Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dangerous Nonsense

From Bloomberg News:
Screening for Breast Cancer May Spur Unnecessary Treatment

By Michelle Fay Cortez

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mammograms may lead to unneeded treatments for breast cancer that might have regressed naturally, according to new research that revives a debate over frequent screening.

Doctors and public health officials have debated the risks and benefits of regular mammograms for years. While the common assumption is that finding small, easily treated tumors will prevent the development of larger, deadly cancers in the future, studies have yielded mixed results.

The report, published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that the rate of cancer among women who received biannual mammograms over six years in four Norwegian countries was 22 percent higher than those who didn’t. That may mean that tumors in those who weren’t tested regressed without being treated, researchers said.

“Our findings simply provide new insight on what is arguably the major harm associated with mammographic screening, namely, the detection and treatment of cancers that would otherwise regress,” said the researchers led by Per-Henrik Zahl at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health‘s epidemiology department in Oslo.

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed tumor in U.S. women, excluding skin cancer, and is second only to lung cancer in the annual number of deaths. Robert A. Smith, director of cancer screening of the American Cancer Society said the conclusion that more than one in five invasive breast cancers may regress without incident if not detected by mammography “is nothing more than an overreaching leap in logic.”

The study was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Natural Regression

Spontaneous regression has occurred with other tumors, including melanoma, kidney, cervical and colon cancers, the researchers said. While there have been only 32 such reports in breast cancer cases, that doesn’t mean it is rare, they said. The vast majority of breast cancers are treated immediately and aggressively, with few tumors following a natural course.

The cancer society said the authors’ conclusions were flawed. The excess number of cancers found is simply a reflection of the lead time gained with mammograms, alerting women to tumors years before they would normally be detected, Smith said.

There is little evidence that breast cancer can regress, Smith said. Given that many cancers are missed during mammograms, there is plenty of opportunity to compare current to past films, he said in a statement. While there are harms from screening, including false positives and unnecessary biopsies, “the benefits of regular screening far outweigh these limitations.”

Not Life-Threatening

There is growing evidence that a “considerable proportion” of breast cancers aren’t life-threatening, like many cases of prostate cancer, wrote Robert Kaplan, from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health and Franz Porzsolt, from the University of Ulm in Germany, in an editorial that accompanied the study.

If the researchers’ hypothesis about natural regression is correct, 20 percent of women who got biannual mammograms were treated unnecessarily, Kaplan and Porzsolt said. The other possibility is that women who didn’t get the tests had undetected cancer and missed a shot at early treatment, they said.

The spontaneous regression hypothesis is hard to rule out, Kaplan and Porzsolt wrote.

“If the spontaneous remission hypothesis is credible, it should cause a major re-evaluation in the approach to breast cancer research and treatment,” they said. “We must also consider the ethical concerns associated with over-diagnosis and over-treatment.”

If women read this and feel they can skip their next mammo because they might get lucky and have their tumor regress, this article could be one of the most dangerous ever printed.

The line, "The rate of cancer among women who received biannual mammograms over six years in four Norwegian countries was 22 percent higher than those who didn’t. That may mean that tumors in those who weren’t tested regressed without being treated, researchers said."

No, that means that they caught their cancer early and were treated and are now alive and well.

Here are two examples from my own personal experience:

If I did not have a baseline mammogram at age 34 and followed up every year, my cancer would not have been found until I was 40, and that would have been too late. My tumor was a triple negative breast cancer that is very hard to treat successfuly. The only way to beat it is by finding it at its earliest stage, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Because my gynecologist insisted on early screening, I survived my highly aggressive cancer.

Five years later, when a new lump was found, my former breast surgeon said it was probably nothing and we shouldn't do any "unnecessary" surgery that would cause scarring and make future mammograms harder to read. We waited a year. I finally got the biopsy and had a 2.5 centimeter tumor with four positive lymph nodes. The mammogram picked up this tumor a year and a half earlier, when it was still tiny, had not become invasive, and had not spread to the lymph nodes.

I am lucky I had a great new surgeon, a top oncologist and the best treatment to fight this second, new cancer. But it wasn't easy. It was a very long year of surgeries, chemo and specialized radiation.

Contrary to what this article states, and ignoring ACS guidelines, women should get screened starting at age 35. African American women should get their baseline at age 30, because they are more likely to get basal, triple negative tumors that must be found early for best survival.

You can be proactive and fight cancer before you are ever diagnosed, or you can hope against hope you have the kind of tumor that magically disappears on its own. There is no middle of the road when dealing with cancer. Those who stay there wind up being run over by a Beast that does not fight fair. Ignore this article and this study and fight.

Monday, November 24, 2008

World's Biggest Jiffy Lube

Take a look at this headline:
"Astronauts Tinker with Urine to Water Machine"
It is part of this article: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081123/D94KUSRO0.html

The big three automakers are going bankrupt. Citibank was just bailed out to the tune of 20 billion dollars. The credit markets are frozen. The US has taken control of major financial institutions, deflation looms, and the stock market has lost over 30 percent of its worth.

Yet, we still have the money to launch the space shuttle to infinity and beyond to change the oil on the International Space Station.

For a point of reference, the launch alone costs $750,000,000.00. Now add to that the nifty and can't do without Urine-to-Water machine, don't forget the lost tool bag that cost almost a million, and it adds up to over a billion dollars.

Do we really need to turn urine into drinking water? Maybe in the future, say after they learn how to turn the ocean into potable water, but now? When we can't print money fast enough to bail out anyone who asks?

This all trickles down to health care. The NIH will have a budget freeze, which means less money for research. Less money for research means any gains made will be put on hold. This affects each of us. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, all fall through the cracks.

But heck, who needs a better, targeted chemotherapy? Who needs an agent superior to insulin? Who needs a way to stop cardiac arrest? When we can proudly sit back and say, heck, we can turn that urine into a nice, cold drink of water.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

THE NO SURRENDER WEEKLY PLANNER



It's here!

The No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation Weekly Planner for 2009 is now available to order just in time for the holidays!

This beautiful book is the perfect size for your purse. It was compiled by the members of No Surrender with stunning photographs, inspirational quotations, and plenty of room to write in your appointments!

This makes the perfect gift for any woman on your holiday list, not just the cancer survivor.
And what's more, 100% of the proceeds go to the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation.

Each Calendar is $20.00. Add $1.50 for Shipping and Handling. We can also gift wrap it and send it out for you for an additional $1. Just tell us what you want on the card- or send us your own card to include.

To place your order, send your information to nosurrenderbreastcancerhelp@gmail.com
This should include your name, address, phone or email, and how many calendars you would like.

This is our first Fundraising effort for our New Foundation... we are very excited!!

A peak inside....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

HOPE FOR PRESERVING FERTILITY AFTER CHEMOTHERAPY

Among the many ravages of chemotherapy comes the potential loss of being able to have a child. Young women are free of their disease, but must live with the fact that they will never conceive a baby. This is emotionally devastating and one of the hardest things to accept when living beyond breast cancer.

Out of London, comes hope.


