Thursday, April 30, 2015

Staying healthy this summer. 15 tips for having the best summer EVER!

Since last summer I got sick on my vacation in Italy-Croatia-Turkey-Greece and it was not fun, I've decided to go on a mission to be healthy all summer long. I've scoured all my sources for the best tips and I've narrowed it down to 15. The tips are appropriate for everyone, children, adults, cancer survivors... To great health and an amazing summer.

Cheers, Lizzy

15 Tips For Staying Healthy During Summer Months
by Lizzy Smith                    
April 30, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_82356258_XS.jpgWhat is one of the biggest joy-crushers during the summer? Getting sick. Instead of sending your children off to camp, enjoying your summer vacation to its fullest, or hanging at the beach, you're managing backup childcare or staying home with a box of Kleenex and soup. Sound like fun? Of course not. But with a few precautions, you can minimize your and your children's odds of catching a cold.
  1. Air out your home! After a winter of closed doors and stagnant air, let fresh air inside. Open windows and doors. Clean and dust. Wash your sheets, comforters and linens. For an added pick-me-up, add some fresh candles or essential oils to make your house smell delicious. Make sure to do the same for your children's bedrooms. Have them help you out and make it a fun experience. (I just finished up a huge cleaning of my nine-year old daughter's room and I was a little horrified at some of the things I found hiding under the bed-- like a partially eaten sandwich.)
  2. Use sunscreen at all times. Never leave home without applying sunscreen on you and your children. Don’t forget about your ears, lips, and the tops of your feet! This should actually be part of your routine-- brush teeth, mascara, sunscreen. Always carry sunscreen with you and re-apply throughout the day.
  3. Consider getting a skin cancer screening. It is painless and takes just a few minutes. Many insurance plans offer one screening per year for free. You can also try calling your local hospital to see if they are offering free skin cancer screenings. Make sure to have your children screened, too. I just learned of a 17-year old boy who had a nagging skin irritation near his scalp. His mom took him to a dermatologist and it is stage IV melanoma. You can never be to cautious.
  4. Make sure to wear a hat or head protection. Burned scalps are painful and dangerous. If you're not wearing a hat, apply sunscreen to the part in your hair to avoid a burn.
Keep reading...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Can taking too many vitamins cause cancer? A study says YES



Taking Too Many Vitamins May Cause Cancer


In an attempt to heal, stay healthy, and ward of cancer, it may seem tempting to take massive amounts of vitamins. After all, if a few vitamins are good, lots of vitamins must be great, right? If a particular vitamin is a good anti-inflammatory, or if we have low iron levels, or keep getting colds, popping a handful of vitamins seems like a logical idea.

My entire life, I thought that the healthier I was, the greater chance I had of never getting cancer. So I consistently worked out, ate healthy, and took (you guessed it) lots of vitamins. I am not intimating that that’s the reason I got myeloma. Not at all. Why we get this disease I will never know (who does?). But now that I’m on this journey, I do take lots of vitamins in addition to eating loads of organic fresh fruits and veggies, beans, nuts– all the good stuff I can — plus a fair amount of cookies and French fries. See, I’m not perfect. But are those vitamins causing me more harm than good? I’ve run my list of supplements past my doctor. He said not to take large amounts of any supplements and to stay away from curcumin (not every doctor agrees with this approach, so make sure you discuss your situation with your oncologist!). Other than that, no one has told me otherwise. So I’ve been taking some 15 vitamins per day that includes iron, calcium, vitamin-C, vitamin-D, a multi vitamin, fish oil, and more. Good idea? Perhaps not.

Dr. Tim Byers, of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, led research involving thousands of people over a ten-year period. Findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research on April 20. Dr. Byers said: “The evidence shows people who take more dietary supplements than needed tend to have a higher risk of developing cancer.” The study further determined that while taking supplements, more people developed more types of cancer.

For example, beta-carotene was found to raise the risk of lung cancer and heart disease by 20 per cent when taken at above the recommended dose.

Vitamin B9, or folic acid, was thought to help reduce colon polyps, which can lead to bowel cancer. But in a trial it actually increased the number of polyps.

For years, I’ve known that vitamins and supplements are never intended to replace a healthy diet. And many vitamins contain far more than a daily recommended allowance, which can lead to a host of problems, including cancer.

But… we myeloma patients are not a typical person. Many of us have real deficiencies and that’s where blood work and a good doctor come in (along with a good nutritionist).

If you don’t know this, here’s a fact: supplements are not regulated like pharma drugs. That means vitamin companies may not be offering top-notch products and their claims may be incredibly misleading. I suppose lesson learned here is to proceed with caution and never take more than the recommended dosage. Eat healthy. Plant-based diets are always a wise idea.

“Taken in recommended amounts, vitamins and minerals are safe,” the study concluded.

For the full article, click here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My life's greatest mission: Finding a cure for myeloma. Upcoming MCRI show to discuss promising clinical trial for high risk patients

Perhaps my life's greatest contribution to humanity (minus raising functioning children) is helping find a cure for multiple myeloma. I am ecstatic to be part of the MCRI (Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative) project. The upcoming radio show is featuring one such potential clinical trial for high risk disease. Tune in, learn more!


Our Next MCRI Show: Pioneering myeloma immunotherapy with high dose chemo to harness the power of the immune system with Dr. Ivan Borrello, Johns Hopkins, Thursday, April 30 @ 1 pm EST 

Call In by Phone to Listen Live: (347) 637-2631 or Listen Live Via Computer

There are many immunotherapy approaches now being used to target multiple myeloma. One way to use patients’ own immune system to target the myeloma cells is called adaptive T-cell therapy with MILS (marrow infiltrating lymphocytes). Dr. Ivan Borrello is a pioneer to use this therapy (already being used in breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer) in multiple myeloma. He is using the immunotherapy with high dose chemotherapy He will explain how this therapy works and how the resulting promise it shows in early study is now being expanded to a 90 high-risk myeloma patient clinical trial.   

