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- 1.5 million = women diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide this year
- 500,000 = women will have recurrences (most will be counted as “cured” because the recurrence is more than 5 years after their initial diagnosis and research only tracks women for 5 years — of these second-timers, 1 in 3 will die of the disease)
- $1 billion = annual amount invested in breast cancer research in the US
- 830 = resolutions and bills with the words “breast cancer” introduced in the US Congress since 1991
- 91 = number of breast cancer drugs under evaluatation by the FDA
- 0 = number of women cured
A story I wrote in February 2010 is now live on BetterMedicine.com, a health information site that launched in April 2011. A screen shot of the page is pictured below. Click on the image, and you’ll land at the whole story.
I think if I had just one wish, it would be for peace, so that I could be completely at ease about my health, my body, my kids, my job, my decisions, my mistakes, my — everything.
If you’re like me, you probably want to eat healthier, and you might want to make it as simple as possible, and probably, you want some good stats to back your decision. Something like: the soluble fiber in oatmeal helps reduce cholesterol + 96% of your minimum whole-grain needs + no trans fat + just 200 calories with a 1/2 cup of skim milk. Well, I’ve got something for you: Quaker Oatmeal Squares, with a hint of brown sugar. (I don’t actually have them for you, just a recommendation.)
Thanks to Quaker (and Clever Girls Collective, too), this pretty little package arrived today. Younger son Danny (he’s 7) tore right into a box, stating he likes his cereal “naked” — no milk necessary (which, incidentally, saves you 40 calories). First bite had him declaring, “Oh, I like the ones with sugar better.” He didn’t give up, though, and he went in for more. “Nevermind,” he told me. “They are good!” I agree, per the few I tasted. The rest, I’m saving for breakfast tomorrow. Planning for a banana on top.
This, you have got to read: Let’s get real
Because the facts within are sobering. Like these:
There are more stats, just as mind blowing.
And what about those photos?
iVillage published a snippet of a story I wrote.
It looks like this:
And here’s the whole story:
I first felt like a real mom after pushing a 10 pound, 9 ounce baby boy from my body, and I was reminded of my motherhood when baby boy No. 2 arrived, weighing slightly less, yet still more than 10 pounds. “WOW-I’m-a-mom” thoughts continued with every feeding, sleepless night, and overwhelming moment of love and tenderness. But nothing registered a bigger “WOW” than finding out I had cancer, and realizing that mothering two growing boys had more implications than I’d ever thought possible.
Joey (the biggest boy) was almost 4 years old when a doctor revealed the mass I found in my left breast was malignant, and Danny (the smaller and younger of the two) was 18 months old. My first reaction after the dreaded phone call (“unfortunately, cancer cells were found”) was, “OMG, what if I die and leave these guys without a mom?” Nothing scared me more, and every time I looked at my precious bundles, my gut twisted and turned. Maybe I wouldn’t die, but how would I care for kids while puking and pouting about my bad luck. Cancer would probably be easier without kids, I decided in the beginning, and then I quickly changed my mind — my kids were the key to my fight, they would save me.
And they did — save me. Their innocent, simple, and honest approach to life kept me peaceful (most of the time). “It’s only a haircut,” declared Joey while helping shave my head after hair started tumbling from my scalp. And Danny, too young to have a clue about my cancer crusade, helped me keep life as normal as possible. Playgroups, preschool, and family vacations (in the midst of chemo, radiation, and two hospital stays) were not uncommon, and I never did vomit or become as depressed as I’d predicted. Now, don’t get me wrong — cancer did suck. But so did birthing monster-sized children. The point is that life got better. The pain of having babies faded, and those beauties who tore through my body made it clear that the pain of cancer would become blurry, too.
And blurry, it is. It’s been six years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Joey is 10, Danny is almost 8 — and “WOW, I’m (still) a mom!”
Mom probably gave you lots of advice over the years, and now, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, it’s your turn to dish out on some breast cancer wisdom to the moms (and other women) in your life. The gist of the message you should spread is this — not all breast cancers are the same, and not every woman with early-stage breast cancer needs chemotherapy. There’s a test (Oncotype DX) that helps patients understand if chemo is right for their type of breast cancer, BUT, 50% of women who are eligible never hear about this test. That’s why you should watch this video, and then pass it on.
