Nope. These are not the red marks of someone who just received a relaxing massage. These are the red marks of someone who had just undergone her annual bilateral breast MRI with contrast. What does that entail, you ask? Allow me to explain…
While many of you were out running last-minute errands, cleaning your house, baking up a storm, and putting the final touches on your Thanksgiving preparations, I was in an MRI machine. After the technician’s couldn’t get the usual rockstar vein in my left arm to cooperate, they had to try again on my right arm. Granted, I have not let anyone take my blood pressure, prick my finger, or draw blood from my right arm ever since my lymph node extraction surgery two years ago. There’s no real medical reason for me to baby that side of my body other than the fact that there’s always a threat of edema (fluid buildup), but I didn’t suffer from edema after my surgery. I do still have numbness down the back side of my right arm, and I think in some way that’s why I don’t like to mess with it. I’m also right handed and I really need that hand to continue to work, so I try to avoid all things “right” when possible. Oh, well.
Once the technicians got the IV/catheter in on the right side, we were ready to go. For the next twenty or so minutes I had to lie face down, breasts hanging out of holes in a metal table, breathe shallowly, and remain perfectly still. Even though I was given earplugs, the sound of the magnet circling my body as it took images of my chest cavity were literally deafening. I truly don’t understand - with all the technology in the world, why hasn’t anyone invented a quiet MRI machine? A few sets of ridiculously loud banging later and the technician comes on the intercom to announce that the contrast will start coursing through my IV. This allows them to compare images with and without contrast (metallic liquid that glows on imaging). This time I didn’t feel anything, but in the past it’s felt ice cold and was quite a shock to the system.
Luckily I’m not claustrophobic, but the real fun starts when trying to monitor my breathing while in this tube and lying perfectly still so that I don’t mess up the scans, and have to repeat them, and therefore extend my time in the tube. I told you it was fun! This is where I have to talk myself off the ledge multiple times in a 20 minute period. Until sweet victory when the technician comes on the overhead speaker and tells me that I’m all done and she’s coming to help me up.
Once out of the machine I always feel a little wobbly from being prone for so long, plus I now have Wolverine juice coursing through my veins. I was able to head back to the changing room and snap the pictures of what my face then looked like after pressing my head into the so-called cushioned head rest.
Why would I book my annual MRI the day before Thanksgiving, you ask? I didn’t. The other point I’d like to make in telling you this story is that advocating for yourself as a patient never ends. This MRI should’ve taken place at some point in the last two weeks. The reason it didn’t is because my oncologist forgot to put the order in after my last six month check up with her. Life got busy and I paid no attention to the fact that I had not received a call from the scheduler. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t have my annual MRI results to compare to the previous two years and I panicked and reached out to my doctor’s office. They admitted their mistake and had the scheduler call me that day. The earliest appointment they had available was December 29th. I had no choice but to take that appointment. I did request to be added to a cancellation list because I was not happy with the date that was being offered. My MRI is supposed to take place annually in November.
I let a week go by to see if anyone would call me back with good news. No one ever called. I called the scheduler at the hospital where the MRI was to be performed and left a long voicemail advocating for the fact that if my MRI doesn’t take place in November, and I stick with this December 29th date, it was going to negatively impact my post cancer screening schedule. If you’ve ever dealt with an insurance company regarding an annual procedure, you know that next year my MRI would have to take place no earlier than December 30th which only gives me two days in the calendar year to schedule this annual screening. The following year my only option would be on New Year’s Eve, which might not even be available due to hospital staffing shortages on a holiday. Then we’d roll into the next calendar year the following year, which is a whole other issue. I knew I had to get an earlier appointment and I made my plea very clear. Wouldn’t you know that the scheduler received my voicemail, called me at the end of her shift, and found a magical appointment on November 23rd due to a cancellation. I found that very hard to believe, but I was grateful for the new appointment.
