Friday, April 30, 2010

Pink is the "hot" color for fire trucks: their mission.. breast cancer awareness

This website really made me smile after a long week.
It's a breast cancer awareness program, with that grass roots, homegrown feeling. I know some women get pinked-out, but reading about the effort it seems like a really sincere attempt to do something unique by people who have been personally impacted by breast cancer. A new truck in Georgia is named "Carolyn" in memory of an officials wife who had breast cancer for 30 years.
Read more in this story from

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Test being developed to help women with DCIS determine treatment plan

Breast cancer treatment plan stories are complicated....especially for television. I thought CBS did a good job of explaining the dilemma of treating DCIS and describing the new test being developed.

Give me a D!

My doctor is a big believer in vitamin D3 supplements, and this article about a new study seems to support the notion of a possible breast cancer benefit.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Which came first... the chicken or the cure?

A little story about my personal history with KFC. Back in 2006, the staff of the TV station I worked at went on a "diet challenge." A local fitness center gave us a very restricted meal plan, where we ate the same thing 6 days a week. At dinner, I was supposed to eat grilled breast of chicken or fish, plus salad and rice. I was single, working long days and didn't have a dishwasher, so most nights I ate a salad with grilled chicken, plus a small side of rice from a Bangor, Maine KFC.

It may not have been organic, it may not have been perfect, but I actually lost 10 pounds on that diet. I was glad my local branch of KFC seemed to use pretty good quality lettuce and tomato in its salads, something not every fast food outlet can boast of. Also, in a town where the most popular quick meal is the lobster roll, it was an affordable supper.

Perhaps that experience has kept me from having a strong initial reaction to Susan G. Komen's "Buckets for the Cure" campaign. If you make good choices it is possible to get a balanced meal at a fast food restaurant, something I learned first hand.

Now in a perfect world, Komen could hook up with, oh say, The Long Island Cauliflower Growers' Association.  But in reality, Komen's method of raising money for breast cancer awareness and research programs involves partnerships with major corporations.

Is Komen saying women can prevent breast cancer by eating lots of fried chicken? I guess someone could interpret it that way, though I hope most people have more common sense than that. So to me, the real issue with this campaign is that the message is not very clear.

In the non-profit world, your brand and message are your product, and Komen's leaders will have to decide if the revenue from the promotion is worth the negative press. There is certainly more to consider about the charity than this one program.

Komen provides a unique opportunity for women across the country who are concerned about breast cancer to participate in fund raising. There is no exact equivalent. I have connected online with a lot of great women due to the existence of Komen chapters located from Orange County, California to Puerto Rico. Is Komen the only worthy breast cancer charity? Absolutely not, but the organization does serve a fairly unique function in the way it works on both a national and local level.

So I am going to hold off on judging the Susan G. Komen foundation's merits on the basis of this one promotion. But hey, maybe someone can start designing some cute pink cauliflower wrappers for next year?


Hey one question, if you are a Komen volunteer, what's your take on this? Feel free to comment!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Making the transition from patient to survivor

This would be a great article to forward to friends and family. San Diego Union-Tribune reporter R.J. Igzelzi takes a look at life after cancer, and why so many patients feel lost and confused. Both the main article and the sidebar have a lot of sold information about the dilemmas survivors face.


Our health system focuses on curing the patient of cancer, but nobody is there to help people make the transition from patient to survivor.
“Once someone is diagnosed with cancer, they enter a whirlwind of medicine. But while we are amazing at keeping people alive, we fall short in caring for overall health,” says Dr. David Leopold, integrative medical specialist at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. “Once the disease has been managed, most doctors don’t have the time or training to manage the stress that people feel once they’re through with the treatment process.”
(read more from signonsandiego)

Here is a link to ACS's archive of newsletters for survivors

Monday, April 26, 2010

My favorite article ever

I've never met Katherine Russel Rich in person, but I love her.  If you have breast cancer, if you don't have breast cancer, if you have a pulse --I encourage you to read her essay in the New York Times(link).

I will admit, I have personally been going through a dark time. I never imagined that pain and medical appointments would fill up much of my "dance card" 6 months after surgery. I started this blog with the hope that Deb and I could inspire women to live great lives despite breast cancer. These days, I have to think twice about typing. The great irony is that I am one of the lucky ones. My cancer appears to be gone. Unfortunately my carefree, fun-loving existence disappeared with the tumor.

After a day of traipsing in the cold rain from the hospital, to the acupuncturist, to the pharmacy, I opened up my computer to write something sarcastic. When you are in too much pain to hold an umbrella, it is hard to see the silver lining in the clouds. Then I read Rich's lovely article. It is a powerful reminder that life still can hold adventure and wonder, even when the challenges seem daunting.

The web site KRR refers to is where a woman can find a lot of support. Her words do a perfect job of describing the poignant mix of hope and loss that women in this community experience.

