I am a writer who ended up a reality TV producer. A designer who woke up a business owner during a recession. And a wife who found herself a personal chef when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Then I became a mom, ended up in the ER, and decided it was time to stop letting stress control my life. Some would say, "my life is a lemon." I say, I love Lemonade :)

WHEN THE C WORD INVADES YOUR CLOSET PART 6.5: LEARNING TO LAUGH A LITTLE

As we walked into the white, pristine Beverly Hills office I found myself wishing we were invisible. I used to be so anonymous that the receptionist, the nurse, and the aid barely greeted me.

But today they all knew who I was. I was representing the “star”, the new patient with Colon Cancer at 35. The doctor’s office is one of the few places in my life I would not like to be known as “famous”. As they called Brian’s name, I felt like I was escorting a Best Actor nominee down the red carpet. I could feel their eyes burning a hole in my back. One nurse even whispered, “Awe, he’s too cute to have cancer.”

The bitch in me again wanted to turn around and scream, “Cancer clearly doesn’t discriminate and P.S. he’s taken!” Instead, like a good PR escort, I kept my head down and walked him down the hallway. In my heart I knew they were just in shock like us but still I longed to once again be anonymous.

Brian sat calmly on the bed while I paced on my Blackberry. I wanted to get three surgeons’ opinions. I had the names of two recommendations so far. I also needed to find a new Gastroenterologist because we were not revisiting “Dr. No Heart.” Crap, do we need to see an Oncologist too? I forgot about that. I kept texting furiously, mumbling to myself as I pulled every string I could think of.

“I should call Dr. Phil!”

“I need to get Katie Couric herself on the phone!”

“Wait, didn’t Sharon Osborne have colon cancer? I bet she’d be bff with me. “

Brian interrupted my rambling. He was giggling to himself.  “Look” he said, “I finally get to go to the fancy doctor like you.” I glanced up to catch him doing a little jig. Finally, my PR-like persona was broken and I laughed. The chatter in my head stopped for a moment. I allowed myself to enjoy his smile. In a split second his face could turn from a 35 year-old robust man to 5 year-old giddy boy.

I soo love his smile.

Briansmile

 

Brian was excited like a kid in a candy store, taking in all the gadget and gismos the doctor had in his office.

I had been terribly sick years ago. After many visits with many specialists I was finally referred to “Dr Fancy” by a friend’s wife. He changed my life. I knew he was the only doctor in LA who had a chance of supporting my theory that Brian’s diet could help him beat cancer. “Dr. Fancy” integrates phytotherapeutics, homeopathy, acupuncture and environmental medicine with traditional internal medicine. He believes in whole body healing, and if he told us my theory was crazy I would be crushed.

I knew an answer like that would ultimately lead us to the world of chemo. It’s a world I have visited with many people I have loved in the past. It’s a place I never wanted to visit again. As my anxiety rose, the door opened…

To be continued next Tuesday check back…

Edited by: Josie Perrone

 

 

 

 

 
*Lifein2lemonade is edited by Ryan Howard

WHEN THE C WORD INVADES YOUR CLOSET: PART 7 LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

“Dr. Fancy” slid into the exam room like Kramer from Seinfeld with a smile and a handshake.

(Except he was wearing a turban and is a Sikh)

“Hello Kara!  How are you?” he said as he stroked his long, gray beard.”

Sikh

 

“I am O.K.  I would like you to meet my husband Brian”, I replied.

“Dr. Fancy’s” eyes lit up with excitement, “Oh, it is so nice to see the other half!  Look — you both share the same amazing warm smile.  Welcome Brian, what brings you here?”

Shocked, I blurted out , “Brian has just been diagnosed with Colon Cancer.  They think it may be Stage 3.  I have him on this diet.  He looks better.  I think it is working.  We don’t want to do chemo… we really don’t want to do chemo, it’s poison.  They said the tumor is the size of an orange.”

“Dr. Fancy’s” smile faded.  I had assumed he, like the nurses who whispered behind our back, knew it was us with “The Cancer”.  I was wrong.  He grabbed my hand and said, “Deep breath, sit down and tell me what you know.”

I opened my little red notebook and started to ramble names of doctors and terms like adenocarcinomas, mucinous, and Stages 2C- 3, he nodded.  I continued to tell him our fears and how we hated the way the news was delivered to us.  I told him how the CT scan indicated the liver and vital organs seemed clear.  I told him how Brian, in just 10 days, looked better than he did the day of the diagnosis.  Then I told him how the gastroenterologist had suggested that we just get the surgery done by New Years.  Suddenly, he snapped out of his zen state. “NO, we need to get it out and get it out NOW.  If it has not spread to any vital organs and it’s that large, we are lucky. I want it out — next week.”

