Author Archives: ellynd

April is Donate Life Month

Once again, it’s been awhile since I’ve made my way to my blog.  And to be honest, I really miss it and wish I could find more time but three kids with busy schedules and a busy job keep me going pretty consistently.  I love the craziness but only wish I could sneak 30 minutes every so often to keep up on my blogging. 

Thankfully, my work gives me a lot of satisfaction and quite often, I’m able to mix my passion for great causes with my work life.  Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Gift of Life Michigan on a donor drive 2010 campaign.  I’ve always been a strong supporter of organ donation–can’t think for one minute why I need my organs when I’m not here anymore.   I truly can’t imagine what it’s like for all the people waiting for organs and I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the Gift of Life Facebook page reading some pretty amazing stories. 

What’s interesting to me is that so many people don’t understand that you cannot just sign the back of your driver’s license anymore.  The online registry is the best way to make sure you are listed and recognized as a potential organ donor and it takes about 5 seconds to get through the process.   April is Donate Life month–the perfect time to sign up on the registry so if you haven’t already, do it now.  The 3,000 people in Michigan waiting for organs thank you.

Two Proud Mommas

My daughter and her good friend have a lot in common. They share their long brown hair, their love of soccer, their energetic spirits, their love of the “The Biggest Loser” TV show and the same birthday month.

The girls have been friends since before they were 2 years old and for the past 3 years, they’ve planned their joint birthday parties together. For their ninth birthday, they decided they didn’t need a lot of gifts but they had a long list of friends they wanted to include in their celebration. Enter Echoage, a relatively new organization that helps parents plan birthday parties that are good for the environment and give back at the same time. The online invite suggest a donation instead of a gift. Guests choose the amount they want to give and the girls get 50% of the total. The other half is donated to a charity that the girls select from the list of charities tied to Echoage. They chose Nourish America, an organization that feeds hungry children and through their selflessness, the organization received over $300.

The girls right after their second birthday

The girls at preschool just after their 2nd birthdays

Planning for their February birthdays typically starts months in advance.  After much discussion, the girls decided on a biggest birthday challenge, adapted from their favorite show “The Biggest Loser“.  As guests arrived at the party, they were randomly assigned a team color and given their team t-shirt (designed by the two girls).  They next learned the rules and were on to the first challenge, a basketball shoot-out.  Following the shoot-out, the girls had an endurance challenge and a relay race.  In the true spirit of “The Biggest Loser”, the girls asked their guests to bring cans of food instead of gifts.  All of the guests had a ton of fun and left with their prizes–a pack of Extra Sugar Free gum–the official gum of “The Biggest Loser.”

Standing with their collection of Food

The girls stand with all the food donations

The whole group

Today, my friend Stacy (the other mom) and I took the girls to Gleaners Food Bank to deliver the food.  We had a short tour of the facility while they weighed our donation.  It was a great moment watching the girls learn they had donated 124 pounds of food–the equivalent of 124 meals.  We can only imagine what they’ll pull out of their sleeves for next year.

At Gleaners delivering 124 pounds of food

Ta Ta Breast Cancer is working it…

The sun is shining and even though we are still at the beginning of February, my mind keeps wandering to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. My team is kicking it into high gear with some great fundraising, and I’m so proud of all of their ideas and energy. I’m feeling confident that we’ll end this year with a nice round $125,000 and thinking how much good this money can do in this fight. I now, sadly, know 5 women who are battling stage 4 breast cancer and all I can think about is how desperately I want them to live, long, full, enjoyable lives. Our only hope is research and the way to get there is by raising money. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m raising bucks, and I’m not stopping. Why? Because one friend in her 30s is seeing tremendous results on a Parp Inhibitor trial. And another friend in her 20s is starting a clinical trial shortly in hopes of seeing major disease reduction. All of these women need newer and better drugs to continue to fight this disease and that’s exactly what the money we raise helps fund.

My biggest fundraiser of the year is quickly approaching, and if you live in Michigan, I’d love to see you join us. We are seeing Spring Awakening at the Fisher Theater on Thursday April 29 at 8:00. For each ticket sold, $24 goes directly to Susan G. Komen and helps one of my teammates closer to their $2,300 goal.  And you pay the face value of the ticket.  It’s a win-win for all. If you are interested in joining us, you can RSVP on my event page or get in contact with me directly. If you can’t make the show but wish to donate or even walk, you can visit our team page.   And stay tuned for lots more exciting fundraisers before August. 

