Be Your Own Advocate: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For A Second Opinion

May 25, 2014

Tonya Head ShotToday guest blogger, Tonya Priestley shares her story about following her intuition after being reassured nothing was wrong following an abnormal mammogram. She insisted on a second opinion which ultimately lead to her being diagnosed with ER/PR-positive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)…

On my 38th birthday, I gifted myself a mammogram. I had no signs or symptoms, no family history, and no doctor’s referral, but decided to move forward with a screening after seeing a close friend of mine struggle with very aggressive breast cancer. After the mammogram and a needle biopsy identified some calcifications, I was told that I didn’t need to worry because I did not have breast cancer, rather I just had some atypical cells.

The words ‘atypical cells’ didn’t settle well with me. I requested a copy of the results and called a nurse for an opinion. The nurse told me that I needed to see a surgeon.

The surgeon conducted a lumpectomy, which was a short surgery but a painful recovery process – physically and emotionally. I woke up cold and was given pain medication, a kind of narcotic, and immediately threw up. Then I received the news from the surgeon: the lumpectomy confirmed that I in fact did have breast cancer. I was diagnosed with ER/PR-positive ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Read the rest of this entry »

My Metastatic Breast Cancer Story

May 23, 2014

CarynPhotoLBBC guest blogger and regular volunteer, Caryn Kaplan was recently featured on CBS Talk Philly to discuss her journey with metastatic breast cancer, along with another LBBC friend and woman living with metastatic disease, Jewel. Here Caryn shares her experience doing the segment and why it was important to her to not only share her personal story but share about MyMBCstory.com which has helped her and continues to help her throughout her day to day life by providing information and tools about metastatic breast cancer…

Tuesday had finally arrived!!!  I had waited anxiously for this day….

It all started from an email from Kevin Gianotto, LBBC’s associate director of marketing corporate partnerships.  He had asked if I would be interested in being interviewed on CBS Talk Philly with Pat Ciarrocchi.  The topic was about living with metastatic breast cancer and also about MyMBCstory.com which is an online resource center developed by AstraZeneca with support and input from LBBC and Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) which provides tools and information for women living with metastatic disease. I was really excited to discuss this site because it has really helped me through my journey and I was so excited about the opportunity, having been volunteering with LBBC for several years, for yet another chance to get my message out there: that there is life after a metastistic breast cancer diagnosis.  A life that is full and active, one to be lived and enjoyed.

I couldn’t wait!!! Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Have Any Idea How Beautiful You Are?

May 17, 2014

Musser_Barbara_2014Breast cancer can drum up many complex emotions and thoughts for those who are newly diagnosed, especially around body image. Barbara Musser, CEO and founder of Sexy After Cancer, writes about the importance of defining your own beauty and invites you to learn how to do this by joining us for our free webinar at noon ET/11 a.m. CT on Tuesday, May 20, held in partnership with Susan G. Komen of Greater Kansas City

Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is a big challenge that goes on for quite a while. On top of that, it’s easy to feel like less of a woman, especially with altered or removed breasts, instant menopause resulting from chemo or hormonal therapies and other physical changes that can happen.  There’s not a lot of conversation about our body image, self-esteem and self-love and our intimate and sexual lives. And yet these are the subjects that have the most to do with the quality of our lives.

It’s the elephant in the room that no one mentions. Partly it’s because these aren’t easy topics to broach and partly because we don’t know to ask about them if we don’t know what to expect. You may have experienced this spiral. Read the rest of this entry »

Blog For Mental Health 2014: The Emotional Impact of Breast Cancer

May 14, 2014

mentalhealthblogdayToday is Mental Health Blog Day 2014, a Mental Health Month initiative from the American Psychological Association. As a contribution to this day, we wanted to acknowledge the emotional impact of breast cancer, in addition to sharing resources and letting you know that you are not alone.  

Whether you just heard the words “you have breast cancer,” are years beyond treatment or living with metastatic disease, it is likely that you experienced or continue to experience a range of complex emotions due to this major life change. At LBBC, we are dedicated to helping you cope with or manage these feelings by connecting you with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support.

In recognition of Mental Health Month and Mental Health Blog Day 2014, we wanted to highlight programs, resources and inspiring personal stories by men and women affected by breast cancer.

First and foremost, we have a toll-free Breast Cancer Helpline (888-753-52220) answered live from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Staffed by volunteers who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, our Helpline will connect you with someone who cares and knows what you’re feeling. Call today or when you’re ready!

