About Me

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Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
I completed the 2016 Summer Program in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I received a BS Degree in Radio/TV from ASU and a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing from UALR. I hope I can help others through my Blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram Accounts.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mesothelioma.Net - Hope. Faith. Action.





Over the last few months, I've received a couple of emails about the website Mesothelioma.net, a source of information for patients diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

As a 15 year survivor of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I've written several different blog entries about my diagnosis and cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. I've volunteered my time for different cancer support groups and helped raise funds for other ones.

On Election Day 2016, I observed the fact that exactly 16 years ago that day, I was in a hospital in Little Rock, diagnosed with cancer. So on November, 8, 2016, I visited friends who live in California and went to a play in Hollywood. It's been a journey that I've made with the help of my family, friends, and wonderful doctors. I continue to help spread the word about different resources to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

I'm happy to assist in any way that I can so I agreed to include a link to the Mesothelioma.Net website. In November, I received emails from both Mr. A. and Ms. K., informing me of how they have been helped by resources from this organization.

I've changed the name to Mr. A. for the first email:

My name is Mr. A. I came across your website and thought you might be interested in my message.
I was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. From automotive to demolition work, I’ve had many jobs in my life that contributed to my exposure. On some jobs, the air was so thick with debris and asbestos you could taste it in your mouth.

When I was diagnosed with mesothelioma I needed immediate medical attention. I found a few websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with my type of cancer but nobody got back to me.

Then I found Mesothelioma.net. Even though I contacted them on a Sunday one of their patient advocates gave me a call back within minutes. They gave me a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to me.

As a result of their website I am now being treated at the National Cancer Institute and the patient advocates have even provided me with financial assistance so I could afford a place to live during my cancer treatments. If I had not reached out to this website I would likely be homeless and more importantly in hospice waiting to die. These people gave me my only chance at survival.

Perhaps some of your website visitors could use the help of Mesothelioma.net. The website is filled with information on mesothelioma treatments and doctors, asbestos trust funds for victims, and a lot more. They also sponsor The American Cancer Society, the MD Cancer Center, and the Make a Wish Foundation.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you help spread the good work they’re doing by posting a link to Mesothelioma.net on your website?


Please let me know what you think when you get a chance. Thanks very much for your time.

Mr. A.


I've changed the name to Ms. K. for the second email:

I really enjoyed looking through your site and I thought you might be interested in my message.

My name is Ms. K. and I have been fighting mesothelioma cancer for the past 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. People can be exposed to asbestos in many ways. My exposure was a result of asbestos being spread into the air when the office I was working at was remodeled.

At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma and was told I had less than two years to live. But I was determined to stay positive and beat this cancer against all odds! My treatment included having my right lung and the lining of the lung removed--a major surgical procedure. Soon after, I began several months of radiation therapy.

I am overjoyed to say that my fight paid off and now 9 years later I am still cancer free! But I know I did not face this battle alone. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.

I was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely care about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma.

I feel it is my duty to give back to the community--to let people with asbestos diseases know they are not alone. There is help available!

Would you be so kind as to post a link to MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org on your website? I know together we can help a lot of people!

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!


Ms. K.


Here is the link to the Mesothelioma Lawyer Center website.


Even though I would like to have written this blog entry earlier, I made my deadline of the last day of 2016 to post it! I wish both of these people continued good health. And hope that others can be helped by both of these websites.

Image from Mesothelioma.net


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TV Review - This Is Us (2016)





Favorite. New. Show.

Summary - 

A group of people with the same birthday, including Jack and his wife Rebecca, a married couple expecting triplets in Pittsburgh; Kevin, a handsome television actor growing bored of his fly bachelor lifestyle; Kate, his sweet and heavyset twin sister; and Randall, a successful lawyer in search of his biological father.

My Review - 

This Is Us is the best new television show this season.

Cast - 

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimigila as married couple Rebecca and Jack


Justin Hartley as Kevin


Chrissy Metz as Kate


Sterling K. Brown as Randall





Leslie's Notes - 


  • The writing for this show is realistic and true.
  • The acting is amazing!
  • The production is excellent - with a seamless transition from scene to scene and very good lighting and camera work.
For more information about the drama This Is Us, check out this link on NBC.com.


Airs on NBC (local Channel 4)
Tuesday nights
8:00 p.m. (CST)


I am writing this review as I watch tonight's episode and once again, it's funny, sentimental, sad, and heartwarming all at the same time!


