The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘advocate’ as a verb that means “to support or argue for”. ‘Self-advocacy is defined as “the action of representing oneself or one's views or interests”. While the word, advocate might make us think of protests or political signs, that is not always the case. As someone with a breast cancer diagnosis, self-advocacy and being an advocate simply means being a part of your health care team. It means knowing yourself and speaking up for yourself to make sure that your cancer care needs are met. Self-advocacy is part of participatory medicine where “patients are actively working alongside their physicians to choose the best course of cancer treatment.”
Before I was diagnosed, I rarely thought about breast cancer. When I did it was once a year, usually in June, as I was planning the line-up of pink-ribbon beauty products I wanted to feature in the upcoming October issue of FASHION, Salon, 29Secrets or whatever other magazine I was working for at the time. Other than that, it just wasn’t on my radar. No disease was really. My inner circle was healthy, well, that is if you didn’t count my mom’s dad dying of liver sclerosis from alcoholism when I was around five or my paternal grandmother passing from Alzheimer’s when I was in my early thirties.
Research on breast cancer, and more specifically, metastatic breast cancer (mBC), is critical in helping us better understand this disease. While widespread knowledge of mBC is still limited, there are studies that look specifically at the detection, prognosis and treatment of this type of breast cancer. Similarly, clinical trials on metastatic breast cancer are crucial in helping researchers improve the current standard of care. Below are some of the latest research and some currently recruiting clinical trials on metastatic breast cancer.
Sugar, in all its stark white, sparkling glory is an enormously popular, widely misunderstood, and a hotly debated topic in the breast cancer world. Rarely a week passes when I don’t hear or read “Sugar feeds breast cancer”, proclaimed with absolute certainty. People accept this declaration as truth, yet I ask; does it really?
I have been struggling with my body image these last 8 weeks. The funny thing is that it’s not with the two scars I have running across my chest. I have actually adapted well to that change, even with my right scar being lumpy and misshapen. What I have been struggling with is my weight gain thanks to Tamoxifen. Without estrogen, my mid-section is taking on the appearance of a barrel. A barrel made of pudding, with an oatmeal crust! Having always been fit and healthy, I am finding myself disturbed by this body morphing of mine.
I worked during my entire breast cancer treatment. I didn’t want to. I had to. I live alone. I don’t have a husband or boyfriend. I pay my bills on time and by myself. Yes, it was a choice, but it was a horrible one.
Want to meet me for a drink? Grab a glass of wine and discuss the day and life in general? In my pre-breast cancer days, I loved my red wine. Whether catching up with a friend or sharing a meal with my husband, a glass (or two) of a robust red was de rigueur. Occasionally I’d sip dry Chardonnay, but those peppery, heavy Zin’s stole my heart. On two separate trips to Europe, wine figured prominently in the itinerary. Visiting Burgundy, France and the Tuscan region of Italy, how could it not? One glorious afternoon in Italy, my husband and I toured an obscure winery. We tasted a variety of wines with a group of folks we’d met at a cooking class earlier that day. Someone suggested this hidden gem, and we eagerly tagged along. We all knew each other only from the few hours we’d cooked pasta together. It’s a memory I’ll treasure forever. In this precious life there are so many simple pleasures to enjoy. A glass of really good wine is one.
When most people picture someone with breast cancer, they often think about women; many are shocked to find out that men can also get breast cancer. While male breast cancer represents less than 1% of all breast cancer cases, it is still a disease that men should be aware of. September is Men’s Cancer Awareness Month and for today’s blog we will be discussing male breast cancer to bring awareness to this disease.
It’s funny how breast cancer changed the way I feel about myself and my life. Not in a ha-ha sense, although trust me, I would like to laugh more. And not in a questioning kind of way either, although I did torture myself during the first couple of weeks after my diagnosis, looking for the answer to explain why I had breast cancer. As far as I was concerned it was because I never wore sunscreen as a kid; I drank and smoked my way through my twenties; worked 80-hour, ladder-climbing work weeks in my thirties and went through a heartbreaking divorce that left me feeling like road kill in my forties. Except that it wasn’t.
Planning a funeral, especially if it’s your own, might be one of the most painful and challenging tasks that any of us will have to complete. The very idea can be overwhelming, anxiety causing and heartbreaking to even think about. That being said, so many people share that while they dreaded the idea of having to plan their own funeral, they often experienced a tremendous sense of peace and the feeling of having a huge weight lifted off their shoulders after completing this process. Since the period after the death of a loved one is incredibly distressing to families, pre-planning a funeral can relieve them of some of the stress and can also give you peace of mind that your wishes are being carried out.