A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

A Daughter’s Story: My Addiction Story: How My Mom’s Cancer Helped Me Battle My Own Disease

A Daughter’s Story: My Addiction Story: How My Mom’s Cancer Helped Me Battle My Own Disease

Women’s News: Influential Women Speak Out on the Election

Women’s News: Influential Women Speak Out on the Election

Women’s Health: Do the Candidates Really Care About Abortion and a Woman’s Undue Burden?

Women’s Health: Do the Candidates Really Care About Abortion and a Woman’s Undue Burden?

Women’s Health: Do the Candidates Really Care About Abortion and a Woman’s Undue Burden?

Anu Kumar

Executive Vice President, Ipas

In this season of presidential and vice presidential debates, those of us who work in reproductive health hold our breath for the inevitable moments when abortion becomes the topic of discussion. I keep waiting for a candidate to actually talk about the lifesaving significance of safe, legal, accessible abortion. But what I hear instead are scripted responses that completely and carefully ignore the messy reality of women’s lives.

The reality is that 42 million women around the world have abortions each year regardless of any politician’s religious beliefs or “moderated” position on abortion. Women put off bills, borrow money from friends, travel miles, sit through enforced waiting periods, and they have abortions. The reality is Jennie Linn McCormack.

You may have heard about McCormack, the mother of three from Pocatello, Idaho, who wasarrested last year for causing her own abortion with pills she got over the Internet. She was unemployed, the father was in prison and she was already barely making ends meet — she knew she couldn’t support another child. Abortion may be nominally legal in the United States, but McCormack’s story illustrates the many legal, practical and social barriers deliberately placed in a woman’s path to make that legal right out of reach.

Let’s first examine the legal and regulatory barriers. Idaho (where McCormack lives) and Utah (where the abortion clinic nearest her can be found) have laws that place burdensome requirements and restrictions on abortion providers (known as TRAP laws) that are not supported by medical evidence and that do not apply to other similar clinical centers. As a result there are few abortion providers in these very rural states.

What’s more, both Utah and Idaho require women seeking abortions to undergo mandatory biased counseling, intended to shame and dissuade women from having an abortion, followed by a one- to three-day waiting period before returning for the procedure. Finally, the state health program for low-income women is legally barred from covering abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or threats to a woman’s life. Most poor women seeking abortions must pay out of pocket.

Legal restrictions like these created serious practical barriers to abortion for McCormack. The closest clinic to McCormack was in Salt Lake City, more than 150 miles away. With nowhere to seek an abortion locally, and no car, McCormack would have had to borrow or rent a car for a whole day twice, find childcare twice and, perhaps hardest of all, come up with at least $400 to pay for the procedure — more than her monthly income.

As if the legal and practical barriers weren’t enough to overcome, McCormack faced intense social pressure, or stigma, that women around the world face when they decide to terminate pregnancy. She was raised Mormon, which condemns abortion in most cases. I grew up not far from Pocatello, in Ogden, Utah, and as a Hindu-Indian woman, I am well aware of the power of the closed Mormon culture, and the social shame that is experienced by those that don’t fit in. Having decided to end her pregnancy, McCormack didn’t have anyone she felt she could turn to — not a close friend, not her mother, not even a health-care professional (and as a result, she greatly miscalculated how far along she was in her pregnancy).

Who did she talk to? Her sister, nearly 2,000 miles away in the equally conservative state of Mississippi. It was she who ordered the pills McCormack needed.

In the end, McCormack correctly understood the social stigma surrounding her act: When the fetus she delivered was larger than expected, she confided in a friend about her abortion. Her friend confided in another woman, and it was that woman who turned McCormack into the police. She was arrested and charged with having an abortion without a physician’s assistance.

