Over the next 31 days, you will find all sorts of pink thrown around this place, and I want you to know where I stand on the whole matter of breast cancer and its prominent color, so that you can make sense of why I share what I share.
I’ve said it all here before, I weighed in over at AOL Health last year, and my mind has not really changed at all. Still, I’ll sum it up for you again, as we embark on a month that can be a little overwhelming.
I’m a fan of the color pink. I liked it long before breast cancer meant anything to me.
I’m grateful to anyone who donates funds to the cause, because the way I see it, every penny counts. So, I’m not mad at any company offering to charity just $5 per purchase of something that costs much more, because, hey, $5 is $5. And if someone caps their donation at oh, say, $20,000, that’s OK, too. It’s still a hefty donation, and more than I could ever give. Yea, when .10 cents is the magic number, I admit I do kinda judge.
Of course, I think donating 100% is ideal, and I’ll feature this month a rare gem or two generous enough to give everything they’ve got.
While I am thankful when anyone donates funds to help women like me survive a nasty disease, I will not personally back a product that is not healthy or has been shown to contribute to obesity, illness, or disease. Like alcohol, or fried chicken, or well, you know what I mean, right? Eggs, I can do, and my partnership with Eggland’s Best (EB) feels right. Eggs are nutritious, plus EB’s eggs are cage free, and the organic hen diet consists of healthy grains with no animal fat, no animal byproducts, and no recycled or processed food. No added hormones, antibiotics, or steroids either. Good news: EB is donating $50,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Which brings me to another point.
I like to know where the money is going. No generic claims of “will be donated to breast cancer research.” If it’s legit, a specific charity should be named.
I have a few other thoughts on the matter — for example, If I’m going to buy a product anyway, and one brand gives to the cause and the other doesn’t, and both items cost the same, I’ll probably buy the pink one.
The pink ribbon has been popping up all over the place in anticipation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month — you know it starts tomorrow, right? Everything from hair dryers to toilet paper to Sharpie pens are turning shades of pink.
Just about as neat-o as a pink version of the iconic “EB” stamp appearing on individual eggs.
Kinda makes you not want to crack open that pretty little shell, doesn’t it? Well, you should, because what you’ll find inside is a powerhouse of nutrition. More to come on the nutrition front (I’ll be back with nutritionist and author Jonny Bowden, who will weigh in on the incredible, edible egg), and stay tuned over the next month or so, because I’ll be spouting out all sorts of other eggs-travagant information.
For now though, I just want to say Thank You to EB for the $50,000 they’ll be donating to Susan G. Komen for the Cure (the world’s largest breast cancer advocacy organization), and for the opportunity to help spread the word about the health benefits of the good ‘ol egg. (Honored, I am, to have been chosen as one of the Eggland’s Best Pink Dozen bloggers.)
This post is sponsored by Eggland’s Best. I received monetary compensation for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own.
I’m not sure which I like more — the hair or the hat.
But the hair, well, that’s where the story is.
That pretty blond hair is a wig. It’s mine, and because I never did find the courage to rock my bald head during chemo, I wore it every single day for months and months. It was perfect.
Made of human hair, and with a soft cotton top, my underhair was made by Hip Hats With Hair. It’s intended for use with hats, or scarves, or something that covers the top of the head, and there’s nothing itchy or scratchy about it.
I think she’s going to enjoy how easy it is to care for, too. She just needs to wash, condition, brush, comb, curl, spray — anything she’d do to the hair that once sprouted from her head.
Tina — whom I’ve come to know via a common friend — shaved her head just this week because the darn stuff was falling from her head in clumps. The wigs she’d tried were uncomfortable, and so I mailed her mine. She received it today.
Tina’s not the first person who has used this hair, my friend Carmen borrowed it, too — twice. It just sits in a box on the floor of my bedroom closet, and since I plan to never need it again, I am happy to share. Tina’s friend calls it the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Wig,” and that pretty much sums it up. Connected by cancer, we girls must stick together.
