Category Archives: Ta Ta Breast Cancer

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.

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100 things to share about cancer in honor of my 100th blog post.

In honor of my 100th blog post, I’ve started a list of 100 things to share about cancer. I actually thought a lot about this list.  I didn’t want to bore with you with lots of useless facts.  Haven’t found 100 organizations that I love and while I’ve met lots of cool people through my journey, I can’t think of 100 to highlight.  This is a combination list and includes really cool organization, some interesting facts and statistics, great doctors, some cool people I’ve met along the way and anything else random I can share with you. I hope you find some of the links and facts within this post helpful.  Please note: I am not a doctor–just a survivor involved in the breast cancer world.   

I’ll start with really cool organizations. Some I know pretty intimately and some I just know on the surface. Regardless, they are all worth checking out and have some pretty great people involved.

BRCA and other hereditary cancer facts

  • About 10-15% of cancers are hereditary.
  • A BRCA mutation can give you up to an 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer.
  • Ashkenazi Jews have a 1 in 40 chance of having a BRCA mutation.
  • The general population has a 1 in 400 chance of having a BRCA mutation.
  • Family history on your father’s side is equally as important as family history on your mother’s side.
  • If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you should talk with a genetic counselor to assess your risk.
  • Triple negative breast cancer is common among women with a BRCA 1 mutation.
  • Estrogen positive breast cancer is common among women with a BRCA 2 mutation.
  • Men with a BRCA 1 mutation have roughly a 6% lifetime risk of breast cancer.
  • Men with a BRCA 2 mutation have roughly a 7% lifetime risk of breast cancer.
  • Bilateral mastectomy is the best way to avoid breast cancer in women with a BRCA mutation.

Random Breast Cancer facts and tidbits

  • Each year 10,000 women under age 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • As of 2008, there are 2.5 million women in the US who have survived breast cancer.
  • There will be an estimated 192,000 cases of breast cancer in the United States this year.
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer is very frequently misdiagnosed. See other less common breast cancer symptoms below.
  • If you feel a lump, it’s best to have it removed or biopsied rather than waiting and seeing.
  • Women under 40 have very dense breasts.
  • Abnormalities in breast tissue are difficult to detect through mammograms when women have dense breasts.
  • Monthly self breast exams are very important.
  • There are many types of breast cancers.
  • Breast cancers in women under 40 tend to be more aggressive and have a worse prognosis.
  • There are other ways to cut your risks of breast cancer if you are at high risk — like the drug Tamoxifen.
  • Susan G. Komen spent 100 million dollars on breast cancer research in 2008.
  • Every major advancement in breast cancer research has been touched by a Susan G. Komen grant.
  • Women can get breast cancer in their 20s and often these cancers go undiagnosed.
  • Doctors can test lymph nodes for cancer by first doing a sentinal node biopsy.

There are lots of other breast cancer symptoms other than a lump

  • Swelling of all or part of your breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or nipple turning inward
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of your nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge
  • Lump in your underarm

Breast cancer reconstruction options – lots of great ones

  • Immediate reconstruction with tissue expanders
  • DIEP Flap
  • One Step
  • Tram
  • Nipple Sparing
  • Lat Flap

Really cool people I’ve met through my breast cancer experience

  • Lori Buckfire – check out a hilarious blog from a very inspiring person
  • Pam Lucken – a survivor I met after she was diagnosed, now a good friend
  • Patti Nemer – knows everyone in the Michigan Breast Cancer community
  • Valerie Fraser – Inflammatory Breast Cancer Survivor and big advocate in the breast cancer community
  • Jonny Imerman – testicular cancer survivor and founder of Imerman’s Angels
  • Missy Mazorati-Bergman – another wonderful breast cancer survivor who walked around with the boldest bald head ever for 6 months
  • Laurie Alpers – survivor friend who got very involved with FORCE early on and now walks with me on Ta Ta Breast Cancer
  • Whitney Ducaine – my genetics counselor who helped me start the first Southeast Michigan outreach group for FORCE
  • Lindsay Avner – founder of Be Bright Pink
  • Sue Friedman – Executive Director and Founder of FORCE
  • Joanna Rudnick – Producer of documentary In the Family
  • The women of Ta Ta Breast Cancer — both my new friends and old friends
  • The walkers, crew and staff of the Breast Cancer 3-Day who devote so much to finding a cure for this disease
  • My new FORCE family including all the wonderful genetics counselors in Southeast Michigan
  • The women and men I met at the FORCE conference in Orlando
  • Lots of really inspiring advocates I met at the Susan G. Komen Advocate Training
  • The women battling cancer everyday and reminding me why I need to keep fighting

