Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Holiday Faith + Inspiration

It's the 2012 holiday season.  For many in this world, this time of year is about family, friends and faith.  

With the tragedies that continue to unfold in our wonderful country and in other places in the world, many are rightfully questioning faith.  Things quickly twist to politics, press and criticism.  I'd also echo the thoughts widely published after the Sandy Hook tragedy about the state of our media and how information is reported, updated and analyzed.  The media focuses on the evil (the killer) and not on the good (the victims and their families).  In short, it's not a bad idea to watch or read as little of the news as possible.  The weather and traffic reports might be helpful, but how much of the rest is actually helping us bolster our faith in the world?

For starters, and there are many places to find faith let's take a look at a few reasons to keep our faith.  I'd suggest you start here for a dose of faith in humanity.  Some reminders on why we are here always put things in perspective.  

Second, keep looking for inspiration.  There are plenty of great examples.  I chose to find mine from Zach Sobiech, who is battling osteosarcoma.  You can check out his music video called "Clouds" right here.  It's worth the 3 minutes and 13 seconds of your time.

Third, those that read this blog aren't likely the people that need our collective help to stay on the right path in life.  Just like the global fight on terrorism, if you see something that looks out of place, or a person's behavior or comments appear to indicate a mental illness, communicate with someone.  Communication with people is our key to at least having a clue to their state of mind.  In my last blog, I wrote that, even though our ways to communicate have skyrocketed, our true communication is lagging.  Many times we find out too many details that may have aided us in preventing a tragedy.  The take home point: communicate with you family and friends.  It sometimes is painful but give it a shot.  

I'm not saying communication will prevent all of the tragedies of our world.  To the contrary, maybe it's just part of trying to improve the state of our world and making tomorrow better for everyone.   However hard to do in these times in which we live, have faith in the good of our world.  The planet, the people, the purpose.   You may be familiar with the Sanskrit term "Namaste", which is sometimes said between two people to mutually honor the divine light of each person.  

Namaste to all, from my heart, and Happy Holidays 2012.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Facts, advice and intuition

October, November and December.  Fall to Winter.  One of my favorite seasons if not the most favorite.   Between a stop in El Paso, back to school in South Carolina, and then the Thanksgiving holiday in Philadelphia, the past three months have been filled with thinking traveling and absorbing.   Today's post is when you need to satisfy your self, your soul, and your life - all at the same time.  The power of intuition.  

In other words, when you are at a crossroads with where to take your life, how do you make a decision?

Facts and their sources are numerous.  Trusted people, websites, traditions.    They guide our lives and our decisions.  Maybe sometimes too much.  Who do you believe and why do you believe it?  Trust, trust, trust.  But how do we gain trust?  Through positive repeated experience for certain.  As the old saying goes, good judgment comes from experience.  Unfortunately, the experience came from bad judgment.  So true, so true.  

In terms of advice, it can come from anywhere.  These days you hear it, read it or live it.  We spend enormous amounts of time texting, facebooking and twittering.  More times than not, we are reading, assimilating and judging based on social media.  Our ways to connect have went up exponentially but we spend less time actually communicating face to face.  

Our intuition is a bit harder to gauge.  It’s that internal compass.  It’s that gut feeling.  It’s always part of that voice inside.  Sometimes it is right on the mark.  Sometimes maybe not so much.  But it really depends on the person, situation and timing.  So how do know what the heck to do with the voice that never quits talking to you?

A few thoughts on how to manage all of this torment:

1. Facts and advice are pieces of information that you decide the validity, significance and impact.  

2. Your intuition shapes your self.  Don’t ignore it.

3. Both are equally important to what you do and when you do it.

4. Fight like hell for what you want, but don’t be afraid to change the plan if that voice inside you is screaming for a change.

5. Don’t have regrets.  Yeah, right.  That sounds easy.  It’s not.   Don't look back and painfully look at what could have been, could be or might be.  Go forward.  

As this Fall comes to a close, it's worth repeating:

Facts, advice and intuition are all important.  

Listen to your voice.  

And always be going forward.  Always.  

Have faith that things will fall into place.  

No regrets.  Ever.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Live Strong Day 2012

Every day I try to give thanks in my own way for being a cancer survivor.  One particularly special day is Live StrongDay through the Lance Armstrong Foundation on October 2nd every year.

Sometime in 2011, I decided I would grow my hair and then donate it to one of the organizations that make hairpieces for children with cancer or other diseases.  A list of them can be found below.  Here’s the before picture:

Here’s the after picture:

I ended up donating to Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program because there are varying length/color requirements for donation.  Of course, I learned a few things along the way.

What I Learned by Growing and Donating My Hair
AKA Simple Reminders on Why Goals are Important

Having a goal and being committed to something for a long period of time takes patience, resolve and determination.  There are plenty of days where I thought I should just cut my hair.  I had a corporate job so image was important.  “Doing” my hair in the morning was a pain. 