Help us save lives. Help us fight this disease. Help us end breast cancer.

Vote for Friendship Circle

Yes I’m usually pretty focused on breast cancer. But there are many other causes that are important to me.  Today, in particular, I’m focused on The Friendship Circle–a remarkable organization that touches the lives of kids with special needs.  Why today? Because beginning in a few short hours, the Friendship Circle has an opportunity to win $1,000,000 in the Chase Community Giving event.  All it takes is your vote.  The effort they’ve put forth in promoting this opportunity is similar to the way they do everything and indicative of the talent and the time put into this organization.  Every year I participate in their annual walk and have an opportunity to visit the building.  I hear the passion in Bassie’s voice as she shares the accomplishments of the year.  I listen to my friends share stories of how this organization impacts their life.  And I am happy to support and share in the wonderful experience.  It just takes a minute to vote and a couple extra minutes to remind your friends to vote.  Let’s watch Friendship Circle continue to do great things.   

Taking Action–Addressing the New Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

Last week I had the opportunity to join a great group of women on a panel to talk about the new breast cancer screening guidelines put out by the USPTF.  I sat at the table with Senator Gilda Jacobs, Dr. Ruth Lerman—a breast care specialist and 3 time breast cancer survivor—and Dr. Karen Hunt, Breast Imaging Site Director at Henry Ford Hospital.  The event was hosted by the Cancer Thrivers Network  for Jewish Women and moderated by another young breast cancer survivor and member of the Cancer Thrivers Network, Elizabeth Schiff Barash.  We all brought our unique point of views and expertise to the panel and I’m so thankful to the thrivers for putting this panel together so quickly.

The December 21 panel, with moderator Elizabeth Schiff Barash, Thrivers Michelle Passon and Patti Nemer and JFS Community Outreach Officer, Ellen Yashinsky Chute

It’s been 6 weeks since the USPTF released their new guidelines.  I often wonder if they envisioned the uproar and discussion their release would create.  It took the online communities through the blogosphere, news sites and social networks minutes to start posting opposition and opinions on the new guidelines.  There was no need to wait and hear more from them.  Their guidelines, as they released them on that November day, were clear.  If you were under 50 without knowledge of a family history, your best bet was to hope that the big “C” didn’t strike.  Because if it did, you would have no way of knowing until it was staring you in the face and was perhaps too late.  No mammograms, no need for breast self-exams and no clinical breast exams.  Talk about anxiety that unnecessary biopsies create, how about the anxiety of the woman that discovers stage 4 breast cancer when her cancer should have/could have been discovered earlier?  

We’ve spent 25 years educating women on the importance of routine mammograms beginning at age 40 and we’ve spent even longer touting the importance of breast self-exams.  Just recently, Deborah Wasserman Schultz introduced the EARLY Act which is designed to educate even younger women—specifically women under 40 about the importance of early detection.  Early detection of breast cancer saves lives and no one can deny that fact. 

So why do we have these new guidelines?  And what do they mean? Will laws change?  Will insurance companies change coverage? Will women start pushing their mammograms later and later? Will we no longer learn how to do a breast self-exam?  Will doctors continue to do clinical breast exams or will those go away?  I’m sure any of these scenarios are possible but for me, the scariest, is that women will actually listen to these guidelines.  Maybe not at first but when the chatter quiets down, people may start to push their screenings later and later.  They may start to ignore years of advice to check their breasts.  And guess what, more women will die of breast cancer. 

So where does this take me?  Clearly I disagree with the guidelines.  And yes I’m angry, borderline furious, but I see this as an opportunity to start a conversation and make a difference.  We can make sure that the women in our life understand that mammograms, breast self-exams and clinical breast exams are just as important today as they were on November 16.  We can sign petitions put out by FORCE and Susan G. Komen to make our voices heard and make sure all women have access to mammograms beginning at age 40. We can push for better diagnostic tools to detect cancer even earlier, and we can advocate for our own health by doing breast self-exams, getting proper clinical breast exams and continuing on with our yearly screenings.

Another big win for Ta Ta Breast Cancer and Brogan & Partners

Awhile ago, I posted about Ta Ta Breast Cancer’s big win at the D show. Well the logo pulled out another big win at the International Graphis Awards—yep, that’s right international award for Ta Ta Breast Cancer. I’m especially proud that the logo was created by my good friend and colleague, Dave Ryan. Dave’s created great work for my clients for many years and snagged awards along the way but this one was near and dear to my heart. So a big thank you to Dave and Brogan & Partners for pulling out one more big win.