Photo from

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Maura Tierney: Breast Cancer Survivor Shines on Stage

Because I live in New York City, I decided (almost too late), that I wanted to see Maura Tierney's comeback in a live stage play for myself. Tierney, who had to give up her role on NBC's "Parenthood" for her breast cancer treatment, is now appearing in "North Atlantic". The show is the works of the pioneering avant garde  theater company, The Wooster Group.

The play is closing this Sunday and the Saturday evening performance was a sellout. After being turned away at the box office, I decided to wait for a few minutes to see if someone had a spare ticket to sell. I was in luck. Only at the end of the evening, on my way out the door, would I learn that the ticket's original owner, is ironically the co-author of a new book for breast cancer survivors.

Since I am no Frank Rich, I will spare you my review of the show and just talk about Tierney. It was interesting for me to watch her perform knowing she is now a breast cancer survivor.  She currently sports a close cut "chemo crop".  The short hair suited her role as a female military member, and made her features stand out, accenting her expressions.  Since it can be tough for a naturalistic television actor to adapt to the bold expressions of experimental theater, this really worked to her advantage.

When a well-known TV personality takes on a new role, it can be tough for the audience to forget their trademark character, and the new look helped me to avoid picturing Tierney as ER's Abby Lockheart.

I am also glad to report that Maura looked healthy and fit, and handled the athletic, nearly gymnastic, movements of the production with ease. During a scene when her character puts on a wig, it was hard not to imagine how she might have felt doing the same thing in real life. There is even a brief moment of brief semi-nudity as the women change from army uniforms into dance dresses. Tierney handled the transition by turning away from the audience, and staying in the shadows.

While Tierney probably would rather the audience concentrates on the play instead of her medical history, watching her performance gave me a lift.  Seeing a breast cancer sister shine on stage made me feel me feel a little stronger.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Really inspiring story...

Love this! Mary Long lost her bank job because she had to miss work due to her breast cancer treatment. Now she is graduating from nursing school.

Men hit the runway in colorful bras to raise money for breast cancer

These Michiganders really know how to party!
The Women's Council of Realtors in Livingston County organized a high-spirited drag fashion show to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer project.
Livingston Daily.Com did a good job of covering the festive event, the link will take you to video and a photo gallery.
One the participants said, "The subject matter is very serious, and we are trying to raise money, and we thought what better way then to have a good laugh."
(Link to article, photo gallery, and video!)
Photo from by Alan Ward.

Newswomen against breast cancer

Several well known names from TV news, including Cokie Roberts, are teaming up to encourage journalists to take part in the Washington D.C Susan G. Komen race for the cure on June 5. The letter they sent out to colleagues is pretty dramatic and inspiring.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reuters reporters investigate breast cancer patients' insurance cancellation

I just finished reading this detailed investigative article by Murray Waas about women who had their insurance canceled after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Maura Tierney's cancer comeback

Maura Tierney didn't choose just any old theater company to make her comeback with. She is currently onstage with the Wooster group, one of the country's most avant garde ensembles. They are best known for scrambled and deconstructed versions of theater classics. One script was famously created by performing "The Crucible" while on psychedelic drugs.

Tierney, best known for her role on NBC's "ER" gave her first interview since her treatment to the New York Times. In the article it is revealed that while she was going through chemotherapy she also had to deal with the death of her father.

In her first interview since undergoing treatment, Ms. Tierney said that she quickly accepted the Wooster Group’s offer, seeing it as a chance to challenge herself physically and artistically after cancer. She said she thought that the theater company’s aesthetic, which emphasizes technical precision and stylized line reading over emotionally wrought acting, was a good fit with her mood at the time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Firefighter with breast cancer feels burned by employer

Many, perhaps most women are able to return to their old jobs after breast cancer. For some though, side effects and treatment make things more complicated. Asking for a workplace to adapt to a limitation can be tough, even when you have the law on your side. 
In this next article, a Canadian firefighter appears to be caught in this bind.

MONTREAL - Fighting breast cancer that her doctor says prevents her from working, an employee of Montreal's Fire Department is furious at the city, which she said hasn't paid her salary in three months and has threatened to fire her.
Off work since December and without salary since February, Denise Dube, an administrative assistant, must go in front of an arbitrator to prove that she is unable to work and that she should still receive payment.
(read more from the Toronto Sun)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Telesummit Night One

Rochelle Togo-FigaRochelle Togo-Figa is a sales consultant and motivational speaker from New York State. A breast cancer survivor herself, she is now holding a series of teleconferences for other women each night this week at 8:00 PM EST. She states her goal is to help survivors thrive and live well.

I listened to tonight's call. The first guest to be interviewed was Donna Deegan, a Florida news anchor, and non-profit founder, who is best known for organizing the first breast cancer marathon. Donna is a polished pro at communications, and shared her story, which includes having been diagnosed with cancer three times, including a distant metastasis.

