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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sorry!

Holidays were busy but great.  And I am reviewing grant applications again for the DoD Breast Cancer Research Funding.  That and all the other end of the year projects have had me running nonstop!  I will update more later.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taking time for the important things

Tis the season for stress and craziness.  I am certainly not immune to this but this year has come with additional challenges.  Between the economy, medical bills, having to get a new furnace etc I have been less than "Merry" this Christmas season.  But last night I had a moment of clairity.

My sister is visiting from Arizona with her kids.  Last night we got together at my grandma's to do a clothing exchange and decide what we are giving away etc.  None of us can afford to buy anything new right now so getting some of my mom's dress slacks or one of my sister's tops that she doesn't wear anymore is always a joy.  We always do this at grandma's house as it is one of the 99 year old's favorite activities.  For several hours last night my mom, my sister, my grandma and I went through tons of clothes while my sister's two youngest and my youngest ran around and played.  Girls night out on a Friday night in the retirement neighborhood!  LOL!

On the short drive home it struck me that given grandma's slowing down and my sister living so far away this was one of the last times we would all be together and have four generations laughing in the same room.  All of a sudden all my issues going on in my life melted away for a few minutes and I gave thanks that I had that time with all of them last night.  I know things are not going to get better today and might even get worse before they get better but last night with girls was a much needed and much appreciated reality check on what matters in life!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The cost of health care.

I have been pretty quiet during all the health care debates.  I will say that I agree with parts and disagree with others.  Health care reform is such a huge undertaking that it is difficult to agree with every area of it.  Also the new guidelines about mammograms says the under 50 group has too many unnecessary procedures and medical bills. 

Many of you know that in October I had to undergo more testing to make sure a new lump was just fatty tissuse and not a new tumor.  I also had to undergo testing with my gyno to make sure the tamoxifen wasn't causing other cancers to form.  So over the course of 2-3 months I had bills to my oncologist, the labs, the gyno, the breast cancer center/hospital, the radiologist (x2) and the pathologist (x2).  Now the cost of all this is still much cheaper than going through treatment again but it is still overwhelming.  The kicker for me is that we have insurance.  But I still have to cover the deductible and the co-pays etc.  Plus my medication costs currently just doubled and my premiums are going up. 

I know people who have no insurance and didn't have to pay a dime for their treatment or the surgeries, follow-ups or even other non cancer related meds while going through treatment.  So finianically it has had little to no impact on their lives.  But those of us who have insurance are now finding ourselves struggling.  The economy does not help but the medical providers want their money from those of us who they think have it!  We don't have it.  At least not all of it to all of them at the same time!  I know of women with insurance who are having to sell off everything they can and have fundraisers to help pay of the medicals because the providers want it now.

Christmas will be very slim at the Poole house because we need to make the payments on the medicals and everything else is getting so spendy.  Now I know my kids would much rather have me healthy and with them at Christmas than have presents but how can I not feel bad that we are stuggling in part due to my medicals...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How many does it take?

Since the new guidelines were released I have met or at least heard of three women in their 30s and 40s who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Three women in basically a week's time.  That is already too many and I fear the numbers are only going to grow, including the morality rate since some of these women most likely would not have even gone in for a mammogram yet due to the new guidelines.  Please be aware of your body and your family history but also know that I had no symptoms to give me a warning and even with a family history I was still younger than the rest of family at the time of diagnosis and we do not carry the breast cancer gene.

We need better screening, more awareness and most importantly a cure!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Channel 6 interview

Channel 6 wanted to know my response to the new screening guidelines and what I am telling young women about them.  They didn't use a lot of the interview because they had others in the piece but I agree with the docs.  Just keep doing what you are doing and be aware!

Channel 6 interview  

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New guidelines

I am in shock over the new breast cancer screening guidelines.  I know mammograms are not 100% accurate but come up with something better instead of throwing out all the screening we have!  I have so much more to say about this but I am still calming down and gathering my thoughts after a crazy day of talking with media, American Cancer Society connections, contacts at breast screening facilities etc.  I am mentally wiped out right now!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Business at it's Best

This week I did a short interview for a local TV show.  Here is the link and my interview for Next Generation Leader starts about 10:10 into the show.

Business at its Best
A weekly 1/2 hour show dedicated to showing and growing our local business economy providing insight and interviews of local businesses in the area. Saturdays at 12:30 on FOX 12.

http://www.fox12idaho.com/global/story.asp?s=10403046

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paying the price

I have been taking on too much lately.  Between that, stressing about test results, celebrating holidays and cancerversaries, and several other stressors my workouts have decreased and my weight increased.  Add in the darker days etc and I am losing my umph quickly.  Time to refocus before the holidays are in full swing.

Today I have so much to do around the house but it is so nice out that I am thinking the laundry can wait while I take some me time to go hike the foothills.  The laundry etc will always be there but soon the hills will be covered with snow and I won't get out there.

So get out there an doing something today to help your physical, mental and emotional health.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cancerversary

Today is my three year cancerversary.  On this day three years ago my life and body were forever changed.  I became a survivor and a warrior.  I had started the battle to rid the cancer from my body.  On this day I underwent the first surgery of my life and the first of many throughout this journey.  I said goodbye to my left breast and nervously awaited the outcome of the lymph node biopsies.  I remember being unable to open my eyes but hearing my husband and mother telling me that the nodes were clean and the cancer hadn't spread.  I can recall being in pain and being doped up, but being happy the nodes were clean and the lump on the right breast was also benign.  I remember thinking this is just the beginning of a long journey that will impact the rest of my life and the lives of those around me.

Three years later I am thrilled to say that I am still cancer free.  But I am not the same person I was before November 1, 2006.  I am mentally, emotionally and physically stronger than I have ever been.  This journey was certainly not done alone.  I am continually thankful for my wonderful family and friends who continue to be there for me in any way that I need.  Bring on another 3+ years!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lance Armstrong on Healthcare and Cancer

Cancer won't wait By Lance Armstrong, Special to CNN


October 26, 2009 10:37 a.m. EDT

Editor's note: Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, is a cancer survivor and founder of the LIVESTRONG movement, whose goal is to support survivors throughout the world and make cancer a global priority.

(CNN) -- On October 2, 1996, I was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer. Like many 25-year-olds, I was fearless, ready to conquer the world and without health insurance.

I was lucky. One of my sponsors, Oakley, stood up for me and threatened to take all their business elsewhere if their insurance carrier refused to cover me. Without their help, I might not be alive today. Or I might be completely broke, still trying to dig my way out of a massive pile of medical bills.

That kind of luck shouldn't have anything to do with whether the 1.5 million people in the United States who will be diagnosed with cancer this year go broke trying to get the treatment they need to survive.

Cancer is projected to become the world's leading cause of death next year. More than 12 million Americans alone are living with cancer today and, without greater progress in detection, prevention and treatment, that number could triple by 2030.

If the cancer epidemic continues to grow as predicted, it will have a devastating effect on our economy. A new Economist Intelligence Unit study commissioned by the Lance Armstrong Foundation pegs the global economic impact of the disease at more than $300 billion in 2009 alone.

In coming years, our nation will be forced to spend ever-increasing amounts of money on treatment and on public assistance to patients. Aging populations are already straining public health costs in the United States, so the rise in cancer means an increasing percentage of our national budget will be devoted to health care.

That's the big picture. The disease also has a devastating personal economic impact. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cancer survivors in the United States were 37 percent more likely to be unemployed than those who have not been afflicted by the disease. This is a health and economic crisis on par with the worldwide recession.

The economic downturn that began in 2007 is only now showing signs of easing. Our government has made history-setting stimulus efforts to stabilize our financial systems. It would be easy to simply say, "Sorry ... we have to wait to fight cancer."

The problem is cancer won't wait.

Put plainly, the impact of diseases like cancer won't subside with the recovery of economic markets. The threat they bring grows, minute by minute. Increasing investment now to combat that threat, even in the midst of a recession, will pay substantial dividends in the decades to come by driving down the costs of treatment and public assistance.

We must advocate for effective, high-quality and comprehensive health services. The issues are complex and deserve the most constructive debate leading to progress; not piecemeal changes, but thoroughly comprehensive reform.

To this day, my family and I remain on Oakley's insurance plan. We are the lucky ones. We can't allow luck to determine the fate of Americans' health.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lance Armstrong.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boise Young Professional

I am a member of a local networking group called Boise Young Professionals.  Recently I was nominated for Boise Young Professional of the Year and the dinner was two nights ago.  I was very surprised to be nominated for the award as I don't see the things I do as having a big impact on our community but the person who submitted my name saw it quite differently.

