Thursday, October 31, 2013


The new address should work.  The shoe is gone :(  If anyone can figure out how to get it back, I'm all ears.  It's taken three days, many phone calls and each time I do something like this, I learn a few tricks.

If anyone is having a problem, well, you won't be seeing this to let me know you are having a problem which, I suppose is its very own little problem.  I've checked this in Safari, Firefox and Chrome.  The only thing I don't have on my laptop is Internet Explorer so I am clueless about its functionality on IE.

Now, down to business.  This month has seen a ton of YUK.  However, I must be fair and I must be honest.  I'm not anti-pink.  I'm appreciative of the companies who have stepped up and raised money for breast cancer education, care and (what matters lots to me) research.

For profit companies are not in the business of charity.  They are in the business of making money so I am thankful for their efforts.  Yes, I hear you.  Tax write offs, good will on the back of a disease but it's a two way street.  If their efforts have resulted in funds that were not there before and would not be there if not for their "ribbon" campaigns, I'm grateful. To those whose bottom lines were egregiously padded, shame on them.  Next year, there will be less pink and an even greater understanding of how we can speak with our wallets.  Hopefully.

And THEN, there are those things that have been utterly ridiculous.  Over the top.  Stupid.  The Osocio site refers to this as #pinkverts.  I like it.  Nice ring.

Here is a recap of the things that I found to be a bit much as we bid adieu to October.

These are the ghouls, the ghosts and the goblins.

In no particular order and I know I'm missing many... I give you....

The creepy and the spooky....

As we usher in the month of November, the only thing I'm going to say?

WHITE is officially the new pink.

It's Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Will there be a White Ribbon adorning The White House.  Because frankly, if there isn't, I'm going to be highly offended. It's precisely this type of stuff that has made me feel like my disease, our disease, is the bully of all disease.

The lung cancer community could use our support.  I'm in.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


So I don't have a complete meltdown like I did last week, there is no blog post today and if for any reason the blog goes down for a while, it is because I'm moving.

I'm not too savvy with all of this techie stuff but I know that a move would have been far easier if I began this blog using wordpress rather than blogger.

Last week, on one of the most important blog posts, I migrated over to the new address and TaDA!  The host site was down for an entire day.  I had promised Angelo Merendino this blog space for his birthday and THAT was the day this mess occurred.

Since I had just messed around with some code and had to enter very specific things on the blogger side and then on the domain host, when the blog just disappeared, I freaked out.  I knew it could be retrieved and fixed but damn if I didn't spend an hour or more trying to figure out what was wrong before I realized it was not me.  I started to see messages all over twitter about this outage.

There was NO WAY I was keeping the domain with that particular company (Network Solutions if anyone is interested).  So, I had to go through this whole process of releasing the domain from them to the new company and then, it takes a few days for the transfer to be complete.  In the age of instant everything, this, I do not understand but whatever.

The address is now at the new host.  I will make the adjustments to have everything moved.  The site may go down for a few hours, or it may be minutes before everything is complete.  My little shoe in the address bar will likely be gone.  I spent hours trying to figure that out only to realize, not possible.  The end.  Give it up.  It's not important.....

I will now be located at - I have no idea what I need to do to track my analytics (not that I ever even look at them but still, having more information than I need is always the better choice).

Farewell to my shoe... it's a smoking hot shoe, too.....  maybe I'll figure out how to get that back in the address bar..... for any tech savvy folks... it's blogger to ipage.  And I REALLY do love this shoe.  And, the quote that always streams in my mind, I have just learned, belongs not to Marilyn Monroe, but to Bette Midler.  Apropos.  The Wind Beneath My Wings....  so close to my heart... and the motivation behind the shoe....  the quote:

"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."

I'll settle for NY.  No, I won't.  I'd rather take on the whole damn universe.  I'm ready.

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Monday, October 28, 2013


I pride myself on trying to be objective.  I will listen to others.  Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt.  It's the way I choose to live my life.  Because I know this intellectually, this may be one of the most difficult things to share.

I am on an emotional collision course and I can't, not matter how hard I've tried, slow this train down and put it back on the right track.