In the 1992 Supreme Court case Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the court ruled that legal restrictions on abortion were permissible as long as they did not impose an undue burden on women. Political forces opposed to abortion have deliberately pushed restrictions that, taken individually, may not seem to place an undue burden on any individual. But taken all together, compounded by the stigma they reinforce and experienced by real women in their real, indivisible lives, they become enormous, and yes, undue burdens.

Ultimately the charges against McCormack have been dismissed, and even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes that these layers are onerous. “There can be no doubt,” the court said in arecent ruling on her case, “that requiring women to explore the intricacies of state abortion statutes to ensure that they and their provider act within the Idaho abortion statute framework, results in an ‘undue burden’ on a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”

In the United States, these patchwork restrictions have evolved over the last two decades. But this week Uruguay passed a law that “legalizes” abortion while including many of these very same restrictions. As the result of political compromise needed to win passage of the law, women seeking abortions in Uruguay will have to go before a panel that made up of a gynecologist, a mental health professional and a social worker and ask permission to terminate an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy. The panel will also be required to provide biased counseling as in many U.S. states, after which the woman will have to wait five days before her procedure. Is the law change in Uruguay a victory for women’s rights or further evidence that society is not ready to grant women moral agency?

Ironically, this legislation is considered an advance for women in Latin America, who otherwise would go to a pharmacist and ask for the ulcer medication Cytotec, the very medication that McCormack ordered over the Internet. In several countries, hotlines exist to give women the information they need to take the pills safely. Access to this medication has reduced the death rate from unsafe abortion around the region, making “unsafe” abortion a good deal safer. Will we begin seeing women in conservative and rural states — like Idaho, Utah and Mississippi — creating their own hotlines?

An Indian colleague, Dr. Nozer Sheriar, an Ipas board member and secretary general of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India, is conscious of the religious and cultural pressure women around the world feel. He often notes that, “Anything 42 million women do every year can’t be immoral.” What I wouldn’t give for a presidential candidate to assert the same thing.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anu-kumar/abortion-undue-burden_b_1989934.html?utm_hp_ref=womens-health


Women’s News: Influential Women Speak Out on the Election

Marianne Schnall


The inspiration to do this piece occurred when two very special people in my life highlighted for me how critical this election really is. The first was my good friend, playwright Eve Ensler, founder of the global anti-violence movement V-Day, who at the end of a recent interview, expressed to me her heightened concern about what she feels is at stake, followed later that evening by my spirited 14-year-old daughter who has been intensely engaged with this election. She made a compelling plea that I write an article about it. It is after all her future — and the future of all girls and women — that hangs in the balance of what path we pursue — forward or backwards.

It was in that mind-set that I set out to do this piece. In my career as a journalist and as founder of the 17 year-old women’s web site Feminist.com, I have been fortunate to have interacted with some of the most influential women of our time. I couldn’t help but wonder – what were they thinking right now? So I posed the following question to some of them, “What message would you most want to get out to women about the upcoming election?” Here are their inspiring answers.

In alphabetical order: Isabel Allende, Joan Blades, Martha Burk, Eve Ensler, Gloria Feldt, Kim Gandy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Carol Jenkins, Shelby Knox, Elizabeth Lesser, Lisa Ling, Courtney Martin, Pat Mitchell, Robin Morgan, Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Kathy Najimy, Nancy Pelosi, Ai-Jen Poo, Amy Richards, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Gloria Steinem, Barbra Streisand, Loung Ung, Rebecca Walker, Marie Wilson

“Beware, there’s a terrorist attack on women’s reproductive rights by religious and right wing groups. If Republicans win the election, women may lose the rights they take for granted. Think of your daughters when you cast your vote!!!”
— Isabel Allende, author of Paula and The House of the Spirits, founder of the Isabel Allende Foundation

