When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the effect on the patient is pretty obvious, and sometimes we forget how much and in what ways the diagnosis may impact the family members and friends. In this school assignment to write about a first time experience, Jacob opens our eyes to what he felt when his mother, Angel, went through breast cancer. We are grateful that he allowed us to share his essay. We think Jacob is pretty amazing, and we are sure you will agree after your read his words.
Hugs, Mary Beth
While I don’t like to talk about this often, as it makes me feel like I’m “boasting” about a struggle that was not truly mine, I’m also often told that it’s a little uncaring to not note my part in it at all. So, for my essay, I will be writing about my first experience with breast cancer in my family.
Before my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I don’t think that anyone in my family (including me) knew that much about cancer, other than the basics: That it has no “cure” yet, that it kills a lot of people, and that a lot of people are working to find out more about it. So, when the news hit, it significantly changed how we saw the disease and, in a way, the world as a whole.
It was April, 2010, when I was told that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in the 7th grade, and was only 12 years old at the time, so I didn’t really know how to react. She said that she was actually fairly lucky, since the cancer was found on a routine mammogram, and it could be removed. We found some comfort in this, but we still were very scared. I had no idea what I could do or what would happen, but I still tried to help her when I had the chance. She tried to comfort us by doing things like bringing home books on how to deal with cancer in the family, ranging from very factual booklets, to childish picture books, but they never really helped me. While I did care, I didn’t want to read about it when it comes to how it would affect me. While I had full faith in my mother overcoming the disease, the books only felt like salt in the wound.
Her treatments carried on into high school, and here’s where we all got to see its effects first-hand. They tend to make cancer treatment out to be much simpler than it actually is. Cancer treatment is made out as just chemo, radiation, and hair loss, when that is only part of it. There were many days where my sister (who was about 7 years old at the time) and I would have to be home alone because mom was in the hospital, and dad had to make sure she was okay. When she was home, she was no longer as energetic as she was before. She walked around in a half-asleep state, and didn’t have the energy or strength to preform many basic tasks. For the most part, she may as well have been bedridden. As the time went on, we got to see all her hair disappear. When I say all her hair, I mean her eyebrows and eye lashes as well. She went from having long brown hair, to lacking all the subtleties you would expect of the human head. The strangest thing was that this was the easiest part of it all. We all even found humor in the situation, in how silly it was. My mom even joked about how she “now knows how a newborn baby feels”. You could always get fake eyelashes, draw on fake eyebrows, and get a bunch of silly wigs and hats. However, you could not get a replacement for all the pain that the treatment makes your body feel, nor could you get back the energy that it takes away.
To make matters worse, my dad works in the Navy, and had to deploy a few months after my mom was diagnosed. Combined, these two things had a very powerful effect on everyone. Throughout all of this, I tried to not let it affect me. I told people at school, both friends and teachers, but I tried not to bring it up often. This wasn’t only that I didn’t want to talk about it, but also because it felt like I would be making an excuse at the expense of someone else. My mom was the one suffering, while I was perfectly okay. To me, claiming that it affected me academically would be faking a broken arm after seeing the attention that the person with the real broken arm got. I did care about my mom’s health, that’s why I didn’t want to undermine it by complaining about my “suffering”. While it did affect me heavily, it would have been arrogant for me to “take credit” for the suffering that was not experienced by me.
Eventually, my mom was able to overcome the cancer and successfully had it removed from her body. But, this taught me another thing I didn’t know about breast cancer. A lot of surgery goes into attempting to bring back healthy tissue that was removed. The most surprising thing was that the reconstruction surgeries are the ones that seemed to be the most dangerous. While the chemo made my mom weak and sick, the reconstruction opened up the possibility of much worse things. One of the scariest experiences I had during this was when my mom began to feel unusually sick. We all watched her to make sure she was okay, even calling over a friend who was a nurse. That’s when my mom and her friend realized what was going on. The device put in place to help reconstruction had caused a major infection to begin to develop. This meant that it must be removed, alongside all progress towards the reconstruction. That was when I saw my mom go from seeming okay, to being in great sorrow and despair. She didn’t want to have it removed, even refusing to go the hospital at first. I didn’t understand this, and I’m not sure I even understand it now. The tissue that was lost was not, as far as health goes, important. It also didn’t make her appear strange in anyway, with even having many thing that would hide it if she felt otherwise. But still, she seemed to initially choose her health over losing it. This was the closest I felt to thinking that she was going to die. She eventually went to the hospital and had it, as well as the staph infection, removed.