From
November 9, 2008

Revealed: first ovary transplant baby

A sterile woman is to give birth to the world’s first baby conceived after a full ovary transplant.

The 38-year-old was rendered infertile when her ovaries failed at the age of 15, causing her to suffer an early menopause. After receiving an ovary transplanted from her twin sister, the woman, who lives in London, is expected to give birth this week.

The pioneering surgery will give hope not only to more than 100,000 British women who suffer an early menopause, but also to those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer. They could now freeze an ovary before beginning the treatment.

The success also raises the possibility of women freezing ovarian tissue to postpone motherhood for social reasons, such as delaying marriage or not wishing to interrupt their careers.

Unlike IVF, the conventional infertility treatment, an ovary transplant not only allows a woman to conceive “naturally” but also restores hormone levels in women who have suffered an early menopause. The hormones produced in the ovaries – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – affect the female body in many ways, including prompting monthly periods and protecting the bones from osteoporosis.

After the ovary transplant, the previously sterile woman had periods for the first time in 22 years. In addition to the joy of becoming pregnant, the osteoporosis she had previously suffered showed signs of improvement as a result of restored hormone levels. The woman’s twin, who already has two children, was prepared to sacrifice one of her ovaries to give her sister the chance of becoming a mother. The baby will, genetically, be the twin sister’s child.

The transplant was carried out in America early last year by Dr Sherman Silber, the microsurgery pioneer of the Infertility Center of St Louis in Missouri.

Silber removed the ovary, which is the size of a walnut, from the donor twin using keyhole surgery. He implanted the ovary into the recipient and had to connect tiny blood vessels, one only a third of a millimetre in diameter, to establish blood flow to the organ.

Three months after the transplant the woman began to ovulate normally and her hormone levels were equal to those of her healthy twin after five months. The woman discovered she was pregnant about a year after the transplant.

Silber, who will discuss the pregnancy at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine tomorrow, described the reconnection of the arteries and veins in the transplant as “extremely delicate”.

“Reconnecting these blood vessels deep inside the pelvis can be a tactical challenge. The ovarian artery is less than a third of a millimetre in diameter, in fact so small [that] many gynaecologists have never seen it,” he said.

The transplant from an identical twin made it unlikely that the organ would be rejected. Transplants can be extended to close relatives but immuno-suppressive drugs are needed to prevent rejection of the organ.

Gynaecologists have already carried out transplants of strips of ovarian tissue, which have resulted in at least three births. This is the first known pregnancy from a whole ovary transplant, although a series of the transplants has been carried out by Silber. Transplants of these pieces of ovarian tissue last for about three years. Silber believes that a whole ovary could last for up to a decade.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our Alaskan Heroine

No, not that one.
Deb. Beautiful Deb, mom, wife, writer, glass maker, bear shooter, Alaskan, survivor.

Many of you know our Deb. But for those who do not, she is like no other person you will ever know. I have to borrow from Walt Whitman to describe her... she contains multitudes. She is a loving and giving mother who is a very active part of her daughter's lives. She has a magical marriage to a very special husband. She is a talented writer and gifted artist. And, should the occasion call for it, she is a straight shot and can shoot invading bears when they come into her yard.

She is also an amazing friend. She always has a kind word, a strong shoulder and a prayer for someone who needs it. Deb is the one who made up all those No Surrender buttons when I had my redux last year. She is the kind of woman you can call true friend.

Our friend is having a rough time right now. She is having some troubling side effects from her current treatment. I have no doubt that she will overcome them. Because she is Deb. But over at the No Surrender Message Forum we are going to give her a hand. Until she is better and back to herself and able to post again, every night at nine PM her sisters will light a candle in her honor. The flame will burn bright like Deb's indomitable spirit and the smoke will carry our love and prayers across the miles to her.

I hope you will join us. It's Deb. How could you not?

We love you Deb.

We got your back girl.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good Things are Coming

I have been remiss, and I apologize, dear readers.
So many things have been happening and I will attempt to catch you up.

We have finally received our Not-For-Profit status. This means that the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation is now a reality. We have a lot of plans and it is very exciting.

The members of our forum and our regular visitors to our website and this blog know how I feel about pink ribbons. That is why we are going to change things. Our Foundation will make a real difference in the lives of every woman touched by breast cancer through eduction, emotional support and the empowerment of self-advocacy. But we won't stop there. Every donation will help run the site and forum and everything left over will go into a special account. This account is reserved for an underfunded researcher or scientist who is working on our cure right now.

Through careful consideration and a vote made by all the members of No Surrender, we will collectively decide which research project that shows the most promise, no matter what phase it is in, and our money will be donated to that project as a No Surrender Research Grant.

No longer will we lament where is our money going when we lick the lid of a Yoplait. Or how much of a percentage goes to breast cancer research from that Lean Cuisine we just bought. We will know that 100% will go directly to that lab. No middle man to take its cut. No corporation skimming off the top to enhance their pretty in pink marketing campaign. It is real and we can say WE contributed to eradicating breast cancer in our lifetime.

You will be seeing some changes as we grow. Our website and forum will be getting a facelift and made much more user friendly and I believe the technical term for it is snazzy.

I am grateful to each and every one of you for the support you have given me and the No Surrender set of ideals.

Together, we are going to beat breast cancer. And I can't think of anyone else I would want with me in the foxhole as we destroy the Beast forever.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." Albert Einstein

Monday, October 13, 2008

No, You Don't See Dead People

What is with people?

Why do they automatically assume that since someone has been diagnosed with cancer they are are already dead? Do they hear the news and then run to their address book and cross us out with the words "death pending?"

I have news for the unscathed. We aren't going anywhere. And unlike you, we know the state of our health. With our constant scanning and tests we know every renegade DNA in our bodies and we are employing any and all weapons of mass destruction to eradicate them.

If we are post treatment and back to living our lives, we are not making the best of it until the grim reaper taps gently on our front doors. We are getting stronger. We are recovering our original selves and are stronger and more beautiful than before we were sick. We fought a mighty beast and won. You can't find a more magnificent being.

If we are fighting a continuing battle as a metster, we are capable of living a full life. We just have to see a doctor more often and take meds on a continuing basis. But we define courage, strength and grace under fire.

So, for every woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, who has completed treatment and is now living as a survivor, and for those who are dealing with continuing disease, I would like to pass on this message:

Dear Potential Friend, Lover, Employer, Landlord, and other misguided soul:

We are not going anywhere. You won't find a better friend than us. We are more empathetic, understanding and loyal than anyone you have ever met before. For those lovers out there, you don't know what you are missing, because we live each moment to its fullest and make the best of lovers with hopeful, romantic souls that seek deeper connections. Employers don't worry about us. We need the money, the bills we have accumulated guarantee you awarding us Employee of the Month status every month. Landlords and mortgage holders, we value our spaces and bloom wherever we are planted. We don't like to move so you can rest assured we will stay put and keep the property in wonderful condition.

Don't cross us off your list. If you have never been where we are you cannot know who we are. But we know.