“The middle class is being hollowed out as the division between the the haves and have nots has escalated over the last four decades with women, children, and families among the most adversely impacted. The influence of money and power on our political system underlies many of the dynamics creating this rift in economic health. Voting is the heart of citizen power, the time when we can elect leaders that fight corporate influence and pass laws that bypass legislatures that are beholden to special interests. This is our best opportunity to move toward a more fair and healthy society. Celebrate voting!”
— Joan Blades, co-founder of LivingRoomconversations.orgMomsRising.org and MoveOn.org, co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When WhereHow to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line, and The Motherhood Manifesto
“I would want to tell women to do their own research, not only into what the candidates say (and look for specifics, not broad generalizations) but also their party platforms, since those are the official positions of the parties. Even if they say they will, for instance, keep abortion legal, if their own party is able to restrict it to the point of being meaningless through legislation, a president will not veto such legislation. Which brings me to the second point: who controls the Congress is every bit, if not more, important than who is in the White House. Veto proof majorities can indeed rule.”
— Martha Burk, Director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations, author of Your Money and Your Life: The High Stakes for Women Voters in ’08 and Beyond, Money editor for Ms. Magazine

“After witnessing the Republican party’s siege on women’s rights and bodies, after Romney choosing as his running mate Paul Ryan who tried to write “forcible rape” into federal law, after Romney standing by Richard Mourdock who believes in “God-intended rape,” the mindset of the current Republican party and its leader has been revealed. A party that is blatantly contemptuous of women, their rights, their access to healthcare, to fair pay, to freedom. This mindset is both psychotic and terrifyingly ignorant of the core issue impacting women — violence, which impacts one out of three women during their lifetime. It would be simply suicidal for any woman to vote for Romney. Voting for him is actively voting to erase yourself, your body, your rights, not to mention those of your daughters’.”
— Eve Ensler, playwright and author of The Vagina MonologuesThe Good Body and Emotional Creature: The Secret Lives of Girls Around the World, founder of V-DayOne Billion Rising

“Value yourselves. Don’t let anyone put you into binders. The power is in your hands to determine the outcome of this election. But power unused is power useless. Vote. Vote your best interests. It’s really OK to put yourself first for a change. If you want economic and reproductive justice, if you want your daughters to get fair pay, health care, and equal job opportunity, if you believe women should be able make their own childbearing decisions, if you want to safeguard Medicare and Social Security for yourselves and your parents, if you care about the Supreme Court, then you’d better vote for Obama and those who share his positions on down the ticket.”
 Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power,The War on Choice, former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

“With candidates who oppose women’s rights, and in fact would like to roll back many of the very real gains women have made over the past 40 years, now is no time to sit home and let others make these decisions. Start now. Know the issues, ask questions, and vote as if your future depends on it, because in so many ways it will.”
— Kim Gandy, former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
“It’s important for every woman to have their voice heard this election because decisions are being made in Washington every single day that affect every aspect of their lives, and if they don’t participate, they will not like what they find. It is demeaning to keep having to fight the same battles our mothers and grandmothers had already won for access to basic health care. I hope that not only will every woman in America vote and hold candidates accountable, but also seize this historic opportunity to send more women to Congress than ever before. I can assure you that if women were 51 percent of Congress we would be debating the economy and not access to birth control.”
— Kirsten Gillibrand, New York State Senator, founder of Off the Sidelines

“We are faced with many complex issues in this election, issues certain to be tempered by life experience, perhaps faith. But one unambiguous subject is equal pay for women. How, in 2012, could there be disagreement on this point? If women were paid their due, the economy would rebound, families would be lifted out of poverty, children would not know hunger. At its core, opposition to women’s equality belies a sinister, mean-spiritedness that we must yank up by the roots from our society. And, absolutely, no candidate who shies away from this essential element of our democracy should be able to choose a Supreme Court Justice.That would be malfeasance of the highest order.”
— Carol Jenkins, writer, former television news anchor, and founding president of The Women’s Media Center