Deegan explained that part of her treatment included visiting a integrative doctor, and embracing meditation. She encouraged her fellow survivors to take time every day for peace and to chose love over fear.

The second speaker was Gina Andrews, who is a breast cancer advocate from Sacramento, California. She has worked with several local charities, and now has a website, which focuses on awareness for young women. Gina was diagnosed just days after having a baby, and talked about how tough it was to go through chemotherapy with a newborn.

Togo-Figa is approaching the breast cancer community from a unique angle, and it will be interesting to see how she is received. As sales trainer who charges for her workshops, she is now looking to create similar motivational programs for survivors. She is planning a day long session for June 26, in New York City, which will cost $97 to attend.

She says that this type of program is important because after treatment women still need help in transforming their lives.

Here is a link to her video introduction.

Here is a link to the registration page for the telesummit.

Here is a link to her press release.

Your thoughts?


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Researchers: Blueberries could help fight triple-negative breast cancer

Very early study suggests blueberries could be beneficial for triple-negative breast cancer. At the very least they are tasty!
Link to story and video.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What are cancer researchers thinking?

The American Association of Cancer Research is having it's conference in Washington D.C. If you are a tweeter you can follow the chit-chat at #AACR.

For friends and family of cancer patients...what not to do.

It's akward knowing what to do or say when someone you are close to is diagnosed. This witty essay by Glen Rockowitz kind of says it all.

Martina vs. the Mountain

I was at a support group the other day and we discussed the fact that it is almost impossible to generalize about what any phase of breast cancer treatment will be like for an individual woman.

I have seen people bounce back very quickly from surgery, though unfortunately that has not been my experience. The same goes for chemotherapy, radiation, and reactions to medications. Even after treatment, experience varies. Some women find a new zest for life, some struggle with depression or PTSD, and many find themselves somewhere in the middle.

All of this came to mind when I read the following article about Martina Navratilova's plans to climb Mt. Kilimajaro in December. I hope she is able to go forward, and I will be rooting for her. I love hearing about breast cancer survivors who are inspired to take on new challenges.

On the other hand, Martina, if you are not feeling up to it, I won't think any less of you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Very funny essay on life with a new breast!

Editor's note: I think this next essay is one of the funniest things I have ever read about breast cancer. Writer/solo performer Susan Jeremy will be performing her new show, "Brazil Nuts" here in New York City from May 7-23. More information at

In With the New, Out With the Old? 

I got a new boob!  I wasn't looking for one, it just kind of happened.
I was living my life, not on the market for any new body parts when,
boom! I got one. There was a little drama before that, like a lump, a
diagnosis, a choice: rebuild it or get a whole new one. The doctor’s
exact words were, “We cut out the lump and rebuild the breast like a
donut.” I didn’t want to be modeled after Krispy Kreme, so I chose new.

I had to make a similar choice when my ‘89 Dodge Datsun had
transmission problems.  I didn’t get a new transmission. I got a
re-built one, which basically means it’ll work but no guarantee it’ll
last.  It didn’t.  The car died a year later. So I wasn’t taking any
chances on a re-built boob. Oh no. One hundred percent new please.

Also, the thought of rebuilding something reminds me of an Ikea
cabinet. There will always be a screw missing and you will end up
building it wrong, only to have to build it again. It’s too bad I
couldn’t have ordered the boob online. Just as well, I don’t always
score with online purchases.

I probably would have gotten something much bigger than I needed like I did with my carpet. Then I couldn’t return it.  I picked my boob in the plastic surgeon’s office while looking at a catalogue!
Wow,just like Lands End!  Now I have the new boob and the other one is being difficult. No, she’s not defective, in fact she's rather healthy, just a drag to be around. For one thing there is a huge age difference
between the girls. The new one is a 25-year-old cheerleader from Dallas named Tammi with an “i”; and the other one is a cranky 45- year-old retired fact checker for “Time” magazine named Shirley who just wants to stay home. Tammi goes partying braless and jogs. Shirley watches “The Biggest Loser”, plays scrabble and prefers to walk. Here's my dilemma: they are living on the same chest - 25 versus 45. Who do I listen to?  Some of you might think, why not just replace Shirley?

She's old and not pulling her weight anymore. I could get another
cheerleader to complete the team. But why if I don’t need one? I’m from the school of “if it works, don’t throw it out”  Maybe years from now, when Shirley needs a walker ,when she’s dragging herself just to get up in the morning, then I’ll think about getting Tammi someone to cheer with.  