After a few years of treatment, the worst is now behind us. However, the effects of the cancer are still present. My mom is still going through reconstruction surgery, but nothing even coming close to before has happened. The cancer has not returned, and I hope never will. Her hair has regrown, and she has regained much of her strength. She’s now active in the breast cancer support group “Beyond Boobs!” and has found a lot of people who have or are going through same thing as she did. Everyone in my family is now more aware of the effects of breast cancer after seeing what it can do first-hand.
-Jacob (16 yrs)
One of the many challenges and frustrations of having a chronic condition that mandates wearing a visible device every day is when that disability is relatively unknown outside the breast cancer community. Imagine that you had diabetes and needed an insulin pump to regulate your blood sugar. Someone might catch a glimpse of your pump under your clothes and ask what it is. “An insulin pump,” you’d say, and the conversation could be over.
Now imagine that you have lymphedema and you must wear a compression sleeve every day, and a tighter compression sleeve when you exercise or fly in airplanes. Imagine you are in a yoga class, focusing on your Ujjayi breath, when suddenly you hear the instructor say, “You there – you in the back! Yes, you. What’s that thing on your arm?”
Flustered and aware that a room full of strangers is now staring at your misshapen figure, you stammer, “Uh, um, a compression sleeve.”
“What’s it for?”
“I, uh, I have lymphedema.”
“It’s a chronic condition that involves swelling of the extremities due to insufficient lymphatic fluid movement throughout the body secondary to removal of the lymph nodes and common in women who have had mastectomies to combat their breast cancers. Shouldn’t we all come out of Warrior Two now?”
Okay, that last bit is an exaggeration, but the first part of that exchange really did happen to me during a yoga class. The instructor was tactless and callous, but the real problem for me is that there is no easy answer to “what’s that thing on your arm?”
Variations of that conversation happen to me all the time, mostly by well-meaning people who assume I have sustained some minor injury, like spraining my elbow, and are legitimately concerned about my well-being. Although one person asked me if it was a cover to hide embarrassing tattoos. At a cocktail party. For my work.
It’s been a challenge for me to come up with something to say that is polite and clear, but also firmly conveys that this is not a conversation I wish to have. It’s never easy to discuss your breast cancer with casual acquaintances, and there is really no way to avoid going from “I have to lymphedema” to “I got it because I had a double mastectomy.” And yes, there was chemo. And yes, it was awful. And no, I do not want to hear about your second cousin twice-removed who had breast cancer and cured herself using only vitamins and meditation. Amazing!
All of this is compounded by the fact that the sleeves are ridiculously ugly. (Yes, I know about LympheDivas – they are fantastic, but unfortunately, they don’t fit me, so I’m stuck with the Medi brand sleeves, which are unattractive in a way that only a true medical device can be.) You can’t wear long sleeves all the time because it is difficult to fit your enormous arm into your regular size clothes. So you have to buy one size larger shirts to accommodate your arm, which makes the rest of your torso look like you either borrowed your mother’s clothing or don’t know how to dress yourself. So you start experimenting with sleeveless tops or tank-dresses and we’re back to the original problem of the ugly compression sleeve. And that it’s winter and you’re freezing.
So what’s a girl with lymphedema to do? My personal solution has been to invest in a lot of very sparkly jewelry that makes me feel glamorous no matter what monstrosity is on my arm. I am however, still looking for a good, short answer that would have shut down my embarrassing exchange with the yoga instructor.
