A Story of Cancer Survival That Will Touch Your Heart and Soul (and Funny Bone!) – Book review


Brown Ribbon by Robbi Woolard

Psychologist Dr. Robbi Woolard is a survivor of a rare form of cancer. She was encouraged by two of her friends to put her experiences and thoughts into a book (eBook for Kindle). “Brown Ribbon” is part memoir, part self-help book and is written with a humorous slant (a story about a doctor and a commode made me laugh out loud!). She has an “incredibly strong faith” and her beliefs in God and heaven are referred to throughout the book. She is clearly not afraid of death and is a very brave and courageous woman. She believes accidents, illnesses such as cancer and other traumas are random events and no one is immune (no matter how well one lives their life).

Woolard writes in an entertaining, yet educational and inspiring tone. The book could have used some editing, however, the reader can forgive this oversight as she speaks in a conversational tone and the stories flow nicely. There are some repetitive themes, but overall it’s an easy and pleasurable read.

The warrior spirit in Woolard spares us the gruesome details of her anal cancer treatment. She gives the reader just enough information which helps one to imagine the suffering she experienced. She writes in a way that reassures the reader that although cancer and it’s treatment are difficult, the alternative is worse.

For those who want closure, they will find the last story of her post-anal cancer treatment to get a “colposcopy” a bit frustrating. The chapter called “Caving” does not provide the reader with the results of her biopsy, but Woolard states she hopes she had experienced the last appointment with that doctor (we can only hope along with her!).

In the final chapter, Woolard shares her own personal growth experience. I found this chapter called “Everything I Have Learned from Cancer” especially inspiring (as I am also affected by anal cancer myself). Many of her insights such as “setting new goals after cancer” and “improving connections with others” are very positive and uplifting. I can definitely identify with her lessons learned. She states, “As I age, I’ve begun to believe something that I’d never pondered in years past. I’ve always assumed that all of both the good and the bad that we experience culminate in who we become. Now, drawing upon many decades of both ends of the experience spectrum, I think all of it should be credited with making us richer, deeper, more complete human beings.”

A recommended read for those affected by cancer, especially newly diagnosed anal cancer patients, their families and survivors of cancer.

Get your copy – Brown Ribbon: A Personal Journey Through Anal Cancer and the Adventure it Entailed (2016) by Robbi Woolard.

Angela G. Gentile


Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com





Aging Specialist Offering Two New Courses This Spring (Winnipeg)

7fd3c75caf166af80aef7cb58709152dWinnipeg, Manitoba – There are two new courses being offered by Angela Gentile, a registered clinical social worker. Angela has a Master’s degree in Social Work and a graduate specialization in aging. She has worked with many older adults and their families and she has written two books and an app. She is passionate about helping people and exploring what it means to age well. Attend these informative and interactive sessions and get Angela’s professional advice. Come away feeling confident and empowered.

10 Tips for Graceful Aging

Learn what you can do to help yourself thrive in your middle years and beyond. The dimensions of wellness will also be covered.

►Date and Time: Tuesday April 25, 2017; 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

►Location: St. James Civic Centre, 2055 Ness Avenue, Winnipeg Manitoba.

►Fee: $25.00

When a Loved One Has Memory Loss

Are you living with or do you know someone who has been experiencing memory loss and you’re not sure how to help? Get some information and tips on how to approach this sensitive and difficult topic.

►Date and Time: Thursday May 11, 2017;  7:00 – 9:00 pm.

►Location: St. James Civic Centre, 2055 Ness Avenue, Winnipeg Manitoba.

►Fee: $25.00

Registration Information:

Both courses are listed in the City of Winnipeg Leisure Guide, Spring/Summer 2017 pages 69 and 70. See page 4 of the guide for registration information which begins Wednesday March 15, 2017 at 8:00 am. It can be done online, by phone, or in-person. Limited spots available!

Contact Angela toll-free at: 1-(855) 974-4219 or online at www.AngelaGGentile.com for more information.

Learn About Burnout at the Transform Conference


From Burned Out to Fired Up!

