my Breast Cancer blog

2004, age 34 — this is my story

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Don’t Judge the Ride by the Photo

I probably look lifeless and depressed in my race photo from the Pink Pumpkin Pedal-Off 40-mile bike ride because, well, I was. I still look a little bit like this (minus the helmet) as a result of ongoing and not-quite-yet diagnosed health issues. But I did have a super-great time on this trek with my Just Ride team. I mean, I would have loved the mapped route to have been 40 miles (as advertised) and not 37 miles because a few of us who trained for FORTY MILES wanted to ride FORTY MILES and were disappointed when the mileage fell short. That’s OK, we added 3 miles so we could claim a true victory. Still, the event was lovely. Wait, actually, lunch was all gobbled up when we arrived at the finish line, so that was not grand, but perhaps the Mexican grub would have still been available had we followed the rules and stopped pedaling at 37. Seriously, and I mean it—a great time. We pushed ourselves physically, we chatted, we laughed, we nursed the fallen, and we decided that we could have conquered the 62.5-mile route (which was probably more like 59.2 miles). Next year, I am pretty sure we will go the extra 20. Next year, I am pretty sure I will have a smile on my face.

Feel-Good Finds: Inspiration Stones / Giveaway

Welcome to Feel-Good Finds, a series of posts featuring items and products that can cheer you up, calm your mind, and soothe your soul. Whether you’re muddling through cancer treatment or just braving the occasional bad day, pick-me-ups are key. Here, I review all things happy and hopeful. (And sometimes when I’m blessed with extra goodies, I’ll even give them away!)

Yesterday, I learned that my MRI results were A-OK, and now I am really, really close to saying I’m a 6-year survivor (it was the day before Thanksgiving in 2004 when I found out I had breast cancer). What a perfect surprise, then, to find these on my doorstep last night.

outofthebluedelivered.com

They were hand-delivered by my friend Dawn at Out of the Blue Delivered, and I think she has no idea how much I totally love them.

You might love them, too!

And guess what? It’s quite possible you could win some for yourself — just throw your name in the hat by entering the giveaway below. Please note that there are two varieties of the Awareness Inspiration Stone Set — one for breast cancer awareness, and one for ovarian cancer awareness.

  • Leave a comment and share which inspiration stones you want — pink breast cancer theme or teal ovarian cancer theme.
  • Leave your comment no later than 5PM ET on Saturday, November 20, 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 via random.org.
  • One winner will receive one set of inspiration stones, valued at $24.00.
  • Winners will be notified by email, so make sure to check next week to find out if you’ve won!

Another Anniversary

Photo: eren | thisvintagechica, Flickr

Photo: eren | thisvintagechica, Flickr

I have survived breast cancer for 5 years.

I have survived enjoyed marriage for 15.

Really, it has been a pleasure. I just wanted to use that nifty strike-through feature. Cool, isn’t it?

Happy anniversary, John. Thank you for taking the time to muddle through life with me.

I love you.

Perspective

What do more women suffer from than breast cancer?

Eating disorders.

How’s that for perspective?

For more information and inspiration, visit Operation Beautiful, and change your life on post-it note at a time.

Slash Breast Cancer Stats: Eat Less, Exericse More

Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more.

Photo: ppdigital, Flickr

Photo: ppdigital, morgueFile

Breast cancer may be a mystery in many ways — why did I get it, for example? — but it’s becoming more and more evident that eating too much, exercising too little and packing on the pounds can spike your risk of developing the disease that already gets 1 in 8 women.

This news, which isn’t really all that new, was sprawled across the front page of the Gainesville Sun this morning, reminding me once again that nixing the packaged goods (I know, it’s so hard) and moving my muscles is the smart way to motor through life. It’s why I’m renewing my vows with all things healthy — starting. right. now.

Here’s one way to think about it: there is so much about cancer we cannot control. But what we put in our mouths and how we move our bodies — totally up to us! Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have moments of indulgence (I’ve been having a moment since Halloween). It just means that mostly, we need to monitor our input and ramp up our output, because, well, our lives depend on it.

