Advancements in Breast Cancer
March 7, 2015


Yearly my oncologist’s group puts on an evening lecture recapping new and exciting news from the San Antonio breast cancer symposium. For the last few years my company has had a table there giving out brochures about our sleepwear. It truly is a wonderful event and I am lucky to be a part of an oncology practice willing to outreach to their patients this way. Did I mention there is food and it is free?

Before the lecture starts there is time to socialize, go around to all the tables and eat. I engage with the men and women who stop at my table. Not only am I a vendor but a survivor. These are my people!

After talking with many people I am reminded of some misconceptions. Here are a few myths that even women in the midst of treatments believe or their families believe.         

 Breast cancer is genetic

NOPE. Less than 10% of all breast cancers are genetic.

If you have a mastectomy you never have to worry about reoccurrence

NOPE. All it takes is one rogue gene no matter how much tissue is removed. Cancer happens.

Mammograms are expensive or not necessary

NOPE. Under health care reform, a routine mammogram screening is FREE and will pick up most abnormalities of women with out dense breasts. Imaging offices are open 6 days a week and often from 6 AM to 8PM. There is no excuse to not get a yearly mammogram if you are over 40. They save lives!

Here are a couple of advancement take-aways from the lecture:

                             Immunotherapy treatments are showing promise for breast cancer. It targets the immune system not the tumor. The tumor may take time to respond and often get worse before it gets better but it is another tool in the oncologist’s arsenal.

                             Adjuvant Hormone Therapy Duration is benefiting from the research on 5-10 years of patients taking tamoxifen and or aromatase inhibitors. Promising reoccurrence and mortality rates are seen up to 15 years after the patient has completed her program. The balance of toxicity versus benefit of extended therapy use is the tipping point.

So there you have it. Did you learn an interesting fact? Have you scheduled your mammogram?


The Komen Debacle and the Aftermath
May 22, 2012

When Planned Parenthood of NY applied to become a grantee from Komen for the Cure and was turned down, a PR s**t storm ensued. Nancy Brinker, founder of Komen did not immediately respond. What followed was passionate politics mixed with news bites and media hype.


Many women were fed up with Komen for their “Pink Washing” charitable giving and sponsorship. Many people were mad at Komen for being a nonprofit but paying their top employees big salaries.


I volunteer for Susan Komen for the Cure affiliate of Oregon and SW Washington. Our affiliate, which is 25 years old, has never had Planned Parenthood apply for any grant money. Not many affiliates in the hundreds found throughout the world have had Planned Parenthood apply for grant money. I know this because for my affiliate, I am a peer review member. I read the grant applications.


The first year I volunteered to read the grant applications I was in tears. I wanted every organization to get money. They were all worthy causes. The criteria in general are breast cancer outreach in education, awareness and mammograms to those women who are underserved or without financial means. The organizations have to be able to evaluate the effectiveness on their programs.  Although I still cry when reading the grant applications, now I am able to get through them without sobbing!


I attended the ‘Grant Award Celebration’ last week. The charities that received the grants were ecstatic.  Distributed was $1.3M in grants to address breast cancer screening and $600,000 for research.


To all the Komen bashers and Pink haters, I wish you could have been in that room with the charity leaders to feel the hope, care and support that the grant money will bring to their cause.  The Komen debacle is behind us and supporting Komen is helping to save women from death from breast cancer through awareness, education, mammograms, research and support.

Intereseting Studies in Breast Cancer
January 10, 2011

Aspirin, a baby dose, has showed some benefits to deterring reoccurrence of breast cancer. Studies were not looking at Aspirin but found the benefits in breast cancer patients as a common thread. Most women were taking the aspirin for heart benefits and it turns out another benefit is breast cancer re-occurrence. So do you go out and buy the Children’s Aspirin and start taking it immediately? Not so fast. Talk with your oncologist and see if it is right for you. Like any drug taken long term, there are side effects to consider.