Angela G. Gentile MSW, RSW

I am honoured to be one of six guest speakers at the Transform Conference to be held on February 21, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I will be presenting on my knowledge and experience with job burnout and compassion fatigue. In addition to discussing the issues of the costs of caring too much, I will share my personal story of burnout. I will offer advice, tips and solutions to nurses, social workers, healthcare professionals, students and other helping professionals on how to recognize, cope and survive in the demanding yet rewarding field of healthcare.

What better way to learn. Be inspired. Some consider it a gift from a wounded healer.

You may also want to read my eBook, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival“. Paper copies will be available at the conference.

For more information on Transform, the conference, please visit Sycamore Care.




A Canadian AncestryDNA Reveal



I received some gift money for my 50th birthday. I wanted to do something special. I considered getting a nice piece of jewelry, but instead I decided to get my DNA tested through AncestryDNA.com.I am really happy I did it because now I can truly say what my heritage is.

We all have a unique set of DNA and it carries our genetic information. We inherit or “receive” our genes from our parents, who receive them from their parents, and so on, way back through the generations.

I have done some genealogy (Family Tree history) over the years, and I know that my parents and three grandparents were all born in Canada (one was born in the USA). My great-grandparents were born in Canada, Sweden and Scotland. Through my research, I learned my  great-grandparents and their parents (my great-great-grandparents) on my fraternal grandmother’s lineage were all born in Sweden.

Prior to getting my DNA results, I guessed that my ancestry was about 60% Great Britain (including Scotland, Wales and England) and 25% was Europe North (Scandinavian/Swedish).

I was very surprised to find out that I am 97% European! I was born in Canada, have lived here all my life, but my DNA is primarily European. This is how my “Ethnicity Estimate” breflat,1000x1000,075,faks down:

  • 30% Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark)
  • 23% Ireland
  • 17% Great Britain
  • 11% Europe East (Includes Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Austria)
  • 10% Finland/Northwest Russia
  • 6% Trace Regions – Includes 4% Italy/Greece (I married an Italian!), 1% Europe West, and less than 1% European Jewish and Iberian Peninsula.

The remaining 3% is comprised of traces (less than 1%) of Native American, Asia South (India) and West Asia (Middle East such as Saudi Arabia).


I find my results very interesting and it makes me realize that although I was born in Canada and my parents are also from Canada, my DNA mainly originated from Europe. I don’t even think I can really call myself Canadian after learning this. (I also have a Canadian Passport!)

AncestryDNA also notified me to say that I have some possible matches in their database and two are possible 2nd-3rd cousins! Confidence level: Extremely High. I have sent them both an email asking if they would like to explore this further.

Maybe I should get into Scandinavian art. I’ve always liked painting and I love old folk art. Maybe I’ll have to take a trip to Sweden and Ireland! I will have to explore all those other cultures in my heritage, too (e.g., Poland, Finland and Austria).

If you are interested in knowing more about your DNA and ancestry, it’s a fun thing to do. It costs about $129.00 Canadian (www.AncestryDNA.ca).

I recorded my reveal on video. Take a look if you are interested in hearing/watching my reaction (6 minutes).

Thanks for reading and watching.

Angela G. Gentile MSW, RSW






Communication Skills 101

couple arguing

Couple Arguing by Ambro, freedigitalphotos.net

Communicating when you are angry, upset or frustrated can be very difficult. Our emotions sometimes get the best of us, and it is very easy for us to point fingers and lay blame on others.

For example, if you are angry at someone for not listening to you, it is tempting to yell out, “Quit ignoring me!” The person will take this as you are blaming them, and it will not end happily.

A little skill that you can try is called,”I-Messages” or “I-Statements.” There are four easy steps, and with practice, it can be done.

Start by getting the person’s attention in a kind way. That may mean tapping them, holding their arm, and asking them to look at you.

Step 1. “I feel…”

Use a feeling word to help the person understand how you are feeling.

Step 2. “When you…”

Describe what the behaviour is that is making you upset.

Step 3. “Because…”

Describe how the behaviour relates to your feelings.

Step 4. “And I’d like…”

State what you would like the person to do instead.

An example would be, “I feel ignored when you keep reading when I talk to you. Your reading shuts me out, and I’d like you to stop reading and look at me when I talk to you.”