I didn't win the award but I got so much more out of the evening.  First, we sat next to a wonderful couple and in talking with them I discovered that the wife has been trying to get her 42 year old friend to go get a mammogram with her.  We talked about my story and I gave her ideas on how to encourage her friend to make this a priority.  She looked at me and said "There is a reason we were to sit next to each other tonight." (Award #1)

Second, after the award was handed out to a wonderful woman named Michelle Ross, a woman came over to my table asking for me.  She said her husband was the chair of the committee that reviewed the nominations.  She went on to say she wasn't supposed to read the essays that were submitted but he had left mine up on his computer and she read it.  She said she was in awe of all I have been through and all I do.  She said she had to come over and tell me just how amazing she thought I was. (Award #2)

I had an idea of who nominated me for the award but I wasn't sure.  After the ceremony I ran into the program secretary and asked her to confirm it for me.  I then went over to Ben to thank him.  Ben is the Chamber's director for BYP.  While they were announcing the nominees he noted during mine that he was wearing his pink tie for Breast Cancer Awareness month, in rememberance of his mother in law and for me.  What a great guy!  When I thanked him for submitting my name for the award he told me I was exactly what the award represented.  WOW!  To have the director of the group nominate me and tell me that was a huge reward for me.  But as I told him - I do what I do with the YMCA, speaking etc for others not for the money or the recognition.  (Award #3)

So although it is always nice to receive a "trophy" for what we do, Friday night I was rewarded so much more than that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Biopsy results

I ended up having to have the "cysts" on the left side of my chest biopsied.  Since Felice works at the St. Al's breast care center I asked her to be in the room with me.  That helped so much because she kept me laughing etc.  I had gone in expecting to drain the cysts so I was a bit taken a back when the doc said she just wanted to go ahead and biopsy them.  They told me to expect the results around 3:00 the next day.

At 9:30 the next morning Felice called me saying I needed to call the doc because she has my results already.  This sent fear through me.  Felice said the doc couldn't tell her the results but did smile at Felice basically letting her know it was okay.  I called Dr. Koffman right away.  She said it was just fatty nercosis - basically dead cells that have hardened up since they have lost their blood supply.  Apparenlty they appear very similar to tumors on ultrasounds so you can never be too careful.  WHEW!!!

The next day I left for Arizona with my mom to visit my sister and we celebrated my clean results.  More on that trip on another post.  I didn't realize the stress these tests have put on me.  I seemed to be dealing with them okay but afterward I realized I was eating more than normal and not healthy stuff and I had not been working out much.  I can't allow these tests to throw me off track because I know they are going to keep coming up throughout the rest of my life.  As long as they stay clean I know I can handle it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Run for Your Hills

Here is a picture of my artful bra.  I need to get some better ones but this will give you the idea.  It is currently up in the window of See Jane Run in downtown Boise.  The "clouds" say Hope and Dream.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my dear friend Felice!  Which is appropriate since she has been by my side through the tests, surgeries, chemo etc.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Update on tests

Last Friday I had my follow-up ultrasound. One of the cysts is continuing to grow so I have to have them drain and test the fluid to make sure it is benign. Sigh... It is next to my implant so going in with a needle is going to be a slow and tricky process.

Today I had my other biopsy to make sure I am not developing other "girl" problems or uterine cancer related to taking Tamoxifen. Sigh... It will be a week before I get those results.

All this along with my "artful bra project", LiveSTRONG, soccer etc has me feeling pretty run down. And I am going to be traveling a lot for work over the next few weeks. The bra is done now and I will post pictures soon. Right now I need to try to get some rest and recharge. I need energy, a really good workout or two and, of course, I need to get through these tests and know that everything is okay.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Test results and everything else

Boy the back to school and soccer rush has me going a million different directions!

My birthday was a week ago and even though it was mellow I welcomed the fact that I am 38. Forty is just around the corner and I am really okay with that. Of course I might make that my 39 birthday for the second time like my 99 year old grandma has done for 60 years!!! It is only a number and it will not determine how I feel.

I also had my lab tests this week and a meeting with my oncologist. Everything looks great but I still have to have a follow-up ultrasound on those little cysts next week. And now I have to have a biopsy at the gyno to make sure the Tamoxifen isn't causing any cancer cells in my uterus etc. Don't you just love being a girl!?! Better to be proactive though and make sure nothing abnormal is brewing anywhere.

So much more to post about but it will have to wait. I hope people are still reading as I haven't had many comments but I think you are still out there!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to school

The kids are in bed trying to fall asleep for the first day of school tomorrow. It will be a bittersweet day for me. My son has moved to Salt Lake to be with his dad through high school. I have never missed his first day of school until now. But I have to reflect on the fact that I am still here to talk to him at the end of the day.

Dakota will be starting high school and driver's education (watch out!). I have been part of his life since he was 18 months old and now he can start driving, working toward graduating, working and even dating! It has gone by so fast but I am so thankful to be part of it.

Lastly but most certainly not least is our "baby girl". She will be starting in the gifted and talent second grade. We are so proud of our smart cookie - actually all of the kids are very smart. I think of how there was a time almost three years ago that I didn't know if I would here to send her off to kindergarten. I have been blessed to be able to take her to her classroom on the first day of school. It is always difficult to send them off but I will do whatever it takes to make sure I am there every first day of school and on graduation day. Cancer will not take that from me!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Artful bra project

Boise is holding its first Artful Bra Project to raise money for Komen of Boise. I have volunteered to be one of the artists and I think I have some exciting ideas. My creation will be hanging in the window of See Jane Run starting on First Thursday, October 1st. They will later auction all the bras off to raise money. These aren't ones you can wear but they are fun for sure!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Some people can't seem to handle it.

With the invention of Facebook etc I have managed to find many old friends. I always start out the chat with things about marriage, kids, work etc. Eventually I will tell them about my cancer. It isn't something I think I should keep under wraps - it is a big part of who I am now. Lately there have been at least two old friends that haven't responded back after I told them I had been sick. I don't know if it freaks them out or if they just don't know how to respond or what. It isn't like I am looking for sympathy but I tell them about it as part of my work at the YMCA and things like that. Then suddenly the emails stop. It is frustrating. Maybe they aren't the friends they used to be or maybe it is a harsh reality for them that they don't want to face. Either way it isn't fair to me!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rained out

Well my first boot camp got rained out. What a bummer. At least it gives me another week to get more ladies there. Several people were out of town today so hopefully they will come next weekend. I am excited about this new adventure. I have come up with a business name and have to get it registered this next week and start setting up all the official business stuff.

I am also finally to a point where I should have time to work on more t-shirts. I have several new ideas in the works but haven't had the time to develop them yet. I have been working sub shifts at the YMCA and just finished up a round of LiveSTRONG. I haven't even had a lot of time to work out myself. That needs to change! Especially since I have been a bottomless pit this week! Luckily my little one is in swim lessons at the Y through next week so I can workout or swim while she is in lessons. That will help.

I am really trying to not take on too much but I am also trying to live everyday to the fullest. That can sometimes be a delicate balance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Taking my lumps...and boot camp

I am sorry I haven't blogged much lately. Things have been busy - as usual.

A few weeks ago I had a scare. I found a lump about an inch or so from my original cancer site. I got into my doc within a few days. She wasn't too worried about it but wanted an ultrasound. It showed a small cluster of cysts. Which is a bit strange since I shouldn't have enough tissue left to really make any cysts. Anyway, again they aren't worried about it but want to keep an eye on it just to be safe. So I have another ultrasound mid-September. I am not going to worry unless the docs start to worry.

In June and July I attended a boot camp given by my trainer at Gold's. Dang it was intense. I was flipping tractor tires and trying to run in the 90 degree heat etc. I couldn't get my friends to join with me for two reasons - money and too intense. So I have decided to create my own beginner's boot camp on Saturday mornings for only $5 a session. The idea is to help people work up to the more intense levels of fitness needed for a regular boot camp. I am hoping to get people motivated and help them realize that they really can do it. My first camp is this Saturday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nickel and Dime calories

I am very aware of my daily intake of calories (but not always the levels of nutrition of those calories). Anyway, I have been taking an even closer look at the amount of calories that are "nickel and dime-ing" my diet to death.

I am a big water and coffee drinker - at least about 40 ounces of coffee a day and about 100 ounces of water a day. Every once and awhile I splash a bit of cream in my coffee. Depending on the amount and if it is fat-free etc there goes 10-30 calories toward my daily count. And my weekly latte is made with sugar free syrup but that is still 5-10 calories there.

As the day wears on I get tired of plain water and might use one of those Crystal Light packets or drink a Diet energy drink. Well each Crystal Light packet has 5 calories per serving and 2 servings per packet. The energy drink has 10 calories per serving and 2 servings per can.

So even though those calories are listed on my daily journal of food intake I am still trying to account for up to 50 additional calories a day depending on how I flavor my drinks.

Also I have to consider the extras I might add to a sandwich. I hate "dry" sandwiches but I don't use mayo. So mustard is only 5-10 calories and a pickle isn't too bad either (except for the sodium) but if I have enough of those little things in a day I need to account for those calories too.

What little things are you using in your daily food intake that can slowly add up???

Friday, June 12, 2009

Back to Washington DC

Earlier this week I was again a consumer reviewer for the peer review panels of Department of Defense breast cancer research grants. It is always a wonderful but overwhelming experience. Our panel had 16 scientists and 4 consumer reviewers (survivors) who reviewed over 40 applications for possible funding. Although the science details can be difficult to decipher it is great to hear about what researchers are trying to develop to treat and prevent breast cancer.

I also meet many wonderful survivors from around the country over the three days. For me this is like being at "ground zero" for advocacy. Being part of this process is so rewarding for me to know that I am helping possible advancements in cancer research. The scientists know the details of what is reasonable to do but the survivors are there to help point out the potential impact if the research is successful and "humanize" the process. They talk about taking things from "bench to bedside". The scientists are the bench (labs) and we are the bedside (those impact by the research). All of us, probable over 1,000 people, coming together to try to conquer this beast.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reilly: Alfred G. Rava takes A's to court

Reilly: Alfred G. Rava takes A's to court This guy is suing over pink hats at the game for women on Mother's Day and breast cancer awareness day.