Woman Fakes Breast Cancer for Boob Job

Photo: LancerenoK, Flickr

Photo: LancerenoK, Flickr

So her marriage sucked, and she thought a breast augmentation would help mend fences. But 24-year-old Trista Joy Lathern couldn’t afford a boob job, and that’s why she faked having breast cancer to raise some cash.

Yep, the Texas gal told friends and family she needed life-saving cancer treatment — she even shaved her head! — and then she hosted fundraisers (performances by four bands, a raffle, a silent auction and a bake sale) and raked in $10,000 for her cause.

Ironically, medical records show that Lathern did have a breast mass removed in February, but it was benign. Nothing benign about her cancer hoax, though. She’s been arrested for theft by deception, with a bond set at $7,500.

And did she get the bigger boobs before she got caught? Sure did, to the tune of $6,800. Did it fix her marriage? I’m thinking not.

Patrick Swayze Dies of Cancer, Maura Tierney Has Surgery for It

dirty dancing DVD cover

Photo: amazon.com

I should be working — editing nine posts for That’s Fit so they can publish tomorrow — but I’m too sad at the moment, because I just heard that 57-year-old Patrick Swayze has died of pancreatic cancer. He battled the disease for 20 months, which is a lot longer than many folks get (the survival rate for this type of cancer is just 4 or 5 percent for five years), but still, 20 months is not good enough. And so my mind is scattered by the news of his death, and the realization (again) that cancer is a nasty and evil opponent. And while I’m lucky that my chance of surviving breast cancer is 93 percent (November 2009 = five years), I feel more vulnerable right now than I do on most days.

Doesn’t help that I also just read that former “ER” actress Maura Tierney just had surgery for breast cancer and has dropped out of NBC’s new show “Parenthood.” The star’s spokesperson says that 44-year-old is “deeply disappointed” not to be participating in the show, and that “Ms. Tierney and her doctors remain confident that the outcome of her treatments will be positive.”

I’m confident too, because really, my hope is a lot stronger than my fear, and so I just need a bit to recover from the sadness. Then I can get to work.

Wet and Wild

See those two little boys? They are mine. The one on the right is Joey, and he was not quite 4 years old when I found out I had breast cancer. Now he’s 8. Danny, the guy next to him, was only 18 months old. He turns 6 in two weeks. The girls belong to my sister. Jordan is on the left, and she was only a few months old when she started sitting with me during chemo treatments. She’s 4. And her sister, Tori, well, she knows nothing of the disease at all, and hopefully never will. She turns 2 the day after Danny turns 6.

happy

silly

Every Six Months

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You’d think the days would get easier after four whole years. But still, nearly 1,600 days after my breast cancer diagnosis, it still makes me nervous to sit in an exam room every six months, in my pretty blue gown, waiting for my oncologist to reveal whether or not he feels anything suspicious in my breasts and other body parts, whether or not he finds anything wacky in my blood work and whether or not he’ll report that I am still healthy and apparently cancer-free.

The days don’t get easier, because even though my chances of survival increase with each year that passes, there are still people out there who are re-diagnosed after the exact amount of time that has elapsed for me. A woman who visited our garage sale a few weeks ago told me that on the very day she celebrated five years of survival, she was told her breast cancer had returned and was spreading. She was given three to five years to live. Crap. I haven’t even made it for five years. Clearly, this could happen to me.

Will my oncologist tell me on Monday at 8 a.m. that my cancer is back? I really don’t think so. But I really don’t know, either. And that’s why I’m nervous.

Photo courtesy of daveparker on flickr

Social Responsibility – Don’t Duck Out of the Game

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Are you responsible? Like, socially responsible? Blogger Laurie is, and she’s making it her mission to help find a cure for breast cancer by participating this June in the 2009 Race for the Cure that benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Laurie wants to help others, you see, and so she’s got a team and a big event she’s planning — On April 16, she will be hosting a dinner and raffle at On the Border in order to raise funds — and there is no doubt in my mind that she will made a big difference in the lives of others. It only takes one person, you know, to start a movement, and boy will Laurie be moving as she tackles those 60 miles in two months.

To read more about Laurie and her adventures in breast cancer, take a peek at her blog, La Vie de Laurie. And check out her breast cancer awareness page too. Then let this girl inspire you to become socially responsible. Take your own few steps for breast cancer, help a friend in need, deliver a meal to a neighbor in distress, share a few dollars with Laurie — you make the call. Just. Make. The. Call.