It won’t be long now until the the world as we know it turns pink. I know, it’s kind of annoying for all sorts of reasons, which I won’t dive into right now, but I do sort of like October for the mere fact that I commit myself to blogging more than usual, and that makes me happy. It just seems like a good time to spotlight some special people, some truly charitable products, some giveaways, and more.
So keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks for little nuggets of breast cancer goodness! It all starts this Friday, October 1, 2010, and you’ll need to stop in for about 31 days to see what I’ve got in store. Teaser: Julie Clark will make an appearance, Dawn from Out of the Blue Delivered will offer something fancy (and free), and did you know October 13 is National Face Your Fears Day? I’ll tell you about it, plus so much more.
“My Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had surgery along with several hard months of chemo,” says Donna, who is the lucky winner of the Ovarian Cancer Marble Pendant.
“She lost her beautiful hair (she is mistaken for Barbara Bush so you know how beautiful her white hair was). She was a trooper, went through all of this and is cancer-free and living proof that technology is getting closer to finding a cure for ovarian cancer! I would love to give this pendant to my Mom. She is one strong woman who now cares for my Dad 24/7. Unselfish love is my Mom.”
Congrats, Donna, on your big win! I’m guessing your mom is really going to love this awesome gift.
Big thanks go to Dawn at Out of the Blue Delivered! This giveaway would not have been possible without her generosity. And guess what? She’s going to offer a freebie for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, too, so stay tuned.
Five and a half years ago, I sat in this exam room, after being shuttled over from the hospital room in which I’d been living for five days with chemo complications. The radiation folks deemed it necessary to prep me for my next therapy, which takes a lot of planning and precision, so they borrowed me from the oncology floor, and put me here.
Then they transported me to a special table, where they taught me to recline against several different molded pillow-like things, tattooed me (little dots mark my radiation area), and schooled me on how to breathe with a special tube (to move my heart out of the way of radiation beams).
In this room, back in 2005, I was in a wheelchair, sick, bald, and feeling quite blah.
Today, I sat in this room again. Not sick, not bald, and feeling quite spunky. Today, I walked out of this room thinking about what my doctor had just told me:
I know this pre-radiation photo is revealing, and I’m sorry if it offends you in any way. I am a pretty modest person overall, really (no bikinis for me!), but I don’t spare any details when it comes to breast cancer. I figure it can only help to be totally open and honest about the realities of a very frightening disease. I mean, if just one woman sees this pic and feels better prepared for her breast cancer journey, then I know baring my breasts was a wise move.
And so here they are, the boobies I saved with a lumpectomy, the boobies I’ll remove if cancer comes back, the boobies that will be evaluated during a follow-up tomorrow by the oncologist who five years ago delivered 30+ doses of external beam radiation to my left side over a six-week timeframe. As a result of this time-consuming and fatigue-causing treatment, I have a bunch of tiny blue tattoos, a possibly-affected heart, a weak rib cage, a fair amount of armpit numbness, and limited range of motion in my arm.
But I also have my life, and so, I will bounce right in to see my doctor in the morning, thankful she scorched and burned me all those years ago, and hoping like mad that she finds nothing suspicious or scary lurking under that skin that was once marked up all pretty by black by red Sharpie pens.
I turned 41 and knew I needed to set up my mammogram — 40 went by so fast, and I had not done it yet. (I’d had a diagnostic mammogram when I was 35 due to a milk discharge, and everything was OK.) So, I went for my mammogram and got called back in for additional views. I was not scared at all, I knew a lot of times people need extra views. So, I went back in and had those views taken, then an ultrasound, and then a biopsy. The doctor said “usually masses that look like this are not benign.” That’s when I knew I was in trouble.
Five days later, I was told I had breast cancer. Invasive ductal carcinoma, two spots, maybe three. The next day, I went to a surgeon, he told me no chemo and a lumpectomy — that is if my MRI didn’t find something different. Well, the MRI showed a shotgun effect in my left breast. There was cancer “splattered” all around my left medial breast. This means a mastectomy. Fortunately, no lymph node involvement could be seen.