This is a great technique that can be used any time.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW
Specialist in Aging

Exploring Meditation, Spirituality and Mindfulness: Satisfying the Curious


Girl Doing Yoga by ponsuwan

My curiosity has led me to learn more about meditation and the benefits of it. I have read in many books and articles the benefits of this ancient practice. One of my goals for 2016 is to learn more about meditation and how to do it. Anyone can do it at any age.

I invited a teacher (Uday, originally from India) into my home on 11 Feb 2016 and he presented his beliefs of “Self-Realization and Meditation” to my family (four of us) and one of my daughter’s friends. He was at our home for two-and-a-half hours and we learned a lot. At the end we did a 20-minute meditation. It certainly stimulated a lot of thoughts, debate and conversation.

We all had a very different experience. His teachings relate to self-realization with an emphasis on the spirit or soul. He had us think about many things. He encourages us to be human “beings”, versus human “doings.” He praises the benefits of meditation and offers his teachings as a community service to those who are interested.

I’d like to share with you some of what I learned that night and some of the thoughts from others who were at the session.

We are all made up of a body, mind and spirit. Some of us don’t believe in the “spirit” part or haven’t yet made it that far in our spiritual growth journey. I believe some of us may never believe it or get to that spiritual part in our lives. One’s upbringing, beliefs, age, or stage in life will influence and determine what level of spirituality is attained, if any. When I was young, I remember exploring organized religion. I learned about God, Jesus and faith. As I matured, and became more educated, I became more aware of my mortality. I became very conscious of my finite time on earth and started realizing my true purpose and what I really wanted in this lifetime. I called this a “spiritual awakening” and opened my eyes to what is beyond the material desires in life. I started seeing and appreciating the beauty in nature, the miracle of life and all that was good in the world.

To appreciate the concept of “spirit” or “soul,” we explored the question, “Who am I?” Uday says we are not just a body, or a mind. We are more than that. He talked about death. How are we different from animals and other living plants when we die? When we die, our body and mind and all our parts are still physically there, but “we” are gone. He asked us to think about “What is gone?” He taught us that the life force, or spirit energy is the true essence of our being. Amanda, my daughter Simone’s 17-year-old friend said she thought it was interesting to learn “you are not your body, you are your soul who is occupying your body.” My 20-year-old son Lorenzo said he feels he is all the parts put together – “body, mind, consciousness, etc.” He finds the concept of spirit hard to grasp. My mother said my grandmother didn’t believe that we had a spirit, either.

Our teacher also pointed out how humans are different from most other living entities. For example, when animals die we can still use them. We can use plants while they are living, and after they are picked. We eat the cow, we use the leather, we use the wood from the tree, we use the fruit from the plants. For people, there is no use for our bodies once we have died. They are vessels that carry our spirit from the day we are born, until the day we die. That’s the only purpose for our bodies. My son pointed out that our pet dog Rocky is not useful to us after he is gone, so there are some exceptions when it comes to pets.

What is  human life? Our teacher explained that the Life Force is oxygen. Without oxygen we will die. We breathe it in and it is needed for our body to function. He also discussed that in order for life to be possible, there is a perfect balance of the five great elements: fire, earth, water, air, ether. If it was too hot or cold, we’d die. If there wasn’t enough water, we’d die. If there was too much water, we’d drown. He said that for some, Life Force is God. I know some call it the Divine and others call it Source. For others it is Universe. Life energy is whatever you want to call it.

Life is a puzzle. Each life experience has it’s purpose, whether good, bad or indifferent. These are like pieces of a puzzle. It all fits perfectly. Each day, each moment, it’s all part of the bigger picture. We learn how to accept all parts of the puzzle, for without all the pieces, our picture would not be complete.


Purple Lotus by Panpote

The Lotus – A great analogy for life’s beauty amidst struggles and pain is The Lotus – from sludge, mud and slime, comes a beautiful flower. There is beauty in life no matter how difficult it gets.

