A book of inspiration for teens and young women, edited by Linda Neas

[I use Grammarly’s english grammar check online because if you think using good grammar was only important for your school term papers, you’ve got another think coming.]


In keeping with the quotes and storied included in Reverend Linda Rhinehart Neas’ inspirational anthology, Returning to the ReturningCircle: Inspirational Wisdom from Women for Women, Linda has shared with us here at Choices her important advice to teens and young women about breast cancer awareness.

But first, more about this lovely anthology and how thrilled I am to have a piece about my journaling experience included. I jumped at the chance to participate when Linda told me of her plan to edit a book containing quotes and affirmations by famous women and true stories by real women, who have faced difficulties, obstacles and pain. These are stories of your mother, aunt, grandmother, sister, or friend. As Linda suggests: Learn from their experiences. Trust their judgment. Believe in their wisdom.

Over a year ago, Linda pondered about a way to share information with young women.  Years ago, she says, we got this kind of information at the kitchen table as we sipped tea or at the sewing bee or even around the campfire.  Today, however, technology has become the focal point of conversation. Information gets disbursed in nanoseconds around the world.  Unfortunately, much of what is said has no value, is riddled with falsehoods and isn’t worth the time it takes to delete it.

As she says in the introduction of Returning to the Circle, I pray that those who read and use this book will be blessed by the words – the wisdom – of the women who appear on these pages. May they help to guide, inspire and affirm who you are and why you are in this life.

Linda and I both thank you for reading!

Now, here’s Linda’s inspiring story: 

Women’s Wisdom: Coming Out of the Dark Ages 

by Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas

The first time the term self-breast exam was discussed in my presence, I was about eighteen or so.  My peers deemed it: a. gross, b. disgusting, and c. perverted.

Breast Cancer Awareness is nothing new, as evidenced by the proliferation of ads and products to support research that are now found everywhere.  Feature articles explain the importance of prevention, describe treatments and recount the histories of survivors.

With all this publicity, one would think that every woman over forty has had a mammogram and that every young woman from her late teens on has learned to do monthly self-exams. However, statistics show otherwise. Talk to any group of women and you will find at least one who still hasn’t gotten around to it. Most women will joke and tease about their breasts, but get serious and the subject gets changed.

So, let me get serious.  There has been nearly thirty women I know well diagnosed with breast cancer since I was a teenager.  I am now 60 years old.  Over one third have died.  Each death has left a little hole in the fabric of my life.  Saddest of all, each death could have been prevented.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Breast cancer kills more women than any other cancer except lung cancer.  The disease is the leading cause of death for American women in their 40’s.  An estimated 183,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer occur annually in the United States, and about 41,000 American women die of breast cancer.

For a country that leads all others in medical knowledge, this is an abomination!  We need to come out of the Dark Ages.  All women are born with breasts. This is a fact, get over it!  They can be healthy or, they can become diseased.  Ignorance in this case, can be deadly. Knowledge and action is the greatest preventative!

Breast cancer has four stages that are based on where it is located and how far it has spread.  Stage 0 is non-invasive.  Stage I is invasive, breaking through to neighboring tissue without lymph node involvement.  Stage II has two subcategories: IIA and IIB both are invasive, categorized by the size of the tumor and involvement of lymph nodes.  Stage III has three subcategories, is invasive and involves tissues in chest wall, skin of the breast and lymph node above or below the collarbone.  Stage IV is cancer that has spread to other organs of the body.

What are the risk factors that put you at greater risk of breast cancer?  Without a doubt, heredity plays a role.  However, only 5 to 10 percent of the cases of breast cancer are inherited.  That means that 90 percent are by other causes.

Other causes include: where you were born, what you eat, whether you drink or smoke and your age.  Breast cancer is highest in North America, northern Europe, lower in southern Europe and Latin America and lowest in Asia and South America.  Limiting fats, increasing fiber and eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains can make a difference.  Also, eating foods rich in the antioxidant vitamins: beta carotene, vitamin C and E helps reduce your risk.  Women who smoke and drink excessively (more than one drink or less a day) are at a much higher risk for breast cancer.  Finally, the older you are, the higher the risk.

Bottom line is this: early detection is essential!  We may have walked on the moon, sent pictures back from the far reaches of space, been able to comprehend fuzzy logic, and made quantum leaps in medicine, but when it comes to preventing breast cancer, we have miles to go.

Resources:  Mayoclinic.com and BreastCancer.org


DSCN6307Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas is an educator, writer, poet, Wisdom teacher and interfaith minister. She has two books of poetry, “Winter of the Soul,” (2008) and “Gogo’s Dream: Discovering Swaziland,” (2010). On January 1, 2013, her story, “The Angel in the Bright Green Jacket,” was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels Among Us. She teaches English as a Second language, writing and poetry throughout New England. Rev. Neas lives in an enchanted cottage with her partner, Roger. She gains great insight and inspiration from her four daughters and growing number of grandchildren.

Returning to the Circle eBook can be found at Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/380405

or, on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H0FV6R4/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk – and please feel free to leave a review on either site. One more thing – profits from the book will go to help other women in need.  So it is a win/win situation!


Also visit:

Linda’s blog, Words from the Heart

Linda’s Website

Gogo’s Dream

Facebook Page

I’ll end here with the quote I always enjoy at the end of Linda’s emails to me:

“Do not go gently into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas


  1. Thanks, Madeline! I am so happy we got to collaborate on this. You have been an inspiration and a great support. Big Hugs!

  2. Madeline Sharples says

    You are so welcome, Linda. I am thrilled to have a piece in your lovely inspirational book. Working with you is a please. All best.

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