Fast forward a few weeks after we got the new date worked out, and I received an approval letter in the mail from my insurance company. Normally this would be a joyous occasion, as MRIs are not always deemed medically necessary, so oftentimes phone calls have to be made to get it pushed through. After reading the fine print and all the details on the approval letter I noticed that the wrong type of MRI was noted. I then entered a circle of hell that included calling my insurance company who explained that I needed to call my doctor’s office and have them revise the order they sent, but to make sure they called the third-party scheduling firm that they use to clarify the description of my MRI in the hospital system so that I didn’t have any issues upon arrival. I finally reached a nurse who understood what I was asking for and she promised she would call me back at the end of the day, yesterday, to confirm that everything had been taken care of. I did not receive that phone call. Just before I decided to follow up first thing this morning, I finally received a call from the nurse at my doctor’s office who handles these issues, and got clarification as to how the insurance approval letters are written, and that everything was going to be in order by the time I got to the outpatient surgery center. Everything was in order, except for a few pages of medical history I had to complete even though I had completed my pre-registration online, and I’m a frequent flyer in this health system and can be found in multiple databases. Why all the repetitious paperwork??? Ugh!
Check on your friends with cancer and/or chronic diseases. We’re not always okay. I’m two years post diagnosis, surgery, and treatment and yet every 3, 6, or 12 months I am in a doctors office getting poked, prodded, screened, or probed to ensure that the cancer has not returned or metastasized into some other organ. Decisions are always having to be made about preventative surgeries to remove organs that could be a cancer risk in the future and what that might do to my day-to-day quality of life. There’s always something to worry about.
I do my very best to not dwell on the fact that I had cancer, and I don’t bring it up as often as I used to, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to think about it, and see it in the scars on my body, and deal with the side effects by way of the medicine that I’m on, every single day. It’s A LOT and it’s always going to be A LOT. Add to that the survivor’s guilt of knowing that someone next to me went through a harsher treatment regimen, or had a more invasive surgery than I did, and I’m faced with the negative self-talk of “just move on with your life” mantra. Not tonight. Tonight I’m going to sit in my feelings, acknowledge that this happened to me, and hope and pray that the results of this annual MRI are clear.
I’m Thankful to be here. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that my house will be full of people, conversations, love, and food tomorrow and I don’t have to think about cancer…until my next appointment.
I hope you find these shared insights, brand spotlights, and event opportunities to be helpful. I invite you to join me in person so I can introduce you to great people who can boost your happiness and propel your business forward. I welcome and appreciate your feedback as I publish this second edition of my newsletter. The photos used in the headers (if viewed on LinkedIn) were taken steps from my front door and I incorporated them here to remind you that even though the darkness creeps in a bit earlier this time of year, we can always find beauty in the world if we afford ourselves the time and space to notice it.
BONUS: Don’t miss the holiday gift list I’ve curated for you in the BRAND section. You’ll find something for everyone on your list this holiday season!
How and when do you feel “strong?” For me, it happens when I’ve gotten in a great workout, sure, but I realize more satisfaction and strength when I accomplish something important. This month my strength came from planning and attending RebelleCon (it took place last week) - a boutique conference for women who are designing the work and lives they want to pursue without the stress and burnout. I helped to promote the conference on the communications team, and it was so rewarding to peek behind the curtain with my all-access pass. When they say, “Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life,” they are spot on. Creating content for an audience I am included in made the words flow with more ease because I was essentially writing to myself. Our messaging promised connection, insights, exposure to mentors, and career opportunities. I learned so much from the amazing speakers, filled pages with notes, and made connections that will help my business grow. RebelleCon provides a safe space for women to open up about what they’re facing at work and in life, and the survey results confirmed that our guests had a wonderful experience, and we cannot wait to do it again next year. Yes, please! Until then, I'm going to be leveling up my business acumen and know-how by joining the next SWELL cohort. SWELL by Rebelle is a 12-month peer mentorship program that allows the conversations from RebelleCon to continue on a monthly basis, so the momentum and insights aren't lost but nurtured for growth and opportunity. The door is open, let's go through it together!
