Friday, July 30, 2010

Peaches and Plums oh my!

Very exciting and quite yummy news! Please note: CHERRIES should also be included in this list.

Peaches, Plums Induce Deliciously Promising Death of Breast Cancer Cells

ScienceDaily  — Breast cancer cells -- even the most aggressive type -- died after treatments with peach and plum extracts in lab tests at Texas AgriLife Research recently, and scientists say the results are deliciously promising. Not only did the cancerous cells keel over, but the normal cells were not harmed in the process.

AgriLife Research scientists say two phenolic compounds are responsible for the cancer cell deaths in the study, which was published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. The phenols are organic compounds that occur in fruits. They are slightly acidic and may be associated with traits such as aroma, taste or color.

"It was a differential effect which is what you're looking for because in current cancer treatment with chemotherapy, the substance kills all cells, so it is really tough on the body," said Dr. David Byrne, AgriLife Research plant breeder who studies stone fruit. "Here, there is a five-fold difference in the toxic intensity. You can put it at a level where it will kill the cancer cells -- the very aggressive ones -- and not the normal ones."
Byrne and Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos originally studied the antioxidants and phytonutrients in plums and found them to match or exceed the blueberry which had been considered superior to other fruits in those categories.

"The following step was to choose some of these high antioxidant commercial varieties and study their anticancer properties," Cisneros-Zevallos said. "And we chose breast cancer as the target because it's one of the cancers with highest incidence among women. So it is of big concern."

According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 192,370 new cases of breast cancer in females and 1,910 cases in males in 2009. That year, 40,170 women and 440 men died from breast cancer. The World Health Organization reports that breast cancer accounts for 16 percent of the cancer deaths of women globally.

Cisneros-Zevallos, an AgriLife Research food scientist, said the team compared normal cells to two types of breast cancer, including the most aggressive type. The cells were treated with an extract from two commercial varieties, the "Rich Lady" peach and the "Black Splendor" plum.

"These extracts killed the cancer cells but not the normal cells," Cisneros-Zevallos said.
A closer look at the extracts determined that two specific phenolic acid components -- chlorogenic and neochlorogenic -- were responsible for killing the cancer cells while not affecting the normal cells, Cisneros-Zevallos said.

The two compounds are very common in fruits, the researchers said, but the stone fruits such as plums and peaches have especially high levels.

"So this is very, very attractive from the point of view of being an alternative to typical chemotherapy which kills normal cells along with cancerous ones," Byrne added.
The team said laboratory tests also confirmed that the compounds prevented cancer from growing in animals given the compounds.

Byrne plans to examine more fully the lines of the varieties that were tested to see how these compounds might be incorporated into his research of breeding plums and peaches. Cisneros-Zevallos will continue testing these extracts and compounds in different types of cancer and conduct further studies of the molecular mechanisms involved.

The work documenting the health benefits of stone fruit has been supported by the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at Texas A&M University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Tree Fruit Agreement.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pilgrim Soul, by request

Many readers of my new book have asked me to print the entire Yeats poem, When You Are Old.

In the section for single survivors, I use part of the poem to illustrate how a woman should find her "fellow traveler" who will celebrate and love all that she is, all that she has been through and all that will be for the two of them, together, as they travel the road of life.  She should not settle for anyone less.

So here it is, written by William Butler Yeats, one of the tenderest, most romantic poets who was also blessed with an understanding of the human heart that is held by very, very few... 

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep 
  And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
  And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; 
How many loved your moments of glad grace,        
  And loved your beauty with love false or true; 
  But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face. 
And bending down beside the glowing bars, 
  Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
  And paced upon the mountains overhead, 
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 
 Everyone is scared. You don't have to be a breast cancer survivor to hold the patent on that. Learn from your experiences...both good and especially the bad. They are the road map to your future. Which route do you want to travel? It is in your hands. If you choose wisely you'll find happiness. If you repeat the past Caution: There may be dragons.

Find your fellow traveler before he hides his face amid a crowd of stars. Your whole life is waiting for you. Don't let it pass you by. Make your memories today.

Update on Avastin

Our voices have been heard. Please see our post from earlier this week, On Judah Folkman and Avastin.

Keep it up: never give in- never, ever give in.

July 29, 2010
Alicia Mundy
Wall Street Journal
Senator Slams FDA Advisory Committee’s Avastin Decision

An FDA advisory committee’s vote to revoke the approval of Roche-Genentech’s Avastin for treating breast cancer has drawn rough words from a Republican senator. David Vitter of Louisiana called the decision “essentially government rationing.”

