Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice » Author, Elizabeth Barker

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    April 16, 1986, 9:49 AM

    This moment in my life unraveled years of careful planning. From that day on, I was forever changed. As if I were a pinball, I bounced around haphazardly for five merciless years, from one misfortune to another. I experienced the heartbreak of burying my daughter, the joy of pregnancy with my son, and the terror of discovering a cancer that could terminate my baby and possibly end my life. Despite these adversities, I not only survived, I thrived. I learned many life lessons, but the most valuable, the one I’d like to share with you, is - that you CAN come through dark hardships to find light, love, and happiness, but only if you make the choice to do so.

    My life may have been Changed by Chance, but I became my own Champion by Choice.

Back to Basics

As many of you know, I was fortunate enough to join my yoga group at Aim High Yoga Studio just recently on a trip to the Amalfi Coast, Italy. Studio owner Anca Trofin had spent a good amount of time in Italy back in the day both as an academic student as well as a post grad travel adventurer. She dubbed our trip “Wanderlust 2014” with ambitions of hosting future excursions annually to explore other cultures and people. Although Italy is a great destination in of itself, Anca made this trip unique for us by choosing an itinerary that was devoid of the typical tourist trap clichés.

Our destination was a beautiful and spacious family owned boutique hotel with magnificent views in the small town of Scala. Everyone who worked at this hotel was either family or felt like it.
Elizabeth Barker Changed by Chance Amalfi Coast Trip

Anca also selected our trip excursions with care. With her diligent research, she sought out local entrepreneurs that would not only offer us a great daytrip, but to also get to know our event hosts personally. These people treated us like friends and family while we: kayaked in Maiori, cruised in a yacht around the Isle of Capri, had a wine tasting lunch at a family vineyard, and had an hours long cooking and dining experience in Ravello at the Mamma Agata Cooking School.

At Mamma Agata’s, husband and wife chefs, Chiara and Gennaro, have turned their 250 year old family compound (with a fairy tale back-story), into a unique cooking and dining venue. This day trip was my favorite. We were able to stroll their property to see their gardens, their game pens and to know that we would be eating fresh foods from their self sufficiency. It reminded me of conversations that I had in the past with my Italian grandmother who grew up on a farm not far from where we were that day. Taking the time to talk with Chiara in between course preparation was a reminder to me about the importance of the mind, body, spirit connection that we practice in yoga.
Liz Barker at Mamma Agata Cooking School Italy
As we tasted the incredible foods that the couple prepared for us that day, we all commented on how much different their food tasted. The freshness and flavor was something that we were all missing from our daily diets, sadly. We talked about the correlation of food processing and cooking in today’s modern world and how it can literally be toxic to our bodies over time. It reminded me of all of the things that Dr. Marissa Weiss talked about in her crusade about the correlation of toxins in our foods and environment and the rise of cancers. (See my prior blog about this.)

Because my breast cancer is not hereditary, nor do I carry a gene for it, I am convinced that my episode was brought on by several compact years of severe stress that culminated with Lauren’s death. Combined with other life stresses and likely not taking care of myself adequately during all of this, deadly cancer was able to overcome my weakened and maybe malnourished immune system. Both Dr. Weiss and Chiara remind me of the importance of “getting back to basics” and to avoid unnecessary stress and toxins in my life.

Chiara gave us a nice takeaway of all of the recipes that she prepared that afternoon. And I am pleased to say that I already cooked one of them, her famous Lemon Chicken dish, and it was delicious! Not that difficult to prepare too.

It was truly a unique and wonderfully relaxing trip to Italy. Anca is already thinking about planning her 2015 Wanderlust excursion. I’ll be sure to share the details of it with you on my blog and FB page if you care to join us next year. Ciao!
Elizabeth Barker Author Changed by Chance Champion by Choice
Elizabeth Barker Author in Italy

Dine and Donate Event

Chris Valerio FundraiserA few weeks ago I posted a story about my friend John Valerio and his son Chris who was misdiagnosed for years as Lyme Disease affected his body. John and his wife are now caregivers for Chris.

On Monday and Tuesday June 23rd and 24th Outback Steakhouse on Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Delaware County, has agreed to donate 15% of the total bill toward the medical fund for Chris. With the rising costs of Chris’s Chronic Lyme Treatment plans, it is so important that we try to get as many folks out as possible to help with the fund. What a great reason to go to lunch or dinner with some friends for a great cause. I hope you can make it for one of the days.

The Valerio family is trying to tell Chris’ story everywhere we can in the hopes of helping others who may be suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease.

To learn more about their story and the importance of early diagnosis view the video below.

“Sip-N-Style” For LBBC

This week I co-hosted a unique “Fun(d)raiser” to benefit LBBC – Living Beyond Breast Cancer I like to call them this because they raise both fun and funds.
Benefit for Livin Beyond Breast Cancer Liz Barker
Because I am thankful to be a long time (24 years) young survivor of breast cancer, I like to give back to LBBC. This non-profit org was a tremendous support for me and my family when I was diagnosed, undergoing treatment, and in my early years of remission. These days, I still find their conferences, webinars, and community events to be positive re-enforcements for me and affirmations of living beyond breast cancer.

“Sip-N-Style” describes what we did. For a nominal donation fee, that directly benefited LBBC, attendees were treated to: a light dinner, wine and beverages, a goody bag, and a chance for some nice raffle prizes. For the styling part, I had 3 women entrepreneurs collaborating to show attendees tips for styling ourselves for the spring and summer seasons with beauty, fashion and accessories.

We featured Cindy Hunter whose BeautiControl Spa and Make up techniques and products produced great makeovers and coloring tips for guests. Cindy’s own radiant skin and hair are a testament to the beauty care products that she features. Her email is Her website is

We also had fantastic wardrobe ideas and a mini fashion show presented by Julie Hayes of Jockey fashions. All of the attendees were amazed by the versatility and the easy way to mix-n-match the clothing collection that Julie featured. Many of her Jockey pieces are perfect for travel wear. Julie had all of us modeling items for a mini walk around fashion show. Julie’s email is Her website is

And to accessorize our clothing, we featured Nicole Walsh with her Stella and Dot line of fashion jewelry and bags. Her accessory items complemented the Jockey clothing perfectly. As hostess’ were modeling complete outfits for our guests with the clothing, accessories and make up. Nicole’s email is Her website is

The Sip-N-Style was a unique and fun girl’s night out while helping to benefit a worthy charity. With just a modest group, we raised about $500 that evening for LBBC.

I wanted to share this Fun(d)raiser idea with you as may want to host your own Sip-N-Style event. Cindy, Julie and Nicole are all available to help you host an event at your home, office or whatever your favorite gathering venue is. Whether it’s to benefit a charity or simply to have a Girls Night Out, it is a great excuse to get together with your favorite gal pals. Shake off the long winter and refresh yourself for the pleasant season ahead with your own Sip –N- Style.

Benefit for Livin Beyond Breast Cancer Liz Barker
Benefit for Livin Beyond Breast Cancer Liz Barker