Tag Archive | young women can and do get breast cancer

No Hair, Don’t Care

IMG_6-3159382308-OBack in February, I had the idea to do a photo shoot with my new bald head.  I shaved my head at the end of January.  By then, I had two chemotherapy treatments under my belt and I couldn’t stand seeing the clumps of hair that would fall whenever I simply scratched my head. So, I decided to get rid of my thick and curly tresses.

I spassed out a couple of times after the big shave.  This was surprising since I had experienced losing all of my hair during the first cancer diagnosis in 2010. Nevertheless, I had a moment…or two. I don’t have any bald pictures from the first diagnoses. I have a couple of pictures of my short boy cut but none where I’m bald or almost bald.

So after losing my hair this time around, I decided that I wanted to take pictures in a pretty dress. And I did just that. My friend Niguel – who is an awesome photographer AND also shot my wedding – took a few pictures of me. On a crisp March afternoon, I had photo shoot time with Niguel and his sweet wife, Kristen. Here are a few of my favorites…

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Thank you Niguel for the beautiful pictures! You rock! Check out more of Niguel’s work at niguelvalley.com.

Peace and Love

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Conference for Young Women Affected by Breast Cancer

Are you still experiencing cold winter weather? *Sigh* I’m not! Sorry to rub it in your face but the temperature here is mid 60s and man I’m happy about it.  It gets better though.  Next week I’ll be traveling to sunny Orlando, Florida for the Annual Conference for Young Women affected by Breast Cancer (C4YW). I received a registration waiver from the conference.  In addition, my other generous sponsors (mom and dad) are covering my plane ticket to and from Florida.  I’m super excited!

“C4YW is the only international event focused on the unique needs and issues faced by women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45.  Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Young Survival Coalition have created this conference for young women affected by breast cancer and those who support them.”

I’m looking forward to meeting other young survivors, learning more about trending research, attending workshops, sightseeing and of course the sunny warm weather.  A few of the workshops that I plan to attend are…The Case for a Greener World: Breast Cancer and the Environment…Advocacy and Inclusion: Coming Together for Good…Cancer and Careers: Understanding Your Rights in the Workplace…and many more interesting topics that’ll be a part of this year’s conference.  I’ll be sure to share more when I return.

The conference agenda is packed with tons of activities to keep busy.  In between workshops and conference speakers I do plan on venturing out into the city.  So, if you’re from Orlando or you’ve been to Orlando…

Where should I go? (Other than Disney World) What should I do?

Peace and Love

True Life

I found a great website today…they have really cool t-shirts and awesome Top 10 Lists (I def love these).  The sun isn’t out today and I needed a really good laugh…I’m glad that I stumbled across this site.

Here’s a Top 10 List posted on Planet Cancer that made my eyes water it was so funny. The post stemmed from true stories from members of the Young Survival Coalition, which serves young women under 40 with breast cancer.

Top 10 (minus 1) Worst Things to Hear From Your Doctor

9. When complaining to my plastic surgeon about the funky shape of my tissue expander, he said “Well, it’s sort of like a beach toy that is not fully inflated yet.”

8.  When asked to take part in a clinical trial suitable for stage II cancer, I asked my oncologist, “So that means I’m stage II, then?” And he replied, “Yeah– at LEAST!”

7.  After taking samples of my tumor, my physician asked, “Do you want to see them? They look like little tiny pieces of angel hair pasta.”

6.  After discussing plastic surgery for breast cancer, my plastic surgeon said, “You know they are never going to look real.”

5.  When discussing with my oncologist about getting my port removed, he said, “Well, I guess we can put it back in if we need it.”

4.  Talking to my oncologist, he says, “Well, everything is fine—for now”

3.  My primary oncologist asked me, “So, who is your primary oncologist?”

2.  My plastic surgeon remarks, “I hate making nipples.”

1.  Arriving to get a mammogram a few years after a breast cancer diagnosis: “So, why are you here?”

You may think it’s sick or a little twisted but hey you gotta have a sense of humor to be a cancer survivor…or else you’ll drown in sorrow. Have a super fantastic weekend!