Have some ideas? Fabulous. Leave them in the comments and let’s have a conversation on our terms, on our time, in our community. No downward-facing dog required.
Related Reading: On Lymphedema, Serial Killers, and Therapeutic Torture Devices]]>
One sultry morning in July 2010, I sat down to watch an episode of Dexter. I was about two-thirds of the way through my regimen of chemotherapy for Stage IIb breast cancer, and I found something soothing in the blood-drenched gore of early Dexter shows. Plus, if I took my pain meds during the opening credits, by the time Dexter had sliced, diced, and dumped someone in the Miami Bay, my pain would have abated and I would likely feel well enough to shower. Or walk to the mailbox, if I was really up for a challenge.
It Started with a Tingle
Anyway, on that particular day, as the glorious Michael C. Hall fried up his steak and eggs, I felt a funny tingling in my left arm. “Huh,” I thought. “That’s weird.” By the time I watched Dexter Saran-wrap some notorious villain to his table and commence dismemberment, I realized my left arm had swollen to gargantuan proportions. “Well,” I said to myself, “that was fast.”
I quickly scheduled an appointment with a physical therapist and lymphedema specialist after my arm ballooned up to four times its normal size. They took my measurements and said, “Yup. That’s lymphedema.”
Quick Lymphedema Tutorial
A quick tutorial for the uninitiated: Secondary lymphedema can affect anyone who has lymph nodes removed from nearly any part of their body. Women who have had mastectomies with lymph node removal are particularly high risk. When I had my double mastectomy in April 2010, the prevailing wisdom was that the surgeon would check your sentinel lymph node, the one closest to your breast ducts, and if there was evidence of disease they would remove the entire cluster from under your arm.
In my case that turned out to be 19 nodes, only the first one of which had microscopic disease. A few months later, the standards changed: Even if a positive sentinel node was found, surgeons would remove only those nodes that had evidence of cancer, leaving the rest in place. This less aggressive surgery significantly decreased the risk of lymphedema.
I’m not going to linger too long on the causes, risk factors, and percentages of lymphedema among breast cancer patients. You can read about those here (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema/patient), or here (http://www.lymphnet.org/), or here (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lymphedema/basics/definition/con-20025603). I’d like to focus instead on my own experience and my efforts to control my condition, rather than letting it control me.
Of Sleeves and Wraps and Machines
After a consultation with the lymphedema therapist, I was fitted for compression sleeves and taught how to wrap my arm in bandages. The initial treatment, an attempt to reduce my swollen arm to just two or three times its normal size, involved wearing “wraps” about 23 hours per day. These wraps made my arm look mummified and were a colossal hassle to put on, take off, wrap up, wrap off, etc. I was “fortunate” my first flare-up was over the summer. It is impossible to put a sweater on over these things. I also had to see the therapist every day for an hour, four or five days per week, for manual lymphatic drainage. And I had to learn how to self-massage my arm in order to move the collected fluid out of my arm and into the rest of my body.
When the lymphedema got really bad, I was fitted for a Compression Machine. (See photo.) This torture device involved lying perfectly still for an hour while a series of tubes and air pressure pumps massaged my entire left side. Creepy, weird, uncomfortable, and unsustainable. How many moms with kids under the age of five do you know who can lie still for an hour a night before bed? That’s right: none.
Chronic but Survivable: Time to Thrive!
Finally, after months of intensive therapy, daily maintenance, endless doctors’ appointments, and chronic pain, my lymphedema stabilized. I still wear a compression sleeve every day, but I’ve stopped wrapping at night and using the Machine. I have flare-ups when I fly long distances or when the weather turns hot and humid. The pain is chronic but manageable.
Now, three years later, my lymphedema is under control but by no means resolved. After that dark day in July, I commenced what would be a long, difficult, painful journey toward managing a chronic condition. A journey that, unfortunately, I am likely to be on for the rest of my life.
BUT! I am alive and intend to stay that way for many years to come. The lymphedema is a bitter reminder of what I went through to overcome breast cancer. But it’s also a reminder that I did come through. I did survive. And I will continue to thrive.