“Women must understand that the votes we cast this election season are the most effective protest to talking points that distill ‘women’ into a monolithic special interest group rather than thinking human beings who happen to be the majority of the population. When we vote for candidates that understand that all issues impact women – and each issue and policy decision impacts each individual woman differently depending on the identity intersections at which she lives her life — we show in numbers that we don’t vote with our reproductive organs, we vote with our brains. That’s the body part we’ll use to ‘shut that whole thing down,’ thank you very much!”
— Shelby Knox, writer, speaker and activist

“Besides the obvious message — that there’s an international war on women and its showing up here in the States in this heated election and it’s critical that we vote for candidates who value women’s bodies, minds, spirits, opinions, wages, jobs, families, and health — the message I am most interested in is something that Eleanor Roosevelt said: ‘It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.’ Let’s be light-bearers in these dark times. Let’s not succumb to cursing the darkness, which seems to be the prevailing modus operandi of this election: the mean-spirited, macho, rooster-strutting, and lie-spewing behavior of so many candidates and their supporters. Can we get our message across by lighting truth candles? By using loving, passionate, funny, bold and beautiful words and actions? Can we model a new way without getting run over by the tanks? I think we can. It starts with us.”
— Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder Omega Institute and the Omega Women’s Leadership Center, author of The Seeker’s Guide and Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow

“This is a vital election that will determine whether women move forward or backwards. Our rights are being threatened, our bodies are under attack. We must not ignore the fact that the winner of this election will appoint one if not more Supreme Court Justices to the highest court in the land, this could hugely affect women for generations. We cannot be complacent, far too much is at risk.”
— Lisa Ling, Executive Producer and Host of Our America on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Networkand Co-Founder of Secret Society of Women

“The mind and heart play strange tricks on the American voter in the circus that is campaign season, often luring her to vote against her best interest. I say, block out the posturing and the politicking, and take a hard look at what values and policies make your life healthier, safer, and more community-oriented. Vote for the guy that gets those things best.”
— Courtney Martin, blogger, speaker, and author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women and Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists

“VOTE!!! Remember what the suffragists said when they finally won their long hard battle to get us the right to vote, knowing that they probably would never get to exercise the right or see the results; they said, ‘this is not for ourselves alone.’ It was for us and every generation of women to come. If we don’t vote, we are ignoring history and giving away the future.”
— Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of the Paley Center for Media, organizer of TEDxWomen

“It took women 100 years to win the right to vote. Since the Gender Gap is alive and well, if we don’t exercise that right in massive numbers on Election Day, it will take only four years of right-wing government to send us back to the Dark Ages.”
— Robin Morgan, author of Sisterhood is Global and Sisterhood is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for a New Millenium, founder and President of The Sisterhood is Global Institute, co-founder The Women’s Media Center

“There are many things that need to happen for women to have full recognition and participation within our current political system. The first is supporting politicians and legislation that actually impacts our life being fair and maintains accessibility to services that make our day-to-day lives livable (whether that be access to abortion or fair wages). And the second is an ability to participate in the political process. As of right now, the amount of money that has been fed into the election prioritizes the needs of constituents that are not us — this is not just about women, this is about all voices that are drowned out and not answered to when their only interest is lobby groups (especially ones that support retrograde anti-woman legislation). Justice is the ability to fully participate in the political process, be represented by it and demand that our needs are met and it’s important we don’t let this issue die down after the election.”
— Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Strategist at Purpose.com and the Executive Editor ofFeministing.com

“Here is the message I would like spread far and near to ALL of you about the upcoming election. If you go online the morning of Nov. 7th (perhaps The Huffington Post?) and read that Romney is our president… Your heart will sink, your back will kink and I promise you your uterus will retract and shrink.

You may not see the bitter fruitcake fruits of his untimely victory that minute. But when your friends and neighbors, daughters and sons, nieces and nephews or granddaughters and grandsons, stand in front of you in their glorious, authentic selves — asking for access to important information about their bodies and their sexuality, asking for accurate information about birth control and reproductive rights… AND their freedom to choose… you will see it then.