A few weeks ago, I said something about "impulse control" in an string of email messages when it dawned on me, "this is not a joke."  I began to do some serious soul searching.  This is not to say I haven't always been able to hold my own in an argument.  Yes, I have that hot blooded Italian temperament.

I do love the sound of glass hitting a tile floor.  It stops everything and the act of cleaning up the glass is therapeutic.  I know.  Weird.  It doesn't happen often, that glass breaking stuff, and when it does, I have the presence of mind to toss a cheap water glass.  When I run low on glasses, I make sure the next set is even cheaper.  To put it in perspective, the deliberate breaking of glass only happens maybe twice a year.

Impulse control?  More accurately, a lack of impulse control, a daily occurrence.  Just like the realization that the work piling up around me was not due to an increase in my work load but rather, my inability to keep up at the same level I could before cancer fallout, I have taken a personal inventory.

I know I am my own worst enemy.  I know, too, on every level that allowing myself to be distracted from one task to the next without completing a single thing is, at its core, a loss of control over my concentration.  I give in to the distractions. I act on impulse.  I don't think.

The only one being stressed out or damaged by this lack of discipline or impulse control or however I want to frame the language, is me.  My work, my obligations, my bills, my exercise time, my writing time, my appointments when I'm rushing out the door because I could not force myself to move ten minutes sooner.... it has only affected me.

Until now.  I've become intolerant and I know it's me.  I was never intolerant.  Fly off the handle?  Sure.  But intolerant of any and every little thing?  That's not me.  And yet, suddenly, or perhaps gradually and now it has gotten so bad, it IS ME.

I'm on a path of destruction and it's no longer self-destruction.  I've lost my patience with everyone.  No matter what those closest to me try to do, no matter how much I appreciate what is being done for my benefit, my happiness, my comfort, my enjoyment, I can go from zero to sixty in a millisecond.  Over nothing.  Literally.  Nothing.

I have no idea what to do to remedy this mess.  I practice yoga, I exercise, I meditate, I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (yes, even on those nights when I'm on west coast time), I do my best to maintain a decent diet.  I have medication to use as needed and professionals to turn to for guidance.  But none of this helps one iota when I lose control.

I hear myself in my head.




"Inappropriate response."


And.  I Do It Anyway.

I wish I could convey how much this is hurting me.  I'm floating above myself looking down as I behave in ways I don't recognize.  At the expense of others.  I defend my actions with a self-righteous attitude.  As if I have good reasons for acting in ways that are so hurtful and so harmful.

I apologize.

And within 72 hours, another eruption.

They are happening more frequently.  The triggers are stupid.  Sometimes there is no trigger at all.  It's just me, being a bitch.  For no reason.

I don't like this person one bit.

Is it anxiety?  Depression?  Fear?  PTSD?  Damage to my brain which, of course, I researched before I began typing.  Except for depression, my guess is that it's a combination of all of the above.

What I fear most?  I have taken every possible step to address anxiety, fear and PTSD.

That leaves me with one last possibility.  I hope that recognition of the problem, if indeed it is something that has short circuited, will enable me to change what I have come to despise.

Acceptance that I can't change what may have happened to my brain will, I hope, enable me to take back the reigns and regain control.  The act of recognition and acceptance is where I am going to try my very best to focus my energy.  I simply must learn to stay at least a half a step ahead of my destructive acts of impulsivity.

Frankly, my behavior is, and has been for quite some time, unacceptable.  Behaviors can be relearned or unlearned or adjusted.  I'll simply have to find a different part of my brain to use.  And I will.  There's no other option.

Like I've already said, breast cancer is not the great success story it's hyped up to be.  It's simply the one that's been marketed the best.  And the marketing tactics have hidden much and done quite a disservice to those who struggle with things every single day, on one level or another.  Yes, there are far worse levels, but I'm not fond of the levels I've reached in recent months.

Cancer has already stolen so much.  It's not going to steal my soul, too.

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Friday, October 25, 2013


Presenting my own personal #BedPolice, Dr. Deanna Attai.  Her interview is spot on and hits all the most important points. This is a great addition to breast cancer EDUCATION month.  If you don't have 15 minutes to listen now, bookmark it.