Warrior Angels aren't going anywhere. You would be lucky to have one in your life.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thank You






This month, we honor those currently battling the disease and all who have survived the fight against breast cancer. We are inspired by their strength and determination. We recognize and applaud the hard-working caregivers and researchers who are dedicated to providing comfort and assistance to those with breast cancer and to treating and curing this disease. We also remember those lost to breast cancer and extend our thoughts and prayers to their families.
President and First Lady Bush, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Peaceful Piece

Someone posed a question on the No Surrender Survivor Board asking if cancer changed you in the long run. Are you anything like the old you?

I will post my answer here too- because it really has.

The old me used to be scared a lot. I would wig out at little things and would let certain opportunities pass me by out of fear or inertia.

I also seemed to take for granted that the people I loved would be there forever.

I was restless.

Impatient

And dumb as a post.

Today, seven years later, I have found a peace in me that I never had before.
I may be nervous about doing something but instead of passing it up I do it anyway... and discover I have fun and why in hell wasn't I taking chances like that before?

I don't say no to that BBQ or party because I would rather hang out at home. I go.
I don't think, well I couldn't possibly start that project or business opportunity because it would never work- now I say- what do I have to lose- just do it. Which may account for the fact that we are now a 501 c 3 non- profit organization and hold the Unites States Trademark for
"No Surrender."

I take my time with people I love and let them know they are special to me.
I am not restless anymore.
The only time I am impatient is when I see that I or someone here is not getting proper care- but instead of stewing about it now my newly uncovered Norma Ray comes out and I make a stink- in the nicest way possible of course!

And I still may not be able to do math or figure out a sense of direction- but I am not dumb anymore when it comes to being my own advocate- much to the chagrin of my medical team.

I played hooky one day last week and went to the ocean. I live on Long Island Sound, which is lovely, but sometimes you just need the crashing waves of the Atlantic. So I went across the island and settled in a dune that had been created by the outgoing tide. It was only a small patch of dry sand but it was cool to have a sand dune behind me like a little bunker and the entire span of the ocean in front of me. The waves were huge because of the after effects of hurricane Ike.
And I ran in and out of them and felt like I was a kid again. The ocean can make you feel like a little kid no matter how old you are.

As I stood in the sun and surf it occurred to me that one year ago exactly I was completely bald... in the middle of chemo... had painful expanders... still had several months of chemo ahead of me and then radiation... and here I was:
Hair on my head. Treatments over. Looking like every other person on the beach.

I was overcome with such gratitude and joy. I said out loud, THANK YOU to God and my guardian angels and to the earth for getting me to this place in time.

I may go home and find out I have to start chemo all over again- but for that moment I could honestly say I did it again. I went through chemo a second time and for the second time I came out the other end in one piece. A grateful, humbled, peaceful piece.

So yes, Cancer changed me. For the better.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beware False Cancer Cures

This is so important...
We are bombarded with so much information when first diagnosed, some "cures" sound too good to be true.They are.
Released by the Federal Trade Commission Friday, September 19, 2008

Feds Target Bogus Cancer Cures

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States is cracking down on companies and individuals who through deceptive advertisements say their products cure or treat cancer while offering either no proof, or quoting false clinical evidence in support of their claims. The FTC said it had invoked 11 law enforcement actions under the FTC Act that bars deceptive claims.

The products affected include "essiac teas and other herbal mixtures, laetrile, black salve (a corrosive ointment), and mushroom extracts" said the FTC in a press statement released on Thursday.

Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Lydia Parkes, said:

"There is no credible scientific evidence that any of the products marketed by these companies can prevent, cure, or treat cancer of any kind."

6 of the 11 complaints are expected to be resolved by proposed settlements, the others will be prosecuted.

All the companies and persons involved are required to tell customers who bought the affected products that there is no scientific evidence of their efficacy in treating or curing cancer and they should see their doctor about it.

Parnes said many of the products are "scams", and consumers should talk to their doctor about any treatment they are considering before they take it.

"When you're battling cancer, the last thing you need is a scam," said Parnes.

The crackdown started in June 2007 with a sweep of the Internet by the FTC, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Canada's Competition Bureau. The agencies emailed warning letters to 112 website between August 2007 and January 2008, which caused 30 sites to close or remove the unfounded claims. The ones that did not do this were then reviewed again to decide whether they should be prosecuted under the law or referred either to the FDA or the Competition Bureau.

The FDA sent warning letters to 23 companies in the US and 2 individuals outside the US, stating that their products were in violation of the US federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because they were claiming they could "cure, treat, mitigate or prevent cancer", and were not proven to be safe or effective as per their label.

The Competition Bureau in Canada also sent similar warning letter to companies in Canada.

The FTC said nearly all the companies have now corrected their advertising material and the agency will take further enforcement action to pursue the rest.

The companies and products involved include:
  • Alexander Heckman d/b/a Omega Supply: laetrile (can cause cyanide poisoning at high doses); hydrazine sulphate (a potential carcinogen); cloracesium (contains celsium chloride). In this case the company is accused of making making false claims that the products prevent, treat and cure cancer, and also that scientific evidence exists to support these claims.
  • Native Essence Herb Company: herbal concoctions (Rene Caisse essiac tea blend and cat's claw), the herb chaparral (classified as unsafe by the FDA in 1992 because of links to toxic hepatitis), and maitake mushrooms extracts. The company is accused of making false claims that these products treat and cure various cancers, shrink or eliminate tumors and prevent breast cancer.
  • Daniel Chapter One: various herbal formulations plus shark cartilage. This company is accused of claiming the products prevent, treat and cure cancer and that their herbal products mitigate the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Gemtronics, Inc: RAAX11 (made of chrysobalanus icaco, a derivative from a tropical bush, and agaricus, a medicinal mushroom). This company is accused of falsely claiming the product prevents, treats and cures cancer, and that there is scientific proof of this.
  • Mary T. Spohn d/b/a Herbs for Cancer: various types of Chinese herbal teas. Accused of falsely claiming they fight 16 different types of cancer. Another type of blended tea claimed to be a "special formula" for "cancers not our list". Also accused of claiming scientific evidence exists of the effectiveness of the products.
  • Nu-Gen Nutrition, Inc: cantron (electrolyte liquid), apricot seeds (containing laetrile) marketed as treatments and cures for various cancers. The company has agreed a settlement based on sales of the products, pending outcome of financial investigation.
  • Westberry Enterprises, Inc: the FTC said the company marketed "herbal tea containing burdock root, sheep sorrel, slippery elm bark, and Turkish rhubarb root; melatonin; a woody vine found in the jungles of Latin America that is known as cat's claw; saltwater blue-green algae; and a mixture of roots, leaves, and barks from various plant". They were accused of claiming these products could treat and cure various types of cancer. They have also agreed to pay a settlement based on product sales that is pending outcome of a financial investigation.
  • Jim Clark's All Natural Cancer Therapy: marketed metabolic therapy products (laetrile, apricot seeds, digestive enzymes, okra-pepsin-E3, and coral calcium) claimed to prevent, treat and cure various types of cancer. The two individuals concerned have agreed to pay a settlement, which is pending outcome of financial investigation.
  • Bioque Technologies, Inc: extract from the soursop or guanabana tropical fruit tree, and another product, Serum GV. Their advertisements claimed these could prevent and treat melanoma. They have agreed a settlement to pay the full amount of sales of these products in redress.
  • Holly A. Bacon d/b/a Cleansing Time Pro: black salve (a corrosive in tablet and salve form that has been reported to cause severe burns and permanent scarring in high concentrations). The organization is accused of claiming that either form of the product can prevent, treat and cure various types of cancer, and Holly A Bacon did not reveal that she, the owner of the company, was the "satisfied user" quoted in the advertisements. Other claims made for the product, said the FTC, include ability to treat and cure viral infections such as HIV, SARS and Avian Flu.
  • Premium-essiac-tea-4less: essiac tea. The organization is accused of claiming the product was an effective treatment for cancer, AIDS, ulcers, hepatitis C; and many other diseases. According to the FTC, their advertising recommended that "a daily intake based on whether the consumer is well, sick with cancer or another disease, trying to prevent a relapse of cancer or another disease, or currently undergoing chemotherapy or radiation."
The FTC has launched a new website at www.ftc.gov/curious to raise awareness about bogus cancer cures. The site explains how to recognize and report bogus claims that they see on the internet, and urges people to seek professional advice if they are considering trying any products themselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

