Category Archives: breast cancer

53 days and counting…

We are so close to the 2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day.  Only 53 days left—we’re into some serious long training walks and winding down with tentmates, t-shirt orders and final fundraisers.  Last night was a biggie for us.  We packed 24 Seconds in Berkley, MI with a fun crowd, a great atmosphere on the upstairs deck and a great buffet.  And the owner of 24 Seconds nearly doubled his donation with an $800 dollar donation to the Breast Cancer 3-Day.  It had all the makings of a great night—really good weather, reasonable food cost, easy to plan and even easier to promote.  Best of all, it was totally fun—like having a big outdoor party at my house without the cooking or cleaning.

Our next biggie is approaching quickly in a little under 3 weeks.  It’s going to be a great night with great food, great auction items and great raffle items.  And nearly every item is a donation so almost the entire money brought in for the event will go directly to the Breast Cancer DSC_06173-Day.

With all of our donations and our fundraising, we’ve topped $40,000 to date.  And although, I refuse to change my $85,000 team goal, I’m thinking we may not make that much this year.  I’ve always learned to aim high though and that’s what I’m doing.

And it’s not too late to join in the fun.  If you live in Michigan, come join Ta Ta Breast Cancer.  We’d love to have you walk with us and join in the fun first hand.  If you’re not in Michigan, find a team near you and experience the weekend of a lifetime.

Oh so fun…Now I really get to help cure breast cancer


I just got accepted to the Susan G. Komen Advocates in Science Program. I’m not exactly sure what’s involved but their goals for the program are pretty simple and well defined:

“to ensure that a strong, well informed advocate’s perspective is integrated into scientific dialogue, as well as the policy and funding decisions impacting our progress toward discovering and delivering the cures.”

I’m excited and honored to be part of this program. More importantly, I can now truly have an impact on the future of breast cancer beyond fundraising, beyond mentoring and beyond raising awareness.

Can’t wait to get started.

Another great Breast Cancer 3-Day fundraiser

I am so proud and happy to see how much Ta Ta Breast Cancer is growing.  It’s a rough year to raise money, and I know it’s holding lots of people back from participating in this amazing experience.  But I also know how critical and important this money is in the fight against breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen is the major beneficiary of the money raised through the Breast Cancer 3-Day and every major advance in the fight against breast cancer has been touched by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  They’ve helped train more than 400 breast cancer researchers and funded more than 1,800 research projects over the past 26 years.

I can pretty confidently say that Susan G. Komen helped make my path easier.  And I can happily say that they are putting lots of effort into hereditary cancer.  So I’m willing to continue to rally the troops even in this tough economy.

So in keeping with the really difficult economy, one of my new teammates decided to take a new fundraising approach.  She’s planning a very large outdoor summer bash and getting almost everything donated.  She’s spent the past week and a half talking to everyone she knows to get food, paper goods, beverages, auction items and raffle items donated.

The admission cost for the party is totally affordable–$20 a person, $35 a couple.  Best yet, nearly the entire cost of admission will go directly into the 3-Day (businesses can’t donate alcohol but they are giving it to her at cost).  Where else can you go on a Saturday Night for dinner and drinks and spend less?  And at the same time know that you are helping so many people.

tata_flyer_benefitdinnerBrogan & Partners created this really cute flier for us too.

I am so energized by her passion and enthusiasm for this party and can’t wait to see the fabulous results.  We’re pretty certain the party will help her meet her minimum and fill in for the rest of the team members.

Got any additional thoughts on how we can raise even more money that evening?  Anything you want to auction or raffle to support the cause?  We’re open to your ideas.

Back In Training For The Breast Cancer 3-Day

I’m officially back in training—sort of.  I must admit I’ve been a little nervous about my 3-Day training this year.  The walk is coming up quickly, and I haven’t really put too much time into long walks (or even short ones for that matter).   But I’m on a short work trip in North Carolina–I finished my work day at 6:00, laced up my shoes, grabbed my cell phone and some cash and headed out.  A whole night to myself.  I really just wandered with no firm plan but I found this beautiful neighborhood in Cary, NC and it was perfect.  I walked for about 95 minutes and made my way over to a little café for some dinner.  This was exactly the jump start I needed to get excited about the actual walk—I’ve been heavily focused on the fundraising and nearly forgot I need to walk 60 miles over the course of 3 days.

So tonight my second journey officially begins.  And I’ll prepare for that magical date when I’ll drive up to the most energetic group of people on the planet.  I’ll smile through the 60 miles feeling lucky and happy that I can walk, enjoying the sea of pink and dreaming of a world without breast cancer.


BRCA awareness saves lives

I was so excited to get my mail yesterday and see the great cover story on the Detroit Jewish News on the breast cancer gene (BRCA).  I am so happy that Lisa Siegmann was willing to share her story to help so many women.  And I’m so grateful that the Jewish News recognized the importance of this message.  Social marketing can save lives–especially when it involves building awareness of an unknown risk factor.  Research into finding new diagnostics, treatments and a cure is essential.  However, we must make sure that a portion of our efforts are directed to raising awareness.  Until there is a cure, early detection and prevention for those at high risk is our life-saving hope.

Let’s continue to find ways to educate women and the community on BRCA and the risk factors associated with this genetic mutation.  I know there are many women, like Lisa, who chose prophylactic surgery only to find out  that it was only a matter of time until a diagnosis.  In this case, knowledge really is power.

1 year of breast cancer blogging

Today is another big day.  Happy 1 year anniversary of blogging on  82 posts and 101 comments later, I’m still going strong and having fun.  Thanks for joining me on my journey as a survivor.  Hope you’ll stick with me.

So many breast reconstruction options!

