Strength of Heart

It’s strange how everything can change in an instant. How one’s world can suddenly disintegrate and turn upside down while everyone else carries on. Each year, the parents of approximately 15,300 kids experience this when they hear the words “your child has cancer.”

Across all ages, ethnic groups and socio-economics, this disease remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. Despite this, less than 4% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year. Unfortunatley, many of us have been affected by cancer in some way. Whether it is you, a relative or friend, life changes in that instant.

There are times when I question my faith and it happens each time I am told of another child getting diagnosed with cancer. It just doesn’t seem fair that when they should be outside playing and riding bikes their innocence of that childhood is taken away. The days now consist of doctor appointments, tests, medicines, surgeries and more unpleasantries.

When a person under the age of 18 gets cancer, it is called childhood or pediatric cancer. In the United States, about 12,500 children every year are found to have cancer. Doctors do not know why some children get cancer. They do know that children can’t “catch” cancer from someone else – it is not contagious. So, if you know someone with cancer, you should not be afraid to be around them – you can play and talk to them just like anyone else.

Although most children with cancer will get better, cancer is a very serious disease and doctors have to work very hard to find the right ways to get rid of cancer in children. So, when a child gets cancer, the doctors will give special cancer medicines or have the person get a special surgery to remove the cancer cells. Most of the time, the cancer goes away and does not come back! Sometimes the cancer does not go away and the child gets sicker and even dies. This is what happened to Alex Scott, the little girl who started Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Girl Talk Marlton sets up a lemonade stand every year to donate to the foundation.

I have seen the spirit of children fighting the disease and it is courageous. The word courage comes from the Old French word for “heart.” So when someone says those battling cancer have courage, it means “strength of heart.”  Their body might win or lose, but their hearts will never give up.

One such girl in my life has a special place in my heart. Her amazing smile and upbeat attitude is always radiant as she shows the world the true definition of a fighter!  It’s nothing less than miraculous. She is strong for her family, she is strong for other cancer patients and most of all, she is strong for herself. She inspires others to fight back and never lose hope. She, to me, is an inspiration and a real hero.

I encourage all to do their part in raising awareness of childhood cancer so that the innocence of childhood can be experienced by every child.

Girl Talk Marlton will be holding a fundraiser in May to benefit The Alexa’s Butterfly friends (http://www.alexasfriends.com/). For more information please contact: girltalkmarlton@gmail.com

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Cancer Statistics

  • Cancer is diagnosed each year in about 175,000 children ages 14 and under worldwide.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy for U.S. children.
  • However, thanks to better therapies, more than 80% of U.S. childhood cancer patients now become long-term survivors.
  • Survival rates can vary depending on the type of cancer.
  • About 420,000 childhood cancer survivors live in the U.S., with many more around the world.

*Statistics by St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moving Forward After Tragedy

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David Becker/Getty

The horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others. After events like this senseless attack, many Americans feel sad, helpless and fearful. We are only human, it affects us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Las Vegas tragedy comes after weeks of devastating stories from storm-ravaged areas across our nation, which can be a lot of tragedy to process all at once. The shock and devastation of any tragedy leaves us feeling stunned and vulnerable. We know that life is fragile, but it is not supposed to be this way.

1506991109747.pngTragedy and grief are devastating.  But it doesn’t have to get the best of you. The news overwhelms us with stories, pictures, videos and interviews around the clock showing every intimate detail of these tragedies. It is like reliving it over and over. Shut it off and regroup. Never underestimate the importance of your mindset. Get yourself refocused in a positive direction.

Don’t forget your children’s feelings and emotions during this time too. When it comes to any tragedy, most adults either feel the need to talk a lot to their kids or think they shouldn’t talk at all. The best place is somewhere in between. First, ask what they think happened. Kids get information from many different sources, not all are reliable. Let your child’s questions to you be your guide. Reassure them of their safety, spare them the scary details and be sure not to lie to them. Don’t allow young children to watch the news. Empower your kids to take positive action in the wake of a tragic event by doing something positive for the victims and survivors. This will help you both heal.

today-las-vegas-140709-vid.jpgLife is unpredictable and uncertain. What we have today can be taken away in a moment. Let’s just accept the fact that life is unfair sometimes.  This, however, doesn’t mean that we give up. When the world is falling apart around us, it’s tough to see the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. But, that is exactly what we must do. Take this time to reflect on the life you have and make any necessary positive changes to your life starting today.

