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PINKTOBER 2009

Click Here to read about my experience at this event

 

Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act  June 3, 2009        

                                 
I'll never forget the look in my patients eyes when I had to tell them they had to go home with the drains, new exercises and no breast. I remember begging the do ctors to keep these women in the hospital longer, only to hear that they would, but their hands were tied by the insurance companies.

So there I sat with my patient giving them the instructions they needed to take care of themselves, knowing full well they didn't grasp half of what I was saying, because the glazed, hopeless, frightened look spoke louder than the quiet 'Thank you' they muttered.

A mastectomy is when a woman's breast is removed in order to remove cancerous breast cells/tissue. If you know anyone who has had a mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards. Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an outpatient procedure. Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital for 2 days after surgery.

This Mastectomy Bill is in Congress now. It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important. Please take the time and do it really quick! The Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill is important legislation for all women.

If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times.

There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the 'drive-through mastectomy' where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support.. Last year over half the House signed on. PLEASE! Sign the petition by clicking on the web site. You need not give more than your name and zip code number.

Elliott Lobbied to fight cancer - courtesy of the Houston Chronicle December 12, 2008

Angela "Angie" Elliott, a victim of inflammatory breast cancer, who lobbied to get public funds to combat the swift, aggresive disease, has died.  She was 37.  "We were married two months and four days when she was diagnosed" with the disease in July 2004 said Elliott's husband, Colin Elliott of Houston.  "She continued to fight for four and a half years. She never gave up."  Angie Elliott lobbied lawmakers in Washington, Austin and Santa Fe, N.M., to obtain financial support for research into the disease.  She helped raise $7 million for the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic at M.D. Anderson.  She also was a founder of a Houston chapter of the Young Survivors Coalition, a network of breast cancer survivors dedicated to educating women about the disease and promote research.                           

 

 

 

In honor of breast cancer awareness month, click here for an article about the "Warriors For The Cause"

 

 

 

Submitted by Donna Little on June 14, 2008

CANCER SUCKS!  I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Novemember 2nd, 2007 at 10:15.  I work in the hospital that I was being diagnosed and how fortunate to be diagnosed by people that I knew and respected already.  I was stunned and must have asked the ultrasound tech, 20 times that day, to tell me again!  Routine mammogram and had always exercised, etc to maintain good health.  What happened since that day, has reminded day after day, what a lucky girl I am!  Surgery, chemo, radiation and 7 months later to the day, my treatment was over, (June 2, 2008).  My Cancer Posse has supported, loved, laughed, cried and had a few beers with me since that day!  I tell everyone I can to make sure mammograms are part of their life now.  I now I am lucky and destined to help others along this path.  Not everyone gets an opportunity to realize what their purpose is, mine found me!  And while I have said all along, "Cancer sucks", it has changed my life in many beautiful and unique ways!  I am coming to see Melissa Etheridge in Charlotte, June 24h and can not wait.  I saw her about 10-12 years ago in Charlotte and that was one of the best concerts I have ever seen.  I decided each month since treatment was over to do a little something special for myself.  This concert is my first "just because".  Next month, my husband and I will go skydiving!  I am loving life!  Thanks for all you do to bring aware to this monster!  Peace out, Donna

Submitted by KC on May 3, 2008

Hi all, In looking for Melissa's name online, I found your comment site.  I am a 3+ year breast cancer survivor who chose to not wear head gear during - or after - chemotherapy.  When my hair fell out, I shaved my head.  One of the major factors in my decision to just "go bald" was Melissa's incredible courage in performing on international TV bald.  Thanks, Melissa - it was the most freeing experience of my cancer treatment time, one I look back on fondly (not having hair, not going through treatment!). Big hugs, KC

Submitted by Vicki on May 1, 2008

Hello, Five weeks ago I was planning my winter holidays. Today I am fighting to survive a grade 3-breast cancer. So far I have endured a mastectomy and on Wednesday 7th May I will begin a treatment of radical chemotherapy followed by radiation. On the 11th May, I am participating in the "Mother's Day Classic Walk or Run for Breast Cancer Research". Initially I wanted to walk the 8km with my partner and our 8-year-old son (only four weeks after my mastectomy) but unfortunately because I start chemo, I will complete the walk with the assistance of a wheelchair. Even though I will just have started chemo, I am more determined than before to complete this walk knowing that people believe in me. Additionally and most importantly, I have dedicated this walk to all who have been affected by breast cancer so I can't let them down. Please help support my walk by sponsoring me. Any assistance in raising money for this cause will be greatly appreciated.