Sometimes the path to reach your goal may require adaptation.  Having applied to medical school, I had to take a few steps (or inches in this case) by cutting my hair for the interviews.  Fortunately, it worked.  Remember, don’t deviate from your goal, but be open to modifying how you get there.

Find people that will give you an honest opinion.  Many times I had people tell me my long hair looked nice when I could look in the mirror and tell that it didn’t look so good.  Upon getting it cut, those same people said I looked so much better.  For me, life is about brutal honesty.  Find people that are going to give you the honest feedback – even if it isn’t what you want to hear.

Once you reach your goal, reflect. In my case, my hair on top of my head is a bit thinner so I got an unexpected surprise at the end!  All kidding aside, we set and reach goals but then we need to reflect on we pursued them in the first place and whether we would do it again if in the same situation.

  Having your friends send you to the all-girls team at the bowling alley isn’t that bad.  Just a few days ago, I got to see some good friends and they sent me with my long locks to the girls team.  Not so bad!

Organizations for Donating Hair

Locks of Love needs all hair types from all types of people, all hair colors (except gray), textures, and so on. If your hair is long, you should be able to donate. You can even donate your permed or colored hair (as long as it's not damaged). The only real stipulation is how long the hair has to be: ten inches. It also has to be sent as a ponytail or a braid.
How It Works: You give your hair to Locks of Love. Once it's been transformed into a beautiful, natural looking wig, it's given to a child who wouldn't be able to afford one otherwise.

This is a Canada-based organization that provides kids with wigs made of real and synthetic hair. The wigs are custom made from ten to twelve ponytails. They will even visit the child themselves if he or she can't go in for the wig fitting because of the illness.

Most organizations that collect hair for wigs are created in order to benefit children rather than adults. This one is no exception. Wigs for Kids asks for at least twelve inches of clean, dry hair in a ponytail or braid.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths' requirements are not as high as some of the other organizations'. Hair only has to be eight inches long, not ten as with Locks of Love. Other guidelines: if you've bleached your hair or used permanent dye on it, you can't send it in. If you used vegetable dyes, rinses, and semi-permanent hair color, you can.
Have your hairdresser put your hair in a ponytail to cut the length off, then you can take it home and get it ready to mail. Put it in a zipper baggie, stick that in a padded envelope, and off it goes. Visit the website for all the details.

Children With Hair Loss only requires hair to be eight inches long, and while they prefer the hair not to be chemically treated, as long as it's still in good condition, they will accept it. In addition, Children With Hair Loss will accept gray hair. Certificates are given to the donors as a thank you.

The Childhood Leukemia Foundation accepts hair that's ten inches long, but it can't be colored or chemically damaged. If the hair is curly, you can pull it straight to reach ten inches.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Maleyna Moriel: El Paso Youth Handball Star

El Paso Youth Handball has many stars and Maleyna Moriel is one of them.  Wellinspired has a chance to interview her.  She is an accomplished handball and softball player, as well as aspiring physical therapist.

Wellinspired (WI): How old are you / where were you born? 
Maleyna Moriel (MM):  I'm 18 I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas!

WI: How many siblings? 
MM: I have 5 sisters and 2 brothers

WI: Wow!  How tall? 
MM: 5'7

WI: Why do you play handball? 
MM: I play handball because it's a good sport, keeps me in shape and I meet a lot of people and create new friends

WI: How many championships? Singles and/or doubles? 
MM: I have gotten first place in the Yes-2-Kids and 2nd place twice at the U.S. Handball Nationals. Sportsmanship award from the U.S. Army Ft. Bliss Shootout and 2nd place twice in a row there.

WI: When you are having a bad day on or off the court, what do you tell yourself? 
MM: When I'm on the court and if I'm having a bad day I always tell myself that I'm going to leave it out all on the court. When I'm having a bad day off the court, I always try to go on with my day no matter because I wouldn't want anything to slow me down.

WI: Who are your role models and why? 
MM: One of my main role models would be my mom because we come from such a big family and she owns her own company so I know it's not easy. But yet she still manages to keep the family close, raise us right and still put food on the table.

WI: What are your handball goals? 
MM: My handball goals are to always be better then what I can be and to try to make it so I can play with the pros.

WI: You said you want to study physical therapy -- why? 
MM: I want to study physical therapy because I'm very interested in learning about the body and also becoming a trainer to all athletes and to hopefully become a trainer for the pro sports.

WI: Favorite food? 
MM: Mexican food

WI: Favorite number? 
MM: 12

WI: Favorite color? 
MM: Blue

WI: What languages do you speak? 
MM: Spanish /English 

WI: What inspires you in your life? 
MM: Family and friends

WI: What part of el paso do you most like? 
MM: Mountains

WI: Anything else you want us to know about you? 
MM: I play basketball and softball for about 9 years I fell in love with the sports im a catcher for softball and i was a post player for basketball, I love to stay active, meet new people, and I always try to accomplish something new.

WI: Thank you Maleyna and keep striving in academics, athletics and life!  Good luck!

