another spin on pink sisterhood

 

My anniversaries approach. My cancerversaries as it were.  I do not want to jinx myself.    I just want to meet my goal or remaining cancer free.

It has been a long strange trip indeed, with a lot of positive outcomes stemming from a breast cancer diagnosis.

The past few weeks I have been sidelined with a knee injury.  Off to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to get official results of MRI, deal with whatever they decide,  and then starts the Merry-Go-Round of annual breast cancer related visits and testing.

I was a Gamma Phi Beta in college.   I have been realizing of late all the Gamma Phis who have gone through breast and other cancers. Members of my sisterhood, an International Sorority founded on November 11, 1874.

It kind of blows my mind.  My sisterhood also has members who belong to my other sisterhood…the one I did not wish to belong to but belong to.

So this post today is dedicated to all the Gamma Phis out there who are either in treatment currently, or are survivors.

Call it a double sisterhood shout out.

 

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bogus 2017 edition: legitimate breast cancer charities DO NOT call your cell phone

You would THINK that since I have been taking GREAT JOY to EXPOSE bogus breast cancer charities for almost SIX years now that they would know better than to call me, right?

Wrong.

 

I am sitting at my desk working  and my cell phone rings.  A call coming in from (267)-225-9040.  I answered it because I am expecting a call from one of my doctor’s offices, and they have locations in Philadelphia and in the suburbs.  And for some reason even when I say call the house phone,  they call the cell phone.

 

The caller says “Hi this is Renee Baker with Donor Relations of the Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation.”

I asked how she got my number.

She said “excuse me?” and went back to her script.

I asked her again, how she got my number and was this a live person.

“Of course it is and we buy lists.”

Oh, I replied.  Then I asked her who sold her my number.

“I can’t tell you who sold us your number.”  (all indignant like I have SOME NERVE asking who they bought my number from LOL!)

So then I asked if they were that Florida based charity that the Michigan Attorney General’s Office issued a cease and desist order on in January 2017? ( Keeping up on bogus breast cancer charities have become sort of a perverse hobby.) Then, because I am nice that way, I asked what it was like taking money from people for a bogus breast cancer charity.

“WE.ARE.LEGITIMATE.” she says hotly ” We are a REAL charity out of Florida and I work in a call center in Alabama!!” (stupidly extending the conversation.) 

No I said. You aren’t.  Legitimate breast cancer charities do not employ professional fundraisers to dial for dollars. (and then I hung up)

Then, because I am nice that way, I called up Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation in Florida (only it did not sound like anything other than a VOIP line that could have been located anywhere.)

I asked the woman about the charity.  She got all indignant. So I said to her fine, I would just Google away and put them on a blog.

I had NO IDEA what I would find when I started searching.

So… here is Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, Inc. on GUIDESTAR

Here is a 2015 990: 2015 990 Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation

Here is some kind of financials: BCOF 2014 Audit

So I Googled the address and this is what I got:

I guess the suite number means second floor?

ALSO when I Googled the address, oddly enough I came up with ANOTHER non-profit.  Help The Vets.org

So…here is Help The Vets on GUIDESTAR

Here is their 2015 990: 2015 990 help the vets

And check out the Board of Directors as per GUIDESTAR for BOTH non-profits:

Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation

And….

 

Help The Vets

Coincidence?

What are the chances?

Wow to have the time to run TWO non-profits out of the same address, right???

Money Raised in Michigan to Fight Breast Cancer Goes to Pay Salary and Professional Fundraisers

In 2015, over 2,000 Michigan residents gave $36,372 to an organization to fight breast cancer. The organization that raised the money is being accused of giving all of the funds to pay its president and professional fundraisers.

Yesterday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced a Cease and Desist Order against Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, Inc., a Florida nonprofit corporation, for false solicitation and diversion of funds raised to other purposes. The foundation has been in operation since July 2014.