Dr. Attai on everything: knowing what to look for before hitting the panic button, how to deal with a diagnosis, buying pink (including respect for the history of the ribbon) AND ways to donate for maximum impact.  Hint: It's not all about money. Please share her Santa Clarita TV interview with as many people as you can.  The You Tube link can be found here.  The video is embedded below.

With a "PS I Love You" to Dr. A from me on behalf of so many, for being our champion.......

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Thursday, October 24, 2013


Many of us saw the campaign about "motorboarding" for charity.  This, the act of a man placing his face between the breasts of a random woman and get a cheap thrill by.... never mind.. google it for a full explanation, was to raise awareness?  Make money to donate to charity?  Or, once again, to turn a disease into a party.  A joke.  Or what?

I saw that the recipient of the funds, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, returned the donation with an email to the group responsible for these antics.  Touche to BCRF for taking a step toward letting people know what is okay and what isn't.

Because I made myself a promise as October approached that I would not be divisive, that I would attempt to use any opportunity as a chance to listen and to be heard, and because I was up too late (which is going to buy me time in jail via the #BedPolice, aka Dr. Deanna Attai), I saw this cross my newsfeed.  And, I left a comment.

I've since deleted the comment, foolishly without saving it.  I'll try to recall the wording:

Can we open up a dialogue?  I am a breast cancer patient and my mom is a two time breast cancer patient whose disease has now spread to a bone.  Haters? No.  We are just people living with a disease that has left us scarred, with no sensation.  Things like this are hurtful and serve as reminders..... 

I forgot how I ended the thing... I know that was the crux of the message.  I know I included something about sexualizing a disease that is anything but sexy but since I can't recall the exact wording I used, I'm going to refrain from elaborating.  It was late, I have chemobrain.  I just know that the wording was carefully chosen to truly and hopefully open up a dialogue. Because this is how things change.  One person at the time, one thing at the time.

I saw a few comments last night in response to my remarks, mostly positive and then realized, "What the hell are you doing?"  This can very quickly turn into a commotion and I do not want to be in the middle of THAT commotion.  Thus, the comment was deleted.

Apparently, however, comments were directed at me.  They were emailed to me.  I suppose my You Tube settings need to be adjusted.  Some of what was in my email is below.  My offer to open a dialogue with Jason, Jesse and Kong still stands. I will be more than happy to hear them out if they will afford me the same opportunity.

Guys, if you happen to see this, we aren't haters.  We are simply trying to stop making breast cancer into the punch line of a joke.  It's a disease, it's horrible and can you think of any other disease where such antics are acceptable methods of fund raising or "supporting the cause."  Why is this okay?  I'd like to understand the thought process but only if those who continue to perpetrate this nonsense are willing to listen to the other side.

Here are some of the comments... in the order in which they were received, minus the names of the parties who left them:

I am sorry that things like this open old wounds. I think they meant well... this was just entirely ill-contrived. I lost my aunt to breast cancer when she was in her early 30's, and I remember the difficulty that she went through at the loss of her breasts. Unfortunately, it had already metastasized. Rather than "saving the tata's" can we just focus on saving the women?

I'm sure that you have a point, But I might believe that this point can be a little selfish, since the main propose is not to make you feel bad, but to make less people suffer from such a big and painful process. Because I'm sure that if your case was at the very beginning you would pray for this money to come to you and as fast as possible so it could end soon,
even though you weren't as fortunate as the people I hope get the money on time. But you could be happy that there are people trying to help, because I'm sure you don't wish to others the same that happened to you.

    Note:  This is all from the same person.....
Finally someone with a valid point. Thanks for saving us from the "us-vs-the-men" feminists here that seem to hate all male existence on earth, animals included. 
I do agree with you to some extent. Motor-boating, in particular, isn't a very sympathetic act towards those suffering from breast cancer. A better video would have been one that instructs the viewers of what the cancer is, how to detect it early, and why Simple Pickup chose to donate their money.

I invite you to take their act in context of their channel. Simple Pickup is supposed to be a channel, that, at its core values, supposed to motivate men to be confident and more attractive towards women. This is a relationship/self-help channel. These guys are not medical professional, and my guess is they don't have a tiniest clue what breast cancer is, other than knowing it's just some kind of diseases of female breast.