Fun websites to buy  cancer gear

 Great doctors

  • Dr. Alvin Schoenberger – greatest OBGYN ever who was very aggressive in making sure we took action with my lump
  • Dr. Jeffrey Margolis – brilliant Oncologist who treated me
  • Dr. Daniel Sherbert – super nice and extremely talented Plastic Surgeon
  • Dr. William Kestenberg – performed my biopsy, results on Thursday night, scheduled all my tests throughout the weekend so I didn’t have to wait the weekend to learn that the cancer had not spread
  • Dr. Scott Schell – my breast surgeon
  • Dr. Ruth Lerman – follows me for yearly breast exams, also a breast cancer survivor
  • Dr. Dana Zakalik – Oncologist very involved in cancer genetics and helped start our local FORCE group
  • Dr. Laura Freedman – Radiation Oncologist and personal friend who was always willing to talk to me
  • Dr. Melissa Davidson – my trusted sister-in-law also a physician who  reviewed my pathology report and all my test results and spent lots of time helping me navigate
  • Dr. Scott Davidson – my brother-in-law who spent lots of time on the phone with me following my diagnosis and during my treatment

Easy ways to raise money

  • No need to plan an elaborate black tie dinner, a backyard party with all the food donated and an auction can generate lots of good income without requiring a big donation.
  • Promote your favorite places and ask them to make a donation in return.  TD nails has donated several hundred dollars to the Breast Cancer 3-Day just by having people mention Ta Ta Breast Cancer. 
  • Have a bar night — we promoted our 24 Seconds fundraiser via Facebook and a small amount of email and raised over $1,000 without any out of pocket cost
  • Theater nights — we promote and buy as many tickets as we need — raised over $3,000 for Annie

Some Great Books

Great Movies

As I was developing this list, I realized that I have a ton of great people reading my blog who could provide some additional input into my list of 100 so I’ve left room in the list–I have about 10 left.   Any organizations you love, doctors you trust, must-read books, new things you’ve learned, tidbits that we can all share.  The more we can help eachother out, the better we can fight.  So go ahead and post a comment, help me complete my list of 100.

Additions to the list

Thanks Molly, Patty, Kim, Laurie and Alyssa for adding some great sites and tips to check out by posting a comment.  Keep em coming….

  • Sister’s Hope – Recommended by the Pink Fund
  • eraceibc.com – A site devoted to Inflammatory Breast Cancer
  • thebcmall.com
  • Unbeatable – a musical about breast cancer.  I need to know when they are coming to Detroit.  Looks pretty darn funny.  Check out the description I pulled from their website and the very cute image.3417805339_54165a1dda

UNBEATABLE! juxtaposes the gravity of a cancer diagnosis with optimism, hopefulness and a keen sense of humor. The message of UNBEATABLE! is universal and applies to anyone who goes through life at full speed, without realizing that in the end, it is the people we love in our lives, not the “to do” lists, that deserve our time and attention.

Laurie’s Additions

  • Dr. Julio Sosa – Plastic Surgeon
  • Shades of Pink Foundation – non-profit to help women with financial issues after a breast cancer diagnosis
  • Dr. Pamela Benitiz – Breast Surgeon

Another suggestion from a trusted source…

Dr. Gail Parker – therapist in Southeast Michigan available to provide support to people with BRCA Mutations

Blisters are healed. Time to start thinking about 2010 3-Day.

Since we got back from the walk, I’ve had lots of people tell me they are walking 2010 and our team is up to 5 members in the past week.  I love my friend Pam’s post “Why you should seriously consider walking the 3-Day”.  She does such a great job of summing it up and I couldn’t agree more.  Pam and I met when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 months after me.  We’ve been friends ever since and although we don’t see each other often; the breast cancer bond has formed a unique friendship.  Our other breast cancer friend, Missy is also part of Pam’s team.  In Pam’s blog, she mentions that Nancy’s Naughty Nockers (NNN) now changed to No More Naughty Nockers has raised over $200,000 in three years—that’s a ton of money in this fight.  I am also proud to say that Ta Ta Breast Cancer has raised $160,000 in two years.

