Sunday, May 30, 2010

mo' better mammograms?

A new study suggests that breast cancer survivors may live longer with twice yearly mammograms.

Anything that saves survivor's lives is worth pursuing. Still, it's hard to be really gleeful because most of us, if a recurrence is found, will need a mastectomy. I also suspect I am not the only one not thrilled at facing test-time anxiety twice a year.

Besides that, have a happy holiday weekend!

Raise money for breast cancer and cut clutter at the same time!

Here is a great way to raise money for a charity and get extra room in your home. Have a tag sale!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Canadian study shows breast cancer takes a toll on bodies and bank accounts

I participate in a message board that includes American and Canadian women, among others. While the Canadians do not fear losing their insurance the way U.S. women do, this study shows, there is still a steep cost to having breast cancer. Here is the link to a summary of the study.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unique program uses basketball to help women recover from breast cancer treatment

I am always looking for unique opportunities to help women recover from breast cancer. I got this note about a program that uses basketball to hep women get moving after surgery.
My name is Amina Gilyard and I am the Education Specialist at the George Washington Cancer Institute. We currently offer a free program to breast cancer survivors in the DC metro area called Healing with Basketball (HwB). The clinics are designed to help survivors regain upper body strength and recover range of motion after treatment, as well as provide them with a strong support system of fellow survivors.  Healing with Basketball clinics take place one Saturday a month from 1:00-3:00 PM at GW's Mt. Vernon campus. They are run by survivor and psychotherapist Lynn Grodzki who also founded HwB and is the volunteer program manager and Andrew Weiss, coach and CPT.
Recently, we were featured in the health section of the Washington Post.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Minnesota women create "Rapunzel Project" to help pay for cold caps.

It's a little tricky writing about "cold caps" for breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. I have heard from people who swear by them, and I have heard from people who say they don't work. My personal oncologist does not support their use, but one of my surgeons says she has seem good results. Still, this next article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was interesting to me, It's about two Minnesota women who started a charity to help women pay for cold caps.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Breast cancer patient copes with treatment and civil unrest

When I was doing my first searches on the web after diagnosis, I remember reading somewhere about what to do if a natural disaster strikes while you are going through treatment. It was probably written post-Katrina, but I can not imagine how scary it would be to have a flood strike following surgery or during chemo or radiation.

Two of our followers have been dealing with extraordinary obstacles. Chemobabe has had to deal with flooding in Nashville during her radiation, and now feistybluegecko writes of having to work around political protesters and curfews in Thailand.


Charity focuses awareness on dense tissue and breast cancer risk

One of my memories from my time in the hospital is hearing several medical personnel comment that I had exceptionally dense breast tissue. I think the word concrete was used. It's almost funny, I ran into one of the radiologists who did my wire insertion and she did not recognize me until I said, "I was the one with the really dense tissue?"

"Oh yeah, I remember you!"

Since that time, just last year, more information has come out pointing to dense tissue as a risk factor. It also makes screening trickier, especially for many young women.

Today I discovered a website and a charity dedicated to raising awareness on just this issue. It's got a cute name, and they even have a music festival fundraiser.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Psychology of Prevention

Whether you are concerned about preventing breast cancer, or preventing a recurrence, the number of factors to consider can be overwhelming. Lifestyle changes can improve your odds, but you can do everything right, and still come up short.

I thought this article from Psychology Today was interesting. It looks at why high-risk women, who have not had cancer usually decline Tamoxifen as a preventative treatment.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The babe is and improved!

ChemoBabe! Logo
One of our favorite bloggers is Chemobabe, and she has redesigned her blog to be bolder and badder than ever. I admire here sassy courage to put it out there.

She's actually now going through radiation which is sure to add to her superpowers.


Martina Navratilova plans to swing at title during breast cancer treatment


Many of us mere mortals struggle with getting back range of motion after a lumpectomy and radiation. But Marina Navratilova plans to play in senior doubles at the French Open while she is getting zapped.

I'll admit a little part of me wonders if she knows what she is getting into, I got TIRED during radiation, but if she can pull it off, I'll be cheering for her.  And if she can't, I'll still be cheering for her.

(link here)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thermal imaging being studied as breast cancer screening tool

While I am not a science expert, I feel as if any news is good news when it comes to the study of new types of breast cancer screening.

Here's the link.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sexy art show raises money for breast cancer

I kind of like it when somebody stirs things up, to raise money for a breast cancer charity. I think it brings new people to the cause. Also from a media point of view, keeping things fresh is important. Journalists get tired of covering the exact same story every year.

