Sunday, May 28, 2017

Squished and cleared

Last week started with my new version of tests since the PRESENT trial ended. I do not have to follow up with my oncologist, so I had a mammogram and follow up with my surgeon.

Because I know how to start the week out right, I had my mammogram at 8:30 am on Monday. It is always interesting to watch people do math when I give them my birth year and have them give the puzzled look as to why I might be having a mammogram. I like to smile in response. I think that imagination is an underutilized skill and do it as a public service.

My mammogram tech I have had previously, and she is great. She is also 4 ft 11 inches; I am 5 ft 8. I had to scrunch down to have the mammogram done. But, seeing as I need to scrunch down, stick my butt out, pull my arm, smoosh my face into the plastic shield, and generally try to become one with the mammogram, scrunching down a bit more is not really an issue. She also repeatedly reassured me that she was taking more than 2 photos on each side so that I didn't have to be called back. She worked meticulously to get all my markers in (two in the left, multiple in the right) especially because they are so close to my chest wall.  We discussed my particularly challenging anatomy-large rib cage, shoulders that have minimal range of motion and 1 and 3/4 boobs. She, however, worked her magic and no more pictures needed.

My follow up with my surgeon was very short and sweet. He and I chatted about general goings on in the hospital. He was happy with my mammogram and physical exam results. He asked me about how I was doing on the tamoxifen, and I responded "well". And then he said my favorite words "I'll see you in a year."

Yes you will, because all of this means that I will be around for another rotation around the sun.

Also, this may have been how I strutted out of my appointment:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Holy Baked Goods Robin!

So myself, my boyfriend and all the dietitians (and one very generous nurse) really outdid ourselves this year. We went to town baking and candy making. My poor roommate wasn't able to use the freezer for the past month. But all the cupcakes, cookies, donuts, mini loafs, fudge, peanut butter cups and giant cookies was well worth it. 

Here are some glamour shots of all of our hard work 

Here is everyone pitching in

The bake sale is always one of my favorite events of the year. People are very generous with their money, but also in spirit. My mom and bf have heard me rave about how much I enjoy sharing with people during the day that they decided to join me in sling the bake goods. 

The hospital has been promoting my story and many people came up the the table to chat. Two women who work in the hospital told me that when they first saw me bald 4 years ago, they thought I had just donated my hair and that didn't realized that I had gone through treatment until they read about me. I chuckled thinking they obviously hadn't seen me towards the end of chemo. 

My favorite interaction of the day, however, occurred between my mother and a patient family member. (Side note, inviting your mother to work the bake sale, means she tells all the people that you are a survivor out of the cancer center). My mom was chatting with a husband to a patient who asked her what the bake sale was for. She explained that we are Team NED (No Evidence of Disease) and that we were raising money for the Lahey Cancer Center. She told this gentleman that I was a breast cancer survivor out of the cancer center (Four years!). He started to tell my mother his wife's story. He stated that in February she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a bilateral mastectomy. My mother asked "How is your wife doing?". The man's face lit up "Thank you so much for asking, she is doing well and won't need chemotherapy, but is about to start radiation". My mother responded with "Ok well with radiation she might experience some fatigue and usually have some skin burning." He asked her how she would know that. She told them how she used to do radiation for the hospital and from my own experience. He responded "I am so glad that I stopped by this table today" and handed her a $20 bill. She asked "what can I get you?". And he responded with something that will stay with her for a long time...

"Nothing, you just gave me everything that I needed". 

More than just a bake sale. Its great to get out there and meet all the other cancer survivors and fighters who stop by the table (especially the woman who bought cookies pre and post her chemo infusion!). 

At the end of the day, we broke every bake sale record. $2,147.85. Damn that one is going to stay for a long time. 

Go Team NED! 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

BCRF Hot Pink Party Boston

The wonderful folks at the Kelly Care's Foundation invited myself and my BF to join them at the BCRF Hot Pink Party Boston for a night of dinner, dancing and celebration of of heroes, fundraisers and a whole lot of survivors.

I had heard of the BCRF (Breast Cancer Research Fund), but was unaware of the phenomenally great work they do. The BCRF is committed to being the end of breast cancer though research. It was founded in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder and has been involved in many breast cancer breakthroughs. These are the people involved in getting herceptin chemotherapy clinical trials rolling. Herceptin has been a game changer for folks with HER2+ breast cancer, as the diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. They have also funded the research to prevent over treatment of early stage estrogen based cancers and helped developed care paths as not everyone needs to have chemotherapy and still experiences the same outcomes. More of the amazing progress this institution can be found here.

Needless to say, once I realized the magnitude of work that the BCRF has done and is doing, we were even more excited to attend. And as you can see (above) it was a great event. They honored a breast cancer survivor, who has also overcome the death of a child and colon cancer after finishing treatment for breast cancer. It was inspiring to hear how she not only continued to get up day after day and continued to support not only her family, but also help continued to help others as they went through breast cancer treatment. Very self less.

It was fun to be part of the celebration of all the great research that they do in the Boston area. The BCRF has awarded more than $7 million in grants this year to research in the region. It was also empowering to be surrounded by so many breast cancer survivors and their support systems. It was amazing to be in a room full of people who understand science and believe that research with be the end of breast cancer. 

The night capped off with dancing and dessert with music by Nile Rodgers. Nile Rodgers is a Grammy award winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist. And....he is also a cancer survivor. He produced a wide breadth of hits "Le Freak"  and "Good Times" as member of CHIC, David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and Sister Sledge "We are Family". It was a spectacular to dance to "We are Family" with one of it's producer's preforming it with a room full of breast cancer survivors...the line "I've got all my sisters with me". 

What a fun event for an organization that uses 91 cents of every dollar donated toward either research or raising awareness. I'll be excited to see what comes out of the research funded by the BCRF in the future and their goal to #BetheEnd.