Love Facebook? Connect with Until Every Woman Knows for important information and updates on this initiative!
Maybe you need a gift for a survivor girl (or any girl), a present for yourself, or a little something for Mom (Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8). Well, then, may I suggest this inspirational piece? Are there really any better words for guiding one through life’s stumbles and tumbles? I think not. Visit MixedMediaMomma at etsy to order. Just $15.
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I love that!
Sometimes I wonder if I should write about every little cancer thought that runs through this head of mine, because what if confessing everything makes me seem a little wacky to the millions (OK, hundreds) of readers who stop by each day. I guess that’s the point, though, isn’t it — to spill out every ounce of crazy so others can relate, connect, and realize they are not alone. There is always someone out there experiencing a very similar set of circumstances, and the challenge is to find that someone. Well, if worrying is your game, then you’ve found the right girl — me.
My concern of the day — fatigue. Unexplained, can’t-keep-my-eyes-open weariness. Now, I’m not talking major issue here. I’m in the early stages of feeling tired (translation: yesterday was my first day), but knowing that mysterious sleepiness sometimes registers as a symptom of cancer has got me thinking. I’m thinking it is so strange that while talking to my mom on her back porch yesterday afternoon my eyes were so heavy like lead that I quickly returned home, where I confessed to my family, “I have to sleep!” and headed right for my bed. I was out in an instant and slept for nearly three hours. You’d think I’d have trouble sleeping that night, but I didn’t — I was out cold for nine hours.
Nothing leading up to my extreme fatigue was strenuous, and I didn’t even exercise yesterday, so I can’t blame physical exertion. There was some emotional elementary-school drama throughout the week, a good amount of boy bickering, and the usual work and home balance challenge. Still, I can’t remember when I was so beat I couldn’t function. That’s what worries me.
I’m hoping this is all a fluke, and I’m just waiting now to see how the next few days measure up. (I won’t judge today, though, because Danny and I did walk 16 dogs at the Humane Society in 90-degree Florida heat, and I know the wiped-out feeling settling in my bones is completely justified.) Chances are I will not be back complaining about my worn-out state. This is probably just a moment of cancer panic, sure to pass, making me look a little looney for even giving it a second thought. But that’s what my cancer head does — it spins what’s likely just normal stuff into “what if?” woe. Same thing happened with a headache that lasted for six days, a bump inside my mouth, and a dozen other symptoms that have led me to doctors, dentists, and always … this blog.
Fellow cancer survivors, this confession is for you. Let it serve as a reminder that you are never alone.
She was the first girl to to calm my fears when I found a lump in my breast. “It’s probably nothing to worry about,” she told me (because that’s what moms do), and she was the first one to race over to my house when the surgeon who performed my biopsy called and told me, “Unfortunately, cancer cells were found.” She was the one who sat by my side prior to surgery, camped out in the hospital lobby waiting for the outcome, and announced at my beside after I was all stitched up, “The cancer didn’t spread!” She sat with me for every chemo infusion, watched my kids for every radiation treatment, hauled me into the cancer clinic when I could barely stand up, and then escorted me to my own private room, where I spent five days with blood counts numbering in the 700s. She was back with me for the second hospital stay, too, and really, whenever I needed her, she was there. She is a woman who truly helped me — and she still does, like every day, because I have two little boys, and who doesn’t need assistance with that madness?
Yep, my mom is a special girl, and I honor her always — especially on Mother’s Day, which is coming up real soon, you know? May 8 is the big day!
Wanna appreciate your momma? Here’s an idea for doting on mom and helping other women in need, also — all at the same time:
Shop the Heart of Haiti Project (HOH), an endeavor founded by Willa Shalit (daughter of Gene Shalit) and her company, Fairwinds Trading. HOH offers artisan-crafted decorative arts and jewelry for sale, and all income derived from sales of the products on the HOH site enhances an artisan’s family’s nutrition, educates children, and brings access to healthcare and dignity. Macy’s is a partner in this venture, and you can shop the HOH collection in its entirety at http://bit.ly/gaalFP.