My take from the video and the message it's supposed to convey 

- it's possible to "motor-boat" random girls whom you don't personally know if you are confident

- some girls seems to enjoy the act, too. The girls who were "motor-boated" were smiling and appeared to have a great time.

- we, as men, should appreciate the breasts of women. We should show this appreciation by contributing to a charity that helps fight a disease concerning this organ.

I'm not saying I 100% agree with all of what this video preaches, but it's made with a good intention. 
My opinion is that Simple Pickup doesn't intend to harm women, harass them, rape them, or make the ones with breast disease feel hurt. But their videos can easily be misunderstood.

That is the end of that one commenter.

To:AnneMarie Ciccarella

Thank you for your reaction on the 2nd Simple Pick-up channel.
I hope you woke them up because the video is gone on their main channel. Via history it says private.
Dear AnneMarie, I wish you all the best in life.
With respect, and greetings from Amsterdam-NL

Sorry to hear about your past. But if someone made a donation to a charrity, wich money came from selling dope and help destroy someones life. Then im on the motorboating side anytime of the day. Its not ment to remind you of what you have lost. Its their way to make money, and that they donate a part of that money, is just respectful. My mother had breastcancer. She saw this video and she said she was proud of these young fellas. And btw she laughed her ass off!

your an idiot

Obviously, as a male I cannot even begin to comprehend what it must feel like physiologically and mentally to have breast cancer. I agree that the word 'haters' is ridiculous, as it refers to a bunch of people that probably have personal involvement with breast cancer. And yes, their feelings matter. However, to get random strangers to donate money these days, you need to cut through the clutter and appeal to them, especially if they have no personal involvement. I think they did very well.


It was simple a way to have fun and entertain a large mass of people while donating to a foundation that help better the research on preventing this cancer. It was in no way a video intended to offend you or others. This video is allowing them to chip in, in hopes to help eliminate breast cancer completely. The viewers that support this video support it not to be hurtful but to support and encourage their drive to donate.

Yeah, using the pretense of "giving to charity" to get chicks to allow you to feel them up is pretty low.

I completely agree with you and respect your opinion but if someone loses a leg or becomes paralysed or something terrible like that and just say cant walk ever again you you want them to never see someone run again because they cant? and someone who has been through the pain should not hate and know what the money can do and if you have something like boobs or legs use them when you have the chance because maybe they will get breast cancer and cant do it in the future

I have nothing to say about the comments.  I'm just sharing to provide some insight into the way people think.  Although, I do particularly love those who respond to reasonable statements but resorting to immediate name calling or YELLING!!!!

Please note, these are only the comments that were written directly to me in response to my comment.  Gotta work on that impulsivity stuff.  Or perhaps, I need to heed the good doctor and get to bed at the appointed time.  Come to think of it, I'm reminded of the advice of a friend's mother from many years ago, "Nothing good EVER HAPPENS on a street corner. And NOTHING good every happens after midnight."  I guess this is what she meant by the second half of that statement.

The story about the return of the donation can be found here.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013


It's been hard to keep up with writing while simultaneously attempting to use this time to help change the message.  THAT message.  The October thing.  I've asked a few people to help me out, to keep it real and today's post is from a man I met on January 26, 2012.

That January evening, we met because I felt compelled to bear witness to the reality that is metastatic breast cancer.  I was there to support a member of the MSK family.  I was there to see Angelo's photographs of his life with his beautiful wife, Jennifer.

It would be months before we would become friends.  Angelo Merendino has found his way into the hearts of so many. There have been those who wish to criticize what he is doing and to those I say, if you've not walked the path, don't be so quick to presume you understand and I question anyone who feels they have any right to pass judgment.  Angelo's labor of love to honor Jen's memory is among the purest acts I have ever seen.

His book is Jen's legacy and a testament to the depth of the love they shared.  That love transcends all and that love comes through every page of the book he has published.  Theirs is one of the greatest love stories ever.  It is the epitome of what it means to commit to another person with one's whole body, whole heart, whole soul.

