ObamaCare to fix holes in mental health benefits: a case study

Friday, January 25, 2013

By Michael Grodsky, founder, HealthInsuranceForArtists.com

In January 2014 the Affordable Care Act will require insurers to cover more mental health services in all health plans, benefits that are currently mandated only in health plans offered by large employers. LA Times reporter Noam Levy writes ”that among the biggest barriers to treatment have been cost and limits placed on care by insurance companies.” (Noam Levy, 1/19/2013, Obama intends to fix holes in mental health coverage; www.latimes.com)

Acronym & Vocabulary Lesson!
• CPT code = Current Procedural Terminology Code (also known as a billing code).
• UCR rate = usual, reasonable, customary rate for a treatment in a given geographic area.
• EOB = Explanation of Benefits (sent by insurance company to show who paid what).
• Grievance form. Grievances include both complaints and appeals. Complaints can include concerns about people, quality of service, quality of care, benefit exclusions or eligibility. Appeals are requests to reverse a prior denial or modified decision about your care.

Client Case Study
Josh’s teenage son Oliver (not their real names) was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and Josh found a highly regarded outpatient facility that featured a month-long intensive treatment program. It cost $24,000, a big chunk for anyone, but Josh was determined to help his son get well, whether that meant using retirement savings or trading in their home's value.

The treatment facility and doctor were not in-network with any insurance plan, but the family’s PPO policy covered 50% of the UCR cost up to 20 days per year. From a conversation with the insurer’s representative we learned the UCR rate for CPT code 90808* (not a zip code!) was $375, meaning the insurance company’s 50% share would be about $187 per day after Oliver’s $2,000 non-network deductible was met.  *CPT code 90808 = Outpatient Individual medical psychotherapy, 75 – 80 minutes

Yet when the EOB was mailed to Josh, he discovered the insurer’s covered amount per treatment was $137, not $375, of which the insurer paid only half ($69 per day). Did the medical provider incorrectly label the billing code as an office visit instead of “individual medical psychotherapy?” 

It turned out the correct code was applied, and there were four treatments each day, instead of the one treatment per day listed on the EOB. This was likely an oversight of a busy medical billing department, but thankfully the doctor provided Josh with a "To Whom It May Concern" letter that asks the insurer to give credit for four treatments per day. Josh attached this letter to a Grievance form downloaded from the insurer's website, and faxed everything to the number on the form.

As of this writing, the insurer has paid only $788 of the $24,173 bill. The issue of what is the correct reimbursement amount ($375 or $137) has not been resolved. It remains to be seen if credit for four treatments per day will be allowed. To be fair, the insurer was not initially provided with the correct number of treatments. And the underlying problem, how to effectively access mental health benefits, is not something you can blame the insurer for because is competing in the individual and family marketplace with all other insurers. 

Instead, this is a public policy matter, and fortunately people with mental illnesses will significantly benefit from health insurance reform with the changes coming January 2014. The details are still being worked out, but know, for example, that autism and acupuncture benefits are provided in what is called Essential Health Benefits.

This struggle for mental health benefits is one hole that cannot be fixed soon enough!

Author Bio
Michael Grodsky, AIF, is founder of Aquarius Financial & Insurance Services, providing unbiased education and access to health insurance for Californians. He is a board member of Side Street Projects, a non-profit artist-run organization, and is an insurance and financial planning specialist for GYST, an artist-run company providing information and technology solutions for artists. Michael’s Health Insurance 101 workshops have been hosted by non-profit organizations throughout Los Angeles County.  He leads the ‘Health Insurance 101’ monthly informational workshop at the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center.

Alkaline Water For Breast Cancer

Via Flickr:
Advocates of alkaline water claim that by drinking alkaline water you can help to neutralize acid in your bloodstream, increase oxygen levels in your body and your energy level and metabolism.