That Day

The bluest sky I ever saw
Soft September air
Bright Sunshine
Primary day.

Traffic moving well said the radio

The roar over my head
Going inside and not thinking about it
Giving my name to the receptionist

A small plane has struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center said the radio

A secretary screaming into the phone
"Is mom OK?!"
The word is spread through the waiting room
A security guard appears

Another plane has struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center said the radio

The doctor telling the staff to cancel all appointments
The security guard tells us no one can leave
I looked for the exit

People are jumping from the upper floors said the radio

Standing with others on the sidewalk
No one knowing what to do, where to go
My father walking swiftly towards me
Let's go

Manhattan is in lockdown said the radio

We decided to try uptown
Getting on the Triborough Bridge
We were alone
We stopped the car and got out and looked

The South Tower is down said the radio

Smoke
Black, white, gray and then pink
Lower Manhattan smoldering
What has happened to our city?

Planes are still unaccounted for said the radio

My father looking up
We have to get off this bridge
Where are we going to go?
What is happening?

The Pentagon has been hit said the radio

Why doesn't the air force shoot down the planes?
Is that a fighter jet?
Where?
There.


A plane is headed for the White House said the radio

Try the phone again
Is Tommy OK?
Drop me off at my car and head home
Your car is at the airport

The North Tower has fallen said the radio

Drive safely
Hurry and get home
Don't stay on the open road too long if you can help it
I love you


All planes have been ordered down said the radio

No cars
Anywhere
I am alone on the eastbound lane
Inbound is at a standstill.

The President has announced it is a terrorist attack said the radio

The emergency lane westbound
Volunteer Fire Companies
Long Island is coming
Dumptrucks, earth movers, cranes
Help is on the way


Possibly 30,000 people dead said the radio

Getting home
Seeing on TV what happened.
Has anyone heard from Tommy?
I can't get on the bridge to Connecticut
They have it closed, I am coming to your house


A plane has crashed into a field in Pennsylvania said the radio

Dad is here
We watch the coverage
We try to comprehend
Tommy is home and OK
What is going to happen?


Mayor Giuliani is going to speak said the radio

The President arrives back in Washington
He speaks to the nation
They may have attacked our buildings, but they did not touch our resolve
We are one
We stand together


There are no survivors said the radio

People reaching out to people
Solidarity
Strength
Anger
Have you seen this person? Worked on 97th Floor North Tower

Aujourd'hui, nous sommes tous les Américains said France

The calls coming in
Her husband
His brother
My friend
Our cousin
We will never forget you

Americans are forgetting the events of September 11, 2001 says the radio

She went to work
He was doing his job
He heard the fire call
They got on an airplane

They died for no reason other than hate against our Nation said the radio


The moment we forget the enormity of 9.11.01
Is the moment we forget those who died
Remember this day.
Forever.

In Memoriam 9.11.01


"You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will. We ought to grow up remembering that."
Jefferson Smith
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

WE WILL NEVER FORGET

Friday, September 5, 2008

Let me tell you about your cancer

It was a beautiful day. In fact, the day of the biopsy was one of those stunning days that make you wonder how on earth Labor Day could be the end of summer. It was Friday. My breast surgeon told me that "It was small" and "We won't know anything for a few days." I didn't know then that he already knew it was cancer. The frozen section had come back before I was even awake in the recovery room. I think he wanted to give me a gift, the gift of time to be me for just a few days longer. I will never forget the gift of those last, cancer free days .

A few days later, his nurse called me and told me I needed to come in. Now. I knew it couldn't be good news if he wasn't able to tell me over the phone. But the possibility still hadn't sunk in. I didn't know then what I was waiting to hear truly meant.

I sat down across from him. He turned in his chair to reach for a pamphlet behind him and said, "Let me tell you about your cancer." Cancer. What did he just say? I tried to write down what he was saying. I still have the paper. It made no sense. It was the less favorable kind. You mean there are good kinds of cancer? The survival rates are poorer than those with the "other" kind.

Five years didn't seem like it was in the cards for me. He gave me percentage points and I was not falling into the positive side of them. He said we would know more after the lumpectomy and lymph nodes were tested. But for now, I had cancer. He said to go home and not try to think of everything all at once because we still don't know everything yet. I got the feeling he was not waiting for good news to come out of further testing, but what did I know? I knew nothing about cancer except that people die from it and before they die they are made sick and tortured by scary drugs and they somehow cease being people.

I went to the city to see a specialist a few days later. It was the morning of September 11th, 2001. As I walked the streets in a self-absorbed, terrified daze, planes were flying overhead and ending the lives of thousands of people. Some of whom I knew. Suddenly, my cancer didn't seem so terrifying anymore. I was now afraid of the here and now. How would I get out of Manhattan? How many more planes were headed for the city? Does the NYPD have an air force?

And then there were the buildings. The billowing smoke was bad enough, but then they fell down. Someone said there could be 20,000 people trapped or killed inside. No one knew anything because the smoke and shattered steel was obscuring everything. The notion of "air pockets" was brought up. Surely there were air pockets providing survivors with enough oxygen until we could get to them. St. Vincent's hospital set up a huge outdoor triage to handle all the survivors.

There were no air pockets. There were no survivors. The doctors and nurses stood waiting with determined looks on their faces, but their eyes revealed the realization that they would not be helping anyone that day.

Then they started to come. As I was driving eastbound away from the burning city, the westbound lanes were at a complete standstill. Manhattan was in lock down. No one could enter. So the traffic backed up for miles and miles along the Long Island Expressway. But the emergency lane was clear. And they came. As far as the eye could see, truck after truck from every volunteer fire department on Long Island. There was a job to do and they were on their way. They weren't alone. Mixed in with the bright red of the fire trucks was another color- the bright yellow of the Catepillars and earth movers and dump trucks. Strangers from the small towns that occupy Long Island dropped everything and they were coming. Coming to help anyone who was in the pile. Nothing mattered except that we all stood together.