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Climb to Conquer Cancer

Last Friday was the American Cancer Society's Climb to Conquer Cancer. It was a great event with a 5k climb up the Orchard Greenbelt extension. I was asked to speak to the climbers before the official start. I decided to focus on how climbing the mountain of cancer treatment compares to climbing Mt. Everest. You need to do lots of research and prepare yourself before taking those first steps. You have to have a strong and supportive base camp, you have to have safety gear and be tied to at least one other person in case you slip. It is going to be a long trip up the mountain with some days more productive than others, there will be many challenges along the way that will require to you to dig deep and find a strength you never knew you had. Once you reach the top and look back on how far you have come you know you will never be the same again. You will forever have a different perspective on the world and most likely you will find yourself returning to base camp to help someone else on their journey climbing the mountain. There are many other comparsions that can be made between the two challenges.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memorial Day weekend

Friday, May 22nd was our ten year wedding anniversary. We originally had planned on going to Cabo San Lucas but with the economy and Al’s Durango needing a new engine that just wasn’t possible. Of course the swine flu didn’t help either. So instead we decided to take a last minute road trip minus kids over Memorial Day weekend.
We headed to Seattle very early on Friday. We shopped in Bellevue and then headed downtown to the Pike’s Marketplace. Then we went to the Mariners game. They played San Francisco and Randy Johnson was pitching. It was great to see him pitch and to see Ken Griffey Jr, and, of course, Ichiro. The game went 12 innings and the Mariners won!

Next morning we had brunch with Alvin’s cousin that he hasn’t seen in over 15 years. Then we tried to head to Forks, Washington but the bridge off the sound was closed and so going around was a pain and traffic was awful. We finally just headed to Ocean Shores and checked into our hotel with an ocean view. It was about 4:30 so we hopped back in the car and took the two hour drive up the coast to Forks.

By the time we got there many things were closed but I had fun getting Twilight items for the kids, driving around and getting my picture taken with Bella’s truck. Al thinks I am a goof for wanting to go there but it was actually since idea since we were close by and he knows the kids and I are huge Twilight fans.

Sunday we spent in Ocean Shores. We walked along several different beaches and checked out the area shops. Al kicked my butt at mini-golf and air hockey. That night we dressed up and took the shuttle to the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. We had a romantic dinner while watching the sunset over the beach and ocean and then gambled for a bit.

It was a wonderful time with the love of my life!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Going going going!

Sorry I have been MIA. Things have been very busy with wrapping up soccer season, working at the YMCA at night, reviewing breast cancer grants for my trip to DC in a few weeks, and of course getting out of town over the long weekend!

Friday was our 10 year anniversary so hubby and I took off on a new adventure. We went to Seattle, Forks and Ocean Shores Washington. We had a great time. I will blog about the trip and post pictures soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 Breast cancer myths (from msn.com)

Myth 1: If breast cancer runs in your family, it automatically means that you’re going to get it, too.

Fact: Getting breast cancer is not a certainty, even if you have one of the significant risk factors, like a strong family history or a known breast cancer gene abnormality. For example, of women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 inherited genetic abnormality, 40 to 80 percent will develop breast cancer over their lifetime; 20 to 60 percent won't. All other breast cancer risk factors are associated with a much, much lower probability of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Myth 2: Only your mother's family history of breast cancer can affect your risk.

Fact: A history of breast cancer in your mother's OR your father's family equally influence your risk. That's because half of your genes come from your mother, half from your father. But a man with a breast-cancer gene abnormality is less likely to develop breast cancer than a woman with a similar gene. So, if you want to learn more about your father's family history, you have to look mainly at the women on your father's side, not just the men.

Myth 3: Breast cancer skips generations.

Fact: Genes that could increase the risk for breast cancer can go from one generation to the next, without skipping a generation. If your mother or father has a breast-cancer gene abnormality, you have a 50 percent risk of getting the gene and a 50 percent chance of not getting it. If you don’t get the gene, then you can’t pass it to your children.

Myth 4: Since I have no family history of breast cancer, I can’t get it.

Fact: Breast cancer is extremely rare in girls. Every adult woman has some risk of breast cancer. About 80 percent of women who get breast cancer have no known family history of the disease. Besides being a woman, growing older—just the wear and tear of living—is the biggest single risk factor for breast cancer. For those women who do have a family history of breast cancer, your risk may be elevated a little, a lot, or not at all. If you are concerned, discuss your family history with your physician or a genetic counselor. You may be worrying needlessly.

Myth 5: There is nothing you can do to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. If it is going to happen, it will happen.

Fact: There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer: keep to a healthy weight, exercise 3 to 4 hours a week, don't smoke, limit alcohol use to 5 or fewer drinks per week, eat 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables a day; limit your consumption of red meat, fried foods, and blackened grilled foods; and buy organic and hormone-free foods whenever possible.

Myth 6: Mammograms help prevent breast cancer.

Fact: Mammograms can save lives but they do not prevent breast cancer. They help detect breast cancer in its earliest stages when it’s most treatable, thereby improving your chance of surviving breast cancer by 30 percent or more.

Myth 7: Big breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Fact: Breast size has no significant impact on the risk of developing breast cancer.

Myth 8: You can catch breast cancer from your mom when she was pregnant with you or through her breast milk.

Fact: Absolutely not. Breast cancer is not transmitted during pregnancy or breast milk.

Myth 9: Cell phones, antiperspirants, and tanning cause breast cancer.

Fact: There is no evidence that these factors increase the risk of breast cancer. Tanning in the sun or in salons does increase the risk of skin cancer. It’s important to use sunscreen, limit time in the sun, and avoid tanning salons to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Myth 10: A breast cancer diagnosis is an automatic death sentence.

Fact: Most women survive breast cancer and can live long lives. Even women who are living with breast cancer can live a long time. Plus new promising treatment breakthroughs are becoming available each day, so there are many reasons to be hopeful about the future.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Race for the Cure 2009

The Boise Race for the Cure was this past weekend. As always it is an emotionally charged event. Even before my diagnosis I would walk this race with friends and family in honor of my family members who have battled breast cancer. Today I walk it with more friends and my husband, children and parents by my side. (Although we did get separated during the walk with 15,000 other people!) It was a lovely morning with a bit of a chill in the air. The kids and I got there early and volunteered at the Fuze booth. It is a great feeling to be helping out but we certainly didn't want to miss the race itself.

I saw many survivor friends that I have met over the years and several of my new friends from the YMCA programs. Life is precious so celebrate everyday!
My mom has all the group pictures on her camera but here are some shots from my camera.

Trinity and her friend Otilia

My loving family (Trin is hiding in the stroller)
The boys -- Dakota and Geoffrey


Some of my biggest supporters! Patti and Cami


More wonderful friends -- Felice and Dee


Friday, May 8, 2009

Test results

I had my quarterly blood work and my annual chest x-ray this week. Everything looks great! I "aced" my tests! :-) So another 4 months until I go back to check blood again.

Last night was the Race for the Cure survivor dinner. It was a very nice evening. It is always filled with mixed emotions for me. So happy to be a survivor and celebrate that. I love visiting with the others and seeing how far we have come since last year etc. But then it is emotional when you think about the women who lost the battle and have missed out on seeing their children get married or meeting their grandchildren. I feel motivated to push even harder to create awareness, help other survivors, and demand they find a cure.

I come home from this wonderful event feeling spent but it is so worth it because it is a huge part of who I am now.

Monday, May 4, 2009

They say size doesn't matter...

I have been on a kick the last few days noticing differences in sizes of people. Height, weight, breast size. Our society likes females small in height and weight but large in the breast. I am the opposite of that. For the most part I am okay with that but it still gets to me some times. Being a trainer who works with other trainers who are petite (and many with implants) I find myself feeling like the ugly duckling.

I am trying to change that thought process and work on the weight issue. It is difficult on Tamoxifen though. My sister (love ya Jill) is trying to lose weight but her starting "fat" weight is my goal weight. I have other friends who are currently dropping weight like a bad habit and I am stuck in the same clothes and the same spot on the scale.

I love being tall and I wouldn't want to change that. And I would rather have "safe" implants that are smaller than my bigger real cancerous breasts. But I can't wear a shirt everywhere I go that says Cancer treatment and steroids helped make me fat and my breasts may be small but they won't kill me!

Good thing I have a great sense of humor and I am "charming". :-)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Crazy week!

Sorry I have been AWOL! My schedule spiraled out of control for the last week. I was supposed to teach at BSU a few weeks ago until we realized it was Easter weekend. So we moved it to the 25th and 26th. No problem, until my son flipped his bike and broke his right arm on Saturday. Once class was over for the day I met up with him and hubby at the hospital. Geoffrey needed surgery to place two pins in his arm since it wouldn't stay back in place. He went into surgery around 6:00 that night and we left the hospital around 2:00 that morning and I had to be back at BSU to teach at 8:30. G did a great job with the surgery and the pain. It was hard on me to see him hurting and being exhausted made me that much more sensitive about it. I thought now that snowboarding season was done I wouldn't have to worry about him getting injured. Leave it to him to prove me wrong!
After class on Sunday, I dashed home to pack up stuff for G to stay with my parents and packed myself and headed to Twin Falls to co-instruct a course for three days. Got home Wednesday evening and went straight to soccer practice. Thursday brought the annual chest x-ray (I will get the results next Wednesday), an appearance on the news at noon for the YMCA cancer survivorship programs, and getting Geoffrey back home and settled in. Whew!

