Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Marianna Boyce

Breast Cancer Awareness is highlighted in October to bring attention to one of the most diagnosed cancers in women. One of every eight women is diagnosed in the United States alone. Chances are, it’s likely you know someone who has fought or is currently fighting this vicious disease. Men can also develop breast cancer, but their odds are much lower. If you or a loved one have been affected, I’m sure your awareness extends well beyond the devoted month of October every year.

The exact cause of breast cancer isn’t known, but one thing is clear: this global issue is non-discriminatory.

ribbon.jpgAccording to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, approximately 41,760 women, and 500 men will die each year in the United States alone; however, this same website reports that death rates have also steadily declined since 1990. Contributing factors to this trend are increased awareness, early detection, better screening, and improving treatment options.

We should be aware of risk factors, along with small steps we can take in order to fight against breast cancer. Some risk factors can be avoided, such as alcohol intake, but other factors like family history cannot be. A monthly self-exam is a step in the right direction to detect issues early.

According to the American Cancer Society, current guidelines for breast cancer screening is as follows:

  • Women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
  • Women ages 45-54 should have a mammogram yearly.
  • Women 55 and older should have a mammogram every two years, or continue yearly screening if they wish.
  • Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live ten years or longer.

Every woman is unique. You should know how your breasts normally look and feel. Remember that your monthly self-exam is the most powerful tool in early detection. If you feel a lump, or something that doesn’t feel normal, make an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam to learn the proper way a self-exam should be performed.

Life is busy—I get it, but something as simple as a buddy system to help remind one another to self-examine each month could potentially save a friend, loved one, or even your own life. Set a recurring reminder on your phone for a time you can take a moment and devote it to your health.

When’s the last time you did your breast exam? Don’t wait ladies. Do it today.

Pink Power

By Eliza Boulware

Colors can have powerful meanings. I never thought just how powerful pink would be. As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is the color to represent breast cancer. I am a five-year survivor and my pink represents the power to fight against a disease that came to kill me.pink power photo

Cancer starts to form without any warnings or signs. It can grow slow or rapidly. It can start one place and then spread. Cancer is sneaky, so you must be aware of what can cause cancer, what treatments are available as well as how to fight. You must be aware the food you eat, how much sugar you intake and your weight. It is very important to know your body and to do self-examinations monthly. Early detection really does save lives, therefore the earlier you find it, the better chance you have of beating it. I found my tumor myself. I was diagnosed with stage 2 aggressive cancer. It had not spread so I was able to have surgery to have the tumor removed and then started treatment.

Now pink was not just a color any more but it now represents what I was fighting. There is power behind the color pink. It just not a color in October but an awareness to a disease and the people who had the power to fight it. It takes power to go outside with a bald head when once you had long beautiful hair. It takes power to not be ashamed when your body changes from losing weight or hands and feet turn black. Each person goes through a different experience but what is the same is the power within to fight cancer. So survivors, rock your pink. Family and friends wear pink not just to say breast cancer exists but as a testimony that we fight for a cure and honor the survivors. That pink is powerful not because breast cancer is powerful but because those who fought one round at a time had enough faith and power not to give up.

I gained power in sharing my story every chance I get. I cannot recall the author but it was a small book that said “Don’t waste your cancer”. I did not read the book but the title was enough for me. I had said from the beginning that God could heal me but if He allowed it to remain then what did He want me to do? Well, I was not going to waste it. I started a support group with the help of other survivors. I do all I can to help others as well as do a yearly celebration for any cancer survivors. I have my pink cape because I have pink power. The power lies within the person and it’s greater than the cancer. Don’t just wear pink, get the facts!

The Phone Call That Changed My Life

By Janet Prince

In 2003, Gary and I had it all.  A home on the Avenues in Cayce and the land in West Columbia where we were making plans to build our “forever” home, and our two precious daughters, Ashlan (age 5) and Genna, who was only four months old.  That’s when I received the phone call that changed my life forever.