The advisory panel last week voted 12-1 to remove the breast cancer indication from the drug’s label. If the FDA follows the advice of its committee — as it often does — the drug could still be marketed to treat colon, lung and other cancers. New studies presented to the panel showed more side effects among women being treated with Avastin and no overall survival benefit, though they did show women taking the drug had an extra month to 2.9 months of progression-free survival. Advisory panels do not discuss monetary costs of the drugs they consider.

“I shudder at the thought of a government panel assigning a value to a day of a person’s life,” Vitter said in a statement. “It is sickening to think that care would be withheld from a patient simply because their life is not deemed valuable enough.” In a letter to the FDA cancer division leader, Richard Pazdur, Vitter said the committee’s vote appeared to be based on cost effectiveness, not safety issues.
“I am not suggesting that Avastin is a perfect drug, but it has a proven record of effective treatment for some patients when used along with chemotherapy,” he wrote.

Vitter’s mother-in-law died of breast cancer. He has slammed the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force mammogram guidelines that said yearly tests shouldn’t be automatic for most women under 50. In May he asked the HHS to take the recommendations off the agency’s website.

His Avastin statements, says an aide, were partly prompted by an online petition sponsored, according to the petition’s website, by “women with metastatic breast cancer.” The petition was created using a website called Care2, which offers “do-it-yourself tools for creating and promoting a petition” and says “it’s never been easier to support the causes you care about.” The petition overview says, in part, that “despite the study this drug is a miracle drug for some of (sic) metastatic breast cancer patients especially with a type of breast cancer called triple negative.”

The FDA’s spokeswoman said the agency “will respond to Sen. Vitter in a timely fashion.” A final decision on Avastin’s use in breast cancer is expected this fall.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Love Lives

We talk about loss a great deal when we contemplate our breast cancer. One of the main reasons I wrote Intimacy After Breast Cancer, Dealing with Your Body, Your Relationships and Sex, was because I wanted to share the tremendous capacity for hope the world still holds for each and every one of you.

It is not over. Not if you don't let it be. Live your lives - live them to the fullest. Embrace all you have and reach for all you want.

Today, this post is for the single survivors. Remember, all men are not created equal.  As I advise in the book, you must separate the men from the boys. Then find your fellow traveler and let yourself fall in love with love him and let him love you.

Yes, your body has changed, but a real man, not a boy, is not making love to your breasts, he wants all of you. If you don't like how your reconstruction looks, get it fixed! Share the excitement you have for the new outcome with your new lover. If he is real, he will support you.

So today, let us think about Christina Applegate. Diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction and now she is not only in love with a wonderful man who supported her when she needed someone the most, but they are also expecting their first child.

To quote Walt Disney, "If you can dream it, you can do it."

Congratulations, Christina. Shine on.

Christina Applegate is going to be a mother.
US Magazineonline

The actress, 38, and her fiance, musician Martyn Lenoble, are expecting their first child, her rep tells US Magazine

Applegate and Lenoble, 41, got engaged this past Valentine's Day after two years of dating. (They have not revealed a wedding date. This will be the second marriage for both.)
Applegate has credited Lenoble, a founding member of 90s alternative rock band Porno for Pyros, with helping her overcome her battle with breast cancer. After her 2008 diagnosis, she underwent a double mastectomy, then reconstructive surgery.

"I have a small but mighty support system and Martyn has really been an incredible part of my life," Applegate previously told Us. "Without him, I don't know if I could've gone through any of it. He came around at a time when there was a lot of loss in my life on many levels, so he's been a really incredible help."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Judah Folkman and Avastin

The very miracle that gives us life can also take it away. This is what Dr. Judah Folkman discovered when he realized the mechanism of angiogenesis. Angiogenesis: the creation of a new blood supply from cells within the body. The most beautiful of angiogenesis is a fetus. The most deadly is found in cancer.

Two polar opposites, that which gives life and that which takes it away, are both developed through angiogenesis.

When Dr. Folkman made his discovery, over two decades ago, the world thought the key to unlocking the door that stops cancer had been found. However, it was not so easy. Creating an anti-angiogenesis drug proved difficult if not impossible. Until Avastin (Bevacizumab) hit the oncology world. It showed in clinical trials that it stops cancer cells from creating their own blood supply, thus stopping cancer from growing.

It was paired with other chemotherapies and there were some very good outcomes along with some deadly side effects, for some. However, it did work on women who had advanced breast cancer. It also showed promise in the treatment of early stage disease. I personally know women who  benefited from this drug. It represented the future of cancer care. Until now.

