Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weapons In the Fight Against Breast Cancer

While researching the material for many of these tributes, I've discovered a multitude of useful weapons in the fight against breast cancer, either for patients or for those who wish to donate to end the war. So, before moving forward to the next worthy cause, I wanted to list those resources in a single post.

Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment

Prevention and early detection cannot be overemphasized. GET A MAMMOGRAM. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year, and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Click here to begin learning about the procedure and the important role mammograms play in the early detection of breast cancer.

If mammogram costs are a hindrance to you, call your local health department, or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for information about facilities in your area that perform the tests at low or no cost. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) also provides breast and cervical cancer early detection testing to women without health insurance for free or at very little cost. To learn more about this program, please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-800-CDC INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit their Web site at www.cdc.gov/cancer.

To find out how to perform a breast self-exam (BSE), go to Komen for the Cure. Or, try out WebMD or About.Com. The American Cancer Society also offers excellent guidance, as does BreastCancer.Org. One last site is worthy of mention because it also offers free shower card reminders. Go to HealthyWomen and download your free card, which was published in April of 2008 by the National Women's health Resource Center, Inc. Or, click on the image below for a larger version, print it out, stash it in a ziplock bag, and hang it in the shower.

But, hey, enough of that serious stuff. Check Your Boobies! No kidding -- that's the name of the organization, whose mission is to ". . . educate women about breast health in a frank, fun, and fear-free manner. [They] are dedicated to the prevention and early detection of Breast Cancer." And, if you're tired of Tupperware or Pampered Chef parties, make sure to take note of the resources and testimonials on this site for planning your very own "CYB Party."

Useful Services

For women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer, climbing out of bed in the morning can be nearly impossible, let alone trying to clean house. But, Cleaning for a Reason can help with that chore. Go to the site and apply!


For donors, nearly any of the sites listed above are looking for research funding. But, here's an easy one!

Visit The Breast Cancer Site. On the first page, a button will appear that looks like the one to the left. Click on it. That's all there is to it! Each time the button is clicked, advertisements from site sponsors are displayed. All of the money from these advertisers goes to the site's charity partners, who fund programs to provide mammograms to women in need. How easy is that?

For all you sporty types, one of the most creative fund raising efforts I've seen is sponsored by Major League Baseball Stands Up to Cancer! Go to the site, make a $5 donation, and own a virtual piece of your favorite team's stadium. Donations fund research in the fight against cancer! (Thanks to my dear daughter-in-law, Erin, a die-hard Pirates fan, for sending this one and Cleaning for a Reason!)

If none of these donating strategies appeals to you, have some chocolate! Purchase a bag of Pepperidge Farm® Milano® cookies, and they'll donate 50¢ to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® (up to $50,000).

Breast cancer ... every 69 seconds a woman dies from it. Together, we can fight this devil by using the right weapons! Protect yourself through early detection, donate to research -- go the distance to find the cure!

Here's to the next mile!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shoes Filled With Dollars -- Jill Haines

When I began to write this series of tributes to breast cancer patients and survivors, I was determined to avoid pleading with readers to make donations to anything. The purpose of my effort, after all, is to highlight the extraordinary characters of regular people who graciously and tenaciously battle the demons of disease and misfortune. Instead, I had planned to set an example by making donations of my own to each featured cause, and hoped that others would follow suit.

But, today, I have changed my mind. I write to do that very thing -- to ask for money for breast cancer research. What brought about this change of focus? Yesterday, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I saw the faces of all those whose names are listed on this blog's "wall of honor." It was unmistakable -- their fear and determination, their agonies, hopes, and dreams, all mirrored in the faces of thousands of men and women, some survivors, some friends, and some family members of those who suffer from or have succumbed to breast cancer. During yesterday's Race for the Cure, a part of this country's eastern seaboard was awash in symbols of pink -- pink shoes, pink hats, pink gloves, pink banners -- all signals that the fight continues and a cure surely is on the horizon.

As I ran, I quietly recited the list that's been building here for many months: Emily Jean Thorn, Linda Ramsey Beam, Linda Jessee Mills, Libby Holter, Kaira W., Lynda Boyd, Vanny Mam Cain, Sue Michener, Betty Godby, Tricia Keegan, Jennifer S., and Jill Haines. And, it was that last name -- Jill Haines -- one of twelve companions to thousands of other names printed on people's backs, that changed my mind.

