Archive for the ‘women's issues’ Category

“Yes darlin’, – it does.”

March 6, 2013

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If we followed format, this is where we’d introduce you to LBBC’s newest blogger, Laura Renegar, with a few polite lines that could never  do justice to this amazingly talented and funny lady.  We’re still laughing over this offering of honesty:

When I had expanders in my chest they kind of formed a shelf below my collar bone. When I was sick and in bed and would eat propped up, I would CONSTANTLY have toast crumbs or Oreo crumbs on that “shelf” on my chest. Once I found a whole chocolate chip sitting there and once I found a piece of turkey. There are funny moments during expansion and reconstruction. 

Here is the first of a planned series of blogs where Laura will share her experiences as a woman diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

On March 1, 2011, I received the call that every woman dreads. I was at work, sitting at my desk, holding my cell phone that showed the name of my OB/GYN calling. My mind debated about not answering the phone, but quickly considered the possibility that this phone call could be good news. When I answered that call, my life, and the life of my family and friends would be forever changed. “You have breast cancer” my doctor said, “I am sorry.” We talked for a few minutes as I sat numbly at my desk writing the name and number of the surgeon he suggested on a small piece of scrap paper.

A few days later my husband and I met my surgeon and his nurse. Right in the beginning of the appointment the doctor said “can I joke with you?” Are you kidding me? This was my kind of doctor! Not only did I want him to be able to joke with me, I needed him to be able to joke with me. No matter how serious breast cancer can be, I needed my medical team to be brutally honest, caring, and compassionate yet able to lighten some of the moments with a joke or some laughter.

My surgeon recommended genetic testing and I agreed to see a genetic counselor for my BRCA test. I had the blood test and genetic counseling and the waiting began. One week became two weeks. My insurance company was negotiating with the genetic testing company about my coverage for this $3,400 blood test. Two weeks! My surgeon scheduled my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy because he couldn’t allow my cancer to continue to grow and spread while waiting for the insurance company to make a decision. At this point I began to realize that my cancer was most likely aggressive. I was told that my cancer would be staged, and further diagnosed, when the tumor was removed during the lumpectomy. I felt lost and left somewhat in the dark. Every day seemed as if we were hurrying up for a test or an appointment and then we were waiting. I felt like we were always waiting for a call, an answer, or a test result. I felt immediate relief the night of the lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy surgery, knowing that my cancer had been removed. I was very happy to have the surgery behind me, but little did I know that my real roller coaster ride was just beginning.

Two days after my surgery I got a phone call from the genetics counselor. Once again, a phone call that I was hoping was going to deliver good news – but I heard hard news instead. The phone call began with “I am sorry to tell you this, two days after your surgery, but your BRCA test came back positive yesterday.” What? The BRCA2 gene mutation put a whole different spin on my diagnosis. Now I felt as if I was at the bottom of the roller coaster loop and I began researching. My odds of getting breast cancer were obviously 100% (since I already had it) and the test showed my odds of getting ovarian cancer were over 50%. But what does this test say, and prove, about my chance of recurrence? I was recuperating from the surgery yet my mind and heart were nagged by this BRCA test result and worrying already about a recurrence. Five more days passed and we still had not gotten news on my pathology report from my lumpectomy. No news is good news right? Eight days after my lumpectomy, I was at work, and my phone rang; it was my surgeon’s nurse. No news was good news! My lymph nodes were negative for cancer and he was able to get clear margins. I am ecstatic, we are all celebrating and dancing around, and now I feel like I am on one of the upper tracks of my roller coaster ride.

Clear margins AND clean lymph nodes? How blessed am I? I am on the top of the world!

The next day I receive another phone call, this time it is with the result of my her2 neu test. I was still riding high on the lack of cancerous activity in my lymph nodes and the fact that he was able to get clear margins. My surgeon stated that my her2 neu test came back negative. I got very quiet and said to my surgeon, “this means I am triple negative, doesn’t it?”

He paused on the other end of the phone and said “Yes darlin’, – it does.”

On April 17, LBBC and the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation will host a free webinar at 12:00 p.m. EST.  Also accessible by phone, the webinar’s featured guest is Dr. George W. Sledge Jr. Chief, Division of Oncology, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine. During the call, you’ll hear about today’s standard of care in treating breast cancer that tests negative for the estrogen, progesterone and HER2 neu receptors and gain insight on making the treatment decisions that are right for you.  In addition, how to access clinical trials and get an insider’s look at the latest research on the horizon will also be discussed. Register online or call (610) 645-4567.

