Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wishing You the Happiest of Holidays!

In this season of giving, we want to take a moment to thank all of you for your support of Esperanza Renovada. Whether you've made a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one, "liked" our Facebook page, or helped us spread the word, we are sincerely grateful.  

There is still time to help us reach our goal of 1,000 "likes" by December 31.  We'll be awarding a one week stay at our current cabin in Maricao, Puerto Rico to one person who has liked our Facebook page.  Click here to visit our Facebook page, then click "like" and spread the word!

We wish you all a very happy holiday season, spent with all of those you love the most, and the best year ever in 2015!  From our house to yours...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Season of Giving

Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting.  It is happiness because we see joy in people.  It is forgetting self and finding time for others.  It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the values.  

It's the Season of Giving--the first day of Hanukkah, just over a week until Christmas.  We are all busy trying to find or make the perfect gifts for our loved ones, preparing for the kids to come home, and anxiously awaiting the annual visit from Santa.  

This holiday season, make a gift to the lodge project at Esperanza Renovada in honor of a loved one, in memory of one who has been lost, or simply because you care. You will be providing hope to cancer survivors, their families, and their caregivers. With your help, we can accomplish the goal of building a place where survivors can experience a free restorative escape after cancer treatment.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and wish you joy in this season of giving.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Time To Give

The holidays are a time for giving--giving back and giving forward, giving care...and giving hope.  

When you're making your list this year, please consider making a small gift to Esperanza Renovada.  Just as "many hands make light work", many small donations add up to make it possible to build a lodge where cancer survivors and their families can enjoy a free "restorative escape" after treatment.  

In the coming days we'll give some details on how you can help.  In the meantime, please visit our web site, www.esperanzarenovada.org to learn more about this project.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Thanksgiving Day: Support

On this Thanksgiving Day, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the enthusiastic support we have received for our project.  Your comments, donations, and your help in spreading the word is appreciated more than you know.  

We are about one fourth of the way to the first 1000 likes on our Facebook page. Remember that for each 1000 likes we receive before December 31, we will be awarding a one week stay at our vacation cabin in Maricao, Puerto Rico.

Please keep sharing our web site, encourage your friends and family to like and share our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.  And and keep the lodge project in mind when you're making your holiday gift list.  Make a donation toward the project in honor of a loved one.  

Thank you...and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 2: Laughter

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."  ~~e.e. cummings

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."  ~~Victor Hugo

"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."  ~~Woody Allen

"Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand."  ~~ Mark Twain

On this eve of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for laughter.  

Even on the darkest day, laughter is like a ray of sunshine.  When going through treatment, or any other rough patch in life, it truly helps to surround yourself with humor and laughter. Listen to your favorite comic, watch a funny movie, or just go to YouTube and find videos that make you laugh.  Who could stay grouchy watching this??  (By the way, Micah's dad in this video is ripping up a job rejection letter!)

Smile at someone today.  Make someone laugh.  You never know how it could change their outlook.  Here's to laughter!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 3: Music

On this third day before Thanksgiving, I am grateful for music.  If you know me at all, you know that music is a huge part of my life and as necessary to me as the air I breathe.  It's the "universal language".  We all have that song that can instantly transport us to another point in time, and it always amazes me that sometimes I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but I can remember every word to the songs I listened to growing up.

On the cancer journey, there are many who have "chemo playlists" to get them through treatment.  Music can pump you up or calm you down.  A great song can mean different things to different people, but everyone has a favorite.  It's a part of every culture on earth.  

Take time to listen to your favorite music this evening, or listen to something new.  Be grateful for music.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 4: All of Life's "Moments Between"

My previous post was about being thankful for each new day, from sunrise to sunset and every moment in between.  To carry that one step further, today I want to express thanks for all of life's little details, those "moments between"...the things we don't see until we take the time to notice.  Here are a few examples:
  • Lying on your back watching the patterns and shapes in the clouds
  • The smell of fresh cut hay
  • Curling up with your cat on the couch
  • The moment your favorite song comes on the radio
  • A hawk floating on the spiraling air currents
  • Butterflies on a purple coneflower
  • Slipping between flannel sheets on the first cold night of winter
  • The feel of warm sun on your skin
  • A bright red cardinal against a backdrop of newly fallen snow
  • The first hint of green on the willow trees
  • Reading a favorite book with a child
  • The smell of apple pie baking
  • Your dog waiting at the door for you at the end of the work day
You get the idea.

