Archive for October, 2012

Alternative Care for Breast Cancer
October 30, 2012

This is part five and my final week of blogging about breast cancer for the month of October. This week the subject is alternative care during treatments and after your treatments have ended. As mentioned in part four about help for breast cancer survivors, your oncologist may recommend alternative care. You of course may have to ask.

With my health insurance I buy a policy that gives me so much alternative care a year. It is wise to check with your health insurance carrier. If you enjoy alternative care you can often buy this coverage when you renew your policy for just a few dollars more per month.

 

Acupuncture, chiropractic care and naturopathic medicine are all tied into helping breast cancer survivors. Some clinics have a sliding scale for those without insurance coverage but have cancer.

From recommendation of my oncologist I started at an alternative clinic the same time I started my chemotherapy. I had acupuncture twice a week and met with a naturopath once a month. My ND gave me Chinese herbs that helped with some of my side effects. I had my oncology/radiation team, and my alternative teams helping me achieve breast cancer success!

 

 

Some people have a difficult time with the word survivor. After going through various surgeries, treatments and side effects, I totally embrace the word survivor. For many breast cancer patients the goal is to navigate and thrive to survivorship.

I am so very happy to be a 10-year breast cancer survivor. I am happy to write about breast cancer during the month of October. I hope some of this five part series helped some one or touched some one dealing with breast cancer.

Have you had alternative care? Has acupuncture worked for you? Do you see a Chiropractor or a Naturopathic doctor?

 

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Help for Breast Cancer Survivors
October 23, 2012

 

This is part four of my weekly blogs about breast cancer for the month of October.

In my previous blogs I spoke of awareness, preparedness and holly crap breast cancer happens. This week I want to talk about HELP. All breast cancer patients and survivors need help. The disease can truly be mind fogging and there is help to navigate your course.

 

Breast cancer support groups can be really helpful. Who knows more about what you are going through than other survivors? Trust me when I say most women on the other side of treatments and into survivorship are not judgmental of your choices in treatments or your reactions to the disease. The best support groups can be found from recommendations from your oncologist. Many are supported through the hospital. Some hospitals have a social worker that is available. Other hospitals have support groups for children and partners. The best way to find out is to ask your oncologist.

 

Not a talker? Don’t want to listen or share? No problem. Many on line sites are full of information. Of course finding the most reputable sites is tricky. Once again your oncologist can lead you to these sites once you ask. Many oncology offices give a manual with your diagnosis with lots of resources. Did you know that there is a resource to have your house cleaned for free? Yep it is somewhere listed in resources available to breast cancer patients.

 

Friends and family want to do something for you? Let them. No one wants a martyr! If they cook, let them make a meal or two for you. If you enjoy their company ask them to meet you after a chemo session or during the chemo session.

From my experience, there really can be too many soaps and lotions and not enough prepared meals!

Remember not everyone rises to the occasion just because you have breast cancer. You may have to tell your family that you will not be hosting Thanksgiving this year. As the weeks and months pass with your treatments you may become weaker but it may become yesterday news to family and friends. You must remind them! I have seen irreconcilable feelings between family and friends during an illness and treatment.

 

Have you ever helped a friend or loved one during their breast cancer journey?  Have you ever wished you could have helped or helped more a friend or loved one during their breast cancer treatments?

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Cancer Happens (Sh**##$$!!t)
October 16, 2012

This is part three of my weekly blogs about breast cancer during the month of October. So what happens if you or your sister, mother, partner, bff or daughter is diagnosed with breast cancer? A lot happens at once.

 

After the diagnosis, this is the most confusing yet important time of the whole treatment period. It is so very important because you choose your treatments. For example, unlike a heart attack where physicians are working on you immediately and they implement the procedures to save your life, breast cancer has options and choices. Why? Because my breast cancer may not be the same as your breast cancer.

