Finding Hope During Difficult Moments – The Importance of Community

I just turned 45. It’s a milestone I wasn’t sure I would see. Three and a half years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t have family, close friends or anyone in my inner circle with cancer. Today, I have an entire cancer community and it is what got me through the worst time of my life.

Community is the basis of everything I do. It is the very essence of our company, The MOMS.

Now that I am a survivor, I often think about how to share my experience in a meaningful way that can help others, no matter what type of cancer they may be facing. I keep coming back to the thought that the community I was able to engage with on social media helped me during some of my toughest moments and connected me with others who were going through similar experiences. I recently realized that my cancer journey is similar to that of an athlete, which is why I’m so proud to be collaborating with seven-time Olympic medalist in gymnastics, a mom and ovarian cancer survivor, Shannon Miller. Shannon is on a mission to educate women facing ovarian cancer through her work with Our Way Forward.

Shannon has partnered with TESARO and Our Way Forward, which is a call to action that encourages women with ovarian cancer to rethink how they talk about it. The program strives to foster a community for those impacted by this disease, who can work together to navigate the physical and emotional challenges that the disease brings. 

Shannon is encouraging women, care partners, loved ones and physicians to join the Our Way Forward team. Have you ever played a sport? Or been on a team? Or coached one of your kid’s teams? Every member of a sports team needs the support of teammates cheering you on.

Our Way Forward is your stadium filled with fans. It is your gold medal performance. It is a place to learn, read and share. It is a place where everyone is rooting for you. 

We all need someone in our corner. At every level!  

When I was diagnosed with cancer I decided to share my story publicly. With The MOMS, I have shared my life, whether it was on television talking about parenting, online writing about my divorce on the Huffington Post, on my SiriusSM radio show or on social media. So how could I not also share this?  

I wrote my first story for People.com and the response was unbelievable. Thousands of people shared my story and then many went on to share theirs.  

It was like being in a stadium filled with fans rooting for me. Fans cheering me on and wanting people living with cancer to win. I had my own team, my own coaches, my managers, my kids, extended family and friends—the support generated felt like I had an entire stadium full of fans!  

I named my team, #FutureCancerSurvivor. I printed bracelets that I still wear today. There hasn’t been a day I have been without it. It’s my logo, my team uniform. I shared it all. Everything from my lumpectomy to shaving my head right before an event I was hosting with Jennifer Garner to my wigs to 6 months of chemo, 6 weeks of radiation daily. A year of immunotherapy injections. I had unique side effects. I kept sharing. Each time I shared, I gained more fans. I learned more. I started speaking to others across the country. Rooting for others. It was fans all around a cancer community…really a mini-league of its own. I always had plans to get my work done in the hours sitting during chemo. I brought my computer. What happened was shocking. I would arrive, post a picture, think about what I wanted to write and then take the next few hours while everything was dripping through my body to then respond to every single person. Every comment, every message, every text or email. Social media passed my time, cheered me up, connected me to thousands around the country. Social media saved my life during treatment.  

Once you go through cancer, it never leaves. Cancer-free for me is like being retired. Still in the game but in another way. We are here to spread messages. To help others. This is the real Pros.

What makes someone like Shannon an athlete? Obviously the practice. The drive. The determination. The passion. The coaching. The team.  

What makes someone a cancer survivor? A lot of the same things. But mostly the team and the fans.

So if you see someone sharing their story. If you think to yourself, ‘Why are they doing this?’ Not every day is a win or medal round. Sometimes you’re tackled, or you strike out or are knocked out.  

Sometimes you just feel awful. Think about it this way. They need you cheering them on. They need you rooting for them. They need that base hit or home run or gold medal. They need your help to win whatever game they are playing.

To learn more about Our Way Forward, visit www.ourwayforward.com or the Facebook page. To learn more about Shannon Miller, visit www.shannonmiller.com

Still Dancing Through Life, Thanks to Poise…

This post was made in partnership with Poise®. All opinions my own. 

