Blogging for Breast Cancer

Published in: News

What Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

One night exactly one year ago — ironically this very month — El Hub and I were sitting in our small living room watching TV when the phone rang.



El Hub answered the call: “Hello?”

“Hi, my darling son,” said his mom.

“Hi, Mom,” he answered, and his eyes locked on me, his face a mask of worry.

It was a night just like any other, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that that’s how these things usually are, these life-changing moments. One second everything’s fine — you’re watching America’s Best Dance Crew, doing your nails on the floor when BAM!

That night started my immediate family’s personal journey through breast cancer, which we’re still working our way through. Things happened fast right after the news — a barrage of tests, long talks with doctors about options, and you’re going along for the ride because the procedures get scheduled before the news has even had time to settle.

Didi, my mother-in-law, is classified as “in remission” now. She’s fine — well, not exactly fine, but she’s hanging in there. She had a double mastectomy shortly after receiving the news last year (first one, and then, two weeks later, the other) and four rounds of chemo. Now she’s dealing with less serious (than cancer) complications resulting from the chemotherapy, as well as the mental and emotional trauma of being basically housebound and afraid for 12 months.

I know it all sounds brutal to hear… The words come flooding out from time to time, but that’s another thing about life — it has a funny way of surprising you when you least expect it.

Every October, women around the world take time to remember friends and family and to increase breast cancer awareness. They promote the importance of early detection, help to raise funds for research and treatment and offer information and support to those affected by the disease.

For us, there is no more worthy cause than this one. Breast cancer targets us (women) at a rate 100 times greater than men.

Here’s a statistic that shocked me when I read it, but one in every eight US women will develop breast cancer… That means some of us, here.

So what are we going to do about it?

Answer: we’re going to stick together.

There are many ways to help and many worthy organizations. No one can possibly support them all, but I would still like to see if we here can raise $250 by the end of the month.

I’ll match your donations (up to $250), which means that if there’s $250 on the ChipIn widget below here, then we’ll have raised $500 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the organization I’m choosing for the donation.

About Susan G. Komen

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.

In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find a cure. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure, the group has invested nearly $1 billion to fulfill Nancy’s promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

How to Give?

How Much to Give?

Every dollar gets us closer to that $250, but there are other ways to help. One way is by commenting on this post about your experiences, thoughts or fears about breast cancer. Ask any questions you might have, and I’ll do my best to find the answer.

This month is about getting the word out there and about reminding each of us that we’re not alone, even if we’re miles apart.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,

Karen

44 Comments

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  1. Amanda says:

    What a great thing you’re doing Karen! If I weren’t unemployed right now I would totally donate.

    Before I lost my job I was a radiation therapist, so cancer care and the families of patients are things very close to my heart. I can also answer any questions someone may have, as I’ve been on both sides of the coin (both as a medical professional and watching family members go through treatment).

  2. Brianna says:

    Hey Karen,
    Awesome post, cancer awareness is also very important to me as my younger brother is a leukemia survivor. I can definately sympathize with you when you say one day your minding your business and the next day everythings different! It really teaches you to enjoy eachother, and take everything in. Though cancer brought huge sadness upon my family we have all learned so many things about ourselfes and eachother. My brother has also become a spokesperson and activitist for youth affected by cancer. I am forever proud of him for never being bitter, and turning this dark time in his life around for the better and helping others. I also want I am so happy to hear your Mother in Law is doing well to. I think its great your taking action! Sorry for the wordy comment but I read your blog often and enjoy it alot, and this post really made me want to speak out! Thanks Karen

  3. Susan says:

    This is great, Karen! I am the PR Director for a hospital who has received funds from Komen to help women who don’t have the funds to receive a mammogram or biopsy or even surgery on their own. It’s great to be able to tell the scared woman on the phone that we can help her, and to hear the relief in her voice. Keep up the good work, ladies! We can beat this!

  4. Kelly says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great post thanks for doing this!

    As you know I work for a large Biotech company here in the Bay Area and we make cancer drugs including Herceptin which is used for breast cancer treatment. All day at work I am surrounded by reminders of why I work here (the patients) and hear about cancer survivors. It’s great to see so many people care about finding the cure.

    My good friend is an Oncology RN, so she deals with cancer patients every day and actually administers the drugs my company makes.

    My cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 when she had just had her first (and only) child. She went through years and years of chemo, radiation and even a bone marrow transplant, and after fighting for 10 years, she died just after her 40th birthday. Her son who was ten, had never known his mother without cancer.

    It seems like a big world, but really it’s small because everyone I know has some kind of breast cancer story that’s personal to them.

    Keep up the fight and we can beat this thing!
    .-= Kelly’s last blog post… Flower Ball =-.