Photos from IMDb

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pop Pop Shoppe!

416 South University
Suite 130
Little Rock, Arkansas  72205
(located next to Gigi's Cupcakes in the Park Avenue Shopping Center)





Today is the grand opening of the new Pop Pop Shoppe in Little Rock!



Last night I attended a special VIP Party for the gourmet popcorn store.


Pop Pop Shoppe, founded in 2014, offers fresh, high-quality handmade gourmet popcorn and other foods, including fudges and candied pecans. The company also acts as a partner for local businesses and organizations providing programs for employee relations and sales staff. Pop Pop Shoppe provides fundraisers for school and other nonprofit organizations as well as custom-made gift baskets and specialty "popcorn bars" for weddings and other events.

There are more than 25 flavors of Pop Pop Shoppe popcorn available, ranging from plain butter to spicy Cajun and from sweet Wedding Cake to fruit Cherry, Blueberry, Banana or Grape. You can purchase everything from an individual serving of fresh popcorn to gift baskets featuring different types of popcorn in colorful or holiday themed tins.


The Pop Pop Shoppe offers sport themed tins such as the Arkansas Razorbacks!


Small gift tins, such as the Halloween themed ones on the bottom of this shelf, contain two bags
of popcorn and are wrapped with ribbon for $21.99.

There's a Butter Machine where you can add your own butter to your popcorn!


The Pop Pop Shoppe also provides fudge!


Hours of the Little Rock Pop Pop Shoppe will be Monday - Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

For more information, see the Pop Pop Shoppe.

Arkansas Women Bloggers had a great time at the VIP Party!



All pictures by Leslie Dianne
Sponsored

Friday, September 30, 2016

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Earlier this summer, I learned about the Cancer Moonshot 2020, a new cancer research project that aims to accelerate different types of cancer treatment. I had learned a lot about the initiative in June, Cancer Immunotherapy month. I had just started my Cinematic Arts classes in the summer program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and wasn't able to write the entry at that time. It's now September, which is also Blood Cancer Awareness Month (Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma) and I want to share some of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 findings on my blog.

As a 15-year cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 39 on November 8, 2000 after suffering multiple symptoms, including chest pains, weight loss, fatigue and night sweats, for almost one year. Three days after I was hospitalized and received my cancer diagnosis, I began chemotherapy and three months later started radiation treatment.

You can read about my cancer treatment experience in this blog entry that appeared on LymphomaInfo.net in July 2013 - http://www.lymphomainfo.net/share/surviving-lymphoma/surviving-lymphoma-and-life-s-challenges-leslie-s-story


Family Photo Christmas Card 2000
Photo taken in November 2000, a few weeks after I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
My husband, Stewart, and I started a family tradition after the birth of our oldest daughter, Lauren, in 1993, of having an annual Christmas card photo taken and mailed to all our family and friends. In the 2000 Christmas card photo, Lauren is 7 years old and Sara is 3 years old.

Easter Day 2001
Sara (4) & Lauren (8)
and I'm wearing my
'Laura Bush" wig
Throughout my life, I can remember cancer affecting friends and family members. Friends from high school and college, co-workers and relatives. It seems that everyone has been affected in one way or another by cancer. And then came my cancer diagnosis in November 2000, eight days after I turned 39 years old. I then spent the next seven months going through cancer treatment and approximately two years recovering and gaining my strength back. I tried to maintain positive, reading as much as I could about Lymphoma, and continued to create special moments with my two daughters and husband. On May 17, 2001, I was declared 'in remission' by my Oncologist, Dr. Lawrence Mendelsohn. My husband Stewart took me to Fort Walton, Florida for a week to celebrate. After we returned from the beach, I was able to spend the summer with our two daughters, going to parks and picnics, and sometimes just staying in the house, watching videos and playing with Beanie Babies! I also discovered that I had some additional  medical issues, including digestive problems and osteoporosis. Cancer doesn't just affect the patient, it affects the whole family. I was so lucky to have the love and support of my family and friends during the time before, during and after my diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.


My husband, Stewart, with our two daughters, Sara & Lauren,
on Easter Day 2001.

The Cancer Moonshot initiative will try and break the mold of traditional cancer treatment. The chemotherapy treatments will be replaced by vaccine based immunotherapy tailored to each individual. Even rare cancers like mesothelioma and lymphoma see hope with the immunotherapy treatments. Many new treatments for these cancers have seen promise with immune targeting. The following video explains about the Cancer Moonshot.