One of the goal of Loop, is to show the variety of ways people can raise both money and awareness of breast cancer charities, big and small. Maybe something you read on here will inspire you to try something new in your community. That said, check out this next article.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Radio host talks her listeners through breast cancer

O.K., I admit I am a little fascinated with broadcast journalists who have breast cancer, and what they reveal or don't. Since I happened to be newly unemployed at the time of my diagnosis, I never had to make that decision. But I found this story of Cindy Simmons and her journey to be worthwhile. Who knows someday we may form our own little charity, broadcasters with breast cancer.

Conflicting advice about breast self-examinations: what's a woman to do?

No wonder women are confused. I was doing my daily web search on breast cancer news stories and the two articles at the bottom of this post were right next to each other.

The first, a story from Michigan, encourages women to take action when they find a lump, and make sure they are properly examined and tested. The second, from New Zealand, quotes a prominent doctor who believes BSE's are not effective. Now before we rip him to shreds, he does advocate for mammograms and ultrasound from the age of 40, which he feels is a more effective method of early detection.

Personally, I have a tough time advising women not to consider BSE's. They are free, and you can do them even if you do not have access to health care.

Here are links to both articles.

What do you think?  Post your opinion in our comments section.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jerseys' catering hall hosts "In Living Pink" breast cancer benefit

Take a great cause and add a little reality TV rubbernecking, you've got me at hello.

If you have watched the Real Housewives of New Jersey, you may recall that Dina and Caroline's husbands own The Brownstone, a fancy catering hall located in Paterson.

When I heard the Northern New Jersey branch of the Young Survival Coalition would hold their annual fundraiser there, I was determined to make it across the Hudson River.

Sadly, I did not see much of the Manzo family featured in the TV program.  At most I may have caught brief glances of Caroline Manzo's son and daughter, but that was about it. Sorry to say I have no inside gossip, except for the fact they have a big tray of black-and-white cookies in the office, and I was too timid to grab one.  I would be useless at the National Enquirer.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people were on hand to help YSC NNJ. Guests spent their time bidding on silent auction prizes and participating in a raffle (the necklace in the picture was made by my friend Darlene).

On to the food! Of all the "Real Housewives" franchises, the New Jersey series is the most fixated on eating. While the women of Orange County try to avoid eating, and Bethanny Frankel of New York City has written a best selling diet book, the Jersey girls are often shown in the kitchen, making red sauce, meatballs and so forth. So it's safe to say I came hungry. Catering hall food is often a letdown, but everything on the buffet was tasty. The beef short ribs and the penne were my favorites, along with the mocha ice cream dessert.

While the food may have helped bring in a crowd, the star of the evening was pro golfer Val Skinner. The athlete and philanthropist has a breast cancer foundation which, much like YSC, focuses on serving younger women. She gave an emotional speech, talking about her friend and fellow golfer Heather Farr, who died of breast cancer at 28.

It's always interesting to watch the faces of my fellow survivors during this kind of speech. Some are overcome with emotion, some are withdrawn. I was touched by the tabletop decoration, which is the YSC logo in candles. It's always tricky finding a way to make a serious point about breast cancer without overwhelming the audience. I thought the candles hit just the right note.

All in all it was a festive evening. It was nice to be able to indulge my appetite and curiosity, while helping an important breast cancer charity. Thanks to some new friends, I got a ride back to the city, arriving just in time to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey on TV. Too bad I did not have one of those cookies to munch on!


What's the buzz?

Guests at a breast cancer fundraiser in D.C. got a sexy surprise in their goody bag!
(More from the Washington Post)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chistina Applegate sounds just like the rest of us

New article about actress Christina Applegate, and her life after breast cancer. I think there is something sweet about it, she sounds just like every other survivor who is trying to put her life back together.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Breast cancer walk turns Mall of America into a sea of pink

I had almost forgotten that the very first breast cancer walk I ever attended was the Twin Cities "Race for the Cure. I must admit at that time, I never imagined that 10 years later I would be a survivor.
Anyway, the pictures from the Star Tribune are fantastic.
(Click here for pictures from the Strib)

Blue jeans fight breast cancer in Canada

Here is the story behind National Denim Day in Canada, which will take place this Tuesday.
(Link to the Cure foundation)
(More from the Montreal Gazette)

Happy Mother's Day!

Wishing a happy Mother's day to all Loop readers!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Breast cancer survivor gets "batty"

I used to live and work in Northern Wisconsin, not far from where this next story was reported. Major League Baseball is doing it's breast cancer awareness campaign, and the Milwaukee Brewers picked a Northern Wisconsin survivor to be an honorary bat girl.