I was 39 years old when we had Genna and Ashlan was in 5K.  I knew I was extremely tired but attributed that to those two factors plus keeping up with the normal household duties.  But that tiredness was not caused by my normal, happy life, but from a lump found in my right breast.  The night I found the lump I didn’t give it much thought because my Mother had a history of benign fibroid tumors over the years, but I did call my doctor’s office the next morning, April 16, 2003.  They worked me in and my doctor confirmed it was a lump so, he sent me and Gary right away for a mammogram which led to a core needle biopsy.  Thankfully they had had a cancellation that morning and could do the biopsy right then.  The doctor told me they would have the results the next day and someone would call me around 4:00 p.m.

The next day, I took Ashlan to kindergarten and Genna and I went out to do some shopping.  While we were out I saw the poem “What Cancer Cannot Do” in one of the stores.  I thought is this a sign?  No…it couldn’t be.  So, I went on about my day and got home to get Genna down for a nap before going to pick up Ashlan.  They had said the phone call would not come until 4:00 p.m. so I knew Gary would be home by then and I didn’t need to worry because he is my rock.

At 2:00 p.m., I was rocking Genna and the phone rang.  I thought, it can’t be them calling right now…Gary’s not home yet.  But it was the nurse navigator calling to give me the results of my core needle biopsy.  She told me who she was, and I asked if she could hold on for just a minute, so I could put my baby down.  Then I returned to the phone and she proceeded to tell me that I had Ductal Carcinoma.  Not being familiar with cancer diagnosis terms, I asked her what that was.  She said, “Mrs. Prince, you have breast cancer.  We are scheduling you an appointment with an oncologist and a surgeon”.  I asked her to wait a minute, so I could get a piece of paper to write down exactly what she was telling me.  My hands were shaking, and I kept telling myself to just keep breathing.  I took everything down and thanked her for calling me.

So, there it was….I had just been told I had breast cancer.  I went and picked Genna up out of her crib and walked across the street to my neighbor, Paula Taylor, who was and still is a nurse at Lexington Medical Center.  I knocked on her door and with tears streaming down my face I handed Paula my baby girl and went home to call Gary and my Mama.  The whole time thinking, I wasn’t supposed to be alone when this call came in…they weren’t supposed to call me until 4:00!  But they did and now I had to call Gary.

Everything from calling Gary and my Mother, to my best friend, is still a blur.  I just know they were there in a flash to hold me up and to see me through the biggest fight of my and for my life.

My cancer was Stage 2, Triple Negative and very aggressive.  I had a lumpectomy and then started my eight rounds of chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation.  I was told that before my second chemo my hair would be gone.  Instead of letting it fall out a little at a time with a baby in the house, I let Ashlan pretend to be a beautician and she cut my hair.  Then when she finished, Gary said “you are going to want me to go ahead and shave it for sure now”.  So, he did, and I cried.  Not that my hair was that awesome, but it was a part of me and it took me a long time before I would look at myself in the mirror.  Thankfully, I had gone to Becky’s Place and purchased a wig and a hat because I didn’t want anyone to see me without my hair.  I was very self-conscious and looking back on it I didn’t need to be because my family loved me just as much without my hair as they did with my hair.

At my first treatment, I met a woman who was a retired teacher from Airport High School.  I don’t remember her name, but I remember what she said to me that day.  She could tell I was scared and asked me if this was my first treatment and I said yes and that I was terrified even though I had my family with me.  One of the drugs they used is red and is sometimes called the “red devil”.  But she told me to look at it as though it were the blood of Jesus going through my veins washing the cancer away.  I have always remembered that and have shared it with others as they are beginning their cancer journey.

Looking back over the past 15 years and too many surgeries to count, I’m still here and I’m still a survivor.  There are many things that cancer can do to you but there are many more things that it can’t do…. cancer has made me a stronger woman and a person that appreciates even the smallest things in life.  My goal as I began my cancer journey was to see me girls grown…today, my Ashlan is 21 and has already received her B.A. in Psychology and is now working on her master’s and is getting married in just three short months. My baby, Genna, is thriving and enjoying life like every teenager.  I truly believe Genna is my angel sent from God.  I believe the pregnancy hormones accelerated the cancer growth and had I not gotten pregnant with Genna it could have been in my body growing and I may not have found it until it was truly too late.