Breast Cancer Yoga has chosen Living Water system to maximize the effectiveness of a holistic approach to cancer prevention and recovery. All our products combined are chosen to increase vitality and hope. ​

Used for Indoor smoking area and multiple pets
Heavily polluted/contaminated areas

Exhibits antioxidant properties
Healthy function of cells & organs
Help control appetite
Hydrate cells
Environmentally friendly product



Breast Cancer Dry Brush

Breast Cancer Dry Brush by Breast Cancer Yoga
Breast Cancer Dry Brush

Dry Brush Therapeutic Treatment for Breast Cancer 

Breast Cancer Yoga Gift Baskets

Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, which greatly aids the lymphatic drainage of the entire body. When the body rids itself of toxins, it is able to run more efficiently in all areas. Dry brushing increases circulation of the lymphatic system, which helps the body detox through the skin, and other elimination systems within the body.

        Benefits Include

  • Increases circulation
  • Helps shed dead skin
  • Improves skin texture
  • Cell renewal
  • Rids body of toxins
  • Detoxify the skin
  • Aides lymph drainage
  • Body rids itself of toxins
  • Stimulates skin
  • Circulates lymph flow

Visit www.breastcanceryoga.com/Dry-Brush.html

Breast Cancer Dry Brush, a photo by Breast Cancer Yoga on Flickr.
Via Flickr:

Lavender Hydrosol For Breast Cancer

Lavender Hydrosol For Breast Cancer by Breast Cancer Yoga

Lavender Hydrosol Included in Breast Cancer Yoga Gift Baskets As A Complementary Therapy

Complementary therapies can be both preventative and supportive in fighting breast cancer. Some therapies boost the immune system to counteract chemo and radiation therapy effects. They can also reduce nervousness and anxiety.

Lavender contains a particular keynote to help encourage relaxation before and after chemo and radiation treatments. To a large extent the aromatic fragrance of Lavender can stimulate the body’s innate healing powers, and when energies are low or have been severely depleted, Lavender is emotionally uplifting. This essential oil is specifically formulated with particular properties which help encourage relaxation any time when needed.

Breast Cancer Yoga has included Lavender therapeutic essential aroma hydrosol sprays as a complementary therapy for breast cancer recovery in there gift baskets.

Lavender Hydrosol For Breast Cancer, a photo by Breast Cancer Yoga on Flickr.
Via Flickr:

Breast Cancer Small Gift Basket

Breast Cancer Small Gift Basket by Breast Cancer Yoga
A Soft Touch - Small Gift Basket For Breast Cancer
"A Soft Touch" feels so good with this basket of all things soft and forgiving. A breathing CD to teach you how to quiet the mind, Calm and Tummy Tea Blends for their mellow and soothing effects. Mist your space with Simply Lavender while experiencing the soft light of the Lotus candle. www.breastcanceryoga.com

Breast Cancer Small Gift Basket, a photo by Breast Cancer Yoga on Flickr.
Via Flickr:

ACS Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures

The American Cancer Society's Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2012-2013:


How I Learned How To Dress Well Despite Cancer

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Here's a piece I wrote for my writing class through "Elizabeth's Canvas" called "Create Your Story" with instructor Julie Cobb.  It's called "The Storyboard" and it's a partially fictional account featuring an interview with a fashion designer I created named Vickie Elizabeth. She was previously diagnosed with breast cancer and had been cancer-free since 2007. To celebrate she used her disease as an inspiration for her Spring 2012 collection and was going to present it at the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center. When I wrote this I'd just finished reading young adult author Olivia Bennett's series "The Allegra Biscotti Collection" and "Who, What, Wear" about a very young designer who's talented enough to be the next Coco Chanel.  The clothes in my story are described as if a real designer conceived them. I hope this story helps those who're going through the same problems I faced while making my transformation after my mastectomy.

                                         "The Storyboard" by Victoria Moore (March 11, 2012)

I'll never forget the day the surgeon came into the examining room and told me I had Stage II A breast cancer. I would need to have a mastectomy, lymph nodes removed under my left arm and chemotherapy. My appearance was going to take a beating.  My cancer was in my left breast so it would have to be removed, and despite my oncologist's optimism, I knew I was going to lose all of my hair during chemo. Despite all of these seemingly important obstacles the only thing I could manage to worry about was, "How am I going to write about fashion if I'm going through breast cancer?"

If you'd have meet me at an L.A. Fashion Week event at the California Mart a few years ago, before my diagnosis, I'd be the tall, thin, quirky writer holding a reporter's pad and wearing my favorite black 1960s vintage dress, black Hue tights and my black 1950s vintage shoes. Almost to the second I heard I had the Big C the color black became my least favorite color. Oh, I still planned to wear it occasionally--just not head-to-toe, like I did before.