This all reminds me of two roommates I once had who shared a
room and were very different. One was a party girl who wore dresses and ironed, the other, a homey girl who wore flannel and whined.
They would fight and cause havoc in the apartment. Finally, I replaced them both. This is not the case with Tammi and Shirley.They can work out their differences, It’ll just take time.  I have no desire to replace Shirley at this time. She's fine. She has worldly experience
and is a wise leader. Tammi, on the other hand, has to calm down and
stop making us go out on weeknights. I overheard them arguing once;
“Oh My God, Shirley, live a little. You’re such a bore!”

“I am living, Tammi, I just do it with less unnecessary movement, I
don’t like to bounce from one thing to the next. You’re young.  You’ll
learn.  Life is hard and so are you; I don’t expect you to understand.”

Tomorrow I’m taking the girls swimming. For some reason underwater
they get along.  Must be the lack of gravity!

SUSAN JEREMY (Writer/Performer), is a solo artist known for her comedic characterizations and dry wit. She has collaborated with Mary Fulham on several Watson Arts Projects: P.S. 69, based on her real life experiences as a substitute teacher in NYC's public school system, and Was That My 15 Minutes? about her quest for fame and her relationship with her father, Frankie Lawrence, who taught America to mambo on "The Fred Waring Show." Both shows won The Just for Laughs prize in 2000 and 1998 respectively. P.S. 69 toured in the USA and was a smash hit at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Fest. Susan’s third collaboration with co-writer/director, Mary Fulham, was Moving in Reverse (2005), a show about class culture in Long Island that received 5 stars from the Montreal Hour. BRAZIL NUTS, Susan's newest piece, makes its New York premiere at La MaMa in May 2010.

Breast cancer survivors planning to spend year sailing around the world!

I love stories about women who do amazing things after surviving breast cancer. Emma Pontin has sailed around the world, and says that being on the water helped soothe her soul after her 2006 diagnosis and double mastectomy.
According to the article below she is planning a year long round-the-world voyage in 2011 with a crew of 42 breast cancer survivors. I know participating in something like that is a daydream for many of us, but who knows maybe a Loop reader will be on that crew?
At least her adventure serves as inspiration for the rest of us, not to stop expanding our horizons.

"I want people to understand that if you go through breast cancer, you can do anything. Some people who've had breast cancer or going through it just sit at home all day, on their sofas and don't know how to handle it.
"And I want to tell this people: 'Do something amazing, cross an ocean, bring it on!"
"And the truth is," said Pontin, "We've got to think 'I fought for my life, now I'm going to live it.'"

 Here is a link to her personal website, with more information about her voyage.

Image from

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Horse race will make history and raise money for breast cancer charity

As a Maryland native I found this next story refreshing...a race with only female jockeys at Pimlico to benefit a breast cancer charity. As the article below mentions, one of the women competing, Mary Wiley Wagner is breast cancer survivor.

According to filmmaker Jason Neff, “everybody said a race like this could never happen.”
On Preakness weekend, eight retired women jockeys are running in the first “Lady Legends Race for the Cure,” organized by the Maryland Jockey Club and benefiting the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation, the world’s largest breast cancer organization.
(read more from the Daily Record)

photo from

Investigators: Breast cancer campaign was simply a scam

I really wish this next story was not true.

A family of grifters took advantage of generous Long Islanders who thought the family had set up a breast-cancer charity to offset the area's high diagnosis rate -- only to find that they spent the cash on lavish dinners and Parisian shopping sprees, authorities charged yesterday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breast Cancer and the Environment

For months when I was first diagnosed, I spent hours upon hours on the internet. I learned words I'd never heard before like BI-RADS, spiculated, tamoxifen...I could go on and on with my new vocabulary. I googled every word in my pathology report and then googled some more. While googling estrogen, I happened upon Cornell University's Breast Cancer and Evironment Risk Factors or BCERF website. 75% of breast cancers are estrogen positive and are fueled by estrogen. There are chemicals known as endocrine disruptors that can act as estrogens in the body. The research on these chemicals is controversial and is ongoing. They are found in everything from beauty products, to plastic, to detergents. If you have a few minutes and are interested, watch the educational videos about the estrogen connection in cosmetics, plastics and cleaning products.

I'm sad to say that BCERF has lost their state funding and will no longer be able to maintain the site. Please check it out while the site while it's still up.

