Tag Archives: grateful

Tips to get through difficult times.

What a gift I have been given to be a leader, a voice and a survivor in the desmoid community.

My journey, my recovery, that I was chosen to be the founder and leader of Running for Answers is a gift that I am grateful to have.

My experience with my diagnosis and recovery has helped me to grow up and become a new, different woman by teaching me about healing my body, mind and spirit, and now, I feel, it is a calling to help others in the same way.

Recently, I had the gift of being able to share with a newly diagnosed desmoid patient who is struggling through her journey right now.

My words helped me, again, and I hope they help you.  While this is my advice on journeying through a health diagnosis, I know it has also helped me through other difficulties this year including being a caregiver to someone diagnosed with cancer, watching loved ones die and watching a dream I thought was my future shift and change and die in a certain way.   May you take what you can from this list and apply it to any difficulty you may be facing:


An excerpt from my note to a beautiful desmoid survivor:
Here are a few things I can confirm:
This is confusing and scary and lonely.  Very lonely. 
It is frustrating and depressing and can make you very angry.
It is very difficult to see your body change and not to be as active as you once were.
It will get better.
You are going through this for a reason.
You will be active again.
Patience is the best approach you can have.  Hard, but true.
Lean on others for help.
Accept what is happening.  Be present.  It can be painful, but be present.  Don’t run.  Hear, Listen, Digest, then share.
Be kind to yourself and love your body through this.  It is doing a lot of healing work.  Pretty miraculous body.
Call me, call your friends, call your family – tell them how you feel.  Let it out.  It’s much better out then in.
Through it all remember again and again – you are not alone. Pray, believe, hope, accept.  You can get through this and you will.  Better, more alive and more grateful.
In love and healing,

presence…and reflection

I was given the gift of presence and reflection this weekend.

The gift of being present with my Mom, my Sister, my niece and nephew as we explored D.C. and the wonder of the cherry blossoms.  Present to how precious life is and how grateful I am to live in a fun place and have an adventurous family to explore it with.

While also having the gift of reflection.   In the evenings after long days, I couldn’t help but, due to the circumstances, reflect on pain and how it make us stronger.

Watching my Mother’s strength and pain from all she is enduring right now – ending chemo, starting radiation, learning to live in a body post surgery, I reflected back to just a year ago to when I couldn’t make it through a weekend like this – walking around the city for 2 days without a lot of pain, exhaustion and fear – fear of my stomach being swelled to looking pregnant, fear of when will it go down, fear of what did I do to deserve to live in a body like this, fear of will I ever be the same, and fear of how  much longer can I take this.  I was reminded of that deep pain….and instantly reminded of undeniable Praise for the gift of healing God has given me.

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Touching my stomach before I drifted off to sleep, I smiled remembering all those that prayed for me and the nights I prayed so directly, boldly, desperately to God to heal me, heal this stomach, heal my mind.  And the way the prayers have been answered:  a flat belly back, a healthy digestive system, continued healing of my energy levels and, mostly, the healing of my mind and releasing of fear in my life – trust in God and all things he places in my path.

I’m reminded that through pain you can be given the gift of seeing life through new lenses, beautiful, gratitude-filled eyes.  I know that pain grows us, builds us and brings us closer to Him, closer to His will for us, if we let it, and closer to the Promises of faith, hope, love, joy, and peace.

I feel things these days and I am grateful.  I am grateful for sunshine and fun weekends with family for God’s love and for my desmoid and the experience is has granted me – the opportunity to grow up, stand up, step up into my full self and for the gift of love.

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I am reminded of how important prayer and time with God is.  I ask that you continue to pray for my Mother and her healing.  Pray for all those around the world living with Cancer and their families supporting them.  I guarantee they’ll all be grateful.

I am reminded that asking for help, talking about your pain and difficulty and being open about what you’re experiencing is way more courageous than holding it in, isolating and convincing yourself that no one will understand or that no one else is going through what you’re going through – because they are…and just by saying you are too you could change their lives.  I know, it’s happened to me.  Others vulnerability changed my life.

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How has pain and hardships grown you?  Is there something you are experiencing now that you feel like you cannot endure another day?  How are you coping?  Have you asked others to pray or support you?

How are you celebrating the pain and the gifts it is bringing in your life?

In love and healing,



Grazie, Bella!!


Happy Friday! This has been such a gratifying week for me. I kicked off my campaign this week and only 5 days in I have already raised over $1,000. I am so pleased!! The response I have received from my friends and family has been amazing. Each dollar that comes in just gets me more and more hopeful. I am so excited about helping to advance the research for desmoid tumors. I have so many questions that I would love to see answered in my lifetime and I know each dollar is a boost to research. Thank you to all of those that gave already and helped start this campaign off on the right foot!

My runs were nothing short of fabulous this week! I am increasing mileage week by week and my legs (and just as important abs) feel great! This week I did two four mile runs in the city both in the crazy Philly humidity that was lingering about and then a chilly 5 mile run in the beautiful suburbs today. After yesterdays series of storms this mornings run actually required a long sleeve shirt – it was so refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not begging for autumn just yet, but after a few weeks of humid runs this morning was much deserved. I’ll be doing my longest run so far, 7 miles, tomorrow – woot woot!!