And when they have the courage and honor to stand in front of you as a proud gay young woman or gay young man seeking support, advice, love, acceptance, and RIGHTS… IF you haven’t voted or didn’t vote in favor of freedom and respect and choice… knowing you the way I do? That is the day you will put down your blueberry scone, double latte and iPad copy of The Huffington Post and feel remorse.

So my dears — I implore you to DO it — VOTE and encourage others to — and vote not only from your hearts, souls, consciences and minds… but from the bottom of your vaginas.”
– Kathy Najimy, actress, activist and writer

“There are few elections in our history in which there has been more at stake for America’s women: everything from our health care to the economic security of our families and opportunity for our children is on the ballot this November. Women understand the real impact of public policy on their families – what it means for their jobs, their children’s education, and for the future of our middle class. I feel great optimism because the voices of America’s women will decide the path our great nation takes in this election.”
— Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives

“When women vote our values, we make a decisive difference. When women organize and build our power together, we make history. Let’s vote, and let’s organize. Our leadership is needed to bring the country together toward a thriving, caring future for everyone.”
— Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations

“Nothing gives me faith that the Romney ticket will take women’s issues seriously when he is so closely aligned with The Tea Party, which would strip women of their political power if they could. In the specific, Obama certainly needs prodding when it comes to women’s issues, and that’s unfortunate, but he knows enough to consult the strong women who surround him and not ignore their value in shaping this country.”
— Amy Richards, author of Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist ActivismManifesta: Young Women Feminism and the Future, and Opting In: Having A Child Without Losing Yourself, co-founder of Third Wave Foundation and Feminist.com

“Women and mother voters matter. Women are more than half the electorate, and 80 percent of women in our nation have children by the time they’re 44 years old. Women’s votes determined the outcome of the last presidential election, and are poised to do so again. But not only are women’s votes powerful, we have a tremendous amount at stake in this election. Women are central contributors to our economy and now comprise half of the paid labor force for the first time in history. Three-quarters of moms are now in the labor force, with half of those moms serving as the primary breadwinner. We’re concerned about being able to provide for our families financially, making sure we and they have accessible health care, equal pay for equal work, affordable child care, access to earned sick days, and that there are structures in places so that we can raise healthy, happy kids who can be a vital part of our nation’s future success. It’s time to use our power, and our votes, to elect candidates on November 6th who will fight for women and families on Main Streets across the nation and not just Wall Street.”
— Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, co-author of The Motherhood Manifesto and Executive Director/CEO of MomsRising

“Do what Democracy demands. And, that is to make change from the bottom up. It is a lie that it comes from the top down. No. That’s what they want us to think — to disempower us. No, it comes from us. Like a tree, it comes from the bottom up.

Mitt Romney is the most undemocratic, anti-equality, authoritarian, extremist candidate I have ever seen, and there is the most distance between what he says and what he does.

He has the nerve to say he is for job creation. His entire career has been job elimination. He is not even willing to say he is for equal pay. And it happens that equal pay for women of all races is the greatest economic stimulus this country could ever have. Equal pay, and I mean for equal work, would put $200 billion more into the economy every year. That means about $137 for every white woman per pay check — something like $300 for every woman of color who are doubly discriminated against. And you know that those women are not going to put that money into a Cayman Islands bank account — they are going to spend that money, and that is going to create jobs…

[Romney] has pledged, on the Republic Party platform, to go around the Supreme Court, and achieve the human life Amendment to the Constitution, which would declare the fertilized egg to be a person. I would like to say that neither the corporation nor the fertilized egg is a person. Pregnant women do not have two votes.

… This voting day is the one day of our lives and on Earth and I have to say we owe this to people in the world whose lives are dictated by U.S. policy, too, but this is the one day on Earth where the least powerful equal the most powerful. I hope that however you can, you will make sure that from now until voting day, you make sure people are not only going to vote, take 10 people with you, take 100 people with you — make it a party. Sit with people’s kids so they can vote. And they are not only going to vote, they are going to fight to vote. If we can’t vote, we are going to sit there until we can vote. We are not going to take no for an answer. We are going to get rid of these crazed extremists who do not represent the majority even of their own party.”

