Who Was This Woman Looking At Me? Was She Even A Woman?

Tough Girl 2!Tiffany Mannino is back to share yet another of her diary entries penned to her unborn daughter Lola during her breast cancer journey. She has entitled the letters Beautifully Broken: Letters From a Girl/Woman/Human in Progress’ as she reflects on her five year journey with letting go of the past, facing fears, learning to love, finding happiness in the moment, and realizing that she is exactly where she is supposed to be in life.

Oh baby…I am so tired the computer screen is looking fuzzy, however, a few moments ago, I had this compulsion to write to you rather than crawl into bed. After nine months of being on sabbatical, I have finally gone back to work to start a new school year. I wish I could tell you the transition was easy, but the last few weeks have been grueling. I have been an emotional wreck having meltdowns on a daily basis. The best way that I can describe my state is that I feel like a beached horseshoe crab that has been flipped on its back and can’t seem to turn over. It squirms with the scorching sun beating down on its parched shell. The strangest part of this all is that as difficult as this change is for me, deep in my heart I know that I am going to come out of this a better soul. Like a molting horseshoe crab, I feel like I am shedding my old self and beginning a new. Continue reading

LBBC and Angela & Roi

A&RLogo2 Angela-Roi-handbag-2_mediumAs most of you know, we at LBBC have an initiative called “Beyond October”. We do this because over 300,000 individuals will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year and roughly 1 in 12 of these individuals are diagnosed during the month of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Given this, the majority of individuals are diagnosed during the rest of the year, hence our “Beyond October” campaign. We have various partners who embrace this idea but today, classic vegan handbags for a cause makers Angela & Roi, are sharing why they’ve decided to partner with LBBC and why they believe in Beyond October…

Throughout our daily life, we often ask the question – is it possible to do what we love, and better the world while doing it?  At Angela & Roi, we believe this is not only possible but also the way that companies should be conducted.  We are founded on the belief that businesses should accept social responsibility for the products they put out, and utilize their resources to positively impact the greater community around them. We believe in using our passions for good. Continue reading

18 Months Post and Chemobrain

RondaWalker-27LBBC Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer, blogger and friend Ronda Walker Weaver is back today to discuss her experience with “chemobrain” and what she learned about the topic from a webinar LBBC hosted in September of 2014. 

Well, happy day here. Not that I was expecting anything different than what I received, but I tell you, the anniversary anxiety, which comes every 3 months for the first 2 years, is tough. I look at these doctors’ visits as markers of moving past and beyond breast cancer, but they are also reminders of where I was, and quite frankly, where I could be, if any indicators were there.

So – great blood pressure, great weight, mammogram was clear, and I’m just waiting to hear about blood tests – red and white blood cell counts. But I don’t expect anything other than “all is well.” Continue reading

“Cancer, Without You, I Wouldn’t Be The Woman I Am Today”

Dana-Donofree-BioDana Donofree is back on the LBBC blog for part 3 of her story about her breast cancer diagnosis and how it led her towards a completely different life and career direction than she had originally planned…

Cancer had officially taken my life on another path. Only this time, it was one I had always wanted: designing my own line and having my own business.  The concept for AnaOno Intimates came organically from within. After cancer and reconstructions, I’d walked into lingerie stores countless times, enthusiastic at first, but then leaving with nothing but self-loathing and tears because my body was forever altered. It was like I was back in my cancer treatment days, easily identifiable by my head scarf or lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. This time I was walking around with a giant, heavy stamp on my chest: NOT NORMAL. The sheer frustration  became absolutely maddening, but the pain of being “different” or “changed” or in some dark moments, “ruined” was unbearable. I made my mind up, I knew in that moment I never wanted another woman to EVER have to go through what I did; they should feel just as beautiful, confident and sexy as they did the days before reconstructive surgery. Cancer should not and WILL NOT take that away. Continue reading

5-hour ENERGY Goes Beyond October

HeadshotEven though Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, 5-hour Energy is continuing to donate proceeds from the sale of their specially marked Pink Lemonade flavor to LBBC until December 31, 2014. As a partner of our Going Beyond October campaign, 5-hour ENERGY staff member Melissa Skabich is sharing with us why she’s proud to work for an organization who supports the breast cancer cause beyond October. 

