Friday, December 11, 2009

Our tree is up and the lights are working, the house has been ( as my former MN neighbor boy, Andrew Toperzer would say) over-decorated top to bottom, we've made Christmas cookies, candies, and gingerbread houses, and St. Nick has come and gone.  Now all I have to do is my Christmas shopping. When Jordan was 5 years old he began writing his Christmas list for Santa in June and by Christmas had a total of about 58 items that he narrowed down to 12! Jordan is 17 years old now and not quite so greedy.  He's only got one item on his list this year so you would think my Christmas shopping would be done already, but I have yet to buy a single gift. So this blog will be short,  sweet and sentimental .  I thought I would share some of my most cherished Christmas presents from my creative children when they were still in elementary school.  Jordan is still a witty and talented writer (on the school newspaper staff )  and Tabitha's a gifted, award-winning artist.

I am off to do some shopping, baking, crafting and all the other activities that come with the season --and this year it seems "other" means ridding myself of a nasty computer virus that has infected my laptop.  Bah, humbug!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So what do I think about it and how do I feel? Well I do not want to lose my credibility as an author/expert so I will try and refrain from becoming a ranting, raving, lunatic, but I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

November 16, I received a call from reporter, Julie Henry at my local NBC 17 news station here in Raleigh, North Carolina. Julie asked if I would give my opinion about an embargoed news release she had received regarding a new study about Mammography. She summarized what she had received and e-mailed me the information. Some of the highlights included:

• New recommendations from a federal task force recommend against screening mammograms for women between 40 and 49.

• Mammography is recommended only every other year for women between 50 and 74 years old.

• The report discourages doctors from teaching patients how to do breast self-exams.

Her news report along with a portion of my opinion can be viewed at:

My indignation is not just for myself, but my children and especially their peers. The toddlers I wrote the book for are all grown up. The real Tabitha is now a young woman attending college and she will turn 20 this April.

She is brilliant and beautiful and has her whole life ahead of her. She and her friends, like most young people their age, feel invincible.

Unlike most of her peers however, Tabitha has been raised with the knowledge that she needs to be proactive when it comes to breast cancer.

Tabitha could have used this new mammography study as an opportunity to roll her eyes and point out that her mother is a worrywart and she has a good 20-30 years before she needs to worry about examining her breasts.

This is what bothers me most about this study. Young women with no family history of cancer, or as the study states it, "average odds", will think they have a free pass until they are at least 40.

Tabitha has been very vocal about her disapproval of the federal government’s new recommendations.

Like I said, she is brilliant, and I am lucky!

My luck began the day she jumped feet first, at age four, onto my lap while wearing cowboy boots. I put a hand up to protect myself and felt a lump in my breast. I had just turned 34 years old.

Back then mammograms were not recommended until you were 50 years old, and a self-examination was something doctors did not bother teaching patients until their real hair color was gray. Sound familiar?

This is what the federal government’s new mammography study is recommending we regress back to.

I am well aware the study does not pertain to women who have above average odds of getting Breast Cancer. The study is for women with average odds.

In my group of women friends, I was the geek who did not drink or smoke, exercised often, and was slim enough that I worried about looking pitiful once word got out about my cancer diagnosis.

As for family history, I was the first one in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer. My mother was not diagnosed until almost a decade later, about the same time her sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Up until the day I was diagnosed my odds were below average. Up until that day I, too, had been invincible.

Julie had read some of my press releases (Scroll below to Ten Things a Survivor’s Teenaged Daughter Needs to Know) and had a good idea I would not be thrilled about the new information regarding self-examinations and mammography.

I continue to stand by what I have written and advocated pertaining to breast self-examines and mammograms. My opinion is: when it comes to your own body, you are your own best health care advocate. Better to be a live hypochondriac than die of breast cancer. It is treatable if diagnosed early. If your doctor blows off your concerns and points to any expert’s study, find another doctor.

The American Cancer Institute continues to recommend mammograms for women age 40 and up.