Submitted by Ellen Gonser on April 7, 2008

I am a survivor and my favorite color is pink!  My story is simple.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 31, 2006.  I had a lump that was benign for 6 months.  As it continued to grow I simply wanted it out.  It was after the lumpectomy that cancer was found in the duct.  After 8 attempts to find a clear margin, I opted for the bilateral mastectomy. 

Two weeks later, with two drain tubes still in place, I walked 6 miles of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3 Day.

I had walked the full 60 miles in 3 days twice before – in 2001 and 2005 - before knowing I actually had breast cancer. I walked it last year with my husband and am walking it again this year in September.  When I was diagnosed,  I made breast cancer awareness t-shirts to help inspire those around me.  I sent one to Melissa as she was going through it at the time and she was an inspiration to my own path.  So that is my story.   I am walking again this year, and each walker is required to raise $2200.  Each year I have raised that money through friends and family, however, this year I am doing something different.   I am hosting an auction event.  There will be quite a few survivors at the event as well as their friends and family. I am going to be ordering Pink Fund bracelets for all those who attend to show my and their support for attending the event.

Submitted by Sam Naudin on May 5, 2008

Hope within
Cancer. The very word is pregnant with emotion, with sadness, with fear. But as these three women share their very different experiences, they reveal that out of sorrow can come hope, joy and an unshakable belief in the strength of the human spirit.

Words

When Samantha Naudin was having chemotherapy this year, her son, Wilsen, knew exactly how to cheer her up. For each of the six treatments, Wilsen carefully etched a branch on his powerfully colourful healing tree to help his mum and her recovery. That tree is a testament to the difficult road to recovery. Then came the 30 doses of radiation therapy. Difficult to create another tribute for his mum’s triumphs in the face of adversity? Not for a five-year-old.

To Sam’s puzzlement, Wilsen suggested a giraffe. A giraffe with no spots. But now, after her last treatment, the formerly spotless giraffe is complete, with Wilsen’s tenderly coloured circles celebrating the end of another round of treatment. It also celebrates the life and love of his mother suffering from cancer.

Cancer. The word carries so much weight. If you peer into the eyes of people who are suffering there is pain, stress and, more importantly, fear. Cancer is an unpredictable disease and affects vast swathes of people with an estimated 106,000 cases diagnosed in Australia each year.
Sam’s is just one of those cases that cause trauma and torment. “That random thing where it could happen to anyone. People were thrown that here’s Sam at 43, fit and active, the world is spinning and she’s laughing all the time. That’s cruel and awful, but cancer doesn’t discriminate,” she explains. Its effects are far-reaching, not limited to those who endure the shock of diagnosis, hours of treatment, hideous side-effects and an anxious wait for the all-clear. These are the most frustrating things about cancer: worry, fear and waiting. Then there’s hope.

Sam Naudin has a reason to celebrate her last radiation therapy for aggressive grade three breast cancer. There is only a 30 per cent chance of a relapse. Good odds for the former athlete and mother of two – Wilsen and Lili, now 2. “For me, to actually lose a breast was not a big issue,” Sam says. “But to go home and tell my 21-month-old she wasn’t able to breastfeed any more was enormous.” Sam’s “whirlwind” journey started last November. After discovering a lump “that felt like a golf ball” under her arm, she thought something was wrong. “I went from running 5-10km a day to not even being able to walk up the road,” she remembers.

The doctors, thinking it was benign mastitis and an infection, prescribed antibiotics for a few months. The mammograms, blood tests and scans were unclear. “Because I was still breastfeeding, there was so much milk that they couldn’t tell what was happening. But from there, I just got really sick,” says Sam who, despite the exhaustion and pain, continued to care for her children and teach learning support at Sunshine High School.

Things changed after the biopsy. “The afternoon doctor call. The four o’clock call. They leave the really good ones until last,” Sam says, unable to resist injecting some humour. “The doctor rang and said, ‘I don’t have good news’. And I said, ‘I know I’ve got cancer’. I knew something was wrong and almost wanted her to tell me that something was wrong because I was so ill.” From then on, it was tense. “It was telling my partner of nearly 15 years that I had breast cancer. It was telling my family and friends. It was telling work colleagues. It was kind of surreal because it felt like I was sitting in the control box and I knew I’ve got to do something about this. And everyone around me just crumpled. And they’d cry. I suppose they shared that feeling of not being able to do anything.”

