Look for the Helpers

When I was in high school I chose to follow a career in nursing. Back in the dark ages women did not have many choices. We were encouraged to be secretaries (the descriptive word then), a teacher or an RN. I chose nursing. It was something I really wanted to do.
I started as a candy striped volunteer first at Deaconess Hospital on Saturdays where I read to children in the Peds ward. I had to take a bus both ways to get there and I always looked forward to my 4 hours. Then I volunteered at Parma Community Hospital where again I was assigned to the Peds Ward – what teenager didn’t want to help with the children?
I liked helping and working around the sick and injured and I knew I had chosen the right career path.
I went to nursing school and I passed my State Boards with a score high enough to earn reciprocity to work in all other 49 states, that was a very proud moment.
I have always been a helper. Mr. Rogers told children to look for the helpers – I am one. #Bear knows this, I stop at accidents, I saved a choking child in a McDonald’s, I did CPR on an airplane, I cared for a diabetic patient on an International flight who went into a diabetic crisis and our flight had to make an emergency landing, I saved my husband’s life. 

Always a helper, always with love.

I also worked in a busy ER, I changed direction and worked Oncology, I changed again and worked in wound care.

I got breast cancer and I left hospital nursing but I stayed in medicine.
I am still in medicine. I am still a helper. I have never left Oncology, I just work it in a different way. I was a breast cancer patient advocate for years with a well-known organization. I worked teaching doctors and technicians how to use Ultrasound Hyperthermia for cancer treatments.
I made TV appearances, I was on radio talk shows, I wrote for a magazine, I took a position with another breast cancer organization.
I looked back recently and realized I have never really left being a helper especially in breast cancer.
I still advocate for women, I listen, I advise. I suggest 2nd opinions because I have seen errors in pathologies and I cry with people.
I lost 2 beautiful friends this year. I have more living daily with MBC (metastatic breast cancer) and Stage IV. This has propelled me into trying to film a documentary.
As 2019 started to get close I realized I wanted to return to helping more, I wanted to come back to breast cancer and do more than I had been doing.
I am a helper. It is natural for me to offer help. Sometimes I get shut down and that’s ok I will still offer assistance, it is in my blood.
I am now working with a cancer organization that is just getting started and I am so excited to help. Like I said it is in my blood.


Heart attack!

One minute I was walking in the house from my PT session and the next minute I had chest pain that brought me to my knees.

That damn elephant was sitting on my chest too and there was a strange pain radiating into both sides of my face.  I was nauseous and for the first time in my life I felt very mortal.

The main area of pain was behind my breast bone.  It flipping hurt.

I was terrified and so was my husband who started to throw his clothes on as quickly as he could.

The pain started to lessen enough that I was able to go into my bathroom but then it started again and I knew this was turning into a trip to the ER.

Heart attack symptoms in women are nothing like the symptoms that men get, of course not.  That would be too easy.

Memorize this, better yet copy and paste this and keep it where you can see it if the big one ever comes to pay you a visit.

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

I had every thing but the shortness of breath.  I was positive I was having a heart attack.

I wasn’t.

Every second counts, know the symptoms.

Never ignore these symptoms ever.  Go to the ER get checked out.  Yes, chest pain will buy you an overnight, but it is better to be cautious than to go home and die.

I did have a CT of my heart before heading home.  Blessedly it showed I have no heart issues at all.  I have one coronary artery that has narrowed but it’s my right coronary artery and the narrowing is not an issue.

Now I get to tease my husband that I have a better heart than he does and I do.  His previous bad boy behavior from the days he owned a night club and inhaled second hand smoke not to mention Grand Slam breakfasts with his crew caught up with him.  He had a double bypass almost two years ago and almost died.  Yes, my heart is better than his but this isn’t a contest.  His is repaired thank God mine did not need to be repaired.

What was it?  No one really knows.  It could be costochondritis from radiation therapy I had when I was treated for breast cancer.  It could be GI distress.

All I know is this, it wasn’t a heart attack BUT it could have been.