Once upon a time, I was a young dancer. My life was all about ballet; all day, everyday. I started dancing when I was four years old and took this love and passion into my university years. I received a scholarship to college because of ballet, and I am the person that I am today because of ballet.

I never really wanted to do anything else with my life. I wanted to be a prima ballerina and dance on stage. But one day in my early 20’s, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen.  There were physical obstacles that I just couldn’t plow through. I had horrible hips that would not allow me to turn out completely and feet that just couldn’t arch properly or place me on pointe in the perfect position that was needed. So I pivoted. After college I became a journalist and covered breaking news stories. When I became a mother years later, I took my love of journalism and developed that into a media company that I operate today. 

I did a cold, hard stop with ballet over 20 years ago. It was painful to leave my greatest love behind. But because of my 10-year-old daughter, I’ve found myself back at the barre. She dances five to six days a week with The School of American Ballet here in New York City, and is becoming quite the little ballerina. It is with her passion and dedication for ballet that I have now found myself having a dance re-birth.  

My children have always known about my ballet background and my love for dance. They’ve seen me dancing around our house just about anytime I can. But seeing my daughter in class inspired me to take ballet classes all over again. And I’ve been able to do so with success and ease thanks to Poise®. 

I suffered from LBL (light bladder leakage) after my third baby arrived. However, I wasn’t going to let one more thing keep me from enjoying ballet again. Poise® Impressa® goes in just like a tampon and stops light bladder leaks from happening. Its allowed me to live my life the way I want to. I can jump and dance without fear of leaks or urgent bathroom breaks. From now on, my children know once the music’s turned on, a dance party’s about to happen, all thanks to Poise® Impressa®. Check it out for yourself now by shopping on Amazon or visiting Poise.com

Now I never have to worry while dancing with my kids in the kitchen or while practicing my grand jetés at the studio. I’m my best, youthful self, everyday. When I look at myself in the mirror during ballet class, I feel like the young girl I used to be, once upon a time.

Our Way Forward and Shannon Miller

Community. What does that mean to you? To us, it’s always been about connecting, sharing stories and helping others.  

The community we gathered a few weeks ago at CUT by Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles is uniquely special.  

It was a community of moms, care partners and loved ones—most with a connection to cancer. Gathering together and sharing our individual experiences helps provide others with the support they need to continue the fight. There’s nothing more inspiring than that!

I am a breast cancer survivor and my partner, Melissa, is the sister and daughter of cancer survivors. That’s why we were so proud to host ovarian cancer survivor, and seven-time Olympic medalist in gymnastics, Shannon Miller. She joined us in partnership with Our Way Forward and TESARO, Inc., a GSK Company, for one of our MAMARAZZI events. The event helped raise awareness about ovarian cancer and encouraged women to talk about their experiences and seek out resources. 

Shannon was diagnosed with ovarian cancer almost eight years ago and since her diagnosis, not only has she advocated to help ensure other women are aware of the signs and symptoms of this disease, but she has helped to develop and spread awareness about the support and resources that are available to them. 

Hearing Shannon speak reminded all of us in the room about the importance of putting our own health first, even though we, as women, are often prioritizing others in our lives—whether it is our spouses/partners, children, family members or friends. 

At The MOMS, there’s something we have learned over the years about our community and it’s that we are all driven by love and support. To continue supporting our own, Shannon, Melissa and myself were all proud to wear outfits by fellow ovarian cancer survivor and single mom – Pia Gladys Perry. We also met Cheyann Shaw for the first time and are connecting her with potential speaking opportunities because her ovarian cancer story is so powerful. She is a stage 4 ovarian cancer survivor and was diagnosed just before her wedding. We also reconnected with some of our mom friends and learned more about their connections to cancer. 

Looking ahead, we will proudly continue to share our stories in the hopes they help others. Storytelling is the foundation to empowering others. That’s why Our Way Forward is so important—it offers several resources, including events, videos, blog posts and a discussion guide that can help address the unique conversations and emotions that are associated with an ovarian cancer diagnosis, treatment and disease recurrence. We didn’t want to be a part of the cancer community—in fact, no one really does. But if you have to be, at least we have a place where we can support, learn, connect and empower each other. 

