Olympic Gymnast Shannon Miller on Ovarian Cancer

September 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm , by

“Listen to your body,” my mom always says. She has practiced what she preaches, which is one of the reasons she is a cancer survivor.

“Listen to your body” was the lifesaving message being put forward at the lunch I attended today, sponsored by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. That’s because there’s no screening test available and the signs are subtle, so it tends to be caught late. But symptoms do exist (see the list below), and when ovarian cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is more than 90 percent. So women who listen to their bodies have a great shot at beating this deadly disease.

The featured speaker at today’s lunch was Shannon Miller, the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history and an ovarian cancer survivor who was diagnosed earlier this year at age 33. (That’s me towering over her in the picture.) Miller says she almost delayed going to her gynecologist for a checkup because, as a business owner and the mom of a toddler, she just didn’t have time. But something told her to make that checkup a priority. And, during a routine pelvic exam, her doctor found a baseball-sized tumor. It turned out to be malignant.

Keeping that appointment probably saved Miller’s life. Take care of yourself, she urged today. Make those appointments. As women and moms, we often put ourselves last. But Miller pointed out that you can’t take care of your loved ones if you aren’t healthy.

Talk to your doctor if you have the following symptoms for more than two weeks:


*pelvic or abdominal pain

*trouble eating or feeling full quickly.

*Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often.

These symptoms are common and usually don’t mean ovarian cancer. So don’t freak yourself out! But do follow up with your doctor. And listen to my mom and to the NOCC: Listen to your body!

A Medical Gift Registry To Help Patients

October 19, 2010 at 9:34 am , by

n779849932_1137809_9496Diem Brown captured America’s attention when she competed on MTV’s Real World, Road Rules Challenge soon after undergoing treatment for Stage II ovarian cancer. But while her bravery and bright personality made her beloved on MTV, she wasn’t always treated so kindly. It was while she was working as a broadcast journalist that she began to see the side effects of her chemotherapy, including hair loss and extreme weight loss. “I didn’t have any money, so I was wearing a $10 wig that I bought on Hollywood Boulevard,” Brown says, “And someone working on a red carpet told me that I was ‘physically offensive.’” It was then that Brown realized how a devastating illness can be made even worse without money. “I wanted a wig that looked real,” she said. “I didn’t want people looking at me and seeing a sick person. I didn’t want to look at me and see a sick person.”

When Brown’s friends began getting married and having children, she became familiar with gift registries—a way for a person to let their loved ones know exactly what they need or want. “My friends and family would say, ‘I feel so helpless—what can I do?’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Oh, give me money.’ But anytime you go to the hospital, it’s expensive. I got turned down twice for my chemo because I didn’t have the money.”

This became the impetus for Brown’s medical gift registry and social network, Once patients register on the site, friends and family can donate directly to the hospital for medical procedures. They can post requests ranging from wigs or grocery gift cards to pet sitting or a ride to the hospital.

Brown says, “I felt like this was the reason I got sick—to come up with this idea. Creating a medical gift registry was my silver lining.” Visit for more information.

Do Good: Cleaning For A Cause

May 3, 2010 at 9:33 am , by

cleaning-facebookIf you have a loved one who’s been through a major medical event like cancer, you know what a toll treatments can take—and how hard it can be for them to keep up with normal day-to-day life. The very last thing you want your friend or family member worrying about is cleaning the house. That’s why we love Cleaning For A Reason, which we featured in our March issue of LHJ. The organization provides free housecleaning services for women across the country who are undergoing treatment for any type of cancer. It’s a great idea and a great cause, which is why we were excited to hear that Hoover is partnering with the foundation to raise up to $25,000 for Cleaning For A Reason. All you have to do is “Like” (the new Facebook word for becoming a fan—yep they changed it) either Hoover’s page or Cleaning For A Reason’s page, and they’ll donate $1 for every new fan. Any easy way to do good today!

Some Good News About Cancer!

April 20, 2010 at 8:48 am , by

Last week I appeared on Fox’s Headline Health to chat with Dr. Manny Alvarez about our feature on “Good News About Cancer.” You can read our story in the May issue of LHJ or click here. And see a brief video excerpt of our discussion, below.