Dr. Ivan Borello, MD is Associate Professor of Oncology, Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine for the Graduate Program, and Director of the Cellular Therapeutics Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Borrello’s team of researchers have focused on the development of tumor immunotherapy for blood cancers. This approach is breaking new ground and is a pioneering effort by his team. Dr. Borrello has received numerous awards including the american Society for Clinical Oncology Scholarship Award, the Johns Hopkins University Clinican Scientist Award, the Kimmel Scholar Award, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America Clinical Translational Scholar Award.

Learn more at or

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An interview with my 9-year old daughter: "7 things my mom does that I love"

I love interviewing my daughters, seriously. I always hear something really unexpected. Today I decided to interview my nine-year daughter about what things I do that she loves. I wrote about it on Divorced Moms. If you have children (regardless of their age) or grandchildren, ask them the same question. That'll give you a list of things you should keep doing. On another day when you are really ready for an earful, ask them what things you do that drive them nuts. I'll be asking my 15-year old that question, but not today. Today is just for happy things. Here goes...

My Mom Rocks! 7 Things I Love Best (Says My 9-year Old Daughter)
by Lizzy Smith                    
April 27, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_72225202_XS.jpgI love asking my daughters random questions and then listening to what they say. I often learn so much from them. While I know that I'm driving my teen daughter a little nutty lately, I also know I get some things right. Since today I wanted to focus only on the positive, I decided to ask my nine-year old daughter what things I do that she loves. Before she answered, I vowed that whatever she said, I'd do my best to continue doing it. On another day, I'll ask her what I do that I should try and stop. But that's for another time. Here are her answers:

1. You let me cook with you
I love to experience cooking and to learn to cook new things. It's really fun to spend time with my mom doing this together. I also love to eat what we cook with the whole family. I like to invite a lot of people over so they can eat with us. I love when we all eat together and get to talk.

2. I love when you drive carpool
When my mom drives, I don't have to walk as far because she drops us off right in front of the school. When my mom picks us up sometimes we get to go out and get ice cream. Sometimes my mom takes all the kids in the carpool to get cookies. The kids think my mom is awesome when she does that.

3. My mom takes me to my favorite restaurant
I love Tepenyaki and it is really expensive. We go every year on my birthday. It is really fun to watch the guy cooking our food and trying to throw shrimp for us to catch in our mouths. I love when my mom lets me pick going to my favorite restaurant. Tepenyaki is really funny and my sister, my mom and I laugh a lot at dinner.

4. Shopping together is really fun
I love shopping with my mom. Going out with just us girls is really fun. Sometimes my mom lets me pick out craft projects or I get to try on cute clothes. I love feeling fashionable with my mom and she can be really funny when we are picking out things. She tells me a lot that a girl can never have too many shoes.

5. I love going on trips with my mom
I love going to fun places with my mom and sister. She takes us really fun places. I love going on cruises the best because there is kids club. We also get to go places that I see in pictures and TV. When we talk about places at school I have been to a lot of them and I like to tell the teacher about it. I went to where Abraham Lincoln was shot and then where he died. I loved snorkeling in Honduras. But my favorite place was Dubrovnik, Croatia where we walked along a long city wall and took a lot of funny pictures. Like I climbed on a cannon and make crazy faces. It was really beautiful and fun and we could see the ocean from the top of the walls. The stairs were really hard and steep to climb. My mom, sister and I have a lot of fun when we go places together. My mom likes to take us places together and she is really funny when we are away from our house.

Keep reading...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Myeloma and alternative therapies. My trial of cannibidiol (CBD)

I have been battling multiple myeloma since diagnosis in January 2012. When I first started treatment, I thought about going completely alternative. That means foregoing toxic drugs and chemotherapy and going all natural. Make radical changes to my diet, take vitamins, and pick one of the anti-cancer protocols.

But then I wasn't brave enough to do that. Maybe the cure for cancer is in plants. But I just couldn't do it. I did, however, decide that I would do all I could to give my body all the fighting power it needed and then do all that chemo and transplants and chemicals.

Over the course of my myeloma journey, I have started hearing about the effectiveness of cannibidiol (CBD). In fact, my fellow myeloma survivor and advocate, Gary Petersen, wrote about it on his blog:
This Cure Panel broadcast was aired on April 15 and you can listen to the rebroadcast if you CLICK HERE.  I had been knowledgeable of the fact cannabis was proven to be able to mitigate the nausea and discomfort caused by many therapeutic chemotherapy drugs.  However, what has recently been discovered is that cannibidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, had therapeutic value in multiple myeloma treatment.  After studying the effects of cannabidiol on multiple myeloma cells, researchers found that, “CBD by itself or in synergy with Bortezomib strongly inhibited growth, arrested cell cycle progression and induced MM cells death by regulating the ERK, AKT and NF-κB pathways with major effects in TRPV2+ cells.” They conclude that, “These data provide a rationale for using CBD to increase the activity of proteasome inhibitors in MM.”  Cannabis and Cialis, if it doesn't cure your myeloma you may just go out with a big SMILE on your face.  
I am pro medical marijuana and using hemp but it's not legal here in Utah. I don't really understand how to use it or why. Or if it'll negatively interact with the drugs that I take now (namely Revlimid, Carfilzomib, and Dex). But I would be willing to try it.

About a year ago, I was chatting up with my fellow myeloma warrior, Jenny, about if I should take curcumin supplements. My doctors at Huntsman said no, it could diminish the effectiveness of chemo. Other myeloma doctors say yes. Jenny said at one point you need to study and pray and just decide what's best for you. I decided to take the supplements. So before I go further, know that I am not telling other myeloma patients that they should do what I'm doing. I can only tell you what I've decided, my experience, and then talk to your doctor, nutritionist, God or higher power, and then make your own (informed) decisions.