In 2015, Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation (BCOF) raised $1,425,201, including $36,372 from 2,003 paid pledges from Michigan residents by telephone and direct mail.

The Foundation raised the money by telling donors that funds raised would be used for breast cancer research grants in support of a breast cancer vaccine. However, the Attorney General’s office says the Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation did not use the funds raised for breast cancer research.

During 2015, they made no grants

 

Charity Navigator Advisory: High Concern : Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation

In January 2017, the State of Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office issued a press statement titled, “Schuette Files Cease and Desist Against Breast Cancer Charity Who Claimed to Raise Money for Research Grants.” For this reason, we have issued a High Concern CN Advisory. For more information regarding the charges reported, please see the press statement.

  • In February 2017, the State of Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office issued a press statement titled, “Florida Charity to Pay Over $100k to Breast Cancer Research, and is Banned from Soliciting in Michigan for Ten Years Due to Deceptive Fundraising.” For more information, please see the press statement.

The concerns raised about illegal activity, improper conduct, or organizational mismanagement are serious both in nature and scope and have thus warranted this CN Advisory. We have published this advisory to provide donors with content that they may find useful when making their giving decisions. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors of sources used for the reported information, and not those of Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is not responsible for the nature or content of the information presented through such external sources and websites. For more information on how or when we decide to publish a CN Advisory, please review our methodology.

 

Here is the verbiage from the Michigan Attorney General’s Press Release from January:

Florida Charity to Pay Over $100k to Breast Cancer Research, and is Banned from Soliciting in Michigan for Ten Years Due to Deceptive Fundraising

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced a settlement with Florida nonprofit Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, Inc. The settlement resolves the Attorney General’s claims that, in 2015, the group deceptively raised $1.4 million nationwide, including at least $36,372 in Michigan. The group’s solicitations told donors that funds raised would be used for breast cancer research grants. In reality, all the money raised, except for one $8,235 grant, went to professional fundraisers and other expenses—not breast cancer research.

“In recent years, my office has combatted deceptive solicitations for cancer, veterans, firefighters, and police. It’s sad to see these causes exploited,” said Schuette. “Donors should remain vigilant during solicitations—especially regarding emotional appeals for sympathetic causes. And it bears repeating: research the charity before giving.”

In settlement, Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation will pay $150,000, with $125,000 paid for breast cancer research and the remaining $25,000 to recoup the State’s investigative costs. Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation will also withdraw its charitable solicitations registration and is banned from soliciting in Michigan for ten years.

Background

In January 2017, the Attorney General issued a Notice of Intended Action against Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation, alleging 14,542 civil violations of charitable solicitations fraud, with maximum penalties of $10,000 per violation. In 2015, Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation raised $1,425,201, telling donors that funds raised would be used for grants for breast cancer research in support of a breast cancer vaccine. However, the Foundation’s financials failed to disclose any breast cancer research grants in 2015. In response to the allegations, the Foundation amended its financials and documented one grant of $8,235 for breast cancer research. But all the other money Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation raised was used for other purposes: to pay its professional fundraisers, the company executive’s salary, or other expenses.

The Attorney General’s investigation into Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation stemmed from the Attorney General’s 2016 investigation into professional fundraiser Corporations for Character, an investigation which resulted in a monetary settlement and the fundraiser’s withdrawal from the state. Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation used Corporations for Character for some of its fundraising, a fact which led the Attorney General to scrutinize the charity’s own fundraising practices.

The Attorney General’s January Notice of Intended Action ordered Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation to cease and desist the alleged violations, giving them twenty-one days to resolve the matter or face a civil action in court. In addition, the Attorney General also issued Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation a Notice of Intent to deny its charitable solicitations registration.

 

I think we can safely quantify this charity as BOGUS, yes?  I am because legitimate breast cancer charities DO NOT dial for dollars, especially using cold caller businesses! And legitimate breast cancer charities do not have dances with state attorney generals.

And I will note I have asked this group to put me on a do not call list before – on both my cell and home phone. And my phone numbers, all of our phone numbers are on do not call lists.