Are you a dark comedy fan?  Share your funniest dark joke.

Peace and Love

Life After Cancer

Did you know that approximately 11,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40 every year?  On January 6, 2010 I was counted in that number.  Four days before my 26th birthday, my doctor entered the cold sterile room where my mom and I patiently waited for the results from a biopsy of my left breast.  It didn’t even take my doctor thirty minutes to return with the results.  Before she even opened her mouth, I had a gut feeling that she would say – You have cancer. And she did.  Since those words were spoken to me, my life has never been the same.

The past year has been one filled with heartache, sickness, confusion, fatigue, and extreme emotions.  And though people always reiterate how positive I’ve remained throughout this entire process, I’ve struggled many times to keep the negative thoughts and the pain from invading my life.  I can’t believe I ever questioned God and asked Him why? Why would He allow this to happen to me?  What did I do to deserve this?  Why didn’t He intervene?

I’ve come to realize that this was an attack by the devil. God didn’t want this to happen to me.  The devil tried to use cancer to turn my world upside down…to break me…to push me to lose my faith…to become unloving and cynical.  What was meant to hurt me and what was meant to have me distrust Jesus made me a better person and made my love for Him even stronger.  It may sound bizarre but I am grateful for this experience.

Since my diagnosis, my outlook on the world has changed.  My thought process is so much different.  The way I interact with others has evolved. The list of things I want to experience in life has grown. Now the importance of how I spend my time and who I spend my time with has become a major consideration. I feel and believe that I can and will do everything and anything that I set out to accomplish.  Many people wait until much later in life, often after they’ve been consumed by a demanding career, exhausted from raising a family, beat-up by destructive behavior, to re-evaluate what’s important to them or to define who they are as a person.

Being diagnosed with such a life threatening illness at a young age has helped me to realize who I am, to give me the confidence needed to face my fears, to value life, to be proactive in regards to my health, to build a stronger relationship with God, to reevaluate friendships and relationships, and to show my appreciation to my parents and family for all of their love and support over the years.

Today I turned a year older.  Not so long ago, birthdays were just another day for me.  No reason to get excited.  No hurt feelings if people didn’t send me birthday wishes.  Just another day in the neighborhood. I must admit that I was looking forward to today.  No, I didn’t have any super plans.  In fact, where I live, we got several inches of snow last night.  And in the South if we get two snow flurries we shut everything down! So, I’ve spent my birthday – or snow day – at home, on my couch, watching countless reruns of sitcoms, and taking impromptu naps.  A perfect birthday.  And every birthday that I’m blessed to see from this year forward will be perfect.

I’m thankful for today…I’m thankful for life…I’m thankful for the support and love of family and great friends…I’m thankful for Doctors Henry-Tillman, Hutchins, and Yuen for their care and their vigilance in seeing that cancer will never invade my body again…I’m thankful for the nurses and staff at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute for their warmth, optimism, and ability to make me feel comfortable on my worse days…lastly I’m thankful for a loving and merciful God. If He never does anything else for me again…He’s already done more than enough.

Peace and Love

Race Highlights 2010

Race Day was this past Saturday.  Team 20SomethingSurvivor was 27 members strong and raised a total of $575…that’ll cover the expenses for three mammograms. I’m super proud of our team!  The weekend was a celebration of life and remembrance of those who lost their battle against breast cancer.

The city was flooded with pink wearing survivors and supporters. An estimated 46,000 people participated in the race!  I can’t wait to see how much money was raised for the foundation.  I imagine that will be announced in the upcoming days.

