When my mom, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, entered home hospice, she could no longer work in the same capacity as before she got sick. Yet, her innate desire to constantly create drove her to create a little project that she could devote her creativity and energy to daily. This mini-project involved posting on Instagram a list of 1,2,3 daily at 1:23 for 123 days–she titled it Project 1,2,3. My mom made it to day 61 out of 123, as she became too ill to complete it. Leaving a piece of work unfinished was something she would never willingly do. So, after she died, I had the idea to complete the last 62 days for her. My Project 1,2,3 was about sharing my mom and I’s relationship with the world, about letting everyone know how I feel about her, about showing some of the things that encompass the Rosenthal family, and tangibly acknowledging my mom in some way everyday. The completion of Project 1,2,3 led me to creating a 365-day guided journal that plays off the power of three by using the everyday tool of list making. The Project 1,2,3 journal will be out in the world this coming spring! Because I am a big fan of lists of 3, I will tell my Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month story in a list of 3:
One: While I would not proclaim that one type of cancer “deserves” more attention than another, I think it is fair to say that ovarian cancer does not get as much attention as it should. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to to spread knowledge and awareness to women of all ages, men, caretakers, doctors, and really anyone that is willing to listen. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is especially important to me because I have a deep rooted desire to decrease the number of people adversely affected by this disease, as I lost my mother to ovarian cancer when I was 20. Honestly, I did not know much about ovarian cancer before it became relevant and personal to my life, but I am sharing a glimpse of my story in hopes that this month people will #ListenUp and learn about ovarian cancer regardless of any connection to the disease.
Two: I have learned quite a few facts about ovarian health over the past two years of my life. One relatively easy acronym to remember about ovarian cancer symptoms is BEAT- Bloating that is persistent, Eating less, feeling fuller, Abdominal and/or back pain, Trouble with your bladder & bowels (NormaLeah Ovarian Cancer Initiative). I’ve also learned that using an oral contraceptive for five years reduces the risk of ovarian cancer. While I recognize this is not possible for everyone, it is one good proactive measure to take. Genetic testing will also increase your overall knowledge of family history and future risks. While I am by no means a medical expert, there are tangible things we can all do for our ovarian (and overall!) health. Beyond becoming more knowledgeable about my ovarian health, I also #ListenUp to my body is regularly visiting the gynecologist, which makes me feel more in control of my ovarian health.
Three: I recognize that this is not and will not be everyone’s narrative but for me, my relationship with ovarian cancer also means a relationship with grief. A few things that have helped me throughout my ongoing grieving process and life without my mom are:
- Amber Mark’s album titled “3:33”
- She sings about working through her mother’s death
- Mari Andrew’s book Am I There Yet?
- She writes about adulthood, finding yourself, ambition, adventure, loss, grief, heartache and more- each chapter is accompanied by spreads of her signature illustrations
- Re-reading my mom’s books
- Check out Amy Krouse Rosenthal, prolific author of 35+ children’s books, 2 adult memoirs, and several tiny films online
- My Dad’s TED talk!
- Titled “The Journey Through Loss and Grief”
- Working out
- It distracts my mind for a chunk of time in the day and increases my overall health
- Working at the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance
- Devoting my time to something meaningful to me
- Talking about it
- Just… talk about it!
- Receiving it and giving it
PARIS ROSENTHAL grew up in Chicago and attends Quest University Canada near Vancouver. Aside from spending time with family, you can usually find her listening to music, playing sports, traveling, organizing, or writing. Paris’s other work includes Project 1,2,3, a 365-day guided journal, and #1 New York Times Best Seller, Dear Girl, a collaboration with her late mother, Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Follow her Instagram Project 1,2,3 here.