Posts Tagged ‘Learning from others’

It’s About You: Lu Ann Cahn’s Story

July 23, 2014

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  Cahn_photo2014We would like to introduce you to our blogging series, “It’s About You.” In addition to telling you their personal story, our bloggers in this series talk about their experience with past LBBC programs and/or their anticipation for the upcoming fall conference, Breast Cancer Today: Individual Treatments, Shared Experiences. Today, NBC10 reporter Lu Ann Cahn kicks off the series by sharing her breast cancer journey and the importance of connecting with individuals who share your experiences.

I was talking to a woman who just got through her second year of survivorship. We’d made a lunch date to talk about work, business opportunities.

I’d almost forgotten she’d had breast cancer until she mentioned she was dealing with horrendous hot flashes.

“The tamoxifen is making me crazy” she said.

“How are you feeling otherwise?” I asked

” Oh fine. I just want to forget about IT and move on.”

The IT she didn’t want to dwell on was Breast Cancer…and yet we spent the last twenty minutes we had together during our meeting, sharing our experiences, listening to each other.

I wished we’d started talking about it sooner. As much as she wanted to “forget”, I could tell it was a relief for her to talk to someone who has been there; someone who you don’t have to explain too much to, so much is already understood.

Her emotions were close to the surface; which is probably why she said she wanted to “forget about it”. Tears welled up in her eyes as she talked about how terrifying it’s been, the diagnosis, newly remarried, with a teen son.

I know . I remember.

It has been 23 years since I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. My daughter was four years old. The year before breast cancer, I was hospitalized for 5 months. I had to have my colon removed because of severe ulcerative colitis. I was just recovering and feeling better when I started to feel a vague mass in my right breast. (more…)

LBBC’s Annual Fall Conference is for You!

July 16, 2014

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LBBC’s Annual Fall Conference, Breast Cancer Today: Individual Treatments, Shared Experiences, has a new look and feel. Catherine Ormerod, VP of Programs and Partnerships shares her highlights for the conference, taking place on Saturday, September 27, 2014 Philadelphia, PA.

Catherine-Ormerod 1Breast cancer research and treatments are constantly changing. It can be difficult to stay current with and understand the impact of these changes on you and your life. That’s why we have adapted this conference to connect you to trusted specific information. Consulting with some of the nation’s leading health specialists, this year’s conference will offer tracks to help you access the specific information that you’re seeking.

At the Breast Cancer Today: Individual Treatments, Shared Experiences conference you will get the unique medical information you seek for your specific type of breast cancer, while connecting you to others in a supportive environment. Our tracks are:

  • Triple-negative: presented in partnership with Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Hormone receptor-positive or HER2-positive
  • Metastatic

You can choose to follow a track or attend individual sessions based on your diagnosis or concerns. Our sessions will include information about the latest in breast cancer news, treatments and care and wellness. They will be presented by renowned breast cancer experts such as Virginia Borges, MD, MMSc; Clifford A. Hudis, MD; Rita Nanda, MD and Marisa C. Weiss. Topics will range from targeted therapies, metastatic breast cancer clinical trials, managing the side effects of chemotherapy and more, plus an engaging closing plenary, Thriving! A Discussion on Living Well – Body, Mind and Soul.

Attending a conference is a great way to not only get the latest information, but to connect with others and build a community of support. We often hear how long lasting friendships were created at LBBC conferences. I encourage you to take advantage of the many ways to share your experience – there will be breaks throughout the day, a special luncheon, closing reception and meetup groups organized by shared interests.

Registration for the conference is $50 per person but if you register before September 5th you will receive our early-bird discounted rate of $40 per person. We offer a limited number of travel grants and fee waivers on a first come, first served basis. Special thanks to Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation’s for its support of travel grants to women diagnosed with triple-negative disease.

Visit lbbc.org/fallconference to register for the conference, apply for a fee waiver or travel grant and to learn more about our speakers and conference sessions.

I hope you can join us in Philadelphia this September!

Catherine Ormerod
VP, Programs and Partnerships, Living Beyond Breast Cancer
cormerod@lbbc.org
P.S. – Follow #LBBCconf on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for conference updates, staff picks on where to eat in our hometown of Philadelphia, what to see and much more!

I loved everything about Yoga on the Steps: Kansas City

July 9, 2014

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Wendy Hazlett, LBBC friend and long-term Silpada Field Development Director of the Northeast Region shares her breast cancer story and why she’s looking forward to LBBC’s Yoga on the Steps: Kansas City for the 2nd year in a row! 

 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2011.  It was through a routine mammogram and I still thank God each day for the expertise of my radiologist!  I never thought “why me?”, but instead jumped right in to “beat this”.  We had been thoughtfully watching a lump on my left breast throughout the years, so when the mammogram came back saying that I had cancer in my right breast and my surgeon recommended double mastectomies, I followed the recommendation and had a successful surgery in August 2011.