So what is cannibidiol? Let's here from Dose of Nature, a company that makes it:

Cannabinoids (cannabidiol/CBD) are natural constituents of the hemp plant and CBD is derived from commercial hemp stalk and seed.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently considers non-THC hemp based cannabinoids, including CBD, to be “food based” and therefore sale-able. These new non-psychoactive CBD-rich hemp oil products that ETST has geared up to market and distribute are beyond reproach. CBD (cannabidiol), a naturally occurring constituent of the industrial hemp plant, promotes and supports the nutritional health of aging bodies in particular. Source: US Government Patent #6,630,507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”
While the standard of the industry has been a CO2 extracted paste and that same paste mixed with oils, Dose of Nature has pushed the envelope forward in terms of better delivery options, bioavailability and taste. Dose of Nature launched with a three-tiered CBD (cannabidiol) product line:
RedStrap™ CBD oil blends:
What makes their product line unique is because they use the purest, most refined CBD oil available in the world. Dose of Nature’s proprietary process takes out the unnecessary waxes, resins, and constituents, rendering a cleaner natural supplement.
CBD glycerin tincture:
Dose of Nature’s Sweet CBD™ is the only glycerin CBD product available at the national level. Dose of Nature’s proprietary BioXTrax™ process extracts whole herbs and nutrients through an elaborate multi-stage process binding them into a concentrated glycerin solution which is sweet, water-soluble, and easily digested and bioavailable.
Nano-Technology: The Dose of Nature Hydrosome™ technology creates uniform, true nano-sized particles that are embedded in micro-water clusters for easy absorption at the cellular level.

About a month ago, I went for it-- I tried cannibidiol (CBD) from Dose of Nature. I loved it and plan to continue taking it. I don't have new markers drawn and I can't tell you that clinically anything has changed. But I can give you my experience and some info...

It was easy to take and I immediately noticed an increase in energy when taking it in the mornings. Since fatigue is a real side effect of many myeloma meds, especially on the days I'm crashing from Dex, this was a Godsend. Also, I struggle with chemo brain. On cannibidiol, I noticed that I had greater mental clarity and more easily remembered things. I also had less pain in my joints. Sometimes my entire torso aches and despite successful stem cell transplants, the pain never seems to go away entirely. Some days are worse than others. I also get leg cramps at night. When taking the oil, I experienced no leg cramps at all. Yay!

Am I going to continue taking it? Yes. If you're interested in more information, visit The price for the Dose of Nature Redstrap CBD is $79.99. I used it by putting it in my morning fruit smoothy of an orange, banana, frozen pineapple, chia seeds, and unsweetened organic coconut milk. Yum!

Divorced Moms: Becoming Bully-Proof During The Divorce Process. 5 Survival Tips

I know too many people going through a divorce these days. And it is amazing how many of the women out there are willing to give in to their ex just to get it over with. They are bullied, afraid, coerced, manipulated into agreeing to things that are to their own detriment. Why is that? Because they aren't strong. Now is NOT the time to be weak. Now is the time to find your inner WARRIOR and fight for YOU. I was nearly that woman, ready to give in to my ex. He felt my weakness. I was, after all, sick and fighting cancer. The horrific things he said were unbelievable. I nearly gave him everything just to make it stop. Until I didn't. Refusing to be bullied was an amazing moment. When I took my sanity back. If you're in the divorce process, or even considering a divorce, NOW is the time to get STRONG. Research. Know your rights. Stay calm.

Enjoy the article.

Becoming Bully-Proof During The Divorce Process. 5 Survival Tips
by Lizzy Smith                    
April 24, 2015
Share on Tumblr
I have two friends who are at opposite ends of the divorce spectrum.

"Kristen" and "Chad" have been married for 28 years and have four children together. Kristen is a stay at home mom and hasn't worked a day in her life. While Kristen acknowledges that her marriage had gotten boring for the past many years, there was never a hint of real trouble or unhappiness. Chad never once mentioned a separation or divorce until he came home one day and told her he just bought a home, he was moving out, and their marriage was over. Kristen was completely blindsided. Three weeks later, Chad moved out, handed her a divorce settlement, and said that she had 24-hours to agree to it and if she didn't, she would get a lot less with attorneys involved.

I begged her to not sign, get an aggressive attorney, and let the process play itself out. Kristen didn't want to fight. Maybe he'll reconsider. Even if he doesn't, he has her and their children's best interests at heart and would never try to screw them over. She wants to just sign the papers. She feels broken, afraid, and already tired.

"Shari" and "Ronald" have been married for ten years and Shari has wanted out of the marriage for several years. She has mentioned divorce to Ronald but somehow, they are both still hanging on, hoping that they will be able to fix the relationship. Always the planner, Shari is taking nothing for granted, however. She has already interviewed several attorneys "just in case." She knows what steps she must take if separation becomes a necessity. She wants to stay living in their home while the divorce moves forward and if Ronald refuses to move out, she knows exactly what steps she must take to request a move from a judge. If that fails, Shari has already scoped out rentals. She has made a budget to ensure she can afford life without Ronald, and she is as mentally and emotionally prepared as she can be.

...And then there's me. Like Shari, I wanted a divorce from my husband from just months into our marriage. When I finally discovered that his bizarrely explosive and unpredictable behavior stemmed to alcoholism (I was totally unaware of his addiction while we were dating, call me stupid), I knew that our marriage was on borrowed time. Over the course of our marriage, I interviewed attorneys, maintained a good job, and knew exactly where I was moving when I finally pulled the plug. When I finally left my husband, it was chaos and something I could not have predicted. I was diagnosed with cancer and just days later, packed things into trash bags and moved two states away and into my parents' basement. I then hired an attorney and started fighting the husband and cancer at the same time.

While divorce and splits are never pretty or perfect, being mentally and emotionally prepared is essential. In my case, I ended up hiring my husband's ex-wife's attorney. I had interviewed her before and I liked her. I knew from first-hand experience that she was aggressive and knew her stuff. When my husband battled his ex-wife, she won every single time and Rob (my husband) was terrified of her. When Rob tried to bully me during the divorce and get me to sign and agree to things that were to my detriment, I cut off all contact with him. It took almost two years to finalize our divorce and I was prepared for the long battle.

Divorce can take a long time. Know that. Take a deep breath. Go to yoga if you must. Be calm. And then let the process play itself out. If your ex is trying to speed it up, or never stops screaming at you, or is promising that the two of you might get back together if you'll just be reasonable and sign your rights away, STOP. Do NOT listen to him.