You can read the federal task force recommendations at:

Information about mammograms can be found at the American Cancer Institute at:

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Wednesday I anxiously waited to see how my segment on Daytime turned out. Palms sweating, I sat on my couch and tuned into WNCN- NBC 17, Raleigh, North Carolina, the local station that airs the show, to see if I came across as the author/expert I am and not a blabbering idiot
Wouldn’t you know it? It did not air locally due to bad weather the night before that affected their satellite transmissions. I’ve no idea when it will air locally now, but stay tuned…..

I had a great time visiting the set of Daytime. One of the best things about it was the people I met in the Green Room.

I handle my own publicity, am not a celebrity author, and getting booked on a show with a national audience is not easy. The competition is fierce and most of the people you watch have usually paid a great deal of money for a publicity or public relations firm to book their appearance. So in my career as an author/publisher I have been very fortunate.
After my experience on the set at Daytime I realized just how very fortunate! All the other experts in the Green Room were beautiful, brilliant, and a size zero! Yeah, it was FRIGHTENING, especially those size zeros! It would be easy to hate them, except they were all so darn nice.
Instead I thought I would namedrop some of the people in the Green Room:
That would have been me!
Sexologist, Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright : Do you have to be sexy to be a sexpert? My guess is, yes!
Founder of GreenWell, Kimberly Button: Yes, she was cute as a button. I’ll bet she gets tired of hearing that. I got to watch Kimberly film her segment, A Green Halloween , her personality really comes across and, she made it look way too easy.
Co-Founders and Owners of Green Nest, Lisa and Ron Beres: I would not be surprised to see this kind, and charismatic couple hosting their own TV show one day.
Twilight Casting Director, Lana Veenker: One of the brilliant minds behind the blockbuster vampire movie Twilight. Lana was accompanied by her friend Sybil, who looked like she should be, and I later discovered she was—an actress. They were the whole package, beauty, brains, success, but the thing that struck me most about these women was how approachable and down to earth they were.
Tabitha and Jordan are all grown up now, but I thought I would post a few of my favorite photos of costumes we did for past Halloweens. For more photos go to my Facebook Author Page:
Amelia Frahm.


Friday, October 23, 2009

October is a bittersweet month for me. I love this time of year, dressing up for Halloween, the cooler temperatures, the beauty of the leaves as they change color.

October is also the month I lost my friend Laura Bouldin Karlman to cancer, and this October I am sad to write that her mother Barbara Bouldin's family has requested Hospice services for her.

Once again I am reminded why I established Nutcracker Publishing in the first place and I have been busy trying to remind everyone else.

My efforts have paid off and I have received some national press. This weekend I will be flying to Tampa, Florida to film a segment for the syndicated lifestyle and entertainment program Daytime.

You can read about it below in Nutcracker Publishing's latest press release:

#Beat Cancer: Author and Cancer Survivor Amelia Frahm talks about establishing a Career while beating Cancer.

Raleigh, NC---Amelia Frahm, the award-winning author of Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy, and creator of Crack Open A Book! cancer education programs will be in Tampa, Florida, October 26th, to film a segment for the syndicated lifestyle and entertainment program Daytime, on how she established a career while beating cancer.

“Somewhere along the way I quit thinking of cancer as my diagnosis and began thinking of it as my career,” says Frahm.

She will share with Daytime viewers how the courage, motivation, and perseverance she used to battle cancer prepared her for the rejection, humiliation, and even bad-luck she experienced in order to establish her career as a successful author and publisher.

A career was the last thing on Frahm’s mind when diagnosed with Breast Cancer 15 years ago. She was 34 years old, the mother of two toddlers, and all she wanted was to find a children’s book to help explain what she was going through to her children.

Diagnosed during a time when talking to children about cancer was considered unconventional, Frahm’s experience resulted in her originating the Nutcracker Publishing Company, and publishing Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tanerkous Mommy, a children’s book about a family surviving the emotional and moody behavior of  a mom battling cancer.

Her book was released in October 2001, and made national headlines when it debuted on the Rosie O Donnell Talk Show amidst an Anthrax scare that shut down O Donnell’s New York City studios.

Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy is recognized across the country as recommended reading for families coping with cancer. Last year Frahm’s company, Nutcracker Publishing, introduced a blonde pig-tailed Tickles Tabitha and launched the first cancer education school program, created by a cancer survivor, designed specifically for elementary aged children.

