Living in a house full of people can still feel isolated during a pandemic.
Can you imagine living in a house with your ex-husband? How about with his wife, her ex-husband and kids? That’s been my life for the past 14 days. We are grateful that we continue to be healthy while so many others are not. We are also grateful to be here together, though it’s not easy.
When one gets divorced, you do what’s in the best interest of the children. Now, in this crazy corona time, four parents are doing just that.
I keep saying everything is day by day. Just days ago, I posted a pieceabout how my ex-husband and I had to make the difficult decision that one home is better than two. We decided for the health of everyone that my apartment would be kid corona quarantine for the foreseeable future. Well, it is a new day and over the weekend, we hit the road to Quarantine together.
How this family is coping with co-parenting during a pandemic.
I’ve been divorced for eight years but today is the first day I feel like a single mom. I wrote a piece in 2012 titled “Don’t Call Me A Single Mom” because my kids have a dad. They have an involved, hard working, helpful and loving dad. We agreed upon a schedule that works with plenty of nights and every other weekend at his apartment. I have child support and a free babysitter when I travel for work or fun.
What does Joan Lunden see when she looks in the mirror? Who is the best person she ever interviewed? Watch The Minute With The MOMS with Joan Lunden! PLUS, Do you want to win a free trip to Beaches Resorts? Go to TheMOMSNetwork on Instagram and Facebook to more from our Mamarazzi event and to find out how you can enter. We are celebrating Skip Gen Travel. That’s where Grandparents take the Grandkids away and give moms a break or a vacation too!
Mom Beats Breast Cancer and Then Books Dream Trip, Thank You Flash Pack for the Croatia portion of the trip!
I took off work completely for the first time in over 10 years. I turned on my out of office, got my business partner on board to run our company, TheMOMS.com without me, and took off to Europe for three and a half weeks with a one-way ticket and very few plans or reservations. In the past seven years, I’ve gotten divorced, started a new business, moved three times, was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated aggressively for two and a half years, spent four and a half years in and out of a horrific (for lack of other words) on and off relationship, was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and became the subject of a viral video for being mistreated with the TSA — all while parenting two boys.
What do a seven-time Olympic medalist in gymnastics and an award-winning journalist and television producer have in common? Much more than you would think.
During a MAMARAZZI® event in May, Melissa and I were joined by Shannon Miller as part of a partnership with Our Way Forward and TESARO, Inc., an oncology-focused business within GSK. In getting to know Shannon, who many of you know as a decorated gymnast, I realized that while I was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is an ovarian cancer survivor, we share many similar experiences, emotions and challenges in our journey.
In 2011, Shannon Miller was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. As I have spoken about before, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015. During our discussion, it became apparent that there are so many similarities between our diagnoses, the impact cancer had on our families, parenting and finding unity with others in the cancer community. We hope that many of you can unite with us in our shared experiences and continue to learn and share with one another.
Be Your Own Advocate: Listen to Your Body
DENISE: At 41, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went to my regular mammogram and it was fine. Weeks later, I got a letter which said, “The tissue of both breasts is heterogeneously dense.” I didn’t even see that part of the letter because the top of it said, “normal.” Months later I felt a small lump that hurt and went right to the doctor.
SHANNON: I had a similar situation. I was actually on the phone to re-schedule my routine appointment but something told me not to. That day, my doctor found a baseball-sized cyst on one of my ovaries. I brushed off three primary symptoms of ovarian cancer. I attributed all the symptoms to something else, like weight loss because my body was changing post-baby, bloating and stomachaches, I assumed were due to my monthly cycle. It’s so important for women to listen to our bodies and speak up when something doesn’t seem right.
DENISE: I couldn’t agree more. Even now, I may be cancer free, but the diagnosis and continuing medications and decisions are forever. I scheduled an elective surgery, a salpingo-oophorectomy, a procedure to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes. I carry the HER2 gene so my cancer can return anywhere. But ovarian cancer is hard to detect. It’s often diagnosed at a later stage.
SHANNON: I think that’s the scariest thing. I had this mass growing but I could go to my doctor and tell him I felt perfectly fine. Not only was I dismissing my symptoms and general health concerns, I hadn’t even considered ovarian cancer as a cause. I didn’t want to complain. I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to give it much thought, I had too much to do. Now when I feel like something isn’t right, I say something right away.
Parenting Through a Cancer Diagnosis
SHANNON: My son was only 14 months old when I was diagnosed and it threw another wrench into the challenges of parenting. I remember when I would leave the house, my son would say, “Mommy don’t forget your hair.”
DENISE: Just like there’s no parenting manual, there’s no cancer manual. Combine the two and it’s scary. All I could think about was how I would care for my boys. When I’m sick, how will I do it? But I’m strong. I’m tough. And I called on friends. I relied on family.
SHANNON: And the community. I was scheduled to give a speech that fell during my chemo treatments. I was reluctant to cancel and hadn’t realized how difficult the treatment would be. That day, I felt absolutely awful. I didn’t know how I was going to even stand up through the 45 minute speech. But right before I went up, a woman came up to me and took my hand. She said, “I had the same rare tumor you have and the same doctor that you have. That was 10 years ago and now I have two amazing children. You are going to be okay.”
DENISE: That’s so inspiring. Especially because fertility is something that is discussed for many ovarian cancer diagnoses now.
SHANNON: Exactly. I was so fortunate that almost four years after our son, our daughter was born. We were fortunate that my other ovary “kicked in.” And thankfully, with the advancements in medicine, there are more fertility options than ever before for women with ovarian cancer, like egg freezing. It is important for women to be aware of these options and proactively start these conversations.
Uniting as Sisters in the Cancer Community
DENISE: Getting diagnosed wasn’t easy. Treatment wasn’t easy. But after sharing my cancer story, I was inundated with support. Calls, texts, emails and messages from friends and strangers saying how brave I am and it’s truly incredible to hear all of their stories.
SHANNON: You are brave! Cancer doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from, or how many gold medals you have – we’re never alone in our journeys. Finding and forging personal connections can help us better navigate our new normal, from diagnosis through survivorship.
DENISE: How do you find those personal connections? Because I have been public about my journey, people reach out. Do you have a similar feeling?
SHANNON: I do. For me, I was so excited to partner with the Our Way Forwardprogram, which offers resources and support for individuals diagnosed with ovarian cancer and their loved ones. I wish I had a program like this when I was first diagnosed. During treatment, we have this incredible support team around us but the day treatment ends, you suddenly feel alone. Our Way Forward provides resources to help keep that morale going. We need to have more of that communication and feeling of community so we don’t feel so alone.
DENISE: That’s great. I feel like it’s also my responsibility now to help others in the community. Sharing my story helped me, and speaking to my new cancer-community friends each day gave me more inspiration to keep sharing and hopefully helping others.
SHANNON: There is a sisterhood in cancer and the journey it takes us on. And what hope we give to each other just by sharing our experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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!