You may also want to check out the Cosmetics Safety Database. Here you can search your beauty products and see on a scale of one to ten if they have ingredients associated with health risk.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Take the Yoga Challenge

There's a wonderful organization called Yoga Bear that partners breast cancer survivors with yoga studios for a limited amount of free classes. If you are interested in beginning a yoga practice and are finished with treatment, you might want to apply for their program. You can get more information about them at They have started a l2 day yoga challenge that begins today and will be posting a series of video clips. Here's a link for today's clip on  ujjayi breathing

Just for fun and NOT at all basic yoga, here's a pic of me hanging from the ceiling at my first anti-gravity yoga class. I am so proud of myself for doing something new and a little scary, which ended up being lots of fun. This was my personal yoga challenge.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet success for Masters' champ Mickelson and cancer survivor wife:Update

Congratulations to Phil Mickelson, he created a wonderful moment for himself and his family with his win today. It's really nice to see the pictures of the golfer and his wife Amy, who spent the last year being treated for breast cancer. It's kind of ironic that the tournament that was going to be known for Tiger Woods marital troubles ended up as a tribute to the Mickelson's bond.
My own husband even pointed out, "He had a pink ribbon on his cap."
Here is how reporter Doug Ferguson described the scene.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Even sweeter than Phil Mickelson slipping into another green jacket was seeing his wife waiting for him behind the 18th green at Augusta National with tears streaming down her face.
Amy Mickelson had not been at a golf tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago.
He had not looked the same ever since.
A shattered world seemed at peace in the fading sunlight Sunday at the Masters, where Mickelson made one last birdie for a 5-under 67 and a three-shot victory over Lee Westwood.
The conclusion was far more emotional than anyone expected.
Mickelson shared a long embrace with his wife behind the 18th green, and as he walked to the scoring trailer to sign for the lowest score at Augusta in nine years, a single tear trickled down his cheek to his lip.
"We've been through a lot this year. It means a lot to share some joy together," Mickelson said, his voice cracking as he struggled to keep control. "It's been such an incredible week, an emotional week. And to cap it off with a victory is something I can't put into words.
"It's something we'll share for the rest of our lives."

(read more from the Associated Press )

Here is another good piece from the Los Angeles Times

Even three days later, the win seems to be inspiring breast cancer patients and survivors around the country....many local newpapers and tv stations have been doing reaction stories.

Daisy Reflections

Note from Suzanne: For the past few months my internet buddies and I have been brainstorming what might make Loop really unique. Debbie Clement is someone who defies a simple label. But I will try, Writer/Singer/Educator/Cancer Survivor/Photographer and artist! I will let her do the rest of the explaining from here as she generously shares a project close to her heart.

Music Lady Fun! "The arts have always been my passion, though I am BRAND new to photography and even newer to the concept of "movie-making." Suzanne had suggested that I might contribute some of my photos to LOOP and that started my wheels turning. In January of this year I faced the recovery down-time from a BILAT and having a project to keep me occupied & seated was just what the doctor ordered.

As I continued to grasp the concept of the Movie-Maker program I continued to get better...... on exactly the same time frame, my dear friend and BC mentor "saint" started on her final lap, having dealt with mets for over five years. It is fitting that I can dedicate my first effort to her -- as she was a lover of flowers, music and the arts.

My sincere hope is that the video might be used as a moment of reflection in a busy day, offering calm and a deep breath in the midst of all the decision-making and treatment planning that goes along with this BC journey. I intend to produce copies to have available for individuals who make donations to, the organization that brought us together. "

                                                            Click here to see the video

Read more from Debbie Clement at

Healing : a unique perspective

Editor's note:I have met the most interesting people in this adventure on the web. One of our goals for Loop is to bring together all the things that might be helpful to women recovering from breast cancer. Some of us need emotional guidance, some of us look to deepen our spirituality. One of my new twitter friends is Sonny Rose, M.A.  She has a unique spirit and style she shares in this essay.

The Healing Beyond Cancer

" Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Melodie Beattie

Nine years ago, the day after 9/11, I was diagnosed with cancer and had my own terror attack. As shocked and terrified as I was to receive this frightening diagnosis, I noticed that there was a small, but present part of me that seemed to be very calm. It felt as if I was in the arms of an Angel and a deep peacefulness enveloped me. Time seemed to slow down. Little did I know, how that small part of me, would become more of who I am today. I didn’t realize how cancer would give me such a profound experience that would change me forever.

Up to that moment, I had been living a very stressful life, working long hours, building my psychotherapy practice, raising a teenage daughter and trying to keep it all together. I had been trying for years, to fix a marriage that was beyond repair. My heavy heart held the sadness like a sack of lead. My silent screams echoed in the deep regions of my Soul. I tried to break down the wall of resentment, but it tore through me like a flooded river, drowning me into a masked existence.  My escape was not an exit, and it impacted my very Being, Body, and Soul.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had traveled to my lymph nodes. My anxiety gripped me like a snake, wrapping around my body.  I somehow burst through the overwhelming panic, and from a deep, quiet, and unmoving place, I faced my fear.  I had to trust my intuition, devise a plan, find the best surgeons, and make the right choices, in order to save my life. Throughout my cancer journey, I began to gain more clarity and accept the fact that I had to change my life. Cancer gave me the opportunity to rely totally on my inner strength and spiritual guidance, and use it as a stepping-stone, to create a life that reflects my greatest intentions

Cancer woke me up. It woke me up to ask the questions that I had already asked, but had never paid attention to listen to the honest answers. I was too afraid to change my life, and deal with all the implications and consequences. I was “comfortable” in my discomfort. I was strong, and I knew how to endure….that was my problem. Enduring, that which was hurting. I wasn’t living in my truth, I wasn’t honoring myself, and the consequences were too tragic. I knew I had to change, in order to take care of myself and live. I suddenly felt, compelled to let go of everything that wasn’t important and focus on living and healing.