We also have some upcoming programs as well as podcasts and presentations of previous events, many of which you may find helpful: Read the rest of this entry »

Yoga for Cancer Recovery

May 14, 2014

Petretti Marti_Claire_2014Claire Petretti Marti, RYT 500, E-RYT 200, is one of our speakers for our upcoming community meeting in Denver, Colo., on healthy living practices after breast cancer on May 19th at 6 pm. Today she sharing with us why yoga was important to her before and after her breast cancer diagnosis and why she volunteers to speak with others about her experience. 

As a yoga teacher, I’d always known of the incredible benefits of yoga for the body, mind, and spirit. Until I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer, however, I had no idea how much yoga would help me weather the toughest time of my life. I credit teaching and practicing yoga as vital components in my journey back to radiant health.

 

In January 2010, I truly felt that I was living my dream. I had exited corporate America the year prior and was happily balancing teaching yoga full-time with a blossoming writing career. I was in a relationship with the man of my dreams, living close to the ocean. To put it simply, I was happy. Out of the blue, I found a lump in my breast. I was shocked and devastated, especially because I had a clear mammogram three months earlier. At 43, I was healthy, fit,  and felt invincible.

Read the rest of this entry »

Diagnosed at 25: A Young Survivor’s Story

May 13, 2014

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Living Beyond Breast Cancer and FemmePharma have partnered for our signature education and fundraising event Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia! If you’re in the Philadelphia area on May 18th, register here to join LBBC, FemmePharma and various other exhibitors during our healthy living expo after the hour long yoga class supporting individuals with breast cancer! Today we learn about Katy Wagnon’s journey with breast cancer at the age of 25 and why a FemmePharma and LBBC partnership just makes sense…

Think about life in your 20s for a minute. It’s a decade of learning, growing, falling down and getting back up – often more than once. It’s a hopeful, exciting time when you’re just getting the hang of this crazy thing we call adulthood.

 

Katy Wagnon was a typical 25-year-old. At the time, she was living in Arizona with her boyfriend of four years. She had a steady job and was perfectly content with the life she’d created for herself.

 

When Katy discovered a lump on her breast in the shower, she initially brushed it off. Like any good procrastinator, she decided to wait it out to see if it went away on its own. Katy had a co-worker around her age who had been diagnosed with breast cancer six months earlier – but there was no way that’s what this was!

 

Still, Katy kept this thought in the back of her head. When the lump didn’t go away, she made a doctor’s appointment to have it checked out. A mammogram and a few biopsies later, Katy was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer.

 

The diagnosis on its own was a punch in the gut – adapting to life with cancer was another story altogether.

 

“All of my friends were in their 20s and couldn’t understand what I was going through,”Katy said. “They were going out to bars, and I was at home with my boyfriend, always in-between chemo and surgery.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Second Saturday Breast Cancer Six-Word Memoirs: May 2014

May 10, 2014

Discover our six new mini breast cancer memoirs, and learn how you can share your own!

20140612rhondawalkerweaver copyEach time we call out for new breast cancer six-word memoirs, you all deliver with incredible creativity and passion. Based on Smith Magazine’s project by the same name, our campaign relies on your willingness to describe your experience with the disease in six words. Finding the words to express your overall emotions or just an aspect of your diagnosis or treatment may be difficult. The mini-stories below and those posted in 2013 show that although it may be challenging, writing your six words about breast cancer can be cathartic and inspirational.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Best Self Is Yet To Come

May 8, 2014

photo-5Long-time LBBC guest blogger Randi Rentz is back and today she’s discussing her journey with body image after her breast cancer diagnosis. 

Women are subjected to thousands of messages about having the “perfect” body. Believe me, it’s not easy walking around in a female body, no matter your size, color, height or weight. It’s hard enough trying to look your best, but when you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s even tougher.

It took me a very long time to realize my femininity doesn’t reside in any one place; it is me, the whole me-ness of me, that can’t be sliced off in pieces. Although I had a lumpectomy, yes, I do know something about having random female body parts surgically removed. Many readers may not know that I had a full hysterectomy a few years ago. Can you believe five people asked me if I felt less like a woman afterward?! Geez! Actually, I felt less like talking to them, but no, I didn’t feel less like a woman.  I should have said, “If you can’t deal with it, then you can’t come to my next birthday party!” Sorry, I digress.

What people don’t realize is not just that breast cancer has left a permanent scar (whether you have reconstruction or not), but that there is no navigation system for helping to get you through the tunnel of angst, isolation and rage, and out to acceptance. There. I said it. Personally, I had feelings of isolation squeezing me into its confines after my diagnosis of DCIS followed by a hysterectomy.

The recording in my head read like this: “Who would want to date a bald chick with a huge divot in her left breast? Oh, and by the way, let’s add that all my reproductive parts are gone, too. Is there anybody out there who would want me?”

