Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Think Before You Pink

The color pink to me is a representative of everything that I and other Breast Cancer Survivors/fighters have gone through. I wear the color proudly. However, it does frost my cookies a little bit when companies slap the pink ribbon on everything, especially products that may be toxic/have a link to breast cancer.

Apparently I am not the only one. There is an entire campaign against those companies called Pinkwashers. Those that say the products go to support breast cancer charities without naming the charities or saying how much money goes towards it. There is a whole "Think Before You Pink" campaign led by Breast Cancer Action. Not that I necessarily agree with everything they say, but it was definitely some great food for thought.

They give 4 key things to think about before you pink:
1. Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?
I think it's always important to know the organization that is being supported. If too small an amount is going to the charity and you don't need the product a direct donation might be a better bet. I like when companies are transparent. For example, that is why I loved "Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer" 93% of the money raised goes to charity, mainly Dana Farber. 

2. What organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
I think this question is great because it goes a step beyond identifying that the product is linked to a charity, but also what they do with there money. How exactly are they raising breast cancer awareness? 

3. Is there a “cap” on the amount the company will donate? Has this maximum donation already been met? Can you tell?
 This to me is digging further into whether a company is using the pink ribbon for advertising. For example when a product says it will donate up to $100,000. Well how do you know? Can you look up where in the donation process they are? 

4. Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer? What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
As well documented on this site, I have really started to dig through chemicals we use every day and how they may be toxic to your health. Secret Deodorant with a giant pink ribbon on it, is what really sticks in my craw right now. Especially because while thousands of woman have to undergo breast radiation they cannot wear that type of deodorant because of the aluminum. Not to mention the aluminum can end up in the breast tissue/cells and mess stuff up in there. 

Interesting points. I will think before I pink. And I will continue to proudly where the color and my ribbon.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Middle Name is Grace

Today was the skin test round for the Vaccine Trial. After 6 months of shots they do a skin reaction test to make sure I haven't developed an allergy to the preservative used. I can confidently say, I did not. I have zero reaction. The shots felt like bee stings like the last time and bled a little. Fun.I had a new study nurse and she was overly apologetic about causing me pain. I told her, I signed up for this. In the name of SCIENCE!  I also had to give extra blood this time, only to find out later that because of the government shutdown the study people sent the wrong tubes and I have to give them more blood tomorrow with the right tubes. If only the blood tube shipper hadn't been furloughed! (Ok so I don't know if any of that is true).

At the end of my appointment when I got my appointment summary and I was given my appointment list. For the first time in 14 months (14!!) I do not have an appointment next month. At no point to I need to go to the doctors for a visit, check up, blood, nothing! Moving on up.

To celebrate I decided to go for a little run. I put my Red Sox running shorts on and did my usual 3.5 mile loop. Well about a quarter of a mile from home I noticed that their was a car banging an illegal U turn in the next crosswalk that I was approaching. What I didn't notice was that the cement lifted up about a quarter of an inch. What I then noticed was the fast approaching cement. Luckily, many years of klutziness have prepared me. Hands out, tuck and roll to the left (away form oncoming traffic). Bounced right back up, waved to the lady in the car who had rolled the window down to see if I was ok {she was a little stunned-mouth gaping open} and ran home. Minimal road rash. Tiny road burn on my knee. Was still able to do my planks. All I kept thinking was, good work. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. Celebrating not needing a doctors appointment by almost hurting myself. Oops.

And of course I sang this to myself on the way home....

Monday, October 14, 2013

A little more boobtober and a birthday

Last week I had my sixth month follow up with my radiation oncologist. She was happy with what she saw/felt and let me know that from now on I would see her every April and the surgeon every October. That seemed like a fair deal so I took it. Those will be their annual visits. Getting down to annual visits. Really getting there.

Today I am 32 years old. Happy Birthday to me. People have asked me if I feel weird about turning older. I give them the same answer I started with last year "Happy to have another birthday.". I am pretty sure that side affect of being a cancer survivor will never wear off for birthdays. It's also one of the reasons I love the American Cancer Society's campaign for more birthdays. Seeing as I feel like I have been celebrating since February 27th I kept the birthday celebration low key-a brunch with friends and then watching football with my parents. For the record, Tom Brady had his 32nd comeback win yesterday. I believe in honor of my 32nd birthday. Just saying.

Today I celebrated by going to work, having a flu shot and eating brownies at lunch with my colleagues. Then on Wednesday the celebrating will continue with a follow up with my oncologist for skin testing for the vaccine study. Yup party party party.

However, there was a decision made by me to help make more birthdays, but may make me a little more smelly. I switched back to natural deodorant.  After reading a couple of studies about aluminum from deodorant being found in breast tissue/breast cancer tumors {especially those close to the chest wall} I decided to switch back to what I was using during radiation. I will have to read the studies again (not good to read anything when your in crazypants mode prior to your mammogram), but I don't think I'll be going back to aluminum for deodorant. Oh boobtober your getting in my head.

Usher and I share the same birthday.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Welcome to Boobtober

You know how I celebrated Boobtober last year? I had chemo. This year I decided to fly out to Colorado and visit my cousin and my good friend and her husband to kick things off. After frolicking in fields, hiking, eating, enjoying snow and taking photos like below:




it was time to say good bye to my Rocky Mountain High and face boobtober head on. How did I take boobtober on? I got my squish on!

Yearly Mammogram!
Today, after having a pretty sweet vacation it was back to reality hardcore. I had my yearly mammogram this morning and lets just say by the time I got off the plane last night I put on my crazy pants, shirt, jacket, hat.... I know that I just had a chest CT that was clean (like 2 weeks ago), but knowing that this exam was coming up made me a lot ansy and all over the place. Last night I could not carry a conversation without darting from topic to topic, but I was able to sleep soundly all night. This morning, sans deodarant (it interferes with the pictures) I confidently walked into the mammogram suite. And then felt the anxiety of all the people waiting in there. I smiled at many to try to calm nerves, but I don't think the fact that I was 10 years younger than the youngest person or that I have short (still curly-ish) hair helped.

They finally call my name and then it is squishing time. As I try to become one with plastic vices by moving my arms over here, sticking my butt out there and trying to make my ribs stick out less I have impressed the tech with my high pain tolerance. My favorite part is when she tells me to hold my breath-way ahead of you! We take a couple of extra photos, just for fun (or to see where all of the many metal clips are located). I am sore and covered in red marks by the time we are done. She tells me to go have a seat in the waiting room so they can read my film. In the waiting room is a family (the daughter and sister) waiting for a patient who is having her biopsy. The sister keeps staring at me, and I just smiled back. They are very anxious and I hope all is benign for them. I hope all is benign for the woman sitting next to me who finds out she has to have an ultra sound to further investigate her mammogram. Been there. Hope it's nothing.

Then they call my name again.

There is a constant line of four letter words going off in my head as I follow them into the consult room....................and then they tell me everything was fine. Yeah!!! Couldn't you have spared me the anxiety and told me I can go to my next appointment? That was a little too much drama for a Monday morning.  I happily take off my pink johnnie and my crazy pants.

One Year Follow Up with the Surgeon
Phew...with my clean bilateral mammogram I head up to meet with my surgeon. He is happy with my zero complaints or issues. He is happy with my films. And he is happy with the way the vaccine and tamoxifen are going. I'm pleased too. After a physical exam to make sure there are no new lumps he sends me on my way and says see you in a year! A year! 

This year I am celebrating boobtober by putting more and more time between me and cancer. And the mammogram waiting room always makes me grateful to have gotten here.