  5. Giselle says:

    I feel very fortunate to have never had anyone in my family affected with cancer. I know this may sound really stupid, but I’m 20 years old, and I honestly believed I had it. When I was about 11 I started feeling lumps on my chest and some days they were painful. I noticed over the years the lumps getting bigger and they moved around and continued to hurt. I never ever told anyone even though I was so scared. Finally last year I went to possibly get a mammogram. The doctor ended up using an ultrasound first and assured me that my breast tissue was just thicker than the normal and it was nothing to worry about. I know it may sound really stupid because I’m so young, but I didn’t tell anyone for years, and I learned so much that day. I also learned the results from my mom’s mammogram that day came out fine. I have a great awareness for this now, and I will never again keep to myself a problem that could be serious and I hope no one else does either.

  6. Sleepy says:

    Thanks for doing this! I hope that some day, pancreatic cancer will get as much notice and funding as breast cancer awareness & research (pancreatic cancer is truly a silent killer).

  7. Kristen says:

    Karen,
    Thank you for posting on such an important topic. It seems to affect everyone in different ways, and I worry sometimes that the familiarity of the pink ribbon (in the media, in association with walks/runs/rallies, through promotional products) will dull our collective sensitivities to this horrible disease, until tragedy strikes someone we know personally. It shouldn’t be that way, and I think personal stories always help to drive that point home.

    So sorry you and your family have to endure this difficult journey, but thank you for sharing your story. It’s important that we remember to do self-exams, get mammograms, and do anything else we can to protect ourselves against this awful illness.
    .-= Kristen’s last blog post… Recession Beauty: BeneFit To Go set at Sephora =-.

  8. nikki says:

    This is wonderful Karen, i have no money to donate, but back home in NC i always take part in a breast cancer walk- in name of my senior english teacher who taught us while she was doing chemo for her breast cancer. We watched as she shaved her head, was very weak, but she only missed a handful of days due to being sick from chemo.
    She, and your mother-in-law are such an inspiration.

  9. Jacquie Leigh says:

    Karen- So glad you’re spreading the word! I made a small donation, too, kind of for everyone I know with cancer (and the number is growing, too).

    And, for everyone who thinks they don’t have the funds, just think about not eating out one night and donating just $10. It only takes 25 people for help Karen reach her goal at this rate!

    Good luck Karen!!

  10. Christina says:

    Karen, this is a beautiful thing you’re doing. Thank you for the timely reminder and for giving us a way we can get involved.
    .-= Christina’s last blog post… The Power Of Hair =-.

  11. Michelle Mattingly says:

    Karen- as the daughter of a survivor, I thank you so much for this, it means alot to me, and of course every woman out there. I will be walking in Dallas this year, and I will put you Mom in law’s name on my shirt next to my moms as a survivor.

    thank you for all that you do.

  12. Katrina says:

    This is such an emotional subject. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. She was super lucky they found the lump so early that she just had to have a mastectomy and be on the chemo pill for a few years. But it’s super scary. She had lost a brother to cancer in 1988 and also had another brother with cancer just a couple years before she went through it in 2003. But now I have to be super careful myself and go in for my yearly exams, etc. My doctor even suggested a baseline ultra-sound of my breasts at age 25 for my records, which I did – just in case. We can’t be too careful or take too many precations and we can’t be afraid to talk about it. Thank you Karen for spreading the awareness!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Katrina,

      That’s great to hear they caught your mom’s cancer early and that she’s doing well. Keep doing your monthly BSEs… they’re so important! :)

  13. Kate & Zena says:

    This is a great post. I got really teary eyed. My grandma fought and beat breast cancer when I was a little baby and she has Lupus too. She had a double mastectomy and has a pair of silicone breasts and a special bra where she inserts the breasts. She wasn’t qualified for breast reconstruction because of Lupus. We jokingly refer to them as her “removable breasts.” She lost two of her sisters to the cancer and two others fought the cancer as well. Even though I’m only 20, I do breast examinations at home. I’ll probably have to get mammograms earlier than anyone else because of the long history of the cancer. I also have to look out for uterine cancer as well. When my mom had her hysterectomy when I was 3 or 4, the doctors found Stage One uterine cancer. Thankfully, she didn’t need chemo or radiation. September is Ovarian/Uterine Cancer Awareness Month (forgot to mention it, oops).

    My neighbor’s wife (we’re close to this family. They were so nice to us when we first moved here) finished chemo and had a double mastectomy as well over the summer. I walked her dog, Ally, with Zena for her so she didn’t have to worry about Ally going stir crazy from all the excess energy. Ally is a German Shepherd/Husky mix so she has a lot of energy. It was a blessing in disguise that Ally and Zena are buds! She was happy knowing that her dog was calm and happy from being walked nearly everyday.