Cancer opened the door for me to experience a fuller connection to my Truth. I slowed down and listened to my authentic Self. A Spiritual presence covered me like a blanket of dew. I felt deep compassion for myself and others, and a wave of gratitude began to fill my heavy heart. I was in a process of deep healing, beyond cancer.

After my cancer treatment, I began to integrate the meaningfulness of my cancer experience.  My prescription to heal beyond cancer was to live out loud and in full color.  Why is it, that we wait to make changes, only when faced with a threatening health crisis?  Life happens in every moment, and every moment we can choose how we want to live.

I have made huge changes in my life since September 12, 2001. Soon after my treatment, I got a divorce, bought a great house, moved my daughter to a new high school, and built a successful psychotherapy practice.

Most importantly, I try to remember to live in gratitude, be aware, and connect to my inner guidance, so that I may live in joy, peace, and harmony.  This is the healing beyond cancer.

Sonny Rose, M.A.C.P., is a writer, evolutionary psychotherapist and Founding Director of The Healing Beyond Cancer. Sonny's work and life is influenced by her years of study with Spiritual Masters in India and Nepal, and has a unique style of therapy that fully integrates mind, body, and spirit. Her joy is to inspire and awaken others to what is possible.

The science of screening: looking into the future

I really found this next article interesting. I hope someday the mammogram debate will wind down because we will have better tools for women of all ages. It looks at the variety of screening tools being developed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mickelson joined at Masters' by cancer survivor wife

Phil Mickelson has been a man of few words as his wife and mother went through breast cancer treatment. However last week he made a memorable gesture inviting MD Anderson radiation oncologist Dr. Tom Buchholz to caddy for a few holes at the Houston Open.
Now with his wife by his side at the Masters', his outlook it's a moment to savor. Tara Sullivan of North Jersey.Com did a really good job of exploring the situation's symbolism in this column.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Until the last 11 months, a nightly road ritual of dissecting the day’s golf holes formed the quiet coda of Phil and Amy Mickelson’s day.
Until the last 11 months, Amy and the couple’s three kids would regularly travel to daddy’s golf tournaments, watching some golf by day, sharing their meals by night.
Until the last 11 months, Phil didn’t have to think about much on those trips except focusing on his business and winning golf tournaments.
Until 11 months ago, when everything changed.

Breast cancer survivor prepares to run marathon

Looking for a little motivation this weekend? Here is a profile of a breast cancer survivor preparing to run the Boston Marathon.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Martina and Meaning

Hadley Freeman of the Guardian argues Martina Narvatilova's breast cancer news, could change how we perceive the disease, and maybe put an end to the blame game. Good column.

Why he walks: Leonard's loving legacy

This time of year there are many profiles of people participating in breast cancer  fund raising walks. It's exciting because I am looking forward to Loop having great events to cover, but sometimes they  profiles can kind of sound similar.
This Leonard Pitts column from the Baltimore Sun is exceptional.  It is so touching and well written. Those of you involved in Komen or Avon or ACS walks may want to share it with your teammates.

On April 15, it will be 22 years since she died.
I remember getting home from photocopying some paper I needed to complete my taxes, only to find my wife facing me with eyes so stricken and bereft that I didn't need to hear the words. I knew.
We rushed out to my sister's house, went into the room, and there it was: the shriveled husk that until that day had contained my mom. I left the room at a trot, hand to mouth, the world blurred by tears.

(read more from the Baltimore sun)

Canadian Scientists: exposure to second-hand smoke increases breast cancer risk

One more reason it's better not to smoke.

image from

headroom for henna

This news story is pretty basic, but I loved the photo of the henna on the bare head.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Man denied mammogram

The other thing that made yesterday's doctor visit unusual, was that one of the patients I made friends with was a man. (I go to an all breast cancer facility.) A very sweet older gentleman, with stage 4 breast cancer. I immediately thought of him when I saw this next story.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Suzanne's guide to keeping your cool in the waiting room

Yesterday I spent several hours gazing out the window, reading magazines, making small talk, and sipping ginger ale.

No, I wasn't on the porch of a country inn, I was in the waiting room of my cancer center. It was an odd afternoon, because at one point I was called upon to comfort a very frustrated patient who was on the verge of firing her very prominent oncologist after a nerve-rattling wait. I really had my doubts about sticking my nose where it didn't belong, but her friend begged me to share my advice for keeping my cool.  So here we go.