I hope you will take a look at what Angelo has chosen to do in launching this book.  He understands the challenges and with the sale of his book, The Battle We Didn't Choose Angelo hopes to help others navigate those challenges by easing some of their burdens.  The Love You Share is an extension of their love to others faced with similar circumstances.

This is what the aftermath looks like, in his own words, on his 40th Birthday.  I am so grateful that Angelo has offered to share his innermost thoughts and feelings on this day.  Angelo, on behalf of all of the thousands who support you from all around the globe, I wish you love and a heart that you will, one day open again, as Jen would have wanted, and as you share here.  Thank you for allowing me to honor Jennifer's memory by writing this post.  I support all of your selfless efforts to touch the lives of others by sharing your story.  Most of all, I send you love.

A 40 year old widower. Huh?

Today is my 40th birthday. Saying that is almost as strange as saying I am a widower. Put them together and you get a sentence that I still can't believe to be true - I'm a 40 year old widower. Huh? 

My late wife Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2008, just five months after our wedding. I'll never forget the sound of Jennifer's voice coming through the phone as she told me she had breast cancer. I was numb immediately. I'm still numb. Before that moment, the furthest thought from my mind was that I might be a widower before I was 40.  

Suddenly and without warning we were thrown head first into the world of cancer. Our life turned into a maze filled with Dr. appointments, medical procedures, medications,  and side-effects. We were adapting to changes, often daily, that offered no road map, played by no rules, and had no sympathy. We felt different from most everyone else in our life.

But we had each other and with every challenge our love grew stronger. The little things that used to upset us no longer carried any weight. Making each other smile, picking each other up when we fell, letting the people in our life know how much we loved them...these things mattered. 

On December 22nd, 2011, my sweet Jennifer passed.

Since Jen died I have struggled to put my life back together and to figure out who I am. For the most part I have felt lost. Everything is different now.  While Jen was sick I was so focused on taking care of her that I forgot how to take care of myself. Add to this the fact that everything I thought I knew and believed in has been completely leveled. The last 22 months have been a blur. 

A few weeks before Jen died she told me she didn't want me to be alone and unhappy. I remember wanting to interrupt Jen as she started to say this. Then it hit me - Jen needed to tell me and I needed to hear her. I listened and after she had told me everything she was feeling I thanked her, and we never talked about it again. I still can't imagine what it was like for Jen to tell me, her lover, that she wanted me to find someone else one day. Even today the thought turns my stomach turns into knots. 

The thing is, Jen had an idea of what I would be going through. Jen was a widow and when we started dating she was concerned that I might not want to date her because of all she had been through. Now I understand why Jen felt this way. 

Jen and I were best friends. We shared everything and never let go of each other's hand. If I ever re-marry, I want a best friend again. I want that trust. Best friends talk about things, like defining moments in their life. Can I expect a woman to love me and be able to listen when I talk about Jen?  It isn't like I'm going to talk about Jen over every dinner but I can't put Jen away, she is a part of everything I do. I am the man I've become because of Jennifer.

Lately I've been thinking about dating and I feel guilty. I know I'm not doing anything wrong but it's strange to think of all the things I've learned through our experience together and how these things will influence my behavior in and expectations from a relationship. I feel like I will listen more, give more, and be more. Is it fair that I've grown as a result of Jen's illness and death? Am I selfish to admit that I appreciate life and everything in it so much more because Jen took her last breath on me? 

Even as I write this I think, "If a woman dates me, she is going to have her hands full." 

I will say that I feel better today than I did a year ago, but there are moments when I feel like crawling under a rock and never coming out. It still hurts like nothing else I've ever known. Even though Jen told me she didn't want me to be alone I still can't imagine how I will love someone else. I know I can just look back at our life together - Jen found love again with me, and although our star didn't shine long it did shine bright. These were the greatest years of my life. But how do you say goodbye to someone you don't want to let go of?

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Monday, October 21, 2013


Last October, a friend I know through social media and have since met in real life was telling me about her son.  They were on a mini road trip.  They passed a vehicle with one of those pink magnets on the back.  The (then nine year old) announced to his mother, that this whole gig was all about having swag.  Of course, she shared the story with me and I have wanted to write about the fact that even young boys understand the ribbon is over-hyped.

His mom did the honors of sharing a conversation she had with both of her sons as the pink haze continues to cloak the globe.