 

I had my first reconstruction surgery that December – which my body rejected.  This caused me to undergo 3 additional surgeries before being able to close this chapter in my life in December 2012.

(more…)

I’ve Reached a Milestone…My Halfway Mark

June 20, 2014

Tiff Smiling Tiffany Mannino is back sharing another ‘Dear Lola’ journal entry with us; letters penned to her future daughter about her breast cancer experience. This time she shares her thoughts and feelings about being halfway through her chemotherapy treatment…

 

April 19, 2010

Dear Lola,

I know it has been quite a long time since I’ve written. Although I have thought about you every single day, the truth is, I have not wanted to share with you how I’ve been feeling. I always envisioned that what I would write to you would inspire and uplift you as I am a firm believer in finding the positive in every situation.  Truthfully, I’m having an incredibly difficult time finding the light in the midst of darkness at the moment as I’m going through such a challenging time in my life.

The last time I wrote to you was on the eve of my first chemo treatment. I was filled with great anxiety and anticipation. Well, now I should be celebrating because I’ve reached a milestone…my halfway mark. It has been eight weeks, and I have completed four of my eight treatments. Although I’m thrilled to be halfway done, I’ll admit, that doesn’t replace the dread I feel that I still have four more! I’m not going to sugarcoat it, chemo totally sucks!

Going through chemo for me has hands-down been the most difficult part of the breast cancer journey and truthfully, the hardest thing I thing I’ve ever faced. Each treatment has brought on a different set of challenges to face.

The first treatment made me violently ill to the point I was practically vomiting up my intestines. I remember lying in bed at 3 o’clock in the morning writhing and crying out to my mom, begging her to make it stop. In between tears, I pleaded with God to take away my pain. At that moment, my mother wrapped her entire body around me and with tears in her eyes, just held me like a baby. It is amazing to me as a 36 year old adult, how much I wanted and needed my mother as if I were a little child once again. In that moment, I realized that we never, ever outgrow our mothers and the need for their love and care. (more…)

Major Plumbing Problems

June 5, 2014

randi rentzRegular LBBC guest blogger Randi Rentz is back! Today she’s tackling a topic we as a society consider rather taboo but while going through her treatment she found it became quite necessary to address the issue with her oncologist…

What ever happened to the old saying “in by 9, out by 5”? For me, after my cancer surgery and treatment it was “in at 9 out IN out IN out IN by 5” if I was lucky. There is nothing – absolutely nothing like being constipated after surgical procedures and treatment. Not only did I experience being “stopped-up” … as in non-functioning, total shut down, zippo, but one of the unpleasant side effects of my Taxotere treatment was colitis, an inflammatory process in the bowels resulting in diarrhea-diarrhea-diarrhea. Oy vey is mere. My plumbing problems were ever wretched. (more…)

Yoga: A Survivor’s Tool for Strength

May 27, 2014

KateGarza2 for 5 28Kate Garza is a mother of three teenagers, cancer survivor and yoga instructor in Cheltenham. Her “Team Kangaroo-om”  participated in our event, Yoga on the Steps: Philadelphia, on Sunday, May 18.  For more information or to register for a Yoga event near you, visit yogaonthesteps.org. Read Kate’s blog at LotsaHelpingHands.com.

I climbed the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum last Sunday for Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Yoga On The Steps, a sun drenched block party of yoga enthusiasts and breast cancer affiliates. Occasionally my thoughts traveled back to last year’s event, which I attended during my own active treatment, bandanna wrapped around my chemo-bald head. On that gray day a year ago I felt as bad as the cold fog and drizzle that enshrouded the steps.

But last Sunday, bathed in sunshine, I shook off a year and a half of living with breast cancer treatment. I gathered with a large team from my kids’ high school, faculty and students together. I was there to give and gain support and to advance LBBC’s mission of bringing patients together with resources throughout the journey, one that can thankfully now include many years of health beyond treatment.

Cancer survivors have long had an intuitive sense that yoga helps body and mind, but now we have studies to prove it. In March, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study of 191 breast cancer patients by researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It linked yoga to improvements in self-reported quality of life, including measures of mood, pain and fatigue. Practicing yoga also appeared to help regulate the stress hormone cortisol, which is tied to poor survival among breast cancer patients.

Aware of these unique qualities of yoga, Living Beyond Breast Cancer has held Yoga on the Steps as its signature fundraising event since 2001, and in recent years has expanded to other cities — this July in Kansas City and September in Denver. Last year, LBBC, the Ardmore-based national education and support organization, published a Guide to Understanding Yoga and Breast Cancer, detailing the benefits of yoga to coping with anxiety, fatigue, strength and body image.

But what exactly is it about yoga that helps? (more…)

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!!! (more…)

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. (more…)

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: (more…)

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.  (more…)


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