Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to eat it all.

This year, after going to a parade over the weekend, Sarah received loads of candy. She then trick-or-treated with friends from school in their neighborhood and garnered even more candy. Then, she knocked on the doors of our friendly neighbors and received even more sweet treats.

While Sarah enjoys receiving chocolates and candy, she especially loves getting dressed up and having fun with her friends. For her, Halloween is the longest ever play date. 

So now, with a heaping pile of candy, enough to make anyone sick if too much is consumed, a decision needs to be made on what to do with it all. 

I am not cruel. Sarah gets to keep a heaping pile of candy in her pumpkin that she then gets a piece or two of in her lunch every day.

I shared with her an idea about an organization I learned about called Operation Gratitude that started in 2003 and sends over 200,000 care packages a year including food, magazines, hygiene products and homemade items to military personnel around the world.  In 2007, they started an initiative called the Halloween Candy Program. It started with 300 dentists from around the country donating as much as 20,000 pounds of candy to the troops. The program has grown to collect well over 500,000 pounds of candy annually from various business, schools and community organizations.

For the next 10 days between November 1 and 10, all the extra candy we have can be dropped off at specific locations where they will be packaged up and shipped to the troops and first responders to help lift the morale of many men and women who protect and serve us daily.

How to get involved?

Visit Operation Gratitude’s Halloween Candy Donations website here and enter your zip code. Call the location closest to you and confirm participation, dates and hours available prior to taking your donation.

Our phone call has been made and tomorrow morning three heaping bags of candy will be dropped off.

Hope you had a fun and safe Halloween. Consider a donation to Operation Gratitude. It's a great way to teach kids how to give back. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

HPP Awareness Week: Attention Needed for Rare Bone Disease

Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare bone disease that affects children and adults and there is a great need for awareness, policy, research and treatment. Danielle Bither has three children were diagnosed with varying degrees of the disease.

National City, CA mom Danielle Bither is on a mission for much-needed awareness, education, research and treatment for a rare bone disease called Hypophosphatasia (HPP) -- pronounced high-poe-fos-fuh-TAY-shuh.

Today, October 30, 2017, is the start of HPP Awareness Week and I am sharing Danielle's story to encourage and inspire others to act against this terrible disease that requires some much attention and action.

HPP is a rare inherited bone disease that affects healthy development of bones and teeth, making bones softer and more likely to fracture. People who have HPP have trouble making an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase, or ALP. 

Without this important ALP enzyme, certain chemicals build-up and prevent calcium and phosphorus from binding together and depositing in the bones. As a result, bones can become soft, curved and fragile, and teeth may become loose or fall out prematurely. Severe forms of HPP occur in approximately one of every 100,000 live births. While exact numbers are unknown, the milder childhood and adult forms are probably more common, and one out of every 200 Americans may be a carrier for HPP.

The Bither family
Danielle's daughter Clara was diagnosed in December 2011 with infantile HPP. Her brother, Merle, when he was just two years old, was diagnosed with odontal HPP.  Their sister Stella was diagnosed with infantile HPP shortly after her birth in April 2013 and passed away in December 2013.

While Clara seemed like a happy healthy baby in the months following her birth, Danielle struggled to help her gain weight and at 6 months-old she weighed just 11 pounds — only 3 pounds heavier then when she was born even after switching from breast milk to formula at the insistence of her pediatrician. Then in June, her fontanelle began bulging. After meeting with several specialists, Clara's parents were told that she had craniosynostosis and would need surgery to fix the problem. After the surgery, the doctors said that Clara was facing another health issue and were not sure what it was but put her on a waiting list to be seen by a geneticist at a local Children’s Hospital. Shortly after medical insurance changed for Danielle and her family, they were devastated to have to leave all the doctors that were treating Clara, yet little did they know this move would save Clara’s life. 

There are no words to explain Danielle's grief and fear for HPP. However, she know the importance of arming oneself with information and resources, and support to help through the tough times. To give her children a fighting chance against HPP, she has shared her story to help raise the much-needed attention it deserves. 