Surviving and Thriving One Year Later

One year later we are in a much better place in our lives.  I call it “thriving after surviving” and I have used that phrase in my personal blog, which sadly I have not written for in quite a while.  I also use it in my Tuesday night Facebook Live segments at 7:30PM (shameless plug I know).  I call these segments “Thrive”.

I intend to repurpose blogs I have written and talk about these stories, I plan to talk about people I interview with my new podcast “They Dig Deeper” where people share their stories on doing good things without thinking about them, and yes, I will also bring my book on board eventually, just not today.

This is the year I looked back at all the times Larry and I were just expected to do what was asked of us and we did these things to keep the peace.

While Larry was in the hospital I listened to the concerns his kids had regarding how they feel about certain things their dad does or doesn’t do.  I listened, I took their concerns back to Larry and we discussed everything.  Newsflash, Larry is not really going to change that much, he is whom he is.  I throw little reminders at him from time to time but it is not my “job” to get him to do what other people expect.  In fact, when you want change, you need to be a part of that change.  It is not a one-way street.

Change is often inspired because something in your life is hurting you much like ill-fitting shoes pinch your feet.  Change also happens when you realize how old you are in actual years and think of all the things you still would like to do but time is not really on your side. One year later we are understanding ourselves more.

The latter hit us as Larry recovered from his open-heart surgery and his emergency exploratory thoracic surgery within hours.  We almost lost each other.

Lesson learned through all of this was that we truly only have each other and if we intend to make loving memories we have a second chance to do that.  We are moving forward with gratitude and appreciation of the fact that we have been blessed with another chance and we will take advantage of all that life has given us.

What about devastating crises?  What if I had lost Larry?  I cannot answer what I would have done because it did not happen, yet life crises happen to all of us and unfortunately some do come with irreversible sad or tragic endings.  Can we thrive after these crises happen?  It depends on what lies inside of us.  Things will never be the same again and in times like this we may not make it through on our own.  There is no shame in asking for help.  I have been there, in fact I was there as recently as a year ago when I did some life counseling to understand some baggage I was carrying all these years.

Crises we survive and then move on to thrive afterwards often come with people making positive changes in their lives.  Whatever your higher power is, when you come face to face with what happened and are still standing above ground chances are you will make changes.

Do we regress?  You betcha we do, however with practice regaining your new direction in life is easy because you will feel that pinch again.  It is up to you whether you will kick off those shoes or keep wearing them thinking they will stretch and stop pinching, they won’t.

One year later life is better.



Surviving a Bad Year

Surviving a bad year takes a whopping load of stamina.  On one hand rests a heavy load of gratefulness, on the other hand a heavy load of exhaustion.  2017 took so much of my energy away and replaced it with days where getting out of bed was the only thing I did.  Big scares, many tears, and a lot of the times having to handle things alone made it a complicated bad year.

When we go through very difficult times and come out the other side in a better place we don’t immediately rev up our engines and hit the road at top speed.  Fooled me, I thought when I could finally breathe without hurting that everything would be wonderful again. It wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for the good that I have been blessed with, the good that followed the bad, but the events that caused all this leave me puzzled as to where is the lesson.

When I look back over all the years I have lived of course there have been other bad ones.  Losing my father when he was so young and would have loved being with his grandchildren is still hard for me to write about, and I still cry.  The lesson here is appreciating every day we have with those we love.

My children’s father committed suicide.  He was a vile human being, a despicable man who did terrible things and choosing to take his life was the icing on the cake he baked of deconstructing our family.  You don’t get over this ever and this is the year I will write about what he did, why he chose to die, and more in my book “Suicide Elegy” which will be my story, along with the stories of others who have been dealt this devastating blow, and how they have coped and carried on in their lives.  The lesson here is I cannot “fix” my family, I can only “fix” myself.

The year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through it alone, totally alone.  The lesson here is that I am strong, I made it out the other side on my own.  Even when I was fired from my job in the middle of treatment, and had to file an ADA lawsuit to stay employed and have insurance, I stood tall and proud and strong. The lesson I learned here was truly only trust yourself when the chips are down.

There have been other years with shitty happenings and I don’t want to sit here in front of my wailing wall on line and continue because I know everyone reading this has had shitty years from time to time. Growing from one, learning from one, and moving through one are easier when you can look back and see the lesson.  I have not reached that lesson point yet.  That is probably why I am exhausted (still) and why I have days where motivation isn’t in my head.