My jaw dropped, “Next week?!  It is Thanksgiving.  We were hoping to have more…” I stuttered, “More time to get him healthy and shrink the tumor through diet and meditation.”  “Dr. Fancy” looked at me sternly, “Get it out!  Get it out!  Get it out!  Listen, I supported Suzanne Somers when she opted not to do chemo, and I will support you guys on this journey.  I too believe in diet and integrative medicine.   Continue to do what you are doing BUT he has a tumor the size of an orange in him.  That is NOT small. I want that thing out and together we will get his body strong for surgery.  The rest we will deal with after surgery.”

I held my tears back.  I knew it had to happen.  It was inevitable.  I couldn’t picture my husband, with his sweet smile, being sliced opened.  I was now face to face with all the What Ifs?

-What if we can’t beat this?

-What if we were wrong and he isn’t getting better?

-What if he didn’t come out of surgery?

-What if we never get to live the life I had so taken for granted together?

“Dr. Fancy” looked at Brian and said, “You’re lucky you have her, she is going to take care of this.”  He winked at me, “You guys are going to pick a surgeon and be back in my office ASAP with your decision.”

Suddenly, the tears snapped back inside me.  I looked at Brian, “I told you I am going to produce the shit out of this.”

Brian chuckled.  I got to see that amazing smile once again.

The doctor continued to speak to Brian about his recommendations for a second opinion.  My mind drifted to another place… I was thinking about the phone calls Brian was unaware of… the calls when I completely fell apart and looked for strength.  My sisters had silently created a system with me.

In front of Brian, my job was to be normal.  I was to Executive Produce our lives.  I laid out what he needed to eat, where he needed to be and what he needed to do.  Most of our friends only saw this persona as well.  We were all scared.  I needed to make everyone feel like this was a slam dunk.  If we were going to beat this, that was the only way.

The minute Brian walked out the door everyday, I hit speed dial to my three sisters. Whomever picked up first I would sob to.  All three were supportive.  All three gave me a gift.  All three got me through the next day.

One sister, like an emotional sponge would encourage me to release my darkest thoughts, my fears and my anger.  She listened without judgement.  After our conversations, I felt an incredible weight lifted from me.  Another was a mighty rock I could lean on.  She helped me keep focus, she reminded me of my strengths and dismissed the idea of me even possessing weakness.  After our conversations, I was ready to take on any doctor, nurse or naysayer that stood in my way.  Yet another reminded me that cancer could not take “who I was” away from me.  She not only made me laugh but she allowed me to make jokes.  She gave me the sense of normalcy I was craving.  After our conversations, I knew I could kick the s*@t out of cancer.

My thoughts of how I loved my sisters was sadly interrupted.  Again, I went to a dark place … what if WE never get to have a wonderful family of our own??

I left “Dr. Fancy’s” office armed with a list of names and numbers.  In five business days, we needed to meet with 5 different doctors, learn as much as we could about this disease and make a decision.  In between meetings, I needed to keep up his diet, keep up his spirits and keep up his hope.  It wasn’t going to be easy — but for 10 years, my job had required me to talk my way out of situations in foreign languages, talk myself into places in several countries,  and produce a mountain where there was a lake. I had always delivered given the task at hand…

When we got home, Brian headed to work and instead of crying, I turned to our dog Georgia and said, “You ready to do this?”

Once again she just stared at me blankly.

Georgia3

 

 

 

 

 
*Lifein2lemonade is edited by Ryan Howard

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CONQUERING THE WORLD…ONE DOG DAY AFTERNOON AT A TIME

I’ll never forget the morning of Nov. 25th, 2010. It was Thanksgiving. My body was rigid and stiff from a third sleepless night on a hospital cot.  I woke up to find Brian staring at the ceiling in silence. Neither one of us murmured a word, and certainly not the words, “Happy Thanksgiving.” Around 6:30am there was a knock at the door, I assumed it was the nurse doing her rounds.  Then suddenly, I heard a familiar voice. I turned to find Brian’s surgeon standing before me, my heart sank. It was a holiday. We were not suppose to hear from him till Monday. Everyone knows, no news is good news.  I prepared for the worst.  He walked over to the computer and logged in. He said, in a cold emotionless voice, “Your pathology report is back.” Then he paused and said, “23 of the lymph nodes were clear.” He paused again and stared at us. We waited for the but… but he was silent. Finally, I asked, “Ok, what about the rest? How many did you take?”  He cracked a smile and said, “23!”.   Our surgeon explained that this was his attempt to try and match our humorous approach to cancer. I told him not to quit his day job yet and as he left the room Brian and I exploded with joy.

