutorial (and perhaps a swipe of lipstick as mama also said to never to leave the house without) can be all one needs to feel put together and more “you.” We all have those moments where we just want to feel a bit normal, a bit more “us.” To allow the beauty, courage and strength we feel on the inside to reflect outwardly to the world. Amanda Guillot is a managing director with Beauty Counter. Beauty Counter is “leading a movement to a future where all beauty is clean beauty.” They are creating “clean beauty products that truly perform while holding themselves to unparalleled standards of safety.”


How to achieve a natural, beautiful brow: Start with a sharpened brow pencil. You want a nice point so that the strokes are hairlike. If your natural hair color is on the lighter side, choose a pencil that is a shade darker. For those with naturally dark hair, I recommend choosing a similarly toned pencil. 1.Using the pencil as a guide, hold it vertically from your inner eye up to your forehead. This will mark where your brow should begin. 2. Notice where your iris is (this is the beautiful colored area of your eye). The highest point of your brow arch should be just above the outside of your iris. 3. Then tip the pencil diagonally from the nose to your outer eye. This will mark where the tail of your brow should end. Now, working from the front of the brow, (near bridge of nose) draw quick, short hairlike strokes upward. As you move to the arch you’ll start drawing the strokes more diagonally and toward the direction of the tail of the brow. Use a light hand - you can always add more when you step back from the mirror if you feel you need it. 4. Repeat on other eye. 5. Smile - you’re lovely! The magazine for women affected by cancer

Choose the shape that’s right for your face. 25

More than a Wig

One Salon Owner’s Gift to Survivors

Teresa Zoch, owner of More than a Wig, used to be a traditional salon owner. She cut, colored and styled many clients’ hair over the years. However, one day, things changed. On this day, a woman walked into her salon with a wig in hand. She shared that she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be starting treatment soon. “I will probably lose my hair,” she said. “I don’t want to suddenly look different, so I bought this wig. What I would like is for you to cut and color my hair to look just like this wig. That way it will be harder to see any difference with my hair while in treatment.” Teresa, amazed, thought that this was a brilliant idea. That day, a client walked out of a salon with hair that looked just like her wig, and Teresa became aware of a need that would change the trajectory of her business forever. “I realized women affected


by cancer lose a lot of control over their lives,” Teresa said. “Here was an opportunity for me to hand a little portion of that control back to these precious women fighting this awful disease.” Teresa had never liked walking into wig shops herself. “Wig shops always gave me a slight case of the willies; all those nondescript, lifeless heads staring at you. Shoppers feel forced to choose something. It’s an uncomfortable process,” she said. However, by thinking creatively and developing relationships with wig manufacturers, Teresa designed a pleasant and unique experience for these women, so they feel like they are shopping for something important, that they are in control of choosing, while in a private consultation session at her salon. During this session, Teresa lets each woman see swatches of the hair colors.

The client has the option to match their current hair color exactly or select a new color. Teresa then starts calling suppliers, setting up accounts with them and ordering the client’s chosen wig. The wig will then ship to the salon in 3-5 business days. “It’s a wonderful thing to take a discouraging

moment in a cancer journey and make it one that offers a sense of peace and control, thus easing the fear of the unknown,” Teresa added. More than a Wig is located in Dallas, Texas. Teresa will be answering reader’s questions in our future issues.

Wig Q and A with Teresa Q: Once diagnosed, when should I start shopping for a wig? I suggest as soon as possible, starting online first if you have access. This gives you an idea of what is available. Afterward, when you visit a wig shop, you will already know your preferences.

Q: Should I purchase a human hair wig or synthetic? If your hair loss is temporary, I suggest synthetic, as most look natural. If your hair loss is permanent, I suggest human hair which is much more expensive and lasts longer.

Q: What is a wig cap and why would I need it? A wig cap is a stretchy stocking cap that serves as a barrier between your scalp and your wig. It eases itchiness and helps to grip the wig to the scalp. Lace Front Wig

Q: What are monofilament and lace front? Monofilament is strands of man made fiber. Lace front is a natural looking growth effect at the front top of forehead.

The magazine for women affected by cancer



It’s a mouthful to say, but the results of Visceral Manipulation (VM) therapy can be incredibly helpful when it comes to your continued healing post-surgery. Created and developed by French osteopath and physical therapist, Jean-Pierre Barral, this amazing technique is given to specific areas of the body with the intention of freeing organs and surrounding structures from restrictions that often result from the body’s truly amazing healing process.