Her diagnosis came on Valentine’s Day, an irony that isn’t wasted on Sam. “Oh great. Woo hoo. Happy Valentine’s Day.” Scheduled for a week later, surgery took out the right breast and 16 lymph nodes, two of them cancerous. After surgery, the regular rounds of chemo and the long trail of daily radiation therapy were “tormenting”. “The first round of chemo knocked me so hard I didn’t want to go back again. And I’ve run marathons and had two difficult childbirths,” she shakes her head. “But I tell you what, if they hadn’t said this will save your life, I wouldn’t have gone back again.” Because the therapy can last hours, Sam loaded herself with books and a sketchbook, but this proved futile.

To prevent problems with her fingers and toes during chemotherapy, she had to wear over-sized mittens to stop her doing anything with her hands. “The chemo is so lethal, it can lift the nails off the nailbeds,” she explains. “It was unbelievable torture, but the thought of my nails coming off was enough for me to just sit there and go, ‘You know what, someone will read to me’.”

“It’s such bubbly disgusting stuff,” Sam continues, in a rush of horrific images. “When they hook you up to this bottle and you’ve come from a lifetime where you’ve trained and known everything you put in your body. Then, all of a sudden, this toxic thing gets hung above you. And the person who’s hanging it is in a suit that looks like they’re going to the moon. If anyone drops any of it, it’s like run for your life. And that is what’s going inside you. It was so hard to get my head around the fact this stuff was going to help me.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Sam’s partner, Mandy, left after the third round of chemotherapy. “It was fright and flight,” Sam says, her vibrant spirit muted for a second. “Look, it still makes it really difficult that in your greatest time of need, someone who’s known you for that long steps out.” But her mum stepped in. Helen, 70, has nothing but praise for her daughter. “I am so proud of Sam because of everything she has gone through.” Helen has moved into an extension at the house to be close to her daughter and, despite her age, isn’t slowing down. “Mum’s this exercising, aerobics, cardio-funk, dancing thing. She’s full of energy. She’s wild,” Sam laughs. Although her mum’s love of ironing is “a bit weird”, she’s been a big help.

Helen, in tandem with their extended family and friends, has supported Sam through her difficult time. “These people are making a big difference to making me want to get up and not ever letting go of the belief in the fact that I would survive this,” Sam says. It is touching to see such tenacity. Sam’s drive and determination are infectious but it is her positive spirit that beams. Although the past eight months have writ enormous changes in lifestyle and taken her from an athletic buxom girl to a shadow of herself at just 50kg, she maintains her optimism.

During her therapy, she kept a journal and some words radiate from the pages: I am grateful for this experience. I must now add to this happiness. Life seems like it’s going in the direction of that shining light. Here I am again sitting in ‘you can do it’ mode. “There are times. My God, I’ve sat in the corner of my wardrobe and cried so hard and thought I’d never come out again,” she recalls. “But normality seems to keep things flowing.

“The whole way through this experience, my two and five-year-old kept me grounded. Because if I think about the past and how difficult it’s been and I look at what my future is going to look like, it can be quite daunting. But then my kids will ask me ‘What’s for lunch?’ They kick you into the now.” Her journey has inspired those around her. A friend lost 20kg after taking up running; others push themselves further in their sports or make appointments for checks. Now, Sam gets to “come back as a healthier me, that’s for sure”.

“For me, support, motivation and getting me back on track is about athletes,” Sam admits, allowing glimpses of her indomitable strength. “It’s the whole scope of looking after each other as well. I missed that a little bit when I was racing at a high level. I thought it was about me; I’ve got to win. I thought that was the important part. When really, the important part was being out with a whole crew of people and the people behind you making it happen.”

Her inspiration has come from sources as diverse as fellow cancer sufferers Lance Armstrong and Raelene Boyle to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. Family as well. Sam sees it as a blessing to “hold the hands of my children through this time”. However, she’s not looking forward to some things: “I’ve got to shave my legs again. It’s such a pain.”
With a low chance of relapse, Sam does not feel like she’s in “a bad space”. Indeed, her motivation is ingrained in her favourite quote, “Keep moving forward until you can look back with joy”.
She explains her philosophy in her own humble words, “You’ve got to be laughing and having fun at the same time. You can’t stay in the black hole”. And her return to full health? “Imagine what I’m going to be like when I’m firing on all cylinders.”