I do know that things are better, I am grateful that our lives are vastly improved, and I know where I need to put my energies in 2018.  I chose my 3 words to live by, my 3 words that I will write down and carry with me, 3 words I will tape up in places where I will see them daily, 3 words to remind me what I am working towards in 2018.  My words are heart, map and win.


Heart – I want to reflect deeply on what people write or say.  Too many times people put their thoughts out on social media and people don’t understand them at all.  Many times people find fault, give advice that wasn’t asked for, judge (this happens so much) or actually become argumentative or sarcastic.  I want to use my heart more, I want to reach out and ask questions before I open my mouth or keyboard.   I want to use my heart to remember there are people I need to move away from to protect my own heart.

Map- I am determined to be more on task, to schedule my weeks better.  I want to stick to plans and complete them, I am the world’s worst procrastinator.  No excuses this time around, I am mapping things out from this point on and I will learn how to live with it.

Win – well of course we all want to win, but for me I chose the word win to cover things I know it is past time to handle.  I am in excellent health but I have known for years I need to be more active and I want to lose some pounds.  I want to look and feel better.  Winning also goes to heart and map.  I will be using a lot of check marks this year, check marks to show accomplishments and I am excited about this.

My 3 words are my resolutions if you prefer that word.  I don’t, for me I know that all 3 words will lead to a better year for me and those around me.  Maybe these 3 words are my lesson, I don’t know but I will try to build my year from the ground up so I can soar.

Surviving a bad year – I did it, it was never easy, but I made it through.

Surviving #MyHarveyWeinstein




Yes, today I am blogging about surviving #MyHarveyWeinstein which is the correct hashtag to use if you want to talk about your experience in a blog post, on line, wherever.

I feel most women walking this earth have had a #MyHarveyWeinstein problem, and some from a very young age.

We all have a story from the little touch that just did not feel right, or the invitation to “come sit on my lap” to full blown sexual assault.

Meet my predator.  I cannot reveal his name but I will use his initials, meet R.S., MD.  Yes, a doctor, a medical oncologist and former surgical oncologist at a well-known cancer hospital I once worked for, and where I became a woman literally in the hands of a sexual predator, #MyHarveyWeinstein.

I was in charge of a sub-department under radiation therapy.  Most of my patients were dying but as it is in the world of cancer we will all try just about anything to live longer or even perhaps be cured.  I was hired to give patients a treatment that did work in certain cancers and for others was a last hope.

I worked alone in a small area with a treatment room and a small office area and I truly loved my work.  I had worked most of my nursing career in Oncology.

When I was hired I was sent for training to Houston, and then on to Los Angeles.  I spend the first two weeks learning how to treat patients, and my 3rd week Dr. R. S. came to learn too under the watchful eyes of the Medical Oncologist who had pioneered this therapy and it was now being rolled out to the world.

Nothing happened while we were in California, we kept long hours in training and did not even fly back home on the same flight.  I respected him, he was a well-trained Surgical Oncologist, little did I know he was a sexual predator.
As time went by Dr. R.S. would show up in my outer office and perch on the corner of my desk and we would discuss his patients.  Eventually though the conversations went from friendly and professional to personal and very unprofessional.  He knew my husband traveled for his work, and he started to call me at home asking me to meet him.  I never did, I rebuffed his advances, and after a while I feel that my constant cold attitude pissed him off.

It did not take him long to escalate his advances, he moved from sexual comments to touching, except it wasn’t really touching, let’s call it what it was, groping.

He would come up behind me and grab my breasts whenever he could.  I talked to administration about this.  I filed a complaint with HR.  I am writing this to tell you they did nothing.  He was their money-maker.   He stalked me, touched me inappropriately, and assaulted me.

The final straw was the day he was walking down the hallway with the CFO of the hospital and he came up to me flipped open the lab coat I always wore and said “Are you surprised to see she has breasts under this lab coat?”

That was it.  The CFO while embarrassed did nothing.  I did something.  I called an attorney who was well-known for handling sexual harassment cases  and by the time she was done investigating this hospital, this doctor, more women filed complaints.

