Sunday, October 16, 2016

Celebrating Boobtober with a follow up and a birthday

Last week I had my standard follow up with my radiation oncologist. I see her once a year and 6 months after I see my surgeon; this way at least every 6 month a breast exam is down by a professional.

I enjoy seeing my radiation oncologist. She asks me a very important question every time...."When is your next vacation" and she's added in "How is your niece". We chat about these things and how great Skype is. She got really excited talking about Skype. She told me how it was invented in her home country of Estonia and how after they sold it to Google it has made her country rich. Fascinating stuff for a follow up.

She let's me know that everything looks good and that she will see me next year. I could really get behind only 3 specialty appointments a year. (Now, if I could only not get stung by bees or do other random stuff that earns me doctors appointments). 4 years out from diagnosis and my amount of time spent at appointments is rapidly dwindling. It's pretty awesome.

Also, celebrated turning 35 years old this week. Someone said "Happy 29th" in case I didn't care for turning 35 years old. I corrected them. I am happy and appreciate every year I have. I think being a cancer survivor you are happy to tell people your age. You wear it like a badge, like you do being a survivor. You are still here. You are still putting years together and sometimes when you are out seeing your favorite cover band college kids tell you "There is no way you are 35"and you laugh at the "compliment" and realize they have no idea what you have packed in to 35 years of living.

And sometimes you eat a giant plate of coconut chocolate chip pancakes with grilled mashed potatoes. I still need mashed potatoes in my life.

Although nothing compares to my nearly 2 year old niece singing me happy birthday, I have to say my mood can be summed up by Raymond Usher III whom I share my birthday with.

Monday, October 3, 2016

MSABC Boston 2016

Because everything gets abbreviated today, that's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Boston 2016. Mom and I participated again this year. And it reminded me, how important it is to get out there and show everyone that women under 40 do get breast cancer. In fact, according to the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), 12,000 women under 40 get breast cancer every year.
"Breast cancer is officially an epidemic, with an annual increase in incidence of 3.1%. Young women make up 33% of global diagnoses, and women of reproductive age are dying from breast cancer at an annual increase of 1.8% per year.1  Letting people know that young women can and do get breast cancer just isn’t enough. This year alone, more than 12,000 women under 40 will be diagnosed in the U.S.2
If you click on the above link, you can also get the information on the petition from the YSC to get more  funding for research for breast cancer in young people. You know I can get behind that.

It's amazing at the MSABC when you walk into the survivor tent to get your sash, everyone is so excited to help you celebrate being a survivor. I picked up a pink sash and a sticker denoting that I have been a survivor for 3.5 years. As my mother and I walked through the tent an older woman asked me "How long?" "3.5 years" and then she said the most wonderful thing, the thing that gives me hope "26 years". She then hugged me. And my mother and I moved on to start the walk. My mother asked me if I had ever met that woman before, I told her no. But, hey hugging strangers and celebrating being a survivor all while raising funds for research/support/ and all the other things that the American Cancer Society does, what's not to like?

I was relaying this story to one of my colleagues and she said to me "You need to keep going to those. Imagine at some point you will be able to walk it saying 65 years as a survivor". I like where her head is at.

During the walk, at one point a new survivor ended up behind me. Her husband asked her how she was doing as they approached the end. Her voice quivered and she told him that she was doing great, but the walk was way more emotional that she could have imagined. I smiled while walking in front of her, but I couldn't turn around because all that emotion would have gotten the best of me too.

My mother's favorite part of the walk is the look on people's faces when they see that I am younger than others and have the survivor sash on. She enjoys seeing people's eyes widen, or the men pushing strollers who unabashedly turn around multiple times to try to figure out my age. Most of all she love's seeing me in the survivor sash and feels like I should wear it everywhere I go during Boob-tober or at the very least hang it over the back of my chair at work.

Here's to October and celebrating survivors and pushing for funding for breast cancer research. I look forward to walking with more and more people draped in survivor sashes next year.