Tag Archives: Stay Strong and Mahj On


In honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month I am editing and rerunning a column from about two years ago…here it is:

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 11.48.24 PMThat Lynn Chorn from www.wherethewindsblow.com is one fabulous lady. And, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she carries this terrific Breast Cancer Awareness Mah Jongg Set. 

I own this set and I can promise you that it is special and something that I treasure. It is a great gift for any and everyone, especially those whose lives – or the lives of loved ones – have been touched by breast cancer. 

Check out these wonderful “Find the Cure” Jokers that match the pink glitter tiles of the set:

Breast Cancer Tiles-XL-001And look at everything that comes with this set, including the great pair of dice and pink racks with pushers attached!Breast Cancer Special Value Set (2)BTW, the set also comes with ten regular pink glitter Jokers, just in case you want to use the “Find the Cure” pink ribbon tiles for something else. 

And now Lynn is selling these special dice alone for only $5. What a great gift this is for anyone who has been touched by this disease (and we all know at least one person, don’t we?)


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Yesterday I had lunch with Alexis, the founder of Stay Strong and Mahj On, and her mother, Blair, who happens to be her inspiration. The three of us hit it off immediately and the conversation never stopped for a moment. After meeting Blair I definitely now understand why Alexis has been so inspired by her. What a great lady! While we were chatting away Alexis received a message that an article she had written had just been published on Kveller.com. It’s a beautiful article – sincere, poignant, and articulate…and, of course, about Mah Jongg. I thought you might like to read it…

The Surprising Thing That Brought My Mom and I Closer When She Had Breast Cancer      By Alexis Miller

What was supposed to be an incredible summer in Israel took a turn for the worst when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was going into my senior year of college, and was abroad in Israel when I received the news. Not knowing what to do, I confided in family and friends to get me through this tumultuous time.

Fast forward to being back in the United States. I was at a coffee shop with Jordyn and Moriah, my friends I had met the previous summer through an internship program. I told them about my mom’s diagnosis and solicited their empathy, as they both are daughters of breast cancer survivors themselves. While my other friends did not understand the impact of changing my mom’s drains, watching her go through chemotherapy, and taking her to and from doctor appointments, Jordyn and Moriah just got it. They were there to support me as I took three weeks off of my senior year to care for my mom.

Taking care of my mom was not only rewarding, but brought the two of us closer together, which I did not think was possible. There is now no conversation that is off-limits, and I can honestly say she is my best friend. But beyond talking and spending more time with her, there was another surprising way my mom and I were able to connect during the time I was home: through the game of Mah Jongg.

My mom has been playing Mah Jongg for years, as my grandma and great-grandma played as well. She uses their Mah Jongg sets, which makes the game extra special. Within the past few years, my mom has become an avid Mah Jongg player. Every week, she gathers with her friends, always over a meal, and they play for a few hours.

While I was in high school and home for college breaks, I would always look forward to those few hours with my mom, her friends, and hearing the clacking of their Mah Jongg tiles. It was a few years ago that they taught me to play the game one winter afternoon. Every time I am home now, we set up a game with her friends so that I am able to play. I am their token millennial, and they take pride in having taught me the game.

Mah Jongg bridges the gap between generations, and includes everyone. I feel as though this game is in my blood, since it has been played for many generations in my family. It connects me with my relatives who are no longer living, and nurtures my relationship with my female role models. Learning how to play was just a given for me, something that was necessary to learn as a Jewish woman. It is now a newfound hobby for me, and I am teaching my friends, all in our early 20s, how to play.

It was during the time I took care of my mom that my friends and I decided to plan an event to honor our mothers and raise money for breast cancer awareness. The three of us are all in the “helping profession,” so it seemed fitting to pursue such an event. After much brainstorming, we decided to host a Mah Jongg fundraiser, because all of our moms are passionate players. Thus, Stay Strong and Mahj On came to fruition.

Our first event occurred last May and included over 155 guests. We raised $15,000 for the Cancer Wellness Center in Northbrook, Illinois and helped bring a nutritionist on board to their team. We worked for months on developing the event, so it was an incredible sight to see all of our hard work paid off. My proudest moment from the event was the speech that Jordyn, Moriah, and I gave. We each talked about our moms’ experiences with breast cancer, and how it affected us—myself as a 20-something, Jordyn as a teenager, and Moriah in first grade. After each speech, we presented our moms with a bouquet of flowers. There was not a dry eye in the room. Stay Strong and Mahj On is now planning a New York event, and our second annual Chicago event.