Around the time I got breast cancer I started going through my wardrobe and picking out things I could and couldn't wear to accommodate my current disability. Button-down shirts were definitely something I'd need along with cardigan sweaters and hoodies for doctor's appointments, the chemo suite and other hospital procedures. Heels were definitely out right now since I needed more secure soles.  I chose athletic shoes, loafers, ankle boots and men's oxfords. The sun also wasn't my friend so I chose clothes that were both comfortable and protective for my skin, such as leggings, jeans, longer skirts and dresses, hats, scarves and a green fringed parasol. Finally after I examined everything and organized what I had left, I realized I needed to buy some new things by a designer whose clothes would fit in with my own stuff and reflect who I was now.

"Wouldn't it be great to find a designer who'd already gone through breast cancer and understood the challenges of dressing every day from that vantage point?" I thought.

One Wednesday afternoon, while waiting for my Writing Group to begin at the Cancer Support Community, I was looking at the new flyers for upcoming events when I saw one for Vickie Elizabeth, an L.A.-based fashion designer who had just designed a new collection for Spring inspired by her journey with breast cancer. To celebrate her fifth cancer-free year she was presenting a special fashion show at CSC-BC along with an accompanying workshop and luncheon afterwards.

"She's exactly who I've been looking for," I thought. "I have to interview her and buy some of her clothes too, " I mumbled to myself as I wrote down her contact information into my pink "Hello Kitty" notebook.

A week later, after I called her, I went to her studio in Venice, California and sat down for an interview. Below is an excerpt.:

V.M.:  When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
V.E.:    In 2006.
V.M.:   Why did you decide to use your journey, with breast cancer, as your inspiration for your Spring 2012 Collection?
V.E.:    Because it was such a significant time for me, and although I faced a lot of sartorial challenges, I knew I could help other women who were going through the same thing.
V.M.:   What colors did you use and why?
V.E.:    I chose ones that meant something to me. Ultimately I ended up with orange, which means "strong and passionate," pink, which is "feminine and healthy," browns, which are "earthy," and white which is "pure and refined."
V.M.:   Which fabrics did you use?
V.E.:    Cotton, silk, light-weight wool, chiffon and tulle.
V.M.:   Which silhouettes did you use?
V.E.:    Fitted and flowy. Masculine and feminine.
V.M.:   What inspired you?
V.E.:    The 1930s and the 1980s.
V.M.:   Which piece from your collection stands out and why?
V.E.:    The long floral maxi dress because it can be worn either during the day or at night depending on what you coordinate it with. If you pair it with a denim jacket and Converse it can be worn out to a casual date, and if worn with a jeweled cardigan sweater and strappy sandals, it can be worn to a fancy dinner.
V.M.:   What fashion advice would you give women struggling with breast cancer and body issues?
V.E.:    Don't forget to continue enjoying fashion and remember for every door that closes another one opens.

Healthy People 2020 Progress Review: Cancer and Genomics Webinar

Register Now  | February 6, 2013 | 12:30–2:00 PM EST

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. Learn how genetic counseling and early detection contribute to reducing death and disability associated with breast and colorectal cancers.
Please join us on February 6, 2013, at 12:30 PM EST for a Healthy People 2020 Progress Review featuring the Cancer and Genomics Topic Areas. This is the first in a series of webinars focused on tracking and measuring the progress of Healthy People 2020 objectives.
This Webinar will feature:
  • Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Edward Sondik, Director, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Robert Croyle, Director, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute
  • Dr. Marcus Plescia, Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Muin Khoury, Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Ms. Summer Lee Cox, Oregon Genetics Program Coordinator, Oregon Health Authority
Register today!

A Matter of Life and Breath: Update on Lung Cancer

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Matter of Life and Breath, a Lung Cancer Awareness Program, will be taking place at the Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on January 31st, 2013. 