This week, the FDA is considering pulling it from the market because studies show "not enough benefit compared to the risk when paired with current chemotherapies." Women who are currently benefiting from this drug will lose their insurance coverage for Avastin if the FDA succeeds in pulling this drug.

Avastin is a powerful weapon in the arsenal against breast cancer. If the FDA does not feel it works well with current, well established chemotherapies, they should have a warning for practitioners and patients alike. But they must not close the door for its use for future drugs that it may work extremely well with. One example is the new hope that is being found in Parp Inhibitors for triple negative disease.  There has not been sufficient testing of Parp i, nor has there been combination trials of Avastin with these future drugs to completely rule out this hope for women who are desperate for a therapy that will extend their lives.

Pull Avastin from the market? The FDA should ask the women whose metastatic disease is now stable because of it before they close yet another door on survival. If Dr. Folkman were still alive today, he would most likely agree.

FDA May Pull Avastin From Market
Molly Peterson, BLOOMBERG News
Roche Holding AG’s top-seller Avastin may shed $1 billion in annual revenue if U.S. regulators follow a panel recommendation to revoke approval of the drug for use in breast cancer.

Scientific advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted 12-1 yesterday to rescind Avastin’s clearance in breast cancer after finding the drug paired with chemotherapies didn’t work better than other medicines alone. The agency usually follows panels’ advice, though it isn’t required to do so.
Roche, Europe’s largest drugmaker, won FDA approval of Avastin for breast cancer in 2008 under an accelerated review that required the company to conduct trials proving the drug, with $5.97 billion in sales last year, slows progression of the disease. Tests failed to meet this goal, the FDA panel found. Withdrawal of U.S. approval could trim as much as $1 billion from annual sales by 2015, said Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Tim Anderson, in a report yesterday after the vote.

“Given the overwhelming majority against Avastin, we think there is a good chance the FDA will follow the committee’s advice,” Anderson said. He projected worldwide Avastin sales of about $6.5 billion this year, including approximately $1.2 billion from breast cancer. Eliminating U.S. breast cancer sales may cut Roche’s earnings a share by about 5 percent, he said.

No Expanded Use
Panelists also rejected Roche’s application to expand use of Avastin in breast cancer for pairings with more varieties of chemotherapy. Wider use from that approval could have pushed global breast-cancer revenue for Avastin to about $3 billion a year, said Martin Voegtli, an analyst with Kepler Capital Markets in Zurich, in a telephone interview yesterday before the panel vote.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s recommendation and believe Avastin should continue to be an option,” Sandra Horning, head of clinical development hematology/oncology at Roche said in an e-mailed statement today. “We will continue to discuss the data from the more than 2,400 women who participated in three phase III studies with the FDA.”

Roche, based in Basel, Switzerland, fell 6 Swiss francs, or 4.2 percent, to 137 francs at the 5:30 p.m. close of trading in Zurich. The stock declined 4.2 percent, the most in more than a year, July 16 after a FDA report concluded Avastin didn’t slow breast tumors in new studies as much as in earlier tests used to win approval.

“It is clear that the FDA do not believe Avastin adds a clinically meaningful benefit to patients,” said Dominic Valder, a London-based analyst with Evolution Securities, in a July 19 research report.
Sept. 17 Decision

“Today’s advisory committee vote does not change the current availability of Avastin for women with advanced breast cancer,” Charlotte Arnold, a spokeswoman for Roche’s South San Francisco, California-based Genentech unit, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The FDA will make a final decision by Sept. 17, she said.

Avastin is the first medicine to fight cancer by blocking the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors, a process called angiogenesis. It targets a chemical signal known as vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. The treatment, also approved for brain, lung and colon tumors, costs about $50,000 a year. Avastin was developed by the company’s Genentech unit, fully acquired by the European drugmaker last year for $46.8 billion.

Most Common Malignancy
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in females and strikes about 1 million women a year globally, according to the Geneva-based World Health Organization. Avastin is approved for about three quarters of women whose breast cancer has been recently diagnosed as having spread to other organs. It doesn’t include women who have a mutation to the HER2 protein, a known risk factor. Patients with HER2 mutations are eligible for another Roche drug, Herceptin.

The FDA’s 2008 clearance of Avastin for breast cancer overruled an advisory panel that concluded the benefit of slowing the spread of tumors wasn’t worth the risk of side effects including high blood pressure and death.

Approval was based on a clinical trial, called E2100, which showed Avastin slowed the spread of breast cancer by an additional 5.5 months when paired with paclitaxel chemotherapy, compared with the other drug alone, the FDA said in its report.