The doctors could never feel the masses in my breast — even when the surgeon held the tissue in his hands, he could not feel a mass.
I had my mastectomy on August 31, 2010, and being the master of this game, my cancer tricks us all again, and there is lymph node involvement, three out of 33 lymph nodes are positive. Great, I just got a free ticket for chemo! I had my bone and CAT scan, and thank goodness, those both are negative.
I get to go in Tuesday for my port surgery. I am so scared about chemo — not the sickness, not the fatigue, but the hair loss, and I feel stupid for admitting that, but it’s what keeps me covered. My hair keeps me warm, it keeps me hidden, and now I am going to be totally open. I am also concerned that my son will have trouble with that. He has never seen me without my hair flowing down my back. But I will make it. I have to. There is no other way, because I will do anything to be able to see him grow and have children. So, chemo will start in a two to four weeks, and I will put on those boxing gloves once again because I will not let “C” win.
And now, here’s where I weigh in with a few thoughts:
First, the hair. I know. I know. I know. It’s almost worse (OK, it is worse) than the disease. Please don’t feel stupid, Lisa, for fearing the bald. We all worry. It’s totally normal, and completely expected!
Second, thank you, Julie Clark, for writing this book, and for making it possible for Lisa to win a copy. I know it will warm her heart and help her son cope.
Third, best wishes to you, Lisa, as you begin this horrible and wonderful journey. You’ll find the wonderful along the way. It just takes time!
You probably know Julie Aigner Clark best as the mom who launched the wildly-popular Baby Einstein empire. I know her voice was ever-present in my house during those early years with baby Joey. He was not a very happy and content boy, but Baby Mozart and Baby Bach helped infuse our crankiest days with a little joy. We liked Baby Santa’s Music Box, too, and even though Joey is now 9 years old, and his brother is 7, that Christmas DVD is still in our media cabinet. Yea, a good Spring Fall clean is in order.
Julie has accomplished more than just engaging little ones, though. She has partnered with John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted” to create The Safe Side (all about kid safety), and there’s also Memory Lane (for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia). And now, what might be my very favorite is her new book, “You Are the Best Medicine.”
Julie (a two-time breast cancer survivor) wrote the book, Jana Christy illustrated it, and WOW, what a treasure for parents with cancer who want to explain the disease to their young kids in the most delicate and gentle manner.
In her book, Julie draws parallels between navigating cancer and growing up:
For a while I will have to take medicine that makes me feel bad, and this medicine will make all my hair fall out. I will look different. But I will laugh when I remember your own sweet little baby head, how round and bald it was, and how warm it was on my lips when I kissed it every day.
I like Julie’s overall message — that children can help parents feel better, just like mom and dad do for them; that cancer can be a tough; that life can return to normal; that love and kindness really are the best medicine.
So, do you think you want to read Julie’s book? Well, then, I recommend you get yourself a copy. But first, throw your name in the hat and try to win one for free. Right here. Right now. All you need to do:
Leave a comment and share why you want this book in your hands!
Leave your comment no later than 5PM ET on Tuesday, September 14, 2010.
You may enter only once.
Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia, who are 18 and older.
One winner will be selected in a random drawing. using random.org.
One winner will receive one book, valued at $16.99.
Winners will be notified by email, so make sure to check next week to find out if you’ve won!
Breast cancer gave me a gift today. It arrived in my mailbox, and I think it’s pretty cool. Yes, I’m silly like that, thinking gifts can flow from something very frightening and life-threatening. Some day, I’ll write all about the upside of cancer. For now, I just want to share my nifty keychain!
Thanks to Louise Baker for offering to write a guest post, and for doing such a good job of pulling together some of the best tips for preventing breast cancer through healthy living. Check out what she has to say, then get busy taking her advice!
Pay mind to your diet
More and more, oncologists are realizing that a healthy diet may be one of the best protective measures you can take to prevent cancer, including breast cancer.
Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
As a general rule, the more natural the food, the better it is to eat. Fruits and vegetables have antioxidant qualities, which fight cancer. Berries are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods. Choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get an array of vitamins and minerals. Farmers markets sell fresh fruits and vegetables that are not laden with pesticides the way they are at grocery stores. Whole grains refer to foods with minimal processing and almost always have more fiber than refined carbohydrates.
Avoid refined carbohydrates!
Refined carbohydrates tend to cause much steeper surges of insulin than whole grains. Insulin has a drastic effect on the release of other hormones in the body, such as the insulin-like growth factor and possibly even estrogen. These two hormones have been strongly linked to cases of breast cancer.
Be conscious of the different types of fat Not all fat is created equal. Omega-3 fatty acids may have a role in preventing breast cancer when eaten in a 1:2 ratio with omega-6 fatty acids. While getting the proper ratio may seem like a simple feat, it is not. Fast food and other commonly eaten American foods have a much higher amount of omega-6 (anything made with vegetable oil is packed with omega-6 fatty acids).
Exercise, exercise, exercise!
Exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer in several ways. A study done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle gathered that women who exercise have a 22% reduced rate of breast cancer.
Lower stress levels
The mind-body connection concerning illnesses has long been researched. Findings consistently support that stress causes lowered immunity and is linked to a vast quantity of ailments, including cancer. Exercise is key to stress reduction and mental health.
Maintain a healthy weight
While changes in diet may be the best method for weight loss, exercise is the most important part of weight maintenance. According to a study performed by the National Cancer Institute, gaining weight (especially after menopause) increases the risk of breast cancer.
Avoid Certain Drugs
The following drugs have been extensively linked to breast cancer:
Estrogen: This refers to pharmaceutical estrogen, such as the estrogen found in birth control pills.
Alcohol: Numerous studies show that more than one drink per day can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with each additional drink.
Tobacco: Carcinogens in cigarettes are well-noted for their cancer causing properties.
After cancer, I made some big changes in my life. It all started because I wanted to lose the 10 pounds treatment had forced upon me, and because I wanted to rid my body of the toxins that had been suffocating it for a year and half.
The changes (no alcohol, no sweets, no red meat, no really fatty foods, lots of fruits and veggies, lots of exercise), well, they worked. I lost 15 pounds, got in shape, scored a great resting heart rate and super cholesterol levels, and I became healthier than ever.
Yes, it was tough at times to refuse the brownies and pass on birthday cake, but I became so happy in my skin that the few seconds it would take to stuff down a sweet treat just didn’t seem worth it anymore.
My willpower lasted for three years.
Three. Whole. Years.
And then something horrible happened.
Halloween 2009 arrived.
And I fell down.
One little bite of one little Tootsie Roll from my kids’ stash, and that was it. The sugary flood gates opened, and I just couldn’t get them closed. For nearly 10 months.
If there’s something I’ve learned about my relationship with sweets over the years, it’s this: One cookie isn’t enough. One slice of pie won’t do it. One mini Halloween treat — you get the idea, right?
So, what started with one indulgence back in October led to a feast in November, a baking frenzy in December, a free-for-all in January and February (I was training for a 1/2 marathon, and I became ravenous), and, well, there are no excuses for March, April, May, June, or July. I just ate the sweets I wanted, when I wanted, and while I really didn’t like that my scale had jumped 5 pounds and my middle felt uncomfortably soft, I couldn’t find the drive to get back on track.
Until a few weeks ago, when the tides turned.
I’m not sure how, or why, but just as hard as I fell, I got back up, and now, I seem to have my footing again. I can’t promise I’ll keep it, but for the moment, the sweets are off limits. I’m tightening up the reigns on my favorite crackers and nuts and carb-y snacks, too, and I’ve never let go of my commitment to no alcohol, no red meat, lots of fruits and veggies, and regular exercise, which means the scale is back on track, my middle is firming up, and I’m feeling a whole lot better about the skin I’m in.
It’s been said that falling down is not what matters most. It’s the getting back up again that counts.
Still, I hope I don’t fall again, because, really, it’s not all that fun.