Maybe you think you know all you need to know about lung cancer. Maybe you think it’s not possible to find it early, that it happens only to cigarette smokers, and nobody diagnosed with lung cancer survives. If that’s what you think, you haven’t heard of new research supporting lung screening for early detection or advanced targeted therapies for successful treatment. Maybe you need to know more. Join us for a special program at The Cancer Center. Our doctors will make sure you are up to date on why our nation’s biggest cancer killer doesn't have to be. It’s a matter of life and breath. 

If you would like to attend the event, please RSVP to 1-800-611-6913 by January 30th, 2013.

For more information, Download Flyer

Breast Cancer Yoga Pose "Easy Twist"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Easy Twist Benefits For Breast Cancer

Because of the concentration required - this pose will elevate stress brought on by breast cancer treatments

Breast Cancer Yoga Easy Twist Pose For Breast Cancer & Lymphedema
Opens chest
Aids lymphatic drainage
Specific for Lymphedema
Reduces stress
Increases calm
Develops spine flexibility
 Improves posture and which can lead to greater self-confidence
Relieves backache
 Improves alignment which increases comfort level in own body

10 Healthy Tips For Breast Cancer Well-Being

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Diana Ross, E-RYT 500
Develop a healthy lifestyle by incorporating the following healthy tips. A suggested anticancer lifestyle is a lifestyle that includes a variety of exercise, organic foods and clean pure water.  There are a few easy steps to keep your body safe and healthy. Cultivate awareness of what goes into your body; stop and take notice of your habits.  Ask yourself "Is this good or bad for me?  Will it make me feel better or worse?" We all want to feel alive and vital. 

Here are some great suggestions

TIP ONE - START A YOGA PRACTICEGentle or restorative yoga poses can be very healing if done with care and awareness. Once you receive clearance from your doctor to begin exercise, a gentle or restorative yoga practice may be very healing in stretching the area of the incision, the calming down of the stress attached to the surgery as well as bringing the ROM, (range of motion) back to the entire area of the chest.

 TIP TWO - LEARN HOW TO BREATHEDeep breathing is vital; it encourages the release of body toxins, and rebuilds healthy tissue. It is as simple as oxygen helping to nourish the body, the muscles, and organs which then provides relief from stress, fear and anxiety. 

 TIP THREE - TRY TO EAT A PLANT BASED DIET Your diet really does make a difference when it comes to breast cancer prevention and recovery. A plant based diet should be a fundamental part of a healthy cancer free lifestyle. Make your diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables which are duly noted to help prevent breast cancer or other cancers. 

 TIP FOUR - DRINK MEDICINAL HERBAL TEASIt is acknowledged in the medical community that herbal remedies do play a vital part of holistic healing for cancers. Herbal teas can aid in cancer symptoms or help build overall health. 

TIP FIVE - USE AROMATHERAPYLavender hydrosol is thought to have a cooling and soothing effect on sunburns or skin irritations, and it smells so relaxing. Aromatherapy can help you navigate the terrain of your healing journey from surviving to thriving during cancer recovery. Lavender hydrosol can be applied daily to skin to help soothe the mind, body & spirit. 

TIP SIX - TAKE A BATH IN PINK SALTSBathing in a warm Himalayan crystal “pink salt” bath for 20+ minutes promotes deep relaxation, and helps to detox your body. This healthy salt bath can be considered as a complementary therapy if used with the intention to restore the body with its active 84 essential minerals and trace minerals. Taking regular saltwater baths with Himalayan pink salt will aid in detoxification, will strengthen the immune system, will heal skin diseases, relieve rheumatism and joint diseases, balance the skin's pH, and aid in recovery after surgery. 

TIP SEVEN - INCLUDE DAILY DRY BRUSHINGDry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, which greatly aids the lymphatic drainage of the entire body. When the body rids itself of toxins, it is able to run more efficiently in all areas. Dry brushing increases circulation of the lymphatic system, which helps the body detox through the skin, and other elimination systems within the body. 

TIP EIGHT - BREATHE CLEAN AIRThere are increasingly more studies that support the findings that everyday products found in our homes and in our water supply is responsible for the rising rates of breast cancer. You can reduce the pollutants in the air with air purification . It is proven that between dust mites, chemical emissions from various products, mold and spores, all of which contribute to higher increase in breast cancer.