Photo courtesy of kimberlyfaye on flickr

Have Hope

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When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Joey was almost four, and Danny was 18 months old. Now Joey is eight, and Danny is almost six. And I’m still alive. How’s that for hope?

Pink for the Sink

41jy4ciww7l_sl500_aa280_Every time I look down into my kitchen sink, I see this breast cancer strainer drain. A mommy friend gave it to me, way back when I was knee deep in chemotherapy, not a hair on my head. This momma was one of many who dropped by meals for me and my boys, and along with the food she delivered on her assigned night, she brought me this.

If you’re looking for a simple, yet meaningful and not-so-expensive gift for someone touched by breast cancer, this just might fit the bill. Click right here to purchase your very own.

Photo by: Amazon.com

What Breast Cancer Looks Like – Sherri Jo

Sherri Jo says, “Until I had breast cancer, I never fully realized what wonderful family and friends I have and how much I am loved. The outpouring of love and support I received was truly amazing. Every few days there was a card in my mailbox, flowers at my door, or something wonderful to cheer me on. People found such unique and creative ways to show their support for me and it made such a difference in my ability to cope with all the stress. One of my most favorite memories came from friends at my sailing club. On a particular race day when they knew I would be present, all of the sailors flew a pink ribbon on the back of their boat in my honor! What a site – to see 30 plus sailboats flying pink – just for me!  I felt loved and celebrated and certain that I would survive the fight against breast cancer. Never underestimate what a simple show of support can do to lift a person’s spirits.

My husband instigated the whole event so he got a few extra starts in his halo. I am a lucky woman to have such wonderful people in my life.”

Want to show me what you think breast cancer looks like? Please send me a photo that captures the essence of breast cancer, and I will display it here. Email to jackidonaldson@gmail.com, make sure your shot is at least 450 pixels wide and tell me something about the photo. No blurry pics, please.

What Breast Cancer Looks Like – Lisa and her Mom, MaryJoe


Lisa says, “My mom is on her second fight with breast cancer. She was diagnosed this last time near Mother’s Day and I was getting married in September.  Last June she had a bilateral mastectomy, then 18 weeks of chemo, and then 30 treatments of radiation. During her first appointment with the oncologist she told her doctors to do what they needed to do, but she was going to my wedding (in Vegas) in September. I offered to change the wedding and she didn’t want me to do that. It was right in the middle of her chemo and she said it was a goal she set in her mind to get to that point. She went and got her chemo treatment that morning before we jumped in the car to go. She had all her instructions and whatnot in case she needed to go to a hospital out of town. Nothing was going to stop her … through out everything she kept the most positive attitude. She is amazing.

My day was so wonderful and special. I married a fabulous guy, but also a lot of that was b/c my mom was able to be there.  She is the rock in my family and I was so blessed that she was able to attend.”

Want to show me what you think breast cancer looks like? Please send me a photo that captures the essence of breast cancer, and I will display it here. Email to jackidonaldson@gmail.com, make sure your shot is at least 450 pixels wide and tell me something about the photo. No blurry pics, please.

What Breast Cancer Looks Like

Breast cancer looks like a lot of things. It looks like scared faces, surgery scars, bald heads, ports, radiation tattoos, growing hair, the color pink, after-treatment celebrations and so much more.

What does breast cancer look like to you?

Please send me a photo that captures the essence of breast cancer, and I will display it here. Email to jackidonaldson@gmail.com, make sure your shot is at least 450 pixels wide and tell me something about the photo. No blurry pics, please.

Above photo: My journey through breast cancer, illustrated through images of hair, or lack thereof.

Fight Pink

If fighting breast cancer is on your mind, you’ve got to go see my friend Stacy and her fabulous “Fight Pink” site. Here it is — take a look and you’ll find that it’s filled with all sorts of good information and inspiration.

Want to know about the seven deadly health sins women make. Stacy’s got the dirt. Motivated by survivor stories. Check out this library of leading ladies. Need some scoop on breast cancer events and campaigns? Here you go.

Get ready. Get set. Now fight.

Photo courtesy of “Fight Pink”