I changed that day. As I looked at the smoke that hovered over Ground Zero from a safe distance of a bridge heading home, I realized how lucky I was. I may have had cancer, but I had a chance to fight it. I didn't care how grim my prognosis was. I was going to fight it with everything I had.

I knew no one with cancer. I had no where to turn. But I had a computer. I was just getting accustomed to the internet then. I made a post on a breast cancer support board. Suddenly, like that beautiful line of volunteer fire fighters and construction workers, the responses came. I was told I wasn't alone. I was told what I needed to do. Strangers became my sisters. The fight became easier because I wasn't a lone soldier, I had an army.

From the darkness comes the best kind of hope. From misfortune comes the opportunity to become blessed. Helplessness can turn into strength and more. It can become a calling. It can make you into someone you weren't before.

That is what cancer did for me. In gratitude for the sisters who answered when I reached out into the dark, I did whatever I could to be like them. So I reached out to those newer than me. The seed was planted and I answered that call I could hear in my listening heart that it was my turn to do for others what was done for me. And in return? I have become a happier person. I have a great sense of peace inside me. I have friends, sisters, twins, all over the world now. They have touched my life and mean more to me than anything else has. I love my Band of Sisters and I have never felt alone or lonely since our hands were joined.

I didn't know back then what it meant when I heard the words, "Let me tell you about your cancer." But I do now. It means hope. It means love. It means strength. It means compassion. It means my family has just increased by at least two million.

The books and internet said, "Women with triple negative breast cancer have a poorer prognosis and will die sooner." So I wrote my own book. I started my own website. I fought a brand new cancer five years later for over a year and have been scanned to reveal No Evidence of Disease.

Let me tell you about your cancer... You can do this. You can make it through the horror of diagnosis. The surgeries are easier than you think. I have had all of them, I know. Seventy percent of all breast cancer is cured by surgery alone. Chemotherapy is not as bad as you are imagining it to be. I have had seven of them. I know. The number one side effect of chemo is: It Works. And then one day you will turn around and see it is all behind you and your life is waiting for you. You don't cease being a person. In fact, you become a person who contains multitudes. You may feel battered and beaten up, but you are courageous and strong. Stronger than you ever thought you could be.

As I walk around this life now and meet people who don't know about my cancer and they talk about the trials and tribulations of life and how afraid they are, I am quiet. I have a secret. They don't know what I know and what you will know when you are done with this. Like Clark Kent, we know that people may think we are like everyone else, but in reality, we can leap tall buildings in a single bound, decipher a pathology report as if it is our native tongue, and we can face just about anything.

If I remember that first meeting with my breast surgeon correctly, I am not supposed to be here right now. Well, he did give me negative percentage points. I didn't know that I would be blessed to fall into the positive few percentage points he also mentioned. I have been lucky, God has been good to me. I have lost many friends who I miss every day. But for some reason I am here. When you hear your "chances" and are given stats and percentage points, remember that you, too, can be on the positive side of those points too.

Twenty thousand people could have died in the World Trade Center, but because of the hard work of the heroes that came to their aid, they escaped. The windows and doors of the lobbies were shattered so everyone could get out. We lost three thousand, but tens of thousands made it out alive. Too many people die of cancer and it is infuriating and heart breaking. But millions also survive. And they are living wonderful lives- wiser, stronger, grateful lives.

Always look forward. Do what they ask of you. Never, ever give up hope. And above all, No Surrender.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

LET'S BE HEARD!

ASCO- the American Society of Clinical Oncology- is taking on the federal government to call for more funding for this disease.

Add your voice- sign the petition- get your friends and family to sign it-
Remember: The CURE for our disease is not in a pink ribbon- it is in a test tube in a lab somewhere in an underfunded research laboratory.


Federal Research Funding



USA Today ADIncrease Federal Research Funding. Make Your Voice Heard.


The fight against cancer needs your help.

Almost 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and 1 American dies of the disease every minute.

But instead of increasing funding to find new and better cures, our nation’s commitment to funding cancer research is waning. In fact, adjusted for inflation, we have about $500 million less for cancer research than we did just five years ago.

Take Action Now. Sign ASCO's petition to support increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

ASCO Ad in USA Today, June 2, 2008


Background:

The nation’s investment in cancer research is paying off. Cancer deaths are decreasing, survival rates are increasing and treatments are becoming more targeted and with fewer side-effects.

But the United States is in the midst of the longest sustained period of flat funding for cancer research. The budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have been flat for 5 years. Adjusted for inflation (using the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index), the NIH budget has fallen 13 percent since 2003, and the NCI budget has fallen 12 percent since 2004.


Decline in NIH Purchasing Power: 1995-2007
Decline in NIH Funding
Source: Association of American Medical Colleges


After years of progress, funding for NIH and NCI leveled off and actually decreased in recent years. From 1998 to 2003, funding for NCI increased by 80 percent, allowing for major advances in cancer research . Since that period of rapid growth, NCI’s budget has grown by an average of less than 1 percent annually. In FY 2006, NCI experienced a cut of almost 1 percent.


Annual Increase of NIH and NCI Appropriations 1998-2008
NIH and NCI Appropriations 1998-2008
Source: ASCO


These declines in the value of NIH and NCI funding threaten to erode the extraordinary recent progress made in biomedical research over the past decade, at a time when scientific potential has never been greater.

ASCO Position:

ASCO and others in the biomedical research community are calling for Congress to increase funding for NIH by $1.9 billion, or 6.6 percent, in FY 2009, to keep pace with medical research inflation, to reverse the effects of flat funding and to sustain momentum in biomedical research. ASCO respects the professional judgment of the NCI in requesting a total of $5.26 billion (a $455 million increase over FY 2008 funding levels). ASCO will work to ensure that Congress approves the largest possible total funding increase to support NIH and cancer research. ASCO is also calling for funding increases over the next several years that at least keep pace with inflation to ensure that progress in cancer research continues.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Every Dog Has Its Day

John Edwards update...

or News from the Cry Me River file

JOHN EDWARDS CALLING FORMER STAFFERS ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS

By THOMAS M. DeFRANK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF


August 26th 2008, 8:41 AM

DENVER - John Edwards is burning up the phone lines, begging former aides and backers to forgive him for lying about his affair - but hearing their rage instead.

As Democrats kick off their convention Monday, the onetime presidential contender is a man without a party - or a political future - trying to rebuild bridges through dozens of remorseful phone calls.

It's proving a hard sell with onetime true believers.
Many are bitter and disillusioned after swallowing his lies about his affair with a campaign staffer and vouching for his credibility with friends and journalists.

Some ignore his plaintive phone entreaties and don't call back - even when Edwards leaves follow-up messages. A few return his calls - and give him a piece of their angry minds.

When Edwards reached one longtime confidant asking for advice, he was cut off with a terse: "I don't want you to call me again."

The conversation ended abruptly.