Also this past week, my husband nominated me to be an honorary bat girl for the Seattle Mariners. I think voting is still open. Check out his sweet story by clicking on the link and looking for my "nickname" of Heck Ya They're Fake. http://www.mlb.com/enterworkflow.do?flowId=contest.gallery&FORM_CODE=mlb_2009_komen_bgc&pageNo=40&action=currentWeek&sortOrder=NICKNAME1
I will keep you posted on the results of my check up next week and the contest.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Guest Blog from Rob Hancock about the Boston Marathon

My wonderful cousin ran the Boston Marathon a few days ago while raising money for the Young Survivor Coalition. He sent family a wonderful email outlining the experience of a lifetime. With his blessing, I share his journey and great story telling abilities with you. It is long, but well worth it - kinda like the Boston Marathon! :0) ENJOY!
_________________________________________________________________
Hello, family. Thought I'd take a moment to share my Boston race report with you. Hope it conveys the emotion and grandeur of the event. I had the time of my life. I get it now, this Boston thing.

Background:I’d run three marathons previously, the first a “just finish alive” effort of 3:59:21 in Los Angeles in 1998. I caught the racing bug again nine years later, dropped 30 pounds, and attempted to BQ in the 2007 City of Trees Marathon in Boise. I bonked horribly with a 3:35:38 and 17-minute positive split. Last year, I ramped up my training, and BQ’d at the same race with a 3:17:48, and 1:40 negative split. I followed the same training plan – Pfitz 18/70 – through the cold Idaho winter leading up to Boston. After much deliberation, I settled on an “A” goal of sub-3:10.

Pre-race:Kathi and I make it to Boston Saturday evening. I’m enormously relieved to be there, having mentally paraded all the horribles that could have conspired to thwart us, but all goes smoothly. We enjoy a tour through the posh Back Bay with a friendly cabbie from Moscow named Steve, who jokes he expects to see me in the lead pack, and will be waiting for me at the finish to cart me off to somewhere. A radio weather reporter grimly predicts “a raw day for the marathon on Monday.” Shrug.

Our hotel lobby teems with jittery, animated, fully tapered runners, most sporting the official garb of marathons past. As we’re heading to the elevator, a guy across the atrium points at my Boise State sweatshirt and yells “Go Broncos!” I smile and wave back. He approaches and introduces himself as Nate, who used to work at Bandanna Running in Boise -- a mere three blocks from my office, and where I buy my gear. Two more guys he’s with ride up the elevator with us. The older gentleman, who wears a suit and official-looking BAA badge with the strangely-familiar name “Jack Fultz” turns to me and politely asks, “So, Rob, is this your first Boston?” Why, yes sir, it is, and like an excited little boy, I gush all the things first-time Bostoners say. I very nearly ask him if he’s ever run it, but I stop myself -- this seems a silly question, given his stature. He wishes me well. A quick Wikipedia search later confirms Mr. Fultz, in fact, wonthe 1976 Boston Marathon in the infamous 100-degree “Run for the Hoses.” Man, am I glad I didn’t make a fool of myself.

Our room has a view of the finish, the Charles River, and MIT. We’re thrilled. Kathi and I were looking forward to some authentic local Boston cuisine, but we don’t feel like straying outside, so we enjoy a terrific dinner at Legal Sea Foods next door. Later, we shop at Filene’s Basement on Boylston.

Sunday morning – expo time! An older gentlemen, Don, hands me my bib with a hearty “Welcome to Boston!” Dick Beardsley and his wife are at the New Balance booth, preparing for a talk recounting the 1982 Duel in the Sun. Before I open my mouth, he asks if we’ve met before. Yes, I say, very surprised he’d remember. Five months ago during his appearance in Boise. He tells me how he enjoyed Idaho, and how much fun I am guaranteed to have the following day. Mrs. Beardsley takes pictures of the three of us, and takes my e-mail address. What a nice couple. My wife and I get breakfast at a local New England favorite, The Cheesecake Factory. (Lame!)

Sunday afternoon brings a call from my online nemesis (and sometimes chum) Marc. We meet at a Starbucks for a thoroughly-engaging hour-long chat about running, life and family. We also can’t resist trading a few gentle barbs about the race. In real life, as online, I find him a very funny, intelligent and likeable fellow. By way of one of those strange “six degrees of anyone” stories, he has access to a house in Hopkinton just a quick stroll from the starting corrals, and he graciously invited me to join him.

That evening, Kathi and I enjoy a “Duck Boat Tour,” amid some cold whipping east winds. The tour passes by City Hall Plaza, where an enormous line of runners is snaking toward the official pre-race dinner. It didn’t look like fun out there, so we decide to bag it. Of course, getting a dinner reservation the day before Marathon Monday is impossible, so we end up waiting 90 minutes to get our pasta fill at another venerable Boston treasure, California Pizza Kitchen. (Oh, we suck so bad.) I make it to bed by 10:30. Strangely, I’m calm.

Race Day: I wake up on my own at 4:30 (that’s 2:30 a.m. my time – gulp!). My first order of business is to check the weather. Still predicting high 30s to high 40s throughout -- that’s good. But the flag atop the adjacent Copley Square Hotel is flapping wildly and pointing directly west – a strong direct headwind. That’s bad. I eat a cold Belgian waffle with syrup and a Powerbar. I dress in layers and gloves. Kathi wakes to kiss me goodbye. I grab a large coffee at the lobby Starbucks and cab it the mile or so to the Common. I perch on the steps of the Park Street Church, my rendezvous point with Marc.

The organization and efficiency of the buses on Tremont is something to behold. A dozen or so line up next to the Common. They all load and depart in unison. A dozen more quickly take their place, on the orders of the traffic cops on the corner of Park and Tremont. And woe to the wayward motorist who fails to heed any instruction. More than once, the most vocal officer pointed and screamed “You! Don’t you move! You keep youah cah right theah!” Marc joins me, and we’re among the final three aboard our bus. My seatmate is James, a thirtysomething veteran local marathoner. Marc throws spitballs at me, and flicks my left ear from the seat behind.

We make a quick stop in Athlete’s Village to grab a snack, and head to our sanctuary, a quaint little home owned by a lady of advanced years. We’re the first to arrive. She greets us warmly and enthusiastically. Bear in mind, she’s never laid eyes on either of us. But, on race day, if you’re just a friend of a relative of someone who knows someone who knows her, then you’re okay in her book. She shows us to her family room, which has a television tuned to race coverage, and offers coffee cake and toasted bagels. We’re of course enchanted with this saint of a person. Others arrive. We decide to check our bags at the buses, and return for the half-hour before the race. Our host leaves for the start. We chat nervously, watch the start of the wheelchair and women’s races, pee eight or more times each, and walk the quarter mile to our corrals. I’m in #7. The seven thousand runners down the hill behind me are a sight to behold. Some nervouschatting with my corralmates. Flyover. National Anthem. Gun. Holy crap. I am running the Boston Marathon. I am alive.

Mile 1 – 7:39 (planned 7:40) -- Steep downhill, but the throng of runners keeps me from going out too fast. I’m grateful for that, and right on pace.

Mile 2 – 7:22 (planned 7:20) – Still moving generally downhill. I generally start slow in marathons, as it seems to take awhile for me to feel comfortable. I chat with a fellow from North Carolina for a minute before moving ahead. The trees on both sides of the narrow road shield us from most of the wind.

Miles 3 and 4 – 7:01 (7:08 planned), and 7:08 (7:05 planned) – Two downhill miles through Ashland. While we’re all moving pretty good, the course is still very thick with runners, and maneuvering is difficult. I notice that my Garmin recorded the 3-mile split about 8 seconds before I crossed the marker, and the 4-mile about 12 seconds before. I remember reading many a Boston race report where the athlete’s GPS is long by a quarter to half-mile. There are raging online arguments over whether this is due to a universal GPS error, or (as I believe) because the course meanders so much, it’s nearly impossible to run the tangent even when it isn’t crowded, let alone when it is, lengthening the distance traveled by an average of one or two hundredths of a mile per split. Whatever the case, no worries here. I’m running the Boston Marathon! Plus, I have a 30-second cushion built into my plan.

Mile 5 – 7:28 (7:18 planned) – I’m warm and uncomfortable, and can’t find my pace. I take off my brand-new white Nike dri-fit hat, which brings some relief. The gloves come off too, and I retire them to my shorts pockets. Now, what to do with the hat? I hate to kiss off $20, but I’m not carrying it for the next 21 either. I spy a lady with her young son on the left side of the road. I say “Here you go!” and throw it to them. Not sure if they picked it up, but they were smiling. I high-five another little guy while I’m in the area, and I hear his dad say “You’re slapping hands with people from all over the world!”

Miles 6, 7 and 8 – 7:13 (7:13); 7:14 (7:13); and 7:24 (7:20) – I’m back on pace through Framingham, but still uncomfortable. I get a boost from the huge crowds here. Of course, I’d heard how great the spectators were, but I was completely unprepared for their enthusiasm. I expected the usual polite applause and shouts of “Go runners!” or the occasional cowbell. Oh no, this is something entirely different. All you have to do is point at the crowd or raise your hands, and you’re greeted with this deafening roar more befitting a winning three-pointer or touchdown. I find this new power intoxicating, and I start using it frequently.