You can read more about the establishment of Cancer Moonshot, which was led by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015, by clicking on this link to an online article from the National Cancer Institute.

On November 8, 2016 (Election Day!) it will be 16 years since I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I'm proud to be a cancer survivor and have volunteered for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society and Race For The Cure. I've written a newsletter for the families of children fighting cancer and several blog entries for different cancer support groups.

In the years since I went into remission from cancer, my husband and I watched our two daughters grow up from little girls into kind, smart and beautiful young women. Tragically, Stewart passed away suddenly at age 52 from an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, when I was 50 and our daughters were only 19 and 15 years old. In May 2015, my oldest daughter graduated from college and now lives and works out of state and my youngest daughter graduated from high school and is currently a sophomore in college.

Leslie, Sara and Lauren Doan
Christmas 2015


For more information about Cancer Moonshot 2020, please see the Medium page dedicated to the mission, this blog post, the Facebook page, or the Twitter feed.


Cancer Moonshot 2020 Graphic



Friday, September 9, 2016

Movie Review - Sully (2016)




Photos from IMDb

Movie Description:  The story of Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, who became a hero after gliding his plane along the water in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, saving all of the airplane flights 155 crew and passengers, also known as "The Miracle on the Hudson".

Release Date
:  Friday, September 9, 2016

Running Time
:  1 hour and 35 minutes

Genre:  
Biography and Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): 
Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.


Director:
  Clint Eastwood

Writers:

Todd Komarnicki (screenplay)
Chelsey Sullenberger (based on the book "Highest Duty")
Jeffrey Zaslow (based on the book "Highest Duty")



CAST

Tom Hanks as Chesley 'Sully" Sullenberger


Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles



Laura Linney as Lorraine Sullenberger

Mike O'Malley as Charles Porter



Leslie's Notes

I saw this movie last night at a special preview showing at 7 pm in Little Rock. The theater was about half full but the audience was very enthusiastic! This is my first movie review I've written since I completed the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I always watch movies with an eye for all aspects of production - costumes, lighting, sound, and camera angles - along with the acting and dialogue. But for this movie, I was especially tuned in to how much a great production it is along with being a wonderful movie. Director Clint Eastwood had the daunting task of recreating an actual event with actual people and to make it look realistic without looking fake or deceptive. The result is a very suspenseful, astonishing and factual movie that kept my interest from the very first scene to the credits, which resulted in clapping from the small but enthusiastic audience I was a member of.

While I was in California this summer I met a man who "recreates" airplane scenes for movies and television shows. He was involved in aircraft production for many years and was asked to help with a project because real airplanes can not be used, so he has a new career designing aircraft for film and television productions. I wonder if he worked on this movie. I thought the entire movie was great, from the acting to the scenes shot in New York City. I can remember when this actual event occurred, and I can remember my late husband, Stewart Doan, talking to me about it because he was able to watch the rescue process live on television at the time. I think he would have loved this movie too.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How did you get here?


First Day Of School!
University of Southern California - June 27, 2016



At the end of May 2015, I saw a new physician as part of a required medical exam. After I shook his hand, introduced myself and sat down, he sat down as well, pulled out a notebook, looked at me and asked, "How did you get here?"  I paused, thought a minute, and then answered, "Well, I filled out a form in the spring, then I received a phone call and a letter last week that said to come here today." The doctor shook his head, leaned forward in his chair and said, "No, I meant how did you get here - to this appointment? Did you drive yourself or take the bus?"

For years, I have asked myself that same question. "How did you get here?" After my cancer diagnosis in 2000, after my husband and I both suffered job layoffs, and then again after my husband died suddenly of an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, leaving me as a 50-year-old widow with two teenage daughters.

The past four years have brought a lot of changes in my life. I've seen my oldest daughter graduate from college and move to Boston as a young professional. My youngest daughter graduated from high school and is now starting her second year at an out-of-state university. Both girls have grown into kind and caring young women and I am so proud of each of them.

After taking early retirement last year due to medical issues, I continue to blog and also volunteer for "Shop My Closet", a resale store that supports widows and orphans in Kenya and also assist local charities. I recently sold my house in West Little Rock. The place I've called home for the past 12 years. It was a hard decision but one that I needed to make for financial reasons. A wonderful young family purchased my house and I am happy that they are now making it their home.

