Saturday, March 29, 2008

Soar Sweet Ferne, Soar

Today I said goodbye to a dear friend. Ferne Dixon left this earth on March 22, 2007, less than two years from her diagnosis of breast cancer. She touched my life profoundly. She was my friend, my confidant and my sister. I have never known anyone like her before and will never know anyone like her again.

She was brave in the truest sense of the word. Her strength came from an unwavering faith and her kindness came from a heart that had no room for anything other than things that were positive, loving and productive. She reached out to women all over the world and touched their lives with her gentle way that made you feel truly cared for... because you were. She really did care. And even as she was at the end of her life, she spent more time worrying about how the rest of us were going to handle things.

She had a spark and a sense of humor that made you smile long after you saw her. She had one of the sweetest voices you ever could hear. I think that is one of the things I will really miss the most, I won't ever hear that sweet voice again. I also won't have someone to tell me to "Just chill" the next time I get myself all worked up about things. I feel a sense of loneliness in my heart. I just wish she was here with us longer.

But she believed that when her time came she would accept it because her faith was so strong that she always felt, no matter what happened, God would take care of her. The Quakers believe There is that of God in everyone. I learned that in the Quaker high school I attended. I never saw it come to life until I met Ferne.

Ferne, cancer did not win, nor did death win - because of your faith, you were victorious over both the cancer and death because you passed straight to the kingdom of heaven that you knew was awaiting you and you are now living again walking with God.

Ferne's favorite hymn was sung at her funeral. It is called "I'll Fly Away"
So this is for you, my sweet, gentle and very dear friend.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


A fellow breast cancer survivor has made a wonderful CD of her music. She sent it to me and I have been playing it ever since I picked it up at the post office today.

It is music for the soul.
It is healing and empowering and empathetic and loving.

Thank You, Kristin!

I love it!

Music is a salve
for the soul.

Own this CD written and recorded by two working moms,
one of whom is a 1-year breast cancer survivor.These 12 original songs feature their feel-good, colorful, multi-layered, edgy-folk sound. The lyrics are funny, reflective, and passionate and speak especially to women, parents, survivors of cancer and survivors of life!

Proceeds from CD sales and downloads will be donated to breast cancer research!
To order your copy, please visit

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Too Much Estrogen

If you can get a copy of this month's Mamm Magazine, I have an article in it about the five ways to prevent a recurrence. There is a good discussion among the leading researchers in the field about exercise and eating a low fat diet. This has been shown to decrease our risk of recurrence by as much as 50 %.

Today, a study was released indicating that too much estrogen also puts us at risk of recurrence EVEN WITH the use of an anti-estrogen medication such as Tamoxifen. This makes lifestyle changes even more vital to our long-term survival.

The study, below, is something I would definitely discuss with your oncologist at your next follow-up.

Public release date: 6-Mar-2008
American Association for Cancer Research

High levels of estrogen associated with breast cancer recurrence

PHILADELPHIA - Women whose breast cancer came back after treatment had almost twice as much estrogen in their blood than did women who remained cancer-free - despite treatment with anti-estrogen drugs in a majority of the women -according to researchers in a study published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The findings suggest that high levels of estrogen contribute to an increased risk of cancer recurrence, just as they lead to the initial development of breast cancer, said the study's lead author, Cheryl L. Rock, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

"While this makes sense, there have been only a few small studies that have looked at the link between sex hormones in the blood and cancer recurrence," she said. "This is the largest study to date and the only one to have included women taking agents such as tamoxifen to reduce estrogen's effect on cancer growth.

"What the results mean for women who have already been treated for breast cancer is that they should do as much as they can to reduce estrogen in their blood, such as exercising frequently and keeping weight down," she added. "Taking anti-estrogen drugs like tamoxifen may not completely wipe out the hormone's effect in women who have high levels of estrogen."

Participants from this study were drawn from the larger Women's Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL), a dietary intervention trial that followed 3,088 women who had been treated for early stage breast cancer but who were cancer-free at the time they enrolled. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups - one that ate a "normal" healthy diet and the other that ate extremely high amounts of fruits, fiber, and vegetables - and were followed for more than seven years. Breast cancer recurrence was about the same in each group, according to the results, published in 2007. Researchers interpreted the findings to mean that a normal diet that incorporates the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables is sufficient.

In the current nested case-control study, 153 WHEL participants whose cancer had recurred were matched with 153 participants who remained cancer-free. These pairs were alike in terms of tumor type, body size, age, ethnicity, use of chemotherapy and other variables. Two-thirds of the participants were using tamoxifen, Rock said.

When they enrolled, researchers tested the women's blood for concentrations of the steroid hormones estradiol (the primary human estrogen) and testosterone. They analyzed different forms of estradiol and testosterone in the blood, such as how much was bound to transport proteins (such as to the sex hormone binding globulin, or SHBG) and how much was "free" circulating and able to enter a cell.

Researchers found that higher estradiol concentrations, in all forms, significantly predicted cancer recurrence. Overall, women whose cancer came back had an average total estradiol concentration that was more than double the average for women who remained cancer-free. Increased levels of testosterone or SHBG levels were not associated with recurrence, contradicting the findings of several previous studies.

Although genetic and metabolic factors likely influence the relationship between circulating sex hormones and risk of breast cancer recurrence, Rock said the study provides solid evidence that higher concentrations of estradiol in the blood contribute to risk for breast cancer recurrence.