Miles 9 through 12 -- 7:10 (7:14); 7:11 (7:17); 7:14 (7:17) and 7:01 (7:07) – Finally, after nearly an hour, I’ve hit my groove. I pick up 19 seconds during this stretch. A nursing home on the right has wheeled out its residents and bundled them up to see us. I’m touched by this and run over to thank them for being there. The gel I took at mile 8 made an awful sticky mess on my right hand, and it’s driving me nuts. So, I spend some time during miles 10 and 11 furiously licking my palm. I think this disturbs a couple others into moving away from me, giving me a bit more room to run.

Mile 13 – 7:02 (7:16) – Wellesley College, which I can hear for a half-mile before I reach it. No kisses, but I high-five a whole bunch of ‘em. I worry that my pace there was too fast. Halfway – 1:35:36. 7:21 pace. Can I do a 3:10? With the hills looming? We’ll see.

Miles 14 and 15 – 7:03 (7:12); and 7:08 (7:14) – I continue ahead of my planned pace by 5-10 seconds per mile, and my Garmin continues to fall further behind. The crowds in the town of Wellesley are huge, loud and captivating. I have my name taped to my shirt, and I point directly at whoever yells it, usually drawing a squeal of delight. (From them, not me.) The wind is picking up, but it’s not bothering me much. At precisely 14.91 miles in, I quietly pass Marc.

Mile 16 – 6:54 (7:02) – The descent into Newton Lower Falls is long and steep, but not nearly as tough as I thought. I take it fast, and take back eight seconds.

Mile 17 – 7:17 (7:27) – First of four hills, a long and gentle upslope. I feel good, and take ten seconds from it. I down half a gel.

Mile 18 – 7:20 (7:23 planned) – I take it easy around the corner at the Newton Fire Station, in preparation for the short steep hill at the end of the split. I take it with short, quick strides, and win round two by three seconds.

Mile 19 – 7:07 (7:11) – I decide to conserve some energy on this leisurely, gently downhill mile through Newton. Two hills to go. Darn it, I miss the John Kelley statue.

Mile 20 – 7:02 (7:25) – The crowds continue to grow. As I’m approaching the third hill halfway through the split, and older gentlemen yells out. “Ya just gawt this little one, and then Hahtbreak, and then it’s awl downhill from theah!!” I bet he’s been doing this for years. This little bit of inspiration makes me pick up the pace, attack the hill with vigor, and log a split 23 seconds faster than I’d planned.

Mile 21 – 7:11 (7:33) – Heartbreak Hill. At the bottom, I draw close to the throng of spectators on the left-hand side, raise my arms and scream “Come on!” They respond with a cheer. I am drunk with endorphins, adrenaline and power. I move up the hill as quickly as I dare, passing many walkers along the way. At the crest, I’m nothing short of jubilant. This small-town Idaho guy has battled the famed Newton Hills, and won. At the marker I yell “Go Eagles!” and high-five a dozen moderately inebriated screaming Boston College students.

Miles 22, 23 and 24 – 6:46 (6:51) 6:44 (6:58 ); and 6:50 (6:56). No more clowning around. Here’s where I see what I’m made of. It’s downhill, and I can taste sub-3:10 and a negative split. Garmin is off by more than 90 seconds now, but I’m not worried. I am passing hundreds of shufflers and walkers, some look like they’re in real agony. As I do, I notice most of the bib numbers are in the 3000 and 4000 range, with some in the 2000s. And there’s me, wearing 7781. The wind is pretty strong, but I don’t care.

Mile 25 – 6:52 (7:07) -- Citgo sign and hill. Many walkers. The crowds are larger and louder still. I’m getting a little emotional.

Mile 26 – 6:59 (7:07) – Through Kenmore Square. I can’t resist a final fist pump to the crowd, which dutifully responds with a roar as always. The energy here is incredible.

Final .55 – 3:35 (6:35 pace) – Right on Hereford. Left on Boylston. As if the entire day wasn’t already an exercise in sensory overload, the sight and sounds of the finish leave me open-jawed. They’re five and six deep here. I want to be done, but I don't want it to end. I glance at the Garmin just as it turns from 3:07 to 3:08. I smile, knowing sub 3:10 is in the bag. But man, 3:08:xx sure sounds a lot better. I give it all that’s left, and cross in 3:08:53. I stop and grab my knees. A few paces past the line a guy next to me is doing the same thing. He makes eye contact and nods. I say “Man, wasn't that something?” “Unbelieveable,” he says with a thick accent. “Where you from?” I ask. “Holland.” We share a quick man-hug and high five. I’ll never see that guy again. But I’ll bet we remember each other forever.

I begin the long slow walk to get my blanket, food, medal and bag. I think about all that led up to this. All those winter training miles. The sacrifices my wife and boys have made to allow me this new passion. My folks, long gone, and how very proud they would be. And the baby my wife and I lost last month. Who I’m sure would have liked being a part of our little clan. I look around, relieved to see I’m not the only one choked up.

I collect my bag and call DW, who has been getting my 10K splits via text message. She picks up: “Holy crap! 3:08?!?!” Yep. A re-qualifying time at any age. I eventually find her on Boylston. We hug for a long while, and watch a bit more of the race. Other friends tracking me have left congratulatory voicemails. I call some back to share the experience. After cleaning up, we have a great meal at Skipjack's of Boston (Finally, authentic cuisine!) We have other plans, but Kathi doesn’t feel too well, so we turn in. I sleep soundly. On Tuesday, we check out the JFK Memorial Library and Presidential Museum before heading to the airport.

While I’m chatting up a couple other runners at Logan, one of them says she thinks she saw Kara Goucher, the top-finishing American woman, walk by a moment ago. Another guy, Mike, and I demand to know which way she went, and we run (yes, run) to try to catch a glimpse. Yep, she’s standing right there with her husband, Adam, readying to board a plane, talking with fans, and allowing pictures. My phone camera is full, but my new best friend Mike whips his out! He takes my picture with her, and I do the same for him. I tell Kara -- er, “Ms. Goucher” -- how proud she made the nation yesterday, and that I hope she keeps it up. She says she will. Mike e-mails me the picture immediately.

Whenever I hear other runners talk about Boston, it's always in superlatives: The best crowds, support, organization, course, etc. They say you won’t understand until you experience it. I wondered if all those veterans were just maybe a little loony. Could it possibly really be all that?
Oh, yes. It can. It is. That, and much more.

I get it now, this Boston thing.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grant funds cancer research - News

Grant funds cancer research - News

I had no idea BSU was doing this research! That is wonderful!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To weigh or not to weigh...that is the question.

Studies have shown that people who weigh in weekly, or even daily, are more likely to lose weight faster and keep it off. But I think there is also something to be said for not obsessing about it and going off how you feel and how your clothes fit etc. That said, I obsess. I weigh in daily - some times even more than once. Most of the time it is a motivator and helps me focus but there are days that it is just depressing. When the scale doesn't move or, God forbid, it goes up, and I have been working my butt off then I get frustrated. I know it is a process but I am not a patient person. I want to see my efforts of working out and eating healthy today to show up tomorrow. I need to step back and give it some time. I know my metabolism has been increasing (according to my Bodybugg) so I know my efforts will show up soon. It has to - right?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Through the years

I promised pictures updating since I completed chemo. I hate the way I look on the last day of chemo other than the smile of course. But it is my reality and I want to share it with others to know that many of us have been there.
March 30, 2007
March 30, 2008 (one year post chemo)




April 10, 2009 (two years post chemo)


I am still not where I was precancer but I know I will get there. Regardless of what the scale may say, I know I am a stronger person now then I was before. There is no stopping me and like my pink ribbon license plate says "IMTUF"!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First client

I have been assigned my first one and one personal training client. He is a cancer survivor and I am looking forward to spending time with him every week for three months to help him build up his strength again. I am so excited!!!

I have also been swamped with other projects including helping with public relations for the program. We have Channel 6 coming out to film in a few days and we will be on the News at Noon on Channel 7 on the 30th.

Then we will have a new LiveSTRONG group starting May 18th.

Looks like spring has sprung for the program!!! :-)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Do you ever really stop worrying?

So I have had this ache in the bottom of my right rib cage off and on for several months. I had my oncologist check it out and she didn't think it was anything to be concerned about and we would check it for sure at my annual chest x-ray in May. So we chalked it up to bruising or pulling the cartilage while working out etc. It was doing much better while I was down and out from surgery which makes since if it is from working out.

Now it is starting to come back and it causes a sense of worry in the back of my mind. It is hard to always push away the thoughts that the cancer may have spread to my bones. (Although this is on the opposite side so it is quite a stretch.) Finally, while at work the other day I noticed something. While reaching across my desk with my right arm to use my 10 key I would lean forward causing my ID badge to rub against the bottom of my right rib case. OMG! This pain is due to my badge and reaching across my desk. DUH! It makes total sense now. Why did I have to talk myself out of it being cancer instead of the other way around. Hopefully this lesson will help me let go of thinking that lingering headaches or other pains are signs that the cancer has returned. Of course the chest x-ray in a few weeks will help drive home the point as well.

And for now I am wearing my badge on the other side. I might have to start wearing it on a lanyard!

