Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015

Whoa. Another year down. How did that happen?

The Boston Globe alerted me to something I missed this year. New legislation in the state of Massachusetts that if you have dense breast tissue that you must be notified that a) you have dense breast tissue b)that it may increase your risk of breast cancer. The full text of the Act Relative to Breast Cancer and Early Detection can be found here.  How did I miss this in June? I think I was busy having too much fun. In fact I know I was.

This year was pretty great. I continued to have a clean bill of health. I did things I never would have done before cancer; running long distance, online dating and becoming that person who awkwardly overshares all aspects of her life in person and not just online. I also returned to the track to run like a boss!

And the biggest event for all of my family was the birth of my precious niece. It's really great to have this little ball of sunshine. My colleagues have been great and allow me to torture them with endless photos. My roommate allows me to put photos of her in the living room, kitchen, hallway....I'm a little obsessed. As previously posted she truly is the manifestation of love, joy, strength, and perseverance. And cuteness. Holy Cuteness Batman.

In 2015 I am looking forward to more visits with the niece. I will try to eat less sugar, but given that I ate two cookies while my oatmeal  cooked this morning, it's going to take a lot to reform my cookie monster ways. There just so good! I am looking forward to all the new survivorversaries and all the other celebrations the year with bring.

See you in 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

eat, drink and be merry

Are you simply having a wonderful Christmas time? I know I am. My family and I are celebrating in Arizona this year. Currently there is a great flood of sunshine outside. And as my niece is 8 weeks today there is also a great deal of sunshine inside. 

I have found that post cancer I am a much more relaxed traveler.  The woman at the air line counter was probably grateful for that. You see when I showed up for my flight I couldn't check in at the kiosk, which was weird. So I waited in line for about an hour to talk to someone at the counter. At this point my flight leaves in 50 minutes. The woman at the counter pulls up my name and says "You flew yesterday". I pulled out my itinerary her company emailed me and showed her that I was schedule for the flight on Saturday. She starts making phone calls, I start making phone calls to let my parents know we may be on separate flights. The woman behind the counter gets put on endless hold. Her eyes keep growing wider while she looks at me. I've see this look before, it means things are not going well on the other end of the phone. Eventually her manager comes over and she explains the situation. In one key strike he has a new upgraded ticket issued for me and I am on my merry way. I make my original flight with enough time to get a large frozen yogurt . I did enjoy my newly acquired leg room. The kid sitting next to me asked when I finished my finals, "2004" I replied. 

 Since the preflight drama I've enjoyed a nice relaxed time spent with snuggles and smiles. Here is my niece and I both in our breast cancer awareness shirts. Starting her early. 

I always enjoy the dryness of Arizona as my muscles and joints often feel better and my legs have been really sore and tight. Well, the dryness isn't quite working there full magic. Yesterday's run was great. During today's much shorter run I learned I am part Bumble, because boy do I bounce. My legs had zero juice the second I started running and when I was about to turn a corner for the last street, my foot caught the pavement and I tumbled. I hit the ground but bounced right back to my feet to finish. I was just telling someone how it had been a year since I fell running. Oops jinxed myself. 

Otherwise I am in exceptional health, and it will always be something I am grateful for every holiday season. And while we will definitely not be having a white Christmas, "May all your days be Merry and Bright"

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Because I'm filled with the holiday spirit

The title of the post is the exact phrase I used multiple times today after I would just giggle or after I put what I was going to order for lunch to the tune "Hallelujah" (Big @ss lobster roll, a lobster roll, a lobster roll, buffalo shrimp, some shrimp, some shrimp, and Boston Creme Pie). I have a lovely singing voice {if there were a sarcasm font it would have been used here}

Today is the 2 year anniversary of completing chemotherapy infusions. Which means Mom and I both take the day off from work complete our holiday shopping and go for a delicious lunch. It also means that we are filled with holiday spirit and the shear joy of having everything worked out so well. And today I got my haircut. In celebration of having full scalp coverage.

Pictured here is this years ornament (and my necklace). My mother has given me an ornament every year I've been alive and it gives me plenty to decorate my tree with. $2 from every Hallmark ornament get donated to the Susan G. Koman for the Cure Foundation 

Every survivorversary I have I wear this necklace that I found. It's made from an old scrabble tile. It reads hope n. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

Fitting for the season of hope. What a happy day.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The HOW Study

Sometimes "liking" things on Facebook gives you great leads. For example, following Tom Brady shows you his hilarious stint as Gary the telemarketer or an adorable photo of his daughter watching him play on TV. And sometimes "liking" the Young Survival Coalition  leads you to find the HOW study. The HOW study is the Health of Woman study. It is conducted by the Dr. Susan Love Research foundation and it is an international online study in order to get information about women and men with and without breast cancer. The idea is to collect data on a broad spectrum on health and environmental exposures. The HOW study is a series of questionnaires. In classic consent form it states that their is no benefit from this study, however if enough people provide information about their lives perhaps new sources of breast cancer can be found. This is especially exciting to people like me who are Sara 43 Genes 0 and still would like to know if there was something specific that caused or led to my breast cancer.

If you want to partake go here:

All they want is your time and information. And potentially tissue samples if your a survivor. More data, more potential correlations. Yay Science! 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Impromptu vs Scheduled Support Group

On Monday, while in one of the ICU's two of the RNs who are breast cancer survivors hunted me down for an impromptu breast cancer treatment notes comparison. One of the nurses is 10 years into survivorship and the other is 2 months in. We compared notes about the medications we take, and both wanted to run down on the PRESENT trial. The nurse who is 10 years out says that she still struggles with waiting for the other shoe to drop, but that the feeling isn't as strong as it was the first year out. The nurse who is 2 months out is struggling with lymphedema. Her and I discussed how much better she would feel if she got back into running, which she had done all through chemo/xrt. She has to wear 2 sports bras right now because of the lyphedema and is just frustrated because she isn't feeling that great right now. The three of us chatted for 5 or 10 minutes and they both said something that really helped me. The both told me that I looked great. I know it's petty to care about appearance, but my self esteem about my appearance has been a little low. I'm not sleeping great and all I can see in the mirror or bags under my eyes. It was a good little boost that I needed. The other nurses commented that it must be reassuring to work with other survivors, "You have no idea" I told them.

On Tuesday, I was invited to be the Nutrition Expert for a breast cancer support group at the hospital. Now, I had never attended a formal support group. It was an interesting experience. I let them know that I too was a breast cancer survivor and their first question was "How old are you?". After introductions were made, people identified where in their treatment or survivorship they were and nearly everyone mentioned what their Onccotype score was. Fascinating. I answered the 12 ladies nutrition questions, had a disagreement with one of them about the safety of dairy (safe!), what the deal with flaxseeds is and debunked many a myth. Including a new one I had not heard. One of the ladies asked me if eggs were safe to eat and if chicken eggs had any hormonal properties. I let her know that they did not and eggs were safe to eat. (Sorry for the error in the previous post) The discussion in the support group trended towards everyone trying to figure out the cause and many identifying that they feel there is some genetic component that hasn't been identified. There was also a new woman who had just been diagnosed and she was grateful to everyone sharing the different surgeries they had and why they chose their surgeries, surgeons and medical course.

What I have learned is that what works for me is the impromptu support groups. The formal group is nice, but 1.5 hours is a bit long for me. But what a lovely two days being surrounded by survivors and fighters. I hope everyone else got the self esteem and life boost that these past two days brought me. I for one feel supported.