Today I invite you to look around, stop and take notice, and be truly thankful for all of those little moments we too often take for granted.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 5: Each New Day

I'm catching up this weekend, so this is the third of three Thankfulness posts today.

With 5 days and counting until Thanksgiving, my simple gratitude is for each new day, from sunrise to sunset.  It's easy to take our time here for granted...but when you are diagnosed and faced with your own mortality, each day becomes precious because you know your days here on earth are limited.  

Today I remind myself to be thankful for each sunrise, each sunset, and every moment in between, every day.

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 6: Research

With 6 days left until Thanksgiving, gratitude today is for the research that develops new medicines and treatment methods.  

I have been the direct recipient of this research, receiving  Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody derived from mice, as a treatment for my lymphoma.  Rituxan was the first Monoclonal Antibody (MAb) therapy developed for treating cancer in the 1990s.  Rituxan and the other resulting MAb therapies have truly revolutionized the treatment of blood cancers, as well as breast and colorectal cancers.

I have also contributed to research by being part of a clinical trial involving two different methods of using Rituxan to treat lymphoma.  One arm of the study gave "maintenance" treatments every few months, and the other, which I was randomized to, retreated at relapse.  

Rituxan has been a true lifesaver for me.  I have been treated 3 times in 8 1/2 years, and Rituxan has kept the disease under contol.  I am truly fortunate and very grateful for the research that led to the development of this miracle drug, and many other amazing medications and treatments.  Many thanks to the scientists, researchers, and clinical trial participants who make new treatment options available, and could possibly lead to a cure!

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 7: Hope

“Where there's hope, there's life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
 ~Anne Frank

Today I'm thinking about hope, one of the strongest emotions known to humans.  When you look for things to be grateful for, it puts you in a more hopeful state of mind.  

One of my favorite quotes comes from Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh - "Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today."  Even when things seem dark, the human instinct is to have hope for something better right around the corner.  Without hope, it would be difficult to move beyond the hardships in life.

So today, sow gratitude and reap hope!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 8: Higher Power

Eight days until Thanksgiving, and counting.  Today's gratitude is for a "higher power", the power that is greater than ourselves alone.  

Whether we believe in a higher power in the form of one supreme being, a deity, or collective consciousness, this belief can help see us through our darkest hours and give us the strength and faith to keep going.  

Today, just take a moment...breathe in and breathe out...and offer up thanks.

"When God Smiles" - Photo by Sara Luptowski of Through Sara's Eyes Photography

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 9: The Gift of Possibilities

If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.

With 9 days left until Thanksgiving, I'm focusing today on the gift of possibilities.  You might think that a cancer diagnosis leaves no room for possibilities, but I don't think that's true. The experience of diagnosis certainly doesn't seem like a gift at the time, but once you get past the shock of it, it can give you a whole new perspective.  Your priorities become clearer.  You realize that you have options for every choice you make in your daily life, from the clothes you wear to who you spend your time with to how you react to any given situation.  New friendships are formed.  Some who you had counted as your closest friends fade away.  And you realize who will be with you on this journey...and who will not.  

Life truly is what you make it.  The possibilities are endless.  Today, I am thankful for possibilities.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 10: Caregivers

Today I am thankful for all of the caregivers I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. Here are just a few examples:

  • Since my diagnosis in 2006, my husband has accompanied me to every appointment and every scan.
  • My oncologist has always been good about listening to my opinion and working with me regarding treatment options.
  • My nurse practitioner has become one of my very favorite people.  She always takes time to talk with me during appointments about life outside of cancer.
  • One nurse in particular was extremely helpful when, while on vacation, I came down with symptoms of a urinary tract infection.  She found a drugstore in Puerto Rico for me, and called in a prescription for immediate relief from the symptoms, completely saving our vacation.
I can honestly say that every person who works at my oncologist's office goes above and beyond and gives exceptional care.  I am so thankful that over the last 8 plus years, many of them have become like part of my family.

To caregivers everywhere, a heartfelt thank you to you all!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 11: The Global Community Called the Internet

Today I express my gratitude for the global community called the Internet!