Friday, April 10, 2009

This is funny, sad and honest all at the same time

I Was Going to Succumb To Cancer, But Then I Got This Mylar Balloon

By Charlotte Pollard March 24, 2009 Issue 45•13

Greetings to all my favorite ladies! Please forgive me for not sending a thank-you note sooner, but the nurses at this hospital are always carting me from one place to the next, and I can never find a minute! Anyway, I just wanted to take a quick break from getting poisonous chemicals injected into my bloodstream to let you know how very, very much I appreciate the thoughtful Mylar balloon you sent me.
You guys are lifesavers. When I first came to the hospital—because I thought I had acid reflux and then, after a few tests, discovered I had advanced thyroid cancer—I didn't know if I'd ever recover. But that was before my friends, who are so incredibly considerate and kindly waited almost a month before reaching out to me at all, bought me this awesome balloon.
Suddenly I feel, like, 10,000 times better.
Just in the knick of time, too. I was about to rely on the loving support of family in combination with several rounds of targeted chemotherapy advised by my oncologist in order to fight the spread of the disease. But now, well, just look at that balloon floating around. Wheeee!
I knew I could count on my fellow teachers at Kentwood Academy to be there for me a few weeks after I needed them most. Honestly, though, I hope you weren't too put out. You really needn't have gone to all the trouble of sending me this plastic bag filled with air. Boy am I glad you did, though! It's so shiny, bobbing up and down there—I bet my cancer's going into remission already.
I'm sorry. My mistake. I said you "sent" me a Mylar balloon. That makes it sound like you went out and bought it, instead of just calling the hospital gift shop, asking what they had on clearance, paying for it out of petty cash, and having the clerk deliver it to me on her regular rounds. I just don't know what's going on in my head these days!
Oh, wait. I think the doctor called it "significant metastatic growth." But you already knew that. Which is why you sent this great balloon. Three weeks after I was diagnosed.
Thanks again!
Without it, how could I ever have found the strength to fight for my very life and for the chance to see my two young children grow up? Here I was, just lying around not trying to "Get well soon." What a helpful reminder! I can't tell you how much I owe you guys. Unless, of course, we're going by the price tag still hanging from your gift. In which case it's exactly $5.99.
My new balloon is so cheerful and buoyant, I can almost feel the cancer not ravaging my body. I love the way it hovers there, even though it's a little deflated now. It makes for a wonderful, ever-present reminder of how you just have to persevere and rise above the trouble life throws your way, no matter how bad things get. Best of all, the breeze from the air-conditioner makes it crinkle while I sleep!
You really shouldn't have. You could have just called, or all come by one evening as a group, or even just sent one person to visit at any point to represent those of you I've worked with for the past 11 years.
Look at me, yammering on about myself, and not even thinking to ask about you all. So, how are you? How is the implementation of the new attendance policy going? Mary, did you and your husband finish building your new deck? Any of you guys find out you have cancer?
Boy. A Mylar balloon. My little guardian angel hovering above my bed with its little pink string and its mirrored back side that reflects my own face back at me endlessly as I sit here with cancer. What would I do without it? Thank you so much.
You know, friends are what really matter in this life. Because when everything feels like it's falling apart, and you don't know what you're going to do or who to turn to for support—oh, and you have cancer—you can always count on your friends to expend the absolute minimum amount of effort and acknowledge your pain in the most perfunctory manner possible.
I only hope they have Mylar balloons in heaven

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

I have never been one to use excuses to justify my behavior - at least not a lot ;-) But I have come to realize that it appears I have been falling back on an excuse for the last year or so. I have been blaming Tamoxifen for my lack of weight loss. Now most studies say it does not cause weight gain but most women who take it would disagree. So I have just always excused my weight loss struggle with the Tamoxifen (and the fact that I have always had a low metabolism and struggled to lose weight). I am tired of it. It appears my metabolism is starting to pick up again so I need to let go of all my excuses and "Just do it".

Another "excuse" has been my struggle to get back into running since treatment. I was not a great runner before cancer but I was getting better all the time. Since cancer I have struggled with heart rate, breathing and aches and pains. I have blamed it on the chemo meds and the surgeries. I have been told they are valid reasons for my struggle but I am tired of it. I am actually running a bit better since this last surgery just over 3 weeks ago.

Running and weight loss seem to be my Achilles heel. Nothing else is as challenging for me as these two things. I fricking beat cancer so you would think losing weight and running a 5K would be a cake walk... Time to light a fire under myself.

Some one once told me that God gave us this body and one of the best ways to honor him and thank him for it is to take care of it - especially after surviving cancer... Something like this needs to be my new mantra while running!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

T-shirts etc

I have had many people comment on my Hell Yeah they are fake T-shirt so I decided to start selling them. I have a few different shirts for sale at www.zazzle.com/jenn_poole* Check them out and check back often as I am just getting started.

Fundraiser reminder

Tomorrow is the big auction in Arizona for the Book Babe. There are currently several signed books that are being auctioned on line as well. Visit www.projectbookbabe.com to check it out!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Two years since last chemo treatment

I realized this morning that it has been two years since my last chemo treatment. I can't believe how fast it has gone. I will have to post current pictures but you can see the difference between last year and when I finished in March 2007 by going through the archives.

I would blog more but I am exhausted. Today was my first day back to work full-time, one son is sick, another jammed his fingers, the little princess had soccer practice and I ran with the dog in the park during that time. Not to mention we are all trying to recover from the little girl birthday slumber party Saturday night! I NEED SLEEP!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What do you think? Could she be Renesmee Cullen?

For you Twilight Fans... I think she could pull off the part...what do you think?




Renesmee is described often as being very beautiful. She is described as having the facial features of her father, Edward, as well as his unusual bronze hair color. However, she inherited curly hair from her grandfather, Charlie Swan. Her hair is described as ringlets and falls past her waist. Her eyes are described as chocolate brown, just like her mother, Bella's, were while she was still human. She has pale skin, which has a blush to it because her heart pumps blood (though it beats far faster than a normal human heart). Her skin is as tough as a vampire's, but her temperature seems to be unusually warm, only a few degrees below that of a werewolf, most likely because, like Jacob, she has 24 chromosomes. Unlike her family's skin, Renesmee's skin glows in the sunshine rather than sparkling like diamonds. Renesmee is stated to like shiny things by her mother. However, she will also grow up to be good-willed and caring like both of her parents.


Maybe not quite but we can dream big, can't we? Heck, life is too short to dream small!!!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fundraiser for breast cancer patient

Faith Hochhalter, aka “The Book Babe,” has been in the book industry for 10 years. She has worked as a children’s book buyer and as a booking agent specializing in setting up school visits for several authors.

When the publishing community heard that The Book Babe had been diagnosed with breast cancer the response to help her out was overwhelming. A collection of items to auction has been steadily growing. So far over 40 authors from the US and Europe are contributing. The list of books and auction items that have been donated will be listed on this website soon. Proceeds from the auction and the event on April 4th will help support Faith while she undergoes cancer treatment.

Stephenie Meyer (Twilight author) will be there too! Check out the list at http://projectbookbabe.com/ Even if you cannot attend you can still donate.

Spending Recovery in the "Twilight" Zone

The recovery from this surgery has been a bit different for me. I have spent most of my time far away in Forks, Washington, deeply involved in the lives of Bella and Edward. (In case you don't know, that is the main characters and location of the Twilight book series.) It has been a great break from reality for me.

If you know me, you know I don't spend enough time relaxing, reading for pleasure, or checking out from reality. So this has been a big change for me. I have loved being caught up the rollercoaster ride of someone's life instead of my own. I am now a Tweek (Twilight geek) and tease my boys about it too.

But tomorrow it is back to the reality of work, getting up early, dealing with issues etc. Since I haven't finished the last book yet, I am hoping I will still be able to check out from reality for a bit each day and enter the "Twilight" zone.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jade Goody has passed away.

LONDON - Jade Goody, a dental assistant turned reality-TV star whose whirlwind journey from poverty to celebrity to tragedy became a national soap opera and morality tale in Britain, has died. The 27-year-old had cancer and died in her sleep early Sunday at her home in Essex, southeast England, her publicist Max Clifford said.

Goody gained fame at 21 in 2002, when she joined the reality television show "Big Brother," in which contestants live together for weeks and are constantly filmed. Loud and brash, she became a highly divisive star — initially mocked as an ignorant slob, then celebrated as a forthright everywoman by a hungry tabloid press.

She didn't win the show, but she did become a celebrity, earning millions through television and magazine appearances, an autobiography, a perfume and a series of exercise videos.
It was during a follow-up stint on a celebrity version of "Big Brother" in 2007 that Goody was labeled a racist bully for her treatment of another contestant, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Goody bad-mouthed Shetty's cooking of Indian food, mocked her accent and referred to her as "Shilpa Poppadom." While complaints against the show skyrocketed, so did ratings.
Goody's treatment of Shetty sparked anger in India and Britain — even becoming the topic of debate during a House of Commons question-and-answer session with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. A major sponsor suspended its advertising deal with "Celebrity Big Brother," and a chain of perfume shops pulled a Goody-endorsed fragrance, ironically named "Shh..."

After television viewers voted to evict Goody from the show, Goody — herself of mixed race — insisted she wasn't a racist. "I argue like that with everybody. It wasn't just because of the color of her skin that I was that aggressive," she said during an interview on Britain's GMTV.
After the eviction, the Indian Tourism Office invited Goody to travel to the country. She did, visiting charity projects and later agreeing to appear on an Indian version of the show.
"The people of India have only seen a small part of me and I'd like to show them that there is more to me," Goody said. "I'm a mother of two, a businesswoman. I can't be all that bad."