I’ve talked about this a lot over the past few years, but something else that makes me feel strong is the fact that I was able to move the needle on my career growth after observing other women who were living life on their own terms. What did their lives look like, you ask? They were working remotely from well-appointed home offices, they were able to get their kids on and off the bus and volunteer at their school(s) when needed, and they were home on time for dinner each night. When I was first exposed to the women of the Rebelle Community, their lifestyles seemed so far out of reach for me, but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, so I continued to register for their events. After attending multiple panel discussions and mixers, and having meaningful conversations with women I'd just met, something became clear to me. I needed to surround myself with people who were living the kind of life I wanted to live. I needed to learn from them, ask questions, get to know their stories, and you know what? It worked. Once I started expressing to these amazing new connections that I was looking for a change, it led me to my next job opportunity.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I needed to be a gardener (Thanks, @iamkiranbhagat_). I needed to pull the weeds (barriers) in my life, plant the seeds (say what I wanted out loud), and water and nourish the soil (continue to show up and network with different groups outside of my industry). I expanded my bubble, and it made all the difference. I know it’s a popular habit to listen to mantras shared by famous motivational speakers or to hang your hopes on inspirational quotes from a meditation app, but in most cases, to truly make a meaningful change in your life, it comes down to action. You need to make a bold move by taking a brave step in a new direction, and that’s when things start to change.
I was not initially happy about having to leave my industry to build a better life for my family, but what I discovered was that the exposure to thousands of organizations and events over my 15+ years in hospitality created a deep knowledge base and understanding of the needs and challenges businesses and nonprofits face. Now, in brand strategy discussions with clients, I can pull from that knowledge and offer solutions. When recording a script, I can tell a brand story in a way that puts me in the shoes of the listener while also conveying the important information the client is trying to get across to their audience. All those years in hospitality led to a broader purpose.
These days, there are very few industries where there’s a defined corporate ladder to be climbed, and we’re better for it. Career paths are now likened to jungle gyms with zigs and zags, and twists and turns that build resilience in us that we carry forward as we grow as people, employees, and entrepreneurs. I feel strong every time I land a new client or project due to the seeds I’ve planted through my networking efforts, my referral relationships, or because someone believes in my voice talent. My corporate background grounded me but leaning into my creativity makes me strong.
BRAND (Holiday Edition)
As promised, this month I’ve curated a list of companies that will help you find something special for everyone on your “nice” list. I love these brands because they were founded by, or are accessible through, my amazingly talented friends & family.
Please click through to visit each site and give them a follow. Here’s a little background on each one:
KEVA Style – Local to Midlothian, VA, this woman-owned jewelry and accessories brand offers gorgeous leather jewelry, vegan leather options, Apple watch bands, and silk accessories. Eva Harris & Ginny Ball launched their Created by sister brand last year to help elevate up-and-coming artists and designers, and I’m proud to call them my friends. Shop all styles and products on their website – there’s something for everyone! If you’re local to the Richmond region, you’re in luck! KEVA Style is hosting an open studio sale this Sunday. Get the details here and I’ll see you there!
Never Enough – Also local to Midlothian, VA, was founded by a brother & sister team of middle schoolers. This dynamic duo has launched a candle, soap, and bath bomb company to start building business acumen and management skills for their future college applications. Talk about ambition! Sam & Mia Harris are proving that age is just a number. They are learning as they grow and achieving their dreams with hard work and a little know-how. Give them a follow @shopneverenough22 on IG. (If you attend the KEVA Style open studio sale noted above, you’ll be able to shop this new brand, as well). Mia and Sam are the children of Eva Harris, founder of KEVA Style, and Mia is one of my Girl Scouts, so I’m extra proud of her!
Amory's Seafood RVA (@amoryseafoodrva) – Calling all seafood lovers! I have a soft spot for small businesses not only in RVA, but also in the 757 because that’s where I’m from. You can show this family-run seafood business some love by placing an order in time for Thanksgiving. For RVA residents, orders can be picked up in the fan from my friend, Martina James. View their post on IG for the menu, deadlines, and all the ways to get your shrimp on!