One trial completed since then, called Avado, showed that a high dose of Avastin paired with docetaxel chemotherapy extended the time patients lived without their disease worsening by 0.9 months, compared with treatment with chemotherapy alone, the FDA report said. A lower dose of Avastin gave patients 0.8 months.

Extended Life
A second trial finished after approval, called Ribbon-1, found Avastin combined with taxane or anthracycline-based chemotherapies stalled tumor growth by 1.2 months, compared with treatment with chemotherapy alone, the agency said in its review. Patients who got Avastin combined with Xeloda lived 2.9 months longer without their disease progressing, compared with chemotherapy alone.
“We have a far more comprehensive picture here of the role of Avastin than we had in 2008,” said Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Office of Oncology Drug Products, told the panel before yesterday’s vote.

Drugs that win conditional clearance through the FDA’s accelerated-approval program can later be pulled from the market if subsequent data fails to show that a treatment increases long-term survival or slows progression of the disease while improving quality of life.

‘Overwhelming Majority’
While Avastin is expensive and doesn’t work as well as early trials suggested, the “overwhelming majority” of breast cancer specialists think the drug has a use in certain patients, Jack Scannell, a Bernstein analyst in London, said in a July 15 research note.

Breast-cancer patients may lose insurance coverage for Avastin if the FDA revokes approval of the treatment, said Francisco Esteva, a professor of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“Even if we wanted to use it, patients would have to consider that it’s a very expensive therapy,” Esteva said July 15 in a telephone interview. “Without insurance support, I don’t think patients would be able to take it.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Doctors make the Decisions...

The UK is changing its medical care. In essence, according to this NY Times article, the patients and doctors will make healthcare decisions instead of the government.

Which would you prefer? A large, cold government insurance entity deciding whether you really need that CT scan - or your Primary Care Physician?

Britain Plans to Decentralize Health Care
By Sarah Lyall The New York Times

LONDON — Perhaps the only consistent thing about Britain’s socialized health care system is that it is in a perpetual state of flux, its structure constantly changing as governments search for the elusive formula that will deliver the best care for the cheapest price while costs and demand escalate.

Even as the new coalition government said it would make enormous cuts in the public sector, it initially promised to leave health care alone. But in one of its most surprising moves so far, it has done the opposite, proposing what would be the most radical reorganization of the National Health Service, as the system is called, since its inception in 1948.

Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England’s $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers.

The plan would also shrink the bureaucratic apparatus, in keeping with the government’s goal to effect $30 billion in “efficiency savings” in the health budget by 2014 and to reduce administrative costs by 45 percent. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost because layers of bureaucracy would be abolished.

In a document or white paper describing the plan, the government admitted that the changes would “cause significant disruption and loss of jobs.” But it said: “The current architecture of the health system has developed piecemeal, involves duplication and is unwieldy. Liberating the N.H.S., and putting power in the hands of patients and clinicians, means we will be able to effect a radical simplification, and remove layers of management.”

The health secretary, Andrew Lansley, also promised to put more power in the hands of patients. Currently, how and where patients are treated, and by whom, is largely determined by decisions made by 150 entities known as primary care trusts — all of which would be abolished under the plan, with some of those choices going to patients. It would also abolish many current government-set targets, like limits on how long patients have to wait for treatment.

The plan, with many elements that need legislative approval to be enacted, applies only to England; other parts of Britain have separate systems.

The government announced the proposals this month. Reactions to them range from pleased to highly skeptical.

Many critics say that the plans are far too ambitious, particularly in the short period of time allotted, and they doubt that general practitioners are the right people to decide how the health care budget should be spent. Currently, the 150 primary care trusts make most of those decisions. Under the proposals, general practitioners would band together in regional consortia to buy services from hospitals and other providers.
It is likely that many such groups would have to spend money to hire outside managers to manage their budgets and negotiate with the providers, thus canceling out some of the savings.

David Furness, head of strategic development at the Social Market Foundation, a study group, said that under the plan, every general practitioner in London would, in effect, be responsible for a $3.4 million budget.

“It’s like getting your waiter to manage a restaurant,” Mr. Furness said. “The government is saying that G.P.’s know what the patient wants, just the way a waiter knows what you want to eat. But a waiter isn’t necessarily any good at ordering stock, managing the premises, talking to the chef — why would they be? They’re waiters.”

But advocacy groups for general practitioners welcomed the proposals.

“One of the great attractions of this is that it will be able to focus on what local people need,” said Prof. Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, which represents about 40,000 of the 50,000 general practitioners in the country. “This is about clinicians taking responsibility for making these decisions.”