Frahm has appeared on radio and TV segments across the country, and is a member of the National Cancer Survivors Speakers Bureau. In August her story was recognized by the National StandUp2Cancer Foundation:

This October, she and Tickles Tabitha were pictured on MSNBC Today First Person at:

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Breast Cancer: Ten Things a Survivor’s Teenage Daughter Needs to Know

Will my Mom die? is the first question most children want answered when their mother is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, but “teenage girls have other important concerns as well.

Five years ago, while doing an interview for the News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, my daughter Tabitha, who was 14 at the time, told the reporter, she just always assumed she was destined to get Breast Cancer and, “never thought I wouldn’t get it.”

Hearing her say it aloud-- I felt like I had been kicked in the heart. The first thing a Mother thinks about when diagnosed with Breast Cancer is how it will affect her children. The last thing she wants is her own daughter to be diagnosed with it, if there is some consolation it is knowing your diagnosis could help save your daughter’s life.

Tabitha is now 19, a college student at NC State University, majoring in (no surprise to me) Psychology.

To read our list of Ten Things a Survivor's Teenage Daughter Needs to Know, click on the Breast Cancer Awareness link below.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hidden somewhere in my house is a video of a focus group or what we called a Guinea Pig Party I held a few years ago. It was my trial run for Crack Open A Book! It had great video of the Tickles Tabitha character with the children who participated in the program.

I was invited to appear on "Talk of the Town" a cable show on North Alabama's WYAM TV to talk about cancer education and promote Crack Open a Book! I had promised to bring a video of Tickles Tabitha, but I have been so busy writing, marketing et...I didn't bother looking for it until the last minute. So of course I couldn't find it.

As so often happens with me it's one of those times...I was busy trying to open a door and the window got flung wide open.

My family and I have moved cross country a few times now and the one thing we have always lucked out with is our neighbors! North Carolina is no exception and so the day before I had to fly to Alabama my daughter and our neighbor girls put together this video. It didn't take them all day either--they made it look way too easy.

When I fly home to North Carolina we're having a party to celebrate the debut of Tickles Tabitha and the Cancer Dancers!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

“I’ve had a baaaad (bad) day.” That is what my son Jordan would say when I would ask about his day at Kindergarten. The look on my face, the pity, and the concerned mothering my “Dimple Dumpling” got after blurting out how bad his day was must of made him feel better.

Because for weeks there after when I would inquire about his day at Kindergarten he would reply, “I had a bad day.” Not near as bad as I felt hearing him say it.

I realized soon, but not soon enough for his father and sister, Tabitha that he was playing me.

So one day when I picked him up I bit my tongue and did not ask Jordan about his day. Tabitha and I still laugh about it, because it only took him a few moments to demand, “Aren’t you going to ask about my day?” “ No! Jordan,” his sister told him, “we don’t want to know how bad it was.”

I thought about that this past week as I watched Jordan drive off to school for the first day of his senior year. Not a bad day at all for him, but sad and bittersweet to me. The green eyes and dimples are all that remain of my chubby little boy and every day I have got to spend watching him grow up has been a blessing.

My children have had to handle all sorts of challenges, and living with me with or without cancer was not always a good day either. Yet, they have grown up to be the kind of young people that make me look good when it comes to being a Mother.

I attribute it to all those baaaad days.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

If you would like to be trendy just ask me for suggestions. I have the dubious distinction of being a step ahead of convention, at least among the middle-class suburbanites that surround me. Which means I’m viewed as a dim-witted, oddity by the vast majority of the general public, and all my family members.

I’d like to point out not long ago Barack Obama was viewed as a dim-witted oddity, even without taking his ears into consideration, and look where it landed him!

Being a dim-witted oddity is how I came to own a publishing company. Fortunately, just about the time my company was established and my book went to print, a celebrity named Rosie O Donnell had become a cancer awareness trendsetter, she recommended my book and I didn’t appear so dim. My light lasted about as long as a match.

Trendsetting I’ve discovered only earns one admiration if you’re well known, well off, or not well acquainted with anyone doing the admiring.

I thought I’d risk public humiliation and write about a few of the trends I’m participating in at the moment. They’ve got to be worth writing about as every one of them have provoked some type of self-righteous indignation, or malicious laughter, and I’m once again being viewed as a dim-witted oddity.