Yenta + Posha – Local to Richmond, VA, and as seen on Good Morning America’s Deals & Steals, and now available on Amazon, this meeting planner turned inventor decided to fix foot pain for women who spend hours on their feet. My brilliant friend, Brianna Schwartz, worked with podiatrists, orthopedic specialists, and countless women to grow the only US insole brand with the seal of acceptance by a leading podiatry association! The best part is you don’t have to buy new shoes! These insoles can be slipped in and out of boots, sneakers, flats, and loafers. You never have to sacrifice comfort for style. Bonus! She's now added a comfy no-show lounge sock to her collection, and they feel like buttah! Go ahead and add a three-pack to your cart and thank me later!
Vintner’s Cellar Winery of Yorktown – Local to Yorktown, VA, and serving the 757 and beyond – this hospitality sales executive and his wife, a teacher, decided to buy a winery in the middle of the pandemic! Learning the trade and perfecting their fruit-infused blends, join my friends, Brandon Johnson, CTA and Janet Johnson, for a tasting to hear their story. Stop in and secure bottles for your own collection or request custom labels for gifts that celebrate your friends, family, and clients. Upcoming tastings are linked below and make great gifts!
SEINT – A sustainable beauty brand that’s taking makeup back to its creamy roots. It’s applied lightly with a dab here and a dab there, but offers full coverage with contouring, highlighting, and all the blush and glam in between. Send Jennifer Norwood a message to get her started on building your custom palette. I did! Shipping is lightning fast, too! Give her a follow @jennifermaysnorwood on IG and watch her tutorials to see how it works. She’s my gorgeous cousin, a mama of three, and lives in North Carolina.
Wooed – Local to Richmond, VA – This woman-owned business has been a long time in the making. For years, my friend, Janna Woo, has been crafting the most amazingly creative themed birthday and holiday parties for her two princesses, as well as for friends and family. She’s now taking her themed party supplies and sensory kits to the masses while also offering customized products and accessories. She’s got great teacher and grandma gifts, too! Join her private Facebook group, “Wooed,” to learn more and place a custom order!
What kind of gift list would this be without books? I am so fortunate to have talented friends who are not only makers but also insightful authors. Check out these life-changing books and buy a few extra copies to give as gifts.
Slay Like a Mother by Katherine Wintsch
Behind Frenemy Lines by Dr. Amber Tichenor, PhD
I Quit Pushing the Boulder by Roger Wyatt
Rebelle Magazine – Fall Edition - As you've already read, I had a wonderful time at RebelleCon last week, and I’m still riding the high from all the connections made and lessons learned. The conference may be over, but Rebelle Magazine is live and available online and in print. I am doubling down on my marketing efforts in the coming year, so please enjoy the full-page ad for Linné Diiorio Communications on page 25 in the digital issue. Don’t forget, magazines make great gifts! Trust me, it's gorgeous in print!
Got a great gift idea? Drop a link in the comments so everyone can benefit!
I can proudly say that I landed a corporate narration gig with a major healthcare brand last week. It was exhilarating to receive an invitation to schedule studio time and record with another voice actor to complete the project. Fun fact: I walked into the session and immediately recognized the other voice actor! That’s right…I met Cathy Motley-Fitch at two Rebelle pop-up events this past year. While networking with Cathy at those events, she was intrigued by my pursuit of voice acting and noted that she was a speech coach and performer herself. We hit it off and connected on LinkedIn. Fast forward to last week, when I got to spend more time with her, experience her voice talent, and revel in the compliments she bestowed on me upon hearing my voice through her headphones, it was a completely different recording experience. We were tasked with acting out a very serious phone call and based on the personal experiences we each had to pull from, we nailed it. I’m so grateful that she was in the room. I truly believe that people are placed in your path for a reason, and this instance was one of those blessings.