Hey Look. More Breast Cancer Awareness Swag

When you're a 10-year-old boy, the world often seems to have the most clarity it ever will. And your wisdom is beyond your years.

A young man I'm very familiar with has a unique perspective on what he considers "swag." You know, the freebies. The stuff that's given out to make you remember a brand and then use it to impress your friends. In this case, the brand is breast cancer.

His latest observations focus on the NFL's use of hot pink accessories like pink wrist bands, pink cleats, pink towels, and pink padding on the goal posts. In his view, this physical swag leads to an attitude of swag, and that's what bothers him.

"They are overusing it because now it doesn’t really mean anything. They are just trying to look cool. They wear it because boys don’t usually wear pink and so they wear it to look swag. Plus it’s free and it’s cool to not have to pay for it. At least I think it’s free. Is it?"

This led to estimates. He thought a thousand or so, but after discussion, agreed with his brother that each NFL team probably spends $500,000 for breast cancer awareness swag.

(Who actually knows the amount? And who actually pays?)

"They should only use the symbol on the field. The more stuff the players wear, the more swag they think they have."

So … why does the NFL do it?

"I think they're trying to tell people if they think they have breast cancer, they can ask a doctor about it. But that doesn’t work because people don’t know what all the pink is for."

Not so says older brother: "It saved one life. The NFL had an ad, and a lady was watching football with her husband and didn’t know what all the pink was about. Her husband told her, she went to the doctor, and she had breast cancer."

He continues, "I think that pink awareness stuff is overused and now people just use it to get more sales. Like Nike has breast cancer awareness Elite socks. Kids buy them because they look cool, but they don’t care about the breast cancer."

So how can the breast cancer advocates actually make a difference?

“By educating the public on the matter," he says. " I would have announcers talk about it during the game because everybody likes the announcers and they would actually listen to them. Symptoms, risk factors, and tell people to go to the doctor. And that would actually save peoples' lives.”

His brother agrees. “During all the football games, they should have commercials saying 'these are some symptoms of breast cancer and if you’ve noticed any of these things happening, go to your doctor and ask him about it.'”

Pink Nike Elite socks don’t save lives. They just look cool.

(If a ten year old boy has pink fatigue and is overly aware, isn't it time to turn.  Peel back the pink, tell the truth so we can move forward.  The status quo ain't really working for me any more.)

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Friday, October 18, 2013


There are times when things happen that simply bring me to tears.  And there are times when I realize the power of social media is far beyond what I am even able to grasp.

This is one of those times.  Grace (Grazia, in Italian) is one of my global friends.  And yes, I do mean friend.  She is brilliant and young and trying to change the Culture of Breast Cancer back to the Disease that IS Breast Cancer by using her powerful voice and harnessing it through social media where she is having a global impact.

The New York Times is featuring Faces of Breast Cancer.  I know I started to write when I saw it and then, I got distracted. That's typical.

Whether it's a function of my distracted brain or it's truly because I have too many balls in the air, it doesn't really matter. I ALWAYS had too many things going on simultaneously.  And they ALWAYS got done.  On deadline, with time to spare. And accurately, too.  Now.  Not so much.

Such is the fallout of my cancer diagnosis and treatment.  It is what it is.  I have found fully written email messages, in draft form, in my mind, SENT.... only to find them days later.  Still housed on this computer.  (If you are waiting for a reply, I do have everything-albeit scattered in a heap of papers, but I apologize profusely if I promised a reply and you happen to be waiting.... I mean that sincerely.)

My point.....  I saw a message on twitter from Grazia to me sharing that "we" are in the NY Times.

I'm a heap of emotions these days and to see these words brought all of those emotions to the surface....

I started to read everything I found on the topic until I met a woman on Twitter. Her name is Anne Marie Ciccarella

I know Grazia is hosting a screening of Pink Ribbons Inc in the UK on behalf of Breast Cancer Action.  She is part of the Breast Cancer Consortium assembled by Gayle Sulik.  She is determined to change the conversation.  She is making a difference.

Grazia.... I am so grateful for the gift of your friendship.  I am so thankful we met.  My life is immeasurable better because you are in it. 

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