Oh and that Help The Vets Inc with the suspiciously similar board and address? Charity Navigator also lists them to be of concern:

In January 2017, it came to the attention of Charity Navigator that Help the Vets, is the subject of an investigation by the State of Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office according to their press statement titled, “Schuette Files Cease and Desist Against Breast Cancer Charity Who Claimed to Raise Money for Research Grants.” For this reason, we have issued a Moderate Concern CN Advisory. For more information regarding the charges reported, please see the press statement article.


The nature of these allegations of illegal activity, improper conduct, or organizational mismanagement are such that Charity Navigator has issued this CN Advisory to provide donors with content that they may find useful when making their giving decisions. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors of sources used for the reported information, and not those of Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is not responsible for the nature or content of the information presented through such external sources and websites. For more information on how or when we decide to publish a CN Advisory, please review our methodology.

 

People, do your charity research. Ask questions. Choose reputable charities and turn the others in to the Attorney General in your state. I am and I will also be forwarding this post to the lovely woman I assisted in the New York State Attorney General’s Office over another bogus breast cancer charity.

As a breast cancer survivor, there are lots of good days and sometimes some pretty low bad ones.  The low days are often when someone I know who was also a survivor no longer is.  Survivor’s guilt.  Survivor’s remorse.  It’s real, and it can be hard when it ripples across my brain. Those of us who survive are so grateful to be alive, but every once in a while there is the whisper: Why me? Why did I survive when she did not?

But then there are days like today when it’s clear that I am blessed to be alive and blessedly breast cancer free AND part of why I am here why I survive  is to warn people about fake breast cancer charities.

Today it is a double header. The bogus breast cancer charity led me to the veterans’ charity with the same address, board, and odd looking IRS form 990s. It seems to me that the only thing more despicable than a bogus breast cancer charity would be a fake veterans’ charity.

Donate wisely.

 

 

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teva/actavis

Apparently (I think) it’s still the Teva generic…but it flipped me out to see a new manufacturer name with zero explanation from my CVS pharmacist. I had to go seek my own explanation:
Teva Completes Acquisition of Actavis Generics

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE and TASE: TEVA) and Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN) today announced that Teva has completed its acquisition of Allergan’s generics business (“Actavis Generics”).

This strategic acquisition brings together two leading generics businesses with complementary strengths, R&D capabilities, product pipelines and portfolios, geographical footprints, operational networks and cultures. The result is a stronger, more competitive Teva, well positioned to thrive in an evolving global marketplace, to realize the opportunities the very attractive global and U.S. generics markets offer, and to deliver the highest-quality generic medicines at the most competitive prices, unlocking value to patients, healthcare systems and investors around the world.

I have to tell you it would be helpful if chain pharmacy pharmacists actually did what their commercials say they do.  Because they really don’t and today the only thing the pharmacist spoke to me about was how to insert my bank card into the chip reader.

In other news life goes on but the joint pain and hot flashes have been wicked lately again.

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boom! fake breast cancer charity knocked out in new york state!

fake-charities

 

People familiar with this blog know how I feel about fake breast cancer charities.  Well thanks to the Charities Bureau through the New York State Attorney General’s office the Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation has been put to sleep in New York State.  They are canceled as in officially fake in New York (which means if you are a New York resident and they call you, please call Assistant AG Yael Fuchs at 212-416-8391 )

I completely forgot to post the letter that Ms. Fuchs sent me.   I had written this was happening in July, 2016 , and because of my writing about these scam boogers in the past (see HERE and HERE) Ms. Fuchs had contacted me about them.

Well I am super pleased that New York State has shut them down in New York. Hopefully more states will follow suit.

Don’t give money to them. Hang up on them. Report them.

Remember, legitimate charities DO NOT HIRE PUSHY TELEMARKETERS!