In addition, you can order a free copy of LBBC’s Guide to Understanding Triple-Negative Breast Cancer,  that offers helpful information, whether you have just been diagnosed or you are moving forward after treatment.

Be sure to check out Laura’s blogtoo!

“My mom had breast cancer.”

March 1, 2013

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Drew and Courtney Daly and their boys

Courtney Daly was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with stage I invasive breast cancer, which manifested as two tumors in one breast.  In addition, she also learned that she had DCIS in both breasts. It is now one year since her diagnosis.  

Recently, her son Aidan completed a video project for school.  Let’s have him share his story in his own words. 

Hi, my name is Aidan. I made this video for a school project called “Think Care Act”.  For this project you choose a problem you care about and do something to help. Originally I wanted to raise money for LBBC, but then I decided to create a pamphlet and video for kids my age who might be scared if their moms have cancer. I wanted to help them know that there are other kids out there and people know how they feel.

This video tells the story of how my family and I got through my mom having breast cancer. My mom was diagnosed at age 37. She was one of the 10% of women diagnosed with breast cancer who are under age 40. It was really hard at first knowing my mom had breast cancer. But as we talked about the survivors we knew it got a whole lot easier. My parents were very reassuring and that made me feel better. Throughout the spring and summer, my mom had two surgeries, four chemo treatments, and tons of doctors appointments. She tried her best to come to my baseball games and other special events. She is an awesome-sauce mom!

I hope that this video helps many kids my age, and lots of families. If you are gong tough times right now I hope this video helps you.

Alysa Cummings: Yearly Check-Up

February 27, 2013

Alysa Cummings, Group Facilitator for LBBC’s writing workshop series Writing the Journey, shares a seasonal excerpt from her recently published cancer memoir, Greetings from CancerLand,  in February’s second submission to Living Beyond Breast Cancer‘s Writer’s Corner.

LBBC_WritersCorner

Yearly Check-Up

Excerpt from Greetings from CancerLand: Writing the Journey to Recovery

Fourteen years later and not much has changed. Not much. Not really.

Starting with the oncologist’s grand entrance.

He knocks twice, opens the door and hurriedly strides into the examining room. His energy speaks volumes (Places to go; patients to see. so many patients; so little time). I am sitting there, a veteran oncology patient, already changed, sitting on the edge of the examining table, a salmon-colored cotton robe wrapped around me.

Welcome to my yearly check-up.Cummings-Alysa_medium

As always, we begin by shaking hands. That’s our ritual. Then it’s my turn to smile and recite my opening line: so how’s my favorite oncologist?

Your only oncologist, to the best of my knowledge, Dr. C replies. There he goes – correcting me, reminding me of our running gag about his need for precision, his attention to detail. In CancerLand, Dr. C is a living legend with hundreds of patients’ medical records stored right in his head.  He won’t take any notes during the exam and somehow never forgets a date, dosage or chronic complaint. Maybe that’s why I’ll never complain about any quirky personality traits of his. An oncologist who’s a bit obsessive is a good thing, don’t you think?

Any lumps, bumps or bruises? Dr. C asks, moving briskly into Act One: The Physical Exam. I lie flat on my back. He modestly opens the gown, uncovering one side at a time, keeping the opposite side hidden, and presses the tips of his fingers in a circular pattern. Then he says the word I’ve been patiently waiting for (perfect) as he finishes with the left side and moves around the table to begin his exam of the right. Twelve years of exams later and like an addict hungry for a fix, I inhale the word (perfect), and savor how good it feels (I’m okay, I’m okay).

But honestly, is this ironic, or what? After all, there might be a short list of politically (and clinically) correct terms that could be used to describe my post-treatment upper body (altered? revised? reconstructed?) But perfect? Hardly.

Does this doctor who deals with so many breast cancer survivors know the impact of his word choice? Or is “perfect” the word this particular oncologist has decided to use with his patients to indicate that there’s no sign of disease? All I know is that perfect is a lovely word, and I can’t wait to hear him say it.

The exam comes to a predictable conclusion with light banter about our personal lives and those acquaintances we have in common, and that’s when I suddenly think of a word that I have to add to our yearly check-up script.