Danielle was fortunate to find comfort and solace with other families who understood her new normal through a patient advocacy group started by another mom whose child also had HPP. The patient advocacy group is called Soft Bones: The Hypophosphatasia Foundation. It just so happens that one of my bosses, Deborah Fowler, is the founder. I shared about Deb's experience a while back on my blog. Here is her story that helped lead to greater awareness, new research and treatment for HPP.

Today Clara and Merle are bright and happy children who are thriving. 

HPP has a growing community of parents of children with the disease and adults diagnosed as well. You are not alone. Together, we have seen profound changes in policy, research and treatment. In fact, a first-ever treatment has since been approved. There is such a great need for more as patients with HPP all have varying degrees of severity.

Please join me during HPP Awareness Week kicking off next week to help elevate attention for this rare, brittle bone disease. I appreciate your support.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mommies and Mammograms

Fellow moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and girlfriends, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the time is now, if you haven't already, to get an annual mammogram.

For those of us especially over the age of 40 and who have a family history waiting is not an option.  

My biggest risk factor is my age. My paternal grandmother also had breast cancer later in her life.

For me, I also have fibrocystic breasts, which are more evident during my monthly menstrual cycle. Therefore, it is challenging to determine if it's more than just that. Therefore, I pay close attention to them and when my cycle ends usually the symptoms in my breasts do too.

There are too many women in my life and in this world who have been impacted by breast cancer. Young women in their 20s, moms in their 30s, working women in their 40s and grandmothers in their 50s and up. 

Let's take action for our health.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is offering a complete Breast Health Guide, which includes common questions on prevention, detection, healthy habits, and more. 

I took action and got my mammogram this past week. Thank you South Jersey Radiology Women's Center. Now, I am encouraging you to do so as well. Let's help all our fellow ladies stand against this terrible disease.

There are many ways that we can get involved in this fight.
  1. Act and do self breast exams and get an annual mammogram
  2. Encourage loved ones to do self breast exams and get annual mammograms 
    • Book appointments together for support
  3. Donate to support research for this important cause
  4. Get involved 

Mommy's Point of View has made a tax-deductible contribution to the Breast Cancer Alliance to fund innovative breast cancer research and to promote breast health through education and outreach, and breast surgical fellowships.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bake and Post Online for Breast Cancer Research

Black Bottom Cupcakes
Made by Caren and Sarah
On Saturday, I will be getting my annual mammogram. I have had my prescription since May this year and don’t know why I waited so long to set up the appointment.

What the heck was I waiting for? Do I think it can’t happen to me? Am I afraid? Am I just too lazy? I really don’t know.

Being in my mid-40's I am just as much at risk for breast cancer as anyone. A dear friend of mine just told me recently that she had a lumpectomy that led to the removal of a benign growth. A family member is coping with breast cancer, and another is in remission from her second bought with the disease.

There is something to be said for all the awareness and education that happens especially during the month of October for breast cancer. I am truly thankful, as it has kicked me in the ass and pushed me to finally book my overdue appointment.

To do my part, I am standing up to encourage you my fellow readers, moms, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and girlfriends, especially for those of us over the age of 40, to get our breasts examined. Check your calendar, confirm when you had your last mammogram, call your gynecologist to set up an appointment, and get a prescription to get screened.

Recently, I learned of an innovative fundraising campaign called "Bake It Happen" that was started by two sisters Shari and Stacy, who lost their mom who loved to bake, Judy Levin, to Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC).

As a mom who loves to bake, and a public relations professional dedicated to healthcare education, my interest was piqued.

Judy’s daughters decided five years ago to kick off #BakeitHappen, and have since raised over $60,000 for breast cancer research. The campaign has grown to include strategic partners including The Cancer Couch Foundation, Taste Buds Kitchen, Sweet Loren’s, and Ford Warriors in Pink.

Their mission -- encouraging people to bake one of their mom’s recipes and to do so for a worthy cause. 

How does the baking raise money? 

Choose one of Judy’s original recipes including Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf, Pumpkin Oatmeal Chip Cookies, Black Bottom Cupcakes or Compost Cookies.

After making a tasty treat, post the pics on social media. Then, an anonymous donor will make a financial donation, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to The Cancer Couch Foundation.

So, we got our aprons on and got to baking.  Together with my daughter, who enjoys baking as well and supporting noble causes, we chose to make the Black Bottom Cupcakes.  Not only was this a fun thing to do, but it was even more fun doing it as a team for a greater purpose.