Good gracious, was it THAT bad? I’m afraid so. Really.  Read the rest of this entry »

My dear sweet Lola: I have the dreaded C-word

May 6, 2014

pink warriorA couple of months ago we introduced Tiffany Mannino who is sharing with us personal journal entries written in letter format penned to her unborn daughter while traveling through her breast cancer journey. In her collection of letters Beautifully Broken: Letters From a Girl/Woman/Human in Progress 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. Here is her first entry of 2010 where she takes a moment to look back on the highs and lows of the previous 10 years which culminated with her hearing the words “You have breast cancer” at the age of 36… 

January 3, 2010

Dear Lola,

Happy New Year, baby! I can’t believe that it is the beginning of a new decade already. I can clearly remember when the new millennium hit and how awe-inspiring that was. I can’t believe what changes the last decade has brought to my life. It was the best of times and the worst.

In summary, I married my teenage love, put my heart and soul into my teaching career, had a pulmonary embolism, watched someone I love battle addiction, divorced, traveled the world, bought a new house, watched two grandparents die, fell in love again and was engaged, broke off the engagement, was selected to film a design show pilot for HGTV, started my own interior design business, and ended the decade by being diagnosed with breast cancer. Read the rest of this entry »

Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia ‘The Heroine’s Journey’

May 1, 2014

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As we all prepare for LBBC‘s May 18′s beautiful yoga experience, we have a message from Lead Instructor and Yoga on the Steps Co-Founder Jennifer C. Schelter and Kirtan musician Yvette Pecoraro about the theme of this year’s Yoga event. 

 

We all know that Yoga is the physical (asana) practice. However, when combined with the basics of contemplation, meditation or self-reflection, the practice is enhanced and can be life-giving and inspiring.

 

This year’s theme for Yoga on the Steps 2014 is “The Heroine’s Journey.”  (And if you are a man, it’s the ‘Hero’s Journey’.) The foremost characteristics of the Heroine’s Journey are:

1. Acceptance of life’s vicissitudes.

2. Listening to your own inner voice.

3. Allowing yourself to be supported by community i.e.. friends, family, co workers.

4. Trusting yourself to make choices one step at time.

 

Click here for the link to a meditation we created for the Yoga on the Steps kick off event entitled “Value your Dreams.”  Take 4 minutes to breathe and listen.

 

We look forward to seeing you on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps.

 

Here’s to your health and well-being,

Jennifer Schelter and Yvette Pecoraro

 

Ps. If you have any questions about yoga, meditation or how to further your next steps, please visit us at www.JenniferSchelter.com and www.YvetteOm.com. We welcome your inquiries at Jennifer@JenniferSchelter.com and Yvette@YvetteOm.com.

 

Our Yoga on the Steps Class Instructor

Jennifer C. Schelter, Lead Instructor and Yoga on the Steps Co-Founder

Jennifer is an inspirational thought-leader, called “One of the Most Inspiring Philadelphians” by US Airways Magazine, “ A Real Goddess” in the “People Who Make The News” by Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Cover Model for “Best of 2013” Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well Philly.  She has supported over 40,000 women and men from Wharton Leadership and Management Programs, Fortune 500 Companies to breast cancer patients (Co-Founder of Yoga On the Steps for Living Beyond Breast cancer) and families for 17 years as a professional coach, teacher, writer, actress, and entrepreneur.  She is the Founder and Leader of the Radiant Retreat to Maya Tulum, Mexico, Yoga Unites non-profit, producer of “am awake” CD and “The Art of Vinyasa Yoga” DVD. Jennifer’s one –woman show, “Love Lessons From Abu Ghraib” which tells the story of Iraqi torture victims and her trip to work with them in Turkey, ran to sold-out audiences at Inter-Act Theatre. She is currently the on-camera life coach and yoga teacher for Veria TV reality show Natural Reboot and host of  “The Leap” an on-line TV program featuring mindfulness-based modalities for healing and rejuvenation.

 

She is available for one-on-one “mini-retreat” mindful strategy sessions as well as groups.

 

Her award winning website: www.jenniferschelter.com

Our Yoga on the Steps Musical Guest

Yvette Pecoraro

Yvette Pecoraro is renowned for her mastery of the call-and-response chanting of mantras and prayers known as Kirtan. She released her critically-acclaimed debut album Into the Arms of Love in 2010 and her sophomore follow-up The Song of Breath earlier this year. Her philanthropic work includes not only serving as an advocate and spokeswoman for Living Beyond Breast Cancer but also performing Kirtan accompaniment during Yoga on the Steps in cities across the country.


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