So, tell me, Alysa, Dr. C asks, moving towards the door, ready to conclude the exam. Overall, how was your year?

I’m ready with the perfect answer.

Unremarkable, I say, my year was unremarkable. And I see the doctor cock his head with interest. I have never used this term in our conversations before. Over the years, he has, of course. To describe my CAT scans, bloodwork and Breast MRI results. To report that everything is normal, that there is nothing out of the ordinary.

An unremarkable year, I repeat. No surgeries. I’m hoping that next year turns out to be another unremarkable year. Unremarkable totally works for me.

It certainly does.  And now that I’ve said it out loud, I need to step up to that challenge and day by day make it real until I’m in this examining room again, twelve months from today.

A disease-free reality; in my mind that’s the most remarkable thing I can imagine.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host another Writing the Journey Series this Spring, hosted by Alysa Cummings. And the good news is that there will be two different Writing the Journey groups in Spring 2013 – one in Cherry Hill, NJ and one in Haverford, PA.  Check back to the LBBC Blog for more insights from Alysa and future Writing the Journey creations.  You can purchase your own copy of Greetings from Cancerland, on Amazon.com!

Alysa Cummings: Spirit of Spring

February 13, 2013

Alysa Cummings, Group Facilitator for LBBC’s writing workshop series Writing the Journey, shares a seasonal excerpt from her recently published cancer memoir, Greetings from CancerLand,  in February’s first submission to Living Beyond Breast Cancer‘s Writer’s Corner.

LBBC_WritersCorner

Spirit of Spring

Excerpt from Greetings from CancerLand: Writing the Journey to Recovery

Six brown paper bags, stuffed almost to bursting, sit at the bottom of my basement steps. Long empty of groceries, each bag is filled with another sweet necessity entirely. I inspect these bags every time I pass by – even as I struggle with armloads of laundry on my way to the washing machine. I confess I just can’t help myself.

I think about what’s inside these bags and it always makes me smile.

These six brown bags have been hiding in my dark unfinished basement since early November. I remember packing them the night of the first fall frost, using sections of the Sunday Inquirer as insulation from the basement dampness. I look at the bags in my basement day after day, week after week, through the cold winter months and think the same thought over and over again: spring is coming.

It’s all about time, actually. Time passing. Looking forward in time. It’s quite intentional on my part. Ritualistic, even. You see, I look at the six brown paper bags and mentally project myself to springtime.

Maybe it’s just that time of year right now. All these months of cold, grayness and snow; oh yes, I’m more than a little winter weary. Somehow this brown bag ritual serves me, gets me through. Keeps me upbeat and hopeful, believing that spring will arrive and that I will be here to celebrate the season again.

Cummings-Alysa_mediumDuring the third week of March, these six bags will make the trip up the stairs, out of the dark, into the light, through the house and outside to the turned over and weeded perennial beds in the backyard. For the occasion, I plan to eagerly break out a fresh pair of gloves, slip into my most comfortable stained and well-worn gardening sneakers and (drum roll, please) break open the bags.

By mid-March it’s high time to check on the health of my collection of canna bulbs. Some will have rotted, unfortunately, but the majority will be pushing out pale green shoots; ready for planting in my garden. Early spring is the time to get these bulbs back in the ground so that, come July, there will be an amazing field of five foot plus high plants with wide tropical fronds and enough brilliant tomato red colored flowers to stop traffic.

I started this cycle of planting and digging up canna bulbs the summer after my cancer diagnosis. Now (happily) heading into year fifteen of my cancer journey, this bulb-in-the-basement routine is a conscious part of my survivorship strategy. I recommend it highly to my fellow green-thumbed survivors!

Until the buds start peeking out on the trees, until temperatures creep above 32 degrees, keep your heart and spirit as warm as you can. And as we all wait for the official arrival of spring on March 21st, please keep in mind the wise, often quoted words of Hal Borland, “No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn. April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”

Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host another Writing the Journey Series this Spring, hosted by Alysa Cummings. And the good news is that there will be two different Writing the Journey groups in Spring 2013 – one in Cherry Hill, NJ and one in Haverford, PA.  Check back to the LBBC Blog for more insights from Alysa Cummings and future Writing the Journey creations.  You can purchase your own copy of Greetings from Cancerland, on Amazon.com!