To learn more about Our Way Forward, visit www.ourwayforward.com or the Facebook page. To learn more about Shannon Miller, visit www.shannonmiller.com

Minute With The MOMS: Chrissy Metz


THIS. IS. US. Standing next to Chrissy Metz who lit up our Mamarazzi event for her new film, Breakthrough Movie . She lit up the room on screen and in person with her positivity, charm, kindness and faith. Also standing with us is incredible producer DeVon Franklin and director Roxann Dawson_.

We are so proud to be joining the makers of SYLVANIA general lighting’s campaign to recognize and reward the people who choose every day to #Bethelight to others. Just like country star on the rise Jessie Chris who lights up every day by sharing her anti/bullying messages through her music and Share with us – Who is your positive pal? Do you know someone who shines bright and should be recognized for it? Someone who lights up the world. Someone who helps others. Nominate them and give them a chance to be rewarded!

Kevin Hart and The MOMS

The MOMS Hosted a Mamarazzi event with Kevin Hart after his long day of press for The Upside. The audience was filled with 300 moms and influencers and their kids. Kevin arrived early and told The MOMS he was happy to be there. He spoke to our audience about parenting, the film and the question usually saved for women….How does he do it all as a working dad! Watch to see and hear it all!


The MOMS: Molly Sims

We enjoyed spending the day with Molly Sims at our Mamarazzi for Molly’s new book release, Everyday Chic!  We learned so much about how Molly juggles her supermodel career with her family life and are so happy Manitoba Harvest hemp foods plays such an important role in helping her maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Be sure to pick up her book, Everyday Chic, for some inspiring life advice and delicious, nutritious recipes.

Why I Put My Kids to Work This Summer

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Let’s Play, an initiative by Dr Pepper Snapple Group that provides kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority by building and improving playgrounds and donating sports equipment to groups in need. Although I received compensation for this post, all opinions are my own.

We joined Let’s Play in building a playground and packing up sports equipment to send to children and schools in New Jersey.

My kids have been to London. We just went on an adventure in Iceland. They go to summer camp, we attend many sporting events and they have met a ton of their favorite stars at my Mamarazzi events. I work hard and my kids live the life. They know it. (Most of the time!)

My kids also buy clothes for those in need with me every holiday season and help me write a note for the young recipient. They write letters and send gift cards to a member of our military overseas for the holiday. They stood by my side as I received the Susan G. Komen impact award and spoke about how cancer affected them and gave advice to other families going through cancer.

 To read the full story visit Good Housekeeping.

Back to School Resolutions

Towards the end of the summer, there are many emotions for us Moms. On the one hand we hold onto summer for dear life savoring those last sunsets and family swims and on the other hand, we cannot wait for these kids to go back to school because we are so exhausted and desperate for routine. Back to school is also an exciting time with new adventures, new friends and new experiences; not just for kids, but for us moms too.

Back to school also means running around like crazy for our families trying to get organized with everything from school supplies such as pens etc from office monster to sports practice and all the kid’s activities. It is like the race to the start of the new school year. Every year, while doing the back to school shopping with a Target Gift Card, I always make these silly back to school “resolutions” where I say to myself, “I will volunteer more,” or “I will make healthier school lunches and snacks” to “I will not miss a game.” This is the year for me! The year of change, but for some reason, I cannot get it to all work. So the back to school resolution this year is “I will not put pressures on myself and I will just enjoy.” One tip for entrepreneur moms out there; make sure you include a few Erasers with your branding on them in your child’s pencil case, because you know how quickly they’ll be shared around!

While racing around, trying to get it all done (key word try) I cannot be slowed down by my LBL, (light bladder leaks), that is why I am grateful to have discovered Poise Impressa, which is designed to help stop bladder leaks before they happen. What’s also great is that they come in three sizes to help you find the perfect fit for your body. You can throw them in any bag as you race around, so you don’t have to be bothered with your bladder leaks.