During a break, we got to catch up and I learned more about her family’s story. Wow! No wonder she was able to act out the script so well. Please check out her website, Lola's Song, and become knowledgeable about the dangers of miscommunication and negligence in our healthcare system. I’m going to encourage her to push her book proposal until a publisher signs on. Also, I’ll say it again, Richmond is the biggest small town!
In other “voice” news, I continue to record on-hold messages for companies across the nation. It’s peak holiday greeting season, so if you’re in need of a refresh of your on-hold telephone greeting to convey your revised holiday hours, special services, or promotions, I’d be happy to work with you to write and record a friendly update. Thank you in advance for every lead and referral you send my way.
A big thank you to Shannon Siriano Greenwood for inviting me to make announcements during RebelleCon again this year, all while working closely in tune with my new friend, and DJ/Stage Manager/Show Runner extraordinaire, Todd Waldo.
To get a hug and hear my voice in real life, you'll need to attend an event or two…
Vintner’s Cellar Winery of Yorktown is hosting tastings this Saturday through mid-December. Gather some friends and book your favorite day and time here. When do you want to meet up? EVENTS | Vintner's Cellar Winery of Yorktown
Girl Scout Troop 752 + Puritan Cleaners Coats for Kids Collection – My daughter's Girl Scout troop is collecting coats for the Puritan Cleaners Coats for Kids program. We're accepting kids' sizes in new and gently used condition from now until Friday, November 18th. If you'd like to donate coats this week, please message me to coordinate pick-up in the RVA area. We truly appreciate your support. We'll be taking our collected coats to Puritan's culminating event this Saturday at The Diamond, and our troop has been offered guaranteed airtime on CBS6 for their efforts! They are so excited, so please help us maximize our donation and keep kids warm this winter.
Creative Mornings Richmond is hosting a session this Friday, 11/18/22 at 8:30 AM
Guest speaker, Dr. Sesha Joi Moon, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with the U.S. House of Representatives, will give an insightful presentation after a networking reception for our vibrant creative community. Tickets are free, but you must register to attend.
KEVA Style Open Studio Sale Event – Sunday, 11/20/22 from 11 AM – 5 PM
Join us in Midlothian for special deals, a sneak peek of the 2023 designs, and enjoy a little bubbly. See event listing for location and a promo code!
Meeting Professionals International – VA Chapter – Thursday, 12/1/22, 3 PM – 10 PM
Join fellow meeting and event professionals as we network and celebrate the season together. Kings Dominion is opening its doors early for us to host our silent auction and holiday reception, then we’ll stay and enjoy Winterfest! The event kicks off at 3 pm. Winterfest opens to the public at 5 pm. Register here.
Liza Pruitt Art’s Emerging Artist Show – Now through December 1, 2022
Calling all art lovers! Scoop up great deals on pieces large and small from a curated group of talented up-and-coming artists. Art makes the perfect gift! This is an online shopping event.
The CarMax Tacky Light Run is one of my favorite events of the season. It will take place on Saturday, December 10th in Walton Park, a neighborhood in Midlothian known for its epic tacky light displays and enthusiastic neighbor participation in welcoming thousands of spectators to their streets. This non-competitive 6K course is accessible by wheelchair, wagon, and stroller. Bundle up the family, gather your friends, and wrap yourself in battery-powered lights to join in on the tacky festivities. Sports Backers creates a fun and safe festival atmosphere with cookie stops and photo ops along the way. It’s a great way to get those steps in, too. #nevertootacky Register Now: Ticket prices go up this Friday! CarMax Tacky Light Run - Sports Backers
Shew, that’s a packed calendar, but I’m excited about all the friendly faces I get to see this holiday season. Tune in next month as I explore how to set your sights on a productive and fulfilling 2023. Now, go register for everything I've noted above, and I'll save you a seat!
Linné Diiorio Communications
Originally published on LinkedIn:
Wife, Working Mom, Troop Leader, Creative, Survivor.