Here are a few highlights from the weekend –

Friday night was the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Pasta Party at the Travelers baseball stadium.  This was my first time attending and I had a great time!  Macaroni Grill catered the event and AT&T provided the adult beverages (wine and beer).  There was a silent auction that featured some pretty nice items…day spa certificates, jewelry, downtown hotel packages and much more.  There were also other breast cancer awareness freebies.  Plus, the infamous pink fire truck was there for photo opts. The band was awesome…they were very entertaining. I have a picture of the “lead singer” in action but he was actually the trumpet player.  He was on the floor so much with the microphone singing, dancing and hyping the crowd that you would’ve thought he was running the show! (Hilarious)

My best friend, grandma, mom and a sister survivor (Mrs. Gwen…my grandma’s close friend) tagged along with me…here are a few pictures from Friday night.

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Saturday was a full day!  We left the house around 6:30 a.m.  I’m rarely ever up and ready to go anywhere at that time (unless I’m heading to the airport).  I would normally be dragging that early in the morning but I was super excited to meet my teammates and hit the streets.  I’ve participated in the race before but this was the first time that I finished (somehow or another I always had to work race day so I never finished but instead managed to find a side street and make my exit…I know I know…shame on me).  I completed the 5K this year and I promise it seemed more like 10 miles instead of 3.1…here are a few pictures from the race.

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After the race my mom (yay! for the team captain) and grandma hosted a lunch for our team.  I enjoyed catching up with my friends and family.  We had a great time…here are a few pictures from our team lunch.

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I made it to bed a little after 10 race night. I was pooped but happy to have seen so many people supporting the fight to end breast cancer.  The race is one day out of the year but I, as well as many others, will be around for the remaining days to help educate others and to help eradicate breast cancer from our lives forever!

Peace and Love

Top Model

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I would be one of ten breast cancer survivors featured in AY Magazine’s October issue. All of the survivors are wearing garments from local retailers. I had my photo shoot yesterday and boy did I feel fierce! (as Tyra Banks would say) I was outfitted in a beautiful dress from Proposals boutique. I also had flawless makeup courtesy of makeup artist and skin care specialist Bridget B. from Barbara/Jean. She is absolutely amazing. In addition, I was photographed wearing thousands of dollars of gorgeous diamonds. I can’t wait to see the final published issue!

Tomorrow I’ll be modeling another beautiful dress from Proposals on KARZ‘s Today Morning Show while promoting AY Magazine’s Runway for a Cause. Runway for a Cause is a luncheon and fashion show that supports eradication of breast cancer in our state and benefits Baptist Health, CARTI, New Outlook and the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

Check out this dress. It is too fly! I’m thinking about passing around a collection plate to family and friends so that I can buy it.

Alberto Makali cocktail dress

Front View

I’m absolutely enjoying this experience. I’m very humbled that I was even asked…I’ve felt so beautiful and uplifted over the past few days. AY Magazine’s staff has been super sweet and energetic…the ladies at Proposals have been welcoming and supportive of the cause…Bridgette B. rocked with her makeup brushes and creative eyes…and yes diamonds are truly a girl’s best friend…(sigh) I could get used to this.

Peace and Love

Race for the Cure

Last year's race...my great aunt is a survivor

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is just around the corner. I would love love love if you would give a donation to support the cause.  I’m including the link where you can learn more about the race and donate to my fundraising goal.  But first…here are some facts about young women and breast cancer from www.youngsurvival.org.

Young women under age 45 can and do develop breast cancer. In the U.S. about 10 percent of all breast cancer occurs in women under age 45.

24,000 women in the U.S. under age 45 are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year…More than 3,000 will die.

There is no effective breast cancer screening tool for women 40 and under.

Young women are often diagnosed at a later stage than their older counterparts.

There is very little research focused on issues unique to this younger population, such as fertility, pregnancy, genetic predisposition, the impact of hormonal status on the effectiveness of treatment, psycho-social and long-term survivorship issues and higher mortality rates for young women, particularly for African-Americans and Latinas.

As the incidence of young women with breast cancer is much lower than in older women, young women are underrepresented in many research studies.

Here’s the link to my race page…

http://arkansas.info-komen.org/site/TR/RacefortheCure/LIT_ArkansasAffiliate?px=8106272&pg=personal&fr_id=1815

No donation  is too small for the cause…thanks for your support.

Peace and Love