A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Women’s News: Serena Williams Wins U.S. Open Championship, Beats Victoria Azarenka In Final

Women’s News: Serena Williams Wins U.S. Open Championship, Beats Victoria Azarenka In Final

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Tatyana McFadden

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Tatyana McFadden

Women’s Health: Cancer Support Groups Weren’t For Me — Until…

Women’s Health: Cancer Support Groups Weren’t For Me — Until…

Women’s Health: Cancer Support Groups Weren’t For Me — Until…

Aisling Carroll

I exit the elevator at casino level and catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror wearing a black and baggy “Stupid Cancer” t-shirt.

I feel a flush of hot regret in my cheeks for wearing this conference apparel just as dozens of doll-like women in neon bandage dresses teeter past. I yank my sweater over my shoulders to strategically block the word “cancer” printed across my chest. I don’t want to stand out as the biggest downer in Vegas.

How again did I get myself into this mess? I try to remember. When I clicked onto the OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults website, I was greeted by an Elvis silhouette, the words ‘Palms Resort’ and videos of 20- and 30-somethings having fun. I read ‘cancer,’ but saw ‘poolside cabana.’ I excitedly punched in my Visa number as “I Wanna Be a Billionaire” played in my head and the smell of coconut wafted over my keyboard.

Now that I’m here, I’m having trouble smelling the coconut. I went to my first, and last, cancer support group after I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer seven years ago. It just wasn’t for me. Instead I watched a young woman named Heidi talk humorously and honestly about her Ewing’s sarcoma on YouTube. I viewed her 17 times.

As I turn off the casino floor and into the conference area, I wonder if the shuttles to the airport pick up every half hour or just every hour. And then I see a few women standing behind the info booth. They’re wearing Stupid Cancer t-shirts — with no strategically-positioned sweaters over them — and talking casually with each other.

Walking towards them, I look into their cheerful faces, and I’m shocked when my eyes fill with tears. I blink them back. I have that feeling of thankfulness mixed with astonishment, which is almost holy.

Soon I am in the least likely place I could ever have imagined: the doorway of the Playboy Club. The first session I’m attending is on self-image after cancer. I don’t want to be there. The effects of cancer on the body are more than just skin deep, I know that all to well. But a”theater in the round” conversation at the Playboy Club on embracing “all of you”? It seems so raw, unnecessary, rash. I feel like I’ve thrown myself into the deep end.

At least there are no women in bunny ears and fishnets and frozen smiles greeting me at the door. Instead, more than a hundred 20- and 30-somethings sit in zebra-printed chairs under the gothic chandeliers, many wearing Stupid Cancer t-shirts like mine. They’re all there for this session on how cancer impacts self-image, relationships and intimacy.

I spot an open seat on a velour couch to my left and scoot in next to a shy-looking Latina woman I’ll call Leslie*.

Because I’m nervous and unsure of what this session — in a room full of strangers — will stir up, I fiddle with the lid on my coffee cup and rotate my ankle in rapid circles. I pretend to be breezy. I ask Leslie where she’s from and if this is her first time in Vegas and the pros and cons of flying versus driving. I am aware of how annoying I must be at this moment, but I am unable to stop.

Just when Leslie starts telling me about her road trip from Phoenix, a loud, “Whoop! Whoop!” punctures the air.

Two of the moderators — an African American woman named Tamika and a side-pony tailed blonde — stand in the middle of the club. Another two — an Andre Agassi look-alike and a petite woman with glasses — fan out to the corners. Three of the four moderators are cancer survivors.

They take well-choreographed turns speaking into their mics. They talk about cancer being part of who we are. They underscore the importance of not being ashamed of it. They ask us to “own it.” Even though I can sometimes be a fan of disowning it, I like them. A lot. Tamika opens up the floor for discussion.

A big and brawny, 30-year old man named Jack stands up. In an unemotive, low-pitched voice, he talks about what’s happened since his diagnosis. His fiancée broke up with him. His health forced him to medically retire from his job. He’s now infertile, and he’s terrified of dating. I grapple with the idea of this unblinking-in-battle type being scared of anything. He sits down. The club falls silent.

“So, Jack,” says side-ponytail moderator, “What you’re telling me is you’re a total catch?”

“Exactly,” says Jack. He grins.