The FDA has recommended that the drug Avastin should not be recommended for breast cancer patients. Side effects were too adverse to continue use was given as the reasons. The drug has not been revoked as yet for other cancers. Avastin’s maker, Genentech is appealing.

Weight lifting for women after breast cancer surgery has been in question for years. Study after study has come out to say that lymphedema is not a result of increased activity such as weight lifting. Good for you if you have been adding weights to your exercise regime, bad news if you have used your surgery as an excuse!

Breast Cancer Vaccine News
June 16, 2010

Add to Technorati FavoritesA vaccine that prevents Breast Cancer? Not cure but prevents? Cervical cancer vaccine works by stimulating the body to produce protective antibodies. These antibodies ‘remember’ the virus and will attack it whenever the body encounters it again. Breast cancer has not been determined to be a virus so what is the hype?

Researchers at the wonderful Cleveland Clinic have raised hope for a breast cancer vaccine. Mice that have a gene for breast cancer have been administered a vaccine and it worked! The vaccine destroys only the protein most common in breast cancer so it can not develop. These mice experiments are moving on to the FDA for approval for human clinical trials.

Research can take years. What is successful for mice may not succeed for humans, but still there is hope

I Spy with My Eyes A New Breast Cancer Trial in Real Time
April 12, 2010

I Spy2 Trail actually stands for ‘Investigation of Serial Studies to Predict Your Therapeutic Response with Imaging and Molecular Analysis’.  A newly diagnosed breast cancer patient will receive anti-cancer drugs before surgery to remove their tumors. The drugs will be custom tailored using the patient’s genetic and biological markers and the results will be continuously analyzed in real time, not at the end of the trail!

What this means is that this study will treat breast cancer patients on an individualized basis, matching the most effective drug to the right patient and analyzed the effectiveness as administered. WOW!

The study is proposed to cost $26million over 5 years which is bargain basement costs compared to $1billion and 12-15 years to get a drug approved. Dr. Steven Chui who is the director of breast cancer clinical research at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute says, “Compared to the slow pace of current drug development, the I-Spy 2 platform potentially can help us identify five times as many active breast cancer drugs for one fifth of the cost, in half the time, using half the volunteers.”  WOW AGAIN!

And where is the funding coming from you may ask? Lots of sources but one significant source is Safeway Inc. That’s right our grocery store through-out the US. Safeway Foundation recognized the major health threat to women that breast cancer presents and stepped up with a chunk of change to help deliver life-saving therapies to the thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

The OHSU Knight Center hopes to open the I-Spy 2 Trial this summer, 2010. For more information,

Breast Cancer Genetic Hope
July 6, 2009

A new drug for genetic breast cancer is showing promise. A small study in BRCA Genethe UK with the drug Olaparib, from pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is showing promise in shrinking and stopping tumor growth.

Olaparib works by blocking a protein found in cancer cells with patients who have a BRCA-related breast cancer. What is very exciting is that the drug causes the cancer cells to die yet leaves healthy cells alone. This means the debilitating side effects of traditional chemotherapy would be drastically reduced.

Jews with an Ashkenazi heritage have a high incidence of BRCA related breast cancer. Those with the BRCA gene mutation have a 60% higher chance of getting breast cancer in their life time than those that do not carry the mutation. They also have a 60% increased risk of ovarian cancer. Up to 50% of people with the gene mutation do not have a family history of breast cancer largely because the gene can be carried by men who do not manifest the disease.

 Andrew Tutt, the director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit at King’s College London, said preliminary results were “very promising”.The drug has the potential as an early stage preventative treatment.  Many women develop breast cancer not knowing they carry the gene. More studies are needed, but the general thought from the genetic breast cancer community is HOPE.

A Moving Experience
March 2, 2009

I attended this year’s Susan G Komen for the Cure®, Breast Cancer Issues conference in Portland, Oregon. This conference addressed risk reduction, treatment options and survivorship.


It was a great, well organized, and well attended conference. The 3 sessions had 5 lectures to chose, all very interesting, resulting in a difficult choice. Luckily the notes of all sessions were included in a cd.