Self-Care is Self-Love

January 11, 2013

Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen Series

We here at Living Beyond Breast Cancer feel it is important that no matter what stage you might be in–newly diagnoses, in-treatment, remission or recovery–health and nutrition are paramount.  Here today at the LBBC blog, we are thrilled to welcome back Annette Ramke,  certified health coach, cancer survivor and co-author of the book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, as she comes back for her monthly installment providing our readers with her perspective on nourishing the body and soul.

So often we go through life running from one thing to the next. We are busy with work and family responsibilities, putting the needs of partners, children, friends and bosses above our own.

We believe we don’t have the time to take care of ourselves, whether it is moving our bodies with exercise, preparing and eating healthy food, finding moments of balance and stillness in our days or even taking a deep breath and appreciating our bodies for all they do for us day after day, month after month, year after year.

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For many of us, a cancer diagnosis is a wakeup call in a number of ways. We have said ourselves, and have heard many of our cancer pals say, “I knew I was burning the candle at both ends. I knew I was stressed and wasn’t taking care of myself,” when speaking of the time prior to getting hit with the Big C news. Suddenly a diagnosis puts everything into glaring perspective. Now it’s not just about having low energy, flabby abs or edgy nerves. It’s about surviving, and the stakes are high.

And while we know that always eating poorly, never exercising or continuously functioning under stress doesn’t cause cancer directly, these elements do significantly affect our health and well-being. They do support or hurt the immune system. They do influence hormone levels. They do contribute to energy, strength and metabolism. They do impinge on our emotions and mental clarity. And they do affect the body’s ability to prevent and heal from disease and cope with conventional medical treatments.

Why not give your body, heart and mind some support, especially if you’re facing cancer?

If you are serious about getting healthy, then right now is the best time to get serious with self-care. You will feel renewed, refreshed, happier and stronger just from taking some time to give your body, mind and soul what it craves. No matter where you are in health and cancer, it’s time to show that amazing body some love!

Here are some of my self-care faves. What are yours?

Sipping hot tea

Reiki

Reading in my hammock

Massage

Meditation

Cooking wearing a fun apron

Green smoothies

Juicing

Yoga

Savoring a little dark chocolate

Singing in the car

Walking, hiking, bicycling – moving

Sunshine and fresh air

Taking a bubble bath

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NEWS: The LBBC Blog will offer a review of Annette and Kendall’s Book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Canceras well as a contest to win a your very own copy!

NEXT MONTH: Leave your best recipe in the comments section of the February post reviewing the cookbook, and Annette will choose a winner!

annette1Annette Ramke, CHHC, is a certified health coach and breast cancer survivor. She took an integrative approach to treatment and focused on a whole food, plant-based diet. She coauthored (with Kendall Scott, CHHC), Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, released October 2. Learn more atTheKickingKitchen.com.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Metastatic Breast Cancer Network Release New Publication

January 8, 2013

For Immediate Release:

GUIDE FOR THE NEWLY DIAGNOSED JOINS GROWING RESOURCE LIBRARY FOR WOMEN WITH STAGE IV DISEASE

MBCS: Newly Diagnosed

January 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA | Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) have announced the release of a free publication to help address the needs women have in the first months following a diagnosis of metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer. The Metastatic Breast Cancer Series: Guide for the Newly Diagnosed is the newest title in LBBC’s growing library of Guides to Understanding Breast Cancer, free publications designed specifically to empower women with the information needed to make the best and most informed decisions for themselves and their families when facing a breast cancer diagnosis and considering options for treatment and disease management.

As someone living with metastatic breast cancer, Shirley Mertz knows firsthand of the physical and emotional impact of a stage IV diagnosis. Mertz, the president of MBCN, reflected on her personal experience and commented, “Most new metastatic breast cancer patients feel overwhelmed with anxiety and a loss of control over their lives. This new publication will remind women that knowledge is power, help them find courage to educate themselves about metastatic breast cancer and hopefully open the door to better treatment selection and outcomes.”

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Series: Guide for the Newly Diagnosed is designed to help women navigate the first few days, weeks and months after a first-time, stage IV breast cancer diagnosis or metastatic recurrence. The guide focuses on medical, emotional and practical concerns with the goal of helping readers to understand the biology of metastatic disease, form questions they may need or want to ask and provide available resources that improve emotional and physical wellness.