The room erupts like a well-shaken can of Coke. Heads shoot back, mouths open, guffaws tumble out.

Next a spunky woman in denim cut-offs stands up and starts to speak. She’s had cancer twice. She talks about how she met a man who asked her to go on a walk. After many years of being on her own, she went on the walk. And now that they’re together, he often sees her in pain and distress. She says he talks her through it, as long as it takes.

“Some people see that light in you,” she says, passionately, “And they carry that light for you.”

Tamika unabashedly thrusts a box of Kleenex forward and numerous hands, including mine, grab at it. Leslie grabs, too. We share a knowing smile.

Tamika walks back into the center of the club. “When I accepted me, when I loved me, that’s when everything happened. When I didn’t like myself, I didn’t like him,” she says in a somber and sad manner. I nod, as do dozens of others.

“Today, though, I’m in L-O-V-E!” she sings to spontaneous applause. “The birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, the flowers are swaying. Love, love, love.”

Like everyone who has spoken before her, as exposed as a Hefner centerfold, she is spectacular. I feel stunned to be a part of this type of club, with these types of look-life-straight-in-the-eye people. I gather my bag in an astonished daze as the session wraps up. It strikes me that I must be one of very few women in America who ever walked out of a Playboy Club feeling better than when she walked in.

Late the next morning, I pick up several crumpled cocktail napkins on my bedside. I flatten out the napkins so I can read the names and numbers of other young survivors scrawled across them. I empty out my Stupid Cancer welcome bag and take out the dozen or so rubber cancer bracelets. I tug on “Jill’s Legacy” and “Imerman Angels” and “Livestrong.” Shoulders back, I head out the door, looking forward to another session.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aisling-carroll/cancer-support-groups-not-for-me-until_b_1657585.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Tatyana McFadden

At the University of Illinois Tatyana McFadden’s teammates on the school’s wheelchair racing team have nicknamed her Beast. Why? Because Tatyana is strong. In the gym people stop and gawk at how much she is lifting. In a road race spectators marvel at how she flies up hills that bring other racers to a crawl. On the track her competitors hang their heads as they see Tatyana’s rippling shoulders cross the finish line ahead of them. Tatyana is strong as a beast.

When Tatyana hears the nickname, however, she giggles. Being strong is not something Tatyana has ever had to think about, it is something that she has embodied her whole life.

By all accounts Tatyana should not be one of the top female athletes in the world. She probably should not be alive. She was born in 1988 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with an underdeveloped spinal cord resulting in paralyzation below the waist and a hole in her spine, a condition know as spina bifida. When operated on immediately, spina bifida is rarely life threatening. Tatyana was left for 21 days before doctors operated. Only her innate strength of will kept her alive.

As an unwanted disabled child, Tatyana was immediately sent to an orphanage after her surgery. She grew up in a place so poor they could not buy crayons for the children to color with let alone a wheelchair for Tatyana to get around in. Unfazed, she spent the first six years of her life using her arms as legs and walking on her hands as if the were feet.

In 1994, Debbie McFadden, working as the commissioner of disabilities for the U.S. Health Department, visited Tatyana’s orphanage on a business trip. When she met Tatyana, she immediately felt a connection with the young girl and decided to adopt her and bring her to the United States.

For Tatyana the adoption meant freedom, it meant a real family, and it meant her first wheelchair, but the excitement was short lived. When she arrived in the US she grew very sick. She was severely anemic and grossly under weight and doctors thought she would only survive a few more months. For a second time in her short life Tatyana’s innate strength would defy the odds.

To aid in her recovery Debbie began to enroll Tatyana in various youth sports groups. Tatyana began taking swimming lessons at the local pool and, a year after she arrived in the US, began participating with the Bennet Blazers, a Baltimore, Maryland area wheelchair sports organization.

No longer having to use her strength for survival, Tatyana quickly found she could use that strength to excel in athletics. She tried every sport she could find from archery, to ping-pong to basketball, but from the start she fell in love with wheelchair racing.

It did not take long for Tatyana’s racing career to take off. In 2004, at the age of 15, she was the youngest member of the USA track and field team at the Athens Paralympic Games, her first international competition. She shocked the world in the process, winning a silver medal in the 100 meters and a bronze in the 200m.