Whether you are in the divorce process, are considering it, or perhaps are just feeling in your gut that things aren't ok in your marriage, getting prepared is in your best interest. Here are 5 ways you can do just that:

1. Interview attorneys

Keep reading...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Who did a BOUDOIR photo shoot? That would be ME! Sharing the tale is BRAVE, if you ask me

This was one very fun experience! Writing about it? Fun. Brave. Very raw. Here goes! My latest via Divorced Moms. Yes, even cancer survivors can feel (and be) sexy.

Finding Sexy At 47. My Boudoir Photography Shoot
by Lizzy Smith                     
April 21, 2015
Share on Tumblr
wardrobe.jpgLife has physically beaten my body up and it shows. New wrinkles, sagging skin, bags around my eyes.

First: I am 47 years old. It is really strange, I have to say, to sometimes look in the mirror and I hardly recognize myself. My eyes look different. More hollow. Bags. Wrinkles in my forehead. Lips nearly disappearing. I look at my legs. Sagging skin that seem to fall off bones. It's that natural aging process.
I used to fear getting old, though since getting cancer, I embrace it. Please, God, let me grow old, really old. But it's still hard looking in the mirror and seeing change.

Second: For the past three years and four months, I've been battling cancer (multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, the same disease that Tom Brokaw has). Since diagnosis, I have had two stem cell transplants, massive amounts of toxic drugs including chemo, lost all my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, and have had non-stop maintenance therapy of more toxic drugs. One of the medications I take, Dexamethasone (a steroid) can be blamed for muscle loss, fat tissue in my face, weight gain, and loads of insomnia. On the days I take it (typically on Mondays), it turns my normal sweet disposition (haha) into an amped up monster. My children know to be very careful around Mom during Dex days.

Third: I suffered a horrific marriage to a (highly functioning) alcoholic who was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive. Upon cancer diagnosis, I finally left him. But the abuse was about to begin in earnest once that happened. He started off with threatening me that if I didn't return home, he would cancel my health insurance. When that failed to work, he tried to bully and coerce me into signing a divorce decree that was in his best interest and to my detriment. While telling everyone, including the courts, that I was faking cancer to get sympathy and that I was lazy and needed to get my ass back to work, he also thought that I was weak and it was a perfect time to (figuratively) kick me in the head. He thought wrong. His threats helped me to get into fighting mode. I was going to kick him and cancer in the ass at the same time. I did, it worked.

But all of these stressors have made me feel most unsexy and desirable. While these days I'm healing, in love again, engaged, and actively involved in causes I love (namely the cancer and divorce communities) and I live my life to the fullest- traveling and experiencing life, I don't feel, well, sexy. And I want to. Certainly in my aging, health-failing body, there is something to celebrate and embrace in this very un-perfect body.

I did get Botox. It helped. I love it and I have no regrets. I'm open about it, too. I get those icky shots in my forehead. It helps my eyes look less hollow. I got lip fillers because those tiny, thin old lady lips were just not working for me. It's very subtle and I love it. Maybe I'll even get fillers somewhere in my face some day. But I don't want to look overly-done. So one thing at a time.

I did re-do my wardrobe almost entirely since my cancer diagnosis. Pitched pretty much all the old. I dress with more color, more whimsical and a little bohemian at times. Something radically different that when I was married and I tended to dress more conservative, more Ann Taylor. These days I wear a bright apple green Kate Spade handbag. With warmer temps, I'm back in bling-y sandals. My hair color went from brunette to blonde. My favorite stores are Free People and Anthroplogie.
But to really celebrate sexy, I needed to pick it up a HUGE notch.

Just before diagnosis, I was at work and my colleague confessed that she was doing a boudoir photography shoot. "I've always wanted to do it," she said. "I'm going to have a few glasses of wine and get semi-nude." It sounded so bold, brave and fun. I vowed then that someday I would do it, too. That time was now.

I found Victoria Lynn Photography ( or 801-688-1263) in Salt Lake City, Utah and gave her a call. She sounded so warm, fun and easy to work with. She told me she had loads of costumes, shoes, and jewelry if I didn't have my own. She could even do my hair and makeup. I opted for the makeup but brought my own clothes (a taffeta skirt from White House Black Market) and gold sparkly shoes that I am obsessed with. I did borrow a hat and necklace, though.

Keep reading...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Next MCRI Radio Show is TOMORROW! Join me in learning more about how we can cure myeloma


Our Next MCRI Show: Uncovering Clues and Cures for High-Risk Myeloma using Flow Cytometry Testing with Dr. Bruno Paiva, PhD, University of Navarra, Monday, April 20 @ 11 am CST     

Monday, April 20, 9:00 am PST, 10:00 am MST, 11:00 am CST, Noon EST

Call In by Phone to Listen Live: (347) 637-2631 or Listen Live Via Computer

Today, the myeloma community waits 2-3 years to determine if new drugs will work for high-risk myeloma patients through a lengthy trial and error process. Dr. Paiva’s goal is to use more sensitive flow cytometry tests to cut that time short and identify working therapies more rapidly. Using the older flow cytometry tests, the percentage of patients who achieve a deep minimal residual disease (MRD) response is the same for standard or high-risk patients. Additionally, the percentage of chemoresistant MRD cells is similar in both groups. With a background in the evolution of myeloma, his research aims to ask the question if using next-generation, more sensitive flow cytometry tests could identify how patients will respond to new drugs and how new treatments would impact patients with high-risk features. The new flow cytometry tests are now looking at the actual biology of the residual cells, providing clues into the discovery of cures, especially for high-risk patients. The new method is relatively fast, highly sensitive and can detect ultra low levels of MRD. 