I think you will be happy to know that the majority of my thinking time on my runs this week revolved around each and everyone of you! As I trotted along by myself on Wednesday and with SM this morning, I couldn’t help but reflect, after the embracing support I received this week, on how lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family. There is not one day, not a single day since I had my first MRI that I have had to face this process alone. Some days I did choose to pull away from everyone and work through this by myself, in my own personal space and “physically” alone but I always knew, 100%, there were so many people just a phone call away – some days I used these lifelines and some days I didn’t. When I did use those lifelines the pure support I received is something I wish everyone feels in their lifetime. In addition, the acts of kindness I saw during this process were so heart warming.

So, I thought it only appropriate that after a week of such embrace, I spend some time saying thank you to several individuals that went out of their way for me the past few months and supported me above and beyond.  Forgive me as this list may get pretty long – I think you’ll realize  how lucky I am :)!

First and foremost, my family – My mother and father were AMAZING! They should both be given metals of honor, amatrak train passes, ezpass and gold hearts for the dedication, support, love and selflessness they gave to me over the past few months (well and years to be quite honest). NEVER once in all these months did they ever complain about the amount of time they had to spend commuting back and forth to Philly, taking off work to come stay with me and taking care of me or, just as important – never did they complain or show an ounce of weakness at what they were watching me go through. They are soldiers – pure, embodiment of strength, love and commitment.

Thank you, Mom, for pushing me through this, reminding me day in and day out that there was nothing we couldn’t get through, for cooking amazing post-surgery foods, soups and salads to keep me healthy and strong, for letting me beat you in skippo when I get need something to cheer about in the hospital, for beautiful and creative Christmas decorations that we got to look at for weeks while we lounged around my apartment, for getting addicted to Sex and the City with me while we lounged (we need to get you season 6!), for putting on my running sneakers and tying them when I couldn’t (I will never forget that moment) and most importantly for being there for me at a drop of a dime when I needed you with a supportive vote of confidence, a stern push, a conversation to take my mind off of everything or just a note to say you cared.

Thank you, Dad for staying right beside me through all of this, for going to NY with me when you knew I needed a second opinion to calm my mind, for living out of a bag for most of December, for holding my hand when I woke up in excruciating pain, for stepping out of your comfort zone and making squash soup because I heard it helped heal, for being strong when you had to watch your little girl go through something that you never wanted to watch and not flinching – well, not in front of me anyway- for doing the dishes, for driving me back and forth to Philly when I needed piece of mind and for taking me for my first walks and also taking me to spa between my surgeries so I could get my haircut (yes – I am crazy, but I had to get out!!) – I know no man like to be in those place, you were so awesome for going with me!!

I love you both! What a lucky girl to get such awesome parents!

Thank you, Allison, for being the best friend I could have ever asked for as I went through this. For going to Dr. S’s with me just to reassure me that I was doing the right thing – really, did you do that for me?! – for the games, the books, the music, the clothes, the chats, the words of encouragement and most of all for just being you – you’re the best friend a girl could ask for.

Thank you, Nicole, well, first for every season of Sex and the City I could ask for  and books and magazines, and mashed potatoes and frozen fruit bars, for sitting and chatting and being there any moment I needed you and for cooking me dinner when I just didn’t have the desire…

To Nicole, Allison and Rachael for going out of their comfort zones to run a half marathon – even when they didn’t want to and were scared and sore and tired and sick of me complaining about not being able to do it. None of you, not one of you, will ever, ever know what Disney meant to me – the princesses, the awesome condo, the flight, Ponderosa 🙂 – I love you girls.

To my sisters for being my watchful eye as I sat at home and rested through surgery and for having amazing kids that helped keep my mind off all the pain while I was recouping….and for always being a phone call away and supporting me through from a distance.

To Jennifer for being such a great outlet for me, listening & supporting  – and taking an amazing trip to Italy with me. I’ll never forget “prego” and tolls, tuscany and red, red wine – such fun and just what I needed!

To Alexis, Jess, Jen, Jason, Qamara, Lake for the beautiful flowers while I was recovering.

To Ali for so much – geez – where do i start?  Your support, great recipes, great post surgery information and so much more – couldn’t have done this without you.

To Rach – well you know what for 🙂 It all comes full circle, huh?!

To Julie for being there for me with all of my questions and for being a survivor – telling me everything I could expect. You were such a great support!

To Sarah for bringing me soup to the hospital when I hated their food and then going grocery shopping for me when Mom & I couldn’t get out.

To Joe for driving me home so I didn’t have to deal with the da*n Philly taxi drivers again – they do swerve to hit every bump even if you tell them you just had stomach surgery!

To Molly, Jeff and the rest of product management for being the most SUPPORTIVE group of co-workers I could have ever asked for going through this.

To Back on My Feet, Anne, Wylie, Andy, Sarah, Katie, Sophia, Mike, Shanley, Laverne, CeeCee, Maria, Freda, Chris….oh the list goes on and on – thanks for supporting me, giving me hope and inspiring me – always.

To Sandi for coming into my life at just the right time and pushing me on my runs, giving me high fives every time and just being an awesome friend any time I need.

To Dr. S for cutting Zelda (yes I named my tumor) out of me. Your patient hands will always be a gift to me.

To Dr. A for being the best primary doctor in the city of brotherly love, yes if you need a doctor go to him!!!  You’re support was nothing short of amazing!!

Finally, to Zelda – without this tumor I wouldn’t have had this amazing experience of seeing people really step up and be so supportive.  Sometimes out of the hardest things in life come the greatest good – and this has sure been the truth of this experience for me.

Here’s to another great week of training, great friends & a heart full of gratitude!!

With gratitude,


Please donate at: http://www.active.com/donate/sera_dtrf