We were given a second chance; a chance to never put off till tomorrow, to love each other unconditionally, to never take a single second for granted. I don’t know if that day was a miracle of science or just a miracle for us. What I do know is that colon cancer is rare for anyone in their 30′s. I know that the day he was diagnosed, 3 lymphs lit up like xmas trees on his scan, and I know his tumor was the size of an orange and assumed to be stage 3b.  There was a lot that happened to us that last night in the hospital, both spirtually and emmotionally, and when the time is right, I am sure Brian and I will share it with you all. What I can tell you, is that on that day we were born again. On that day, we decided to change our lives forever. We would no longer work night shifts or crappy jobs where people did not appreciate us.  We would follow our hearts and dreams and turn our marriage into an adventure.   Now, two years later, some people are in awe of our approach, some others judge and critisize.  We definitley do not fit the “norm” but neither of us mind. We have tango’d in Argentina, meditated in Machu Picchu, hiked the Napali Coast, ziplined in Coast Rica and ran marathons. We love our jobs, we love each other and because of that we love life. What used to be a “travisty” is now a hiccup and everything good or bad is somehow a gift.

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This past Oct. Brian finally got his wish and we adopted a large dog.  He was a two year old german pointer we named Jameson. Jameson and Brian became best friends at first sight. Although he was 68lbs he somehow fit perfectly in Brian’s lap. It was as if they were long lost soulmates. So, I wasn’t totally shocked  to find out, 6 months later, that Jameson had suddenly been stricken with a rare terminal cancer.

 

Brian

Soulmates

 

We felt the whipsers behind our backs, “Oh that poor couple they just can’t get a break”.  But we knew this dog was brought to us for a reason. We sat down and asked ourselves what would we do if it was one of us and both agreed, I would become his personal cancer chef. Then we decided, like Brian, we would would get the cancer removed. Brian lost a foot of his colon, now his dog would lose his foot and his leg. Then we decided that despite the  diagnosis of 3 months to live, we would show this dog happiness, joy and trust.  In our lives love and laughter is the only medicine.

I am sharing this story with you today because I know, life is not easy. And sometimes it is incredibly hard to find a reason to smile. I think a picture says a 1,000 words so below is a photo essay of Jameson’s “Bucket List Journey”.  We decided to drive him across country to see the sites and meet our family. Today, he has beat the odds by living for 4 months. As you will see in the photos animals have an incredible gift. They live in the moment and only see the beauty and love that it is right before them. They don’t dwell in the past.  They are not afraid of the future. Instead, they just enjoy today.   Live for today. Today is a gift, that is why it is called the “present”.

 

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Night Before Surgery…

 

image from http://featherfiles.aviary.com/2013-07-24/f77694d11/5181a8e1b64846378d5baace2c4dc381_hires.png

Best Friends

 

Post surgery

Cone Off!

 

Hockey Days

Hockey Days

 

Blackhawks Win!

Blackhawks Win!

 

image from http://featherfiles.aviary.com/2013-07-24/f77694d11/f135e2cda873479ba3a14a0f7691d2f3_hires.png

We Are Going On A Road Trip???? What’s That?!

 

Letsgo

Lets Go!

 

First Stop

First Stop!

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Arches

Moab

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4am my time!

Mom! It Is 4am Our Time!

 

 

Breckinridge

Breckenridge, CO!

 

Cannabis

We Had To Talk Jameson Out of Joining This Club

 

Storm is brewing

Watching A Storm Roll In

 

 

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Iowa City, GO HAWKS!

Indiana

 

Michigan

 

Michigan with the cousin

Jameson Meets His Cousin Wiley

 

 

Lake House

A Dog’s View in Paw Paw Lake Michigan

 

 

Fireworks

First Fireworks

 

Lazy day with ash

Resting With Auntie Ashley
Shawna snuggle

Auntie Shawna Takes Jameson To Chi-Town

 

6cities6nights

8 Nights and 8 States

 

Lincolnpark

Lincoln Park

 

Wakeup it is time to hit the road

Wake Up! It Is Time To Hit The Road Again!
Happy camper back on the road

Head West! Take Me Home:)

 

Go west

I Am A Cowboy Baby!