 1. I never schedule anything else the same day as an oncologist appointment. The stress is just not worth it. If I get out early, it's a chance for some personal time.

2. I have a favorite spot in the waiting room, with the most sunshine and a view of street life. This allows me not to feel so trapped. It helps to have a safe zone to go to every time.

3. I leave my husband at home. Watching him watch the clock and get anxious just does not work for me.

4. Make friends. I look for people close to my age, if I can find someone to chat with the time flies.

5. This next one is crazy, but I look for magazines I have never read before. Sometimes learning about a whole new world (fly fishing, running a franchise, mountain climbing,) is a great distraction. I save the cancer-related reading for a different time. (Pulling out a breast cancer book seems to get me a few extra inches on the subway, however.)

6. I don't wear a watch. Instead I try to pretend I am on a cruise ship on a day at sea, where we won't reach a port. (No port pun intended for those of you with a port.) Have you ever been to a tropical island where the ferry runs on it's own schedule? Cancer center time is similar.

7. Ginger ale. Something about ginger ale just calms me down.

While no list of tips will take the fear and frustration out of being a cancer patient, these strategies have made the waiting and wondering easier for me to endure.

What are your tips? Please share them in the comments section.

image from

Martina joins the club

Since breast cancer hits around one in eight American women, it makes sense that a share of actresses, politicians, and other celebrities will be included. Still for some reason, news that Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with DCIS was hard to hear.

Even if you are not a tennis fan, the former champion is an icon. She had the hard task of winning over an American public that loved sweetheart Chris Evert. In terms of sexuality, style, and substance Martina was a powerful symbol for feminists.

Over the past few weeks, studies have pointed to the role of nutrition and fitness in preventing breast cancer. It's a double edged sword, while the information may be useful, it can also make us feel guilty. We fear that the cancer is a result of choices we could have made differently.

The irony is that nobody symbolizes fitness and health like Martina Navratilova. It seems unfair that even this paragon of female athletic achievement is not immune.

It's ironic, because as I struggle to get back my full range of motion under my arm, I joke I could never imagine trying to play tennis again. Who knows, maybe when Martina is done with treatment, she can show the rest of us how it's done.

Martina made her announcement on ABC's Good Morning America. Here is a link to their coverage.
Photo from AARP

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Maura Tierny will be back on the air after breast cancer treatment

Glad to hear it. She had to drop out of NBC's "Parenthood" for her treatment. I feel bad about that because it's a pretty good show, in my opinion. Onward and upward.
(Read more from US Magazine)

Breast cancer changed my approach to motherhood.

Beth Gainer has a great focus both in her writing and her life. Here is her take on how being a survivor influences her parenting style. Suzanne

I notice so many uptight parents nowadays. These individuals frantically wipe never-ending drool and take inventory of the stains on their precious babies' clothing. I've seen moms running after their children with a stain-removal stick, get deeply emotional when a bib flies off and chocolate flies on, and freak out whenever a baby drops crumbs on the floor.

Before breast cancer, I had a Type A personality, so I probably was destined to become such a parent. The worrier. The perfectionist. The dramatic.

Breast cancer has helped me leave the Type A arena, and this is reflected by my parenting style. When it comes to my daughter, I no longer sweat the small stuff. What do I care if there are stains? Babies get dirty constantly. She drools, and I do wipe her chin, but not obsessively. What's a little saliva? And as for crumbs on the floor, there's always time to sweep at the end of the day. There's always time to straighten up after my little whirlwind wreaks devastation to our home.

There's always time to deal with the unpleasant sides of motherhood. However, when it comes to life, I know all too well from my breast cancer experience that my time as a mother is limited and precious.

And that is why I choose to focus my time laughing with my baby; enjoying her antics; hugging, cuddling, and playing with her; and being grateful for her. I spend time well -- marvelling at all the positives of parenting. I refuse to get wrapped up in the all-too-common parent trap: comparing my child's motor and intellectual skills with other children.

I do have bad days and times when motherhood is taxing. But when I consider how hard it was to fight cancer, drool, stains, and crumbs are mere childsplay.

Beth L. Gainer has had numerous publications, including an essay in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer. Her popular Calling the Shots blog at offers information and advice on how to navigate the medical system. She is a contributing member of Medpedia and Navigating Cancer.
Share your thoughts on motherhood in our comments section!

Super-walker preparing for 50th breast cancer fundraiser!

Talk about hardcore! Great little article about a Texas woman who has been on several Komen and Avon "long walks" and volunteered for dozens more.

Phoning it in

It seems like there is a new little trend of teleconferencing to deliver breast cancer support services.