Excerpt of Gloria Steinem’s speech, Saturday, October 20, 2012, St. Petersburg, Florida

– Gloria Steinem, activist and writer, author of Revolution From WithinOutrageous Acts and Everyday RebellionsMoving Beyond Words and co-founder of Ms. Magazine and the Women’s Media Center

“If you want to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat… you know who to vote for. If you want more money spent on education… on alternative forms of energy… on our crumbling infrastructure… because investing in our country will promote the growth we seek… you know who to vote for. And, if you believe in affordable healthcare, a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body and in protecting Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of health care to low income women… you know who to vote for. If you want to move the country forward, rather than go backward… then you certainly know who to vote for. So on November 6th, no one, especially women, can afford to stay home. We have two candidates with very different views of what America should be. Inform yourself, engage in discussion, make a decision about the kind of country you want to live in… and VOTE.”
— Barbra Streisand, singer, actress, director, founder of The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute

“Voting is not only our right, it is our power. When we vote, we take back our power to choose, to speak up, and to stand with those who support us and each other.”
— Loung Ung, human rights activist, author of First They Killed My Father, Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites With the Sister She Left Behind and Lulu in the Sky

“Vote your uterus.”
— Rebecca Walker, author of Black, White and JewishBaby Love and Black Cool, co-founder ofThird Wave Foundation

“Choose wisely or we’ll lose our right to choose at all.”
— Marie Wilson, founder and former President of The White House Project, co-creator of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and author of Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World


Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer whose writings and interviews have appeared in a variety of media outlets including O, The Oprah MagazineIn Style, CNN.com, EW.com, the Women’s Media Center, and many others. Marianne is a featured blogger at The Huffington Post and a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated NPR radio show, 51% The Women’s Perspective. She is also the co-founder and executive director of the women’s web site and non-profit organization Feminist.com, as well as the co-founder of the environmental siteEcoMall.com. She is the author of Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice based on her interviews with a variety of well-known women. You can visit her website at www.marianneschnall.com.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marianne-schnall/influential-women_b_2016990.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

A Daughter’s Story: My Addiction Story: How My Mom’s Cancer Helped Me Battle My Own Disease

Katie Campisano | The Daily Muse

Today was a perfect day. The air had that distinct crisp fall feeling. The weather was ideal, but there was more to the day than light breezes, minimal humidity (the perfect hair day), and limited cloud coverage.

Today was probably the first day that my mom and I spent fully together.

There have been plenty of times in the last few months that she’s been in the kitchen doing bills and me on the couch watching Food Network, or she on the deck reading a magazine and me laying out in the sun. We’ve been feet away from each other, so many times, but never really together. But today was different; today was special.

My mom is, in all senses of the word, my hero. She isn’t a CEO or exec at some firm in Manhattan; she isn’t a gourmet chef who experiments with awesome food creations during family dinners. She is, however, a two-time breast cancer survivor. And, not only has she battled her own disease, but she has walked with me, hand-in-hand, in my own struggle with addiction. Those things, alone, rank her above any other woman in my mind.

The childhood I experienced was absolutely the suburban upper-middle class cliché. My younger sister and I grew up in central Jersey, right outside Princeton, raised by our two parents (dad, an attorney; mom, a “homemaker”). My little sister was the dancer and teacher-in-the-making. I was the athlete and somewhat of a wild child. Everything was always normal. We participated in the neighborhood carpools after daily lacrosse practices, we went to SAT tutoring once a week our junior years of high school (sucked, by the way). We went on family vacations every summer to places like Europe, Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, and Maine. Life for us was always solid; we were always good.

But twice, my family received the devastating diagnosis that our anchor, my mom, had breast cancer. To this day, actually typing the word “cancer” makes me shiver. Most of the time, I can’t even say the word.