We have enough stress in our lives where we feel like we have that endless To Do list, and the last thing we need to worry about is leaks, which can impact us mentally and physically. We don’t want to miss those moments during back to school whether in the classroom with our kids or on the soccer field at a game.

When I first discovered Poise Impressa, it was truly a game changer for my daily active life. I found myself less worried about being active and less anxious at the gym. I used to have to dash home and change because of my leaks or scale back on my workouts trying to manage my LBL, but now I don’t have to worry.

As moms, we want to be in control. We want to be in control of our family and in control of our lives, and Poise Impressa allows for this. We don’t want to miss out on all the Back to School fun, and we don’t want to be insecure about our bodies. So now this back to school season, I am ready to run again, I am ready to play catch with my son and dive for those balls and I am ready to jump on the trampoline and not worry about anything this school season. So if you have not made your back to school “resolution” yet, join me, in “I will not put extra pressures on myself” and hopefully we all have a great back to school season and successful school year.

To seize your #PoiseMoment and for a free product sample, visit Poise.com and share your #PoiseMoment with Poise on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Disclosure: This is post in partnership with Poise, all opinions are our own.

Exploring With The Explorer

For the first time, in a long time, we went on the Great American Road trip around the state of New York. I have lived in New York City for over 20 years and have never taken the time nor had the time to really explore what is right here in my backyard. I had the perfect opportunity to do this with my folks in town from St. Louis. They booked a trip to New York City for 10 days and I took them on a serious adventure.

We kicked off the road trip in the Ford Explorer, which had plenty of room for all of us. We all felt safe because of the safety rating of the car and the car was safe due to the policy with One Sure Insurance. We headed upstate to Lake George and spent a few days exploring various little towns along the way. We even took the side roads at times to see all the farms and barns, which my daughter adored. Whenever we caught site of cows or horses we had to pull over and take in the view. When you live in New York City, sights such as these are not only so joyous to see but you can forget how simple life can be just a few hours away.

We stopped for the night at the historic and beautiful Sagamore Hotel, which has views for days. We plopped ourselves down at the bottom of the dock after a delicious lobster dinner and just watched the sunset go down as the boats went by. I loved watching my Dad take it all in. When you live in St. Louis you a landlocked so you really appreciate lakes, oceans and anytime you can get on the water.

The next morning we piled back into the Explorer and headed southwest towards Cooperstown New York. It’s been a dream of mine to take my Dad to the Baseball Hall of Fame and being only 2 hours from Lake George we made that our next stop. Growing up in St. Louis, you become a die-hard Cardinals fan, so I have baseball in my blood and to visit the Hall of Fame was pretty awesome for me too. I loved watching my Dads eyes light up and tell stories of the old players and just ramble off facts as if he was a baseball historian. We explored Cooperstown after the museum and took in a fabulous lunch and found the best bakery too.

After Cooperstown we made our way to Woodstock. My dad was dying to see where Woodstock took place. The drive to Woodstock was stunning. We took in the mountains and hills of the Catskill region. We stayed with friends who have a weekend home up there, and great knowledge about the area. We drove into the town of Woodstock and it is still filled with many hippies and musicians playing right in the middle of the town. Great shops to pick up little trinkets and of course the coolest Woodstock tie-dye T-Shirts one could find.

Our next road trip stop took us to Westhampton New York. We have always loved The Hamptons but this was our first time in Westhampton. It had a more laid back vibe than we were used to and a terrific little town that had such quaint shops and restaurants. A favorite find was John Scott’s Surf Shack. It is just right off Dune Road, with a casual atmosphere and the best lobster roll.

The next morning we discovered Pike’s Beach off Dune Road. It was quiet, it was beautiful and it had a food truck that pulls up around Noon offering sandwiches, and ice cream and every drink. This was essential with the kids and we were at that food truck for ice cream one too many times.

The last stop on our great New York Road trip was over to Riverhead. Riverhead is a short 20 minutes from Westhampton and we were told to not miss the Farm Country Kitchen. It could be one of the best meals we have ever had!