Dr. Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the general practitioner committee at the British Medical Association, said general practitioners had long felt there were “far too many bureaucratic hurdles to leap” in the system, impeding communication. “In many places, the communication between G.P.’s and consultants in hospitals has become fragmented and distant,” he said.

The plan would also require all National Health Service hospitals to become “foundation trusts,” enterprises that are independent of health service control and accountable to an independent regulator (some hospitals currently operate in this fashion). This would result in a further loss of jobs, health care unions say, and also open the door to further privatization of the service.

The government has promised that the new plan will not affect patient care and that the health care budget will not be cut. But some experts say those assertions are misleading. The previous government, controlled by the Labour Party, poured money into the health service — the budget is now about three times what it was when Labour took over, in 1997 — but the increases have stopped. The government has said the budget will continue to rise in real terms for the next five years, but it is unlikely that the increases will keep up with the rising costs of care and the demands of an aging population.
“The real mistake that is being made by the health secretary is to drive through an ideologically determined program of reorganization which is motivated by the principle of efficiency savings,” said Robin Durie, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter. “History shows clearly that quality will suffer as a consequence.”
Dr. Durie added, “The gulf between the rhetoric of the white paper and the technicalities of what is involved in the various elements of the overall reorganization being proposed is just extraordinary.”

For example, he asked, how will the government make good on its promise to give patients more choice — a promise that seems to require a degree of administrative oversight — while cutting so many managers from the system?

“How will the delivery of all this choice be funded?” Dr. Durie asked. “And how will the management of the delivery of choice be funded?”

Dr. Vautrey said the country needed to have a “mature debate about what the N.H.S. can and cannot afford.”

He said: “It is a sign of the mixed messages that government sends out. They talk about choice and competition and increased patient expectations at the same time as they tell the service they need to cut costs and refer less and prescribe less. People need to understand that while the needs of everyone may be met, their wants will be limited.”
As they prepare for the change, many doctors are wondering whether it will be permanent this time around.

“Many of our colleagues have seen this cycle of change repeatedly,” Dr. Vautrey said. “Many would look at previous reorganizations and compare it to this one and wonder how long the current change will last before the next one comes along.”

New Study Proves Why Before Forty Initiative is so Vital!

We have been working on spreading the word about The Before Forty Initiative. It is a program that was started in honor of Ferne Dixon, a young, beautiful, African American woman who was also my best friend. I promised her I would make sure all young women, particularly young African American women knew their risks for Triple Negative Breast Cancer and got the early screening necessary to save their lives. Ferne's life would have been saved if she had found her TNBC early.

Please help us. Visit our Before Forty Page HERE and take the pledge HERE and donate HERE.

Read this new study and understand how important this work is:

A new study finds that African ancestry is linked to a more aggressive type of cancer called "triple negative."

Harry Jackson Jr.
McClatchy Tribune
July 23, 2010

A new study finds that African ancestry is linked to a more aggressive type of cancer that is more deadly.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor found that, among women with breast cancer, 82 percent of African women had the breast cancer called "triple negative," 26 percent of African-Americans had the variety, and 16 percent of white Americans had it.

In technical terms: Triple negative breast cancer is negative for three markers used to determine treatment: the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor and HER-2/neu.

Recent advances in breast cancer treatments target each of the receptors, but targeting all three is a major problem, said Dr. Lisa A. Newman, director of the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Outcome disparities are therefore likely to increase, because fewer African-American women are candidates for these newer treatments," she said.

These results and results from prior studies indicate a genetic link for the form of breast cancer a woman might develop.

Prior studies have shown that while African-American women are less likely than white women to develop breast cancer, those who are diagnosed are usually younger and more likely to die from the disease.

Other studies have shown a hereditary breast cancer risk associated with racial-ethnic identity - most commonly among Ashkenazi Jewish women.

Researchers looked at African-American women and white women diagnosed with breast cancer at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Researchers also looked at African women diagnosed at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana.

Ghanaian women were diagnosed at a younger age than American women, with larger tumors, had more advanced cancer and were more likely to have the triple negative test results.

Researchers said the recent findings may help science find women predisposed to more aggressive and deadly cancers.

The study is in the online journal "Cancer."

Breast cancer statistics: 194,280 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,610 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

You have the power to save someone's life today

What if ...

You found your cancer while it was still small?

You found your cancer before it spread to your nodes?

You found your triple negative cancer earlier?

You found your cancer so early you didn’t require chemo?

You found your cancer so tiny you could keep your breasts?

