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Entries in Breast cancer (5)

Sunday
Nov102013

The Courage to Be Seen, Part 2

Hey my people,

Here's the second unbelievably cool cancer-fighting viral video I told you about:  "Molly's P.INK Tattoo," which came to me from upworthy.com. Click to meet Molly Ortwein, founder of P.INK.org, (P.INK as in "Personal Ink"). After her double mastectomy, Molly elected to adorn her reconstructed breasts with tattoos. Colby Butler, of Unfamous Tattoo in Miami, did the inking on two gorgeous representations of Brazilian pernambuco blossoms, reflecting Molly's love of all things Brazil.  

This story so far is lovely but not groundbreaking, right? Okay, here's the groundbreaking part. Molly has gone on to found P.INK.org -- a nexus that pairs women who want to answer cancer with tattoos with tattoo artists willing to offer their time and talent to help. I hope you'll check out the P.INK Pinterest page. Maybe recommend this idea to somebody you love. 

Brave women like Molly Ortwein and (previous post) Deborah Cohen are confirming what we all instinctively know: This is a momentous time in the wide world of cancer. The big C is losing its power to make us hide and talk in whispers. We're fighting cancer, and we're willing to be seen fighting cancer.

There's a fierceness cancer gives us, and although I bleeping hate the cancer, I love the fierceness. 

Molly is a perfect example. She may cry here and there during this video, but she's not remotely embarrassed about that. She's planning to work those tattoos, honey.  Talking about plans for her next trip to Brazil, she says with a grin: "I am so looking forward to marching my ass around the beach with no top on."

 

Thursday
Nov072013

The Courage to Be Seen, Part 1

Hey my people,

You know what? We are fighting back against the soul-killing after-effects of cancer, and we are being seen fighting back. I'm thinking about two viral videos I saw today. Both make me cry, not with sorrow, but with joy.

First came the most delightful, not to mention funky, homemade dance video, staged in the OR to Beyonce's "Get Me Bodied" by an awesome woman named Deborah Cohen and the medical team about to perform her double mastectomy. She termed it a Flash Mob and invited funky souls everywhere to join in. Here's how it went down.

 

Just five days after her surgery, Deborah's video has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.  Nearly 200,000 people have visited her CaringBridge page, and many have responded to her request to film their own "Get Me Bodied" videos and email them to her. "I picture a healing montage," she writes. "Are you with me?"

You damn betcha!

 

Wednesday
May232012

True story: A bad girl "trying to be healthy every day"

Hey my people,

Meet my friend Gin B, who's dealing with recurrent breast cancer. I would not care to be the cancer cells messing with Gin B.  She is a strong, smart woman, and she's winning: Her numbers are getting better and her hot spots are getting smaller.  (Suck it up, c cells.)  Had we met a few years ago, Gin and I would have bonded while closing down bars and drag-racing motorcycles. We both inclined to the bad-girl worldview, is what I'm saying. In our peer group, nutrition was not a priority.

But these days Gin has been exploring new ways to kick butt.  Like juicing. 

"I'm on this carrot, beet and orange juice kick, and I LOVE IT!" she told me yesterday. That's after her two daily shots of wheatgrass. "Some days I eat french fries, but I just keep trying to be healthy every day." 

I don't think this rules out racing motorcycles. I figure if there's one thing stronger than juicing, it's juicing with attitude.  

What's your experience? Does defiance come in handy? Or does it make your cancer journey harder?

 

Wednesday
Mar142012

Surviving Cancer in the 99%

Cancer Vets Speak: A Well Again Series

Hey my people, we asked you to tell us: "What do you think is missing from cancer treatment now?" For Jen, it's affordable treatment.  Do you relate?  We'd love to post your story.  Talking with each other is the first step to improving our financial prognosis. —Warmest regards, Anne

Jen's Story

I am a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor of three years. I just lost a bc sister, mother of two, aged 38 — so I'm not really at the peak of a cancer cheerleading wave right now. Sometimes I'm more positive, but the last two weeks have been really, really tough.

But you wanted to know what I think is missing? I think we need truly affordable healthcare and financial assistance for those of us in the 99% and unlucky enough to be diagnosed with cancer. My diagnosis happened while we were already just trying to survive financially until both of our children reach kindergarten; while trying to maintain a freelance design business; while trying to send my husband back to school to obtain a teaching credential; and while just trying to maintain our household and some semblance of normal for us during my grueling treatment.

Why should a diagnosis mean financial disaster?

Having cancer is really expensive if you add in lost income, multi-thousand deductible expenses and additional cancer-related expenses not covered by insurance. It makes me sad and angry that so many of us have to hit rock bottom financially due to illness. It is outrageous that up to 65% of bankruptcies in our country are due to medical-related expenses.

And unless you have already hit rock bottom, you are not eligible for any basic government-related assistance. And even that -- when you are facing a shortfall of $15,000–$30,000 per year during and after cancer -- is just a drop in the bucket.

I am alive, I am able to be with my children, and my children are healthy, for which I am truly grateful. But the financial disaster of being diagnosed with a chronic illness is truly devastating. It has taken us two full years to begin to pick up the financial pieces of our lives.  That has taken a lot of the joy out of a time that should be filled with as much optimism and joy as possible -- to make the most of whatever time any cancer survivor has, and also to help keep recurrance at bay.

It's just really hard [to be optimistic and joyful] when debt is mounting, and making your modest mortgage payment is a struggle every month.  So, that's what I think is missing. Truly affordable healthcare and real financial assistance for survivors.

 

Thursday
Feb232012

True story: "Cancer is with me every day…"

Cancer Vets Speak: A Well Again Series

Hello, my people! You've been sending me amazing stories about life beyond cancer treatment. Thanks for letting me share them here. We want to hear your truth, so don't be afraid to join in. Everybody's cancer story is different. Somebody out here needs to hear yours. —Warmest regards, Anne

Liz's Story

"I'm a 35 year old breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in August 2009 at 32. Just at the time when seemingly every woman my age I knew was having babies, I was having chemo! It was really hard to stay cheerful at baby showers. I've really worked hard to find my new normal and to embrace the life I have, but cancer is with me every day and always will.

"My number one cancer pet peeve is (and was) war metaphors: "kick its ass," "you're going to beat this thing," "he's a cancer warrior," "she lost the battle'" etc. Like it's just a matter of trying hard enough or something. I know people mean well; I guess that's why it's more of a pet peeve than something that truly enrages me.

Disclaimer: Well Again does not give medical advice. For cancer advice, see a doctor.