 TIP NINE - USE ALKALINE WATERAdvocates of alkaline water claim that by drinking alkaline water you can help to neutralize acid in your bloodstream, increase oxygen levels in your body and your energy level and metabolism. Ionized Water is a powerful antioxidant. Since ionized water is a liquid antioxidant, it is easily absorbed into the body which makes it much more effective and powerful antioxidant.

 TIP TEN - LOVE YOURSELF The body realizes all the care and love we give it. Bring yourself and your attention into the present moment by slowing down the “mind chatter.” Don’t anticipate negativity or dwell in fear. Stay focused on positive thoughts. Visualize a healthy future; see it, be it. Rent funny movies and laugh; laughter is good medicine. Teach yourself to relax the body. Train the mind to stay focused on the breath.
 Visit http://www.breastcanceryoga.com

Breast Cancer Yoga


State Cancer Profiles: A Dynamic Data Tool for Cancer Control (Cyber-Seminar)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST

Join us January 15th as we discuss how to use data to make a local impact. The National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Research to Reality January cyber-seminar will highlight State Cancer Profiles. This resource is part of Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T. and is supported by the NCI and CDC. The State Cancer Profiles Web site provides a system to identify the cancer burden in a standardized manner in order to motivate action, integrate surveillance into cancer control planning, and expose health disparities. The available interactive graphics and maps provide visual support for deciding where to focus cancer control efforts. Antoinette Percy-Laurry will provide an overview of the tool, highlight recently added features and measures, and describe how the tool can be used by cancer control researchers and practitioners.

We will also be joined by Amanda Raftery and Wendy Noe who will share Indiana’s experience in using State Cancer Profiles at the state and local levels. The data from the tool was used to inform the development and implementation of cancer control plans and programs. Ms. Noe’s and Ms. Raftery’s presentations provide a practical example of how the tool could be applied in your own state, community, or organizational planning and implementation efforts.


Antoinette Percy-Laurry, MSPH
Public Health Analyst
Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute

Amanda Raftery, MPH, RD
Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Indiana State Department of Health

Wendy Noe, BA
Grants & Outreach Manager,
Central Indiana Affiliate, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Register Now!
Please click on the following link for more information and to register for this event: https://researchtoreality.cancer.gov/cyber-seminars

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Cancer Treatment: Viewed Through the Lens of Health Reform

January 12, 2013 in Tampa, FL

Upon completion the symposium the participant should be able to:

  • Discuss currents trends in disparities in cancer screenings and early diagnosis, therapy, management and treatment for breast, prostate, lung and colorectal cancer and survivorship
  • Understand the impact of disease states such as cancer, addiction and mental health upon the current health delivery system.
  • Address the current state of health disparities in the United States and the relative impact of social determinants on such status;
  • Understand health reform and challenges to implementation

Continuing Education Credits:
At the successful completion of this activity, the attendee will be eligible to receive 4 hrs of continuing education credits (CME) through the National Medical Association. An attendance verification form will be available at the registration desk. 

Fee: This event is free of charge.

Download Agenda 

"Look Good...Feel Better" Classes begin soon at North Florida Regional Medical Center

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Look Good…Feel Better provides information and cosmetic advice to women battling cancer. This training includes hands-on instruction on makeup, skin care, and suggestions for using wigs, turbans, and scarves. It also includes tips on nail care while undergoing treatment.

Cosmetic kits are provided for your personal make-over. This program is free of charge and facilitated by trained, licensed cosmetologists – all American Cancer Society volunteers.

In order to provide cosmetics to match your skin tone, advance registration is required by calling your American Cancer Society at: 1.800.227.2345

Dress in Blue Day for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You know the facts.

Although colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

You've heard the excuses.

Colon cancer continues to be overlooked and underfunded.

That's why you can't wait to take action. Join the Colon Cancer Alliance in making Dress in Blue Day personal this year.

We’ve put together new materials to plan your event or spread the word - no experience necessary.

Create your own webpage and support the CCA’s fight for a future free of colon cancer.

Tell us why you'll be going blue, join the event on Facebook and see pictures from last year.

National Dress in Blue Dayis part of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Find more awareness activities near you or call our Helpline at (877) 422-2030 to learn more.