1507054518676Life is for living, not worrying about dying, so don’t be fearful to live it to your fullest potential. None of us know how long our life will be, but we all get to choose what we make of each day. See the beauty, not the darkness. Focus on the good, not the bad. Many things are out of our control but you can control how you will react to situations, how you will treat others and how you will live your day. Make it a great one.

MB

 

REMEMBERING THE DAY OUR WHOLE NATION HAD TO BE BRAVE

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A fiery blast rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On the 16th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we are remembering the day our whole nation had to be brave. On that day, 2,977 innocent people were killed due to a coordinated, terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda jihadists. This physical assault on the U.S., targeting New York City and Washington, D.C., wounded us deeply as a whole country, both physically and mentally. But on that day, we became united in being Americans.

Smoke Pours From The World Trade Center After Being Hit By Two Planes September 11 2001
Smoke Pours From The World Trade Center After Being Hit By Two Planes September 11, 2001 In New York City. (Photo By Craig Allen/Getty Images)

If you are old enough to remember the event, you remember all those feeling you had- the pain, the fear, the horror, the anger and wanting revenge. I don’t like remembering these feelings, it was a scary time, but I will never ever forget.

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Brooklyn firefighters George Johnson, left, of ladder 157, Dan McWilliams, center, of ladder 157, and Billy Eisengrein, right, of Rescue 2, raise a flag at the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/ Copyright 2001 The Record (Bergen County, NJ), Thomas E. Franklin, Staff Photographer/FILE)

I hope all Americans will also always remember those innocents that died (and their families), honor the heroes who rescued so many, and continue to respect the emergency personnel and members of armed forces who answered the call to defend this country after those awful attacks. Thousands of brave men and women in our military have given their lives since that day in what seems to be a fight with no end.

President Obama, Officials Attend 9/11 Memorial Museum Opening Ceremony
The South reflecting pool is viewed at the Ground Zero memorial site of National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called-Ground Zero. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The important lesson we should still recall from 9/11 is that of unity and that freedom is NOT free.

Mary Beth-Girl Talk Marlton

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The Aftermath of Harvey

 

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You may get a chuckle out of this picture of a cat swimming because we all know how much cats hate water, but once you realize that this cat had no choice and is a survivor of Hurricane Harvey it isn’t quite funny. Photographer Scott Olson captured this deeply pissed off pussycat paddling through the water, and it didn’t take long for it to go viral. This feline has now become an online poster child for resilience, adapting to adversity with strength, resolve and sass.

lead_960On Friday, August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, with wind gusts observed up to 132 mph along the Gulf Coast, causing mass devastation and catastrophic flooding to communities in Texas and Louisiana. The local National Weather Service office in Houston observed an all-time record daily rainfall accumulation on both August 26 and 27, measured at 14.4 inches and 16.08 inches respectively. Harvey made landfall 3 times– twice as a hurricane in Texas and once more as a tropical storm in southwestern Louisiana.

Harvey has caused at least 66 confirmed deaths; including a Houston police officer, a family trapped in a van beneath surging floodwater, and a mother whose shivering 3-year-old was found clinging to her unresponsive body. One million people were forced to evacuate their homes as water inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues including pets. According to the American Red Cross, approximately 32,000 people were displaced in shelters across the state of Texas by August 31 with no idea when they can return home.

170903152456-path-of-harvey-van-vleck-super-169.jpgWith its torrential rain, devastating winds and widespread flooding, Hurricane Harvey could potentially be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. FEMA director Brock Long called Harvey the worst disaster in the state of Texas history, and expected the recovery to take many years. Economic losses are preliminarily estimated at between $70 to $190 billion, with a large portion of the losses sustained by uninsured homeowners-80 percent of Texans don’t have flood insurance. The Texas Department of Public Safety stated more than 185,000 homes were damaged, 9,000 destroyed and nearly 700 businesses were damaged as well.