How it works. According to founder Jean-Pierre Barral’s website, Visceral Manipulation is defined as: 1. “Gentle manual therapy that assesses the structural relationships between the viscera (organs), and their fascial or ligamentous attachments to the various systems in the body. 2. Assists functional and structural imbalances throughout the body including musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urogenital, respiratory, digestive,


eliminatory, neuroendocrine, dysfunction.”



Put in simpler terms, this therapy is performed externally by a certified, professional VM therapist for the purpose of helping to restore organ and/or joint mobility. The VM therapist does this by gently manipulating organs and surrounding structures with their hands. The purpose of this therapy is to reduce organ and structural “restrictions” that are caused during the body’s healing process. After trauma, to protect itself, the body will create scar tissue (restrictions) so that organs, joints and their supportive surrounding structures can be held in place. However, where, and how the scar tissue forms may not be optimal for the organ’s or joint’s best health because it may restrict movement or cause misalignment. Think of abdominal surgery. During this procedure, an incision is made in an area that is full of vital

organs. Muscles and ligaments that normally hold these organs in place have been cut and/or temporarily moved so that a surgeon can access specific areas. As a result, as soon as the surgeon is done with their work, the body (under most conditions) begins immediately protecting organs or joints in those altered areas by beginning to create scar tissue to help hold them in place. Sometime later, the body appears healed from the outside. But inside, those organs may be a bit out of alignment and “stuck” inappropriately. Being misaligned and restricted, tension and chronic irritation may occur and as a result, a person may experience symptoms such as localized and/or referred pain, discomfort, decreased mobility, digestive issues and more.

What is VM like? When a certified, professional Visceral Manipulation therapist asses your body’s specific needs, they will ask questions about your medical history so they can better understand what areas of your body may be experiencing the effects of abnormal muscle, ligament and/or organ alignment. Many cancer patients have had surgeries to remove tumors, so sharing your specific surgical history will be very helpful for the VM therapist to serve you best. Appointment durations vary by your needs, but they are often 30 to 60-minutes in length. VM is performed externally, and you are fully clothed. However, on occasion, your VM therapist may prefer to touch your skin at the specific area that needs assistance. This will only be done with your prior approval.

Does it hurt? The answer to this question is that it depends on each person and their needs. For example, a person who has healed from a total hysterectomy and debulking surgery has a long incision site – which means more scar tissue. Also, there are more organs to consider in this region. As a result, VM may at times feel uncomfortable and sometimes slightly painful during the process. Occasionally, soreness in the region may exist for a day or so afterwards, but usually ebbs and isn’t so painful that a person can’t work/run errands and so forth. The magazine for women affected by cancer

What does it feel like? Each person will experience it differently. One example comes from a friend who decided to try this therapy a year after abdominal surgery (with her physician’s approval). In her experience, she said, “When my VM therapist gently released restriction I had around my intestines, it felt like a weird, soft series of pinching – and then relief. It actually felt really good! Also, I was experiencing some lower back pain but didn’t even consider my abdominal surgery could be related to it in any way. However, VM therapy helped! It sounds crazy but within 24 hours of my first appointment my lower back pain decreased. I asked my VM therapist about it, and she recommended I talk with my doctor. She also explained that when organs and the things around them are stuck, it can cause pain in other areas. I’m going to talk to my doctor about the pain I had, of course, but I am super happy that VM helped me in more ways that I thought it would!”

Is it safe for everyone? Always discuss this or another other therapy you may be considering with your doctor before starting.

How to find a specialist. A general internet search using a good search term such as, “visceral manipulation therapist near me” will usually bring up the results for your area. However, you can also contact a local professional massage therapist to see if there is a VM therapist they personally know and recommend. Many times, VM therapists are also massage therapists, so your search may end quickly. Note: Always check to be sure that someone claiming to be a VM therapist has professional credentials before making an appointment with them. Like any professional service you are seeking, take time to read reviews and do some background research so you know you’ve done the best to find a qualified expert. 1 The Barral Institute, 2020, 2 The Barral Institute Therapies, 2020,


PASSING TIME We know there is often lots of waiting when going to doctor’s offices and treatment. Here are a few things to keep the time moving along. Enjoy them alone or with a friend!

Dots and Boxes

Word Search Stillness Peace Brighter Quiet Calm Beauty





Caregiver Survivor Friendship Sunshine Hope






The magazine for women affected by cancer

Marketing, social media optimization & posting, and branding for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small businesses.