On Wed., May 19, LBBC will be hosting a free teleconference, "What If? Managing the Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence." Our speaker Dr. Sage Bolte, will be able to address some of your questions during the call. Please let us know what's on your mind and help us craft this program to fulfill your needs. Submit your questions to To register and for more information, visit

Also as I wrote earlier this week:
Rochelle Togo-Figa is organizing a series of telephone sessions from April 19-23, with the goal of offering women inspiration. Here is a link to the announcement.

I don't know why these situations make me feel a bit shy. Perhaps they remind me of work.
Have you participated in teleconferences? Did you find it helpful? How?
Let us know in the comments section.

Image from speaking

Monday, April 5, 2010

Are celebrity patients changing how we see cancer?

American society seems to better understand disease when it happens to someone famous. Lou Gehrig come to mind for ALS or even Rock Hudson and AIDS. Cancer has also become something that is in some cases identified with a celebrity. After Nancy Regan had a lumpectomy, the operation became more common.
What does the celebrity-cancer connection mean for the rest of us? This interesting article from the Dallas News takes a look.

This one's for the partners

Although I am married to a very good journalist, I have not yet been able to convince him to write about his experience as the "well spouse". I know it is a difficult situation, perhaps in some ways tougher than being ill. I like this little article by Todd Davis.

Few husbands consider what would happen if their wives had breast cancer. I certainly wasn't prepared in November when my wife, Laura, just 38 years old, learned that she had the disease.
(read more from the Dallas News)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Golf champ pays tribute to breast cancer oncologist on the green!

What a cool story! Phil Mickelson showed his gratitude to MD Anderson Radiation Oncologist Dr. Tom Buchholz, by having him caddie for three holes during the Houston Open. Buchholz has been treating Mickelson's wife and mom who were both diagnosed with breast cancer last summer.

Happy Easter!

Here in NYC it is a beautiful day...some years it is so cold.
If you didn't get to read it, here it a tribute to the season from a half-dozen of our writers!

Breast cancer survivor flies, climbs, models, and more

Ann McHardy's cancer diagnosis inspired her to become a pilot, play polo, dance, climb mountains and more. Sounds like our kind of gal.

ANNE McHARDY has always been a bit of a high-flier - with a top job in the RAF's Air Training Corps.
But it took a diagnosis of breast cancer at the age of 42 to persuade the dedicated career woman it was time to take flight herself.
Mum-of-one Anne, who lives near Glenshee, Perthshire, was determined to make the most of life that she signed up for flying lessons and is now a qualified pilot.
And that's not all - she's also become a go-karting champ and a budding polo player as well as a mountaineer, skier and dancer.
Anne, 48, said: "Since diagnosis, I've changed a lot about my life.
(Read more from the Daily Record)
Lady pilot image from

Friday, April 2, 2010

UPDATE:Whale turns out to be star breast cancer fundraiser

Y'know my loop friends...just when I thought I had seen it all. There was a paddle boarding lady surfer named Jodie Nelson, trying to raise money and awareness for a breast cancer charity, and it wasn't going so well, until this rare whale showed up.

We love unusual fund raising stories, and this one may take the cake. Go ahead and click, there is even video. The story has now received national is a link to the coverage on the CBS Early show.
(see more)

Photo from Paddle with purpose

Breast cancer widower transforms loss into legacy with photography

Very touching story with great photos of breast cancer survivors. Boston reporter Joan Anderman profiles a breast cancer widower named David Fox who now takes remarkable pictures of survivors. His website is

David Fox knows a few things about survival. After losing his wife to breast cancer when she was 34, Fox was left with a 1-year-old daughter, a 4-year-old son, and a fledgling photography business on the verge of going under. Grief was a constant companion, but the demands of caring for his children and tending to his livelihood kept Fox anchored.

Study: Some survivors should double the veggies

It seems like over the past few months, the biggest news about breast cancer research has been on fairly "low-tech" strategies like nutrition. Now we all know there is nothing simple about changing your life style, but it's interesting to see the science being explored.

This next story is a tad complicated, but the upshot is for certain women, increasing fruits and vegetables may make more of a difference.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Row, Row, Row your way to recovery

Good story about a fitness program for survivors that utilizes rowing.

New type of screening device being developed at UVA

This next story is a bit scientific, but really interesting. I am always encouraged when I see new types of screening tests being developed.

 Perhaps no one can appreciate the importance of early cancer detection as much as Izora Armstrong. That’s because UVA Cancer Center researchers, using a first-of-its-kind hybrid breast imaging device, found what mammography, ultrasound, MRI and even a needle biopsy couldn’t.
(read more)

Mom and son both battle cancer

This story was brought to my attention by a new twitter pal, @PiedPiperinKC. It was also featured on ABC here is the link! 


Canadian Study: Certain Chemicals Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Sometimes considering all of the risk factors can feel overwhelming. Earlier this year  was interviewed for a documentary about a possible night shift work-breast cancer connection. Here is something else to consider.