Meditation clears the mind.  For me, an analogy for meditating is like having a cluttered or dirty path in front of me, and I am sweeping away the debris and clutter. This is how I see it clearing my mind or my internal being. Our teacher said it’s when the consciousness, subconscious and unconsciousness meet. Amanda found this concept interesting as well. Meditation brings consciousness to the subconscious act of breathing. He said 20 minutes a day is all that is needed. He said if we all meditated for 20 minutes a day for a week, we would all have a different experience. If a thought comes, acknowledge it, then gently turn your attention back to your breathing. For me, I liked to say to myself, “breathing in…breathing out…” He had me light a candle in and we were all asked to look at it. He instructed us to take a deep breath in, hold it for a couple seconds, then breath out and hold it for a couple seconds. Many of us closed our eyes. This eventually becomes more of a habit. The more we meditate, the happier we become. In fact, our teacher said something that really impressed my daughter Simone. He said he was the happiest person he knows! Regular meditation practices helps him control his thoughts and desires of the senses. Simone was also impressed by the fact that he “never gets sick because he can control his body.” Another thing he shared with us is that he weighs the same as he did when he got married over 40 years ago! He ended by saying that meditation experiences will be different for each and every one of us. It’s a very personal experience. Uday said meditating on a regular basis can change you and change your life. It took him about 6 months of practicing meditation on a regular daily basis and it completely changed who he is. It also cured him of his migraines. He still meditates one hour a day.



Waterfalls in Alberta by Angela G. Gentile


Our teacher told us to make sure we enjoy what nature has to give us. Go outside. Enjoy the trees, the sky, the earth. He explained that we call our world Mother Earth, because she carries us. I would like to add travel to beautiful places if you are able. We can enjoy different parts of the world and the beauty that is on this earth.

We talked about our fears. He explained how a lot of our fears are learned. My son Lorenzo also added how many of our fears are innate, and they have been necessary for our evolution and are basic survival instincts. For example, we are born with two innate fears – the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Other fears developed naturally in order to ensure our survival. Some of these fears have been carried with us from a long time ago, and are no longer necessary for our survival. Still, other fears are learned and we also develop irrational fears. For further reading, check out this article called, Are We Born to Be Afraid? from Psychology Today.

Dreams are meant to be self-interpreted. Our teacher told us to throw away your dream interpretation books. He says we have to interpret our dreams for ourselves. When we have disturbing dreams, it usually means we are experiencing some mental stress. The more bizarre and disturbing our dreams, the more distressed we are. We all dream, but we don’t all remember our dreams all the time. Here’s an article from PsychCentral That explains How to Analyze Your Dreams (And Why It’s Important).

Lorenzo liked the focus on “being aware of and having more control of your thoughts, something everyone could benefit from.” I remembered I knew about the practice of mindfulness and shared a related meditation with him. This one had no religious or other afiliations. No reference to spirit or soul. He thought this was a more realistic approach to being aware of your thoughts and breathing, and it was nice having a guide talking you through it. If you’d like to check it out, Mindfulness Meditation – Guided 10 Minutes by TheHonestGuys.

My husband Cupp states that “calming the body and mind for 20 minutes a day is a beneficial addition to your daily routine. It’s ‘internal hygiene.’ Things like exercise and brushing your teeth is hygiene for the body. Meditation is like internal hygiene starting in the mind and eventually benefiting the rest of the body. The ability to reach a higher level of consciousness may come in time.”

Our teacher was very enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and beliefs. At times some of what he was telling us was hard to believe. For example, he said meditation has been clinically proven to cure people of cancer. He also said that there was one yogi who was able to go into a vacuum chamber, was pronounced dead by doctors, then emerged three days later, alive. He claims there are ways that very advanced meditation practitioners can control their subconscious actions such as heartbeat. I’d be open to hearing more about the validity of his claims. Incidentally, my son did a Google search and found an article about a study that debunks this belief – Can Yogis Stop Their Heart?

Every one of us is at different stages of spiritual evolution and we need to be mindful of this. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about spirit and soul, and meditation, and how the two relate based on the concept of self-realization. I am enjoying my curiosity and openness regarding this subject. Going inward takes a higher level of thinking and consciousness, something most of us find difficult to do. My son and daughter daughter do not buy into the “spirit or soul” idea quite yet. I believe for some this can take years of life experiences in order to fully appreciate the concept. Some are at the self-realization stage already, others are on their way. Some are at the very beginning of their journey. It’s hard for some people to even imagine we have a spirit as it is such an abstract concept. We can’t measure it in the scientific sense. We can’t see it either. For now, we just have to believe.


Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW
Specialist in Aging

*Namaste is an ancient Sanskrit greeting still in everyday use in India and especially on the trail in the Nepal Himalaya. Translated roughly, it means “I bow to the God within you”, or “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you” – a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness. (Urban Dictionary)

For further exploration:

The Spiritual Research Foundation: http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/

How to chant Aum with Yogi Shanti Desai. Watch on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cudh7lXZw70

Chanting vs. Meditation. An article from the Spiritual Science Research Foundation. http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/spiritual-practice/steps-of-spiritual-practice/chanting/chanting-japa-meditation

How Spiritually Intelligent Are You? Take this quiz and find out. http://www.beliefnet.com/section/quiz/index.asp?sectionID=200&surveyID=90

New Book, App Promotion and Women’s Group Announced

Angela has been very busy these days and she wanted to make sure all her subscribers don’t miss out on the news. Here are some of the projects she’s been working on.

New Book



Her new book, A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival is now available on Amazon.com. It’s an eBook for Kindle and it’s a personal memoir plus tips on how to recognize and survive job burnout and compassion fatigue.






The mobile app, Dementia Caregiver Solutions for iOS 8 and up, is being offered for FREE from September 13 – 26, 2015 in recognition of World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21, 2015). Tell your friends.





Aging Well for Women Group on Facebook

A new members-only, CLOSED, Facebook group has been started, Aging Well for Women Group. Angela’s community Facebook page, Aging Well for Women has reached millions of people and she is excited to announce a more personalized and private experience for women. Request to join!

For more information: www.AngelaGGentile.com


How to Boost Your Energy

iStock_000007339043Large DENTES

Photo credit: iStock_000007339043Large DENTES


I have been putting a lot of thought into Life Coaching concepts and I’d like to share my beliefs on the root cause of many peoples’ problems when it comes to feeling depleted or drained.

I often use analogies or metaphors in my work, so here is my take on how we can understand why so many of us say we are “tired” or “have no energy” and what we can do about it.

There are three main concepts when it comes to personal energy:

1. Eliminate the clog

If you have clogged arteries, the blood doesn’t flow. The same is true for clogged drains or pipes. When the blood doesn’t flow or the water doesn’t drain, we may end up with some major catastrophe. Sometimes we need to unclog the pipes. If there is too much accumulation of debris (unwanted waste), we will end up with a blockage. If we imagine that debris is our emotional stress, physical clutter, or other unwanted things we want out of our life, this is what can block our energy flow.

  • Make a list of these unwanted items/situations. Work on eliminating one item at a time to help unclog the energy flow. It’s not easy and sometimes it takes another person to help us with this. This will help the energy flow better.

2. Close the drains and fix the leaks

Imagine trying to fill up a sink with water. In my bathroom, I have one of those stubborn metal levers that you pull on to close the drain. If the drain doesn’t close properly, down the sink goes the water. I try to fill the sink with water as it’s going down the drain. Or imagine you have a big pool, and it springs a leak. You have to keep adding water to the pool until you get the leak fixed.  This is an analogy to trying to boost yourself up with positive and helpful energy, and as fast as you are adding it to your energy pool, it’s going down the drain or leaking out. It’s important to get those stoppers and leaks fixed so that you can reserve that precious energy for when you really need it.

  • Reflect on what your energy drains are. Fix them or eliminate them altogether. When these drains are corrected, the energy you have will be allocated in a positive direction.

3. Keep the positive energy flowing and utilized in the most efficient way possible

I know for myself, I get a boost of mental and physical energy when I exercise. It gets my blood pumping and keeps the positive energy flowing. I have better energy flow when I feel happy, when I am productive and when I have exciting plans (travel, projects, etc.). I feel energized after a great nights’ sleep. Plus, I feel more energy after drinking one of my favourite caffeinated beverages. 🙂

  • Explore where your supply of positive energy comes from. Make sure you get a sufficient dose on a regular basis so that you have enough energy to handle whatever may come your way. Life isn’t always easy, so we need lots of energy in storage to handle those difficult times. This will ensure we have the energy to “get back up again.”

Please share your experiences and thoughts on the subject of energy drains and energy boosts.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW RSW, Specialist in Aging

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