October tends to be a stressful month for me. School is back in full swing with a panoply of activities requiring my chauffer skills. My program year at work begins in earnest, interrupted – good and bad – by a series of holidays. While I enjoy the celebration, the office closures don’t seem to change the work demands.
And then there is PINK.
It’s hard to explain why, as a women living with metastatic breast cancer, I don’t jump on the pink bandwagon.
It supports me, right? Well, no. Wrong. Remarkably wrong.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure news cycle seems to be winding down just a bit, with the latest reports focusing on Nancy Brinker’s excessive expense reimbursements and calls for her resignation. As the story evolved, I was often asked my opinion. Those who have supported friends and/or walked in races or purchased any of the myriad of Komen-endorsed products want to know that they’ve done good. They want to know that with the re-funding of Planned Parenthood (which appears to mean that PPFA will again be eligible to apply for grants in the future, with no indication that they will be funded) and the resignation of Karen Handel that Komen is once again the venerable breast cancer charity of choice. They want everything to return to business as usual. Continue reading →
Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Sovereign of Time and Space, who fashions humanity with wisdom, creating within us many openings and cavities. When our openings do not open, when our bodies are blocked, it is impossible to survive and continue to live as a blessing to You. Blessed are You Adonai, Sovereign Healer, who has given us bodies which function, and who creates wonders and miracles.*
“Relieved,” I answer. More than anything, I am relieved. My response is greeted with skepticism, but it’s true. I know it’s probably not what I am “supposed” to feel…and it sure as hell isn’t what anyone else is feeling, but I am. Only those closest to me and those who have been there don’t respond with shock or puzzlement. I’ve been waiting, and I’ve known it has been coming. It has been a very long two years. Continue reading →
A note to readers: I know and appreciate that I speak only for myself, always. However, in regards to this particular post I want to clarify that I do not intend my use of “we” to speak for a beautifully diverse community of people facing cancer, though some of my words may represent the experiences of others. Most especially I do not believe I can speak at all for those with metastatic disease; it would be inauthentic to even suggest as much. And so, if you do not see your experience in these words, I invite, nay welcome, you to add them to the dialogue.
It still happens, even after nearly ten years – a follow-up study, a blood test, something, and it sets off “cancer” mode. For me it is rare. I am usually more worried more about the impact of the actual test on my body, rather than the results. I hate the CT contrast and I don’t handle it well. But the morning after the actual scan is through, I’m not typically anxious about the results. They are just information.
“Survivor” has a ring of past tense to it. Really, it should be “cancer surviving” — it is an active, everyday process. For example, today was “Scan Day;” a day dedicated to running back and forth between the doctor’s office and hospital, through a very carefully orchestrated series of appointments. Scan Day goes like this:
Released today in the Annals of Internal Medicine: Personalized mammography by Breast Density and Other Risk Factors for Breast Cancer: Analysis of Health Benefits and Cost-Effectiveness.
In reviewing existing studies, this article focusing on the variety risk factors to determine that, consistent with the 2009 USPSTF Guidelines, “(m)ammography screening should be personalized on the basis of a woman’s age, breast density, history of breast biopsy, family history of breast cancer, and beliefs about the potential benefit and harms of screening.”
As a cancer survivor with no known family history of breast or related cancers and whose cancer was first detected on a baseline mammogram at the age of 35, issues related to the value of screening and young women are very close to my heart. By all rights, my cancer might not have been found for another five years, and based on the current guidelines, perhaps it would not have even been found yet. So this is something that matters a great deal to me personally. Continue reading →