You found your cancer in time to preserve your fertility?

If only you knew earlier...

You know what all this means. You know what a difference it would have made in you life. 
We can’t change the past - but we can change the future for the young women who don’t even know they have cancer - yet.

Join the Before Forty Initiative

Our logo says it all: She is strong, beautiful and taking aim at cancer. She has shot her arrow and broken through the bonds of pink ribbons to take a stand and be a part of the solution. You can be that person for someone whose life you can save.

Take The Pledge:

I _________________, refuse to stand by and let another woman endure what I had to in order to fight my cancer. I pledge to teach five young women about the importance of early detection. I will encourage them to get baseline breast screening by the age of 35, or if she is at high risk, at the age of 30. I will take the time to explain the difference it will make in her life if she finds her cancer early. I will give her a Before Forty Initiative pamphlet that details everything she needs to know. I will fight for her to get follow up care if something suspicious is found. I will make sure she never, ever “watches and waits” for her cancer to grow. I will reassure her that mammograms may be uncomfortable for a moment, but they can save her life. I will tell her what a breast ultrasound is. I will walk her through a breast MRI, so she is unafraid. Because I am a survivor, I will be an active participant in protecting women until there is cure, because until that day comes, early detection is our only defense. I will be a part of the solution.

Name: __________________________________________
Address: ________________________________________


The Initiative’s Levels of Dedication:

The Archer
Saves the lives of 5-10 women

A Trailblazer

Saves the lives of 10-19 women

A Warrior 

Saves the lives of 20-49 women

The Conquerer 

Saves the lives of 50+ women

To save a life, please copy and paste this Pledge Form and mail it to 

No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation, PO Box 84, Locust Valley, New York 11560 

All we are asking for is your pledge and a tax deductible donation of $10. This donation will help fund our national campaign, because we won't stop until every woman knows how vital this information is. 

We will send you the informational pamphlets you require for your recruits and any other information that will help you help those women who were US years ago, before we found our cancers. Let's do this- Let's make a real difference while we wait for the Cure.

Thank you.

Why is this so important- right this very minute? Read the latest news:

Mammogram uproar as pols, doctors reject guidelines
Originally published: July 11, 2010 6:32 PM
Updated: July 11, 2010 9:42 PM

Eight months ago, a federal advisory panel triggered an uproar by saying most women needed fewer mammograms and should begin them at a later age. Today, the confusion over those guidelines has intensified as physicians and lawmakers demand they be withdrawn.

The recommendations suggested women without risk factors for breast cancer could wait until 50 to start annual screening. Within a day of their release, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement saying the guidelines didn't represent government policy, and advised women to "do what you've always done."
But the guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of outside experts chosen by HHS, are still posted on an official government website run by Health and Human Services although they have been modified slightly to say women between 40 and 49 who want a mammogram should get one if their doctor recommends it.
Still, the furor over the guidelines will not go away.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wrote to Sebelius in May saying passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December required that the government withdraw the guidelines.

Vitter said the bill, passed by a bipartisan vote, called on HHS to remove the recommendations from its website and "cease all promotion of the November 2009 recommendations related to breast cancer screening and mammography"
In his letter, he wrote: "The fact that these recommendations are still being presented to the general public as 'current' is only serving to further confuse women on this critical issue. The recommendations were ill-conceived from the start. . . . They represent a step backward in our fight against a horrible disease."

Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado said they have yet to receive a reply from Sebelius. "The senator's office has not heard anything back from HHS. This is not all that untypical for an agency. Their responses to formal letters can take quite some time."
Newsday made several attempts to get HHS to address the status of the guidelines - whether the agency still endorses them now that they've been edited, or whether they will be withdrawn, as some lawmakers are seeking. The agency did not provide answers to the questions and no one from HHS would address whether scrapping the guidelines is seriously under discussion.

Dr. Christine Hodyl, director of breast surgery at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, said she never took the guidelines seriously - they're unrealistic for Long Island.

"This week alone," she said recently, "I operated on two women. One was 37 and the other was 41. Here on Long Island, the breast cancer rate is so high I tell women to get their baseline [first mammogram] at 35 to 40. If these [two] women had waited until 50, the cancer would have metastasized."

Another critic, Dr. Brian O'Hea, director of the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center at Stony Brook Medical Center, said he never stopped recommending routine screening at age 40. "We're still in line with the American Cancer Society and have not changed a bit," O'Hea said.

Last month, a Harvard mammography expert charged that the guidelines are based on faulty science and should be retracted.