The first time my mom was sick, I was eight years old and my sister five, the second I was 12 and my sister nine. Both times, she lost her hair. Actually, we shaved it. Both times, she wore a wig that we named “Mabel.” Both times, she was sicker than I could have ever imagined, throwing up and emaciated. But both times, we had no idea she was even close to as sick as she was. She went through surgery (x2),chemotherapy (x2), radiation (x2—she has the tattoos to prove it; and uses them as a reason to hate mine) and, eventually, had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

But during all of these medical procedures, she and my dad rarely showed an ounce of weakness or doubt that she wouldn’t heal and get better. Life continued as normal, both times, in the Campisano household.

No, cancer isn’t what rocked our family—it was my own struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Now, the focus had shifted onto me; whether I would live, or succumb to a different type of illness—one that was more extremely complex and psychological. There wasn’t a specific medicine or treatment that would halt my addiction or stop it completely. And this was scary. For us all.

My mom and I had always been close, but during this time, our relationship collapsed. Our communication ceased, honesty disappeared, trust evaporated. I was living a secret life she had no idea about. And when she found out that I was caught in my own disease, one that seemingly is self-induced, both of our worlds exploded.

I felt I was disappointing my mom to no end. Even during this time, I knew in the back of my mind what a struggle she had experienced. I knew that she went to extreme lengths to “get better” and combat the cancer that could have destroyed her and taken her from my sister, dad, and me. I knew everything she had gone through—the immense pain and sickness she experienced, the ugliness she must have felt when losing her hair and the parts of her body that deemed her a “woman.”

But we both knew that I was continuing to use drugs and alcohol to destroy my own body—something so precious that should be treasured. It hurt us both more than words can say. It was so hard for me to come to terms with the fact that my mom was forced to deal with her cancer, twice, and I was ruining my life through a “disease” that seemed to have been my entire fault. In reality, once I was in the grips of addiction, it wasn’t my fault—but my head goes directly to guilt and shame, especially when it comes to my family.

Throughout my struggle with addiction, though, we were able to finally look at her struggle with breast cancer—two diseases, different in definition, similar in emotional turmoil. We participated in family therapy sessions together and worked hard to learn about each disease, both scientifically and personally. My mom was able to stand by me—with the strength she used to combat those cancer cells—to guide me through my own fight.

She chose to maintain a sense of understanding and patience with me. She was angry, with the disease and with me, understandably. But we fought through it. My mom read relevant literature, she opened up to me about her own fight with cancer, and she continues to attend Al-Anon meetings (AA-esque meetings for loved ones of those struggling with addiction).

My mom has shown me, through her actions and reactions to life, how important it is to remember that there is a light, always, at the end of the darkness. Today, when the freight train in my head rolls through, my first impulse is to call her. No one in the entire world has better advice; no one cares more or worries more. Whether we are dealing with epic obstacles like breast cancer and addiction or smaller disasters like lost credit cards and expensive gym memberships, we face it now together.

This October day may have been “normal” for a million people in New York City. But for my mom and me, it was a new beginning. It wasn’t just a day spent buying great new things for my new Manhattan apartment and stuffing our faces with goat cheese omelets and turkey/smoked gouda/avocado sandwiches. Today was the day we finally reconnected; finally felt a sense of calmness and normalcy between us. There wasn’t that elephant in the room that was “disease”—instead, the focus was on the future, and how bright it had become.

My mom has not only battled breast cancer and won, twice, but she has helped me, without wavering, to become who I am right now.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/my-addiction-story_n_2005700.html?utm_hp_ref=my-story

A Message From The Creator

Women’s Health: Oklahoma ‘Personhood’ Ballot Amendment Appeal Rejected By Supreme Court

Women’s Health: Oklahoma ‘Personhood’ Ballot Amendment Appeal Rejected By Supreme Court

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

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