It is one week after the storm and the danger isn’t over. Survivors face hurdles and consequences left by Harvey. There are debris everywhere-junked cars, houses full of mold, furniture and items destroyed. I worry about their state of mind during this time, things can be replaced-sure, but it is your great grandmothers ring you will never get to pass on to your daughter or your fathers WWII memorabilia that your grandkids will never see. Those heirlooms, precious memories, etc. that are now lost forever.

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The floodwaters that people are walking thru contain many hazards to the environment and human health. The Houston Health Department stated that “millions of contaminants” were present in floodwaters, not to mention the snakes and alligators- YIKES!

There were many positive stories that also came out of this disaster. Many unsung heroes emerged during the storm and volunteer efforts continue to grow throughout the United States. Organizations are helping victims every way they can. On Friday, FEMA distributed over 1,900,000 meals and 1,960,000 liters of water. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, United States Equestrian Federation, Humane Society of the United States, Catholic Charities USA, AmeriCares, Operation BBQ relief, many celebrities, and many other charitable organizations have provided and continue to help to the victims of the storm. The need is great, and our desire to help is strong in times of disaster, but be sure to donate responsibly. Donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations only.

170901-george-brown-convention-center-ac-831p_83a5acdeb063d9251c6d9a32582add63.nbcnews-ux-600-480.jpgThe survivors will struggle for a long time with the aftermath of Harvey, keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

To do our part, Girl Talk Marlton in conjunction with The Unforgotten Haven, will be collecting feminine products. If you would like to donate, please email girltalkmarlton@gmail.com or visit our site www.girltalkmarlton.org Thank you!

Mary Beth of Girl Talk Marlton

Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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HAPPINESS is an Inside Job

happiness-is-a-choiceHappiness is an attitude and a choice that begins within you. Don’t wait for bliss to come to you, with just a few adjustments to your outlook on life, happiness can enter your soul. How you let the world around you, affect you, could be the key to your happiness. You can’t control everything that happens in life, but you can choose how you respond. Learn to see opportunity where others see misfortune. It is not easy to do this, but you CAN do this. Start by changing the way you react to situations and your life can become stress-free and happy, IF you choose.6

We tend to depend on external things to make us happy. Like our favorite food, movie or music, but those are just temporary. To experience true happiness, you need to dig deeper inside yourself. This may feel undoable at first, but just breathe, relax and follow these few steps. And remember every day is a new day, and that is a blessing within itself.

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First recognize what makes you happy, find out what inspires you, whether it is hanging out with friends, going to the beach, or getting a great night’s sleep. Look at what you’re good at, particularly what you lose yourself in – whether it’s writing, travelling, cooking, reading, sports. Whatever it is, make a list and get those things into your daily routines. These activities that you enjoy will make you happy – do them more.

c762e6048a5436970066d1d7d3f73f53--quotes-about-happiness-quotes-about-lifeBegin to foster positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and especially gratitude. Start speaking positive words and compliment others. Learn to trust others, start being more open and loving, even to strangers. Help others and give to those less fortunate. Gratitude is a part of being happy. Be thankful for all the blessings that you have in your life and what is going well. Learn to listen to others and become genuinely interested in all they want to say, this shows compassion. Choose to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiveness is an act of kindness and you will feel that burden lifted.

happy-smile-happiness-quotesShow appreciation and respect for all the good in your life. You ARE blessed, know it. Focus on being the best version of yourself. Nobody in the world can beat you at being you. Be who you are and confident in the real you. Fill your inner circle with those who accept you the way you are and radiate positivity. The people around you should love you, challenge you, and lift you higher. Some people just suck the life right out of you. Simply let them go, now.

c5efbff3d26263126315439829345a07--happy-quotes-wise-quotesEmbrace change. Where there is resistance, flow around it. Where there is opportunity, flow right through it. Let go of your fears, they aren’t real. Live in the now. Find out your life’s true purpose, whatever it is, focus in on what actions you can take to move towards this higher purpose. Become someone who makes a lasting impression on the world with your own amazing creations.