None of the task force members were experts in breast cancer or mammography.
Health care insurers, such as Empire BlueCross Blue-Shield and Vytra, say they are sticking with the cancer society's recommendations.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From Publisher's Weekly

The reviews are really great. Thank you!

Intimacy After Breast Cancer: Dealing with Your Body, Relationships and Sex
Gina M. Maisano, Square One (, $16.95 paper (190p) ISBN 9780757003240
Maisano, founder of the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation, examines the delicate personal side of reconnecting after the trauma of breast cancer. Writing in a straightforward, conversational style, Maisano leverages her hard-won firsthand knowledge to create an informative and supportive guide for women in the process of reclaiming their sexuality, post-treatment. Presented in two parts, the book begins with issues related to healing the body and mind. As cancer survivors shift from fighting for their lives to planning for the future, Maisano illustrates the pros and cons of treatment options. A two-time breast cancer survivor herself, she assembles personal stories and explains complex procedures with welcome frankness and humor: "All this will mean a farewell to the ovaries and a baptism by hot flash into the world of sudden menopause." In Part Two, the author takes a close look at sexuality and intimacy after treatment, offering up-to-date information, nonjudgmental support, and healing exercises for women as they recover in their own unique ways and face individual challenges on the road to health. This book will be vital to women who find themselves in the process of healing, and to all the people who care for them. (Jun)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Returning to Romance After Breast Cancer

Treatments are over, time to LIVE again. If you haven't picked up "Intimacy After Breast Cancer" yet, here are some tips to get back into the land of the loving. Your whole life is waiting for you, go live it!

Learn to love the new you. Whether you have chosen to have breast reconstruction or not, get to know your body again. Change what you don’t like, embrace what you do like. If you are not happy with your reconstruction, get it redone. If you changed your mind about going natural, look into the best reconstruction options for you.

xplore your new pleasure centers. You may not have sensation in your nipples anymore, but the nerve endings on your collar bone and neck are hypersensitive to touch. Show your lover where you like to be caressed.

 Lingerie can work wonders. Find a beautiful bra and then buy several matching panties. Always wear luxurious lingerie, don’t save it for special occasions.  Get pockets sewn in for your prosthesis. Victoria doesn’t have to be the only one with a secret.

 Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay....! Who needs quickies when you can have a longie? Take your time making love. Become a sensual lover and slow your partner down. This gives your body a chance to become aroused and ready for wonderful sex.

Keep the mystery. Don’t discuss your medical chart with your lover. You are a woman who had cancer. Now you are a warrior goddess, ready to live your life to the fullest. Concentrate on the two of you, right here, right now.

 Don’t be consumed by your past or you won’t have a future. Cancer happened. You have an entire lifetime of experiences outside of it. Put it in proportion. Don’t let cancer get in the way of your life now, if you do, it wins.

 Don't forget the romance.  A lit candle, the soft touch of silk against skin, a glass of wine, a bare shoulder, Melody Gardot playing in the background. Dance, flirt, smile, caress, listen, hint, kiss, love.

Be prepared: Have lubrication at hand if your treatment has changed your body chemistry. Apply it on each other, slowly and pleasurably.

 Ice the cupcakes. If you have new breasts, don’t stop there. Finish your reconstruction and get nipples and areolas. Complete the look, you will be so glad you did. If you are still under-construction, use latex, stick on nipples and wear them under a lacy bra. They look so real you will think they are yours.

Have fun...Because it is!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Everybody in the Pool?

Today is the day the high risk insurance pools open for uninsured people who cannot get coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The catch? You must be uninsured for over six months to be eligible.

Check your policies and do your homework before jumping in...

High-Risk Insurance Pools to Begin

New York Times 

IF you have any kind of chronic medical condition and you’ve been shopping for health insurance, you know how insanely difficult it is to find an insurer that will cover you at all, let alone at an affordable rate.

For some people, relief may be on the way starting July 1. That is the day when the federal government will start paying for new insurance programs aimed at providing relatively affordable coverage for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions.

Under the new health care law, the government has earmarked $5 billion for states to set up high-risk pools, as the programs are called, for people who have been uninsured for six months or longer. The pools are to provide a bridge for people most in need of coverage until the insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014. The pools will have no restrictions based on pre-existing conditions; coverage starts immediately and comes with no annual or lifetime limits. Deductibles and co-payments will be kept low.

Bekky Jones-Ludwick, 51, a manager for a marine supply store in Waynesboro, Va., is hoping the new system will help her and her husband, Tracy Ludwick. Both work for the same small business, and their employer had provided health insurance coverage for the couple until March 2009.
The company canceled insurance for employees just after Ms. Jones-Ludwick, who suffers from asthma, learned she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. The couple switched to a more expensive health policy purchased on their own.