Immediately after my doctor told me I had breast cancer, I told him I was having a bilateral mastectomy.  There was no doubt in my mind that on drop of cancer meant that both my breasts were going.  This was before I even knew about my genetic mutation.  As soon as I got through all the scary screening (bone scan, chest x-ray, blood work), I started focusing on breast doctors and plastic surgeons.  I made my decision pretty quickly and was ready to go.  My path was clearly defined.  I would have the mastectomy, have expanders put in place, go through several months of expanding and ultimately exchange the expanders for my implants.

While I knew there were several other breast reconstruction options, none of these were an option for me and I didn’t even bother reading or discussing any of them.  I made up my mind and had the surgery.  So this weekend was a completely eye-opening experience as I talked to women about their DIEPS, GAPS, one-step with Alloderm and their nipple sparing mastectomies.  I’m sure there’s others that I’ve missed so feel free to chime in if I’m missing something.  Not only did I hear about them, I got to see them and even touch them.  From 8p-11p each night in the show and tell suite reserved for women only, women lifted their shirts and discussed their experiences.  Choosing a mastectomy is a tough and emotional journey—especially for previvors—who haven’t had cancer and it’s so wonderful that FORCE provides this avenue for women to share their experiences, see the results and get answers to their questions first-hand.

New friends

I’m heading back from Orlando now with lots of new friends.  Day two of the FORCE conference was great.  We started the day with a panel of researchers telling us about lots of studies going on in the area of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and BRCA specific research.  It was so promising to see all of these brilliant people sitting in front of me telling me about research they are doing to benefit me and the entire hereditary cancer community.  And I know that the studies I learned about were only a fraction of the research going on in this area.

After this panel, I was completely energized and I had the opportunity to sit with a woman from Susan G. Komen and share my thoughts and hopes.  I can’t wait to continue my conversation with her and others from Susan G. Komen.  I was particularly happy to hear about the level of grants they are providing in the area of hereditary breast cancer—knowing that the $87,000 Ta Ta Breast Cancer raised in 08 is contributing to the tremendous research they are funding in the hereditary breast cancer—6.1 million dollars in 2008 alone.

I spent more time in the exhibit hall—bought a fair share of pink from my new friend Courtney from Pink Wings.  And got to meet Lindsay Avner—the founder of Bright Pink—an organization I’ve admired for awhile.

A group of 8 of us had dinner in Downtown Disney.  IMG_1318The number of fingers we’re holding up show whether we are BRCA 1 or 2.  In the group, we had 3 survivors and 5 previvors (women that carry the gene but have never had cancer).  We shared our stories over a fun Cuban dinner with a pitcher of Sangria and some Mojitos  added to the mix.  And most importantly we laughed a lot.

The day was packed with information, networking, meeting and connecting with new people.  I even squeezed in a long walk around Orlando and Disney with my new friend Debbie and ended the evening with a “Pure Romance” girls night in.  What a great day!

Disney magic and the magic of FORCE all in one day

Taking a break in between activities at the FORCE conference. Time to put some thoughts down on paper. logo_forceIt’s been an inspiring experience with a bit of sadness too. There are 500 people here—some are healthcare providers but most of the 500 are women with a BRCA mutation or women who are at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It’s unbelievable to hear everyone’s stories, their lives and their histories.

Last night, I met two women in their 20s here with their mother. Both women found out this past January that they carry the BRCA mutation. Now they are exploring surgery options. I can’t help but think of my own daughter when I look at these two young women and wonder where we’ll be in 15 years. I admire these women for their energy, spirit and acceptance of the genetic mutation. And I’m guessing that FORCE is helping them realize they are not alone and they do have options. That is the truly magical part of FORCE. There are so many women who’ve walked incredibly journeys— losing parents, grandmothers and siblings to cancer. And taking preventative measures like prophylactic surgeries so that they will be able to see their own children grow up.

I spent a little time walking around downtown Disney, humming to the tunes and watching families enjoy Disney.  It Mickey_Mouse_jpgwas nice to leave the hotel for a bit to have some time to think and regroup.  There’s no place like Disney to help you clear your head. 

After my walk, I checked out the exhibit hall.  There are wonderful speakers and exhibitors here sharing their knowledge and advice to show women they have options. Yesterday I had lunch with Informed Medical decisions, a company that provides genetic counseling over the phone. What a great resource if you live in a area that doesn’t have a genetics counselor or if your genetics counselor is booked for several months.

I also had the opportunity to meet a really energetic woman with da Vinci Surgery. That’s the name of the robot they used for my hysterectomy and oophrectomy.  Quite honestly, I didn’t know much about how the machine worked.

And how about this research study on whether or not exercise can reduce your breast cancer risk. If you’re high risk and under 40, you can qualify. And you get a free treadmill out of the deal. The study is coming out of the University of Pennsylvania and I met the researcher behind it who inspired me to go hop on the treadmill for a little afternoon exercise. So now I’m off to find some dinner. And later to the show and tell room where I get to share my breasts with lots of other women. More tomorrow!

Another anniversary–celebrating at the FORCE conference.

One year ago today, I started another journey.  My life as a patient came to a close, and my life as a breast cancer mentor, advocate, and fundraiser was kicked into high gear.  Yes, a year ago today was my final breast surgery.  Once again, it’s hard to believe another year has passed.  And what a year.  Tomorrow I will venture to Orlando for the annual FORCE conference.  I can’t wait to meet many of the people I’ve communicated with over the course of the year.  I’m looking forward to learning more and taking in everything the conference has to offer.  I know it will be an exciting and educational weekend.  I know there is so much work going on in the area of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, but yet there is so much left to do.

The top experts will be there, so if you can’t make it to the conference but have a specific question on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, post it here.  I’ll try and get some good answers to share next week.

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