We ended our Great New York Road Trip back in New York City. We explored our last few moments with the Explorer by taking the car through Times Square to see more action on our way home. My parents eyes still light up even thought they come to visit me all the time, I guess it is still so incredible to see.

Our great American Road trip through the state of New York was exhausting and beautiful all at the same time. Hopefully our next American Road trip will take us out of the State of New York, because this country has so much to see.

Horrific TSA Experience to Helping with TSA Cares

This could have been YOU.  Or your mom.  Or your dad.  Or your child.  Or someone else you may be traveling with.

‪Last December it was me.  Because of this, I’m hoping it won’t be YOU or anyone else.

‪I was loud.  I am now proud.  More than anything I’m thankful to the TSA for hearing me and now asking me to share my story, together with them, so it doesn’t happen to others.  I’m grateful that my kids, and others, can see that something positive can come from a negative.

‪I’m grateful that my story, and the video I worked on with the TSA can help travelers to make sure they know the best way to travel through security, can be a mini reminder for agents on their role to keep passengers safe while being respectful and sensitive.

‪I’m glad it happened to me.  I, fortunately, have a chance to make a difference.  I hopefully have.  I purposefully chose to capture the situation to share with you.  I now, proudly, am sharing more so others who travel with illness make sure to know the protocol.

‪So, please, watch the video.  Know your rights.  Pass this along.  Remember, the TSA is here to protect us.  Not hurt us.  As a mom, I am very proud that my children know that I stood up for my rights and because of it others will be helped in the future.

To see more from TSA cares watch here:

https://youtu.be/Mt54VpVip-Y

https://youtu.be/iGTJt5ssQbI

What is Play? Let’s Play and help others…

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Let’s Play, an initiative by Dr Pepper Snapple Group that provides kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority by building and improving playgrounds and donating sports equipment to groups in need. Although I received compensation for this post, all opinions are my own.

What does PLAY mean to you? I can tell you, to me and my boys play means basketball. Play means baseball. Play means climbing and running. Play means friendship. Play means communication. Play means teamwork. Play means health. Play means fun. Play means laughing. Play means learning. Play means practicing. Play is EVERYTHING. At a young age pretend playing that can be a good way for children to learn, socialize and development. It’s actually a healthy part of a child’s development. Pretend play can morph and grow into more active play as they get older.

Play can happen anywhere but what if your school, town or community didn’t have clean, safe and inspiring places to play? What if you could change that for your community or one in need? What if you could help change that with your kids by your side actually making a difference?

That’s exactly what I’m going to do with my two boys on August 18th in Trenton, New Jersey. As a mom, and a founder of The MOMS, I can bring my kids to work with me most days. They have joined me on my podcast, The MOMS. They have joined me at our Mamarazzi events with celebrities like Will and Jaden Smith, Jennifer Garner and Kevin James. But having my kids by my side building a playground and sorting and packing sports equipment for kids in need with Let’s Play is among my greatest proud mom moments. There’s nothing better than having my kids help others. I won’t have to explain or teach them about why Let’s Play was created or how important it is to help others. They will experience it themselves. They will learn by doing and see my partnership with Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and understand another aspect of my work and how lucky we are to love what we do and help a community along the way. Let’s Play is a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families to play nationwide. Their goal is to help families achieve that balance by providing the tools, places and inspiration to make physical activity a daily priority. Anyone can apply for a grant to improve their play space or receive sports equipment.

My older son, Jaron, joined me at the planning meeting at the beginning of the summer and felt so accomplished learning and helping from the beginning stages. We will all take part in making this play space, this dream, a reality. He has asked me weekly when we will get to finish the playground. It’s something he will never forget.

Play also means planning. Play also means production. This is also play. This play makes me a proud parent. Come play with US!

Follow along with me on social to learn more about Let’s Play, and how Let’s Play is making active play a priority as Trenton kids head back to school.

 

Minute With The MOMS: Nut Job 2 Cast

Breaking news: Though Maya Rudolph, Will Arnett, Bobby Moynihan and Gabriel Iglesias are all in The Nut Job 2… Our #Mamarazzi was the first time they were all together…There’s just too many funny stories to share so please watch the full video here!