Some time ago, Jennifer S., who is herself a survivor of breast cancer, requested a tribute in memory of her dear friend, Jill Haines. Of Jill, Jennifer remarks, "Jill is an 11 year Stage IV survivor. As the years have gone by and the treatments have changed, she has shown amazing resilience in dealing with the side effects of the various chemos while living her life with incredible enthusiasm." Jennifer's tribute to Jill continues to reflect her deep admiration for her friend.

I am asking that you read her story and imagine that her story could be that of your mothers, daughters, sisters, or that of yourselves. Imagine her passion for this life and her vision of a world without breast cancer for all of you. I am asking that you take the time to read this, and pass it on to everyone in your mailbox and pass it on to your school or church group. I am asking that you take the time to confirm her belief in the power of one dollar. . . .

Recently, Jill and I had a conversation about the power of one dollar in regards to funding research. Jill is alive today because of the dollars that were donated for breast cancer research over the last 25 years. She is currently on a drug that was not available just a few years ago. However, she is running out of options, and her life, like so many others, depends on the continued funding of research for breast cancer. The drug that may save her life might be right around the corner.

As with most of us as we face our mortality, Jill is wanting to make an impact on this world before she leaves it. Its been a rough couple of months for her and she wants to do something that will leave a big footprint on this earth, with her name on it. Great minds think alike, because last year, when I was training for the Breast Cancer 3 Day, I constantly thought about the impact I could have, if I could just get one dollar from all the people driving and walking by.
It is no wonder that Jill was so compelled to promote funding for cancer research, even as she struggled through years of chemotherapy for her own illness. Jill lost many loved ones to cancer, and wrote about those experiences on the Komen website.

I have lost my surgeon to cancer and many friends. Also my parents. I turned to Komen 3 years ago because I lived the dream of hope and wanted to share. The first year is definitely the hardest, because of all the emotions that come into play and life style changes. Year number 2 is one of uncertainty. Every cancer survivor wants that year number 5. The magic number. Why do we count? Are we counting down the days, or counting the days we are alive. Before Cancer days didn't matter.

Sadly, Jill's days counted down, and on September 18, 2009, she was stolen from friends and family by this ferocious disease. But, her friend, Jennifer, continues to promote Jill's impassioned plea. What if everyone donated just one dollar to research for finding a cure for breast cancer? What if it was YOUR dollar that found the cure? What if it was YOUR dollar that saved someone's mother, sister, or daughter?

To Jill Haines, whose shoes I borrowed yesterday to run The Race for the Cure: they lifted me beyond a sore ankle and an aching knee. When discomfort challenged me, or self-doubt reared its ugly head, your shoes propelled me forward, and I considered the vastly greater discomfort of those twelve names that were listed on the back of my shirt. Even though it's likely we will have the distinction of being the very last runner to cross the finish line, still we made it, and I was so proud to take all of you with me.

But, one last race-related task needed attention. I needed to return Jill's shoes with appropriate gratitude. So, this morning, Jill's shoes are full of dollars in the form of a $100 donation to Komen in the fight against breast cancer.

Donate, donate, donate -- $1, $5, $10 -- it doesn't matter. Just click here. Cushion the way with dollars for all those who must travel a path fraught with breast cancer. The step you take by donating could be the one that finishes the race to find a cure!

To Emily Jean Thorn, Linda Ramsey Beam, Linda Jessee Mills, Libby Holter, Kaira W., Lynda Boyd, Vanny Mam Cain, Sue Michener, Tricia Keegan, Jennifer S., Betty Godby, and Jill Haines, thank you all so much for your inspiration and encouragement along the way. I will never forget you!

Here's to the next mile!

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Diane, who contributed information for the story of Kaira W.'s fortitude, and the importance of breast self-examination.

Today, Diane, you are IN THE PINK as the winner of official Komen merchandise, a New Balance sackpack!

I'll be contacting you to obtain your shipping information.

Thanks for being such an important part of this effort!