Remember in the movie Love Story, when Jennifer (played by Ali MacGraw, complete with fabulous dirndl minis and “Cliffie” girl tights and turtlenecks) is diagnosed with leukemia? Before we can even process this horrible information, she and her preppie husband, Oliver (played by Ryan O’Neal) have to leave the snowy New York City skating rink and head to the hospital as the famous piano theme music swells. Her character died way too young, and way too fast. That’s how it was with leukemia in 1970. Things are different now.

Thanks to targeted new treatments, patients with some cancers are living longer, stronger, happier lives than ever before. One of the women in our story, Virginia Garner, was diagnosed with leukemia 12 years ago. She enrolled in a clinical trial and was one of the first patients to be treated with Gleevec, a drug that turns off certain proteins in cancer cells that cause the tumor to grow. She’s still on the drug and is training to run her 10th marathon. Now that’s an improvement over 1970!

While there’s still got a long way to go on the road to a cure, it’s good to take a moment to be thankful for the progress that’s been made.

And one last thought: Did anyone, ever, really believe that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry?” I didn’t think so.

Country Music Spotlight: David Nail

January 26, 2010 at 3:53 pm , by

DavidNail_Andrew SouthamFor my money’s worth, David Nail’s I’m About to Come Alive was the most interesting and addictive CD to come out of Nashville last year. Maybe it was how much fun it is walking around NYC with “Again” or “Red Light” blasting out of my iPod. Or how “This Time Around” — with its chorus of “I’m a little bit older, a little more figured out”— helped me get over my ridiculous fear of turning the big 4-0 last August.

Well, when Nail visited NYC in December, I was thrilled to meet him for a few drinks and thank him for the lyrical gut check. The CD, after all, served as kind of my own personal soundtrack to my post birthday months of 2009, and it’s one of the few discs I continually replay from beginning to end. Nail walked me through how passionate he was about the CD’s sequencing, and how every version he toyed with started with the Ray Charles-inspired “Mississippi” and ended with the intensely personal “Missouri,” a breakup song so raw and honest (“Every day that you forgive me, is just another one you’ll waste”) that it literally stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it.

During our visit, David also gave me the inside track on what the CD’s third single (debuting on country radio this week) might be. If you haven’t heard it on your local radio yet, find out what it sounds like — and two random and amazing things we here at LHJ admire about this rising star — after the jump.

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Don’t Miss This Show on Thanksgiving Day

November 24, 2009 at 11:18 am , by


I have too many friends and loved ones who are fighting cancer. I’ll bet you know some, too. That stinks, and we’ve got to stop it. That’s why Ladies’ Home Journal got involved with Kaleidoscope, a “celebration of ice skating, song and survivorship” that airs on Thanksgiving Day.

Taped in Washington, D.C. on November 16, the show is a feel-good extravaganza. It features charming skating numbers by Olympic hopefuls as well as veterans such as cancer survivors Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton. Hamilton (above, far right, with the cast) is especially inspiring. Not only does he serve as a co-host of the show, but the 51-year-old also performs jumps and back flips on the ice that athletes half his age would find daunting.

OliviaBreast-cancer survivor Olivia Newton-John (left, with me and LHJ’s publisher, Julie Pinkwater) also sings and shares hosting duties (she looks fabulous!). And American Idol stars David Archuleta and Katharine McPhee belt out songs that will put you in the holiday mood. When you watch the show, check out McPhee’s fabulous new look with her platinum blond hair and metallic miniskirt. I met Archuleta briefly in the makeup room, and he was as adorable as you would imagine. What impressed me most, though, was that voice. When he sang a simple, elegant and powerful rendition of “Silent Night,” he made this cynical old journalist tear up a bit.Viktor Julie

So how was I lucky enough to get behind the scenes? Well, I’m in the show, too! Nope, I’m a crappy skater. But I get to deliver some “did you know?” cancer-prevention tips. Watch for me before the commercial breaks. I’m thrilled to play a small part in this tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people who are diagnosed with cancer each year in this country. And, of course, to hobnob with Olympic heroes, like Hamill and Hamilton—and sexy and funny gold medalist Viktor Petrenko (right). Happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all!

Kaleidoscope is a show you don’t want to miss! Tune in on Thanksgiving Day at 4 p.m. Eastern Time (after football) on Fox.

Photos courtesy of Peter Staples.