Next post! Next week I’ll share some lymphedema tips and tricks and offer some photos of my favorite compression sleeves.]]>
Get some sort of exercise
While I am forced to get exercise through lacrosse (though I’d much rather be inside), I think being active for at least a little bit of time every day is beneficial. It’s so hard to get off the couch in the winter but tell yourself, “I only have to do something for five minutes.” Sometimes you may notice that those five minutes become ten! For those of us who refuse to go outside unless it’s absolutely necessary you could do many active things in your own home. Put an exercise or yoga DVD in, dance while you do chores, rearrange your furniture, or my personal favorite, play Just Dance. This game is a favorite for my friends and me and is a great way to exercise without really realizing it. However you choose to be active, you’ll feel great afterwards.
Take care of your body
Taking care of your body is extremely important in the winter. Your skin is exposed to a harsh environment, you’re not getting as much sun, and all you want to do is sit on couch and eat cookies (or maybe that last one’s just me). I make sure that I wear gloves whenever I’m outside. Dry skin is annoying and uncomfortable so make sure you hydrate your body inside and out. Getting enough vitamin D or sunlight is important. It affects your mood and energy. If you can’t get out into the sun, keep things as bright as possible in your home!
Set new goals
I’m a big advocate for goal setting. It helps pass the time and benefits you in the process. These goals could be small, like calling an old friend every week or reading a book. Or your goal could go hand in hand with your exercise. Take up a new hobby, volunteer, spend more time with your family, or if you’re brave, get a puppy (I wish!). Whatever goal you choose, treat yourself for your accomplishments. You should feel proud for achieving this goal! If you make this goal take up all of winter, before you know it, it will be spring!
I wish everyone the best winter you’ve ever had! Stay warm!]]>
This season, we wish you a holiday that is full
Of magic, happiness, and good cheer.
For this is the time to reflect on the things
that bring us a smile now and into the year.
Perhaps you have seen people helping others
With a gift, or a smile, or helping hands.
It’s not always easy to find time to be giving,
With the all that this busy season demands.
“Angels” have appeared in many different forms
In our office, at events, and in our midst.
There are so many, we can’t even begin
To thank all of you on our “nice” list
We’ve seen angels at meetings, in emails,
and on our Facebook pages or posts.
A gift of encouragement, an inspirational message,
Or a hug that is needed the most.
We’ve seen you at events, helping to promote
The message we all want to share
The mission of support, of love, and of hope
To women and families everywhere.
Volunteers give their time, talents, and gifts
Without you, we would be lost.
Some open their homes and open their hearts
Every time, no matter the cost.
Some angels have appeared as a host of givers
Who vow to match every December dollar we receive
And donors who’ve hosted events of their own
Donations we definitely need.
Our sponsors are angels, they keep us ‘alive’
For each one we are truly blessed.
When others said no, you answered the call
With a loud and resounding “Yes!”
There are angels who help other ladies in need
Through surgery, through treatment, and more
Ones who say “You are not alone,
I’m here, I’ve been there before.”
So thank you angels, from the depths of our hearts
With your help, we will continue to grow.
We’ll keep up the fight until there’s a cure.
Your angelic gifts mean more than you know.
Tis the season to start holiday (over)eating for most people. We have company parties, family dinners, and holiday celebrations. We are out shopping and wolfing down $.99 cheeseburgers on the go to maximize the amount of sales we can hit. We are trimming the healthy part of our food budget to allow for more gift giving. And in a few weeks, we will make the annual New Year’s Resolution to lose all that weight we made no effort to avoid in the first place. Why do we repeat these same cycles year after year?
So, as you hang our cherished A Calendar to Live By 2014 and flip the page to January, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to dedicate those New Year’s Resolutions to something more fun? Maybe like the activities we do around Beyond Boobs! — participating in the Dirty Girl Mud Run or Skydiving! Or how about checking items off your “life list” such as seeing a new country or state? Or you could even take up a new hobby? Anything rather than crash hardcore dieting. Again. And failing at it. Again.