I moved into my parent's house, along with my 12-year-old dog, Oreo and 7-year-old cat, Lilly. I also did a lot of research online about writing programs, something I have always been interested in. After receiving a BS Degree in Radio/Television from Arkansas State University, I worked in Public Relations and Advertising for a couple of years before pursuing a career in Technical Writing. I've always been fascinated by television shows and movies. Watching hundreds of movies through the years, reading scripts and writing movie and television reviews became a favorite hobby.

Which leads me to the title of this blog entry - "How did you get here?" I just returned from spending six weeks in Los Angeles attending the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

I viewed this opportunity as my Eat Pray Love or Under The Tuscan Sun moment (without the hunky love interest)! So on Monday, June 13, I left Little Rock and started my drive alone to California in my red Jeep.

Here are some of the highlights of the past nine weeks of my life

  • Spending the weekend of June 17-19 attending "Camp Widow" at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, meeting others from the widowed community from all over the world.

Beautiful San Diego!


  • Walking past actor Nathon Fillion in Chatsworth, California.

Framed poster of Stana Katic & Nathan Fillion of Castle hanging in the School of Cinematic Arts Building at the University of Southern California.

  •  Meeting many new friends in my two SCA classes - The Writers Room: Sitcom Writing and TV/Film Industry - that ran from June 27-August 5.
Volunteering at the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Awards Ceremony, Los Angeles


  •  Talking on the phone to Michael Hitchcock, Co-Executive Producer and Writer for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and former Co-Executive Producer and Writer on Glee. Through my TV/Film Industry class, I was required to schedule a General Informational Meeting with someone in the industry who we admired or looked up to. With the help of my instructor, Eve Light Honthaner, I called the Production Office of the show and also sent Mr. Hitchcock an email requesting a 15 minute meeting. He later emailed me back and scheduled a phone interview for the following morning. The next day he called me at the scheduled time and I asked him to describe a typical day of working on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and what advice he would give an aspiring writer. He told me all about the writing process of a television situation comedy, including how a Writers Room works, and having to get approval from the Executive Producers and the Network to finalize each hour episode of the musical comedy. He said that he started out as a typist after obtaining a Master of Fine Arts degree from U.C.L.A.'s film school. I was also delighted that I was speaking in person to Dalton Rumba, Show Choir Director for the Haverbrook School for the Deaf from Glee!

    Writer/Producer/Actor Michael Hitchcock



  • Going to the 4th of July fireworks display at the Rose Bowl with my youngest daughter, Sara.

July 4, 2016


  • Meeting Director/Actor John Famenesh-Bocca and Producer/Actress Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing from Dallas and Mary Alice Young from Desperate Housewives!) at the July 30th Film Festival of NewFilmMakers Los Angeles. I also watched four different short films at this event and attended a Q & A at the end of the screenings with the filmmakers.

Far left - Director John Famanesh-Bocca and Producer Brenda Strong of I Did Not Forget You.



Ulu (Poland), Aayushi (India), & Leslie (Arkansas)

  •  Visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Statue in front of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library



I had a great time during my stay in California, learned so much during both my Cinematic Arts classes, experienced being involved in several different television productions, made amazing new friends and also reconnected with wonderful old friends. In the past, I've been yelled at by former co-workers and judged by former in-laws, so it was so refreshing to be appreciated for just being me. For not having people roll their eyes at me because they think I'm stupid, but to have someone tell me I am an inspiration to them.



School of Cinematic Arts Building at the University of Southern California - August 8, 2016


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Leslie In Los Angeles


I found the following definitions from the website dictionary.com that make up the five descriptive titles found in my blog profile:

Mother - a female parent.

Survivor -a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

Writer -a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist.

Blog - a website containing a writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

Widow - a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.

I'm about to start a new adventure with my life - attending a six week summer program for Comedy Writing and Television/Film at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Yes, me, a 54-year-old mother and widow.  But as you can see from my profile that I am also a writer, a blogger, and a survivor. And with all these things together I am moving on with my life.

My new title is summer student with the Cinematic Arts Program at USC. I will be just like every other college student - living in an on-campus apartment and taking the shuttle to classes. Except that I'm probably old enough to be a parent of the other students. It's scary and exciting all at the same time!

It's also fitting that I will be attending Camp Widow in San Diego next weekend. It's a place where I will meet others from the widowed community from all over the world.  I will be able to participate in workshops, seminars and also go to a Padres baseball game!

So as I proceed on with my new journey I will also carry my memories with me.

 
Family/Church/Business Trip to Washington, DC
July 2011