"I let you down, and I'm sorry," is a common refrain of these messages, said another top ex-assistant on the receiving end of one of the calls.

"It was kind of pathetic, to tell you the truth," said the ex-aide, who said he didn't return the call and doesn't expect to speak to his former boss again.

For months, the former North Carolina senator and John Kerry's 2004 running mate vigorously denied National Enquirer reports of an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, who since gave birth to a child.

On Aug. 8, Edwards admitted the 2006 affair with Hunter in an ABC interview - when his wife Elizabeth's cancer was in remission - but insisted he isn't the father of her son.

One source who compared notes with other former colleagues said Edwards makes no attempt to justify or rationalize his behavior in these desperate phone conversations. He simply expresses his regret for deceiving them and asks for their understanding and forgiveness.

Many think he's still not telling the truth.

"As painful as it will be for him, he needs to come clean," one of them said. "There's an overwhelming view that he's still lying."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Radical, Drastic," No, Smart.


The news coverage of Christina Applegate's choice to have a bilateral mastectomy is rocking the newsrooms across the country. You would think she was the first person who ever made such a choice.

Last night on my local news channel they reported on her "radical" and "drastic" decision. Then they interviewed a woman who was in her mid-sixties who was also someone who had made this "extreme" choice. She too was saying it was a groundbreaking decision.

Just like no two cancers are the same, no two decisions are the same. The woman in the interview was a grandmother and happily ensconced in her home with a loving husband. Christina is single and in the media spotlight with no children. Hardly the perfect match to interview thinking the perspective would be the same between the two women.

I wish they had interviewed someone young and single. Hell, I wish they had interviewed me.
I would have said that her decision wasn't radical or drastic, it was smart. She has her whole life ahead of her and she wants to live it to the fullest. I also would have said it is a very hard thing to do, but you can make the absolute best of it. I am driving my poor plastic surgeon crazy because I want to look perfect. And we are getting there. By the time he is all done, I will look better than I did before all this happened. Yes, there are scars, but they fade. I am also working out five times a week because I want the rest of my body to look as good as my new additions will.

I am single. I want to look good for me so I can feel confident on a date. I can't have children anymore because of cancer, but Christina can, according to media reports, and she should. She should plan for a future of love and beauty and a new start on life.

When I woke up from my bilateral I felt clean. I felt free. I felt so lucky that the cancer was removed.

I pray that Christina never has to battle the Beast again. I am glad she doesn't have to do chemo or radiation.

She isn't a freak. She is a smart, beautiful woman who is being proactive in saving her own life.
That isn't drastic or radical - it is common sense.

The media should leave her alone and let her heal. Just wait until her recon is done. She is going to be the best looking woman on the red carpet.

You go girl!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Christina Applegate, Thank You

Young, pretty and talented Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is 36 years old. Her mother is a survivor and because of that she got early baseline mammograms. Regular readers of this blog and our No Surrender site know what strong advocates we are of early baselines.

Her cancer was discovered early because of an early mammogram and confirmed because she had a breast MRI. If only every woman could do this. Many breast cancers are missed by mammo and ultrasound. Most often, a doctor will see "an area of concern" on a mammo and say those fateful words, "we will wait and watch it...come back in six months." The advise that cost me an early diagnosis and lead to my second cancer spreading to four of my lymph nodes.

There is no such thing as watching and waiting... you are watching and waiting for your cancer to grow large enough to be detected by the less sophisticated diagnostic equipment of mammography or sonogram. But an MRI can pick up cells before they can become invasive tumors.

Christina, after watching your interview on Good Morning America, you quite possibly could have saved many lives because young women will see how vital it is to be screened. I was diagnosed in my thirties... I have many friends who were also diagnosed in their thirties and twenties too. Young women have more aggressive cancers so it is vital to catch them early. If there is one message that needs to get out it is that one.

The American Cancer Society is still claiming a woman should wait until the age of 40 before she gets her first baseline mammo. If I had waited until 40 I am not sure I would be here writing this. Christina Applegate has been saved a lot of torture because she found hers at such an early stage. If you are under 40 and have not had a baseline, do it now. If you have a lump or questionable calcifications and your doctor has advised you to watch and wait- stop. Demand a breast MRI. It will find the tiniest of cancers. It can not only save your life, but it can spare you the need for drastic treatments such as chemotherapy if it is found early enough.

If your doctor takes the time to craft a detailed, compelling letter of the need for this test, which includes stating you have an area of concern and dense breast tissue making it hard to diagnose, your insurance will eventually approve it. They may deny it the first time, but you appeal and eventually they relent. It is the unspoken rule of dealing with insurance companies: delay and deny and then hope the patient gives up. If YOU do not give up they will relent and approve. Fight for this test. This is your life on the line. Don't let them wear you down.

Miss Applegate stated in her Good Morning America interview that she will be starting a program that will help young women get breast MRIs. If we can contribute in any way to this cause, the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation is behind her all the way.

She also announced something else that I would like to personally thank her for. She is young, pretty and known for her beautiful body as well as her acting talent. She just underwent a bilateral mastectomy and will be getting breast reconstruction over the next 8 months, which sounds to me like expanders and implants. She is too thin to get a flap procedure, so it makes sense. As a young, single woman, I know this is a hard thing to cope with. I would like to reassure her that she will have a beautiful outcome eventually. It takes a while to get things right, but it is worth it. And I would like to say thank you to her for going public with this surgery. I am hoping that because of her exposure and how pretty she remains, maybe she can put a new face on those of us who have gone through recon. You single readers will know what I am referring to. We need someone pretty and young to show the world that we are not freaks, but beautiful works in progress.

I hope she reads this. I want her to know that there are many women behind her wishing her well. And she has our support especially with her message to young women. It is vital and maybe, just maybe, young women will hear it.

http://abcnews.go.com/gma

Monday, August 11, 2008

Elizabeth, the Magnificent

I have already expressed my feelings about John Edwards. I would like to address this to Elizabeth.

For those outside this disease, they do not know what happens emotionally to women when they are diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. There is a feeling of loss of self. All the things that made us feminine have been assaulted. There is often a sense of lovelessness, hopefully fleeting, that can make us feel like we are somehow damaged. This can lead to us thinking that we have to accept whatever treatment we get from our spouses or lovers.

Elizabeth, in case you didn't know, you are magnificent. You are more beautiful because of your illness than a woman who has not been through all the struggles you have. You are a Warrior with a deep reserve of power and strength and that only makes you more lovely, not less. What your husband did is a reflection on him, not you. It is he who is weak, frail, ugly, unworthy and undeserving of love. He is the one who is skulking around with his head hung low in shame. It is he who is the pitiful one.

You, my dear sister, are shining and proud. You know what you have inside you. You have fought for your life and you are winning. You have come head to head with a far more formidable foe and remained standing. What your husband did to you and your family is nothing compared to what you have conquered. You have women across the world rallying to your side. And no one is more armed and ready to help you through this than your breast cancer sisters. We want to remind you of your inner strength and power. We will not let you forget your beauty, your grace, your dignity.

Hold your head up, smile that enchanting smile of yours, and remember, you are magnificent and we got your back.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spank Me Barbie?