BONUS: Special 15% discount for YOU when you purchase a Mother’s Day gift from the Heart of Haiti and Rwanda Path to Peace collection between 5/3 – 5/8. Just use promocode: CLEVERGIRLS.
Will my mom be getting something special from HOH?
Stop reading here, mom!
And it might look something like a certain pendant pictured to the left.
Which one will it be? Gosh, I like them all. Can’t decide on a favorite just yet.
What’s your fave find on the HOH website? Share in the comments. And if you do splurge on mom while shopping around, name your pick so we can check it out.
I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.
It makes me happy to send off my wigs to friends in need, but it makes me happier to get them back — not because I need a cover-up (please, let me never lose my hair again!), just because it means those once lost in cancer crises are all done covering their bald heads. Sporting their new sprouts, they box up the blond locks and return to sender.
Back to my bedroom closet goes this hair — until someone else needs it.
(Thank you, Tina, for your sweet note. I am so thrilled by your progress.)
This is the pretty pink bag that holds all the stuff to care for my littlest boy’s newest boo-boo:
Read here for the whole sad story, which happens to be turning out just fine.
The following post appears on all of my blogs (this one, Braving Boys, and Square One), because the topic is just too good not to share over and over again. I know it’s not about breast cancer, but there’s a good amount of pink in the photos. Does that count?
The Morning Mile is the kind of event that gives you goosebumps, said my friend and fitness maven Fitz Koehler today at a Hidden Oak Elementary School post-run press conference, where she addressed parents, school officials, and partner executives from AvMed, all of whom were gathered to marvel at the success of this school exercise program.
Goosebumps is right. I felt them when student Michael stepped up to the podium to be honored for running a grand total of 100 miles since the program launched at Hidden Oak this past November, and I felt them as I watched hundreds and hundreds of kids, their moms and dads, and the officials and execs, too, log laps on the field behind the school at 7:15 this morning. The day was foggy and gray, but the spirit that filled the outdoor space was not — the energy was electric as camera men snapped away and shouts of excitement were captured for TV. It was inspiring.
Fitzness International’s Morning Mile is a before-school walking/running program offering children the chance to actively start their days while enjoying fitness, fun, and friends. There’s some competition, too, because that just makes life more exciting, and kids earn necklaces, plus a colorful sneaker charm for every five miles completed. It’s a big deal, and it could be exactly the fresh start you need at your school. Think focused energy, positive self esteem, obesity prevention, and in-shape kiddos, and this program should be just a little bit enticing — right?
Time to explore your Morning Mile options. Goosebumps, remember? Goosebumps.
I don’t even remember submitting this photo, but out of 800+ pics featured in a New York Times online photo collage called “Picture Your Life After Cancer,” it’s one of 200-250 selected for publication in a book to be published next year by the American Cancer Society.
So, there I am to the right. And here are the other 883 survivors: Picture Your Life After Cancer
“The fun doesn’t stop just because Gracie has stage 4 breast cancer,” says Gracie’s friend, who emailed me today to share about her buddy. Here’s what else she says:
“She is going on her 6th year of stage 4. We are a tight knit group of girlfriends. We love her, support her, laugh with her and keep her spirits up. We have even planned a girls trip in September to go to Forks Washington. We are huge Twilight fans too!”
“We are a creative group and we built a website in Gracie’s honor. We even came up with a breast cancer jewelry line to honor our friend. We wear our jewelry proudly. It is a reminder of our best friend and all she has to endure. Together we stay strong.”
Check out Gracie’s friends’ websites here (and if you have a story to tell about breast cancer, leave me a comment):
My oncology follow-up was almost one week ago. Today, 10-year-old Joey said, “Congratulations on not having cancer anymore! Sorry that’s kinda late.”
Hey, I’ll take it!
Ooooo, I like this!
Rudd mentions his CrowdRise page — here it is: http://www.crowdrise.com/paulrudd-morebirthdays
And finally, a visit with my oncologist and a med student, who both agree I am still a healthy girl, or, in medical speak — I am unremarkable. I love how that sounds.