In 2010, we’ve formed another goal.  NNN and Ta Ta Breast Cancer, while remaining separate teams, are forming a bit of strategic alliance orchestrated by Pam’s husband Bill and me.  We’ve decided that the two teams together are going to raise $250,000 in 2010.  We’ll support and help promote each other’s fundraisers.  So come on, enough waiting, join the 3-Day and let’s start working towards this unbelievable goal.  If you join now, you can save $35 by entering POWER10 in the coupon code area.  We can’t wait to see you at the 2010 walk.

Pam, Missy, Ellyn 2009 3-Day

Pam, Missy, Ellyn 2009 3-Day

The 2009 Michigan Breast Cancer 3-Day is over. The memories will last forever.

 Just settled in with a cup of coffee and an hour to gather my thoughts about the past weekend—my 2nd Breast Cancer 3-Day. It’s hard to put into words the thoughts and emotions of the past weekend. It’s so much more than 60 miles. It’s about celebrating survivorship and remembering the women and men we’ve lost to breast cancer. It’s about raising awareness of the harshness and the reality of this disease. It’s about raising money so we can continue to crush breast cancer. It’s all that and more. Lifechanging may be the only way to describe the experience.
 
I walked with 24 other amazing women of Ta Ta Breast Cancer—I met 5 of them for the first time on Friday morning.DSC_3213

 

Others, I met during training walks. Some were acquaintances prior to the walk. And some others are the people nearest and dearest to me—my mom, my aunt, my sister-in-law and some of my best and oldest friends. Sharing this experience together takes all of these relationships to a much deeper level.

If you have ever thought of walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day (now called the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the cure) but just didn’t think you could do it, trust me, you can. If you live in Michigan, join us next year. If you are in another state, grab some friends and don’t wait another day to sign up. If you can’t walk, crew or volunteer. You will thank me later.

We have to do this for so many reasons. But I think 5-year old Samantha Dubin summed it up so well when she returned from a cheering section and said to her brother Josh.

 “The women are walking now, so they will save my boobs later.”

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!

HoneyBaked to our rescue!

Last Night, we had another great FORCE meeting and HoneyBaked provided food for us.  After the meeting, I sent a thank you to our HoneyBaked contacts and realized that the letter was worth sharing on a broader scale. 

Dear Wendy and Geoff,

Thank you so much for providing the delicious HoneyBaked food last night.  The meeting was fantastic and each time I have one of these meetings, I realize the true power of FORCE and the importance of the ongoing success of this organization.  Here’s a few highlights. 

One woman attended the meeting with tears in her eyes.  As a young child, she watched her mother die of breast cancer.  She lost her father to Crones Disease and a brother to a heart attack.  She is 33 years old, unmarried with not one single family member.  Completely alone in this world except for some friends.  A week ago, she found out she has the BRCA mutation giving her an up to 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer.  She is prepared to have a bilateral mastectomy but her friends think she is absolutely crazy.  The first place she found was the FORCE message board and after posting her story, she got returned messages from perfect strangers who told her they were there for her and completely supported her.  The same thing happened in the meeting last night and she walked out feeling stronger, happier and more positive about her decision.

There was another young woman there with her sister, mother and father.  She started her battle with cancer in July and is in the reconstruction phase of her breasts.  She is very uncomfortable right now and worried about the final result.  After the meeting, we went in the bathroom and I was able to show her what her breasts will look like when she is done.  She gave me a huge hug, thanked me, and walked away so much happier.  Her sister (BRCA also) has not had cancer but spent the entire meeting with tears in her eyes.

A third woman also lost her mother and most of her family members to breast and ovarian cancer.  She has two young children and intends to see them grow up.  She is currently battling with her insurance company to cover preventative screenings.  The genetics counselors in the room stepped up to tell her that they will write letters of medical necessity to get her screenings covered.  She had no idea that they would take care of this for her.  We also were able to share that prophylactic surgeries are covered by insurance–most people had no idea. 

 These are just three of the stories.  There were more and this is just one meeting in one area.  I read the message boards and know the stories go on and on.  Without funding, FORCE cannot continue. 

 In addition, I know that FORCE is 100% looking out for me and my risk factors.  They are the ones making sure that research continues in the hereditary cancer and this is so incredibly important to people like me with the BRCA gene.  I intend to live the rest of my life free of all cancers.  And I credit FORCE for making my life better in this way.