“Living Beyond Breast Cancer and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network worked together to create this resource to help women become their best advocates,” said Jean A. Sachs, MSS, MLSP, LBBC’s chief executive officer. “This guide will help women understand the tests and treatments they may undergo and address the impact that metastatic breast cancer can have on emotional well-being.”

Nearly 150,000 people—women and men—are living with metastatic breast cancer in the United States and while a diagnosis of this type is life-changing, advances in research and treatment have made it possible for many to live longer, more fulfilling lives. LBBC and MBCN worked diligently to ensure that this guide was available to help bridge the gap between initial diagnosis and life beyond.

“I wish something like this had been available to me when I was first diagnosed, for my benefit and the benefit of family and friends who had—and still have—so many questions,” says Cindy Colangelo, a member of the consumer advisory committee that reviewed the guide’s content for accuracy. “Hopefully, this guide will help people acknowledge the elephant in the room that no one wants to discuss. Our goal is to provide a greater understanding of metastatic breast cancer and help affected women and families move forward by answering questions, providing information and giving hope.”

In addition to Colangelo and other women living with metastatic breast cancer, the guide was also reviewed by LBBC and MBCN staff, health care professionals, medical and surgical oncologists, social workers, nurses, researchers, and a palliative care specialist, led by William Gradishar, MD, of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

“As a group facilitator, I’m excited to present this guide to patients who seek wisdom, guidance and support,” says Marie Lavigne, LCSW, OSW-CAs, an oncology social worker and a member of the medical review team. “As with all of LBBC and MBCN’s offerings, it provides a cornerstone to the essential needs of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer – clear, honest information, hope and inspiration when they need it the most.”

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Series: Guide for the Newly Diagnosed is divided into six sections written in clear and easy-to-understand language. Individual copies of the guide are free and can be ordered online at lbbc.org or by calling (610) 645-4567. Larger quantities may also be ordered for a small shipping and handling fee. Additional resources can be found through LBBC’s Understanding Guides: Metastatic Breast Cancer Series and through MBCN. LBBC’s titles are: Treatment Options for Today and Tomorrow, Managing Stress and Anxiety, Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects and Understanding Palliative Care. MBCN’s titles are: Diagnosis: Metastatic Breast Cancer…What does it mean for you? and Get the Facts.

About Living Beyond Breast Cancer
For over 20 years, Living Beyond Breast Cancer has been providing educational resources and support services to women of all ages who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. LBBC helps improve the quality of life for these women by empowering them with the information they need to make the best and most informed decisions for themselves and their families. National conferences, monthly teleconferences, regional community meetings, the Guides to Understanding Breast Cancer and a toll-free Survivors’ Helpline are just a few examples of the services that are provided, always at little or no cost.

If someone you know has recently been diagnosed, is in treatment, recovery, years beyond their diagnosis or living with metastatic breast cancer, LBBC can help. For more information, visit lbbc.org, call (610) 645-4567 or download a free copy of Empower, LBBC’s general information brochure.

About Metastatic Breast Cancer Network
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, a national, patient-led organization, works to raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer within the breast cancer community and public. MBCN encourages women and men living with the disease to raise their voices to demand support, resources and more research for metastatic disease.
MBCN provides education and information to metastatic people and their caregivers. Visit mbcn.org or call (888) 500-0370 to access education, support and advocacy resources.

Randi Rentz: Survivor’s Guilt

December 28, 2012

As we all all coming off of the excitement and possible exhaustion of the holidays to ring in the New Year, the LBBC Blog is happy to welcome back recurring writer, Randi Rentz, and she discusses a topic that many diagnosed women have experienced–Survivor’s Guilt–and how she plans to let it go.  Along with Randi, we here at LBBC wish everyone a beautiful and joyous New Year with health, happiness and hope in the future.

Have you ever wondered why you were diagnosed with cancer? If you have, stop it right now! I’m serious. I’ve never wondered why I was diagnosed with cancer. I can truly say that is an honest statement. Many people have asked me, “Why on earth would you, a young, healthy, happy person with no family history of breast cancer get breast cancer?” Even when other people wondered, I never have.  In my mind and heart I figured that “Why?” wasn’t the point. I had “The Big C.”  I had to deal with it. I had to move on and look ahead.

Since my diagnosis, I have had four friends die of cancer and another one who will die soon. All were young, healthy and happy people. Some had no family history, while others did have a family history.

