Tag Archives: Army of Women

I Blog with Love

Just by looking at me, you wouldn’t know it. You wouldn’t know that this average, chubby woman with mousey brown hair and glasses can walk a marathon and a half in two days. You wouldn’t know that I Fed Ex-ed a couple test tubes of my blood to a research lab. Would you guess that I have probably had more mammograms than you have? That once upon a time I was bald? Or that I wear a prosthesis, otherwise known as a “breast form” in polite circles? It’s ironic that lately the ad in my sidebar randomly shows a lingerie product that I could never wear. My bras have pockets in them.

The majority of women who get breast cancer have none of the known clinical risk factors. This means we don’t know what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it.

You might walk by me at the grocery store today, not knowing that I spent an hour online last night and only managed to write six sentences. After all these years, writing about breast cancer is still difficult. You saw me at the restaurant yesterday, but didn’t notice me staring at the cocktail placard that said “Think Pink! October 18, support breast cancer awareness!” Like a coward, I didn’t demand to know where the money for those pink cocktails is going to go. I didn’t object by informing our waitress that women diagnosed with breast cancer aren’t supposed to drink alcohol. I just stared at the pretty pictures of the three pink drinks. Did I tell you I bought the toilet paper with the pink ribbons on the package? I didn’t buy it for the ribbons, but because we needed toilet paper. Yet that package of toilet paper with its silly pink ribbons on it reminded me yet again that yes, I had breast cancer.

The  Health of Women (HOW) Study is a first-of-its-kind international online study for women and men with and without a history of breast cancer. HOW is all about you and what you can do to end breast cancer. HOW is also about the researchers who can use this data to have a better understanding of ways we can prevent breast cancer.

This October, there’s something you can do that is more than buying something with a pink ribbon on it. It doesn’t require a donation for a walk. It doesn’t require much time. But yet doing this little thing may help find a way to stop breast cancer. I signed up for the Health of Women (HOW) Study. You can, too!

We will collect information about your health, your job, your diet, and your family history, among other topics that can help us get a better understanding of breast cancer and its potential causes.

This is a partnership and we need you for the long haul.
Sign up for the Health of Women (HOW) Study this October.

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Step Up! Share the Love!

Step Up! Share the Love!

A few years ago, I had just returned back to school after winter break. I was in my classroom, preparing for class, when I got a phone call. It was a good friend of mine. She had lost my home phone number, but she knew I would be back at school that day. When she told me her news, I burst into tears. She was barely 30 years old and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Last summer, I ran into a friend of my sister-in-law’s at a funeral. I looked at her short, curly hair, finally growing back after chemo. This mother of two, in her 40’s, told me how relieved she would feel if she could just reach the five year survival anniversary. Five years. I smiled and agreed. Inwardly, I cringed, thinking that the fear of cancer recurrence never goes away. Not after five years. Not even after fifteen years.

Just last week, something happened that made me tearfully collapse in my husband’s arms. “It’s not fair!” I wailed. “I’m the one who had cancer. I’m the one who had needles poked into my arms for chemo. It’s not fair!”

Yes, even fifteen years after my diagnosis of breast cancer, I still have a self-pity party every once in a while.

The three of us have survived breast cancer, even though we were diagnosed young. However, the breast cancer community online was shocked by the loss of two young women who had been fighting metastatic breast cancer. Rachel, author of The Cancer Culture Chronicles and Susan, of Toddler Planet, both passed away on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. While I never met them, I read their blogs and am so saddened by their loss.

I’ve been praying a lot these days. Amy, the Matron Down Under, just discovered she has breast cancer, and she is only 35. Her sister Becky (Suburban Matron) had her own fight with breast cancer two years ago. I just don’t understand why so many of us are diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age.

 

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Dr. Love/Avon’s Army of Women is going to Share the Love to help further breast cancer research. LOVE Goes Beyond a Cure, and So Do I! Below is a video I made in October which answers the question, “When did you know breast cancer was going to change your life?” Since this video was made, I also was able to join  a breast cancer research study. What a great feeling! (If you are reading this post in your email or a reader, you may have to click to Lemon Drop Pie to watch the video.)

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Breast Cancer Research {Army of Women}

Breast Cancer Research {Army of Women}

Last week, I wrote my opinion about the Facebook statuses that go around, supposedly for breast cancer awareness. Today, I’m going to write about how YOU can be involved in finding the cause of breast cancer. Do something more than write a Facebook status for breast cancer awareness; YOU can be a part of the cure!

There’s an organization called Army of Women that is trying to gather a million women (and men!) to help find the cause and the cure for breast cancer. They help various research studies around the country find women and men to participate in ground breaking research. (Thank you to all of my readers who have already joined the Army of Women!)

Right now, the Army of Women is looking for women who have had a breast biopsy, but have NOT been diagnosed with breast cancer. Have you had a breast biopsy since January of 2000? You could help this important research! CLICK HERE to read more about this research project.

If you have never had a breast biopsy, you can still join the Army of Women to lend your support to ongoing research.