There is no need to wait for 2014 to begin healthy eating habits. We can start NOW! There are several tricks to help you out during the season of feasting so January doesn’t become a season of unhealthy fasting.
Dietary Do’s and Don’ts
Have you ever been to a company party, Solstice gathering, New Year’s Bash, or family dinner that was “One Plate Only” style? Have you ever seen Uncle Bob or your CEO standing by the buffet table reminding cousins or temporary employees to pack on as much as you can because you only get one trip to the trough? No, of course not!! Buffet style eating was not created so we can have full sized side and main course helping portions of EVERYTHING on the buffet. It was invented for holiday grazers to get a little bite sized portion of several offerings so they are able to try Aunt Edna’s candied yams AND Aunt Sally’s Green Bean Surprise AND Uncle Mac’s Rum Balls without exploding on the fine china. It was created so we can try a tiny bit of everything. Emphasis on TINY. So, make that first round a sample plate with single or two-bite helpings only. That way, you don’t have to choke down spoonful after spoonful of hideous Green Bean Surprise while Aunt Sally watches with glee, and you can figure out what you WANT to go back for. Many times, the sample round is filling enough that you don’t need a second trip and you can save room for a sample round of deserts!!
Which brings us to desserts. Even though the holiday season is filled with stress and desserts is stressed spelled backwards, it doesn’t mean that eating piles of truffles and Christmas cookies is going to help figure out how to finance that new Batman car your kid is going to play with twice. It’s not going to leave you broke and happy. It’s going to leave you broke and fat and feeling miserable. Also, how do you only take a sample of four kinds of pies?! Well, believe it or not, it is not rude to cut a pie slice in half again or even two more times. Taking a sliver of pie is seen as not being a Piggy to ensure that more people get to sample the rhubarb AND the pecan caramel apple pumpkin cinnamon streusel. And this way, you get to try all four kinds of pie without having to take a whole slice of each and inducing diabetes! You can also pair up with a friend or relative and agree to each take a slice of a different pie then share at the table.
If you are a cancer survivor bringing a dish to a family or company dinner, this is a great way to share with friends, co-workers, and family, the new healthier eating habits that you have developed as a result of your diagnosis. There is nothing wrong with making a little placard on an index card to let people know if a dish is gluten or dairy free, low calorie, vegetarian, or healthy for survivors. It may inspire dinner conversations about how your non-cancerous loved ones can improve their own eating habits to help ward off the evil C-beast. Try to avoid slogans like “Try My Meatless Balls” or “Tofurkey Saves Tatas.” Keep it simple but intriguing so people ask questions.
Calorie-Busting Family Fun
What about after the family gorge? What can we do to avoid training all those calories to set up shop as lazy fat cells while we watch football? Well, back in the day, Thanksgiving and Christmas were both more active holidays! Families used to play healthy games of regular or Nerf football to work off dinner. But it doesn’t have to be football. You can play bocce ball, soccer, croquet, or any other game the family enjoys. On Christmas, it is also fun for everyone to head outside and watch the kiddos enjoy their new outside toys like bikes, skates, skateboards, and sports equipment or even participate by playing with them. This also encourages the kids to value those toys as well as the obese-inducing movies and video games. It’s amazing how much joy kids get from parents and relatives actually coming outside to watch some tricks on the bike or see how fast they can skate or how great a shot they are with their new basketball.
Family fun time it doesn’t have to always be sitting around the ol’ 95 inch watching Charlie Brown’s teacher practice her nautical radio skills for the 75th time. It may seem silly, but the Wii, X Box Kinect, and PlayStation Move can be very physical and can work you up a darn good sweat!! The sports games are great as well as workout games and fighting games. Even the music and instrument games burn calories while you have good family fun. If you don’t have any of those platforms, they can be bought very cheap at Thrift Stores and Cash Converters.