Departed Cancer Center at 9:45 AM.
I was reminding John today that I have my oncology follow-up tomorrow morning, and 7-year-old Danny said, “What’s oncology?”
I told him it basically means cancer, that I have a visit with my doctor to make sure I still don’t have the disease. Then the conversation went like this:
Danny: “What if you do?”
Me: “Then I’ll treat it.”
Danny: “Will you tell us if you have it?”
Me: “Of course, I’ll tell you.”
Danny: “Can I touch you if you have cancer?”
John told him that yes, he can, that cancer is not contagious.
Funny, because I’ve already had cancer, but Danny was so young (18 months old when I was diagnosed) that he has no real memory of the whole ordeal, which I happen to think is pretty cool. It’s like it never even happened to him. That makes me happy.
My 5K challenge (5K a day for two weeks) got cut short by something like, oh, nine days. It wasn’t a lack of motivation or stamina or anything glamorous (like a warrior-like injury while sprinting) that took me out of the game. Nope, it was a pair of size 2 little-boy Skechers, placed strategically right where I stepped down last Sunday from kitchen to garage. Those darn velcro shoes caused my entire foot to turn on itself. We’ll just call it a sprain, because I never did get an X-ray (one expert said I probably couldn’t walk so well if it was a break), and we’ll just hope it’s on the mend. It should be — the bad bruise is pretty much gone, so is the swelling, I’ve been icing a lot, and while I am not actually sitting still and elevating it (can moms really do that?), I do sense I’m making comeback.
I was hoping to show up at my Monday oncology check-up having run 43 miles over the course of 14 days, but, well, that’s not gonna happen, so I’ll just continue healing and set out on a new challenge once my hobble turns back into a walk and that sharp sticking pain goes away. No biggie, I guess. I mean, there are worse things that can happen, right? Like cancer.
Big shout-out to my college roommate Ericha, who is one day from completing — actually, crushing — the challenge. (The girl ran 4, 5, 6+ miles on some days.) Way to run, my friend!
Ericha was my college roommate, the girl with whom I was randomly placed when I decided to stop commuting and moved into a residence hall at Kent State University. We hit if off, had a lot of laughs, got in little bits of trouble (noise violations, just noise!), and we managed to stay connected over the years. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her, but our Facebook chats leave me feeling like not much time or distance separates us.
Ericha is joining me in my 5K challenge (she runs in Ohio, and I run in Florida), and for the past few days, we’ve been posting on each other’s FB walls about our progress. We’ve inspired a few others who have decided to pound the pavement, and we’ve got lots of friends commenting on our respective strides. I love it. I especially love that Ericha linked to my blog in one of her posts, and this morning, her friend Cindy wrote to me. Here are her words:
I live near Ericha, and our children attend school together. Though we have never been close, we talk from time to time at school functions, and now on FB. Over a year ago, I had a lump removed from my breast (stage 2). Being a single mom to 4, with no other family, I was petrified I would leave my children without a mother. I had also just lost my mother, a non-smoker, to lung cancer only a few months before. My grandmother had died from breast cancer, my dad, sister, and best friend all to cancer. I began researching everything I could online. All of the articles were basically the same, but then I came across a blog — a blog I could relate to, a blog that gave me hope. But after a car accident, being pronounced cancer-free, other minor stressors, and life just “happening,” I forgot about the blog. Last night I pulled out my old laptop that I hadn’t used since November, and started cleaning out the files. Lo’ and behold, there was the blog. Curious as to what was happening with the author, I opened it. Immediately I realized it was the same blog Ericha had posted on her FB wall! It was YOU! I just want to thank you for getting me through a very difficult time in my life. I had you on my church prayer list, and prayed for you daily. I am sure I’m not the only one who was encouraged and motivated by your words. Not only did you motivate me to keep on keeping on, you prepared me for what was yet to come, and gave me HOPE. Without hope, we have nothing. THANK YOU! God bless you and your family.
And that is why I will continue to blog.