We did not go to trial; everyone settled which is why I can’t name names.  In fact I had forgotten his name until the news broke about Weinstein and it all came back to me immediately.  I googled his name, he is no longer affiliated with the cancer center.  I am sure he never has stopped being a predator, and I can still see my attorney when she deposed him and asked him what he believed had given him the right to touch women inappropriately.  He replied saying that in his country when a woman smiles at a man she is giving him the okay to make sexual advances.  My attorney tipped her chair back slightly, folded her arms across her chest, informed the court reporter that she was going off the record and said “You better table that bullshit answer right now because there is not a jurist in this country who will allow you to use that as an excuse.”

I moved on in my career knowing that I now had more power than ever before and #MyHarveyWeinstein, while a memory, will continue to happen to women and young girls.  We need men to step up and speak out against the friends and family members they know behave badly.  Weinstein’s family knew, they looked the other way.  Money talks, bullshit walks, well not any longer.  We need to stand tall, stand strong and be heard.  I often wonder what would have happened if I had called the police that final day.

Thank you.





Surviving While Trying to Reach Forgiveness


Surviving while trying to reach forgiveness takes a lot of deep thought.  The thoughts invade your brain and you try to think them through and you eventually let go of them because you are still pissed off, you still hate someone or something, you want to slap/punch/kick in anger.

This has been a year filled with moments, happenings, shit that I know eventually I will need to forgive but I am not there yet and I am not sure I will be soon.  I am writing because it helps me to think and see things more clearly.

We are told we need to forgive others or happenings to us for ourselves.  I call bullshit at this time on this.  There are moments when being pissed off is good, when remembering why you hate someone or something is a good thing, and you can always slap a ball, punch a bag, or kick something soft, it does help.

I have boxes of forgiving that remain unchecked and boxes I have checked off.

  • The Klonopin addict former friend with the verbally abusive husband is as of today checked off and forgiven. She doesn’t live here any longer and that is a good thing.
  • The business friend who made a mistake I am checking that box off today too.
  • The decision we made to have our dog’s cataract removed that ended in her having her eye removed is checked off.
  • My husband’s heart surgery, the surgeon’s mistake, the husband’s bad habits that are no more, checked off.
  • The people who said they would help while I “lived” in Tampa for the first 4 days, still open.  I am disappointed in one particular friend and I have two boxes here.  Forgiving her isn’t easy for me, forgiving others easier so their box is checked, they are just fair weather friends anyway.
  • The person who vandalized our house while we were in Tampa, our freshly painted house, because she did not like the way my husband spoke to her – checked off because it’s fixed and now we have cameras.
  • The minor surgery I had that went wrong and the head of the dept who still argues with me about it not checked off.
  • The screaming neighbor (now I know what a banshee sounds like) who doesn’t get it that my husband did not call the county, the HOA President did, checked off because she is an ass, and we all know there is no dealing with an ass.
  • Irma – caused a lot or work, grief, and money but its nature, it happens, checked off.
  • The real estate agent who did not like being told he needed to remove a closed sale from the MLS and went off in a tirade of physical threats against my husband, the sheriff is involved and that box is definitely not checked off.

Yes, I have some work to do.  I have 3 incidents I am not ready to check off as forgiven.  I did check off 2 today as I wrote about them.  It is easier to find forgiveness when you just don’t care anymore.

I encourage you to write a list like I did, you might find forgiveness there.  Those you need to forgive are not going to apologize to you, they don’t care, you do, I do.

However if you don’t and are like me, and not ready yet, that’s all okay.  Forgiveness takes time and one day I will know that it doesn’t matter any longer.


Good Advice

Surviving Father’s Day – If I Could Be With Him One More Time

Hello Dad

by Carole L. Sanek (Notes) on Saturday, June 15,2013 at5:26pm

I am pretty sure this was Easter Sunday, Grafton, Ohio

I would like you to meet someone, Dad. I would like to introduce you to my wonderful husband,

Larry. I know the two of you will like each other a lot because Larry is 100% Polish and you are

100% Hungarian. That’s a great start!