My question is: “Why did I get what I got (a treatable cancer) and they get what they got (a life limiting form of cancer)?” Do you know I think about this Every. Single. Day. Sometimes this thought makes me feel so morose. Sometimes it makes me feel anxious. Sometimes it makes me feel remorseful.

This is Randi

As I think about my friend who is fading, I’ve come to realize what’s going on: I am experiencing a version of survivor guilt, yet again. It is common to feel guilty about having survived when others died. Now, this typically refers to catastrophic events such as 911 or an earthquake or some other disaster (no reason to go on with examples and make myself feel shoddier!). I happen to think that a cancer diagnosis (of any kind!) is pretty darn earth shattering. Don’t you? When I received my diagnosis, my world stopped. Completely.

What I’ve learned is that this feeling of guilt is part of being human. For me, it is a way of searching for the meaning of my survival vs. another person’s fatality. Normalizing these feelings doesn’t necessarily make me feel better, though. There are no two ways to say it. Anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis is forever changed. There. I said it.

When I lost my first friend to cancer, I felt paralyzed. Sessions with a social worker helped me be productive and rational. I certainly did not want to continue to go down an unfortunate road every time I lost someone I cared about.

Today, I admit my survivor guilt still brings a few issues. For some people, survivor guilt can cause despair, rage, and guilt that may even compromise their physical health and well-being. UGH.

Believe me I’m thrilled to be where I am. I’m able to speak to other people about cancer and their emotions and feel so fortunate. I really do. I don’t know what’s in my future. None of us does. I can tell you through this ordeal, I have faced uncertainties, challenges, and sorrow. I know that I have also learned lessons I couldn’t have learned any other way.

What I know for sure is that life is a precious gift; however after losing my mother to cancer, I actually already knew that…I guess it’s just been reiterated – in a BIG WAY. For now, it’s my time to live.

To learn more about Randi you can peruse her blog or read excepts from her book, Why Buy a Wig…When You Can Buy Diamonds!, when you visit her website.

Julie Anne Mauro: “Strength in the Face of Great Uncertainty”

November 26, 2012

Sometimes getting out your feelings can be just the therapy you need. Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers a “Writing the Journey” Seasonal Writing Series that offers instruction and encouragement for women affected by breast cancer to use this creative outlet to express themselves. On this second installment of the LBBC Blog‘s Writer’s Corner, Julie Anne Mauro shares who own musing on diagnosis and LIVING with metastatic disease.

I Quit Cancer - April 30, 2012 – after an extensive month of tests and trying to get on a drug trial and finally getting on a treatment that is working.

I quit cancer

Seriously, I quit

It’s not a fun job

It certainly doesn’t pay well

And it just takes up too much of my time

I’m tired of Pink

I’m tired of Anti-pink

I’m tired of just being a number

Tired of being a patient

Tired of blood draws and infusions

Tired of looking in the mirror and not seeing myself anymore

Just the battle scars

Just the bitterness

Tired of thinking, will this be the last time I ……

*          *          *          *          *

Untitled – August  7, 2012

Can you do something more than just a prayer?

But fight for me

Fight for me

Show the world that I was once there

Fight for me

Oh fight for me

Let me know that somebody really cares

Fight for me

Oh fight for me

Show me there’s more than blank and empty stares

Oh fight for me

Oh fight for me

Even when I’m weary and on my last breath

Fight for me

Please fight for me

*          *          *          *          *

Julie Anne is a recent transplant to Arizona from New Jersey,  married, and a mother of 2 boys (8 and 14). In July of 2009, a week before her 44th birthday, she was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer. After chemotherapy, a bi-lateral mastectomy and radiation, in May of 2010 her came up clean. She “beat cancer.” One month later, she found a lump in her chest wall–her cancer had spread to the lymphatic system and she was diagnosed Stage IV.  Since then the cancer has spread to her lungs, but she is still here and living strong every day with Metastatic disease.  Her motto is “Strength in the face of great uncertainty.”  Writing has been a great release for her and a way to express herself living in a world of unknowns.

Visit the LBBC Events Page for more information on the “Writing the Journey” Fall Writing Series

Amy Hauser: Horses.Healing.Hope. (Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

November 19, 2012

Amy Hauser never considered herself destined to be an author. From her self admitted “life-long inability to properly start and stop paragraph formations, among other things,” to being busy raising two children full time, a book simply was not on the radar.  Until God said otherwise. Today, the LBBC Blog welcomes back Amy to tell her story of how her religion and horses helped her to survive.