It was during filming of the show in the summer of 2008 that Goody received a diagnosis of cervical cancer by telephone from a doctor in Britain. The camera captured the deeply personal moment, which was shown repeatedly on TV in Britain, though not in India.
The progress of her illness was chronicled in detail in the tabloid press and weekly magazines, to the unease of many.

"Goody isn't rich or famous because she won the lottery: she's rich and famous because we bought all those papers and magazines and ghosted books with her on the cover, because we watched her television series, because we cheered when she was good and booed when she was bad, because we sat around discussing her over lunch," wrote columnist India Knight in The Sunday Times. "Now she's dying, she's making us all feel bad so we want her to go away, like a broken toy that's stopped being fun." In February, a bald and frail Goody, married fiancee Jack Tweed in an elaborate event staged at an elegant countryside hotel outside London. She reportedly sold the photos for more than $1 million.
Goody defended being paid for interviews and photo shoots.

"People will say I'm doing this for money," she said. "And they're right, I am. But not to buy flash cars or big houses — it's for my sons' future if I'm not here. I don't want my kids to have the same miserable, drug-blighted, poverty-stricken childhood I did."

Before her rise to fame, Goody worked for a period as a dental nurse. She had an unhappy childhood in a poor south London neighborhood. Her father was a heroin addict who served jail time for robbery and died in 2005, her mother a former crack addict who lost the use of an arm in a motorcycle accident.

While many empathized with Goody as she underwent surgery and chemotherapy in the public eye — filming part of the experience for another television series — she still inspired vitriol in others. A Web site was even set up, devoted to predicting when she would die.

In February 2009 Goody's publicist said the cancer had spread to her liver, bowel and groin.
Goody is survived by Tweed and her two sons Bobby and Freddie, with an ex-boyfriend, television presenter Jeff Brazier. She also is survived by her mother, Jackiey Budden.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Feeling blah on the first day of spring

Today is the first day of Spring and it is pretty darn nice outside. But I am just not feeling it. Being home the last ten days has started to take a toll on me. I am still really tired but I am starting to feel blah and blue. I know not being able to workout and not getting out of the house etc is impacting it and there are other stressors going on. (And my lack of caffeine doesn't help!)

Today the doc said I can slowly start working out again but no chest or overhead weight lifting, and no running yet. I can walk and bike ride and probably elliptical but nothing to "bouncy" yet. :-)

I am still off work a few more days to get some rest but the kids are also home for spring break and the little one is starting up soccer and more Irish dance classes. Hopefully I can get up the energy to go for a walk in the wonderful weather this weekend.

Happy Spring everyone!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fingers Crossed

I am still home and very tired but little to no pain. More than anything I have my fingers crossed that my "unveiling" on Friday will show a successful skin graft this time. The bandages are taped and stitched down so I can't even peek to see how it is doing. The waiting is killing me! ;-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Surgery #8

Well I am home recovering from surgery #8. This one has gone very smooth. I am sore but the pain isn't too bad. The grafts are under wraps until next Friday so I don't know how they look but the other revisions are looking good. I am hoping this is the last surgery but there will still be tattooing at some point down the road.

After so many surgeries I don't get nervous anymore except for the IV part. Even after all this I still can't do needles very well. But that will be a never ending process because of my quarterly lab work.

Well recouping I am working on tons of projects on the computer and reading the Twilight series. I hope to be mobile soon so I can get back to my group at the YMCA. Granted I won't be lifting weights for awhile but I can certainly crack the whip! :-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From Christine Hassler's article in the Huffington Post

Emerging from cancer treatment at age 29, choreographer and writer Kairol Rosenthal embarked on a 5-year journey interviewing young adult cancer patients across the country. I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her own experience, her book, and living with cancer in one's twenties and thirties:

CH: How is being diagnosed with cancer in your twenties or early thirties different from being diagnosed at other times in life? What makes it harder/easier?

KR: Twenty and thirty-somethings are the largest group of uninsured and underinsured adults in America, so we are diagnosed at later more advanced stages. Unlike pediatric and older adults, no age-specific clinical trials exist to study our unique biological needs. We experience higher rates of depression than older cancer patients and face potential fertility complications as a side effect of treatment. Young adults experience more geographic, career, and relationship flux than our older counterparts. Moving, living with roommates, finishing college, changing jobs, dating, starting long-term relationships, and raising young children complicate the psycho-social terrain of cancer and interfere with continuity of care. On the upside, compared to older cancer patients, 20 and 30-somethings are more comfortable questioning our doctors and cite far more benefits from online health information. We are less likely to have complications from concurrent diseases like high blood pressure or heart disease. We often recover from treatment more easily than older patients. Few of us remember the days when cancer was a whispered word.CH: Why did you write the book Everything Changes?KR: I was diagnosed with cancer at twenty-seven. There were plenty of books geared to the AARP cancer crowd but no good resources for those of us cramming for finals, flirting in bars, climbing the first rung on our career ladder, or changing stinky diapers. The needs of 20 and 30-something cancer patients vary greatly from those of pediatric and older adults.

CH: If you had one thing to share with recently diagnosed 20 and 30 somethings that you wish you had been told, what would it be?

KR: You do not have to become a glittery superhero in order to fight adversity. Cancer is hard stuff. Strength comes from being real. Allow yourself to sometimes feel vulnerable and to have meltdowns. They do not last forever and you may even feel invigorated afterwards. Secondly, the definition of hope is fighting for your best care. Cancer is not only emotional and physical, it is administrative too and the burdens of paperwork can really impede our healing. Many hospitals have patient representative services or ombudsmen. If after your second try you are unsuccessful at getting records, obtaining procedural approval, or resolving a financial matter, have one of these professional advocates intervene on your behalf. Think, question, and shout when you need to.

CH: Can you share a little about some of the stories you highlight in the book?

KR: I found people who were raw and incredibly honest about living with the unknown most compelling. Wafa'a, in San Francisco, became addicted to clubbing because she was too afraid to be home alone thinking about her cancer. HollyAnna, from the Yakima Native American reservation, went through treatment while keeping her cancer diagnosis a secret from her husband and mom. Geoff, a junkie skateboarder in Oklahoma, put himself through substance abuse detox while doing in-patient chemotherapy. I had already seen the stories of cancer patients who climbed Mount Everest or ran the New York City marathon. I wanted instead lessons from cancer patients who were not on the six o'clock news yet were leading outrageous lives and had uncommon insights to share.

CH: What is a concern you heard repeated by many of the patients you spoke with?

KR: Many talked about the jarring shift after treatment when they were catapulted from a focused, regimented medical routine back into daily life. Friends and family are popping the champagne cork to celebrate the end of cancer, but many patients described this phase as just the beginning and often the hardest part of it all. For many, this was the first time since diagnosis that they were able to absorb the emotional bombshell of cancer. Add to this transitioning from acute to chronic care, managing long-term side effects and fear of reoccurrence, paying off medical bills, and gluing together the pieces of their fragmented college lives, careers, and relationships. This is a time when support peels away but patients may need it the most.

CH: What advice do you have for the loved ones of 20 and 30 somethings with cancer?
KR: Listen. Engage us in conversation, ask broad questions, and let us guide the discussion. If we don't want to talk, don't push us. If we do and our feelings don't make sense, are contrary, or we sound frustrated and irritated, that is normal. Go with the flow, let us vent, and don't try to make us feel better. We often feel isolated and misunderstood, and the best gift you can give us is just listening.

CH: What is the greatest gift you have received from your own diagnosis?
KR: One night during treatment I was in so much pain I wanted to die. This event of facing my own mortality cracked open part of my heart, and brought me closer to understanding how others face pain and suffering. As a result I've become a much less judgmental person. It sounds so cheesy. I'm not a touchy feely person, but there is no other way to couch the experience.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It is official

I am now a certified personal trainer! I passed my National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) test last week. And I am also certified cancer exercise specialist. I have started down my new journey and I am loving it.

That was part of why I was MIA for so long. I was studying like crazy in addition to heading out Las Vegas just hours after taking the exam. Hubby and his team were bowling in the National Bowling Open so we all headed town for several days of fun.

Now I am back home for a few days before heading off for a work comp seminar in Sun Valley. Then back home for less than a week and then I will be having surgery. So you can see I needed to get that test out of the way so I could focus on so many other things. Actually right now I should be finishing up packing and sorting through medical bill print-out for taxes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Still here

Sorry! There has been lots of things going on. It is all good but it has taken up a lot of time and energy. I will try to post details in the next day or two.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love this!