Not only have I joined the Army of Women, I participated in a research study on young women and breast cancer! It was so easy; all I had to do give a little extra blood at my next doctor’s appointment, and send it off to the research facility! My dad and two sisters were also able to help this research project by sending their blood to this research project, too. It was so thrilling to be able to take part in this important research; research that might help prevent my daughters from someday being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Check out Army of Women today!

I Joined the Army of Women — Now What?

I almost missed the study that was e-mailed to me called “Breast Cancer Risk in Young Women Study.” In fact, I did miss it until my sister forwarded her e-mail to me.  As I read all the study requirements, I realized I qualified!

I clicked the RSVP button: “YES! Sign me up!” and entered my information. Army of Women sent me a detailed email, telling me what to expect. Soon after, I heard from the research coordinator, and she gave me more information.

Do you think I’m nuts when I tell you how excited I felt? Just the thought that my blood would be involved in a breast cancer research study gave me thrills!

I already had made my oncologist’s appointment, and so I was scheduled to have my annual blood test on Monday. My kit arrived in the mail with some forms to sign and two empty vials. Now I began to get nervous. Would the phlebotomist give me a hard time about filling these two extra test tubes? I hoped not.

As I signed into the lab Monday morning, I looked around at the full waiting room. After spending years of waiting in similar rooms at hospitals and doctors’ offices, I could tell who was in the middle of chemo, who was accompanying a loved one for support, who was there for routine blood work like myself. I thought I was the nervous one with my two test tubes in a box, but other people were fidgeting anxiously, waiting for their name to be called. I figured out that the wait was about half an hour. Not bad, considering some of the waits I’ve sat through while seeing certain specialists. Some of those waits were spent shivering in a paper gown while sitting in an exam room–I’d much rather be fully dressed in a waiting room! As much as a veteran as I am at the waiting room game, I forgot to bring a book. It’s a habit I’ve grown out of now that my appointments have stretched out to a year in between visits.

My name was called, and into the lab I went. As I explained to the phlebotomist what I needed her to do, she was very kind and filled my two extra vials with no problem.

As I sent off my package with the FedEx man, I was so glad to be a part of something bigger than me. Being part of a research project goes beyond taking care of myself; I’m doing my part in the future care of women just like me. Women and men just like you.

There are so many neat research studies; from cancer-sniffing dogs to using meditation; Army of Women is helping these studies move forward by finding the right people for the job!

Are you one of them? Join Army of Women at www.armyofwomen.org today to find out!

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Five Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer

In the spring of 1996, everything seemed to be going my way. I was teaching second grade in a school that I loved, I was about to graduate with a Master’s degree in education, I had just started dating someone, and I was spending my Spring Break in California, visiting my sister. Life couldn’t be better!

My sister (left) and me, waiting in line to see Jay Leno.

As I look back at pictures from this trip, it seems unreal that I had cancer and didn’t even know it. It was another month until I had the mammogram that altered the course of my summer that year.

Over the years, I have struggled to understand why I got breast cancer. Research summarized by Mayo Clinic shows that there are ways you can help prevent breast cancer:

1. Maintain a healthy weight. (As you can see *ahem* I could have lost a few pounds.)
2. Avoid alcohol. (See the bottle of “juice” my sister is holding? It’s really my bottle of booze. Ha.)
3. Getting regular exercise. (No, spending my whole day on my feet teaching eight year olds didn’t count! But what about the bike riding and aerobics classes?)
4. Minimizing the duration of hormone therapy. (Menopause at 27…um, no.)
5. Avoid exposure to environmental pollution. (Maybe it was the LA smog that week, as opposed to the country air I was breathing back in rural Illinois…)

All joking aside, these are valid ways to reduce your breast cancer risk. However, none of these risk factors seemed to apply to me. I always thought that I must have the gene mutation that causes breast cancer, but when my mother’s gene testing came back with negative results, my oncologist told me I don’t have the mutations we know about. There is still so much doctors DON’T know about breast cancer.

This is why I belong to Army of Women. Army of Women connects women volunteers, like you and me, with research projects designed to determine the CAUSE of breast cancer. I may never know why I got cancer; but I’m going help Army of Women determine the cause of this disease. You can, too!

What is the Army of Women?

A program of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the Army of Women initiative is dedicated to recruiting one million women of all ages, ethnicities, with or without breast cancer, to sign up and participate in innovative breast cancer research studies. After signing up at www.armyofwomen.org, members are then contacted via email blast about new studies seeking volunteers. They can either sign-up for the studies online, or if they do not qualify, they are encouraged to forward the information to a friend or family member. Every woman over 18 is welcome to participate, whether a breast cancer survivor or someone never affected. There are currently more than 20 breast cancer studies seeking volunteers through the Army of Women. The full list of open studies seeking volunteers like you are listed at: www.armyofwomen.org/current.

If you haven’t signed up for the Army yet, please sign up today! Let me know in the comments if you have signed up for the AOW now or in the past. I’d love to know that you are a fellow member of the Army!

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