More Than a Pink Ribbon

As October draws to a close and we move away from breast cancer awareness month I ask you to remember one major thing. Families and individuals impacted by breast cancer, or cancer of any kind, need support year round and YOU may be the best person to provide it. Unfortunately, between the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer (1 in 8)  and the chance of dying from breast cancer (1 in 35). MILLIONS of people are touched by this terrible disease. Those millions need a hug, casserole, cards, gas money or a wig. There are many ways to help and sometimes the helpers need help too. The organizations and businesses that I have curated for you (the helper) below were born because the founders’ lives were touched by cancer or other stressful health event and what they needed to make their loved one’s lives better didn’t exist or wasn’t quite right. Lucky for us they were so industrious– because we can take their labor of love and use it to help support our sisters and families. Continue reading

Coalition Of The Reasonable: Pregnancy Edition

I had an epiphany during my commute home yesterday. Instead of focusing my energy and attention on differences of opinion about the recent spate of legislation and panels about birth control, religious conscience, abortion and payment methodologies, I realized I should focus on our common ground. There s something in between the “War on Women” and “Reclaiming Family Values.”

It seems like there shouldn’t be any. But I think people have gotten into the habit of cutting their noses off to spite their faces. I’ve decided I’m smarter than that. I think you are too. So here is my proposal about women’s and family health to the Coalition of the Reasonable that I believe is out there. Continue reading

Tool of Choice

I was certain that there was a moment in which I screamed at the top of my lungs “That’s it!” and picked up my pitchfork to make a change in the world. But I couldn’t really come up with one such instance. I could probably come up with a different event depending on the day and circumstance….What I know for sure is that it was born out of an intrinsic calling for social justice. But not wanting to miss out on a good story just because I have a bad memory–I surveyed my friends and asked them what my turning point was. They described me as sort of having a slow consciousness raising period during my college years which led to me choosing women’s health as my grounding point. I read a lot of books and shadowed a midwife. I went to nursing school became a squatter of sorts at CHOICE—whose midwives taught me so much about the breadth of women’s health and choices we make as clinicians. But there were also international experiences that shaped my ever-growing understanding of the trials and tribulations of the system in which we hang our hopes to save us. I went to Crow Creek moved to Colorado and Maryland, did health fairs and witnessed births and deaths and peri-menopause.

After some discussion, I began to wonder if it matters so much that I don’t remember a dramatic moment. Maybe my Turning Point was comprised of a million small observations about how women are both carved out of the larger health system (OB and peri-menopause) and constrained in a health system that generates lower health outcomes for women compared to men (heart disease, mental health, drug-reactions among others ).

Now that I think of it, my Turning Point is fused with what keeps my pitchfork raised. I read about all of these things (good and bad) and thought—there must be a shortage of people who are willing to help. I am a do-er after all. My pitchfork is not simply outrage but rather something to channel my force—my energy—my call for change.

Over time my Turning Point in awareness led to a devotion to the work. My devotion to making the system better.