The Cost of Living
The Taking Tree: Late Effects Are The Awesome
By Matthew Zachary

"Life is about choice. Remission is not a cure. Survivorship is all the rage.""You're cured, go home!," sayeth the Doctor."Kiss my ass!", sayeth the me.Man, if I had a dime for every time I've heard that. Well, actually, I've only personally been told that once back in the stone age of 1996 when I was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 21. So congratulations me! I have 10¢ – and I can't even make a phone call anymore. Hell, even gum is 25¢.However, if I had a dime for every time I heard that *from* another young adult survivor, well... I'd probably have about $124. Do the math. That's still a hell of a lot of pissed off people. And a tank of gas in your Escalade.So, when I was actually told "You're cured, go home!", it was March 30th, 1996. I was an aspiring concert pianist and composer at the time just six months shy of my college graduation. At the time, however, this fabulous malignant brain tumor crippled my left hand negating 10 years of classical training and rendering my dreams to be a Hollywood film composer crushed, diced, minced, pureed, ingested, digested, and then crapped out into a martini glass. Many people know this part of my story. If you don't, welcome to the party.Apparently "You're cured, go home!," rarely takes into consideration what, precisely, your life after cancer will look like. Just a handful of my then-never-to-be-answered personal questions included "Will I be able to play piano again?", "Will I have children?", "Will I be alive in 5 years?", "Who's going to pay for all this?", "What about my family?" "How will I ever get life insurance now?", "How will I reintegrate myself?", "What the hell does 'new normal' mean anyway?", and the grand daddy of them all, "What now?" Mostly selfish questions but appropriately justified.My favorite was "Where are all the other people who look like me?" (Cuz, frankly, I'm ├╝ber sick of all those well-meaning geriatrics in the waiting room staring me down with pity.) "Oh, you poor thing. You're too young for this", sayeth the Octogenarian."Enjoy your gumming, Agnes or Thaddius or Esther or Pappy", sayeth the me.So apparently, from the lack of support I received specifically from the medical community, it seemed that life after cancer must be only about heartbeats and breaths? After all, who cares whether you're missing a ball, a boob, half your brain, pubic hair, your dignity or perhaps several inches of your colon?The point is you're alive, right? And isn't that all that really matters?"We're trying to save your life, Matthew!", sayeth the doctors."At what cost?", sayeth the me.You see, there's this thing. It's not really anything. Just an afterthought. It's a meaningless term. Barely mentioned. Harmless, actually. It's called quality of life.Apparently the 'Aha! Moment' is that there's more to the 'cure' than just toxic medicine and a placental discharge back into the real world. When your clinical cancerverse runs out and the most frantically panicked day of your treatment is your last day, life does not just magically start anew. There's no magic fairy with a bad 1940s hairstyle to sprinkle pixie dust on you and *POOF* that whole "crying in the shower" thing mystically transmogrifies into a perfectly holistic serenity of "nothing will ever bother me again and all my cares are footloose and fancy free."No, life after cancer is just as–if not more important than–life with and through your diagnosis, surgery, radiation, chemo, bone marrow transplants, platelet infusions, port surgeries and stem cell fabulousness.Ah, smell that metallic taste in your mouth.And cancer isn't just about babies, boomers and seniors anymore. It's about young adults too, a population for whom there has been zero improvement in survival rates in 30 years. What makes it worse for young adults is that we actually hope to have a good 60 or 70 years of life left to live and dealing with this crap kind of cramps our style big time. And don't get me started on the "Can't we all just get along?" bent.No, we can't. Not at least until we have a fundamental understanding that we will *never* be able to truly and directly relate to one another's uniquely generational and individual experiences outside of the whole fear thing. With 99.9% of the focus in this country on the 94% of people who get cancer (10,000 children and 1.4M adults over 40), how is it fair to ask us to get along when we've been ignored?Personally, I didn't want to then and I still don't want to now have my survivorship associated with anything that even remotely stinks of children, boomers or seniors. I like our little niche club. It's like Fight Club with chemo – only we are allowed to talk about Chemo Club and tag/share/tweet/blog/digg our bitterness, angst, anger, frustration and countercultural resentment right back out to the world. The young adult cancer movement is just awesome. Permission to rebel. Speak our mind and finally have a voice..."This is what matters to us!"Some say I was given a gift. I often see it that way. The gift of surviving cancer. In fact, I once heard someone say that they don't consider their cancer experience a gift because they'd "never want to give it to someone else as a present." Isn't that why they have gift receipts? Could you just imagine a gift receipt for some cancer?

Me: "I'd like to return this."
Apple Store: "Is something wrong with it?"
Me: "Uhm, yeah. It's cancer."
Apple Store: "Did it not work with your operating system?"
Me: "Dude, it's cancer. I want a refund."
Apple Store: "How much RAM do you have installed?"
Me: "English dude, it's cancer. I want a refund."
Apple Store: "Sorry but we only do exchanges."
Me: "Jeez. OK. What does that mean?"
Apple Store: "You can get something of equal or lesser value."
Me: F@ck me! Fine. I'll take diphtheria.
Apple Store: "I'm sorry sir we're out of that."
Me: "Can you suggest something semi-nonlethal?"
Apple Store: "We have iAbetes and eBola, our top sellers."
Me: "Actually, I'm just going to leave now."
Apple Store: "Have a good day sir."

I digress. My "gift", like that of so many others, is one that has a tendency to keep on giving. And giving. And giving. In fact, it's been so incredibly generous, that I can safely say that each and every year since I was "cured", cancer's gift has yielded way too many fond memories of said generosity. Thankfully, I should strenuously point out, none of which to date have involved a recurrence.The issue I can't help but continue to shove down society's throat is plain and simple. THERE'S MORE TO CURING CANCER THAN JUST RESEARCH. Research. Research. Research. Marcia. Marcia. Marcia. See you on the see-saw Cindy!While everyone is relaying, racing, training, frolicking and crocheting for the cure, millions of Americans (and in particular hundreds of thousands of young adults) actually *don't die* and are faced with the challenge of rebuilding their lives, starting over, often from scratch without any help.And that is not OK – especially for young adults.Where is the awareness for "what's next?"We live in a society of extremely generous individuals who want to help. They want to make a difference. But it's often just too easy to drink the wrong Kool-aid and find out your good intentions have been subverted by clever branding, peer pressure and colorful marketing strategies that make unicorn promises.I've been saying this for 10 years but "Do you know where your money goes?" What is the transparency and accountability policy of your favorite charity? Have you ever asked to see it? Or their tax returns? Have you ever visited Charity Navigator's website and seen what one of America's #1 nonprofit watchdog groups has to say? How do you know you are actually making a difference? It's rhetorical I suppose.It took 20 years for the word "survivorship" to enter the mainstream of our pseudo-collective consciousness as a survivor community. So the basic concept of "what's next" is beginning to penetrate, thanks, in part, to the Lance Armstrong Foundation along with emphatic passion and commitment of the young adult movement.But for the overwhelming majority of Americans – and I suppose you truly can't fault them for this – Cancer is still the most feared subject in the country, according to a recent survey by the Tower Cancer Foundation. We fear cancer more than terrorism. That's how bad it is, the irony being that, on the hole, while a pejorative experience, it is a largely survivable experience, unless, of course you're between 15 and 39.There was a time when we feared HIV just as much. But it's not a death sentence in this country anymore. When did that change? Was there a tipping point? An exact moment when the rift tripped? And, more importantly, will we ever get to that same place with cancer? I don't think it's a question of if, but when.My job here isn't to scare people to death with the notion of recurrence, secondary cancers, late effects, post-traumatic stress, etc... but they are grounding realities that are instilled within the very nature of survivorship, inconvenient truths that cling to the inner digestive walls of our psychology. Cancer may actually be a gift. It may give us perspective, a new philosophy, dogmatic reassessment or even grounding purpose.. but it does take. And sometimes what it takes cannot be replaced. Reminders of it's influence, no matter how subtle, influence how we choose to live our lives... as victims or survivors. As sufferers or warriors. As fighters or champions.Challenge is opportunity and, while we're light years from where we came, we still have quite a ways to go. We're not where we were but where not where we'd like to be. The very fact that we are in a position to challenge cancer 'progress', ask hard questions, take on the establishment and hold accountable the government, the insurance industry and major cancer charities is itself a social statement of progress.In fact, if you'd have told me when I was diagnosed that 13 years later there'd be two cancer talk radio shows–one just about young adults–I'd have told you to go jump off a bridge. If you'd have told me that there would be a cancer revolution from the youth culture, I'd have thought you were nuts. If you had told me that "the next me" wouldn't have to go through the same crap as I did", I'd have asked you to just leave the room. Yet here we are. And isn't that what cancer advocacy is? Ensuring that the next "you" doesn't have to go through the same crap you did? See, the taking tree does give. Whatever cancer has taken away from me in part or in full has been replaced with passion, energy, commitment and responsibility to roll up the sleeves and give back. This is the virus we want to spread. The disease of social consciousness, personal accountability, self-sacrifice, altruism and both individual and community reward.One in 50 Americans between 18 and 40 and one in 100 American college students is a cancer survivor. Chew on that. They are all around us but you'd never know because we look just like you. It is important to recognize that we have made incredible strides for the majority of people who are affected by cancer each year. But for young adults, we are only just now getting our comeuppance and a global voice to share our own generational grievances, public health disparities and too-often ignored unique survival issues.After all, at the end of the day, the message is "Shit happens but this is how I am going to get busy living, dammit." We want cancer to be a speed bump so we can get back to our derailed plans. How dare this get in my way? Seriously.The taking tree has got nothing on me. On you. On anyone.So if and when you hear the words "You're cured, go home." or "Now get on with the rest of your life." or "What have you got to complain about, you're alive!" or "There are people worse off who didn't go through what you want through.", just remember the young adult social movement has your back like no one else. The rest of the world doesn't have to get it, but we do.So take my ball, boob, brain, hair, hearing, colon and dignity.I will find something equal if not more fabulous to replace it with. Perhaps a Snuggie.After all, if cancer is the worst thing that has ever happened, just think, "Been there. Done that. What could possibly be worse? Bring it on."Then again, if it's a gift, just don't re-gift it.