I cannot count the number of women—and Mah Jongg players—I have met who have been affected by breast cancer, either themselves or through a family member’s battle. Although breast cancer and Mah Jongg may seem disconnected, the two have more parallels than one could imagine. Many people have approached me saying that Mah Jongg has helped them to relax during their treatment, or that they continue their weekly Mahj groups because it helps them socialize and take their mind off of their struggle. Mah Jongg is not only a social game, but also helps invigorate the mind. There is research on Mah Jongg and cognitive stimulation, which is beneficial for those of all ages. I want to assist breast cancer survivors in finding an outlet such as Mah Jongg that will help to make their fight easier.

My mom’s battle helped me turn a negative situation into a positive one through the creation of Stay Strong and Mahj On. And after a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, my mom is now cancer free. I’m so grateful that due to this unfortunate situation, I am now able to help those who are affected by breast cancer, all while playing my favorite game.

For more information, please visit our website at: www.staystrongandmahjon.org



I am so excited about this Stay Strong and Mahj On upcoming event including lunch and Mah Jongg on April 14 at the beautiful – and delicious – Sarabeth’s!  Linda Feinstein is the honorary chair plus we have the best benefit committee! I hope all of you in the tri-state area will attend what promises to be a fun and memorable afternoon.

Please go here to register: www.staystrongandmahjon.org/events we are limited to 100 attendees and you won’t want to miss out.  Great prizes and raffle items along with knowing that your donation is benefitting a wonderful breast cancer charity!

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And much thanks to our dear friend, Lynn Chorn of www.wherethewindsblow.comfor all of her very generous support and caring.


I just received the latest edition (#4) of the Destination Mah Jongg World Championship newsletter and was so delighted to read the following about my favorite cause – Stay Strong and Mahj On (SSAMO):Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.32.27 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.45.44 PMwww.staystrongandmahjon.com

I am so happy for Alexis, Moriah, and Jordyn because I know they have been working for quite a while to get this 501c3 designation. Congratulations!

And for those of you who might not yet have received the newsletter, here are some excerpts:Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.32.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.56.16 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.59.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.59.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.34.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.34.58 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.33.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 4.34.06 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-19 at 5.01.58 PM


Well, I certainly have missed writing my blog during this 7-day vacation – I hope you have missed reading it!

So many things have happened in the past week but the first thing I want to tell you about has to do with my favorite cause, Stay Strong and Mahj On (SSAMO)

As you might remember, when the OMs play together we don’t take our winnings. Instead, we pool the day’s winnings and put them in a kitty. Sometimes we use it for a birthday luncheon, sometimes we buy lottery tickets, sometimes we use it for food and supplies for our out-of-town “Mahjongathons.” However, we have now decided to follow the lead of the National Mah Jongg League and to donate our winnings to deserving causes.

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with breast cancer this past March and, because of this, SSAMO is near and dear to my heart. The OMs are such wonderful and caring friends and agreed that one of the causes we would give to would be this very group. And so, last week I was very proud to give a check for $75 from the OMs to Alexis Millerone of the three founders of SSAMOScreen Shot 2015-12-13 at 10.34.26 PMWhich leads me to this…today I played Mah Jongg with a group of women – these women have a pie of $5. $20 was won and lost today between the group but I kept thinking how it would have been so much nicer to have given that $20 to a worthy cause. Just a thought along with telling you how proud I am to be a part of the OMs (and also the NMJL, which has always been so philanthropic).

And, if you are interested in learning more about Stay Strong and Mahj On, follow this link for contact information.Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 10.31.02 PM

BTW, the fabulous Breast Cancer Awareness Set, which is where the Jokers pictured above are from, is on sale right now at Where The Winds Blow.


It seems like it has been forever since I hosted the OMs (Original Mahjettes, as we call ourselves)  but finally today we were all chez moi. And I used the occasion to celebrate three November birthdays: S1, S2, and J. 

Our lunch was my favorite – one of the Barefoot Contessa‘s fabulous and very hearty soups – so delicious! I will post the recipe tomorrow. IMG_1178Before everyone arrived I placed a jar of my homemade cranberry relish at each place. I have been making this recipe every year since 1976…it’s a tradition for me!IMG_1174IMG_1177Right after lunch we began our game play – and we were really playing fast today so we got in many, many games. Nothing could make me happier because we were able to make a donation to Stay Strong and Mahj On (SSAMO) for $75 (a couple of days worth of winnings)!

I was so happy to have a Jokerless hand…we actually had two of them today!IMG_1188Here are some of the winning hands today (although there were many more than what I will post here):
IMG_1192Wait a minute, who is that causing trouble and suddenly sneaking out of the closet?IMG_1190But before we went any further, it was time for a happy birthday dessert for the three November birthday girls – Talenti Mediterranean Mint Gelato, Talenti Double Dark Chocolate Gelato, and topped with a fudge covered brownie and a happy birthday candle! YUM!IMG_1181


IMG_1186IMG_1185 It was so great to have the OMs back here – it was a wonderful day!