I told my friends this morning that if I could have you with me again one more time I would

want you to spend that time with Larry so you could know in your heart I finally got it right,



I would want you to shake his hand and sit down next to him, cross your leg across your knee,

and go ahead and light up that cigarette. It can’t hurt you anynore, and since you would be

visiting in another realm, it can’t hurt Larry either.


I know you would tell him how sad you are that you did not pay affention to that lump! That if

you had not allowed your stubbom Hungarian background to keep you from going to the doctor

we could have had a lot more time together. I know you would tell him how hard you fought,

and you did, Dad. You tried every treatment available, some that were not even sanctioned by

medical society.


Then you would skip back in time and tell him about all the fun we had as a family. You would

tell Larry about all our special trips to the park every Sunday where you would fry pork chops on

the grill, and we would skip stones across the Rocky River. You would tell him about the time

we almost got stuck in the cave in Hinckley Reservation. You would tell him how I wouldn’t use

the outhouse on Aunt Esther’s farm because I was prissy. I am still prissy Dad, I can count on

one hand how many times I have used a Portalet (don’t ask Dad, they are outhouses that get



You would tell him about the time I fell in the river while dinner was cooking and you drove me

all the way home to change my clothes and that was quite a distance. Speaking of driving, you

would tell him about the time I was driving and I went to pass another car and scared you preffy

bad. Obviously we made it. Then that would remind you of the time I took that same car

through two parked CTA buses on East 14th Street in downtown Cleveland, I think you sat on

the floor of the car that time. we made it – dad I have very good depth judgment.


Oh and you would tell him how you would call me at work to let me know if you would be able

to drive me home. I worked at Canada Dry then and had to answer the phone “Drink Wink from

Canada Dry” and you always laughed and said “Drink Wink and Stink”.


Yes, you and Larry would have a lot of good laughs at my expense but with love, I know that

because if there is one thing I know for sure, you loved me with all your heart.


I do want you to know that being married to Larry spares me the loneliness of not having any

close family left but I know that you and Mom and my itchy brother Danny are together because

that is how it was supposed to play out. I get that – mom told me once that I could get through

anl’thing because in her opinion I was the strongest woman she ever knew. I got that from you,

Dad and I am so grateful for that.


One last thing, I am sure you would share your opinion with Larry about how I named my sweet

little girl dog after you. Larry and I always knew there would be a dog named Willie in our

lives, we just did not know it would be a girl dog, so I changed the spelling a little and whenever

we say her name I see your face in my mind’s eye. Again that is how it was supposed to play



During the conversation you would uncross your leg from your knee and you would lean forward

and look Lany deep in the eyes just like you used to do with me when I would sit across from

you before going to bed. I know you would thank Larry for taking such good care of your

daughter, and you would get up, shake his hand, start to walk away, and you would tum and give

us both your special wave and get into that Chevrolet you liked so much. You would toot the

horn and drive off smiling and saying to yourself “Yes, Carole, you finally did get it right!”


Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Surviving Firing Crazy People from Your Life

Surviving Firing Crazy People from Your Life


Yes, you will find yourself surviving firing crazy people from your life; in fact you will actually wonder what took you so long to say “You Are Fired.”


The other day a meme appeared on my Facebook wall and I am kicking myself for not keeping it, but basically it read “your life is a business, you have the right to fire people”.  I know, I know, it isn’t that easy to do but I can tell you from personal experience it feels amazing after you do it.


I started firing people from my life about a year ago.  I started with people who are users.  Then I moved on to people who are takers.  Family members went too and while they are not totally fired, they are laid off.


I am too darn nice.  I had a discussion about this today with a friend and she totally gets me.  She knows people and personalities so well and told me that I like to help people in need, and eventually that can wear one down.


Then there are the deceivers in life.  It takes more than telling them they are fired to get them out.  You need a cross, garlic and maybe a silver bullet.  Deceivers do not like it when you see through them, when you uncover their shit, when you throw water on them and they don’t melt because then they know that you know that they are living a lie.  Sometimes calling them out will get you fired but what the hell that is what you wanted.

I spoke the truth and it pissed people off, so I fired them too.





