Perhaps in another few months or years, I can point back to this Blog and prove I’m not dim, some people are just too blind to see the light.

Trend #1: My commuter marriage. We’ve been practicing it for three years now, my husband Randy is at present working at a 3M plant in Alabama while I live in North Carolina and our children finish high school. It’s not my favorite trend and not for the reasons you might think. Being an oddity I like to move around and I’ve been miffed, I’ve had to stay put.

Trend #2: It’s my favorite daytime guilty pleasure and I confess it’s the reason I don’t get much written some days. It’s not the soaps or the ladies on The View that has me mesmerized- that’s so yesterday. Nope, the only Squawk I listen to comes from the men of Squawk Box, Mad Money, and the Kudlow Report. Which brings me to…

Trend #3: My dirty little secret. It’s such an embarrassment. My husband would rather talk to his colleagues about my breast cancer than tell them this one! I’ve taken up Day Trading. Who knew math or financials could be so darn interesting? My daddy, who loves poker and has the reputation of being very good at it, always said, a professional Gambler never gambles. No, the professionals leave gambling to the idiots trading stocks on Wall Street. Oh, but I've enjoyed being an idiot, trading is just sinfully fun. I hold until I can take some off the top then as Cramer would say, I sell, sell, sell. I’m not the only woman I know doing it either, I’m not naming names but one of my dear childhood friends, had the courage to admit it on Facebook. She who had never even bought a Lotto ticket has been playing the stock market!

Trend #4: I’ve ditched the work out and joined the party! I’m attending Zumba classes. The other night I went to a Zumba party. This trend has probably been around for a while in the Latin community. What took the rest of us so long? Oh I know it must have been our children. After a little demonstration on my part, my children told me they never wanted to see “that” again and wished they could erase that visual from their minds. They’ll just have to get over it because for the first time in like – ever -- I’m actually looking forward to an exercise class!

Trend #5: “Crack Open a Book” children’s programs pertaining to cancer. It’s like
deja vu. As I received the same apprehensive response when I first penned Tickles Tabitha’s Cancer-tankerous Mommy. A cancer education program for school children is a great idea- but is it really necessary?

Trend #6: My next children’s book. It’s taking me longer than it takes plastic to decay. I’m sure that’s a surprise to most my extended family members who think I don’t work, at least not a “real” job. Mine is an “imaginary” position, one where I watch the books fly off the shelves and sell themselves. With all that free time I should have been done already! I know it’s a shocker but writing is work. I’ve been at work writing a children’s book about nuclear power plants. Go ahead and laugh, but so you know, they laughed (behind my back) when I wrote a children’s book about cancer too, right up until Rosie O Donnell recommended it on national television.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Well Twitter this! Here it is almost Easter and I'm just now posting a Christmas photo and haven't blogged in months.

In February I celebrated 15 years of being cancer free.

I've been busy, but it appears these days you've not really done anything of importance unless you post it on line for friends, colleagues and significant strangers to read about.

Bragging, oops I meant marketing ones self has apparently gone main stream.

My pretty and hip thirty something neighbor sent me an invitation to, my friend, colleague and Internet provider Steve, guilted me into joining, and my friend and former flight attendant colleague Debbie, told me to go to, where I can see all the places she's been now that's she's based in Paris, France.

Then there's Twitter- who thought of that? Had to be a man- a young, innocent and yet to be jaded by life man. "What are you doing?" What was he thinking, cause I'm thinking Twittering is going to get a lot of people in big trouble.

The problem I have with blogging is more than half the things I'd like to vent - I meant write about I can't. Well, I could but it wouldn't help book sells, win friends or make my family happy.

Oh, and just in case I get tired of sitting in the comfort of my own home, cozying up to the laptop as I Twitter other peoples lives, my friend Ellen was kind enough to yank me out of the house by inviting me to join, a network of local groups of any and all descriptions meeting in a location near you. All I had to do was go on line and type in my own zip code.

Tonight, if I can tear myself away from the Internet I'll be in Raleigh, NC, attending the Susan G. Komen North Carolina volunteer orientation meeting. It's not a meetup, just a meeting. Depending on how you look at it, I'm too busy or too boring to find time to Blog, much less Twitter.