Update from Kathy Howa, submitted October 23, 2007

I am now five years out from my cancer and doing well. I believe things happen for a reason and getting cancer has changed my life in so many ways. It has opened up so many opportunities for me to go speak to our youth about awareness. On October 27, 2008 I will be dropping the puck at the Utah Grizzles Hockey game that will honor breast cancer survivors in their annual "Pink in the Rink". The players wear pink jersey's, die the ice pink, and use pink sticks. The day I was diagnosed I went to her (Melissa Etheridge) concert in Deer Valley, in 2002. It helped me through the worst day of my life. It was frightening to hear about her diagnosis later in the exact stage as me. Thanks, Kathy Howa

Submitted by Terri S on October 20, 2007

My name is Terri and I am currently winning the fight against breast cancer. Diagnosed in March '07, I have completed my chemo and have 8 radiation sessions left. What I found to be true during my battle, is the importance of positive thinking and the importance of holding family and friends as close a possible. Being open and honest with your family and friends about the way you feel each and every day and moment helps them know what your needs are. The medicine changes the way you feel moment to moment. My cousin, Val, stayed with me throughout my treatment. She was at every Dr. appointment and every Chemo session. She knew that having her just sitting in the room with me either being silent, watching TV or a movie or joking and laughing was just as important as the medicine. Her attention toward my needs during this time took the stress away and gave me the opportunity to focus on staying positive. The key, I found, was to allow yourself to feel bad during those three or four "bad" days. Allow yourself to lie on the couch and sleep, actually plan for it! When the medicine wore off and you felt better,  go outside, take a walk, sit in the fresh air and enjoy the sky, birds, trees etc. Stay focused on yourself and your recovery. YOU are IMPORTANT. Take care of YOU. Surround yourself with people who understand that this is YOUR time. Most importantly, remember that on every journey there are bumps in the road, some give us that funny feeling in our stomach..some give us a flat tire. Laugh at the funny feelings and fix the flat...but continue the journey, never give-up the journey.

Submitted by Kristi A on October 2, 2007

I am a 38 year old woman with no history of breast cancer in my family.  On  9/24/07 I had a mammogram which showed NOTHING even though a lump could be felt (the size of an almond in its shell).  15 minutes following the mammogram I had an ultra sound which showed the mass.  On the 9/28/07 a biopsy was preformed and the Dr. inserted a titanium pin into the mass.  Following the biopsy I had another mammogram and once again it showed NOTHING.  The results of the biopsy came back and it was positive for cancer.  I have my pre-op appt on 10/11/07.  I would like to get this story out so women know not just to rely on mammograms.  Once again, there is no history of cancer in my family.  I just thank God that my Dr. was curious enough to order the ultra sound. 

Submitted by Kathy, Farmingdale, New York on August 29, 2007

My name is Kathy and I am 44 years old.  On August 10 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had a lumpectomy on August 24.  I truly feel that I am one of the lucky ones even though  I still do have a long road ahead of me.  On July 2 I went in for a routine mammogram and sonogram since I have dense breasts.  The mammogram  detected nothing while the sonogram detected two abnormal cysts on my left breast.  I was told to come back in 6 months  so we  could keep on eye on it. The following week my general physician called and told me to see a breast surgeons but not to worry.  A week later I saw him and through a manual exam he found a lump on my right breast.  One that wasn't detected through a mammogram or sonogram or a previous manual exam! A week later I had both breasts biopsied. The right did come back cancerous and the left one fine.  I thank God for my general physician who sent me to the surgeon and for my surgeon who found the lump that no other means had detected. Today I feel great and may venture out with my children-my first trip out since surgery.  I wish for all women to be as lucky as me.

Submitted by Jessi G on June 12, 2007

Am I a survivor?  I've had no breast cancer.......... But Both of my daughter have it.  One is gone,  Fiona, 1975-2005, age 28, when diagnosed.  It was the 2nd anniversary of her death, June 9, 2007.  AND now my only other daughter {36years old} has it.  She was diagnosed in Feb. 2007.  Now, June 11, 2007 she is on her 2nd chemo.  It's some kind of gene they both carry.  The Aushkanzi gene, BRC1.  Eastern European women carry it and it is so very aggressive. Please let young women know that you are NEVER too young to get Breast Cancer.  If there is the slightest question in your mind have it checked  I can't tell you how heart breaking it is to be in my position. My only daughters both hit by this gene. Where ever you go and where ever you speak or sing.  Please stress to young women, that you are never too young to get Breast Cancer.

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