We all have people we have fired, need to fire, will fire in our lives.  I promise you that while it is tough, and there can be some drama, it will also be filled with relief, huge relief especially if they move ½ way across the country and you never have to see them again, but that’s another story for another day.


Surviving After Sharing an Unpopular Opinion

Surviving after sharing an unpopular opinion is something we have all been through.  Heavens with all the fake news, real news, bullshit, and more going around out there it is easy to share an unpopular opinion and potentially piss people off.

Several years ago I got into hot water when I saw a trailer about a news story that was about to break on the local news.  It was about someone many local people know and I just posted an alert on the topic on social media.  I suggested people watch the 6:00 news.

That went over big with the the man named in the story as well as his wife, a one-time acquaintance of mine.  Memo to self: when you are going to share an opinion (not gossip remember opinions are not gossip) be ready for payback.

Did I care that I was blacklisted by some people for giving an alert?  Hell to the no.  You see I stand behind the facts of this story, and while the story is still in the form of an “alleged” situation, there was enough evidence to make an arrest and there is a long trial coming this Spring.

If I directed my readers here to the story I am pretty sure most people would be as appalled and disgusted as I was and as I still am.

When you share an unpopular opinion you do run the risk of upsetting friends loyal to the opposite side.  I took a long look at the list of people who would think horrible thoughts about me and probably stick voodoo pins in a likeness of me, and quite frankly I did not give a damn.

We all have rights to having opinions, and if we decide to share our opinions then we know we could upset some people, build resentment, or even have someone wait for their opportunity for horrors of all horrors – payback.

Payback came in the form of a mutual friend who got caught in the middle and was deluged with 100’s of reasons to walk away from our friendship because I was a terrible person who spreads vicious gossip.  Now remember sharing an opinion is not sharing gossip.  There is a big difference.  Said mutual friend was lied to, played, and used as sometimes people are who like to hang out with the in crowd.  Even bad PR is still PR you know and there are people who like to hang around with the bad guys in life.

I just started a new website community called http://workingwomenworld.com and I clearly state that it will be a place where controversial topics will happen.  I am not going to hide my opinions or the opinions of others.  If I feel an opinion needs to be shared I will share it.

Am I sorry I shared an unpopular opinion – no.  Am I sorry a former friend was used and played in part of the revenge game – no.  Would I do it again – yes.  My opinion is/was only unpopular because people just can’t/won’t wrap their heads around the fact that this person allegedly did what he was on the news for and eventually arrested for and now it will be up to a jury to decide.

If you don’t want opinions shared about things you do, then you shouldn’t do things that give people something to share.

Now the $64,000.00 question is should I go down to the courthouse and listen or should I just turn on the 6:00 news?  I am too busy, I will watch the news.



Surviving Another Birthday

Gratitude for all my wonderful loving friends.

Gratitude for all my wonderful loving friends.

Surviving another birthday, whew!  I did it.  20% of all my Facebook friends sent special wishes.  5 girlfriends called from all over the country.  One is coming to visit from S. Dakota this winter.  My son sent me a spectacular present and he doesn’t know this yet, but I am bringing him here for a long weekend for some mother/son love time.  It gets better.  My wonderful friend who lives in Israel is calling me today for some chick talk time.

This doesn’t include the special treatment I got from my husband, the love of my life either.

It was a wonderful day, filled with love, a lot of love, and it came at me from all directions including places that surprised me.

I had been considering a Facebook clean up recently mostly due to person who projects her misery on others.  Then I removed only her and everyone else shines brightly now.  Funny how that works.

The gift of friendship is one I treasure.  I took the time to write down on a list all the names of people I could count on if I needed them.  I had no idea the list would be that long.  Then those on social media with me got a message of gratitude and thanks (and not a copy and paste either).  I took the time to send personalized messages.  Those not on social media got a message in the mail inside a card.

It was so worth the time it took me to do this.

Try it.  You will be so surprised at the responses you get.  We live in a “chop-chop” hurry up world of emails and texts and rarely a phone call.  Sit still for a moment and imagine a friend opening mail and finding a note about how much they are appreciated.  Wouldn’t you like to receive one?