When I was diagnosed, one of the first things I did was to consult the internet to research. That was probably a huge mistake, but it also led me to the WebMagic forums for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. "The Board", as it is affectionately known by those who use it, was an invaluable source of support for me in the early days after diagnosis and before treatment. It was through the Board that I met others who had gone through all of the stages of being a cancer survivor, from diagnosis to treatment, and even to cure for some.  

Common experiences make for good friendships, and for the friendships I have made through the cancer journey I am eternally grateful.  I would be neglectful if I failed to mention one very special friendship in particular.  Without the Internet community and the WebMagic Board, I would never have met my dearest friend Sara, who is an inspiration to so many. No matter how many times life throws a knockout punch at Sara, she always finds a way to get back up again.  I am so very thankful to know her.  There truly are no words.

So, counting down to Thanksgiving on Day 11, I give thanks for the Internet community, which provides information, support, and new friendships!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twelve Days of Thankfulness - Day 12: Clarity

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  Getting together with family, sharing a meal, and remembering on this one day of the year how very fortunate we are (along with the fact that Thanksgiving is probably the least commercialized of all of the holidays), makes the fourth Thursday in November special to me.  

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, we will be featuring one thing each day that we have come to be thankful for since cancer touched our lives. 

Today, I am thankful for the clarity that a diagnosis of cancer can give.  When a potentially life threatening disease enters your life, everything changes--and what you make of the situation defines every day that follows.  Priorities instantly become more focused.  The true nature of the people in your life becomes immediately apparent, and you quickly realize who is truly with you on your journey.  You understand the meaning of the phrase "Don't sweat the small stuff".  Because "down here on the planet, it's all small stuff".  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Official Rules for the "Thousands of Likes Campaign"

Official Rules for the "Thousands of Likes Campaign"

For every 1000 "likes" on this page between now and December 31, 2014, we will be giving away a one week stay at our vacation cabin in Maricao, Puerto Rico. Here's how it works:

1. "Like" our Facebook page.
2. Share the page with your friends and family and ask them to "like" 
our page as well. This will help us get to our goal of 1000, 2000,
3000 or more "likes" by December 31, 2014.
3. You must be 18 years of age or older to be eligible.
4. Airfare, car rental, and meals not included.
5. Each entrant or participant releases Facebook from any
responsibility for this promotion.
6. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered
by, or associated with, Facebook.
7. For each 1000 "likes" received by 11:59 PM on December 31,
2014, we will choose the name of one person who has "liked" our
page to win one free week at our Maricao, Puerto Rico vacation
cabin, to be used during 2015, pending availability.

Please check out our project web site at www.esperanzarenovada.org.  Donations gladly accepted, but you do not need to make a donation to be entered to win the free week.

For more information about our vacation cabin, go to www.escapetopr.com.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thousands of Likes Campaign!

We're asking for your help in spreading the word about the Esperanza Renovada - Renewed Hope Lodge project, and in return, giving you a chance to win a one week stay at our vacation cabin in Maricao, Puerto Rico.

For every 1000 likes on our Facebook page between now and December 31, 2014, we will be giving away a one week stay at our round cabin**.  Here's how it works:

  • Go to our Facebook page and click the "like" button.
  • Share the page with your friends and family and ask them to do the same.
  • Everyone who has liked the page will have their name put into a drawing for a one week stay at our cabin in Maricao, Puerto Rico, a $450 value. 
If we have 1000 likes, we will draw one name.  If we have 2000 likes, we'll draw two names, and so on.  

Here are some pictures of the Maricao cabin.  

More information about the cabin and things to see and do in southwest Puerto Rico is available on our web site.  Contact us for full details.

Winners will be announced on January 4, 2015.  

To make a donation toward the Esperenza Renovada - Renewed Hope Lodge project 

**No donation is necessary to enter.  Airfare and car rental not included.  Value based on charge for one week rental of cabin.  


Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words 
And never stops at all...
~~Emily Dickinson

Hope is one of humanity's strongest emotions, and means different things depending upon your circumstances.

Esperanza Renovada is all about hope for those who have battled cancer.  The name actually means "Renewed Hope".  This new project in the mountains of the southwest corner of the "Enchanted Isle" of Puerto Rico is a vacation lodge, but more importantly, it offers free restorative escape stays for cancer survivors.