Breast cancer in many ways is a disease about statistics. You will be thank-full of that college statistic course. Don’t remember, didn’t happen? Maybe you or some one in your family is good with baseball statistics. Similar probabilities. Your team of oncologists want to up your success percentages by backing the protocol plan that has proven the most success. After surgery they may recommend chemotherapy or radiation or both. Here is where you need to ask a million questions before you commit to a plan. Questions like, what are the side effects of this regime versus another?  What are the late effects of these plans versus another? It is all about percentages.

This is a confusing time and there are no guarantees or return policies. If some one says they chose a certain protocol because they never want to worry about breast cancer again, they are either in denial or they got some bad info. Let me repeat; there are no guarantees in breast cancer, just statistics and probabilities!

 

Breast cancer happens and it stinks. What parallels in life can you make to this insidious disease?

Would You Be Prepared for Breast Cancer?
October 7, 2012

This is part two of my blogs about breast cancer for the month of October. This week I ask the ridiculous question about being prepared for a potentially life threatening or life altering diagnosis.  I say it is a ridiculous question because are we ever prepared for such bad news? How can anyone be prepared for breast cancer in ourselves or our Mother, sister, friend, partner or daughter?

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The two leading causes of breast cancer are: being a woman and too many birthdays. So if you are female and continue to live, there is a good chance you will get breast cancer in your lifetime. 1 out of 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. I am a 10-year survivor, but you can start counting with me and include yourself and go on to count 7 other women in your life.  Someone from this group will get breast cancer in her lifetime.

 

So how to be prepared? Statistically women over the age of 50 have a probable chance of a major health issue. This includes breast cancer of course but also high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. My recommendation is Health insurance.  You have insurance on your home, and your car, why would you not have the best coverage you can afford on yourself? If you get your health insurance from your employer why wouldn’t you spend a bit more when it is time to renew knowing that you are in the health issue lottery?

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Many women do not get a yearly mammogram because they think they cannot afford it and then when they are diagnosed with breast cancer it is more advanced. A breast cancer diagnosed in a more advanced stage means more treatments and not such a promising outcome.  There are charities and organizations like Susan Komen for the Cure that will help you if your income qualifies with the mammogram cost. There are insurance policies that can be bought for catastrophic events.  If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, especially in the later stages, your sky-high deductible in a catastrophic policy will be met and you will be glad you had it!

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Prescription drug coverage is an important factor in thinking about your health care costs. Drugs are expensive. Take it from me; you do not want to be thinking of the cost of a pill for nausea when chemotherapy has you hovering the commode! So the best preparedness is to make sure you do not have a cap on prescription drug coverage.

 

Would you be prepared? Have you reviewed your health insurance and prescription drug coverage recently?

 

 

Breast Cancer Awareness
October 2, 2012

 

This year I am a 10-year breast cancer survivor. I am hopefully looking forward to another 10 years of survivorship, but I want to look back too.

 

I was familiar with breast cancer before I was diagnosed. I had friends and family go through various types of the disease treatments. I had participated in the Race for the Cure several times. I was in pharmaceutical sales calling on physicians every working day. I was reading medical journals as part of my job. Yet when I was diagnosed I was shocked.

I was aware of breast cancer, but caught up in my own life, I was not truly aware. I may have firmly been in denial.  I thought, how could this happen to me?  I was 48. I was healthy, fit, ate right, exercised regularly and did not smoke or drink. I wasn’t on any medications and had no health issues. I regularly went to the doctor and got a yearly mammogram. This is the case of many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is what many women diagnosed with breast cancer think.

 

So with all the awareness that happens every October, how effective is it?

For many women who do not get a mammogram this awareness can truly be life saving. For women who do not do a routine self-breast examination the awareness helps. For celebrities to use their celebrity status and the power of the media to talk about breast cancer awareness is helpful. For those of us in denial, repetition is helpful.

The pink everywhere is more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago. More women are surviving longer than they were 10 years ago. Genetic testing, research and studies have grown exponentially in the last 10 years. All of this is positive. More women will survive breast cancer. More women will be double-digit survivors!

Has breast cancer awareness worked for you? Have you been caught in denial?