Sunday, March 3, 2013

Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day

When I found out I had Breast Cancer, I thought there was only one kind- Breast Cancer. I had no clue about HER 2 positives, or negatives, Ductal, In-sutu etc. Once we got into our "cancer college" phase, I quickly learned all the differences and learned about Triple Negative- that is the type I have. Today is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day, so I will educate you, as well. Here is a description from the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.

Understanding Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of many forms of breast cancer.

•Forms of breast cancer are generally diagnosed based on the presence or absence of three "receptors" known to fuel most breast cancer tumors: estrogen, progesterone and HER2-neu.

•A diagnosis of TNBC means that the tumor in question is estrogen-receptor negative, progesterone-receptor negative and Her2-negative. In other words, triple negative breast cancer tumors do not exhibit any of the three known receptors.

•Receptor- targeting therapies have fueled tremendous recent advances in the fight against breast cancer. Unfortunately,
there is no such targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer.

•TNBC tends to be more aggressive, more likely to recur, and more difficult to treat because there is no targeted treatment.

•TNBC disproportionately strikes younger women, women of African, Latina or Caribbean descent, and those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

•Approximately every half hour, another woman in the US is diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
 I have sucessfully finished 8 treatments of chemo, and because I have Triple Negative- that is all I have to do. Taking Estrogen or any other medications does not work for the Triple Negative patient, so we are hoping that chemo stomped out all the cancer boogers and the mastectomy got the tumor. I believe awareness and donations for research are the hope for a cure. I appreciate, and will fight for all the organizations out there supporting cures for this horrible disease! If Loreal for one month gives only 2% donations to Breast Cancer Awareness, then this chick will buy that lipstick. I get so sick of the Negative Nellies that have issues with October and the Pink Ribbon- if one damn Pink Ribbon reminds a woman to go get a mammogram, that ribbon did it's job! If one company gives one dime to research, then I praise that company! AFTER you have breast cancer, you come to me and tell me what that pink ribbon means to you. You will find that all these organinzations do mean ALOT- especially, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, Triple Negative, etc. As well as the small local organizations that do so much for the cancer patient- Loving Arms Cancer Outreach, Chemoflage, Blue Skies Family Retreats, and etc.
So here I am the Breast Cancer Survivor, beating my drum, supporting and writing about today..... 3/3/13- Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day! Research and Awareness is the key to the cure..... My Spotlight Story

Friday, March 1, 2013

Giving Survival a Voice and Cancer the finger!

This week I went to lunch with some really good friends and we had a discussion about me "sharing" my story with the world. Some people in the past have said that I have shared a little too much, these friends however; don't agree. One is a cancer survivor, and my post have given her the chance to know what was going on with me and on several occasions she was able to quickly answer a question I might have and help me out. One of the ladies was a caregiver for a cancer "victim" and she has a perspective from another side, plus she said she is going to the GYN this week, because of my reminders. The other ladies, have given me strength to stay focused on this journey and their words and friendships have kept me typing. While we were at lunch, the man sitting behind us noticed how important these friends are to me and how they give me strength. He sent us this note and paid our tab.I would not be surrounded by so many friends, if it hadn't been for me sharing! The other thing that happened because I shared, was EVERYDAY I had at least one person tell me they were praying for me- because I shared, I had more prayer warriors!

Plus, now I am writing because it has got back to my brother, that I am a BETTER writer than he is! Those that know my brother will think this is really funny.
ANYWAY, getting back to the story. There were two reasons for this blog today- First, my friends and family give me strength and if I can help just ONE woman and let her know that she can survive the fight against cancer, and the way to do that is don't be afraid to share her story. Sharing my story gave me friends I NEVER knew I had. Those friends got me through this battle. Don't go it alone! Also, if I can help just ONE woman, by reminding them to do self breast exams and get mammograms. Then, if you are unfortunate and get diagnosed, you will maybe catch the cancer early and have a better chance in the fight against this horrible disease.
So if I help just ONE woman, my voice was heard and my "purpose" has been reconized!

The other reason for this blog, is a man in Roseville, MN saw some of my past blogs and he wanted me to share his voice. His voice is was as caregiver for his wife, who won the fight against cancer. He wants to share what he went through and what he learned through their journey. His name is Cameron, his email and pictures of his beautiful family are below. I am flattered that my blog is a venue for his voice!

When My Wife Got Cancer

In November 2005, my life was irreversibly altered. I found out that Heather, my wife, had mesothelioma. It was also when I became a caregiver to her, which I was ill prepared to handle. Only three months before, she'd given birth to our only child, our daughter Lily. All we wanted was to celebrate the holiday season as a happy, healthy family, but it wouldn't be that simple. Instead, we began a long, difficult journey to beat cancer.

The full implications of the situation hit me before we were even out of the doctor's office. He strongly recommended that Heather visit a mesothelioma specialist to improve her odds of survival. My wife looked like she was stuck in a nightmare she couldn't wake up from. We decided to visit a specialist in Boston by the name of Dr. Sugarbaker, a leading expert in this form of cancer.

Our lives were completely miserable and chaotic for the next two months. Prior to her diagnosis, Heather and I worked full-time, but Heather left work to fight her cancer. To take care of her, I started working part-time. While not at work, I made travel plans, saw to my daughter's care and accompanied Heather to the doctor. I was terrified that, regardless of the effort we were putting in, Heather would still die and I'd be a broke widower raising a baby on my own. Many times, I would break down on the kitchen floor when nobody was around to see. Luckily, these feelings of misery and helplessness were few and far between.

We were blessed with a loving family ready to help out, and even strangers were offering their support. We're eternally grateful to these people and we couldn't have gotten through this trying time without them. One recommendation I have for others in a similar situation is to take whatever help is offered to you. It will make things much easier to deal with.  There is no room for pride in a battle with cancer.

Things returned to normal over the next few years after my wife won her battle with mesothelioma. If I learned anything from the experience, it's that my tenacity can be used to my benefit and how important it is to not take our time here for granted. This was part of what drove me to go back to college.  My time as a caregiver gave me the strength and courage to pursue this dream, and I began working towards my degree in IT two years after Heather’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

I graduated with honors and served as the speaker of my class. In one part of my speech, I stated that if I'd been asked where I saw myself within five years, it wouldn't have been on that stage. I spoke of the importance of maintaining hope and that you can achieve anything with some faith in yourself.  My wife’s strength and courage has been an inspiration to me, and now we hope that by sharing our story, we can help inspire others in their own battles with cancer today.

Cancer does give you strength and tenacity! So take that f'n cancer- we won!!!