We are asking for support, only for the startup stage of the lodge.  Your "Tier of Hope" gift of $10, $25, $50, or $100 will help fund construction and provide renewed hope to cancer survivors on their journey of rebuilding their lives.  Full details are available at www.esperanzarenovada.org.  Please share with your family and friends and encourage their support as well!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

If you are a cancer survivor, if you have a friend or relative who is, or if you are just someone who cares...Esperanza Renovada is a project for you! The lodge is located in the mountains of southwest Puerto Rico, near the fruit and coffee plantations of the mountains, as well as some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet! 

Check out our web site at www.esperanzarenovada.org to see how the lodge works, some information on the area, and our start-up fund raising for this self-sustaining project. Please make a small donation, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. 

This is a grass roots effort...please join us! Together we can make it happen!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We're All In This Together!

“We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.”
~~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Phase I of fund raising has begun for the lodge at Esperanza Renovada, and we need your help to spread the word. Whether you're a survivor, a caregiver, or simpley someone who cares, you can help us reach more people, and reach the goal of building a place where hope is renewed after cancer. Here are a few ways you can help.
Please help get the word out about this project!

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Is A Hybrid Nonprofit?

Fund raising is a way of life for nonprofit organizations.  Of the 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the United States, the majority must run massive fund raising projects year after year.  While these groups do great and important work, we all must make choices as to which groups we can support, and how much we can donate.  

We have chosen to use a different funding model, called a "hybrid nonprofit", for Esperanza Renovada, our vacation lodge and cancer survivors' retreat in Puerto Rico.  A hybrid nonprofit combines the social aspects of a nonprofit with the commercial goals of a for-profit business.  In our case, the vacation rental cabins provide income to pay for the day to day operation costs of the lodge and proceeds allow us to give free stays to cancer survivors. In other words, our fund raising campaign is strictly for the start-up and construction phases of the project.  

Check out our web site at www.esperanzarenovada.org for complete details on the project. Then please share the site with everyone you know.  Your donation, and your help spreading the word, will make this project a reality.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why "Esperanza Renovada"?

Esperanza Renovada is Spanish for "Renewed Hope"...and renewed hope is what our project is all about.  We are giving cancer survivors a little time on a tropical island with family - time to reconnect, time to make plans for a new life as a survivor.  

We used the Spanish words for the name of our project because the lodge is located in the mountains of southwest Puerto Rico, the place that provided our "restorative escape" when we needed it.  It truly is the "Enchanted Island".

Visit our web site at www.esperanzarenovada.org to learn more about the project, about Puerto Rico, and about the unique hybrid nonprofit model we are using to operate the lodge.

Please make a donation to help us with the initial construction of the lodge...then share our information with your friends, family, and social media contacts, encouraging them to support the project as well.

Thank you!

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15 is World Lymphoma Awareness Day (WLAD), a day dedicated to educating people worldwide about lymphoma.  WLAD is a global initiative hosted by the Lymphoma Coalition, a non-profit network organization of 59 lymphoma patient groups from 42 countries around the world.  The Lymphoma Coalition initiated WLAD in 2004 to raise public awareness of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in terms of symptom recognition, early diagnosis, and treatment.

This tenth anniversary of WLAD is the perfect time to do something to promote awareness of this disease that has touched so many.

Esperanza Renovada has begun fund raising efforts to build a lodge in the mountains of southwest Puerto Rico that will offer free stays to recovering cancer patients and their families, giving them a "restorative escape", a chance to reconnect and discover their new life's focus.  While we are not limiting the free stays to lymphoma survivors, we have a special connection to them because of my own diagnosis of follicular Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (fNHL) in 2006.

We're looking for 50 people (ideally one person from each state in the U.S.) to join our team and become "Ambassadors of Hope". We are in the first stages of the initial fund raising to build the lodge.  The concept for our lodge is unique--once initial funds are raised and construction is complete, renting to vacationers will sustain the daily operations, and proceeds will allow us to offer the free stays to those who have been affected by cancer.