Dr. Paiva, PhD is Scientific Coordinator of the Flow Cytometry Department and CIMA Lab Diagnostics group at the University of Navarra in Spain. He teaches courses regularly on cellular biology, techniques of quantification and analysis, new treatments in hematological cancers, inflammation as it relates to the blood and minimal residual disease. His work and that of the Spanish group has performed extensive research appreciated by the world of myeloma practitioners on the flow cytometry test as it relates to minimal residual disease. Dr. Paiva specializes in understanding the heterogeneity (or biological complexity) of MGUS, smoldering myeloma, active multiple myeloma and how it evolves. He is involved in both the detection and classification of myeloma and has written numerous papers on the topic, writing or speaking on the subject over 140 times. Dr. Paiva has also been Principal Investigator on clinical trials utilizing immunotherapies including the SAR650984 anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. He participates as ad-hoc reviewer for Blood Cancer Journal, Blood, Pathobiology, Leukemia and several other publications. He received a premier ASH Abstract award in 2014, 2013, 2012 and Young Investigator Award by the IMF to name just a few.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Review: Divorce Demystified. Essential reading for ANYONE considering divorce

Best book EVER for someone thinking about divorcing, or currently going through a divorce. My pleasure to read and review it. Here it is:

Divorce Demystified: Essential Reading For ANYONE Divorcing!
by Lizzy Smith                    
April 17, 2015
Share on Tumblr
divorce demystified.png
If your gut is telling you that your marriage is on borrowed time, you are right. Don't ignore it! If you are even thinking that divorce might be in your future-- whether it's you who wants to pull the plug or you suspect your husband might be the one -- now is the time to prepare yourself. Knowledge is power and the last thing you want to do is be blindsided by a hasty decision.

If you haven't yet split, you have the luxury of reading, learning and preparing yourself. Don't squander this opportunity. Too many times, a split, though one may be considering it for a long time, is hasty and messy. One may leave with almost nothing, including important financial documents. Then getting that info through discovery can be expensive and difficult. Oftentimes leaving the children behind during a move has had negative impact on custody issues. One spouse may cancel health insurance on another, or prevent the spouse moving from getting anything, including their clothes. In my case, my husband threatened to cancel my health insurance if I didn't get my ass home where I belonged. Thank goodness I didn't take that threat lying down-- I immediately filed a legal separation, which prevented him from carrying through with his threats. If I didn't know my rights, I could have been in dire condition. Don't let your failure to prepare be your downfall!

If you have split and are in the divorce process, as long as you haven't signed that final divorce document, it's not too late! Research and learn before making any final decisions. It is in your best interest, trust me!

But where to begin? I recently stumbled onto a book that should be REQUIRED reading for anyone even thinking about divorce. If you're already in the midst of your divorce, it might even be more essential. The book is Divorce Demystified by Henry S. Gornbein, ESQ ( and also available on Amazon.

Here are a few key learnings:

You must do your homework!
Prepare, study, and research. That means research your home-- like who is on the title (how many women have I talked to that are unaware that their name isn't on the title?). If you want to move out, where will you go? If you want to stay and force your husband to move out, how will you do that? Understand your finances. Get copies of bank statements and retirement accounts. If you own a business together, get copies of everything. If you have time on your side, interview several attorneys before selecting one that you feel can best represent you.

Get psychologically strong
Join a support group. There are terrific groups online. Read self help books. Enlist the support of a great therapist. Talk to your ecclesiastical leader. Tell your friends that you trust about your plans. Get sleep. Eat well. Exercise.

Build your support system, including hiring a great attorney
Hire a great attorney. Before selecting one, read reviews of your attorney, interview several, have a check-list of what's important to you and make sure your attorney fills those requirements. I ended up hiring my husband's ex-wife's attorney. She already had a great background on the kind of man my husband was and it helped. She was terrific and knew my case really well. When I finally fled my home, I already knew who I would hire and that saved me critical time and an absolute disaster of finding myself with cancer and a husband who cancelled my health insurance. Thank goodness I acted quickly and decisively. His threats became irrelevant because I knew beforehand what I needed to do.

In the book, Divorce Demystified, Henry Gornbein covers the following essential topics, each in one simple, easy-to-understand chapter:

Keep reading...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative radio show: Thurs, Apr 16, 9:30 AM CST - Del 17p and finding a cure

I am so excited to be part of the Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative. The Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative (MCRI) is a new approach to funding cancer research; combining the skill and knowledge of leading myeloma specialists with the patient perspective and supportive patient social communities to select and fund promising research projects in myeloma. The goal of the MCRI is to find and fund a cure for multiple myeloma. And to that end, I am helping to spread the word about this important radio show to learn more about a potential way to treat (cure?) myeloma for those with the 17p deletion. If you're part of my myeloma followers and readers, I hope you tune in, learn more about how we can cure myeloma, and how you can help.


MCRI High-Risk Myeloma Series: Fighting the Devil Del17p, Dr. Orlowski, MD, PhD, MD Anderson, Thursday, April 16 @ 9:30 am CST

 Thursday, April 16, 7:30 am PST, 8:30 am MST, 9:30 am CST,10:30 am EST

Call In by Phone to Listen Live: (347) 637-2631 or Listen Live Via Computer

Deletion 17p is the most aggressive high-risk feature in myeloma. Why? New research shows that it may be because del17p is influenced by the induction of genes that would normally be repressed by p53 (a gene that regulates tumor suppression). And that del17p may also become “addicted” to these genes. Discovering these specific genes and the survivin protein may help uncover a completely new way to help del17p myeloma patients respond to myeloma treatment.

Join us for our third interview on Myeloma Crowd Radio highlighting the new Myeloma Crowd Research Initiative on high-risk myeloma. For the first time, patients and doctors are joining together to find and fund research for a patient group that is desperate for new options. 

Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD, is Director of Myeloma, and Professor of Medicine in the Departments of Lymphoma/Myeloma and Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. Dr. Orlowski earned his doctoral degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University and his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Dr. Orlowski leads the SWOG committee and has published numerous book chapters, articles, and abstracts on cancer therapy, with a focus on the molecular pathogenesis of oncologic disease processes and the mechanisms of action of chemotherapeutics.

On snowy Spring days and painful breakups. Best way to mend a broken heart? 11 tips!