After the baking is complete, post your delicious treats on social media and include the hashtag #BakeitHappen. For Facebook, also add the tag @ubakeithappen. For Instagram, also add the tag @bakeithappen00. If you are not on social media, no worries. You can still participate by emailing your photo of your baked creation to

For more information about the Bake It Happen campaign, visit their website at   

Full disclosure: Please know, I was not compensated in any form for this post. I am honored to share the effort and purpose of Bake It Happen with you. Please help join in the fight to end breast cancer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Kids and Scoliosis

Credit: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
For my daughter’s annual medical check-up for school, with the pediatrician, we were told that she had a curve in her spine that likely could be scoliosis. After an x-ray and trip to the orthopedist, a scoliosis diagnosis was confirmed. At first, I was not concerned, as I have had scoliosis since I was a kid and it never bothered me, and it did not involve and medication, therapy or surgery.

At the orthopedist’s office, my body temperature rose and my heart began to race as I stood behind Sarah as she stood up, touched her toes and back. There was an obvious misalignment and curve that didn’t seem as noticeable to me before. 

Being there with her alone, I tried my hardest to hold back tears, praying that the worst was not in sight. With a 22 degree curvature in her spine, Sarah needed to be watched to see if her spine would curve some more. Even more startling is that scoliosis is not just a sideways curvature of the spine but that this part of the body can also twist.

I was really surprised by all of this and asked the doctor how this is possible when Sarah had never complained of any pain, and played sports actively, and often.  The orthopedist told me that pain is not a typical symptom of scoliosis, so she likely would not complain about it, especially at her age, and so early on in her body’s growth and development.

Trying not to panic or thinking the worst, I had to keep my nerves in check so as not to freak out Sarah, as she gets upset if I am upset. 
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.”

According to Dr. William P. Bunnell, Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, California, who was quoted on the National Scoliosis Foundation website states that” Ninety-five percent of the curvatures will not require treatment.” However, this seems indicative of curves that are under 20 degrees, and Sarah currently has a 22 degree curve in her spine.

Therefore, you can imagine my fear and concerns.

The orthopedist encouraged us to follow-up in a few months after that appointment and to get Sarah another set of x-rays to review at a later date. We have an appointment later this week and praying that her curve has not changed, and that it has stayed the same, or lessened, if that’s possible. 

Why I am a bit stressed is that Sarah is only eight years old, and she has not experienced her first period. And, according to information on the National Scoliosis Foundation, “if a patient's curve is around 25 degrees, but she hasn't had her first period yet, there's a significant chance the curve will increase.”

We will know more once Sarah is seen by the doctor this week, and her X-rays are reviewed.  We will then discuss next steps.

I am taking a deep breath as I write these words. We are not taking any drastic measures right away, and we will seek additional opinions if needed.

So, for today, World Poetry Day, I leave you with a Haiku.

To stress, not helpful
Seek medical attention
Don’t make rash choices

Our children’s health
Scary when it goes awry
Breathe, act, take next steps

I would be interested to hear your experiences. Please feel free to share.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Love Is On: Let's Help Mary's Place WIN for Cancer Support

Cancer took my dad's life almost two decades ago. At the same time, my stepfather started his cancer battle that he has since won and still works to triumph.  The list goes on with how many family members and friends I know that have been coping with various types of cancer.