If you don’t like video games, there are many family board games with physical or charade type components. Shop around and see what you can find!! There is also the good old-fashioned go outside and play option too! And don’t forget how physically challenging securing and hand decorating and lighting a tree or decorating the house or yard can be!! Sure, you will all want to kill each other by the end of it, but it’s pretty to look at and will definitely burn off a few candy canes and Starbucks shopacinnos.
All throughout the holiday season, you can cut calorie build up and offer a preemptive strike against overeating like a polar bear in September by upping your regular exercise routines to offset the added calories going in. Unlike balancing your devastated holiday checkbook, the outgoing calories HAVE to be higher than the incoming to maintain a healthy balance and weight. If you are eating more, you have to be working out more!! Try working out during some of those Christmas movies you could probably recite even after a stroke. Do some crunches, squats, step aerobics, or wall sits while you absent-mindedly mumble about shooting your eye out and leg lamps.
Many gym memberships offer free trials during November and December. Give one a try! You may like it and decide to join, but if you don’t or the fees are too high, you got a month or a couple of weeks of free workout to offset all the extra poultry-loading. And you might have even found some workout stuff you can do at home!
Smart Gifting, Smart Shopping
What are the holidays without gift giving and receiving! It shouldn’t break the bank and doesn’t have to! What better way to avoid expensive shopping than to make some food items for our loved ones or take them to a holiday party gift swap. We can make these treats healthily and then include a little tag that tells them how healthy it is, why, and how to make it for their own families. It is a passive way to spread good eating habits. We know we are going to get some bins of popcorn and boxes of candy. If you know you don’t want to eat them, politely accept, stick them under the Kwanza bush, don’t open them, and then donate them to your local chemotherapy office for the chemo patients to enjoy when they are stuck infusing during the holidays. Many of us know the joy of finding actual chocolate in the Jolly Rancher and mint bowl!
Also regarding gifting and shopping, you know when you leave the house that you aren’t grabbing one thing “real quick” and are not coming home until well after dark. So, to avoid hitting up the fast food and sucking back five-hour energy shots, pack some healthy snacks to get you through the day’s shopping! You can pack homemade energy-boosting goodies, peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread, healthy whole grain crackers, cut up fruit and vegetables, or any other snacks you like. You can even pack a cooler with some low fat yogurt, fruit, green tea, or water.
When it comes to gifts and shopping, there are easy workouts buried within this too! You could always ask for a gym membership or workout equipment like a kettlebell, free weights, or resistance bands for Chanukah instead of one more sweater or throw blanket. When shopping for others, there is nothing wrong with encouraging good physical fitness in your loved ones. You can give light hand weights, jump ropes, stretchy bands, yoga mats, kettlebells, workout DVDs, more active fitness based Wii games, or outdoors toys. You can often find great deals on these at stores like Marshalls, Big Lots, and TJ Maxx and there is a special joy in watching someone struggle to figure out what a set of wrapped three-pound weights could possibly be.
When shopping for others, make yourself workout. Park as far from the stores as possible and get a free walk. More accidents happen in parking lots during the holiday season anyway and you will hit the store in a better mood! You can also park on the opposite side of the mall from where you are going and walk the mall. Who knows, you may spot that perfect ugly Christmas sweater for Aunt Helen on your journey.
Who knows, if you put these things into practice throughout December, you may find you feel better, look better, and have more energy. And you may just decide to be healthier all year long!!
We are always amazed at the generosity of our community, supporters, volunteers, and donors, and for that, we thank you! Although breast cancer may change the course of our lives,it can never change,except to intensify, the gratitude in our hearts to be alive. In that spirit of gratitude, we want each one of you to know how grateful we are for you and how you care for us!
Having been in business for over 20 years now, I get requests all the time to help various businesses grow and succeed. Right now, we get about 200 requests a year for help. We typically can narrow the list down to 20 pretty easily, but ultimately, we only have time to support two opportunities per year.
The reason that we have chosen Beyond Boobs! for the last 3 years is because cancer affects all of us in one way or another, even if you don’t have an immediate family member battling the disease. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2010, and her life is now defined by events before that date and since. A cancer diagnosis changes your life forever and the lives of those around you who love you.