Click below for A Minute with the cast from The Nut Job! Time to laugh NutJobMoms Will Arnett, Gabriel Iglesias, MayaRudolph, and BobbyMoynihan

 

HALLE BERRY MAMARAZZI

Halle Berry talks family, and career, on Mamarazzi LIVE-Stream interview series on Thursday August 3rd, on Time Inc.’s People Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Halle clues us in on the WiFi wipeout that happens during the school year at her home, and how far she has gone to protect her children and her fight for the Senate Bill #606.

To watch the entire Mamarazzi show with Halle Berry visit:

http://people.com/pen/0000015c-7e17-d600-afdf-7f3785b70000/0000015d-a9d8-d06e-a77f-abfd31be0000/

TONI COLETTE MAMARAZZI

Toni Collette talks family, and career, on Mamarazzi LIVE-Stream interview series on Wednesday August 2nd, on Time Inc.’s People Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN).

On this Mamarazzi episode we got the scoop on Fun Mom Dinner from Toni Colette! Click below to watch her recap on working with legendary Funny Females,  the Fun Mom Dinner after party and how she handles being a MOM away from her kids.

ARUBA BABY!

When you live in New York City, you happen to be blessed with direct flights to pretty much anywhere.  Growing up in St. Louis, I remember connecting multiple times to get to our destinations.  Since living in NYC, I have been to several of the Caribbean Islands, but this was our first time to Aruba.

Many of our friends had visited the island before and spoke about all the activities and the nightlife and many had compared Aruba to Hawaii.  They said there was an easiness of walking out the front door of your hotel and being a part of the town and the people.  

With many things in motion with all the kids at different camps this summer, we decided to go in early July with our little one.  I thought summertime would leave the Island empty; boy was I wrong.  It was packed and full of life.

We arrived Mid-day and got to our hotel, The Hyatt Aruba, just in time to take in an afternoon swim in the ocean.  When you walk from the front hotel lobby down towards the beach, you discover that the property has the most amazing tropical birds and fish and even swans placed along the paths, you almost feel like you are in a tropical jungle.  

The ocean and beach were buzzing with so many people, boats, and floats and huts with people everywhere loving the white sandy beaches.  The water was crystal blue and we plopped ourselves down till the sunset. Later that evening we dined at the hotel and went to sleep early dreaming of the next gorgeous day.

We were up and out early the second day and we took in the pools and waterslides.  The water was so warm, that our daughter who was a timid swimmer became an actual swimmer on this day.  She learned to jump in the water for the first time and made friends with so many little girls at the pool that we then became friends with other families.  Late afternoon we explored the boardwalk along the beach, which was filled with people and amazing food shacks.

This is what makes Aruba different than any other island we have ever been to.  You can walk right out of your resort, turn right or left and be around the most amazing restaurants and food shacks you have ever seen.  Most island resorts have security and guards and a gate when you pull in.  You are locked into your resort unless you book a taxi ride somewhere.  We were so surprised and pleased that you could go for long walks along the beach and boardwalk and also around the town so easily.

We discovered a gem called Edwardo’s Beach Shack that had every Acai Bowl you could ever imagine.  They had every type of smoothie to fresh juices and fruit soft serve.  This Edwardo’s had a line of people everyday and became a staple of ours.  Another unbelievable discovery was dinner at Madame Jannette.  We didn’t realize that there isn’t an actual Madame Janette.  Madame Janette is a spicy pepper grown in Aruba.  I did however leave the restaurant with their famous almond crusted grouper that I will attempt to make one day and share the recipe.

The other magic of the Hyatt Aruba is that it is perfectly located on  Palms Beach.  You have the most unbelievable views from your room, and you will never be bored with 4 indoor/outdoor restaurants, 5 bars, including swim-up and beach bars, a gym and tennis courts, plus a casino and a spa.  We thought about all the water sports but we were quite contempt just building sand castles with our little one and being lazy on the complimentary rafts for all the guests.

As the song says “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you to….” Back to Aruba I would say.  Aruba Baby!