Cancer sucks. Plain and simple. It sucks.
Support is tremendous as I have learned for people coping with cancer. It also varies from person to person.
Explaining cancer to children who are not familiar with the disease is challenging, none to say the least. 
To help explain it, we have together done several lemonade stands for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, Sarah is growing out her hair to donate for kids with cancer, and we have been more upfront about loved ones coping with cancer.
Last summer, as part of a work outing, I was able to meet some amazing women who helped start a  unique organization called Mary’s Place by the Sea ( This non-profit organization provides a place for women, and now men, around the world with cancer a place to go to, to heal: mind, body and soul.
At first, I wasn't sure what this meant. Many people with cancer have different experiences. Then, there are people who just need someone who understands what they are going through and knowing that sometimes they need someone who is unbiased, who is not related to them, and more, who can help them either come to terms with their diagnosis or learn about how to deal with the disease and find a place for solace and peace while determining what their next steps are.
While Mary's Place by the Sea may be located in New Jersey, people from around the country, far and wide have come to stay in their "special" home where they can gain the emotional and psychological support they wish for.
With offerings like Reiki therapy, oncological massage, spa services, guided meditation, yoga and nutritional counseling, I was impressed by all the things offered to help people with cancer.
As you know by now, when I hear of something that needs attention or want to help shout from the digital rooftops, then I am going to do so.
There is so much I can say about Mary's Place and feel it may be best to learn more about it from them directly either on their website or calling them at 732-455-5344. They welcome volunteers and support.
I was excited to hear that Mary's Place has been included among a hundred health care care-charities to receive a financial prize from Revlon as part of their "LOVE IS ON Million Dollar Challenge, an online fundraising competition created to help charities, dedicated to leading women’s health issues, raise as much money as possible over the course of 6 weeks.
Revlon will be donating $1.4 million to various organizations throughout the challenge. According to their release, "The organization that raises the most donations between today, 9/21, at 12:00pm ET and 10/29 at 1:59:59pm ET, will win an additional million dollar donation for their cause. There are also prizes for second and third place.
There are so many things we can do. We can:
  • Donate to our charity of choice directly or through the Revlon page here
  • Create a personal fundraising page on CrowdRise, linking to the charity we support
  • Share support on social media and use the hashtag #RevlonMillion and link to Mary’s Place Twitter page -- @marysplaceog
The winner of the Revlon LOVE IS ON Million Dollar Challenge will be announced in November 2015.
Here is our chance to give back. Let's help Mary’s Place by the Sea, who helps so many people battling with cancer and who need support in so many ways.
To learn more and to donate click here:

Mommy's Point of View has made a donation to this great cause and encourage your support as well.

Disclosure: The communications company that I work with, Green Room Communications, does pro-bono work to support Mary’s Place by the Sea.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 and a Heavy Heart

Amazing to think that 14 years ago a significant tragedy happened on American soil that will forever impact us.

While living and working in New York City, six months before first meeting Daniel and four days after my thirtieth birthday, I thought the world was going to end.

Or, at least that's how it felt.

I know that this sounds dramatic. But, I was there that dreadful day in New York City when the Twin Towers came crashing down and my home city was up in smoke and in mayhem. I was there praying for friends, family and strangers to be safe, and helping others to grasp and move on. I was also trying to keep it together helping my mom get to my apartment on foot, worrying about my step brother getting home on foot, and calming my mom until we could see my step father who worked downtown and was in lock down most of the day.

I know, without question, that what I experienced pales in comparison to what others suffered on that dark, dreary and deadly day under the open morning sky, and that there will be suffering for many for years to come.

Today, and every day, I thank my lucky stars and kiss my husband and daughter hoping for many more tomorrows.

This past year, Sarah’s teacher called me saying that she took out of the library a book about 9/11 and asked me if it was okay and to give me a heads up.  While Sarah, Daniel and I have a relationship that is open to discussions on many things, even those that we think are tough for her but necessary…I am not ready for this conversation to explain what happened that very dark day many years ago.

I thanked her teacher for letting me know and she put the book back. When I feel the time is right to explain to my empathetic child the specifics of that day, I will. In the meantime, we keep the discussion general that bad people hurt Americans and many people are now “up in the sky because of it…and that is why we need to be good and caring of others.”

It's hard not to get choked up or get a lump in my throat remembering that time when the streets of my home city were flooded with candles, flowers and countless posters of faces staring back at me of the missing people in desperate need of being found. Sharing this with Sarah as such a young age, I know I will be in tears. As I write this now, I am welling up.

What is most important, as parents especially, is to help our children know that they are loved and know that we are truly blessed and thankful for the lives we have and can live.

What I continue to do, with this blog, is to help educate and keep the history of this tragic day alive, and for all of us to remember, and also to be thankful for the lives we do have, the family and friends who are here with us, and so much more, and remind our children that they need to be good, not to single anyone out, and to be mindful of others.
Today is a day we are reminded to live fully and thankfully. G-d bless all the families impacted by the travesty of 9/11 and know you are in my heart and wish you nothing but peace.


Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...