Use GuideStar to check out non-profits but also check with your state’s Bureau of Charities to see if a charity is registered with them…and remember just because a charity may be registered with a state it does not mean the charity is legitimate in the sense that the charity is well run and not wasting donor money.  And check the form 990s.  And if you have basic questions a non-profit can’t answer that is a big RED flag.

pizap-com14858118858251

 

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new year, new test

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I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy last week. The anesthesia and procedure made me not so hot for a few days but I am glad I did it.

Do not ignore doing this. It was the test I was the most scared of because when I was going through breast cancer treatment my neighbor Myrna was being treated for and dying from Stage 4 colon cancer.

They removed polyps. One was hyperplastic (no concern, not premalignant) and the other was an adenoma (premalignant).

So I am on a 5 year rotation for colonoscopies instead of 10.

I had blown this test off for a couple of years because not only did the thought of it scare me, I was tired.  After going through breast cancer and treatment, I had a full hysterectomy.  For a couple of years I was like “not more medical procedures down there for a while.”

Well I am glad my primary care basically told me I had no choice I had to do it.

A mixed bag of results doesn’t thrill me I will be honest.  But better to know than pop another cancer.

Get your colonoscopies done.   And yes the prep is the singularly most hideous procedure prep known to man.  But if I can do it, you can do it.

Posted in breast cancer, health insurance | Tagged , | 1 Comment

flowing stream of consciousness, or doing the emotional laundry

501a46bfb1af49d21f000be0ccd636f2….it’s important to think about are any changes you are planning to make to your figure before then.

 

So what is that about?  A dress fitting.  Alteration, truthfully.  I have never been able to truly buy dresses, especially formal wear, off the rack.  Something is either too long, needs to be taken in, let out, hemmed…something.

I do not do as many formal dress bearing occasions as I used to, but there are some occasionally.  And I need a dress altered.

The seamstress and I were e-mailing back and forth because I had dropped her a note to ask how jammed her schedule was for an alteration.

 

I got back the schedule and her normal list of what she needs when you come in – underwear, shoes, spanx, bras and so on.  And then the phrase about body changes.  Now granted those are mostly for her Bridezillas so she doesn’t get tortured last minute.  But for me as a lopsided breast cancer survivor who fights with self-body image daily some weeks (still), oh the emotions.

 

It’s not so simple emotionally.  I look in the mirror and I see a lopsided middle aged woman.  It’s pretty rare I feel pretty.  Most days I am content when I just am comfortable.  So playing dress up really takes some doing. And beauty, yes beauty is extremely fleeting when you are looking at a lopsided self yet you know reconstruction and plastic surgery would not have been for you.

 

Actually if I am honest with myself, since breast cancer lots of things take some doing a good bit of the time.

 

It’s not something a lot of us like to talk about, even me.  When you were told by some at your diagnosis it was a new reality in retrospect I have to laugh, because oh man, they did not even give you the tip of that iceberg.

 

The dreams.  Not very often, but once in a while a cancer recurrence dream slips in.  I wake up in a cold sweat realizing I am still OK.

 

The simmering ever so slightly verve of feeling blue.  You can’t put your finger on it. You aren’t upset about anything, yet there is this tiny hum of feeling blue.  It comes and it goes. A thank you Tamoxifen.

 

HOT FLASHES FROM HELL.  And dry skin.  Am I woman or alligator now in the winter?

 

Tired.  I never used to be tired.  Sometimes I just am. I think it goes with the sleepus interruptus and hot flashes.

 

Joint pain.  Oh thanks Tamoxifen, where would I be without it? Again, not a constant but when it visits, it hurts.  Everything feels like it aches. I know how people with Lyme disease feel.

 

And the one I hate pretty much most of all. The days and even weeks where I feel absolutely unable to concentrate on anything or am just forgetful.  Yes, it is like chasing your own head.  Today is one of those days.  And today I am so frustrated I could cry. But I won’t.  I will suck it up and move forward.