I am actually headed to a breast cancer retreat in Northern Wisconsin this summer through Infinite Boundaries. I know they still have room on some upcoming trips.
Their website is

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pinko de Mayo!

Credit where credit is due, Komen chapters are very good at coming up with cute hooks for breast cancer fund raising events like the "Pinko de Mayo" celebration in the following article. Isn't it funny, once upon a time, pinko was not a very flattering term.

On the night shift

Quick post about this, last year I was interviewed for a documentary on the effects of nighttime light exposure, specifically regarding the risk of night shift work and breast cancer. Here is a new story on the subject.

Free hugs for cancer

New York's Union Square is a place you go big or go home. The park has a history of labor demonstrations and other protests going back decades. So when I met a group of college students offering "free hugs for cancer" I was a little suspicious. I wondered if they were part of some offbeat religious outreach.

As tempted as I was to just step onto the subway, I felt a little curious about their effort. Many years ago I had been part of ad campaign where I had to hand out daffodils on the streets of NYC and people thought I was daffy for doing it.

So I asked what kind of cancer they were curing, of course the reply was,"breast cancer." I chatted a bit more with Joesephine Zhu, a sophomore business major at Baruch College, and it seemed like the group of fraternity and sorority members were sincere in their efforts to help raise money for an upcoming "Relay for Life," event at their school.

I feel a bit awkward when someone asks me for money to fight cancer. I still have several thousand dollars in bills to pay to my cancer center, which is a top research facility. I sure hope some of those dollars help fund research, but maybe the money just covers costs.

I offered a small donation and wished them well. Josephine replied, "It's nice to meet one of the people we are helping."

It was nice to meet her too.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Oui, it's me

I always thought it must be thrilling for an author to see their work published in another language, like when Carrie in "Sex and the City" finds her French fans. While I won't be dining in the city of lights anytime soon, an article I wrote was published on the Canadian breast cancer support website, Sharing Strength in both English and French.
Here is a link to the English version


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Big day in Times Square

It's kind of amazing to think that this event with tens of thousands of people, Halle Berry, Jessica Alba, and an enormous explosion of red confetti, was not the most newsworthy thing to occur in Times Square on Saturday May 1st. Less than 12 hours after our walk, the area would be shut down again, for what looks like an attempted car bombing. Suzanne

7:00 AM, Times Square, New York City.
I arrive to pick up my T-shirt for the Revlon Run/Walk for women. I've been so sleepy up to this moment, that I have not realized this is my first time participating in this type of event as a cancer survivor.  All of a sudden my eyes are filled with tears seeing all of the volunteers and the scope of organization taking place. During the day one of my fellow walkers would say, "This is all for you." It's an idea I am still having some trouble fully coming to terms with. (The photo is from a different Suzanne, BTW.)

I've been to much smaller, low key events in the Midwest, but all of a sudden, the place where the world watches the ball drop on New Year's Eve is shut down to raise money for cancer charities.

Even with good support, cancer is a lonely journey, and it amazes me to see how many groups of people, are up and out and organized for this effort. I'm on a team named "K.I.A" (for kick it's ass) organized by my friend Meridith, a young mother with stage 4 breast cancer. The group next to us is called something like "Cancer warriors...soldier on" and has cute pink camouflage bandannas, like the one on the little dog in the picture.

I have been given an "I'm a cancer survivor sign" to wear. I still have not gotten quite used to being a cancer billboard, but seeing as we are in Times Square, I figure there is no time like the present to start. I wrote my name with a heart on the sign, but next year I'll take a different approach and and go with "Don't bump my boobs!" Hey, even at a charity walk this is still New York City.

To be honest, I can not see or hear much of the opening ceremonies. I know there are big names here, but the crowd is almost overwhelming. I do get a kick out of the big explosion of confetti, a sign we can get moving. I have lived in New York City for about 17 years, I've marched in a few parades, but it's still kind of thrilling to make our way through the place where the city marks events like D-Day.

We finish the walk exactly 2 hours after we start. If this were the New York City Marathon, it would be a heck of a time. But after conquering the heat and crowds, we feel like we have accomplished something worthwhile.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My short story

Some of you know I have been struggling with some serious arm and shoulder problems. I have been encouraged to spend less time on the computer, so please try to bear with me that my posts will be short and simple for a while.

Young breast cancer patients face unique challenges.

 When you get breast cancer in your teens, twenties, or thirties, it can be a lonely experience.