I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for what you are doing for my organization!  I am telling the world about HoneyBaked!!!  I am sending my friends and family your way, blogging about you and announcing you to my Facebook friends.  I’m asking them to do the same. 

I wish you much success always and hope this campaign is tremendously successful for all of us!

 

Sincerely,

  

Ellyn

Ta Ta Breast Cancer shirts for sale!

I just got my huge shipment of Ta Ta Breast Cancer shirts–long sleeve, short sleeve, tanks in white, pink and blue.  I’ll be selling these soon.  In the meantime, my kids helped me with a photo shoot so I could show the new shirts off. 

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Fun vacation, new career, fundraising and more…

It’s been three weeks since my last blog so I figured; it’s about time I post. Life is busy lately—in a good way. Here’s what’s going on in my world:

We just got back from a great family vacation in Arizona combined with a wedding of one of Jon’s old college friends. Our last wedding with this group was in 1998 so it was nice to reunite with the old crew. It was also great to spend time with my parents and grandmother in sunny Arizona. We were there last year this time too—only I had a lot less hair.

February 2008

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February 2009

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In several previous posts, I’ve mentioned social media and my business partner, Jim Tobin. I’ve become increasingly interested in the social media world over the past year. As a result, I’m taking on an increased role in my work life and starting a Detroit office of Ignite Social Media. It means I’ll be working more but I’m excited for the new challenge. In a lot of ways, I credit breast cancer for my new interest and career opportunity.

We’ve sold over 100 tickets for the “Annie” Fundraiser on May 10th. I’m excited with all the enthusiasm and still have more tickets for anyone interested.

 
And Ta Ta Breast Cancer is up to 10 team members and still more joining. Check out our team page if you’d like to join and for ways to support our team. If you have any ideas for fundraisers, send them along. I’m always looking for new fun ways to raise money especially ideas that don’t cost people much money and things people would potentially purchase anyways. I like to call it “fundraising in the new economy”.

Speaking of new economy, I was completely wowed and inspired by our president last night. And how about the 1.26 billion dollar infusion directed at cancer research? That’s my kind of infusion.

Is it almost May?

 

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My all time favorite musical is “Annie”.  As a child, I saw it in the theater several times.  At 7 years old, we had a friend that was the understudy for Annie at the Fisher Theater.  Before and after the show, I’d go to the dressing room and meet the cast—a dream come true for a 7-year old girl.  As an adult (even prior to kids), I went with a couple of friends to see the show again and loved it just as much.  The week my daughter was born, my mother-in-law purchased the VHS tape of the 1999 movie.  I nursed my new baby and watched the movie.  My kids are still watching it every now and then.  And my two year old knows every word to the song “Tomorrow”.  So when I found out Annie was making its way to the Fisher Theater once again and an old high school friend of mine gave me the opportunity to make it a fundraiser, I hopped at the chance.  So now, I’m selling tickets to my favorite show, raising money for both FORCE and Ta Ta Breast Cancer and going with my 3 children, my parents and my in-laws on Mother’s Day.  I’ve been giddy with excitement since I sent out my first emails yesterday and started to see immediate results.  Can’t wait to see that cute little red head singing my favorite songs. 

Starting to see results

Awhile ago, I blogged about shop to earn as a fundraiser for Ta Ta Breast Cancer and yesterday I started to see my first month of results.  I’m very excited and realize that it doesn’t take a lot to start making great money for your organization.  I’ve participated in other fundraising programs similar to this and I see two major advantages with shop to earn.

1.       The percentages are usually much higher.

2.      You don’t need to sign up on the website to shop.  You simply go through a portal—just like any other website.  Your shopping is tracked just by clicking through. 

Log on to shoptoearn.net/breastcancer and take a look.  In the drop down menu, you can see all the stores.  And selecting the stores will take you directly to the store’s website (you have to click go and then click on the store’s logo but once you go through those steps, you’re done).  From there, you can use any coupons, free shipping or any other promotions.  A percentage will automatically come back to Ta Ta Breast Cancer.  All funds will go to the breast cancer 3-Day to support research and other breast cancer programs.  It’s super easy and doesn’t cost you anything extra to shop.  You can even order Contact Lenses, buy plane tickets and book hotel rooms.  As always, thanks for supporting my efforts to say goodbye to Breast Cancer forever.  And if you’re interested in joining our 3-Day team, we’d love to have you.    If you would like to set up your organization on Shop to Earn, just let me know and I’ll help you get started. 

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