I am the director of public relations for the makers of 5-hour ENERGY.  I’m also a wife, a mom to three boys under age 11, a sometimes runner, and a soon-to-be owner of a French bulldog puppy named Mack.   Before I was any of those things, I was a young college graduate who watched cancer kill my 43-year-old godmother in a matter of ten short weeks.  Kidney.

And way before that, I was an eight-year-old girl feeding  teaspoons of chocolate ice cream to my grandfather, who once seemed like the strongest man in the world but the cancer made him so weak he could barely lift his head.  A few weeks later I made my very first public speaking appearance when I read at his funeral.  It was my first real loss, and I missed him so much my chest would hurt.  Now, even 30 years later, I still feel a pang whenever I hear Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” on the radio.  It was my grief anthem.  Lung. Continue reading

Writer Gives Tour of Breast Cancer Journey, from A to Z

The cover of Madhulika Sikka's book, "A Breast Cancer Alphabet." (image via http://www.abreastcanceralphabet.com/)

The cover of Madhulika Sikka’s book, “A Breast Cancer Alphabet.” (image via http://www.abreastcanceralphabet.com/)

LBBC Writer and Editorial Coordinator Erin Rowley reviews Madhulika Sikka’s book, A Breast Cancer Alphabet.

Cancerland is a place you never planned to visit. Author Madhulika Sikka didn’t want to go there either. But through her book, A Breast Cancer Alphabet, she volunteers to be your tour guide as you navigate life after a breast cancer diagnosis. “This book,” she says, “is for all of you who have become members of a club you did not want to join,” as well as for your friends and family members.

A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a quick read – Ms. Sikka, a broadcast journalist who was diagnosed in 2010, writes that she wanted “a short book that wouldn’t tax my chemo-addled brain.” But she manages to address many topics, from the more obvious ones (B is for Breasts, D is for Drugs, M is for Mastectomy) to ones that may seem frivolous next to the question of survival, but are important to your quality of life (S is for Sex, H is for Hair, L is for Looks, F is for Fashion Accessories). In the chapter T is for Therapy, she stresses that treatment should go beyond chemotherapy and physical therapy. She says it should include psychotherapy and aspects of everyday life that are therapeutic for you, like watching a marathon of your favorite TV show or staying in bed (P is for Pillows, X is for eXhaustion, Z is for ZZZ’s.) Continue reading

Now Life Is Forever Altered

1493LBBC shop to support partner and blogger, Dana Donofree, is back sharing the 2nd part of her breast cancer story with us. To read part 1 click here. Today she shares how her surgery lead to life and career changing ideas and how it has directed her path for the future.

The positive to my diagnosis, if ever there could be one, was that I was HER2+. This made me a candidate for Herceptin. Before 2006, Herceptin was only used in late-stage cancers, but by the time of my diagnosis, it was approved to treat HER2+, and it had a very favorable success rate in battling the disease.

I kept thinking about the women before me with the same diagnosis prior to 2006. There were many who died waiting for the approval. There were many who died because they weren’t the right candidate. And now, there were many like me benefiting from the research and dollars drummed up by pink ribbons, walks and the memories of those women who were lost. I was grateful beyond words. Who is to say one way or another, but I believe the access to Herceptin saved my life.

There is a wave of fear, anxiety and doubt that follows the flood of joy when your cancer doctor releases you from care with clear scans and positive words. It is almost even more overwhelming than the fear that greets us survivors upon diagnosis. Because now life is forever altered. Now there is nothing but a new set of what-ifs with no real solutions to challenge them. Now I had to go back to life without cancer, but a life very different than the one BEFORE cancer. People like to call it the “new normal.” And I woke every day to a different battle ahead of me; one that was about restoring myself to some semblance of the Dana I was before the disease. Continue reading