It is April 15, Tax Day, and it is SNOWING here along Utah's beautiful Wasatch front. I don't mean just a little snow, but A LOT of snow! We have had the mildest winter. It's felt like Spring for months. But today is more winter than we've had since pretty much Christmas day. I love it! A few days we were melting in heat and humidity in Honduras, and today we are back in Uggs and parkas. This will only last a day or two, and then it's back to Springtime weather.

And while it's cold and snowy outside, my heart breaks alongside a good friend of mine who is suffering a broken (shattered?) heart. Breakups SUCK. Last night, I wrote about it in my latest Divorced Moms column. Here it is.

11 Steps For Healing A Broken Heart. It's One Day At A Time!
by Lizzy Smith                    
April 14, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_62674579_XS.jpgI just got home from a coffee meet-up with my good friend "Sherry." She just broke up with her boyfriend last night and she is really struggling. One look at her, and I knew she isn't sleeping. I know all too well that deep pain. When I broke up with "Tom" (the one who got away), I would cry my way to work, manage to hold it together if I was around other people, step back into my office and tear up again. I was a mess, unable to sleep or eat or concentrate on anything. Even spending time with my daughter was a blur- she'd speak to me and I know I had that blank look in my eyes that meant I had no idea what she was talking about.

"My biggest fear," she said, "is that I let him go and I'm just alone."

"But that's not the worse thing ever," I corrected her quickly.

Trust me, I get it. When I fled from my now ex-husband, I was on a MISSION to find a new boyfriend, preferably a husband, before I was too sick and old to find anyone. I felt I was on borrowed time, what with being diagnosed with cancer and all. It took me a good solid year before I realized that I was perfectly ok with being single. I was surrounded by love-- my children, family, friends... This was far preferable than being married to the wrong guy.

"Think about it," I said. "If you never marry again, you have your children, some day you'll have grandchildren and friends and a community of people you love doing things with. That doesn't sound nearly as awful as being married to this guy who isn't accepting your children and has you walking on eggshells. You will be fine. You will not be alone or lonely." As I spoke, I envisioned the cute little old lady group I saw on our recent cruise. They were single, either widowed, divorced or never married, and having a great time dancing, exploring and socializing together. They looked far happier than many of the couples I saw on that ship.

So here was my advice on how to get through the tough days and weeks ahead.

1. "If you're going through hell, keep going" - Winston Churchill
I love this quote. If you are in a bad relationship, don't just sit there. Because if you do, it'll never end. Your hell will remain endless. But if you keep walking, keep going, keep moving, it will eventually end. Memorize this quote. Write it on your bathroom mirror if you must. It will give you strength.

2. Sleep
If the only way you can find peaceful slumber- something your body needs!- is with medicated help, get it. I'm not advocating a drug overdose, but a Tylenol PM or a glass of wine may be in order. It's ok (if you ask me).

3. Eat Right
Now is a fabulous time to renew your commitment to yourself. Eat healthy foods. It'll help keep you emotionally sane and strong. Limit sugar and processed foods. Loads of nuts, beans, fruits and veggies-- you know the drill.

4. Exercise
Power walks. Join a gym. Discover a new hiking trail. Join a swim team or softball team. Take up yoga. Your body needs exercise to be healthy and strong. So does your spirit. Plus, since you'll be re-entering the dating scene at some point in the future, it's time to start feeling more confident. Exercise is a fabulous way to do that.

5. Read
My favorite book ever when I suffered a painful breakup was "He's Just Not That Into You." It was true, funny, and kept me strong from going back to my ex boyfriend when there really was no point.

6. Make A List Of The Relationship's Bad Points
It's hard to remember why the two of you broke up sometimes. We tend to remember only the good, with the bad a fading memory. This is not good! Make a list of all the bad things about him and your relationship. Be brutally honest! When you feel tempted to try and reconcile, re-read that list a million times if that's what it takes. You deserve better and sticking in a bad relationship will never give you the freedom to find that "better," even if that means being a happy single person.

Keep reading...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cruising: A great option for families, single moms, or pretty much anyone. But there are "catches." The pros and cons

Looking for a great trip option if you have children? Cruising is not a bad choice. My latest via Divorced Moms...

Got kids? Cruising Is A Fab Vacation Option: The Pros & Cons
by Lizzy Smith                    
April 11, 2015
Share on Tumblr
As I write this article, I am sitting on a cruise ship spending a ridiculous amount of money to use the Internet. It's my daughters' spring break and it was time to head for warmer temps and fewer responsibilities. We boarded the Princess Emerald after flying to Houston the day prior. Our first three days were at sea, followed by a day each in Roatan (Honduras), Belize City, and Cozumel (Mexico) respectively, followed by our last day at sea. We disembark tomorrow.

Going on a cruise is a great travel option, especially if you have children. But it's not for everyone. Here's the low-down:

PRO: It's affordable
Generally, you can find some incredible deals for cruising. The most expensive part is often flying to the departure port. I've seen prices go lower than $500 per person for a seven-day cruise, which, once you're on board, includes all your meals and most activities. Granted, those are usually for interior cabins (you have no windows), and that means you generally have no idea what time of day or night it is if you don't have a watch on. Once you're on the ship, you can keep it as cheap or pricey as you want, it all depends on you.

CON: It can be really expensive
Once you're on the ship, be very careful. Your costs can add up fast. Food and basic beverages are included, which means coffee, iced tea, water, and sometimes lemonade. If you want soda, beer, wine, spirits or coffee upgrades, it all costs more. On this trip, I purchased one soda card at $5 per day and one day, it's my older daughter's to use, and the next day, it's my younger daughter's. I also purchased a coffee card, which means that for an additional $35 I get 10 coffee beverages. You can also purchase alcohol cards, upgrade restaurants for better cuisine, go on tours, hit up the spa, take in shows or listen to live music, go dancing, and shop. Be extremely careful to turn off your phone while on the ship, or at least put it on airplane mode. Because if you don't, you're paying outrageous shipboard prices. Last year, we spent a week on a ship in the Mediterranean and I used my phone liberally to Facebook, text, make phone calls, and even blog. When I got home, my phone bill exceeded $1,200 for that week! I complained but all my phone company did was give me a $50 credit towards my next bill for my troubles. Never again!