North Central Florida Cancer Report 2013 Now Available

The North Central Florida Cancer Report 2013, produced for the North Central Florida Cancer Control Collaborative (NCFCCC), is now available online for the use of collaborative members, cancer stakeholders, and interested parties.

The report includes a wide range of cancer data such as cancer death rates, cancer incidence rates, cancer-related emergency room visits and hospital discharge data. This epidemiologic profile of eleven counties in North Central Florida highlights disparities between the region and Florida as well as disparities between genders, races, ethnicities and counties.

The North Central Florida Cancer Report 2013 will be used to assist NCFCCC in establishing priorities and planning for future regional cancer control activities.
The report is also useful for healthcare professionals, researchers, grant writers, cancer stakeholders and anyone interested in the region’s latest cancer statistics.

The report can be viewed and downloaded from the link below. It is also available on the publications page of WellFlorida’s website at www.wellflorida.org.

Report link: http://www.cancerresourceguidencf.org/ncfcccdocuments/North-Central-Florida-Cancer-Report-2013.pdf

Getting Rid of Stuff and Finding Myself

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I took this photo of my closet after I'd organized some of my clothes

Have you ever tried to move from one place to another and not known where some of your stuff came from and why you were hanging onto it? That's the predicament I found myself in about a month ago when I decided to "declutter" my space and simplify my life. Please don't recoil in horror that I live like a hoarder or shopaholic who's so out of control she needs an intervention, because that's not the case. I'm what you might call a "collector". Some things I legitimately collect, such as vintage clothes and accessories, t-shirts, Hello Kitty collectibles and Japanese fashion magazines while others just accumulate over time. The problem with getting rid of my accumulations are the memories attached to them and re-living the issues that came up when I tried to throw them away. Believe me it was a heavy duty job, but it had to be done, so that I could make room for the future.

First I had to assess my current state of mind to determine whether or not I was ready to let go of the past and move forward. The four issues I'm dealing with right now are my health (i.e., post breast cancer treatments, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and depression), unemployment, living in a city that's becoming more complicated and exhausting every day and adjusting to a life that's changed significantly since I was diagnosed with Stage II A breast cancer in 2010.

To help motivate myself I signed up for a workshop on October 19 at Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center, "Declutter 101", taught by Regina Lark owner of "A Clear Path" ("an L.A.-based professional organizing business"). To set us on the road to organization she required that we bring in a "junk drawer" to organize at the workshop.  I don't really have one so I brought a bunch of "junk" in a large ziploc bag—a heart-shaped lace potpourri sachet, pencils, pens, chopsticks from various Japanese restaurants I'd eaten at, a framed black-and-white photo of my first tap teacher Mark Mendonca, various Hello Kitty note pads, etc., etc.  

She then had everyone put their items on the table and walked by to examine a few. I'm happy to report that I passed the test by separating everything into categories. Unfortunately my euphoria was short-lived when she saw my "collection" of chop sticks. Without a second's remorse she gathered them up and threw them in the trash!  Bye-bye "Miyako"!  Adios "Sushi Cat"!  Later "Mitsuwa Marketplace"...

"Oh, so that's how it's done... You just toss everything you absolutely don't need and can't use.  I think I can do that," I thought to myself.

Overall the most important bit of advice I left the workshop with was "to get rid of things that have caused me pain and only surround myself with those that have a higher good".  When I actually started doing this, on my own, I found that it was easier said than done.  

It didn't help that I began with my closet and I'm a clothes horse with wearables everywhere. To try and make it easier for myself, I tried a little experiment by separating all of my black garments out from the rest of my wardrobe to coordinate together as if I were going to work at "Sear's", "Macy's" or "Bloomingdale's".  Whenever I've gone into those stores I've noticed all of the staff wears black head-to-toe.  Once I got so curious about this phenomenon I asked a salesperson at "Bloomingdale's" about it and she told me, "It's our dress code and a requirement." "Doesn't it bother you to be surrounded by so many different colors and styles and not be allowed to wear them?" I asked her. "Sometimes," she said, "that's why on my days off I wear the brightest colors and prints I can to balance everything out."

I guess I should tell you why I have such an aversion to all black.  After I was diagnosed, and I started chemotherapy, my skin changed color and I had dark bags under my eyes that the color black accentuated horribly.  Today, even though my hair's grown back, my face has returned to its rosy glow and I don't feel as sick.  Black represents that time so I stay away from it when it's not broken up with another color.  Getting back to my experiment . . .