We are asking for small donations from many supporters--$10, $25, $50, and $100 donations are welcomed, and those amounts are affordable for most people.  But we need help to reach enough people to raise the $300,000 we need to build the lodge.  As an Ambassador of Hope, we would ask you to commit to raising $6,000.  When that goal is met, we have a free stay for you, either at our current vacation cabin rental in Maricao, Puerto Rico, or at the lodge in San German when it is completed.  We would love to have you as our guest!

Can I count on you to be on our team?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Since September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and I am a blood cancer survivor, I am putting out a challenge to my fellow survivors, their friends, families and caregivers. We've set a goal of raising $100,000 during the month of September using  a "grass roots" fundraising approach:  10,000 donations of $10 each or 4,000 of $25 each.  

We've already received donations from all over the globe, and we are very grateful to those who have made a small gift toward our goal.  Here's how you can help!
  • Spread the word. Go to our Facebook page and click "like", then share with all of your Facebook contacts.  https://www.facebook.com/esperanzarenovadapr
  • Share our web site on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus...with all of your social networking contacts.  www.esperanzarenovada.org
  • If you are a survivor or a caregiver, share your story on this blog.  Click on "Share Your Stories!" at the top of this page and submit your story.
  • Make a donation of $10, $25, or $50 in honor of a blood cancer survivor, or in memory of a loved one.  Then encourage everyone you know to do the same.  
Please help us reach our goal of building a restorative escape for cancer survivors and their families!

Monday, September 1, 2014

September is National Leukemia and Lyphoma Awareness Month

September is National Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month, designated by Congress in 2010 to increase the public's awareness of blood cancers. There are several organizations dedicated to supporting those with blood cancers, among them the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF). These organizations raise funds for research and patient support during the critical times of diagnosis and treatment.

Because of our personal experience with lymphoma, we know what cancer survivors go through, both physically and emotionally, and we have launched a project to provide a “restorative escape” to address the emotional healing process after treatment. The primary goal of Esperanza Renovada (Renewed Hope) is to help those who are recovering from or living with cancer to find renewed hope to move forward in their lives.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month is the perfect time to check out our project. Please go to www.esperanzarenovada.org and learn more about the project, make a small donation in honor of someone you know who has been touched by blood cancer, then spread the word by sharing the web site and our project with your friends and family.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Do You Say "Hope"?

When I was plunged into the world of cancer, my immediate reaction was to find something to hope for.  My amazing friend Sara, who fought aggressive lymphoma tumors in her brain and suffered cognitive damage, causing a loss of ability to spell, coined the phrase "Heers to Hope!".  No one wanted to tell her the spelling was wrong, and "Heers to Hope!" became the battle cry of many "lymphomaniacs" across the country and around the world.  It's a human instinct to grasp for hope in times of trial.  

I got to thinking about all the different ways there are to say the word "hope".  Here is an incomplete list.  I "HOPE" you will comment here with your addition to the list!

  • English - hope
  • Spanish - esperanza
  • French - espoir
  • German - hollen
  • Italian - speranza
  • Dutch - hopen
  • Portuguese - esperamos
  • Vietnamesehy vọng
  • Ukrainian - сподіваюся
  • Danish - håber
  • Irish - Tá súil
  • Norwegian - håper
  • Chinese - 希望

How do you say "hope"?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Esperanza Renovada is a (pending) non-profit organization dedicated to providing cancer survivors and their families a restorative escape from the often overlooked emotional side effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our primary goal is to help those who are recovering from or living with cancer to find renewed hope to move forward in their lives.
We are building a lodge/retreat in the tropical mountain setting of southwest Puerto Rico. The project is designed from the start to work as a self sustaining nonprofit. This hybrid approach allows the business side to generate funds to support the nonprofit portion of the project. The complex will consist of a main lodge building with kitchen facilities, a common gathering area, and an outdoor covered pavillion; and individual private cabins and rustic tent sites. The cabins and the main lodge will be unique round buildings constructed of cement, designed and built by Full Circle Shelters (see www.fullcircleshelters.com for more information).
After the non-profit completes the initial building phase, the cabins and tent sites will be rented as vacation lodging. The proceeds from these rentals will be used to offer free lodging to cancer survivors who are adjusting to the “new normal” of life after cancer, a time when many survivors need a place outside a clinical environment to get away and discover their new life’s focus and reconnect with family members.
To learn more, please go to www.esperanzarenovada.org