Monday, September 30, 2013

October. Again.



This one is for my sisters. We know better than anyone what it feels like to be told we have breast cancer. We know the cold, dark fear those words bring us. We know the panic when we look up our stats on scary websites. We know how much the surgery hurts and how much chemo truly does suck. We know what it is like to lose our hair, our lashes, our nails, our breasts, our fertility, and our way of life.

There is not much an outsider can do but be a friend to us. What does that mean? Give us a lift to the hospital when we have to have yet another surgery. Bring us something to eat when we are too weak to cook for ourselves. Call us up and talk about anything but cancer. Treat us like we are still human, still women, and still the same strong, intelligent people we were a month ago.

Things that give us hope are evidence-based information about our disease and ways to fight it. Give us grown up information for the adults we are. Do not suddenly treat us like children.

What not to give a woman with breast cancer:   A pink bear. A pink ribbon in any form. A pink tee shirt to remind everyone that, A. We may not be looking too great in a tee shirt at the moment and B. Why in hell would we want to advertise our illness? And the most important thing?  Who profited from that bear, ribbon, and tee shirt and all the other insidious pink crap that has suddenly defined every woman with a serious, adult, no bull-shit disease called cancer? Why are women with this particular affliction suddenly reduced to simpering, pink washed nitwits?

If you have money to spend on making some large corporation with a pink marketing plan rich, keep it. If you want to help us send your money to a true research organization that is actively working on finding a way to help us.  Or you could send a donation to an organization that helps women get through their cancer.  For the former, I recommend The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. For the latter, I naturally recommend the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation. But there are many, many places that your money can go to that are not hijacking a serious illness to make money off of women suffering.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Pink Hell Month. Don't get sucked into buying that pink salad spinner. THINK. DON'T PINK.

On behalf of all of us locked in pink jail, thank you in advance.

Friday, September 6, 2013

We Will Prevail

This post is for every woman who has just been diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

I was told that I had this type of breast cancer twelve years ago. Twelve years ago they did not know much about it except that it was bad, it had a poor survival rate and there was nothing I could do after the chemo and radiation was over. They didn't even call it "triple negative" back then. It was called "estrogen and progesterone negative breast cancer."

Twelve years ago they also told me that I wouldn't be here to write about it today.

This post is for those of you who feel that there is no hope because not only do you have breast cancer, you have the "bad" one.

Keep strong. Do what your doctors tell you to do. TNBC responds well to chemotherapy. Think of it as your ally not your enemy. When you are done with your chemo and radiation and surgeries, take care of yourself. Exercise. Eat a low fat diet. Make sure your vitamin D blood levels are at the optimal range. Stop eating so much red meat and start eating a whole foods diet based on fruits and vegetables. Stop eating processed foods and switch to whole grains. Add ground flax seeds to your diet. And then live your life looking forward, not back. And do not, under any circumstances, look at outdated stats that say you are not going to make it.

You will get through this.

Twelve years ago all I wanted was to speak to someone who had been through it all and was on the other side of it. I'm here for you right now. I am not alone. There are lots of us many years out of our TNBC diagnosis.

"May our strength give you strength
May our faith give you faith
May our hope give you hope
May our love give you love"

                                                      Into the Fire, Bruce Springsteen