Beyond Boobs! has made it their mission to help young women through this process. Breast cancer is striking woman as young as in their 20s and 30s, and late diagnoses are getting more prevalent all the time. Beyond Boobs! is unique in that it doesn’t focus on raising money to find a cure, it is there for women everyday who are on the front lines of the disease and are just trying to survive one more day. When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, there is so much to learn and do, and it helps to have the women of Beyond Boobs! who have ‘been there and done that’ to help navigate the difficult decisions that are ahead of these young women, decisions that will shape the rest of their lives.
On behalf of myself and my company, G3 Systems, Inc., I am proud to support Beyond Boobs!
Gordon G. Miller III, CEO
G3 Systems, Inc.
Hello Friends of Beyond Boobs!
My name is Jess Kelly, and I am lucky enough to be Beyond Boobs!’s intern for the year! I’m a Social Work major at Christopher Newport University and will be graduating this spring. I have no idea what’s next after graduation but plan on working with non-profits in some way. (Beyond Boobs! will always be my favorite though.) I’m from Maryland but have lived all over the place being a military brat. I play lacrosse at CNU and love my team with all my heart. I am an avid dog lover and have two back home that I miss every day.
I spent last weekend with nearly 60 Boobers! at their annual retreat! It was an amazing experience and really helped me get a sense of what this organization is all about! The sisterhood that has been created is something to be grateful for which leads me to this month’s theme of giving thanks.
Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite occasions to celebrate with loved ones. Now almost completely eclipsed by Christmas due mostly to the introduction of Black Friday, Thanksgiving, the holiday meant to celebrate gratitude, has been overshadowed by something completely opposite – greed. So I challenge you all to reflect on the past year and make a list of maybe three things you are grateful for. Here are mine:
So I encourage all of you to create a list of your own. Share this with your family and friends! Bring the values of Thanksgiving back and celebrate life! Trust me, as someone who has worked retail since high school, the Black Friday “deals” you think you are scoring are not worth missing time with your loved ones.
Take the challenge! Leave a comment expressing your gratitude.]]>
Beyond Boobs! exists to help the wives, mothers, and daughters who have breast cancer now. That’s why we preceded Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a post called, “3 Things Young Women Need to Know About Breast Cancer.” That’s why our Good Health Fairy asked you to get Beyond Breast Cancer Awareness to Breast Health Action. And that’s why when October ends, Beyond Boobs! carries on.
The Pink Ribbon and Pinkwashing
October, known for foliage, football, and “fiends,” now has become synonymous with the pink ribbon. While the pink ribbon campaign has been effective in focusing public attention on the serious topic of breast cancer, it has also spawned a pink industry profiting from the use of the ribbon with promises to benefit various breast cancer charities or often just the vague “breast cancer research.”
The widespread placement of ribbons on products ranging from chia pet kits, dog costumes (really!), to rubber duckies has, in some cases, made people immune to the original, well-intentioned objective of the campaign. Even more serious is the emergence of the “pinkwasher.” This is a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease. To learn more about pinkwashing, click here: Think Before You Pink.
Take Breast Health Action NOW!
At Beyond Boobs!, we have been promoting breast health ACTION from our very beginnings, six years ago. Recognizing that “breast cancer awareness” was very passive (who isn’t aware of breast cancer?), we were one of the first organizations to focus on breast health and changing behaviors, and other organizations have followed our lead. And unlike many other non-profits, we aren’t focused on a future cure, we are helping women with breast cancer NOW.
As we work with young women diagnosed with breast cancer, we are helping to restore them to health – mind, body, and spirit – educating them about reducing their risk of recurrence, and encouraging healthy habits. We also educate all women about managing their own risk of breast cancer, advocating for their health, and urging a lifestyle of wellness.
So as you wade through the sea of pink ribbons this fall, we hope you will pause and do the following:
October is over, but we’ll continue to spread the word…we hope you’ll join us.
Warm hugs, Mary Beth]]>