be-happyTake the lessons learned from past mistakes, life is all about trial and error. Learn to let go of what you cannot control and allow peace to enter your life. Don’t look to others to validate who you are or affect you in any way. We’ve all got weaknesses and areas in which we lack confidence, accept them and don’t get hung up on them. Know who you are and be confident. Get rid of the negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment, and anger. The world has enough negativity. Don’t contribute to it anymore.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAKXAAAAJDRkYTczM2Q3LWEwZjktNDI3Yi05NGE4LWIzNjQwY2IxNDc1ZQAccept responsibility for everything in your life. Never blame others for your unhappiness. Tell yourself it’s in your hands, because it IS. We have the power and ability to control our own thoughts and feelings, regardless of what is happening to us externally. Feeling in control internally is highly liberating and will make you feel happier. Remember, YOU are enough, and nobody deserves happiness more than you.

 

3b079527fa45dce6c713d4b410c6578015971ad886ed008cdc9034aee0d4abaa--happy-wife-happy-dayFinal Thought:

I know, sounds great, right? Who doesn’t want to be happy. Easier said than done. I never said being happy will be easy to achieve but it will be worth it. Try the steps, if you fail-and you will, we all do-try again. Keep trying. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to become a happier you. 😊

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

-David Viscott

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Girl Talk Marlton

 

I believe a world without childhood cancer IS possible

I am a very faith filled and spiritual person but many things throughout my life have had me question my faith. My religion tells me that I am not supposed to question my God and ask “why”, but sometimes I just don’t understand. My recent questions involve childhood cancer. Now, I know this is not a topic people want to talk about because it hurts to read the effects of this horrible disease on precious young lives, but we must start.

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Last year I met an amazing 9-year-old boy (now 10), battling cancer, from Blackwood NJ, who has melted hearts and opened eyes to the nasty disease of childhood cancer. Nico was diagnosed with stage IV high risk neuroblastoma in August 2010 at the age of 3. Nico has had a rough life full of doctor appointments, hospital visits and needles but through it all he has remained an outgoing, fun, energetic, friendly, little boy…with cancer.

Nico dubbed himself a “soldier” and his family his “army, and with that Nico’s Army was formed. They come together to help support Nico and his family in the fight of his life, for his life.

“An army fights not because they hate what is in front of him, but because they love what is behind them”-G.K. Chesterton

With meeting Nico, I learned so much about childhood cancer that I had no idea existed. I even found out that it effected a Girl Talk Marlton members sister and took her young life years ago. They started the Alexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Inc http://www.alexasfriends.com and help families that are now suffering through the same heartache they went through-amazing.

According to childrenscancer.org, each year more than 15,000 kids and young adults are diagnosed with cancer—that’s about 42 per day. Though the 5-year-survival rate for childhood cancers has reached 80 percent, nearly 2,000 kids under age 19 die each year. And that’s just in the United States. In 2016, over 300,000 kids and young adults were diagnosed worldwide. Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group; socioeconomic class; or geographic region. Childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S. Despite this, less than 4% of the federal government’s total funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers each year. WHAT?!

2015-childhod-cancer-facts-infographicLifesaving and innovative research on childhood cancer is crucial. Awareness and education, along with fundraising to help support research can cure this disease. With funding in lifesaving, leading-edge research for new treatments and cures, we can help in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and (one day) cure of childhood cancers and end the suffering for so many innocent lives. 

I believe a world without childhood cancer IS possible, and I encourage and hope to empower others to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer. The world needs devoted volunteers to bring awareness and education to people who have not been effected by this disease and just do not understand all the pain and suffering. Get involved, make a difference, YOU have the power within you to do so. Even the smallest gesture starts a ripple.

As Nico spends his remaining days at home with family and friends, surrounded by all that he loves, I ask that you join me in prayer to fill the family with the strength they will need to get through this difficult time. Nico and his family have graciously shared their battle throughout this disease- the pain, the laughs and now the sorrow. They are all true hero’s and Nico forever an amazing warrior. Prayers and love to Nico and his Army, now and always.

~Mary Beth Iannarella

Please help support:
Army Logo

Nico’s Army
P.O. Box 1442
Blackwood, NJ 08012

bannerAlexa Nawrocki Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 628
Marlton, NJ 08053