My journey through breast cancer also left me with a deep desire to positively impact other women who were travelling down similar paths. I knew that the compilation of my life’s trials had brought me to a point of greater connection with God, including during the breast cancer fight, yet realized not all women were similarly impacted. I felt led to point others to Him in a unique manner, while sharing our common struggles. I also wanted to address the aspect of cancer that seems to go almost unnoticed by the medical industry, which is to help guide women through the process of living beyond treatment as they navigate the often isolating stage of the “new normal” – where hair is growing back, the phone calls and meals dwindle and the doctors and surgeons release you from care. Fear and anxiety so often enter the scene and can consume a woman as she is often unprepared for this stage – a stage she was looking forward to with so much joyful anticipation!

Horses.Healing.Hope. (HHH) was created to help women navigate the inevitable emotional phases encountered during the healing journey. HHH blends nature, the horse and equine assisted therapy in a relaxed, peaceful environment, allowing women an escape from the everyday surroundings of post-cancer life. Horses have an amazing ability to reflect our emotional states – to help each of us identify and get in touch with our true heart – and its related wounds.

Today HHH offers sessions that meet weekly for two hours, for seven weeks. HHH has been a huge success in the North Houston, Texas area and we are excited to see it grow. We will also launch a program for newly diagnosed women facing breast cancer and are creating connections to women who have gone before them, to learn how to heal and grow in their walk with Christ.  These are not riding programs, but rather creative healing programs that utilize the horse as a tool toward increased overall healing.

In following this internal desire to help others, I have helped myself. Taking the focus off of my own circumstances and looking beyond, I have healed a part of my soul that could only be touched through serving the needs of others. Maybe serving should be a written prescription for all of us as we navigate life’s trials!

It is our dream to see HHH one day become the foundation of Made For More ministries HEALING RANCH. These ideas have been planted in my husband Tom’s and my heart for some time – to have a refuge that not only reaches out to cancer survivors, but also a place for entire families to have a respite from the ever-present “C” word – a getaway retreat that hosts both HHH retreats as well as ongoing sessions.

If you would like to learn more about Horse.Healing.Hope., sponsorship opportunities, Made For More, or IN HIS GRIP, please visit Amy and Tom’s website at www.MadeforMoreministries.com or like them on Facebook under “Made for More ministries.”

Annette Ramke, CHHC: Berry Almond Smoothie

November 14, 2012

We here at Living Beyond Breast Cancer feel it is important that no matter what stage you might be in–newly diagnoses, in-treatment, remission or recovery–your health and nutrition are paramount.  Today at the LBBC blog, we welcome back Annette Ramke,  certified health coach, cancer survivor and co-author of the book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, as she comes back for her monthly installment providing our blog readers with a tasty recipe and the real life reason it worked for her.

Smoothies were my go-to food during chemotherapy when I was too tired to make a meal or felt too nauseous to get anything solid down. Before I began making healthier choices with food, my typical smoothie was actually a milkshake – a few scoops of ice cream and some milk in a blender. Once I learned that I could make smoothies that were creamy, yummy and nutritious, I never went back to the milkshakes. I wanted to give my body what it really needed, especially while enduring grueling cancer treatment and trying to kick cancer.

I’m excited to share one of our favorite, delicious and easy smoothie recipes from Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen – the Berry Almond Smoothie!

This smoothie is energizing, filling and super tasty! Bananas offer potassium to help replenish lost electrolytes, and berries give a boost of antioxidants, those awesome little cancer fighters. You get your protein and some fabulous nutrients, like iron, calcium and magnesium from the almond butter. Anemia is common for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment and in many other people, and iron can help to treat this. Almonds are also helpful in relieving constipation, a common side effect of cancer treatment.

Photo Credit:
Steve Legato, stevelegato.com

Yield: makes 24 ounces

12 oz almond milk

1 banana

1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries

3 tablespoons raw almond butter

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix at medium speed for about one minute or until mostly smooth. If a thinner smoothie is desired, add more water or almond milk and blend for a few more seconds.

Annette Ramke, CHHC, is a certified health coach and breast cancer survivor. She took an integrative approach to treatment and focused on a whole food, plant-based diet. She coauthored (with Kendall Scott, CHHC), Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, released October 2. Learn more at TheKickingKitchen.com.


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