I encourage you to do your monthly breast exams.  If you feel anything, call your doctor right away.  You can never be too cautious with your life.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month….so wear your pink to remind yourself to always take care of you!

Until next time…..

Janet

Baby

Me with Genna (top) and me with my family on my last day of chemo!

Facing Your Giant

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Eliza:

By Eliza Boulware

I am Eliza Boulware, a five year breast cancer survivor. I can recall during a spiritual fast God spoke to do a self-examination. My first thought was checking my spiritual walk but I heard it again, so this time I did a self breast exam. I felt a lump in my left breast.

From there I went to the doctor and completed all tests needed and it was confirmed I had stage 2 aggressive breast cancer. My world was turned upside down. I became afraid that I would die because I had never been sick. After losing both of my parents, I had spoken that when I find any health problems, I did not want to suffer long.  Now I am looking at my children and my granddaughter and saying, “not now Lord!”

I held it together at first. I allowed one tear drop when I was first told I had breast cancer but the flood gates opened when I sat with the counselor who went over the financial cost. I cried so hard because as a single low-income woman, how can I afford this and take care of my children?

As a minister of God, I had believed I was healed and now I was angry at God. I began to pray and I had to face that this was a cross I had to bear. I had to face this giant and believe I have the victory.  Faith no longer was just a word but it became a true action word for me. I faced the giant called CANCER and defeated it. I went through 12 rounds total chemo treatments and 33 rounds of radiation. I lost my hair and did not hide it. My fingers and feet turned black. I told my story every chance I got. I continued to go to work, host my yearly conference and continued to preach God’s word. I faced my giant with my faith and family support.

I encourage everyone to face your giant. At first, it looks bigger than you can handle, but with God CANCER became cancer.  Facing your giant with truth and education helps you know how to defeat your giant. Never give up – you have the victory.

Shop and Support Breast Cancer Awareness

By: Staci Rutherford

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, there are many designers and retailers that are helping to educate the masses while giving back to causes devoted to awareness, education and research in the fight against breast cancer.  Show your support during the month of October by shopping pink!  Check out some of my fabulous finds that also make great gifts:

Essie Breast Cancer Color Collection

A portion of the proceeds from the essie breast cancer awareness collection will be donated to “Living Beyond Breast Cancer,” to empower all women affected by breast cancer to live as long as possible with the best quality of life.  Price: $8.00 at Macy’s.

Giuliana Rancic for LOFT Statement Necklace

Fashionista and breast cancer survivor Giuliana Rancic designed this gorgeous rhinestone-studded necklace that represents women coming together.  Twenty-five percent of full-price purchases of the necklace will go directly to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®.  Price: $69.50 at LOFT.

Coach BCA Multi Mix Key Ring

Coach’s limited edition jeweled key ring, a collection of luxuriously enameled signature charms suspended from a delicate silver-plated chain. During the month of October, Coach will donate 20% of this purchase to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Price: $58.00 at Coach.

Tory Burch Limited-Edition Pink Hardshell Phone Case

Tory Burch partnered with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® to create this exclusive hardshell iPhone 4/4S case, in a graphic pink needlepoint print. Price: $48.00 at ToryBurch.com.

BCRF iPad Sleeve – Canvas Pop-Up Pink

Designed to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts to find a cure, this cute, canvas iPad sleeve is inscribed with an inspiring message.  It’s made of cotton canvas/leather and fits iPad 2 models. $15 from sale of each iPad cover benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Price: $35.00 at Bloomingdales.com.

Awake “Live Love Hope” Tee

From October 1st through October 31st, 10% of the net sales from the Awake tee will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®. Price: $24.00 at Macy’s.

Belk Breast Cancer Awareness collection

Belk has partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and has pledged a $3 million donation minimum over 3 years for the fight against breast cancer.  Visit your local Belk to shop the collection of apparel, accessories, home and beauty items.

For the second year in a row, Lexington Medical Center is entering the international Pink Glove Dance video contest sponsored by Medline Industries, Inc.  The project honors cancer survivors and raises awareness about breast cancer. To view and vote for Lexington Medical Center’s video, go to pinkglovedance.com.