Monday, July 30, 2012

El Paso Youth Handball: Coach Marquez

Coach Lupe Marquez

Lupe Marquez is a handball enthusiast and overall great dude.  He is the founder and head coach of El Paso Youth Handball (EPYH) in El Paso, Texas.  Handball is like racquetball and is played obviously without the racquet and with gloves on both hands.  It can be played on a court of 1-wall, 3-walls or 4-walls.  It is widely recognized as one of the best all around sports for strength, conditioning and flexibility.  The governing body for the sport is the U.S. HandballAssociation.  It is different than the common Olympic sport of team handball.  

Coach Marquez took a few minutes to talk to me about the program, community and future.

Wellinspired (WI):  What is the history of El Paso Youth Handball (EPYH)?

Coach Marquez (CM): EPYH started in 2005 with as many as 20 boys/girls participating ranging in age from 9 to 17.  The goal of EPYH is to introduce the game, share the passion, present opportunities for competition, and to teach good sportsmanship.  That is why handball is the perfect game!

WI:  How has EPYH done in competitions?

CM: We have participated an numerous tournaments that includes events at the USHA Nationals and Worlds.  Some notable results:  
11U Girls National Championship - Lauren Guerra 2007
Age group National Finalists - Angel Marquez 4x; Maleyna Moriel 1x
Sportsmanship awards - Angel Marquez 2005; Maleyna Moriel 2009

WI: Have you received any special recognition for your efforts?

CM:  I received the USHA Sportsmanship award in the 2006 USHA Hall of Fame Championships for my efforts with the youth program.

WI: What is the future of EPYH?

CM: Future is to help maintain handball in their lives through education and begin with a new group of kids starting as young as six and repeat what EPYH has started with the first wave of kids.

WI:  How can those interested in EPYH get more information?

CM:  The team is always looking for new members wanting to try the handball - the perfect game!
My email is and my phone number is 915-892-1336.

Thanks Lupe for your contributions to the El Paso community and local youths through the sport of handball. Some additional spotlights will be posted in the future --- stay tuned!

Some of the EPYH Team (L-R):  Maleyna Moriel, Lauren Guerra, Coach Marquez,   Angel Marquez

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Guest Blog: Mother + Baby Dental Health

Guest Blog:  Dr. Viviana Velez
As we all know, nutrition is a fundamental factor in dental health. Through eating and proper nutrition, we are targeting the best overall body health. Dental health assures proper functioning and health of our teeth and gums and daily nutrition habits play a relevant role. It is pertinent to emphasize that dental health begins from pregnancy because in this first trimester stage (7th pregnancy week), 80 % of calcium transferred to the baby will help the first teeth form, that is why the pregnant women must provide the baby with enough quantity of calcium (1,000 mg per day) and other necessary nutrients. Malnutrition brings a significant deficiency in the appearance of the first teeth (deciduous teeth) and therefore they will be vulnerable to cavities because they have a lower calcium content. For the mother and later the baby, it is important to balance the diet with varied food, high in proteins, iron, calcium and phosphorus; the last one interacts with the calcium to form the bones and teeth. It should be noted that the lack of vitamin D affects the order in which the teeth appear into the mouth, and a low consumption or level of causes a deficiency in their structure, support and function. Vitamin C keeps gum tissue strong and vitamin K controls the loss of blood, both of them keep the gums healthy. Fluoride is recognized for its high anticariogenic potential, chemically, it acts replacing the hydroxide ion of hydroxyapatite crystal of the dental enamel forming fluorapatite. Nowadays, fluoride is found in drinking water (0.7 - 1.2 ppm), in fluorides salt and in other products of massive use like milk and drinks. Consequently, too much calcium intake poses additional problems such as provoking a dental fluorosis (enamel hypoplasia). In addition, we cannot put aside the consumption of vegetable fats; these seem to reduce the cariogenic (cavity forming) activities in foods. An obvious explanation is that fats make a protective barrier on the tooth surface and at the same time they round carbohydrates, avoiding their availability to the opportunistic bacteria. Some fatty acids have an antimicrobial power which generates an impact in the process of formation of bacterial plaque. In the same way fruits such as the apple, pear and banana help us to a maintain a natural and healthy teeth cleanliness.
In summary, as an expecting mother, nutrition is important to not only the mother but also the baby with respect to overall oral health. Try to get plenty of calcium and other key nutrients, as well as vitamin C, D and vitamin K.  Fruits and vegetables are also excellent choices are part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Dr. Viviana Velez is a Dentist with an interest in prevention and overall oral health with focus on children, adolescents, pregnant mothers, special needs and terminal illnesses.  She graduated from Universidad San Gregorio in Portoviejo, Ecuador in 2010, and has been working for the past few years in Rural Care as part of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health.  

Monday, July 16, 2012


After much thought, writing and review, the first Book has been released

It is entitled,  "No Application Required: Cancer, Chemotherapy and Coping"

The book is a compilation of cancer and chemotherapy experiences, facts and suggestions.

The Table of Contents can be viewed here

The Book can be purchased here

Please enjoy!