Of special interest to me was the key note speaker, Dr. Kerri Winter-Stone. Kerri just completed the data on the study I was in on breast cancer and exercise. Not to minimize the results but the bottom line is we all have to move. Exercise, stretching and resistance training are needed daily for overall well being and for bone health. Chemotherapy and other drugs can deplete bone density and through exercise we can rebuild our bones. Exercise has to be an “Intentional” part of your day, every day.


Good to reinforce what we know to be true, diet and environmental tidbits from the lectures:

  • Eat fewer calories to loose weight.
  • Eat whole foods, extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, raw nuts, whole grains and 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Eliminate refined grains, flours sugars and processed meat.
  • Don’t heat foods in plastic or plastic wrap in the microwave.
  • Try making your own household cleaning products.
  • Plastics labeled #1, #2, and #5 are OK.
  • Avoid Plastics labeled #3, #4, #6, and #7.


Are your co-workers, friends or family members smart and looking for a career in health care with less emphasis on the care? Suggest RESEARCH as a career option. Medical protocols are changing rapidly. Long term side effects of cancer and other diseases are being researched. There is no A Moving Ribbonshortage of areas of questions for PhD’s to explore, only answers.


Attention Menopausal Women: HRT and Breast Cancer Link
January 13, 2009

New analysis from this 5 year old study is making news according to the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.


 Taking HRT, estrogen and progesterone pills, increases the chance of breast cancer.


 The good news of the analysis is that if you stop taking HRT, your chance for breast cancer decreases!

So like life, no guarantees, and the final choice is yours. Only you know how your menopausal symptoms are affecting your life. Know the risk, understand the treatment and make your own informed decision.


To take a proactive stand, take a look at the army of women. www.armyofwomen.orgmatisse-woman-with-a-hat.

Dr. Susan Love research foundation and Avon enlist ALL women, healthy women too, willing to become research participants, to help find causes of breast cancer.

Take Action for Breast Cancer
October 7, 2008

October is breast cancer awareness month. There are many sites to look at that support breast cancer. I am suggesting the following the Three:


1. Have you heard of the Army of Women? Sign up to join the force that helps find a cure for breast cancer.


2. How about Passionately Pink for the Cure? Become a “Passionista”,

October 31, 2008 is the date here at Haralee.Com, to wear the pink.


3. I vote for the cure. Tell our political leaders that “you expect them to make breast cancer a national priority.”



There is discussion among women, and bloggers, about companies that donate a percentage of their sales to breast cancer research. The discussion varies from feeling duped by the claim that the fine print says only .5% of sales for a two week period from one company to elation by the fine print saying a cap of $250,000.00 is allowed from another company. My opinion is any dollars donated to breast cancer research are dollars previously not contributed. Large amounts or small they all add up. As a consumer, if the choice is between two products and one of the companies donate to breast cancer research that is the company I would choose.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon

A Pee-spective of Your Health
September 16, 2008

The poor step child to blood and tissue for diagnosis, urine, may be on a come back in medical diagnosis. No less than the Harvard School of Public Health has written about a study published in a page turner issue of Cancer Epidemiology, titled Biomarkers and Prevention, May 2008.



Let me give you the snapshot of snapshots of the study:

Some day in the hopefully not so distant future, doctors will be able to use a urine test to detect breast cancer.


If you did not hear the Angel Choir you may not be in the Cancer Community or in the medical health fields.

NO invasive tests, multiple blood draws, or surgeries for tissue samples, just Pee!


My company, donates to breast cancer research, and hopefully this kind of research will benefit from our donations. Menopausal women, busy women, all women, we usually don’t have a problem supplying a specimen. If that sample takes the place of other tests, I hear a collective “Wow”!



Urine testing has come a long way. This is an exciting prospect of where it may go. Not only diagnosis, but genetic predispositions may be around the next corner. Giving a urine sample, or peeing on a stick is the least stressful, least invasive, harmless procedure in the arsenal of diagnosing a disease. Indeed, urine may be getting the long sought respect it warrants!