Advancements in Breast Cancer
March 7, 2015

 advancements3

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?

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The Sisterhood of Breast Cancer
October 15, 2014

There exists a sisterhood of women who have survived breast cancer. Those of us in this group know many members who have not survived. Recently I was giving a breast cancer awareness talk at a community college. One youngish woman asked in all sincerity, “But women don’t really die any longer from breast cancer so shouldn’t all this money and education be spent on more life threatening diseases?”

Luckily I was not the only person giving the presentation and my partner found her words faster to reply. This was a question in my 8 years of breast cancer outreach I never before had heard.

My speaking partner is a 32-year breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at age 30 after giving birth to her second child. 32 years ago breast cancer treatments were just short of barbaric and she told her story and how research and treatments have come a long way from slash, cut, and poison but yet still some women die. Actually younger women have a higher mortality rate, however breast cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. Some women with metastasized breast cancer can live 5-15 years. But not all breast cancers are alike.

I told the story of a friend of mine who was diagnosed 5 years after my diagnosis. Her cancer stage was actually better than mine but it was a different kind of cancer. She did everything according to protocol set by her oncologists. After her 5-year mark it was discovered her cancer had metastasized and with-in 5 months she was dead.

In the last 5 years I have lost 3 friends to breast cancer. 2 more have been diagnosed with the disease, and 2 more have had a reoccurrence. It is a sisterhood that binds us together, one we never wanted to join. The fatality rate has been reduced through educational and social outreach, and medical advances resulting in early detection but it is still a life threatening disease with no cure!

Do you know some one in the sisterhood?

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?

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Could You Become a Lingerie Model?
September 9, 2012

Who are our Fantastic Models?

There are friends and then there are friends willing to model sleepwear for your company! I am very fortunate to have friends brave enough to put on pajamas and nightgowns for my photo shoots.  The last big shoot we had Mothers and Daughters, and Sisters modeling. I use the photos on the web site, in print ads, emails, postcards and brochures. Truly hundreds of thousands of people have seen my friends!Image

Not only are these beautiful women friends but they have a close association to cancer. Our objective is to show that you can be a cancer survivor and still look fantastic. The chemistry is visible in our Mother Daughter photos. We like to have fun with the photo shoot and our photographer is one of those genuinely sweet people who can put everyone at ease while getting the best possible shot!Image

It is an organizational achievement to get models and photographer to one day and time in the lives of all these very busy women. Some of our former models have been vacationing or busy when we are having a shoot so I have to solicit new talent! Our goal is to use real women, not professional models so our customers can see how our products look on someone like themselves.Image

On the walls of my office I have pictures of every photo shoot. We are starting our 8th year and I have to say my models have not aged a bit. Of course now they are all more experienced they know how to stand, what is their best side and what looks best on their body type and for their coloring.Image

Could you ever be as brave as my friends to model nighties? Would you dare to become a model? Are you ready to add fashion or lingerie model to your resume?