Just when you thought the world had gone entirely mad something else comes along to confirm your worst fears.

Barbie is now a dominatrix.

Gone is the dream house and innocent days with Ken by the heart shaped pool. They have been replaced by a leather body suit, fishnet tights, heavy make-up and a large dose of 'tude. Don't misunderstand, she still likes her pink, only this time she prefers it on her furry handcuffs instead of her corvette. Ken, be afraid, be very afraid.

Here is our gal's new look:



This has not gone unnoticed by moms across the country. This piece ran on KTLA

RACIER BARBIE ANGERING MOMS
Marco Gonzalez
KTLA News
EL SEGUNDO -- Mattel's newest plastic creation, Black Canary Barbie, is raising a few eyebrows.

She's dressed in a biker jacket, black boots and fishnets. This Barbie, with heavy makeup and long blond hair, was modeled in the likeness of DC Comic Super Hero Black Canary.

Parents have expressed outrage at the doll's clothing, saying that it's way too provocative…even going so far as calling it S & M gear.

Mattel is defending Black Canary Barbie. The toy giant says that the doll is part of the DC Comic Collection Dolls that also include Bat Girl, Wonder Woman and Super Girl. Mattel adds that Black Canary Barbie was neither marketed towards kids nor intended to be played with. In fact, Mattel has age-graded Black Canary Barbie at 14+, which they say indicates that it is for the adult collector.

Several mothers, however, aren't buying it….neither the explanation nor the doll. Los Angeles resident and mom, Roberta Moran, said, "They want kids to grow up too fast, basically. When babies are little they should have babies that are soft and lovey." Mom Zully Gomez adds, "It doesn't look very appropriate for a Barbie. It looks like a stripper."

Black Canary Barbie will be hitting stores this September.
Copyright KTLA News

This prompted me to get out my own Barbie Carrying Case. I still have all my Barbies and her pals. Sindy the snazzy dresser who had the best outfits, and bless her heart, my mom was able to find brown haired Barbies for me because that long blonde hair made us curly hair brunettes feel left out.

Looking at the outfits and the innocence of my collection, I can only thank God I was brought up when I was. Life was simpler, girls could stay girls and not be forced to grow up too fast, and our imaginations were free to take us to kinder gentler places. Basically, we had a childhood.

Here is a trip down memory lane for all of you who grew up in the 60's and 70's...

CLICK PHOTO FOR LARGER IMAGE!

And their carrying case, complete with hangers, wardrobe storage:





Monday, July 28, 2008

WRONG!

It is astounding the things I read about breast cancer. The ACS is still telling women to wait until they are 40 before they get a mammogram.... I really would like to introduce them to the thousands of women who were diagnosed under the age of 40. And today we have this little gem: Skip your self-exams. Are they trying to kill us? Please ignore any and all attempts to keep you from discovering your cancer at its earliest stages. This includes baseline mammos before the age of 35 and keep doing your monthly breast exams!

Here is the article in question:


July 26, 2008

For decades, doctors and advocacy groups have urged women to examine their breasts every month for unusual lumps.

Now many of those same experts have a different message: Never mind.

Earlier this month, Danish researchers published the latest report to cast doubt on the value of monthly exams. In studies of nearly 400,000 women, they found that even diligent self-examinations don't save lives. In fact, they may do more harm than good, by triggering a lot of unnecessary followup tests.

Over the last few years, cancer experts have quietly backed away from what was once considered a pivotal part of the fight against breast cancer.

"I don't think that we're pushing it as much as say, 10 years ago, when you used to ask every patient 'are you doing it?'" said Dr. Andrea Flom, head of the Minnesota chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

It's an open secret that many women don't do self exams correctly -- or at all.

That was evident in interviews with more than half a dozen women in downtown Minneapolis last week. None said they did the exams regularly, though all but one thought they were still recommended.

"It's like flossing your teeth: you know you should do it, but ..." said Sheryl O'Connor, 53, of Minneapolis. Now, she said, it's a relief to know that exams are fading in importance. "Perfect, one less thing for me to feel guilty about."

Diana Wengler, who was visiting from Houston with two teenage daughters, said she had no idea that the advice had changed. "It surprises me," she said, adding that she's heard the mantra about the importance of monthly exams "forever."

In fact, the American Cancer Society stopped recommending breast self-exams five years ago and now calls them "optional." Some clinics have stopped circulating brochures on how to do them. Even the Susan G. Komen organization, best known for its Race for the Cure, decided last year to drop the recommendation.

Slow to change

"It has been a bit of a culture change within the organization," admits Dr. Eric Winer, Komen's chief scientific adviser, who is also director of breast oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. In spite of the policy change, Komen has yet to remove the advice from its website, which still recommends monthly self-exams. "Let's just say the Web site is evolving," Winer said.

For years, it was believed that self-exams could find breast cancer in its earliest stages, when it's most treatable.

But doubts have been growing since 2002, when a huge study in China found that women who checked their breasts monthly were no less likely to die of breast cancer than other women, in spite of intense coaching in how to do the exams properly.

This month, scientists took a fresh look at the growing body of evidence, including a huge group in Russia. Once again, they found no sign that self exams cut the death rate. Instead, the women who examined their own breasts found more harmless lumps and had twice as many unnecessary biopsies as other women, according to a July 15 report published by the Cochrane Library. The conclusion: Self-exams "cannot be recommended."

'Absurd and outrageous'

Some are appalled. "It is simply absurd and outrageous to suggest women should not examine their breasts because it will do more harm than good," wrote Dr. Marie Savard, author of "How to Save Your Own Life," on the ABC News website last week. "After reading this report, some may conclude it is better that women remain in the dark about their bodies and rely only on technology. ... Ridiculous."

But more and more, doctors are walking a fine line.

"In general, what we say at Piper is that we recommend it as just one more way to find an early breast cancer, but it has shown to be the least important way," said Dr. Beverly Trombley, a radiologist who specializes in breast imaging at Abbott Northwestern Hospital's Piper Breast Center. Mammograms, she said, are "by far the most important."

One reason for the change of heart is technological.

"You used to find breast cancer by feel, and the technology changed," said Trombley. "We're finding fewer of them by feel and much more of them by imaging."

Along with mammograms, experts now emphasize what they call "breast health awareness." Essentially, that means being aware of changes in the breast, without necessarily going on a monthly scavenger hunt. If a woman finds something amiss, say, during a routine shower, he said, she should notify her doctor and check it. He notes that many women have found lumps that way, rather than through formal self-exams.

Flom, a Twin Cities obstetrician, admits that doctors may be sending mixed messages. "You sort of get this ambivalence," she said. "I'm not going to tell a patient who does [self exams] every month 'you need to stop doing that'. I'm not. But if I have somebody who never checks their breasts, I'm not going to tell them 'you need to start tomorrow.'"

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Turns Out, You're Nothing Special After All


The National Enquirer first broke the news. Then the LA Times confirmed a key portion of their report. The LA Sheriff's Department is investigating the altercation that occurred between the Enquirer's reporters and the Beverly Hilton's security staff. This morning, Fox News confirmed all of it. In a nutshell: it happened.