 

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Bryce Canyon

 

Taking in the sights

Can Not Get Enough Of The View
Addicted

One Last Quick Fix In Vegas
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Home Sweet Home

 

Love To You All

KK and -Bman

 
*Lifein2lemonade is edited by Ryan Howard

SEE TRUE SUCCESS

   Having breakfast, with my friend Mike Veny, we were laughing over eggs at all the ridiculous obstacles we’ve experienced in our lives.  I told Mike I
believe a bumpier ride in life helps you achieve true success, as opposed to perceived success. Upon Mike’s insistence, I decided to dedicate a blog to the subject. Mike, this one’s for you.

   We live in a voyeuristic world where too much of our time
is eaten up by perceived success.  It chips away at our self esteem and, suddenly, our achievements are no longer good enough. 


  When I started my handbag company, Solas, in 2004 I had one thing on my mind,
"Oprah".   I believed in order to be considered a success, I had to be
on her show.
Oprah-22

I literally had a picture of Oprah in my bedroom. As you see, she is welcoming me with open arms.
My first big press hit was The Today Show.  Katie Couric said, "My friend Kara invented these bags" and my mom was elated! 
If I had Facebook back then, I am sure I would have received 100
"likes" from high school friends who would have thought I was really
cool. 

 The reality was, I only sold 8 bags from that segment.   When a mutual friend of Katie's and I found out I was going to be on The Today Show, she rang her up in hopes that Katie would give us a bigger "shout out". 

   
 In the fun banter of Matt jabbing at Katie, playfully, for saying I was her "friend", Cojo never mentioned where to buy my bags. However, my mom called everyone she knew to say that Katie said my name.

 As time went on, Solas graced the pages of People, Us Weekly, In Touch
etc…  I was on Extra, E! News, Fox, but not Oprah!!!!!  We were
selling thousands and thousands of bags, but I never truly celebrated because the "mothership" refused to answer my calls.  Ok, that's a lie. I might have had a glass of Champagne or two (or three, lol,) but the next day I would always wake up to this little voice in my head saying, "It's not good enough. You're not good enough." 
Harpo-studio-sign-in-chicago-ill-usa

This pic is for the .10 percent of you who didn't know this was the "mothership".
The year Entrepreneur magazine considered doing a feature about me, Solas was finally considered for Oprah's Favorite Things. The article happened. Oprah didn't.  Clearly, I was a loser.  In the end, the closest I ever got to Oprah was when I, embarrassingly, did the "Oprah ugly cry" during my documentary when I went from a potential deal with HSN and Dillards… to almost having to claim bankruptcy.
Kara crying

Come on! You have all done it… you just weren't stupid enough to have the cameras rolling.
My Oprah obsessed journey taught me there are two sides to
the coin of success.  The head is how the world interprets your
achievements and your attachment to that perception. The tail is your
heart string. It is your calling and it’s driven by your soul, not
others'. The key to happiness is finding a way for both sides to live
harmoniously.  I missed the boat on a few things, those years I was chasing
the big "O". First of all, the Katie Couric moment was not a failure. 
My soul knew it was not about selling bags it, was about giving me
credibility so I could achieve my dreams.  Plus, my soul really likes
making my mom happy! 

My head made it a failure by tying it to money. Even when I did start to achieve monetary success, I
never saw myself as successful. So my tail side said, "Grrrlll didn't
you learn anything?!?!? I'm about to wake your ass up!" (Cut to Oprah
ugly cry and having to start all over.)
    Before I wrote this article I asked my friends, "What is the
meaning of success?"  Some people had very specific goals in mind.
However, universally, people wrote about balance.  Whether it was
juggling motherhood and career or work and spirituality, everyone seemed
to want to balance life's mishaps with life's achievements. 
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I thought it would be fun to post some of the comments as a reminder to all of us to stay focused on real success.
I think at the core we all know about the two sides of the
coin. We struggle with it. We feel guilty to admit we have a head side
that cares about perception. We wish we always came up tails and lived
our lives 100% driven by our hearts.  I am here to say
both sides are OK.  In fact, you need that balance to achieve happiness. 
Just make sure your perception of things isn't clouded. It's OK to have
lofty goals or aspirations in life. It's OK to be aware of what your
neighbor or children or the world thinks of you, just don't let
it guide you. Keep it in your peripheral vision and make sure you are
always checking in with the "man in the mirror." (or should I say goddess?)
Love and Light- YOU ARE A SUCCESS!!!
KK
Make sure to follow me at @lifebykk on twitter for daily inspiration!

 
*Lifein2lemonade is edited by Ryan Howard