Jumble answers: inspire; breathe; movement; self care; calm; joy; relax Trivia answers: 42%; 17,000; 4-6; None, you can’t ‘catch up’ on sleep; berries, carrots; about 640; 60%; They affect one another

According to science, what percent of the day should be dedicated to relaxing activities? • 37% • 42% • 56% • 61% How many breaths does the average person take each day? • 17,000 • 23,000 • 29,000 • 35,000 On average, how many dreams does a person have each night? • 0 • 1-2 • 4-6 • 8 What are the benefits of sleeping extra to catch up on some low-sleep nights? • Better focus • Less stress and anxiety • More regular appetite • None; you can’t ‘catch up’ on sleep Which of the following are considered ‘superfoods’? • Berries • Chocolate • Garlic • Carrots How many muscles are in the body? • About 450 • About 500 • About 570 • About 640 The human body is, on average, about what percent water? • 50% • 60% • 70% • 80% What is the relationship between mental and physical health? • Mental health affects physical health • Physical health affects mental health • They affect one another • Neither affects another



MAGAZINE Honors and remembers friends and loved ones with cancer. This issue is dedicated in honor of:

Minnie Mae Harris (1932-2021) I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.” Gone where? Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she left my side. And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me -- not in her. And, just at the moment when someone says, she is gone, there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!” - Henry Van Dyke

Some of Minnie’s advice to us: “ Always look for the good, never the bad.”

The following page is dedicated to the strong women affected by cancer, living and passed, who inspire us to live “Brighter” lives. If you would like to pay tribute to a survivor in our next issue, register your loved one’s name on our website.

The magazine for women affected by cancer


Honoring Those We Love Those with us Janie Bowles (Thyroid)

Those greatly missed Irene Brown 1915 - 1997 (Breast) Jennifer Clouse 1972 - 2016 (Breast) Minnie Mae Harris 1932 - 2021 (Uterine) Jean Maday 1972 - 2020 (Ovarian) Lauren Madeley 1980 - 2020 (Breast) Florence Parker (1940-2005) (Ovarian) Barbara Rodney 1940 - 2017 (Pancreatic)

Stacy Brown (Uterine)

Katy Rubarth 1966 - 2021 (Breast)

Asil Bakr (Ovarian)

Christie Steele 1942 - 2004 (Pancreatic)

Lisa Fisher (Breast)

Jan Waters 1955 - 2019 (Esophageal)

Jennifer Foss (Breast) Jamie Kraus (Breast) Tarrin Kennedy (Leukemia) Stephanie Linder (Breast) Meredith Mitstifer (Ovarian) Sunshine Mossa (Breast) Sandy Ralston (Cervical) Linda Williams (Breast)

Valuing similarities & differences

Janice Timoney - Skidmore (Ovarian) Valencia Yarborough (Breast)


Become a Part of Brighter

This Month’s Contributors We have been so blessed by the wonderful people who have helped us put together this issue. If you would like to know more about our contributors, please visit our website.

Writers Dr. Jennifer Gill, MD. Ph.D Amanda Guillot

There is so much joy when using your gifts and talents to serve women affected by cancer. If you or someone you know would like to help with future issues of Brighter Magazine, please contact us at

Dr. Meredith R. Mitstifer, Psy.D


Janice Timoney-Skidmore


Graphic Designers

Story Tellers

survivors, family members, friends and organizations

Beauty Industry makeup artists, salon professionals

Healthcare Workers

medical professionals, caregivers, nutritionists, health and wellness professionals


graphic designers, editors, illustrators


friends, family, advertisers, organizations and businesses

Tara Rasheta Dr. Riva Rhal, MD Erin Schreyer

Jada Beard Helen Bowles

Maddie Muller


Shari Johns Maddie Muller Erin Schreyer

Suzen Stewart

Photo Credits

Seth Teply - pg. 14 Erin Schreyer - cover and pg. 18 & 20 Melissa Griffith - pgs. 30, 31 Adobe Photo Stock - all other pages

Special thanks to our incredible donors for making this issue possible. Disclaimer Information in Brighter Magazine is to provide you with encouragement, awareness and education. The articles reflect the opinions of the authors and are not to take the place of professional medical advice. There may be a variety of perspectives on the subjects covered in Brighter. Tips, treatment and advice that is found helpful for some may vary based on the person. All of us at Brighter suggest that you talk to your medical team before making any changes to your lifestyle or daily living. The magazine for women affected by cancer


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A lifestyle magazine for women affected by cancer.

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