 

I guess the point of this rambling stream of consciousness is there is no one size fits all band-aid.  And today is just one of those days I have to remind myself of that.  These are the days, right or wrong, I need a little reassurance but my pride has a hard time dealing with that.

 

Life is a journey.  But I do think once you have had breast cancer sometimes you just feel things in more vivid technicolor than the next person.

 

I am fine.  Seriously I am.  But I needed to let what I was feeling out.  I needed to try to write it down to help me sort my emotional laundry.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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rise up

pizap-com14835612155761It started with a message from a friend:

** Please Consider Calling / E-mailing for Obamacare**
Paul Ryan’s office is conducting a phone poll, hoping to hear overwhelming opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how you can participate:

Call (202) 225-0600

Press 2 to weigh in on the issue. You’ll hear a recording about the bill to repeal it, then Press 1 to support continuing the Affordable Healthcare Act.

You will also have an opportunity to leave speaker Ryan a voice mail where you can explain how repealing the ACA will effect your life. NOTE: I’ve heard some people say they were able to leave a message while others are saying his mailbox is full. So, this option may be a hit or miss.

This literally takes 5 minutes! If this is important to you, please make a quick call. I made my call and wrote my letter to my representative. Use your voice!

 

I called.  How could I not? If they repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act or even just most of it, I know damn well I will probably lose my insurance.

I live in Pennsylvania, the land of sucky insurance choices to begin with.

Let’s recap how I came to Healthcare.gov:

Quite a few years ago now I went to work for an exceedingly cheap son of a bitch.  Scrooge had nothing on him, incidentally.  Dude (as we all remember) from when I started this blog was too cheap to offer benefits or access to benefits.  Only took care of himself. He also did not offer proper vacation time or sick time, which is why I worked all the way through breast cancer treatment except for the actual surgery day.

As a self-pay person prior to the onset of the Affordable Care Act all I could get was Aetna.  Aetna was tolerable UNTIL the Affordable Care Act.  Then it got worse. I won’t relive everything I have written in previous posts but as open enrollment arrived this past fall like millions of others in PA who were self-pay and NOT on the Exchange discovered Aetna was basically dumping us too.  In the summer of 2016 they had dumped all folks in PA who had them on the Affordable Healthcare “Exchange”.

So it took forever and I was left with no choice as a self-employed person but to sign up via the Affordable Care Act and get on the Exchange.   I signed up for Independence Blue Cross because well that was what was available to me.  It took weeks to get it settled because although I paid my binding premium through Healhtcare.gov they did not credit it right to the insurance company.  Between Christmas and the New Year I was fraught with additional healthcare anxiety.

It is 2017 and my healthcare is set for the year. What happens if Paul Ryan and the collective idiocy known as the new US Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act?

MASS CHAOS.

That is not hype, that is not drama, it is the simple truth (you know that thing most politicians wouldn’t recognize if it bit them on the ass?)

They do not have a plan to replace it and well they do not have to worry, Uncle Sam and the US Taxpayers pay for their Cushy Cadillac benefits.  So they can’t get any of this if they tried.

I am a breast cancer survivor so I know I have paid enough dealing with healthcare benefits. We need less chaos, not more.

I took the time to call Speaker of the House Paul Ryan because I am not naive – I know what will happen if this act is repealed.  Insurance Companies will throw a giant party and screw us.

I sound like a broken record but while Obamacare is far from ideal in a lot of ways, we have been forced to deal with it and get used to it.  Repealing it puts all of us in jeopardy because once again it is a giant bunch of politicians  fighting with each other and things like Obamacare and ethics safeguards are convenient weapons to pummel each other with. But when it comes to healthcare it will be chaos because of one thing they have never addressed: reforming the health insurance companies themselves and allowing for more choice in most states.

Please make the call and take the time to contact your own representatives.

We can’t afford to be sacrificial healthcare lambs while politicians cock fight on the hill in Washington DC.  Our lives are literally at stake.

Rise Up.

 

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