Dear John Edwards,

I wish I could say I was surprised. But I am not. You see, I have been in Cancerland for seven years now and I have known many women who have done everything in their power to put their family ahead of their own suffering just so they could keep things on an even keel at home. They were more concerned with how their husbands would handle the news of their cancer then they were for themselves.

They worried and fretted that it would upset their husbands. They tried to be Superwomen and get through their treatments and not complain because they did not want their lives to change at all or disturb the family dynamics.

They lost their hair and maybe their breasts, the chemotherapy made them gain weight, they tried to keep up with their healthy husbands even though their joints were screaming in pain from the medicine. They were tired but they kept their schedules packed because their husbands shouldn't have to miss out on anything that they used to do. They also thought, because that is what they were led to believe, that their husbands would be with them through sickness and in health... for better or worse. They also knew that if the tables were turned, and it was their husband who was stricken with a life threatening disease, they would be right by his side, for better or worse, for the duration.

Thank you for showing the world what really happens. Of all the women I am privileged to call "sister," if I were to take a poll, seven out of ten would say their marriage was affected negatively by their cancer diagnosis. Some are told they should not think about cancer all the time; others are told they aren't the same as they used to be; others are told they are no longer attractive; others find out their husbands have cheated on them.

From the man who refused to take his wife to the hospital when she had to have emergency heart surgery because the port-a-cath implanted in her chest to deliver the chemotherapy broke and became lodged in her heart; to the woman who went to her husband's gym to join herself so she could work off the chemo weight and when she asked if she could get on the family membership plan was told that he had joined as a single because his wife was already dead; to the woman whose husband forgot to log out of his account on the family computer and found pornographic images of young girls the same age as their daughter; to all the women who have found their husbands had replaced them with someone else.

You are nothing special, John Edwards. You have shown that you are an ordinary, run of the mill snake. You, the man who ran for president, implying that you were somehow above the norm have just proven that you are not exceptional, not moral, not honest, and a horrible example of how a man should honor his marriage vows.

When Elizabeth's cancer returned, she thought only of you. She put your dreams ahead of her survival. She pulled herself out of the terror and pain of finding out she was now Stage iv to put you in the spotlight. She campaigned all over the country for you while receiving her chemotherapy to try to slow down the disease that would eventually take her life. She always looked great. She made sure the kids were OK. And she was your biggest fan and staunchest supporter.

And what were you doing? How did you honor Elizabeth? You cheated on her. You had a child with someone else. You put yourself before her and your family.

This past weekend, according to reports, you arranged a liaison with your mistress. You thought you wouldn't get caught and to you, that is the tragedy here, correct? If you weren't caught and no one knew, then who did it hurt? Isn't that the married man's mantra?

Scurrying around in hotel hallways and then hiding in the men's room as reporters exposed you, pushing the door closed so they couldn't open it and skulking out under the dark of night, is not very presidential, is it John? It also isn't what makes a man a mensch.

Elizabeth may have breast cancer that has spread to her bones and other places. But you are the one with the fatal disease. Your career is over. Your Tom Sawyer Eagle Scout persona has been stripped off you and you are now just another pol who can't keep his pants up. You are no gentleman. You are one of "them" - the men who cat around behind their wife's back because cancer has altered her a little.

With an ego as big as yours, the worst punishment for you is happening right now. The entire world is seeing what an ordinary, debaucherous, lying, unfaithful, heartless, empty shell of a man you really are. Underneath your $400 haircut is a dime a dozen cheating political hack.

Elizabeth has a lot of life left in her and she is fighting for every minute of it. You are the one who has just seen the final inning of being the star and you will now slither into oblivion.


Dear Elizabeth,

Hang tough. You are beautiful, smart and a wonderful woman. I will close with the words of Ivana Trump:
"Don't get even. Get Everything."


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hello Newbies!

If you are about to start chemo and are nervous, I am hoping that my latest article in the July/August issue of Mamm will help.
I highly recommend that you check out this magazine on a regular basis- it is a Godsend.

Click here:
My Friend, Chemo

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tony Snow, An Inspiration


Former White House Press Secretary and television personality died from metastatic colon cancer at 2 AM today. He was different. In every way, he had something about him that was otherworldly. This became evident when his cancer returned.

When asked about his condition he focused on the positive and made sure the person asking the question felt comfortable and not afraid about his condition.

He lost his mother to the same disease when he was just 17 years old. Perhaps that is where he was able to find the inner calm that comes with knowing the full circle of this disease called cancer.

Cancer. We use many euphemisms for it. We “battle” it. We “valiantly fight it.” And for some reason, when we die because of it, everyone says the same thing: “He lost his battle against cancer.” Nobody loses their battle. Cancer never wins. We may die, but when we die we are released from cancer’s grasp and move on to an eternity of peace and wholeness and we are well once again. I prefer to think that cancer loses a competitor. By gracefully leaving the arena, cancer cannot touch our souls, so it loses.

I have been going through some research on Tony Snow and his philosophy about cancer and life and how much we need to live each day, every moment we have on this earth.

His words are far better than mine could ever hope to be.

Only someone who has been through cancer treatment can understand this one:

“The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well."

When you decide how you want to live your life, this philosophy surely helps:

Our virtues also help us shove aside adversity and create something glorious and new from the ashes of hardship and tragedy.”


And this is one of my favorites. If only there was a way to help the newly diagnosed know that this is so very true:

“The secret of learning to be sick is this: Illness doesn't make you less of what you were. You are still you.”

Out of the ashes....
“In many cases, a bout with sickness stretches your soul, opens your eyes, and introduces you to a world of unimagined grandeur, possibility and joy.”


And, in closing, these beautiful sentiments spoken at a college graduation just last year:

"To love is to place others before you and to make their needs your priority. Do it. When you put somebody else at the center of the frame, your entire world changes, and for the better. You begin to find your own place in the world. When you're drawn into the lives of others, you enter their problems, their hopes, their dreams, their families. They whisk you down unimagined corridors, toward possibilities that had been hidden to you before. So resolve to do little things for others. You don't know where they're going to lead but then again, you don't have any idea where your life is going to lead.

And that if you engage them with heart and mind, with faith and energy, you are going to find yourself on a cresting wave. It'll carry you forward and it'll push you under water from time to time. And some day in the dim and distant future, when you're looking back at it, you're not going to think about your car or your career or your gold watch. You'll think about a chewed-up teddy bear you had as a baby or maybe your child's smile on a special Christmas morning. The only things that are sure to endure are the artifacts of love. So go out and build as many as you can.

And finally this: Wherever you are and whatever you do, never forget at this moment, and every moment forward, you have a precious blessing. You've got the breath of life. No matter how lousy things may seem, you've got the breath of life. And while God doesn't promise tomorrow, he does promise eternity."

God bless you, Tony Snow. You were a shining light of optimism and hope to anyone who has ever faced a serious, life threatening disease. Your smile and bravery gave courage that revealed the promise of hope.

Cancer did not win. Heaven did.