I love this video

Worth watching. Thanks Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Let the Breast Cancer 3-Day fundraising begin

We seem to be kicking into high gear in the fundraising area pretty quickly which is great news since we’ve got a team of 30 members so far for the 2010 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the cure—all with a $2,300 goal.

Our big 2009 fundraiser

Here’s what we’ve got planned:

We’ll be wrapping gifts at Borders at 13 mile and Southfield Rd. on December 4, 5 and 11th from 10a-2p. Stop by and say hello, grab some gifts and let the lovely ladies (and one man) of Ta Ta Breast Cancer wrap them for you. Hope to see you there.

Also, on December 5th, print out a flyer and drop into Catching Fireflies for some great holiday shopping. 12% of whatever you purchase will benefit our team.

As always, you can visit TD nails on Mondays or Tuesdays, mention Ta Ta Breast Cancer and our team will benefit with 10% of your purchase.

Needs your carpets, tile or grout professionally cleaned; call In-home Window Cleaning at 248-623-5858. Schedule a free estimate. If you hire them, make sure to mention Ta Ta Breast Cancer and 15% will come back to our team.

And you can always do your holiday shopping online by registering as a member of our shopping portal. The great news is you get cash back and Ta Ta Breast Cancer benefits too.

Stay tuned for announcements about some other great fundraisers in the spring including a mother/daughter event at Salon Pavlina in Farmington Hills and our big theater fundraiser-Spring Awakening winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2007. We’re hoping to raise $125,000 this year.

Got any other thoughts or ideas for us or want to join our team, leave a comment or get in touch.

Not digging the newest breast cancer screening advice

I just sat down to do some work tonight and was distracted by the federal government’s latest announcement.  It seems that a task force has decided that women should wait until age 50 to get mammograms and it’s only necessary to get them every 2 years.  They go on to say that breast self-exams do no good and women should not be taught to do them.  I am outraged and furious at this latest advice. Earlier this month, I spoke to 3 women over the course of 3 days all in their thirties with a recent breast cancer diagnosis.  And nearly every day, I hear of another young woman beginning a breast cancer fight. 

Sure the guidelines are different for women with a family history or a genetic mutation but what about those of us that discovered a mutation only after we were diagnosed?  I think everyone can agree that mammograms are not perfect but we need to find a better tool for screening younger women before we take away the one tool that actually works.  And why debate breast self-exams and breast exams performed by doctors.  A breast self-exam ultimately led to my diagnosis.  Where would I be two and a half years later if I hadn’t discovered the tiny lump in my breast?  Does the federal government care or are they just worried about increased costs of biopsies?  Share your thoughts?  We need to be advocates for our own health and make sure we are not negatively impacted by this latest advice.

Raising Awareness of Hereditary Cancer

 I’ve spent a lot of time in the past month thinking about hereditary cancer issues.  Last Friday, I spoke to the Michigan Cancer Genetics Alliance about FORCE.  And in between, I’ve had two FORCE outreach meetings. In speaking to the MCGA, I communicated my concern with the lack of awareness of both hereditary cancer and the importance of Genetics Counselors in the process.  Through my interactions with many of them, I know that they have similar concerns.  They had some nice suggestions of various groups within Michigan that may help me take on this issue.  I talk to women everyday who don’t know they are at risk and don’t know what to do if they are at risk.  Clearly I fit in the “didn’t know I was at risk” category. We’ve come along way through organizations like FORCE and Be Bright Pink but we still have a long way to go. 

FORCE coined a term to give people with a hereditary cancer genetic mutation a name.

FORCE coined a term to give people with a hereditary cancer genetic mutation a name.

At my most recent FORCE meeting, I met a woman who’s sister was diagnosed with DCIS (stage 0 breast cancer).  Prior to this diagnosis, she had no idea that she was a risk for a BRCA mutation.  She tried to get genetic testing but her insurance company turned her down.  6 months later her sister was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and 1 year later is back with more cancer.  Could this be avoided?  This is just one of many stories I hear.  How can we make sure that more women have the knowledge they need to ultimately avoid a cancer diagnosis?  Do we need a specific week devoted to hereditary cancer awareness?  I need your help, my readers, to make sure that we are able to inform, educate and spread the word.  We are a small but mighty group and we can do this together.  Post some comments and let me know how you think we can make an impact.

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