After collecting all of my black dresses, jackets, skirts, blouses, pants and shoes I went through all of my "Vogue's", "Harper's Bazaar", "Elle's" and "Marie Claire's" and tore out fashion layouts and ads of swanky dark ensembles. Through hours of coordinating and translating them with my own clothes the only one that really spoke to me was a short, flirty black lace party dress in the "Mulberry" ad paired with black-and-white polka dotted flats and a big black leather bag. Fun, cute, and eternally young, it represents my philosophy about fashion.

In the end, I didn't get a job working at any of the stores I previously mentioned, which is just as well because my experiment with all-black failed and I reverted back to the eclectic blend I'm comfortable wearing.  I guess uniforms just aren't my thing, whether it's on a job, in a tap dance class or in everyday life.  For me fashion is meant to be enjoyed and shared and you can't do that if you're a conformist.

While I was working on my wardrobe I read a few fashion/style books—The Gospel According To Chanel,  Lloyd Boston's, The Style Checklist: The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials For You, LAUREN CONRAD Style, and IN STYLE Instant Style—to help me bring order and cohesion. From the Chanel book I think I learned the most because I learned that the reason her look is still so iconic is that it's autobiographical. When I was asked to list my "all-time favorite pieces of clothing" in the "IN STYLE" book I was surprised that they were similar to Chanel's and included a black dress, a striped French sailor shirt, a white t-shirt, jeans and a white button-down shirt. It's funny, but from this small list, I visualized at least five different outfits.  Now that's organization that I can live with.

At this point in my journey I can only say that my "decluttering" project is still a work in progress, but now that I've taken the plunge, I will continue with a renewed sense of purpose.

Blog Author: Victoria Moore


Shands Yoga and Meditation

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Shands 2013 Yoga & Meditation Offerings

Eight-Week Yoga of Awareness Program for Skillful Living
Tuesdays 5:30pm - 7:30pm (Jan. 8 - Feb 26, 2012)
in the Criser Cancer Resource Center, S. Tower 1st floor
A skillful living course developed at Duke University Medical Center,
to support cancer patients & appropriate for anyone desiring to reduce stress and increase ease.
16 CE's provided for nurses, social workers & massage therapists.

Beginning Meditation
Mondays 12:30pm - 1:00pm & Tuesdays 3:30pm - 4:00pm
in the Sanctuary of Silence, S. Tower, 2nd floor

Guided meditation to support greater peace-of-mind & happiness

Community Yoga
Mondays 5:15pm - 6:30pm
in the Criser Cancer Resource Center, S. Tower, 1st floor
This longer class includes meditative flow, toning postures, breathing exercises
and guided relaxation. 
Cost is $5.

Chair Yoga for Wellness
Wednesdays 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Off 8th floor elevators, S. Tower
This seated class is dedicated to patients, family members and those
who desire gentle movement, breathing exercises and relaxation.

Lunchtime Yoga for Staff
Thursdays 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Off E. elevators 7th floor, N. Tower Rm #7502
Flow in and out of this class as your time permits and enjoy a moment
of renewal and relaxation. 
Open to all Hospital Staff.

Yoga for All
Thursdays 4:00pm - 5:00pm (class cancelled Jan 3, 2013)
in the Criser Cancer Resource Center, S. Tower, 1st floor
Gentle stretching, adaptive postures, and breathing practices
designed to tone the body and lift the spirits.

For more information, contact Tammy Bernard at (352) 733-0880.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer Seminar January 9th

On Wednesday January 9th from 12 pm to 1 pm, there will be a free webinar presented by Living Beyond Breast Cancer, focusing on the findings presented at the 35th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

They will present the latest research, new options for managing symptoms and side effects, with updates on chemo, hormonal therapies, and targeted therapies for early-stage and metastatic disease.

Please register by January 2nd at:

lbbc.org/Events or by calling 1-610-6454567.
CEU credits are available for LSWs.

Webinars are audio accessible via phone or computer.

Leading the presentation will be Sara M. Tolaney, MD. MPH of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.