Then, in May 2009, Ms. Jones-Ludwick’s husband needed emergency gall bladder surgery. The new policy covered only $1,000 a day for any type of hospitalization. As a result, the couple was left to pay $20,000 in medical bills.

The new policy was canceled, too, and now the couple is completely without insurance.

“I can’t pay off the debt, pay for my medicine and pay insurance premiums,” said Ms. Jones-Ludwick.

“I owe more in medical bills than I make in a year’s salary.”

Ms. Jones-Ludwick is hoping insurance in the new high-risk pools not only will have premiums affordable enough that she can resume coverage but also will help eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for asthma medication, regular mammograms and other health care costs.

Even as the deadline for their debut approaches, however, questions remain about the new risk pools.
The law mandates that premiums for the new coverage must be the same as the standard rate for a healthy adult in that state. (Currently insurance for someone with a pre-existing condition, when available at all, can cost as much as 200 percent of the standard rate.)

That sounds reasonable, but it’s not necessarily affordable. Depending on where you live, premiums could still be several hundred dollars a month.

In addition, many experts worry that the $5 billion won’t be enough to last until 2014. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has estimated that the $5 billion will last for only two years.

“We just don’t know how many people will sign up for the new pools,” said Deborah J. Chollet, a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, a public policy research company, who has studied existing state risk pools and the new plan. “Until we see what happens, there’s no way to know how long the money will last.”

Another concern is that only people who have been uninsured for six months or longer are eligible for the new pools. That means the newly unemployed or those paying exorbitant premiums because of a pre-existing condition — perhaps in their state’s existing high-risk pool — cannot simply switch to the more affordable high-risk pools.

The idea was to provide the stopgap measure for the neediest until 2014. If everyone took advantage of the new pools, it was feared, the government would have even more trouble financing the program.
“There’s an inherent unfairness there that’s going to be difficult to explain to consumers,” said Sandy Praeger, state insurance commissioner of Kansas.

But for those who may, at long last, have a chance to get decent coverage for a relatively good rate, one question is more pressing than any other: How do I sign up? Here’s information on how the new risk pools are expected to work and what you should do if you think you might benefit from this new coverage.
WHO’S IN CHARGE? Under the new law, each state can decide whether it wants to run the new high-risk pool or have the federal government run the program instead. At last count, about 30 states have opted to run their own programs.

Those states have filed a proposal with the government outlining a list of pre-existing conditions that will help define who is eligible for each pool. Many states already have high-risk pools that provide an infrastructure; nevertheless, the existing risk pools will be run independently of the new ones.
Most states are waiting for approval of these guidelines from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which is administering most of the health law changes.
About 18 states have opted for the federal government to run the high-risk programs instead. The department has not yet provided details about how these pools will work.
GET THE PLAN DETAILS Even with so few details, it’s not too early to contact your state insurance department for information on your state’s proposed plan. Some states may be taking applications as soon as July 1, although many are expected to miss that deadline and begin taking applications in August or even in the fall.

The Web site of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners,, has a directory of state insurance departments under “States and Jurisdictions Map.” Even states that are opting for the federally run pools are expected to post information on their insurance department Web sites to help consumers apply, said Ms. Praeger.

Also on July 1, the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to introduce an online portal at that will include information on available health insurance in each state, including coverage provided by high-risk pools, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
GATHER YOUR RECORDS While you are waiting for the deadlines to kick in, get copies of your medical records, advised Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of health policy at Families USA, a consumer advocacy group. You may need them to show that you have a pre-existing condition and are therefore eligible for the pool.
APPLY EARLY Each state has been allocated a portion of the $5 billion, but just about everyone agrees that the money will not be enough to last until 2014. Down the road, Congress may appropriate more money for the program, said Ms. Praeger — but there’s no guarantee. As a result, if some states receive a deluge of applicants, they may establish waiting lists until they determine they have enough funding. That is why it is important to sign up as soon as your state or the federal program allows.
CONSIDER AN ALTERNATIVE If you have recently lost your job, your Cobra coverage has run out or you’re without health insurance for any other reason, waiting six months until you are eligible for the new risk pools may not be your best option.

Under a federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, your health cannot be taken into account if you are moving from one qualified insurance plan to another, as long as you have no more than a 62-day gap in coverage.

The new premiums may be higher, but many people would be better off finding another policy before that 62-day deadline passes than they would continuing without coverage for a full six months.