Two short years later, Tatyana etched her name in the record books, winning the gold medal in the 100m in world record time at the 2006 IPC World Championships in Assen, Netherlands. She followed that performance with two silver medal performances in the 200m and 400m, securing a spot as a “Beast” in international wheelchair racing heading in the 2008 Beijing Parlaympic Games.

Tatyana did not disappoint in Beijing, coming home with four medals, winning silver in the 200m, 400m and 800m and a bronze in the 4x100m relay.

Off the track Tatyana is pursuing a degree in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois, and works as a national advocate for equal access for people with disabilities. Learn more about Tatyana’s off-the-field work in Causes.

Read More: http://www.tatyanamcfadden.com/biography.html

Women’s News: Serena Williams Wins U.S. Open Championship, Beats Victoria Azarenka In Final


NEW YORK — Given all of the setbacks Serena Williams shrugged aside over the years – on tennis courts and, more daunting, away from them – she probably shouldn’t have been worried when she stood two points from losing the U.S. Open final.

And yet, she explained afterward, “I really was preparing my runner-up speech.”

No need for that. When the going gets toughest, Williams tends to shine.

Finally tested, and even trailing, at Flushing Meadows, Williams suddenly found her composure and her strokes, winning the last four games for a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory over top-ranked Victoria Azarenka on Sunday night, collecting a fourth U.S. Open championship and 15th Grand Slam title overall.

“I never give up. I never, never quit,” Williams said after the first three-set U.S. Open women’s final since 1995. “I have come back so many times in so many matches.”

In other ways, too.

She missed eight months after having surgery on her left knee in 2003, the year she had completed a self-styled “Serena Slam” by winning four consecutive major titles. Of more concern: Only a few days after winning Wimbledon in 2010, Williams cut both feet on broken glass while leaving a restaurant in Germany, leading to two operations on her right foot. Then she got clots in her lungs and needed to inject herself with a blood thinner. Those shots led to a pool of blood gathering under her stomach’s skin, requiring another procedure in the hospital.

In all, she was off the tour for about 10 months, returning in 2011.

“She was so disgusted at home. She felt like she was useless. That’s the way it is with athletes, I guess. She couldn’t sit still,” said Williams’ mother, Oracene Price. “She was getting depressed. A lot to overcome.”

Talk about making up for lost time.

Take a look at what Williams has done lately. Back on May 29, she lost to a woman ranked 111th at the French Open, the American’s only first-round exit in 49 career Grand Slam tournaments.

“I was miserable after that loss in Paris. I have never been so miserable after a loss,” Williams said. “I pulled it together. … Sometimes, they say, it’s good to lose.”

Certainly in her case.

Since then, Williams is 26-1, including titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the U.S. Open.

“She’s definitely the toughest player, mentally, there is,” said Azarenka, who managed only 13 winners, 31 fewer than Williams. “And she’s got the power.”

Forget what the rankings say. Williams, who was seeded fourth, is dominating the game right now. And she’s been dominant, off and on, for more than a decade.

She won her first major title age 17 at the 1999 U.S. Open. Winning titles 13 years apart at the same Grand Slam tournament represents the longest span of success in the professional era, which began in 1968. Martina Navratilova (Wimbledon, 1978 and 1990) and Chris Evert (French Open, 1974 and 1986) had the longest previous spans of 12 years.

“Yeah, three decades – the `90s, 2000s, 2010s,” said Williams, who turns 31 on Sept. 26. “That’s kind of cool.”

She is the first woman in her 30s to win the U.S. Open since Navratilova in 1987.

Williams also showed a more mature side Sunday, avoiding the sort of flare-ups at officials that got her in trouble during her last two trips to the U.S. Open.

“This is the first year … in a long time,” Williams said, “I haven’t lost my cool.”

In the 2009 semifinals, Williams was angered by a foot-fault call that resulted in a double-fault, setting up match point for her opponent, Kim Clijsters. Williams launched into a racket-brandishing tirade that resulted in a fine and a Grand Slam probation. While losing to Sam Stosur in last year’s final, Williams berated the chair umpire after being docked a point for making noise during a rally.

This time, there was a foot-fault call, too. Williams didn’t react at all immediately, finished off that game, then stared down the linesman as she walked to the sideline at the ensuing changeover. He chuckled a bit.