    Thank you for posting your experience with your m-i-t having it. What doesn’t kill us really does make us stronger. Next month (November) is Epilepsy Awareness Month which is another disorder very close to home as I have it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kate,

      I got a little teary eyed reading your comment. I didn’t realize that was the reason why you were walking Ally…

      It’s great that you’re taking control and doing your monthly BSE’s. It’s especially important when there’s family history of the disease.

      Big hugs to you. :)

  14. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this post. My mom’s mother died of breast cancer before I was born. I never got the chance to know her. My mom’s sister is a survivor of breast cancer and that same sister has a daughter who is a survivor also. Since my family has been so affected by this disease, it really touches my heart to see others so passionate about it! My sincere thanks to you!

  15. Mary007 says:

    Hi Karen. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I think this is the first time I leave a comment. I wanted to thank you for sharing this story. It brought a lot of feeling and emotions. Keep supporting your mother in law and embrace every moment you’re with her. Tell her she’s a strong woman and never lose hope.

  16. penelope says:

    i think we should stop complaining about our breasts. the breast that we have are unique! no matter what size,shape,or color they are. people with breast cancer would kill to have that 32a or dd breast. so next time you complain about them…stop and think of the other women who actually don’t have any …..

  17. Kate & Zena says:

    Karen,

    Normally, her husband or kids walked Ally but they were all so busy that I took to walking her so she wasn’t sitting on the porch all day. She’s got too much energy to sit around all day unlike Zena who can.

  18. Marce says:

    That’s so nice of you Karen…my dad lost his cousin last year to breast cancer, it was all of a sudden, so sad. I really hope this cancer battle ends some day, and in a good way, so that there’s no more suffering. I suppose we have to keep our chins high and will power strong, and never give up hope. The sun always shines somewhere, hey =)
    .-= Marce’s last blog post… Look Primavera 09 – Go Naked =-.

  19. Tiffany says:

    Hi Karen, I’m glad your mother-in-law is hanging in there and hope she stays in remission. Breast cancer runs in my family, unfortunately. My aunt is battling it, and is currently waiting on test results; it’s such a scary thing.

  20. Christy says:

    Gosh, I know too much about cancer…. Unfortunately, 2 aunts with breast cancer, my stepdad passed away 5 yrs ago from colon cancer, 2 of my mom’s best friends (very close to me, they were like my aunts too) and just yesterday my boyfriend’s dad had to undergo a colostomy while on holiday in Hawaii. My BF’s dad was quite a shock. I’m still trying to digest it.
    .-= Christy’s last blog post… MAC Brave New Bronze & High Def Dupes & Swatches =-.

  21. ED says:

    I just had a BE this past week as I had felt a few suspect lumps on my chest the past several months. I had put it off for so long because I was too busy with work, didn’t have time, was only 33, [insert laundry list of excuses here]. Long story short…I’m now scheduled for an ultrasound and diagnostic mammography for further investigation. The NP is fairly confident that it’s all benign and that there’s no reason to worry but we’re doing tests to confirm all that.

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. And I hope women remember to take time to do monthly BSEs. And please…if you even suspect the tiniest lump, don’t delay seeing a doctor to get it looked at. Most likely it’s nothing but better safe than sorry.

  22. Kat says:

    I’m happy to donate a little bit! I’m happy to say that no one in my family has gotten breast cancer yet, but it something I always make sure my mom and grandmother keep an eye on because I’ve heard so many stories about breast cancer and know how important it is to catch it early.

  23. heather says:

    Thanks for posting this blog entry! I think Breast Cancer awareness is one of THE most important topics for women. And it is great to see people spreading the word and helping in the fight against this awful disease.

    One thing that I found recently was a program Cashmere is doing that combines fashion with supporting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Cashmere has an annual fashion show that has designers use the Cashmere product to create amazing pieces of fashion/art. This is the Cashmere White Collection had their fashion show in Toronto and is also having an online contest at http://www.cashmere.ca – all of which supports the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

  24. Temi says:

    Is there any disease as worse as breast cancer? My best friend died of it.
    It was as if 2 big stones were inserted in her breast. i watched her die, it was a painful experience. Thanks for posting this blog.

  25. icare says:

    I am all for finding a cure but I do not and will not support the SGK Foundation because I do not support animal testing. What does SGK have to do with animal testing? They FUND animal testing in their work to find a cure. I will not support animal testing and will not support charities who FUND animal testing. Here are great organizations doing the same kind of work – without hurting animals. http://humaneseal.org/charities/breastcancer_month.cfm

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