PRO: Visiting lots of cool new places is easy
Ready for a sample of ports? Cruising is definitely for you! But if you love a port and want to spend a bit more time there, too bad, when it's time to get back on the ship, YOU ARE DONE. It makes it a bit of a cattle call. Everyone rapidly descends off the ship and then everyone gets back on. On this trip, we were absolutely not ready to leave Cozumel but too bad/so sad. Nonetheless, it gives you a great opportunity to quickly see places and you may just want to return to one of your favorites. It's how I discovered Split, Croatia. I never heard of Split before and now it's one of my favorite places on the planet. Thanks Norwegian Cruise Lines!

CON: If you love a destination, don't visit it on a cruise
If there's a port you really love, you will not enjoy the cruising visit very much. Generally, you never have enough time in any port. To see the best stuff, you often must buy a tour. And on tours, you can't veer (much) from what, when and how they are showing it to you. Cruise visits are highly structured so if you like exploring some place and doing it at your own pace, avoid cruising. When we visited Peter the Great's summer palace outside of St Petersburg, Russia and it was time to go, I wanted to cry. Oh well, get back on that bus!

PRO: There is a ton of stuff to keep kids busy
Every cruise I've ever been on has a Kids Club and Teen Club. That means you can drop your kids off for supervised activities mostly all day long and well into the evening. None of that costs extra (though expect to tip generously). That means you have plenty of adult time to nap, hit the casino or spa, or simply do anything you want.

Keep reading...

2015 Spring Break In The Tropics!

We are back from Spring Break and we had an awesome, amazing time. It was the first time we took all four children on a trip together. To be honest, I was really apprehensive. It's not easy integrating a 17, 16, and 15 year old. My 9-year old, I wasn't worried about. But three teens (two of who are very close sisters) is a really tough number, regardless of the circumstances. Well it turned out fantastic. The three teens got along really well and I came home truly loving these girls-- all three of them. We flew from Salt Lake City to Houston, spent the night in a hotel, then went to Galveston and got on the Princess Emerald. We had two cabins for the six of us. We had three days at sea, which we spend mostly poolside, resting and relaxing. It's been a very long time since I had a trip like that-- most of mine are go, Go, GO!!! Our first stop was Roatan (Honduras). It was hot and humid and stunningly GORGEOUS. Oh my gosh I forgot what it was like to be on a tropical island. As I thought about it, it was four years ago when my ex-husband and I were in Costa Rica and a year prior for the girls when we went to Maui. It was exhilarating diving into the water and snorkeling. I swear to you, I want to go back for a week to this piece of heaven. Cruising isn't for everyone and there is never enough time in ports but it does provide a snapshot, a sample, of places worth going back to.

Our next stop was Belize City. I had been to this country some 15 years prior, for a week, on Ambergrise Caye and it remains one of my favorite trips and places ever. I was ecstatic to come back. This trip was on the mainland and we went cave tubing and zip lining. Oh my gosh-- the countryside was fascinating, beautiful, and peaceful. Nirvana. I have never cave tubed before and it was a very unique experience floating among stalagmites and stalag-tites (no double misspelled- forgive me, I'm in a rush). And this was a real zip-lining, extreme experience. My second zip, my daughters' first (though they did a lame zip-lining thing a few years ago here in Utah). Afterwards, we indulged in organic, locally grown chicken, fresh nachos, and tomatoes, onions and mangos. I love yummy high quality local food!

Our final stop was Cozumel, Mexico, which we saw zero of. We got on a ferry, then a bus, and went to Chichen Itza. I had been here before. It was my college graduation present to myself. I talked my roomie, Becky, into going with me, then met up with my parents and brothers, and spent a week in Cancun, with this being a one-day tour. I loved it and William and I decided that our children had to see something educational on this trip. This is one of the Seven Wonders of The World. It turned out to be a really long trip-- 9.5 hours with just 35 minutes at the site. Not happy about that, but we did get some fabulous photos and it will be something that none of the girls will forget. Worth it? I suppose...

And now we are home, kids back in school, and it's a race to the finish line for summer-- just six more weeks. And with our BIG TRIPS behind us (ok, one more mini trip to Palm Springs for a couple days but that almost doesn't count!), it's time to start planning our October wedding and shopping for a wedding dress. For sure we are getting married outdoors among spectacular fall foliage. And the wedding must be fun. What that all means, we shall see.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

10 Things We Cancer Survivors Want You To Know (from The Myeloma Crowd)

My latest on

happy couple

10 Things We Cancer Survivors Want Everyone To Know       

Life after a cancer diagnosis is never the same. However, it can be better, harder, more meaningful, stressful and, well, different. But if you’re sitting on the other side of the fence, meaning that you are a caregiver, husband, wife, child or friend, there are some things that you need to know.

1. We are not our former selves
Each cancer survivor will find their “new normal” at some point. That means that once we’ve grappled with our diagnosis, have a better understanding of our treatment, and have settled into the drugs and therapies that we must, we then begin crafting our new lives. Emotionally, we are different. We are more fragile. Life takes on a different meaning. We have new priorities, loads of medical appointments, and medications that come with side effects. Many of us go back to our former jobs; others stay out on permanent disability. Our food tastes may differ, we often require more sleep, and our energy level is rarely ever the same again. If you feel like a different person has emerged after cancer, you’re right. Most of the time, we are better for it, oftentimes, however, we go through stages of fear, depression, relief, gratefulness and anger.

2. Sometimes we feel sick, cranky, tired, afraid, or fatigued
We may have once had loads of energy and now we don’t. Oftentimes we catch every bug out there. And sometimes, our medications leave us with amped up and easy to annoy. Some of us may experience crying fits and depression. Fear is common. And almost universally, we simply get tired more often. If we don’t feel like going to the amusement park or the zoo, unpacking boxes from a move, and laundry stays in the dryer too long, it’s because we are not functioning at our former capacity.

3. We have real side effects
Many cancer survivors hate telling others all our woes. We get tired of complaining, too, but we probably should indulge in pity parties more often. All those medications we take have real side effects– fatigue, neuropathy, pain, breathlessness– and that’s just for starters. We power forward, typically, so sometimes others might forget we’re sick. Often we look really healthy. But few of us really feel like a normal healthy person.

4. We need others to cut us some slack
If we seem tired, cranky, lazy or forgetful, be kind and patient. We need help more than we need criticism. That said, if we seem to be wallowing in grief or depression, maybe you should ask us to get professional help. If we refuse, try even harder. Talk to us. If we need to sleep, let us. If we are too sedentary, encourage us to get up and move, and to get out of the house. Reminders are good. You see things from a different perspective than we do.

5. We need understanding
If we sometimes don’t apologize for our behavior or live up to your expectations, be understanding. We know being the loved one of someone who is ill isn’t easy. We try to be understanding of those around us. We often fail.

6. We need (or ought to) eat differently
Cancer survivors need to eat healthy foods that will give us the best ability possible to fight our disease. Depending on where we are with treatment, we may have severe dietary restrictions. Support us in our quest to make the best food choices possible. Eat healthy with us. Pick good restaurants. Cook healthy foods.

7. We can sometimes be really forgetful
Chemo brain is real. If we forget what we said the day prior, and we can’t remember anyone’s names, or even show up for appointments on the wrong day, be understanding. Help us laugh it off. There’s not a whole lot we can do about it anyway.

8. We love help , event if we don’t like asking for it
If you want to help, consider taking our children for the day, or bring a healthy dinner, or helping to clean our house or mow the lawn. Many cancer survivors have a hard time asking for help but we need it.

9. When we are spending too many days indoors, get us out. Help us live
Sometimes it’s easy to become isolated and sedentary, finding refuge in our homes. If this sounds like someone you know, do your best to get them out, do something fun, and find joy and meaning.

10. If you think we need professional help, call us out on it. Get us help
If you find anything alarming, please talk to us about it. It’s ok to call our doctors, too.

For the original article, click here.

Your "New Normal." Life post divorce will never be the same again. It can be better

It's a really late night for me. I started off the day writing a few articles for The Myeloma Crowd, ran a few errands, then spend four hours doing a Boudoir Photo Shoot. For real! It was so fun and so far out of my comfort zone and it rocked. More details about that when I get photos. They are actually ready, I think, but I can't retrieve them until I get back from Spring Break. You see, I've been packing and writing and getting organized because in a few hours, the girls and I, and William and two of his daughters, are heading on a cruise. More details on that when we get on that cruise. Anyway, after my photo shoot, we went to dinner and Good Friday church services. Afterwards, hypochondriac myeloma warrior that I am, I went to urgent care because I suspected kidney issues. I'm ok, but I did pick up antibiotics. I flipping HATE CANCER. Because there is no rest once you've had a diagnosis like that. You are always worried about your health and it is EXHAUSTING.

Anyway, here is my latest on Divorced Moms. I'll be sharing news from the cruise. Happy Easter. May the spirit of God's love be with you.

Cheers, Lizzy

The New Normal: Life Post Split Is Never The Same
by Lizzy Smith                     
April 04, 2015
Share on Tumblr
Fotolia_69360839_XS.jpgWe went to a beautiful and powerful Good Friday service tonight. And on our chairs was a card about death and beginnings. We were invited to fill it out and as I did, I realized how appropriate the same message was about divorce. After I completed it, my card read (and I am slightly editing it to suit our "divorce" purpose):

Death Certificate
I, Lizzy Smith, died on January 2, 2012, the day I had my husband removed from the home by police, leaving behind a hurt, angry, sick and confused woman. In that process, I gained a new life, freedom, peace and love.
Signed: Me

If you're considering a split, or are recently separated or divorced, here are a few things you should know:
  1. Life will never be the same again
  2. You will never look at love, commitment, marriage and family the same way again either. You will realize that dreams die and nothing is forever
  3. It will hurt really bad
  4. There will be days that you will want to lie down in the fetal position and never move again
  5. You will want to stick pins in a voodoo doll that looks just like your ex
  6. Sometimes, you'll want to stick pins in a different voodoo doll that looks just like your attorney
  7. You will look at your children's pain and it will be horrific. The guilt and sadness will be overpowering and there is not a whole lot you can do to erase it
  8. You will get very cranky
  9. Physically, you might change a lot. Some women go wild with a new hair color and radically different wardrobe. Some won't be able to eat and will drop loads of weight; others will work their way through eating everything in the refrigerator. There are usually new bags around the eyes and a "blank look" when someone is talking to and you can't comprehend a thing
  10. Financially, it will be painful. You will look at your attorney's new car and realize that you paid for it
And when you're in the midst of such turmoil, you should...
  1. Be really nice and forgiving of yourself. There is nothing more traumatic than divorce, save death
  2. Feel free to tell others that you are going through a really tough time and you're not functioning at full capacity
  3. Tell others when you need help. Be specific because no one is a mind reader
  4. Explain to your employer what is going on at home. She should know that you might not be capable of taking on a Big Huge New Project
  5. You owe no one explanations about why your marriage broke up. That said, feel free to share with anyone you wish (just be careful you don't share intimate details at, say, work, so be careful)
  6. You should seek help, whether it be from a therapist, support group, ecclesiastical leader, or a pile of self help books
  7. Perhaps ask a doctor for anti-depressants if things get really bad
  8. Take this opportunity to really try to eat healthy, get lots of exercise, and shower and put yourself together almost every day. Pity parties are allowed. Cry fests are normal. And spending a day (or three) in pajamas eating ice cream and watching sappy movies is to be expected. But it really helps emotionally to look and feel decent and to get out of the house. It is a crucial part of your healing process
That age-old saying that "time heals all wounds" is true. There will come a day when you will wake up and realize that you are ok, that you have survived, and you are ready to move forward. And from the ashes of divorce, it is possible to craft a better life for yourself and your children. And that is when your "new normal" will emerge-- a different life, a different you.

Keep reading...