“I’m just happy that she got through this one without any incident and was able to try to forget all that in the past,” Price said. “Because I think that was a lot in her mind.”

Actually, by then, Williams had bigger problems to worry about.

She double-faulted to get broken in second set’s opening game, and got broken again to fall behind 4-1 in a game that featured Azarenka sliding into a running forehand winner and nearly doing a full splits. Even Williams applauded that one.

But when the game ended, Williams slapped her racket against her changeover chair.

That set was the first Williams had lost all tournament; she’d only dropped a total of 19 games through her first six matches.

While Azarenka, a 23-year-old from Belarus, doesn’t have the name recognition or bona fides of Williams, she did win the Australian Open in January, and was 32-2 (a .941 winning percentage) on hard courts in 2012. She also hadn’t dropped a three-setter all season until Sunday, going 12-0 in matches that went the distance, including victories over defending champion Stosur in the quarterfinals and 2006 winner Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.

As Sunday’s deciding set commenced, Price told her daughter from the stands, “Settle down.”

Didn’t happen right away.

“Well, she’s a human being, you know, who has two feet, two legs, two hands,” Azarenka said. “It’s understandable.”

When Williams double-faulted, slapped a bad backhand into the net and pushed a forehand long, Azarenka broke at love for a 4-3 edge, then followed that up by holding for 5-3.

One game from the championship.

Azarenka was within two points of victory at 30-all in the next game, on Williams’ serve, but couldn’t convert. When Azarenka served for the victory at 5-4, she showed the jitters that probably are understandable given that this was only her second career Grand Slam final, 17 fewer than Williams.

Azarenka made three errors in that game, including a forehand into the net that let Williams break her to 5-all. Williams kept whatever excitement she might have felt contained, face straight as possible, while her older sister, seven-time major champion Venus, smiled and clapped in the stands.

That was during a key stretch in which Williams took 10 of 12 points to go ahead 6-5. She then broke again to win, dropping onto her back on the court when Azarenka sent a backhand long to end it.

“Feels like there is no room for a mistake,” is the way Azarenka described trying to deal with Williams’ game. “There is no room for a wrong decision.”

Azarenka, now 1-10 against Williams, slumped in her changeover chair, a white towel covering her head. Williams, meanwhile, kept saying, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” while scurrying over to share the joy with her mother and big sister.

“Being so close, it hurts deeply,” Azarenka said. “To know you don’t have it. You’re close; you didn’t get it.”

After her first-round loss at Roland Garros, Williams went back to work, getting help from Patrick Mouratoglou, a coach who runs a tennis academy in France. She’s 14-0 in Grand Slam matches since then; the Wimbledon trophy ended a two-year drought without a major title.

Mouratoglou came to New York with Williams, and he noticed the way she set aside her mid-match struggles.

“Players usually completely lose their confidence and they can’t get all of their tennis back. But she got all her tennis back. Like nothing happened,” he said. “This is what was most impressive. She’s not like the other players.”

It’s the fourth time in five years that the women’s final was pushed from Saturday to Sunday because of bad weather – Novak Djokovic faces Andy Murray in the fifth consecutive Monday men’s final – and when play began, Williams was good as can be, compiling a 16-2 advantage in winners through the first set.

She pounded big serves – she finished with 13 aces, at up to 125 mph – and big returns; smacked forehands and backhands out of Azarenka’s reach; even tossed in a terrific backhand lob to break for a 2-0 lead at the outset.

But her unforced errors really started arriving in waves in the second set, then kept coming in the third, and Williams ended up with 45 in all, 17 more than Azarenka.

Deep in the match, with everything at stake and the finish so near, Williams was the one who was steadier.

No one should be surprised by that.

She is the first woman to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same season since 2002, when – yes, that’s right – Williams did it.

Now she will set her sights on raising her Grand Slam title total to 18, the number Navratilova and Evert each won, tied for fourth-most behind Margaret Court at 24.

“I haven’t thought about them until recently. I never thought I would even come close to breaking those records,” Williams said. “If I could win two a year, it would be great. We’ll see.”

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/09/serena-williams-us-open-title-victoria-azarenka_n_1869232.html

A Message From The Creator

%d bloggers like this: