Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer Entry #6

I have to admit, I’m really embarrassed to confess this one. But it’s really important because it’s one of those things that although the cancer diagnosis has brought it to my attention….I’m going to have to work REALLY hard to remind myself of the lesson, once this is all behind me.

6. I’ve always been focused on my looks – not my health.

In my adult life, I have been overly concerned about my weight. I got it honest. My mom’s been on a diet ever since I met her. So the minute I started putting on some extra pounds, sitting around in corporate America, I jumped into the extensive list of weight loss remedies. And over the years, I’ve probably done them all. I tried to put together a list of the diets I’ve been on and I’m just hoping I didn’t miss anything. Here we go:

Quick Weight Loss

Weight Watchers

The Lemonade Diet (back when Beyoncé was in high school)

3-Day Beets Diet




The Cabbage Soup Diet

The 3-Day Diet

Apple Cider Vinegar Diet (now that’s desperate)




The Daniel Fast

And don’t get me started on the exercise list:





Tae Bo

A Marathon (yes 1)

Spin Classes

A personal trainer

Private Workout Circuit training (like Curves but not)

24 Hour Fitness Gym Membership


Many of these are not inherently bad for you. Some of these are really great for you and wonderful for your health. But I’m admitting I never did any of them FOR my health. I did all of them for my dress size. So many times, I was trying to lose weight for the next girls trip or a reunion or a big event. Never did I stop and say – your weight is unhealthy and could lead to significant health issues. Nor did I think about the damage yo-yo dieting and my fluctuating weight could do. I didn’t think about how eating healthier could make me healthier. I only cared if it would make me skinny.

All of this from a woman who most people would never have considered overweight. I have thought, now, that some of that ridiculous dieting could have had some influence on my current situation. Not that any one of them caused the cancer, but any one of them could have impacted my body environment that was already prone to cancer. I also realize that changing my eating habits for life versus until I was the right size definitely could have had a positive impact on my situation and ultimately my health.

And even though I now recognize how ridiculous it was that I was so focused on wanting that magic pill to make me the size I wanted to be. I found myself jealous when I saw a girlfriend the other day who looks great and when I asked her what had she been doing her response was starving herself.

I was jealous, because what so many people don’t know is that most women on breast cancer treatments gain weight. The steroids and other drugs cause you to retain water, reduce your metabolism and increase your appetite. On top of that, you’re fatigued and probably don’t feel like working out and if your stomach is queasy, all you really want to eat is a loaf of bread…every day! So the treatment to save my life has put on some significant pounds.

I shouldn’t care about that, but this confession is real. I’ve been more concerned about my looks than my health and I’m still struggling with that now. I know I need to change the way I eat now – not to be thin but to promote an environment where cancer cannot thrive and return. Things like starving myself and eating beets for 3 days straight might help me lose weight but they won’t help me live longer.

I have to completely change my mindset about what food means to me. For me, this is life or death. This is no longer a choice or something I can wait around and take care of when that big trip is just 6 weeks away. I have to do it now and I have to do it forever. That sounds scary and hard, but so did chemotherapy and I did that. So did radiation and I’m doing that. I thank God neither one of them were forever, and what I know is that I never want to do them again.

So I’ll change my mind about food, health, exercise, stress. Because I can. Because I’m still here. But I’m not going to act like it won’t be hard. So I’ve confessed it now. Keep me honest.


Time to make the donuts!

I think most of us remember that Dunkin’ Donuts commercial where that poor guy would get up in the dark hours of the morning to make the donuts and grumble almost incoherently, Time to make the donuts. But how many of us remember watching that and panicking that one day that might be us. Surprise!  You’re the new star of that very commercial. It’s called Life!

I don’t know that I have some great advice to give you about this. But I will tell you, I’m right there with you. And frankly, I think most people are. Life has a rhythm to it that basically gets a little redundant after a while. What’s interesting is that our lives have a ton of ups and downs, unexpected events and challenges, yet we still find ourselves being bored.

And like I said, I think this is pretty universal. I believe it has nothing to do with being over stretched as a single mom, or overworked as a leaning in professional or overly lonely as a single. Married women will tell you the same thing. Stay at home moms – yep! they feel this way too.

So, what I would tell you is don’t start wallowing in this feeling. When you start feeling it, recognize it for what it is. Understand it’s natural and normal. Try to do something to shake up your schedule. Start a new exercise program. Plan a vacation. Change up your get ready routine. Get a new hair cut. Start a DIY home improvement project. Do something that gives you a new pep in your step.

Now, if it’s really severe, this feeling of being stuck in a rut, don’t blow it off. Sometimes we need to seek help and shouldn’t be afraid to do so.

But for most of us, we just need to buck up and take the need for variety into our own hands.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Click on the donut to watch the commercial!

Single mom households bring in 70% less than breadwinning mom’s households

There’s an awful lot of talk these days about single mom’s. It’s probably because in 2010, an estimated 41% of babies were born to unwed mothers! I like to keep up with the latest discussion around single moms, especially as it relates to our well being and ability to provide for our families. Below you will find this week’s round-up of articles that talk about the state of single mom’s, many who are trying hard to lean in.

There’s one in particular I found very interesting. It comes to us from Syracuse University. The story focused on a report by Pew Research that found that 40 percent of households in the U.S. with children under the age of 18 rely on mom for either the only paycheck or the family’s top paycheck. In 1960, only 11 percent of families had a mom who was the primary or sole wage earner, according to the report. It goes on to say that these moms are basically split into 2 distinct groups: those who bring home a solid, middle-class wage and then there are single, working mothers who make little more than minimum wage. Now this is where it gets interesting and where we as a community need to focus.

“There are 5.1 million married mothers like Fierke who are bringing home their family’s largest paycheck. Most have at least a college degree. The median income in their households is $80,000 – well above the median for all families with children, which is $57,000, according to the Pew study.

The median income for the single moms is $23,000. They usually do not have an advanced degree, the study found. And, at 8.6 million, they far outnumber the married breadwinning moms.”

– from Mom’s the breadwinner, Dad’s making sandwiches, by Marnie Eisenstadt

Ok…single mom’s lean in! If you are a single mom, this is a very important article for us. If you are a single mom running a household for your family, you need to start thinking today about how you can personally help raise this median income. Our kids deserve better!

First, if you don’t have a degree – get some kind of degree or technical certification. A medical assistant program is 2 years, taking the extra step of getting certified can earn you an average of $41,000, according to

If you already have a degree, decide if it’s time to consider an advanced degree. Below are a few comparisons of bachelor’s vs. master’s degree earnings from

Bachelor’s degree: $33,242
Master’s degree: $43,997
Degree type: Philosophy
Bachelor’s degree: $34,163
Master’s degree: $43,112
Bachelor’s degree: $37,874
Master’s degree: $56,094
You’ll notice that in each of these cases the advanced degree
significantly increases the average salary, which means more to
invest in the well being of your family.

Finally, if you’ve been working in the same place for a while, it might be time to consider a job change. It’s important to understand that the same job may bring in a different level of income in different industries. Also, if you are highly valued at your company for a skill set that is advanced and unique, a company that hasn’t gotten used to your high level of commitment and contribution will likely be even more impressed with your accomplishments. Looking for a new job also gives you the opportunity to negotiate your salary. Negotiating a raise is much harder than negotiating a new salary. You are much more likely to be successful and it never hurts to see what might be out there and what you might be worth!

That’s how single mom’s lean in!